Did the West Lose Control in 1888?

Another counterfactual article written about historical events of the 19th and 20th Centuries. The premise of this article is that the death and short reign of Frederick III of Germany led to the build up of hostilities of World War I. The reason is that Frederick III was a reformer and a liberal. He would have led Germany away from a militaristic build up in attitude and materials. Since he died slightly over 3 months into his reign, his son, Kaiser Wilhem II who was quite militaristic and confrontational, led Germany into pacts with other nations that in the long run led to inevitable war in 1914. The issue is that we still may have had war or revolution in Russia, possibly Germany and Britain due to the build up of socialist and communist revolutionaries. Their point also being that the devastation of World War I led to the opportunity of Hitler’s control of Germany and therefore, World War II. Crisis and economic turmoil lead to further destabilization and revolution which occurred throughout much of the 20th Century and into current times.

Abandoned Places in This World

I caught an interesting page of photos and listings of 38 different abandoned sites around the world. The photos are quite striking. It is definitely an interesting piece to look through. One spot they listed was abandoned for many years though is now inhabited and available for viewing. That spot is Eileen Donan Castle in the Highlands of Scotland. It is one of the most photographed spots in Scotland, justifiably so. Bob and I visited there several years ago when we made a big tour of Scotland. We stayed at a B&B right across Loch Alsh from the Castle. It made a great view and we had a base for several excursions around the area. The town of Dornie had a nice little restaurant called Peggy’s which offered good Scottish food. Here is a lovely photo of Eileen Donan castle that I took on that trip with the Isle of Skye way in the background. Loch Duich starts to the left of the castle where it meets Loch Alsh. Loch Duich leads toward Shiel Bridge at the end and the Seven Sisters. A road off to the west from Shiel Bridge heads over the mountains to the small settlement of Glenn Elg, an interesting this community, resting at the edge of the Kyle of Lochalsh, across from Skye. There is a broch built nearby Glenn Elg from very early times of the people of that area.

Some Current TV series

With Justified due to start a new season in a few weeks, there is a good article in the Wall Street Journal pointing a person to some of the different, interesting TV series coming up. I watched the first season of the beginning series listed, The Americans. It is a good one to follow yesterday’s blog on Whittaker Chambers. This series is about two sleeper agents from the Soviet Union who live as husband and wife in the United States in the Reagan years. They are espionage agents dedicated to finding secrets that will benefit their handlers in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Enjoy reading about some possible shows to follow right here.

Whittaker Chambers

Over the years, I had heard and read a number of references to the Cold War hearings regarding the Communist infiltration of higher levels, one such person being Alger Hiss. He had been tabbed for his Communist activities during their earlier working and friendly relationship by Whittaker Chambers. Chambers left the Communist Party and was an editor for Time for a decade before all of this settled out. The denouncement has been a hotly contested through decades because Hiss greatly denied the claim. He was proven to be a liar and was convicted of perjury due to lying to a Congressional committee. Time and new information has shown that Chambers was telling the truth and Hiss was lying. Chamber wrote a well-known book called Witness which has been in print since its first publication. I finally decided to read the book and am into a follow up study called Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case by Allen Weinstein. They both are fascinating and Witness is well worth reading. So much of what he saw in the attacks on his honesty and character are what we see today if Democrats or liberals are backed into a corner. He talks about revolution and refers to the New Deal as a revolution in this country. We may be seeing the same now in the transformation of progressivism occurring. This is not something I am in favor of and hope that it will not happen the way it is planned. The blog article that got me looking deeper into what Whittaker Chambers brought to our way of life by being a “Witness” is found here.

Sitting With Grandchildren

We had our first experience of grandchild sitting from David’s side today. The boys were good and it was entertaining to watch. One can start learning their patterns and interests with time. Ryan likes to explore the ground he can scoot over and Nicolas wants to play computer games, Minion Rush is the big one. The Minions are definitely strange looking critters. I’d hate to be chased by them.
Bob did a great grandpa job with both of them. He had Ryan for a short time trying to do a little standing, even if wobbly, on his two little legs.

