Modern Parallelism with President Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment

As I read over my latest “The Week” magazine, I note on p. 11, Oct. 25, 2019 edition, an article entitled “The impeachment of Andrew Johnson.” What an interesting recounting of the history of one of our presidents who was impeached and then not removed from office in 1868 due to a single vote that prevented the 2/3 majority needed in the Senate.

Read the whole article for yourself: https://theweek.com/articles/872463/impeachment-andrew-johnson

To me the parallelism of President Johnson’s style and actions to modern times jumped out at me in many ways:

  • Johnson rode into office as Vice President because he opportunistically masked his true underlying beliefs, taking the side of the Union as the only Senator to do so from a slave state. Thus, as a radical Democrat, he was placed on the Radical anti-slavery Republican ticket for VP by Lincoln in Lincoln’s second term campaign.
  • Johnson began his term by ripping members of the Cabinet with harangues that shocked the nation.
  • With the death of Lincoln, Johnson reverted to his true beliefs of white supremacy, suggesting the deportation of millions of blacks.
  • Johnson accused members of congress of a conspiracy and plotting to overthrow him.
  • Johnson dubbed bimself “King Andy” and claimed Divinity directly from God in his actions.
  • He publicly threatened to fire Cabinet members who differed from his true line of thinking and did so including the firing of the Secretary of War; the straw that finally broke the camel’s back for congress and brought about impeachment.

The Articles of Impeachment dealt with:

  1. Overreaching his executive authority in the firing of Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton.
  2. Circumventing the proper chain of command.
  3. Conduct and tone unbecoming of a President in attempting to bring “disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach” onto members of Congress.

Read some Great Mags like “The Week”, or “Time”, or “U.S. News”, because it allows you to turn off the TV pundits and form and discuss your own opinions from facts written by award winning reporting.

This is all food for thought, because it is beginning to sound an awful lot like someone I know and hear about daily!

Enjoy!>)

Photo Tour of Curacao: 2019

The off seasons of October/November and April/May are fabulous times of the year to visit the Caribbean and do a bit of scuba diving with your friends. Given all of the choices of thousands of islands, my wife and I continue to return to Curacao, now for the fifteenth year!

Our choice of Lodging, Waterside Apartments in Boca Sami http://www.waterside.cw/ hasn’t changed during that period of time for several absolutely excellent reasons: Views, Diving, People.

Waterside is there! Right over the waters of Snake Bay, Boca Sami
The view of Snake Bay from one of the Waterside apartments looking out to sea
Diving in waters that often have 80 – 100 ft visibility
Accessible wrecks and walk-in reefs
Sea life that is protected and reefs that are not dying due to climate change
Colorful towns and friendly people
Old Historic Houses
Visages of Colonial Life
Colorful Market Places
More than enough art and trinkets for momentoes
Excellent Coast Guard Service
Crashing Waves!

If you go, be sure to do your diving out of the best dive shop on the island just down the street from Waterside. It’s Dive Wederfoort! http://www.divewederfoort.com/

Run by Patric Geers, see his qualifications and staff at http://www.divewederfoort.com/meet-our-team.

Dive Wedeerfoort as been open since 1955 and the original owner and world renowned dive instructor, Eric Wederfoort lives right across the entrance into Snake Bay from the Waterside Apartments. He’s an encyclopedia of fabulous stories and dives in Curacao and worldwide.

Enjoy your trip!

U.S. National Orienteering Championships – 2019

Talk about a “Happening”! The 2019 USA National Orienteering Championships, http://www.us.orienteering.org/orienteers/on-foot/results , hosted by the Bay Area Orienteering Club, http://baoc.org/wiki/Schedule/2019/US_Nationals , of the San Francisco, California area, was attended by over 200 persons featured the USA National Competitions in over 20 age and ranking categories from age 12 up through and including age 80+.

Although the hype of the event is generally around the US National and Junior National team members competitions, at all age levels there were sufficient contestants and courses to keep everyone active and involved for the full three day event in Big Basin Redwoods StatePark, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Basin_Redwoods_State_Park , and on the Campus of Cabrillo College, https://www.cabrillo.edu/.

In Orienteering for any race, each competitor in an age group starts at least three minutes apart from other members of that group. This is to prevent following. Here I am among the redwoods of Big Basin (Back turned in Blue Columbia Gorge Orienteering Club shirt) waiting at the start to be called up for the beginning of the Middle Distance event.

