160 post

Keeping one’s imagination relevant, timely and new is the ticket to success.

Squiggle, squint, squire, squick, squid, squaint, squain. square, squack, squawk!  I like “qu” words, especially with a “s” before.  There are not too many legitimate words that don’t have a “u” following the “q,” but there are a few: “qat, qi, qadi, qaid.”  Thank you, Scrabble Dictionary!  How can one not like “qat?”  Is the question mark before or after the quotation mark?  And another thing, how about the word “qat?”  That comes up in one’s conversation often I would guess.

noun: qat
  1. the leaves of an Arabian shrub, which are chewed (or drunk as an infusion) as a stimulant.
  2. the shrub that produces khat, growing in mountainous regions and often cultivated.
    Khat, kat and qat, all variations of the same word.  Why isn’t there just one word, can’t the world survive with just one version?
    Before going any further, I had AJ set me up on a new WordPress free site.  It is same as before with my age in years at the end, that is: : “whinings of an old guy 72.”  Pretty simple, I think.  Remember once your site nears 3 GB of stored memory (byte amount) then it won’t allow you to proceed any further.  You can text because the memory needed for that task is basically negligible. but any graphic images take a lot more byte size, so one gets a notice telling you that it can’t complete that task.  So when I reach that limit again, I can get the S-I-L (son-in-law) to set me up on yet another WordPress site, say: “woaog 75 or whatever.”  Also thought another cool name would be, “woarog or whinings of a really old guy.”

    I’ll have to be careful though because, at every step it asks you if you’d like to upgrade to a version that does more.  NOT.  I don’t need it, I’m basically a retired person who writes on this blog for fun, that is, “it keeps me busy and off the streets!”

But back to the task at hand: “Now what?”  More of the same, just slightly different.  But you’ll have to take my word for it because, I can’t enter any new graphic images, just the ones that are stored on the old blogs memory.  For example: 

I’m going to post this as a “final” post.  You won’t be hearing from me for a while because I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate on the new site: Whinings of an old guy 72.  That is my age at the start of this new blog.  The S-I-L not only changed the look, but the commands to get it to perform are different from what I’m used to, so it might take me a while.  See ya….






Who is this supposed to be, Melania, the First Lady?  You know her “nude” modeling photos are pretty cool as well as sexy, it’s all about attitude / something most Anti- Trump people / prudish Americans never understand…

If I may preach for just a little bit.  Everyone today is in such a hurry to yammer on about their beliefs and what makes them special and unique.  How about, “I’m happy to still be breathing and I’m happy that God rules in my life.  We usually forget to acknowledge who’s really in charge.


A breath of fresh air and now for something totally different.  “Variety is most definitely the spice of life.”  Posted a similar blog (Below) on # 90 / dated June 29, 2017.



How long will life survive on planet Earth?

Life on Earth will surely be wiped out eventually. But how long does it have, and what will it take to sterilise the entire planet?

 By Colin Barras

All things must pass. That includes life on Earth, which will surely be wiped out eventually. But how long does it have?

The fossil record tells us that life on Earth has lasted at least 3.5 billion years. In that time it has survived being frozen, clobbered by rocks from space, mass poisoning, and even lethal radiation. Clearly, it’s hard to completely sterilize the planet.  But there’s no shortage of potential apocalypses. Which of them will finally render the Earth barren?

Sometimes volcanic eruptions smother huge areas of land (Credit: Jabruson/NPL)

Sometimes volcanic eruptions smother huge areas of land (Credit: Jabruson/NPL)

Volcanic apocalypse

Timeframe: 0-100 million years? Maybe?

Probably the nearest life has come to ultimate destruction was 250 million years ago, during the end-Permian mass extinction. The event obliterated perhaps 85% of all species living on land – and 95% of all ocean-dwelling species.  Lava smothered an area eight times the size of the UK  No one is quite sure what happened, but it seems to be no coincidence that the extinction coincided with volcanic activity on a truly apocalyptic scale. Today we worry about the destructive power of super-volcanoes like Yellowstone. But the damage they might bring is nothing compared to what happened 250 million years ago.  Back then, Siberia experienced such a large and sustained period of activity that lava smothered an area eight times the size of the UK. Volcanic activity on that scale is rare, but not unheard of.  No one knows when the next such episode will happen, says Henrik Svensen at the University of Oslo in Norway. Similar-sized eruptions happened 200, 180 and 65 million years ago, so they’re not terribly regular. But one will surely happen eventually, and when it does the key question will be where it goes off.