World War I Counterfactual

2014 will be the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the Great War. One article today in the Guardian discusses what might have been the fate of the world or at least the European Continent if the Germans had won the war instead of lost. It is possible their suppositions could be the way it would have gone. I would surmise that the Bolshevik Revolution or Communism would have taken even better root in England or maybe in Germany. The plan of Marx was that Germany then England would be the initial staging for his revolutionary concepts in the proletariat. To read this counterfactual, go here.

Jasmine's 12th Birthday

It would not be a Christmas if I did not post a picture of Jasmine too. She had her 12th birthday today. Of course, she is growing into being a young lady with her own personality. She is a favorite of Ryan’s and does a good job entertaining him...........not that this picture shows it since he just was waking up from a nap. He did shortly after put on his bright smiley face and make noises at her in return. Happy Birthday, Jasmine.

First Christmas with Ryan

Rising early, we got right in and got the prime rib seared and into the oven. Fruit salad and herb rolls, here we come. Soon the boys and families arrive. We settle in to eat a wonderful meal of goodies. Way too many things to snack on. The children went more for the Popcorn Chicken and french fries. Foolish young’uns. They don’t know what they are missing. Soon, it was present passing and opening. I think all went over well with the group and everyone should love what they received.
Ryan’s first Christmas in Berlin

Shasta, Nicolas, and Denver are IPod movie watching
The adults are all settled in for Christmas dinner in 2013. Yum!!!

Christmas Eve with Neighbors and Friends

A big day of cleaning and readying food. We had an open house for our Berlin Community neighbors and friends from 3 to 5:30 pm. David showed up with Nicolas and Ryan. Both boys were good troopers for it all. We had 15 people stop by and with our family members, there were 20 people all together. We had a lovely time serving up food and beverages to everyone. The Starbucks Christmas coffee blend went over well, Bob made 2 pots. It was a true to joy to share our Christmas Eve with such nice people and good neighbors.
Awhile after all had gone home and clean up was done. I was scanning the internet and came across the link for this 1977 Johnny Cash Christmas TV show. What a second joy to behold to see such wonderful artists and music for this Christmas Eve. We need a return of such talent and artistry. Behold!
Christmas in 2013, a look at early morning lights

Thomas Paine in 1776

On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine wrote his pamphlet, American Crisis. The words were ordered to be read to the troops by George Washington before they crossed the Delaware River to attack Trenton.

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: ’tis dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated........
Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it and repulse it.......I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. “Tis the business of little minds to shrink;but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

The Great War's Echoes?

Are we cruising close to many of the same issues and triggers that lead up to the Great War, aka World War I. This war affected the European continent to an unbelievable extent. So much of the fruit of youth was annihilated on the battlefield and in the trenches. 100 years later we are still dealing with the fall out of policies and colonial decisions that affected a large part of that area of the world. Some feel we are looking at many of the same scenarios and problems that set the world ablaze then. Are we? Could we repeat many of the same mistakes? Are we Balkanizing and forming alliances that could hurt us later? This is one opinion page’s take on the possibility.

Still a Blondie

We had family time late yesterday afternoon and early evening. Ryan was a mix of smiling and flirting to clingy to Mom and Dad. No ugly old grandparents would do. Big tears would erupt if he got dumped on their laps. He is all smiles in this photo where he is in his crib. It makes it light colored hair look even more blonde for the moment.

Tolkien Phrase and Morality

I read in one recent article that there is a lot of the basic traditional human nature to be found in Harry Potter books as in JRR Tolkien’s work. One example they used and I saved is this......................

