The Deadly Flu

In a fascinating part of history, the time of the Spanish Flu in 1918 is at once intriguing and devastating. More people died from the Spanish Flu than in the War to End all Wars, World War I. Many of the dead were the overly healthiest, younger people in their 20s and 30s. Why did they die in higher numbers? No one really has known the answer to date, yet now researchers feel they have found it. One key issue is that young people were more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections that more easily lead to death. The other is the more common strain of the flu picked up genetic material from bird flu about the year 1900. Read about it here.

“Exposure to previous strains of flu virus does offer some protection to new strains. This is because the immune system reacts to proteins on the surface of the virus and makes antibodies that are summoned the next time a similar virus tries to infect the body.

But the further away the new strain is genetically from the ones the body has previously been exposed to, the more different the surface proteins, the less effective the antibodies and the more likely that infection will take hold.”

Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon was held last week, one year after the bombing at the last Marathon. It all seemed to go off well and the winner on the men’s side was an American of Somali background. People injured in the bombing are still recovering from one year ago. A good news article about the bombing is found here in Boston Magazine.

Goat Boss

Of course, the most fun thing out there in the farm animal world is the goat. They always seem to want to be on top of things, on top of the world. One funny scene I viewed driving into town was a goat standing on the back of a horse while the horse was resting. I couldn’t get the photo since the goat saw me stop and then it moved. Here is a “Goat Boss” at the AgFest the other day. Overseeing all the other goats’ activities.

Stroller Babies

While Nicolas was blazing around the AgFest trying to see everything he could, even for a little bit of time, Ryan was having fun in his stroller watching everything around him. Of course, he had to keep Mom and Dad in sight. Grandparents, eh, who cares. Happy

Kids and AgFest

The outing today out of the house was up to Salem with David, Renee and the boys to the Oregon AgFest. It appears that the AgFest is a way to expose people and especially children to agriculture. It is a great idea and other than the slow entry gates, it was a well done affair. Many do not understand where milk and eggs come from or how we grow our food. Oregon has a great agriculture background and it needs to be promoted. First up was the Petting Zoo area where kids could see all types of livestock and poultry. They even had sheep shearing demonstrations. I do remember how to do that since my days of raising sheep.

Nicolas at the alpaca area
After this area, we went to the Pavilion where they had booths for kids to learn how to graft apple trees, grow grass seeds, grow vegetables like tomatoes and how to raise bees. It was a sensory overload for Nicolas through the whole visit.

Art Walkin'

No matter how many times we have driven by Cottage Grove while traveling I-5, we have never visited the downtown area. This evening we drove to Cottage Grove to the Crafty Mercantile shop to participate in our friend’s, Dr. Patricia Shea, showing of her art in the store. Each month Cottage Grove has an Art Walk and people come out to visit the downtown and see the “wares” on display. It looks like Cottage Grove has done some revitalization and it seems to be helping. Patricia’s friends and clients came to see her work and visit. She has done a great job in her painting. Here is one example of a print she donated to AAFP for their silent auction years ago.


Coffins and Kings

The past few years seem to be the time of resurrecting kings of older European history. I have mentioned before the unearthing of King Richard III of England’s remains in England. Now the Swedish have opened the 850 year old coffin of King Eric IX who was murdered and later made a Saint. They have his skull and crown on display in the cathedral at Uppsala. Bob and I have visited Uppsala and the twin spires of the cathedral rise well above the town in a recognizable manner. Uppsala is a very pretty city and was a joy to visit. Read about King Eric’s unearthing here.

“Scientists plan to study the bones of the ruler known as King Erik the Holy because so little is known about him. Through DNA testing and X-ray scans, they hope to learn about his health, his ancestry (some think his father was English), what he ate, and where he lived—it seems there's a longstanding disagreement over whether he was from Uppsala, where he was killed and laid to rest, or the west coast.”

Uppsala Cathedral

Literature About Nothingness

One of television’s great comedic shows is Seinfeld. The concept behind it was writing about the “nothing” in our lives. Even a number of shows focused on Jerry and George developing a TV show for a network about “nothing”. As I read this particular article about Paul de Man and his rise (and fall) in the field of literary theory, at the end I felt his work was about the nothingness of his work and theory. I have to admit that I do not have an in depth background in the liberal arts. This story was fascinating because of all the background of Paul de Man himself and how he fooled so many people about who he was and his work. In some ways, another fine example of how we elevate the cool without knowing the substance.

“Twenty-five years ago, literary theory went through a crisis, and it has never really recovered its reputation. The crisis would have happened even if Paul de Man had never existed, or had never left Belgium, from which he emigrated to the United States, in 1948. But de Man became its symbol. His story, the story of a concealed past, was almost too perfect a synecdoche for everything that made people feel puzzled, threatened, or angry about literary theory.”