There were a total of six different competitions in which participants could vie for superiority: Sprint, Middle Distance, Long Distance, Relay and Temp-O. As always in top notch competitions, any slight blunder is enough to knock winning contenders down to lesser medals or out of the winner’s circle completely. So let’s see how I did on the Middle distance for my medal. You can see all of the event information at the BAOC US National Web Site: http://baoc.org/wiki/Results/2019/US_Nationals

The Middle Distance map for my age group, 75+ years of age is below: Note it’s only 2 kilometers (1 1/4 miles in length) but there is an elevation change of 125 meters (that’s 410 feet) which pulls a lot of energy out of the legs as you go cross-country using only a compass and map for reference and trying to avoid as much of the green (especially the dark green of impenetrable evergreen huckleberry thickets in the steep open redwood forest. By open, I don’t mean nice and smooth as there are downed timber patches of three and four foot diameter logs and short underbrush along the way not counting streams and cliffs that must be crossed or navigated around while not losing one’s orientation and sense of direction while going as fast as possible.

When I took off at “triangle which marks the start, I was pumped up for the race. Arriving from the start to control # 1 was a cinch, the westernmost end of a shallow ditch, but I got over confident on #2 and wasted 8 minutes which likely cost me a chance at either the Gold or Silver Medals. When I found #2, the depression the route to #3 was obvious, cut over to the stream that runs just North of #2 and follow it up hill in an almost brush-less corridor until I have to cross the deep ravine of the creek to reach the spur which ran between two sections of the stream. At this point I saw one of the fastest 70+ competitors whom I knew had started right after me, so I knew others were having difficulties with 1-2 and I was catching up with anyone in my age category who might have passed me during my “brain fart” between 1 and 2. My time from 2-3 was the fastest for our group and I picked up 10 seconds on the leader. Number 4, northernmost tree in a group of significant lone trees was easy as there was a pretty good clearing to recognize. The ditch at #5 was shallow and required a bit of a detour to the north to skirt the think underbrush, but if you were keeping your attention on the map and cut the trail, it was like following a handrail. Getting to the knoll of #6 was simply a matter of straight-line navigating as long as you compensated for each of the little jogs that came in getting around some of the denser brush in between. The clearing for #7 had a lot of dark green brush in between on the direct route, so I cut NNW to hit the trail, turned left and followed the trail to the junction and then cut upwards. Heading to #8 I took a chance and just bush crashed down the slope from 7 and was able to find a quick way across the stream and up the hill to the trail. I then followed the trail until I was NNE of the knoll and cut up through the open timber to that control. This was a great move because I had the fastest time for our group on this leg and actually picked up two whole minutes on the leader. Getting to #9 was a straight line dash and then I cut directly to the road to hit #10 and then sprinted down the flagged chute for the double circle which is the finish. Again I had the fastest time for our group on this leg, although the measly 1 second (15 sec. vs 16 sec.) is really nothing other than bragging points. You can see my win/spit times for each leg of the course along with other members in that 75+ race at: http://obasen.orientering.se/winsplits/online/en/default.asp?page=table&databaseId=65392&categoryId=14 . Hope you enjoy the description. My Bronze Medal front and back below on top of the great T-shirt for the event.

Rick Receiving his bronze medal on the last day of the meet following the Sprint competition.
Both sides of medal resting on Event T-Shirt

Book review: The Wake of the Perdido Star by Gene Hackman and Daniel Lenihan

Wake of the Perdido Star

Wake of the Perdido Star by Gene Hackman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this post-American Revolutionary seafaring tale for its new twists on an old traditional sailor plot-line. Young Jack O’Reilly is at that late teen-age point where he longs to escape the confines of his parental supervision, stretch his legs and take on the world. When Jack’s father’s work plays out in New England, the family sets off to start a new life in Cuba on hereditary plantation holdings. Arriving in Cuba, aboard the ill-fated ship, The Perdido Star, the family dreams are shattered as they find their lands confiscated by the powerful Count de Silva. The Count’s treacherous plans play out as Jack’s parents are murdered and he is forced to flee the country. Again aboard The Perdido Star, lumbered with a half-mad captain and semi-hostile crew around him, young Jack O’Reilly learns a sailor’s trade in the school of hard knocks.
This is one of the very interesting parts of the book as it details daily life aboard ship, the interplay of personalities in a confined space that lasts for months on end, and the different roles played by the ship’s sailors, mates and the captain. As the ship reaches the roaring ’40, headed south around Cape Horn, the lack of a proper Captain puts the ship into repeated danger. Good seamanship can only be coordinated by having a strong hand at the helm and the captain’s antics make him the laughing-stock of the ship with a consequent failure to deal with the raging weather surrounding the Horn. As masts break and men are washed overboard, the ship becomes a rudderless derelict during a hurricane. Jack and the other survivors of the storm find themselves wrecked on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific. There they spend more than a year meeting the natives, salvaging cargo from the wreckage of their ship and hoping for the chance passage of another ship to take them off the islands.
At this point in the book, I was intrigued by the novel methods used to salvage the muskets and other stores in extremely deep water using a makeshift diving bell. After months of isolation, an opportunity to escape the islands comes in the form of a Dutch slaver. It is a mixed blessing as the Americans are faced with either becoming prisoners of the Dutch, or being wiped out so that the slavers can capture the local natives to sell them as slaves to the East Indies plantations. In the ensuing battles, Jack finds that he has natural military leadership abilities and is accepted by the crew due to his size and level headed thinking abilities. When the crew of The Perdido Star finally takes control of the Dutch ship, they limp to Manila in the Philippines and complete repairs before heading back to America. Stopping in Cuba, Jack, now a full-grown man, leads the men on a rampage and wreaks his revenge upon Count de Silva.
You will find this book to be a fun read. Enjoy.