Siberia's Putorana Plateau was all thrown up by volcanoes (Credit: Sergey Drozd/Alamy)

Siberia’s Putorana Plateau was all thrown up by volcanoes (Credit: Sergey Drozd/Alamy)

Svensen’s research suggests that a mega-eruption’s ability to wipe out species will depend on exactly where it punches through Earth’s crust. That’s because the volcanic activity 250 million years ago might not have been directly responsible for the massive extinction. The killer ingredient might have been salt.

Siberia is rich in salt deposits. When they were baked by the volcanic activity, Svensen thinks they released vast quantities of ozone-destroying chemicals into the atmosphere. Species all over the world then had to cope with harmful radiation from space that atmospheric ozone normally soaks up. The stress might well have killed most of them.

The bad news is that there are plenty of massive salt deposits on Earth today. “East Siberia is still among the largest reservoirs,” says Svensen. “Offshore Brazil is also big.”

If a mega-eruption formed in one of these areas, many species would die. But it’s unlikely that life itself would disappear. After all, while plants and animals fared poorly during the end-Permian extinction, single-celled organisms like bacteria sailed through virtually unharmed.

An asteroid impact would wipe out many species (Credit: Johan Swanepoel/Alamy)

An asteroid impact would wipe out many species (Credit: Johan Swanepoel/Alamy)

Asteroid threat

Timeframe: within 450 million years, maybe?

It’s common knowledge these days that asteroids and dinosaurs don’t get along. If a massive asteroid could contribute to the extinction of all of the world’s large dinosaurs, could one also wipe out all life on Earth?

Again, that might depend on exactly where the rock lands. We know that the Earth has been hit by some very large asteroids that have barely registered as life destroyers.  Impacts on the scale of the dinosaur killer are rare.  The Manicouagan crater in Canada – one of the largest impact craters on the planet – was created in a destructive impact about 215 million years ago. But the fossil record shows it didn’t trigger a dinosaur-scale extinction. That might be because the crater formed in relatively inert crystalline rock. Craters that form in volatile-rich sedimentary rocks, in contrast, might send clouds of climate-changing gases into the atmosphere, triggering global mass extinctions.  The good news is that impacts on the scale of the dinosaur killer are rare. Such big rocks may only strike Earth once every 500 million years.  But even if one does come along, mass extinction is unlikely to become mass sterilization. That would probably only be possible if Earth was hit by something even bigger than an asteroid: a rogue planet.

There might be a precedent for that. Some scientists think Earth was clobbered by a rogue planet soon after it formed, and that the resulting cloud of debris formed the Moon. “We can call this the Melancholia hypothesis, after Lars Von Trier’s movie,” says Svensen. Still, this possibility seems pretty remote.

Earth's core would solidify given enough time (Credit: Johan Swanepoel/Alamy)

Earth’s core would solidify given enough time (Credit: Johan Swanepoel/Alamy)

When the core freezes over

Timeframe: 3 to 4 billion years

While we’re on the subject of movies, consider 2003’s The Core. The story is that Earth’s core has mysteriously stopped rotating, so the US government backs a plan to drill to the centre of the Earth and restart it – because without an active core, Earth loses its magnetic field and all life is threatened.  Mars once had, and then lost, a magnetic field  The Core is mostly nonsense and has been rightly derided by scientists. But not all of the science it features is junk. Some researchers really do think that Earth’s magnetic field deflects ionizing particles from the sun, which would otherwise wear away Earth’s atmosphere. If they are right, then without a magnetic field our planet will lose its atmosphere too, and all life will die.  Something like this may have happened on Mars, which may once have been more hospitable to life than it is now.  In 1997, Joseph Kirschvink at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and his colleagues found good evidence that Mars once had, and then lost, a magnetic field. “The Martian magnetosphere collapsed sometime after 3.7 billion years ago, which is about the time that the planet went into a permanent snowball state,” says Kirschvink.