Dante's 'Divine Comedy'

I have read some of the classical literature but not as much as I probably should. I had no idea of the value of Dante’s classic book, ‘Divine Comedy’, as a possible self-help book. It was written about 700 years ago yet people find value in the trials and tribulations Dante found in his own life. One columnist for the Wall Street Journal found just such a benefit in reading the book when his life seemed to take on depressing challenges of its own. You can read about his experience here.

“Everybody knows that "The Divine Comedy" is one of the greatest literary works of all time. What everybody does not know is that it is also the most astonishing self-help book ever written.

It sounds trite, almost to the point of blasphemy, to call "The Divine Comedy" a self-help book, but that's how Dante himself saw it. In a letter to his patron, Can Grande della Scala, the poet said that the goal of his trilogy—"Inferno," "Purgatory" and "Paradise"—is "to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and lead them to the state of bliss."

The Comedy does this by inviting the reader to reflect on his own failings, showing him how to fix things and regain a sense of direction, and ultimately how to live in love and harmony with God and others.”

Easter Eggs and Little Boys

Little boys do love to do their Easter egg hunts. Two little boys got plastic eggs with silly faces painted on them. Ryan seems to enjoy playing with his egg and ignoring his Dad on Easter.

Easter 2014

A quiet holiday. We did not have any major plans for the day. It is a day with family so we went to the Lewis’ house to share a meal with David, Renee, the boys, and her family. It was a BBQ type of day so it was burgers, chicken and hotdogs for the crew. Afterwards, we all sat down and watched the movie Frozen. I saw it on the plane coming back from Newark a few weeks ago. It is a nice animation though I don’t think it beats out Brave as far as I am concerned.

This Season of Justified

Last Tuesday was the last show of this season’s episodes of Justified. It was a riveting season. The writing, dialogue, and acting were superb. I am a fan of each and everyone involved with this TV show. Bob and I are not the only fans. Many others feel the same way. Here is a great explanation of why this is one of the best crime shows ever as the article tells us. I heartily agree.

Good Friday and Passover

Tonight Bob and I went with our neighbors, Diane Winterboer and Josi Lewis, to the Crawfordsville Church to attend a seder dinner. Passover and Good Friday occurred this week very close together, much like they did in Jesus’ day. We had soup and bread, again much like at the Last Supper Jesus had. At the Last Supper, Jesus shared Passover traditions with his disciples. He knew he was going to die and his life was forfeit for our signs. The pastors shared the traditions of Passover and what they meant in Jesus’ day. There was coverage of the history of Passover and the symbolism of each item and ritual performed. It was very educational. Passover stood for freedom of the Israelites from Egypt and it still stands for freedom to this day. Jesus offers freedom to us as we accept the gift of him dying for our sins.


How does it feel when one reads in a foreign newspaper that the United State government has evolved to an oligarchy. For me, it makes me feel sad. Northwestern and Princeton Universities have published a study indicating that we are at that stage. I do agree with their premise because I am becoming less sure that the citizens of this country can affect change. The people with money and influence control the process. The article is found here.

“The peer-reviewed study, which will be taught at these universities in September, says: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."
Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying organisations: "When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.””

Cults and Brainwashing

Long ago when I was just in college, Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her apartment in the East San Francisco Bay area. She was an heir to the Hearst Publishing Empire (William Randolph Hearst) and college age herself. It was a cause celebre because she later showed up with her kidnappers as a perpetrator in a bank robbery. She was eventually captured and convicted of this crime. The sentence was commuted later because it was shown that she had been brainwashed by this violent cult. The Federalist online has an interesting discussion of the case and how brainwashing is considered to work in individuals. The author compared the techniques of achieving this to how the media and culture are brainwashing the public in general in current times. Certainly we are being “nudged” to accept a change in social mores or be shunned by society around us. An interesting article that can be found here.

On a side note and the 6 degrees of separation concept, Patty Hearst’s sister was engaged at the time of the kidnapping to someone I knew well after that time. His name is Francis Morgan and is a Welsh friend of our good friend, Stephen Morgan.

The South Was Right

Historians have felt that the Civil War did not have origins in the anti-slavery movement. The South and Northern Democrats believed that the Republicans would aim to free the slaves in they came to power and war commenced.
An article describing this belief is found here.

“Why did the Southern states choose to secede when Abraham Lincoln was elected president in November of 1860? At the time, Southerners attributed “secession winter” to the fear that Lincoln and the Republicans fully intended to make war on slavery, bypassing the Constitution, which left the issue of slavery to the states. Thus, they believed, their only option was to separate from the Union.

Northern Democrats agreed, contending that Republicans intended to circumvent the Constitution’s prohibition against direct federal action against slavery. Agitation by the “Black Republicans” was responsible for the crisis. The Democrats felt vindicated when Republicans refused to compromise on the extension of slavery into the territories. In addition, the Democrats charged, the Republicans intended to refuse to enforce the fugitive slave law that had been passed in 1850 as part of the Great Compromise.”