“Asher-Perrin’s piece is a particularly clear expression of the
animating moral sense that has attracted people to Harry Potter since
the first book came out. The moral universe of Harry Potter might best
be summed up by a quote from the movie version of JRR Tolkien’s The
Hobbit. In that movie, one of the characters say that some believe “it
is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I
have found. I’ve found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk
that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness, and love.” “


Cat Animations

Some people are way too clever for me. There is a fellow on the internet who has done one of these clever things. He is posting animations of him and his cat, Ella, into different scenarios with the technique and look of different artists. It states that he has done this for 100 different cartoonists’ styles. Such artists such as Gary Larson, Berkeley Breathed, etc. He terms his animation scenarios as Mikenesses since he is Mike. I hope Ella does not mind being put into such awkward and interesting positions. Check it out!

Cuba Current

There has been a fascinating series of articles written by Michael Totten about his visit to Cuba. He is a great observer of a country and its people in current times and turmoils. He has written about several countries in the Middle East. Travel and recording his observations of such areas is his goal and work. He has added an observation of the real life Cuba, for the people who must life there every day.

2013 Christmas Concert

Last night was Nicolas’ grade school, Cascade Elementary, Christmas pageant. The girls were dressed like little dolls and the boys were a mix. Nicolas’ grade is a large group of kids. They did a fine job and I got video of that section of the show. He was dressed up very well. Ryan seemed to have a fun time until he got tired and wanted his Mom near the end. Here is Ryan with Papa Bob T.

The Tea Party

In 1773, a motley group of individuals called the Mohawks (not the tribe) made their way to the wharf in Boston harbor. They climbed on board the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, British vessels all and began to toss chests of tea onto the deck, breaking them open and tossing tea into Boston Harbor. I bet this was a bit of cold work (unless they were warmed by alcoholic beverages). King George III was not happy and coaxed the British Government to establish the Intolerable Acts. Things progressed from there and the rest is U.S. history.

The Bill of Rights

On this day in 1791, the state of Virginia was the last state to ratify The Bill of Rights or 10 Amendments to the Constitution. It is good to remember what they stand for and how they came about. It seems as if a number of politicians in charge have lost the sense of what this all stands for and assumes it means the right for them to grab and maintain power versus preserving the freedom and rights of the people of the Unites States. Long live the Constitution and our Bill of Rights.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote to Madison, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth........and what no just government should refuse”. Would that our current government not avoid and trample on that concept.

The 10 Books Game

I saw this idea on Ricochet today...............doing a 10 books game. As the blog author notes…

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way and why. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be "great" books, just ones that have touched you in some way. As always the 'why' is the most important part.”

To get a sense and see what others have listed for their 10, you will need to read through the comments. I will start with my list though I will probably need to come back to finish at a later time.
P.S. I thought I might have a problem gathering the 10, I actually should have more.

Anne of Green Gables/Lucy Maud Montgomery: I was an only child and had to often live with my own company and thoughts. Anne reminded me of myself in many ways and the need to find those kindred spirits in our lives. LMM brought to life a world of wonder on the farm on Prince Edward Island. I can only say how special it was to see LMM’s home.

The Secret Garden/Frances Hodgson Burnett: Another young person’s book, of loneliness and friendship, developing within a wonderful bit of nature, a secret garden.

The Third Reich/William Shirer: The book that totally grabbed my interest in history, especially military history of World War I and World War II. It is a large book yet it showed how small things can change the course of history or could have done so and possibly saved many lives or set a different course. I have learned the concept of counterfactuals.

Undaunted Courage/Stephen Ambrose: Another history that grabs you and is written in such easy understandable wording. The story of Lewis and Clark’s journey across the continent and what they faced in this journey. I have been to St. Louis, the beginning of the trek and we have been to Fort Astoria where they wintered at the end. Their story is really a lot of the story of the Pacific Northwest and Ambrose draws you into their story with a firm grip and does not let go.

Outlander/Diana Gabaldon: Time travel and romance. Two intertwining factors mixed with a Scottish Highlander warrior and a capable American woman.........what more can you want. Emotional chemical highs, bodice ripping, and other tasty reads. This book got me into romance novels as “tension relievers”.