Mars is cold, dry and barren, but it wasn't always (Credit: NASA/USGS)

Mars is cold, dry and barren, but it wasn’t always (Credit: NASA/USGS)

You may have heard that Earth’s magnetic field is weakening. But don’t worry: that’s because the magnetic field is in the process of flipping direction, not dying. These flips have happened periodically for millions of years.  Could Earth’s magnetic field eventually disappear?  “If the field reverses, this doesn’t mean that it dies out completely,” says Richard Holme at the University of Liverpool in the UK. The flip might well do odd things to the magnetic field but “wouldn’t greatly disrupt life”, he says.  Could Earth’s magnetic field eventually disappear? Not any time soon, says Richard Harrison at the University of Cambridge in the UK.  For that to happen the core would have to completely solidify. Currently only the inner core is solid, while the outer core is liquid. “[The inner core] grows about a millimeter a year,” says Harrison, and the molten outer core is 2,300 km thick.

Gamma-ray bursts have been tentatively linked to past extinctions (Credit: NASA/SPL)

Gamma-ray bursts have been tentatively linked to past extinctions (Credit: NASA/SPL)

Gamma-ray burst

Timeframe: there’s a nearby binary star called WR 104 that might produce one within 500,000 years, but even if it does it might well miss us

Are we alone in the universe? And if not, why haven’t we made contact with alien civilizations yet? Another life destroyer could be to blame: intense waves of radiation called gamma-ray bursts (GRBs).  Many regions of space may have been rendered inhospitable to life  GRBs are formed by intense explosions in space, for instance when a giant star explodes or two stars collide. They can last a fraction of a second, or several minutes. In theory a long GRB could obliterate Earth’s ozone layer, leaving the life on the surface exposed to deadly ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

Many regions of space may have been rendered inhospitable to life by too-frequent GRBs, according to a study published in 2014 by Raul Jimenez at the University of Barcelona in Spain and Tsvi Piran at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. But our neighborhood may be OK. GRBs happen more often near the center of the galaxy and in regions where stars are densely packed, and Earth is far away from both.

“Life is present due to the fact that Earth is relatively safe from a true damaging long GRB, those which will cause total extinction,” says Jimenez. “If Earth was closer by a factor of two to the centre of the galaxy, life would be gone.”

A gamma-ray burst (Credit: Gemini Observatory/Aura, artwork by Lynette Cook/SPL)

A gamma-ray burst (Credit: Gemini Observatory/Aura, artwork by Lynette Cook/SPL)

That said, Earth may well have experienced the occasional GRB, and there may even be traces of it in the fossil record. About 440 million years ago, many species were wiped out in the Ordovician-Silurian extinction, which some scientists have suggested was triggered by a GRB.  Humans would be wiped out, but other forms of life would go on.  But even if that’s true, it didn’t even get close to killing everything. There has been warning after warning that deadly GRBs could one day wipe out life on Earth, but it’s unlikely that any of the potential nearby sources pose a credible threat.

In even more good news, the rate that GRBs occur is decreasing. James Annis at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois did some number-crunching for this story, and estimates that the average galaxy will now experience just 5 to 50 GRBs every billion years. Since the Milky Way is big, the chances of any coming near Earth are slim.  Even if a rogue GRB did hit Earth, Annis thinks it would be very unlikely to wipe out all life, because sea water is an excellent radiation shield. “I find it really hard to believe that GRBs could kill off sea vent biomes,” he says. “I actually find it hard to believe GRBs would kill most ocean fish. I’m more of the opinion GRBs could kill off ground-based life and maybe the larger surface sea life, sort of resetting the evolution clock back before the colonization of land.”  Of course, humans would be wiped out, but other forms of life would go on.

Scholz's star passed close to our Sun (Credit: Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester)

Scholz’s star passed close to our Sun (Credit: Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester)

Wandering stars

Timeframe: possibly within the next million years

For billions of years, the planets of our solar system have been performers in a stately dance around the sun. But what would happen if another star came barrelling through? The idea might sound implausible, but in February 2015 researchers led by Eric Mamajek at the University of Rochester in New York announced that it has happened – and surprisingly recently.  Astronomers have identified other stars on a collision course with the solar system  Just 70,000 years ago, around the time our species left Africa, a red dwarf called Scholz’s star cruised through the outer reaches of the solar system. It passed through a region called the Oort cloud, a sparse cluster of small, icy lumps that lies far beyond the planets.  Scholz’s star was not the first rogue star to pass through the solar system, and it won’t be the last. Astronomers have identified other stars on a collision course with the solar system in the next few million years.  Also in February 2015, Coryn Bailer-Jones at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany highlighted two stars that might prove problematic. Hip 85605 is due in our neighbourhood in 240,000 to 470,000 years, while GL 710 will arrive in about 1.3 million years. GL 710 is “a bit bigger than Scholz’s star”, says Mamajek, but will probably pass further away. Even so, could it, or Hip 85605, threaten life on Earth?