A Pinwheel

Well, in doing some goofy takes to get photos in a close up mode yesterday, I got one with a pinwheel held against Bob’s bright blue shirt. In cropping out the Adam’s apple and neck of the Bob, I got this colorful photo. Nothing super but a bit of fun.

Photography Class

Bob and I spent most of today at the Linn County Fairgrounds and Expo Center. The Ag Extension Office was holding a photography class related to the 4-H clubs in the area. It was interesting and one could pick up some tips along the way. I would like a macro lens for my camera. But until I do, I will have to try for photos like this one of a straw hat and flowers on a bench.

Dancing Baby

Only a sweet baby boy would be dancing this day and age to “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus. Ryan put on a pretty good bouncing to the beat show this afternoon. At 10 months of age, he has much better rhythm than his Papa Bob shown with him in this picture where he was bouncing to that "achy breaky" beat.

Christians and Vikings

I have written about the Vikings television show before. One of the characters is a Christian priest who is captured by the Vikings and kept as a slave. He becomes a believer in the Old Norse Gods and is conflicted with his Christian past. This article describes the scenario and the author believes the scene with the attempted crucifixion is not historically plausible.

Sylvanus Thayer

Sylvanus Thayer was an engineer in the military. He was a 4 year graduate of Dartmouth. He was asked to come to West Point Military Academy and organize the program there in the early 1800s. Since he was a Thayer, we salute him. Here is a portrait of Sylvanus Thayer found in the Visitor’s Center at West Point.


Today would have been my father’s 97th birthday. Sadly he passed away in 1979. So long ago. He was a good guy and well liked. He was good to his friends and loved to talk to anyone, especially hunting and fishing. Here is a scan of him in the driveway of my grandparents home along S. Santiam Highway in Lebanon. The intersection is so different now. No store across the way for one. There is a gas station where their house stood. It is a 4 lane road and busy. Here is to you, Dad!

Home from Jersey

After visiting the website designer for Winn’s new website, Bob and I headed to the Newark airport to catch a flight home to Portland and then Lebanon. Unfortunately, I was not on the side of the plane to see the New York City skyline as we left. What a shame to miss that view though one can see the Empire State Building and the new Freedom Tower in the skyline as you look toward there from Newark.

A Goodbye

Bob and I met Maureen and Lisa for dinner tonight. It was a goodbye dinner with Maureen and a hello dinner for Lisa to continue with Winn. Maureen has a new job which started today and will no longer be working for Winn other than some small support on the side. We will miss her and also be glad that we have Lisa to carry on the day to day support that Winn needs. Here is a photo of me with Lisa and Maureen.

Hudson River

During the Revolutionary War, the Americans strung a linked cable across the Hudson River to Constitution Island to prevent the British from moving their boats and army up the Hudson Valley by the river. Here is a photo of the Hudson River from right at West Point Military Academy.

West Point

We made a jaunt up with Glenn to the town of Highland Falls to visit the military academy at West Point. Highland Falls is a small town along the Hudson River. George Washington established a military post there during the Revolutionary War to help protect the Hudson Valley and the bend in the river was a natural spot to set up defenses against the British. We went through the visitors center and then on to the West Point Museum. A lot of history of West Point and war is found there.

Raised Gardening Beds

It is the time of the year to start thinking about shrubs, vegetables, new trees, new berry bushes, etc. Sunset Magazine always seems to have great articles to share and here is one on building the perfect raised bed.

Jews in Denmark in World War II

Why did Denmark’s Jews escape the round up and capture to be sent to concentration camps that happened in other European countries? Why did the citizens of Denmark protect their Jewish population more and help many of them to escape from the Nazi overrule. A discussion of this can be found in an article here.

“And yet the question that has been nagging many people since the second world war is why the record of some nations appears to have been so much better than others. Why, for example, did more than 70% of Dutch Jews disappear into the death camps, while almost all the Jews in Denmark managed to get away safely?”

Off to Jersey

Bob and I left Portland at 6 a.m. to fly to New Jersey, landing at the Newark airport. As we approached the airport, I did get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty (seemed small) and also the Manhattan skyline. The look of the cities in the area as we looked down seemed almost burnt or bombed out in appearance. The trees had not leafed out, the grass was brown, and all seemed dark on the surface. They had a tough and snowy winter that seems to have defeated the “garden state” look. It was depressing and the winter was depressing for them too.

Starter Marriages and Happiness

Getting married at an earlier stage of life before you have built a career and home has it challenges. It also can build a strong relationship, friendship, and marriage. To read an explanation of the Advice for a Happy Life by Charles Murray, it can be found here. I would say that this pair of Thayers fit the article well. We married when we were 21 (me) and 20 (Bob). We have been friends and soul mates. It has been a good relationship and full of good laughs. We have many mutual interests and can go on vacation together without getting bored. Many cannot say the same.
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