Katherine/Anya Seton:
I read this book many years ago. The romance between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt (third son of King Edward III of England and father of King Henry IV). Their children and descendants had a huge impact on the future of English history especially in the 15th century of England. The book made me a Plantagenet history buff for a lifetime.

The Bronze Horseman/Paulina Simons:
A sad and beautiful story set in Leningrad between two souls falling in love and dealing with the horror of totalitarianism and war during World War II. Simons’ writing seems to burrow into your soul and consciousness and take root. Her writing and this story was even one Bob found enjoyable and he liked it.

A History of the English Speaking Peoples/Winston Churchiil:
Churchill is an awesomely impressive writer of history. I have read through these 4 volumes several times and learned so much that makes me an English history fan forever. I have other sets of his..........World War I, World War II, and on his ancestor, John Churchill-the first Duke of Marlborough.

Dracula/Bram Stoker:
The ultimate initial horror story. Hide under the covers and read so Dracula won’t find you and suck your blood. Great read and shiver maker.

Salem’s Lot, The Night Shift, The Stand/Stephen King:
The contemporary horror story author. I read all of King’s earlier works. I do find later ones more of a slog for me. These three kept me up late at night unable to stop reading to see what fate awaited me when I did.

The Stranger Beside Me/Ann Rule; Helter Skelter/Vincent Bugliosi: Both are the ultimate in True Crime reads. Written by authors who know how to bring you into the mindset of the criminal(s), the victims, and all the other people who surround them and are impacted by the crime.

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Simarillion/ JR Tolkien: An author and a set of books to take your imagination to another level. Not science fiction yet other world claiming. Other peoples even. The menace of evil in the world and how goodness and determination of will can fight against it. Who will win out.........Sauron and his hordes of Orcs or little Hobbitses bolstered by Elves, Dwarves,Wizards, and kingly Men.

The Bible:
Enough said. I have read the whole holy book and it is the ultimate read.

I know I could keep going though this should be enough to get a conversation going, don’t you think? I got to the unlucky, lucky number of 13 in a manner of speaking.

Cats Take Precedent

One should always enjoy unique situations and the cleverness of other people’s methods. It was with pleasure that I noted today that someone had place a double-sided sign along Wheeler Street (a frequently used truck route) in Lebanon admonishing drivers to slow down since that location was a cat crossing. The two different signs were very cutely done and I had to get some pictures, especially with the snow in the background. I sincerely hope the cats in the area appreciate and take advantage of the care this cat lover and artist has shown by making these signs.





It is great to be overall finished with all the items and work I needed to do for recertification with ABVP. I uploaded all the information onto their website and paid for my application. I am at least one month ahead of the deadline to do so. Yahoo, the hard part is done!
We celebrated by going over to the Winterboer’s home for their second annual Christmas dinner. Mike always grills a great tri-tip and everyone else brings great things to taste. I made a corn casserole using the sweet corn Bob grew and also this Herb Roll recipe that is so easy to do. People really enjoyed the rolls and I was asked to share the recipe.


Finishing up all the details for uploading on the ABVP certification. It will be a long night adding items for CE for each lecture hour onto the website, one lecture at a time.
The second part of the Peter Jackson movie, The Hobbit, is opening Friday night. I wish we could see it. It will probably have to be at a later time. I did see this article by Bill Whittle that talks about Tolkien’s relevancy to the menace and evil of the current times. I would have to say I have seen that myself in his work (or at least the movie version). The following is an excerpt, a small piece of the article.

“Sauron is not evil because he wears black armor. Sauron is not evil because he is warlike. Sauron is the embodiment of evil because all of his strength and power is deployed to bend every living creature to his will.

To that end, he has put all of his strength and will into a single Ring of Power: the circle, the zero -- golden and beautiful and precious, it will draw every living soul into its bottomless depths.”