The Oort cloud lies far beyond any of the planets (Credit: Mikkel Juul Jensen/SPL)

The Oort cloud lies far beyond any of the planets

In a word, no. “Just because a star perturbs the Oort cloud, this does not mean the Earth is doomed,” says Bailer-Jones.  Things could get hairy if one of those rogue stars went supernova  Either star could push some of the small objects in the Oort cloud onto a collision course with Earth. But as we’ve already seen, even if some of them did eventually hit our planet, they probably wouldn’t destroy all life.  In theory, things could get hairy if a larger rogue star went supernova as it passed through the Oort cloud, sending gamma rays into the inner solar system. “The nearer the supernova, the most intense [the ionising radiation] is. Ten times nearer, 100 times more intense,” says Bailer-Jones. “It could be severe enough to cause real harm.” But the chances of that “perfect storm” occurring are slim, he says.  A rogue star would also be more dangerous if it passed through the inner parts of the solar system, where the planets are found. But this is again unlikely. “No star we know of has anything but an extremely small probability of entering the inner solar system,” says Bailer-Jones. It’s too small a target: the distance from the Earth to the Sun is around 50,000 times smaller than the distance to the edge of the Oort cloud.  There are almost certainly organisms that could survive nearly any cataclysm.  Researchers can hypothesis almost no end of threats to life on Earth. February 2015 was evidently apocalypse month: another study suggested that we should even worry about the mysterious “dark matter” in our galaxy. We really shouldn’t, says Mamajek, given how little we actually know about dark matter. “We don’t know what the dark matter particles are, and we don’t know how and if they would annihilate to generate energy,” he says.  In fact, the take-home message from all of this research is that there isn’t a plausible catastrophic agent from outside the solar system that could wipe out life on Earth within the next few billion years. “There are almost certainly organisms that could survive nearly any cataclysm,” says Mamajek.

Life on Earth may be fundamentally unstable (Credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman)

Life on Earth may be fundamentally unstable

There is nothing to fear but life itself

Timeframe: 500 million years

But there is one agent of destruction that certainly is powerful enough to wipe out swathes of species. Life’s biggest threat could come from within, according to Peter Ward at the University of Washington in Seattle.  The microbes living on Earth could not cope, and a massive extinction followed  He calls the idea the Medea hypothesis. The name is a nod to the famous Gaia hypothesis, named for the Greek goddess of the Earth, which suggests that life helps keep Earth habitable. Medea, in stark contrast, is a Greek mythological figure famous for killing her own children. Ward argues that many of the mass extinctions in Earth’s history were caused by life.  For instance, about 2.3 billion years ago lots of oxygen was released into the atmosphere by new forms of photosynthetic life. There had never before been free oxygen, so the microbes living on Earth could not cope with it, and a massive extinction followed.  Then there were the first land plants, about 450 million years ago. Plant roots broke up bedrock into soil, speeding up the chemical reaction between minerals in those rocks and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This stripped carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and weakened the greenhouse effect, triggering a lethal ice age.

When the Sun gets too hot, Earth's oceans will evaporate (Credit: Picture Press/Alamy)

When the Sun gets too hot, Earth’s oceans will evaporate

Fast-forward into Earth’s distant future, and these kinds of effects could sterilise the planet, says Ward. The sun is getting hotter as it ages, and as a consequence the Earth will warm up. That means the chemical reaction between rocks and atmospheric carbon dioxide will speed up – a process that’s accelerated even more by the action of plant roots.  Alien forensic scientists might well conclude that life on Earth had a hand in its own demise.  Eventually, so much carbon dioxide will have been removed from the air that plants can no longer perform photosynthesis. All plants will die, and animal life won’t be far behind. This could happen surprisingly soon, says Ward, perhaps in just 500 million years.  There would still be microbes, but they’d be vulnerable. “When you’re down to a few microbes and you don’t have a strong system, that’s when physical perturbations could bring about mass sterilization,” says Ward.

Just as in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express – spoilers for a novel published in 1934 – it would probably take several killers, acting at roughly the same time, to destroy all life on Earth, says Ward. “They could be large impacts, or nearby supernovae, or even something like freezing of the core. No one single event is going to do it.” But if a big rock or GRB was to hit Earth after life had culled itself, mass sterilization might just follow.  Alien forensic scientists might well conclude that life on Earth had a hand in its own demise.