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Book Review: Agent ZigZag by Ben MacIntyre

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The stories that keep coming out of the Second World War never cease to amaze me! The recently opened files on Eddie Chapman have yielded just one more incredible episode to the spying legends of that war. The blatant audacity of Chapman, not only in his pre-war life as a safecracker but also during the actual conflict as a successful double agent for the British, shows how the talent of a man with street smarts can be educated to go undercover as an agent and be able to fool even the keenest minds of the German spy catchers who interviewed him repeatedly. At several points during the book, I wondered how Chapman would be able to continue to fool his German masters, or whether he wasn’t perhaps a very cleaver triple agent who was able to give just enough to the British as well as the Germans to keep them both on the string right up to the end of the war. I loved the method of coding, having read of several other methods in the past, but was unfamiliar with this use of a single word with the clever number assignment system. MI6 missed out on a great opportunity to recruit Chapman after the war when his work with MI5 was over. He would have been an invaluable asset in the Cold War and in helping hunt down the fleeing Nazi criminals in the far-flung corners of the world. Enjoy this well researched and well-written book. There are few books that tell a spy’s true story so vividly.



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Book Review: The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver

The Stone Monkey (Lincoln Rhyme, #4)

The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Author Jeffery Deaver is an amazing storyteller. The topic of illegal immigration right on the tip of everyone’s tongue and certainly the smuggling of Chinese to work in our sweatshops has a long history of crime and violence attached to it. The Snakehead of the smuggling operation fits perfectly into the story as the kind of man who would gladly sacrifice an entire shipload of illegal immigrants in a sinking ship rather than face the possibility of capture by the Coast Guard. Quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme is a great character, but he works in the background of the novel and doesn’t get my full heartfelt attention. Officer Amelia Sachs is my real love in this book. She’s smart, observant, inquisitive and tough no matter whether the situation is taking her onto a lonesome beach to hunt for survivors of a sinking ship, to diving for evidence in the murky waters of the Atlantic. I would love to be able to give this book a “5” star rating, but author Deaver got in over his head when he puts Amelia into scuba gear and dumps her over the side into a wreck full of dead bodies and floating debris to search for that key piece of evidence. This is the one big “Oops!” in the book. Read the scuba diving exploits of our heroine with a few grains of salt. Any PADI diver with only 25 dives under their belt plus not having been down for a couple of years, who eschews the aide of professional Coast Guard search and rescue professionals by going down to 80 ft., entering an unexplored wreck alone and staying beyond their safety limits for time and air has “death wish” written all over them. Fortunately, Amelia, with the author’s divine license, is able to swing the pendulum of death into success and bring up some key evidence. She then goes on to nail one more Snakehead to the wall in the next twelve chapters in a dramatic enough finale so that I can forgive a ten-page blooper. If you like fast moving intricately plotted action novels with enough who-done-it for a good mystery as well, then this is a novel for you. I highly recommend it. The author has done his due diligence on researching Chinese customs, language, and culture to bring realism and sensitivity to the novel in a way that all will appreciate while still bringing us a ripping good tale.