With the new IPhone I have, I am trying to use the camera when possible just to test it out. I don’t think the quality is nearly as good as a camera. It does offer convenience to shoot when it is handier than having a camera. I got this photo as we traveled down the I-5 freeway coming back from Albany at sunset time. It was a gorgeous sunset with lots of red color over the mountains. It would have been nice to get a still photo though stopping along the road probably is not a good idea.........too many reckless drivers.

Clouds Move In

Weather changes can be interesting. A cloud cover moved in late this afternoon around dusk. It was a slow moving diagonal front coming from primarily the north. It was interesting to watch its slow movement and how it contrasted with the setting sun. I was able to capture a view of it with the IPhone camera.


Holiday Donation Drive

The annual Berlin Holiday gathering and donation drive was held yesterday at the Berlin Fire Station. Due to the snow, we did not have a large turn out though we had a lot of goodies and good cheer. We spent a lot of time chatting about what we have been doing and our plans for the holiday. Eleven people showed up including ourselves and we gathered some nice items to donate to the troops and Safe Haven. Here is a photo of some of those who were there.
Here are our decorations and the tables for food and beverages. Connie Hartman did a nice job with decorations.

fs-holiday-table-bottom-12-8-13FS holiday table


Pearl Harbor Memories

Today is December 7 and the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
There are some interesting reminders of what happened at Pearl Harbor and the impact it had on each family.
The first is a column that links to about the only color film footage of the attack that day. You can see the short intro and video on Powerline Blog here.
I was also sent the link to an article written by a cousin about Pearl Harbor and how we should never forget. He writes about how his father (the person who sent the link) felt the need to enlist. His father grew up in the area of Lynch NE where my mother and grandparents came from. The father is my grandmother’s nephew and the son of one of her favorite sisters, a woman who died of “dust pneumonia” at too young an age. Family history is always with us.

Let It Snow

We woke up to a deep cold morning where it had started snowing about 4:30 a.m. You can see how we have such a nice wintry feel to our local countryside with the early morning view of my cousin’s house below. It makes one want to snuggle in and keep warm. It looks like we might end up with about 3 inches plus of snow with the forecast of a very, very cold weekend, colder than we have had in possibly 40 plus years.

Kids and Storybook Land

We did not attend though we heard a lot about the opening night of Storybook Land at the Linn County Expo Center in Albany. It appears that Melissa and Renee with their kids made the stroll around the center looking at exhibits and the kids told their wishes to Santa. I am hoping for a photo of Ryan with Santa. The best I could download was with him bundled up in his stroller, Jasmine pushing, and Melissa and Renee tagging along. Christmas is coming!


It was just a quiet cold day outside, though very clear and sunny. A day for reflections. I am including one of the photos I took for a photography class in Lebanon that demonstrates “reflections”.

Christians Under Attack

It is very disturbing to read the level of hatred and violence that is being directed toward Christians in different part of the world. Here is an article that lays out the descriptions and number of violent attacks in the month of September 2013.

“The same month that Obama tried to wage war on behalf of the jihadi rebels in Syria (citing "human rights" concerns), some of the war's worst atrocities were committed against that nation's Christian minority, most notably in Ma'loula, an ancient Christian region where the inhabitants spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus.”

Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr was alternatively an American Statesman, once Vice President of the United States, and an opportunist bordering on traitor. He is well-known for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel before his life went further into disarray. I came across a short article that gave a synopsis of his history and describes how we as ordinary people in our lives and surroundings may cross paths with parts of history. Sometimes we know it is happening, other times we may be unaware.

Family Gathering

A later Thanksgiving dinner was held at the Lewis’. Lots of good food and desserts were present. I made another batch of yummy Apple Caramel Sweet Rolls to take. Bob was a hit with the kids in reading books and playing legos with them.
I just tried to take it easy and relax after a morning of baking the sweet rolls. Renee did post a cute photo of the boys. She gets good ones at candid moments.
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