The Sun will expand, and eventually swallow the Earth (Credit: AlgolOnline/Alamy)

The Sun will expand, and eventually swallow the Earth

Expanding Sun

Timeframe: between 1 and 7.5 billion years.  If none of that gets us, the Sun will. Our home star bathes us in light, and supplies the energy for almost all the life on Earth. But it won’t be friendly forever.  As we saw earlier, the Sun is gradually getting hotter. Eventually it will be hot enough to evaporate all Earth’s oceans, and cause a runaway greenhouse effect that sends temperatures soaring upwards. This process might begin in about a billion years, and would wipe out all but the most resistant microorganisms.

Once the Sun gets like this, it's game over (Credit: Detlev van Ravenswaay/SPL)

Once the Sun gets like this, it’s game over

But that’s not all. Beginning around 5 billion years from now, the Sun will expand, becoming a swollen star called a red giant. By 7.5 billion years in the future, its surface will be past where Earth’s orbit is now. So the expanding Sun will engulf, and destroy, the Earth.  It’s been suggested that Earth might escape. The Sun will lose mass as it grows, so Earth will spiral further out. But according to calculations performed in 2008, this won’t be enough to save our planet.  If that’s true, the only hope lies with us. If any humans are still around, they might have the technology to move the Earth to safety. Otherwise, life on Earth has a maximum life expectancy of 7.5 billion years.

The End

 (Credit: milos luzanin/Alamy)

A bow echo over South Dakota (Credit: Mike Hollingshead/Alamy)

Particle physics tells us what the world is made of (Credit: Science Photo Library/Alamy)

The things that are smaller than atoms

(Credit: Lambada/i Stock)

Do you have many doppelgangers?

The Big Bang was the beginning of the Universe (Credit: Pomona Pictures)

What did the Big Bang look like?

Blue Planet II Feature

Blue Planet II: Take a deep breath

The world's tiniest reptile

The chameleon the size of an antThe snakes hunt baby birds, but the chicks' parents fight back

 Something is blinding these snakes
Dinoflagellates emit blue light when they’re disturbed

The ocean is a strange place after dark

A plains zebra (Equus quagga) about to be in pain (Credit: Lou Coetzer/naturepl.com)

The most powerful punch of all

Helmet vanga's killer blue beak

The bird with the killer blue beak



158 post

Eventually, I’ll get around to starting a new blog so that I have 3 GB to deal with, but until then this will be w/o pictures.*  Have you noticed that everyone is yammering about their rights as if this were mutually agreed upon idea.  NOT.  Once again, George Carlin said it best (Wait for it, it’s at the end of this video):

Now back to the basics.  Pet Peeves and things that annoy me.  I’ll keep this short cause I know, I promised to do less whining with this blog.

Definition of pet peeve

a frequent subject of complaint

First Known Use: 1917


Merriam-Webster Logo
When was a word first used in print? You may be surprised! Enter a date below to see the words first recorded on that year. To learn more about First Known Us,

The Year is 1917

ack-ack . acriflavine . advertorial . aeromedical ‘ aircraft carrier . airdrome . airfare . Allen screw . Alsatian . Amur tiger . analysand . answerphone . anti-Bolshevik . arsphenamine . atheoretical . backcourtman . bacteriophage . bad news . barbital . bar graph . barrel roll . basal metabolic rate . beachgoer . big band . bioclimatic .  blacktop . blotto . body bag . broadloom . Browning machine gun . cash-and-carry . cash discount . check mark . chief warrant officer . chowhound . chow line . collective unconscious .collegium . columnist . company union . concanavalin . concertina wire . congresswoman . cootie . corn chip . cowling . dead-stick landing . deadweight ton . defeatism . depth charge . de Stijl . diene . diverticulosis . Doberman pinscher . dopa . double bill . duffel bag . dynamic range . egg foo yong . electromyogram . emote . end-time . entrepreneur ial . environmentalism . epistasis . everyplace . fade-in . fade-out . family court . fighting word . fill-in . flamethrower . flyswatter . freedom of the seas . front-page . Gadarene . gaga . galacturonic acid . grayfish . ground speed . grunion . Harding grass . hard-nosed . hate-mongering…pathography . pep pill . pet peeve .  phytosociology . piggy bank . postindustrial . premix , projection booth . prosthodontist . psych . public-address system . radiant flux . radiolucent . radiopaque . razz . razzmatazz . regionalize . resorter . retool . rumrunner . sablefish . salariat . sanitorium….