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Spring at Catherine Creek, Washington

I took a great hike across the Columbia River to a wonderful spring flower area just 10 miles east of Hood River and in the state of Washington. Wow! The Bird’s Bills, or Shooting Stars, as some other people call them were just popping out of the ground!

birdbills

Then on the hillside just beyond them I found the beginnings of a the blooming of a field of edible blue Camas. In another week there will be thousands of these flowers everywhere out here. This was one of the reasons why this area has hundreds of old Teepee ring mounds, because it was a favorite place for the Indians of the Columbia River Basin to meet and trade for smoked fish, obsidian, flint, Camus and Bitterroot tubers and other items. Still a favorite site for lots of people.

camus

This site is a favorite for both Washingtonians and Oregonunions (Pronounced like – “Oregon Onions” is our word to describe ourselves. The missused word, – “Oregonian” rightfully, as my Grandfather Gordon G. Brown used to say, “Refers to a Newspaper”) .

Enjoy your day!>)

Spring comes to Hood River, OR !>)

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Mars Underground – By William K. Hartmann: Book Review

Mars UndergroundMars Underground by William K. Hartmann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The basic underlying story of the old timer explorer of Mars who disappears and the search that follows is very well written and if the author had cut the book back to 225-250 pages, leaving out some of the mind-numbing long descriptions of the inner thoughts of various characters, it would have boosted the book up to a 4 star level in my opinion. The techy search is good and well worth the descriptive paper. The attempts to sabotage the search for various reasons is also well done. So, as a reader of science fiction for over 50 years, I would say, skim through the late night bedroom rendezvous, unless that’s why you read Sci-Fi. Skim over also the mental contortions of the central characters and concentrate on what is the underlying faster moving plot. Eat up the surface walks and the rides in the dune buses across the uncharted dust seas with their cyclonic dust devils. Devour the descriptions of light and the hazards that exist in a world where preparation for the journey is everything because, without sufficient protection, food, water and, oh, yes, oxygen, you aren’t going to come back to spin tales of aliens. In the ending, I could have used a bit more descriptive work by the author on the alien vessel to perhaps bring me back for a sequel. Where did that shining projectile that approached the speed of light as it departed Mars actually go? Was it a messenger? Was anything on the receiving end? A lot of questions remain when we reach the final page.

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A Must Read Book: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious ManuscriptsThe Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here is a “Must Read” book if you want more information on understanding how the moderate form of Islam taught the world mathematics, medicine, science, literature, poetry, and a world view of religious thinking over a millennium. Author Joshua Hammer has made his career on reporting worldwide for a plethora of magazines and newspapers. Over a period of ten years, he followed and researched the life and work of Abdel Kader Haidara, a man who has dedicated nearly 50 years to the gathering, preservation, cataloging and saving hundreds of thousands of the world’s most precious books which had been written copied and hidden in and around the Sahara Desert city of Timbuktu, Mali. In the process, Hammer follows the paths that Haidara used as he traveled and traded for books as he worked to build world heritage libraries for UNESCO from the long-hidden in family libraries all over central Mali. Hammer understands the peoples of the area, their customs, histories, and religions. He describes how the moderate Islamic Sufis became the center of human knowledge, discussion, and new ideas over a tumultuous history of a thousand years. In the process, the families guarded their special libraries through a millennium of moderate and tyrannical government in order to preserve some of the oldest books of religious studies and critique as well as scientific learning. Author Hammer does an excellent job of describing the latest threat to world knowledge and learning, the Jihadi movement in Islam with its Saudi Arabian sect ideas of rule by strict Sharia Law. He follows the buildup of the movement in Libya which then spilled over into the central Sahara and entered Mali in the past ten years. He documents the anarchic rule of the foreign Islamic Jihadi warriors who eschewed the moderate Sufi ways and forced the people of Timbuktu and much of Mali to live in daily fear of their lives while capricious gangs of Jihadi enforcers thronged the city and meted out punishment in a medieval manner. As the threats to the populace grew, Haidara and the other librarians realized that the hundreds of thousands of books they had gathered over some fifty years, were in danger of being destroyed by fanatical gangs. At great risk to their own lives, these dedicated persons traveled overland by canoe, back roads and through checkpoints in the middle of a war zone to smuggle all the books in Timbuktu some eight hundred miles across the sub-Sahara to safe houses in Bamako, capital of Mali and far from Jihadi hands. The reader will learn an amazing amount of information about the ongoing work to save our world’s ancient literature as well as have a better understanding of the geopolitical problems facing frontline developing nations who are confronted with Jihadi movements that can take control of entire countries unless the western world and the African Union of States act decisively to stop this regressive movement that is spreading into any vacuum of power. Mr. Abdel Kader Haidara deserves a Nobel Prize. Author Joshua Hammer deserves all the awards and kudos he can get for this well documented and groundbreaking journalistic work.

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