This is amazing – that this many words were invented in 1917 and that “pet peeve” comes from this era – I would have thought that it’s a much newer word.

* All of the images Below have already either been used in a previous blog or were considered to be used and were placed in the queue on this WordPress server (so their byte size has already been factored against the available 3 GB).  But any new images won’t be accepted by WordPress therefore, I will start a new blog.  If I wanted to continue to use this blog that is, “whinings of an old guy” I would have to pay a small fee to enlarge this blog to 10 GB, but that defeats the whole idea of a “free” site.

Jael is the gal in the middle; she is from Switzerland and was a house guest of ours for a brief time in New Orleans c. 2005. I forget how she came to be with us. The woman on her left is her sister.  Love this picture taken at Jael’s wedding in 2009.

Randall Enos / Cagle Cartoons

Our Honeymoon in 1983

Our new job in KCMO – collecting lightning in lightning jars.  Grandma likes electricity.

Wallace Stevens, my current interest.  Love his poetry.


Prada Store, Art Installation, 2005 in Marfa, West Texas


Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, beloved Pilgrim Pride chicken baron, has been immortalized in fiberglass in front of the company’s headquarters in Pittsburg, TX

Participants fill the Playa as approximately 70,000 people from all over the world gather for the 30th annual Burning Man arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, September 3, 2016.

In this Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016 photo, a woman rides an electric scooter during Burning Man at the Black Rock Desert north of Reno, Nev.






The Road Warrior lives on…

Portugal cork orchards.

The “Burning Man” before he’s up in flames on a Saturday night…

See more of my work at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelHoldenPhotography – ©2014 Michael Holden, email Michael@MichaelHolden.com to request license info.
Group of curious cows munching on hay.

So true, so true…

Sorry about the ridiculous amount of images, folks.  Once I discovered that these pictures and their byte size don’t count as far as overall file size for this WordPress account then this changes the whole ballgame.

Now back to the original points when I started this blog:


PET PEEVES.  Politics, Friends, Family, Former Bosses, Former Girlfriends.  Why is this such a divisive issue in this country?  Just because we want to exercise our constitutional rights to FREE thought and opinions, some people get really pissed off, if you don’t agree with them.  If everyone had served their time in one of the branches of our military then they would be familiar with the quote that came from the lips of their drill sergeants in boot camp, “Opinions are like assholes, everybody has got one!” This is a somewhat negative statement, but it still rings true.  “Can’t we all just get along?” This is the U. S, of A. and I, like you are American citizens. So it’s okay to be different.


PET PEEVES.  Friends, Family, Former Bosses, Former Girlfriends:

Good Friends (not talking about casual acquaintance):  I got married for the first (and only) time in 1983.  Both of us were in our mid-30’s.  If you have remained a bachelor that long, it’s hard to all of a sudden be in a “permanent” relationship  Whatever.  My wife had been friends with Carol for a number of years.  She was kind of Janet’s best friend.  Anyway, we moved from Houston and then Memphis back to NOLA (for me, the wife’s first time, where we remained for the next 18 years).  Carol and her husband came to visit us in New Orleans three times (everybody is looking for an excuse to come to New Orleans).  Carol even came by herself one time for the missus’s 50th birthday.  Surprise Birthday Party with thirty of her best friends.  Even had a live band.  N’Awlins knows how to throw a frickin’ party.  We invented it.  But eventually Carol tired of her husband so they split up.  C started dating guys over the internet.  J thought that was unwise.  They stopped being good friends and therefore, our daughter no longer got Christmas and birthday presents from C.  Just like that – done.

Another time Janet and I were friend’s with a younger couple from Australia.  Mark was a doctor and worked for the LSU Medical Center in New Orleans doing research. For three summers in a row, Mark and his wife, Georgia and their son, Nicky joined the three Crawford’s for a week’s vacation in Pensacola, FL (actually a little further east  in Grayton Beach). The last two times their new son, Alexander came as well.  The Miller’s were “triathlon athletes and would often compete in a meet during this week.  Needless to say Janet and Charles are not big on exercise.  No problem.  We got together because we liked each other and of course, the card games (Georgia had designed and had printed up “Hearts and Oh Hell” score-pads.  We were serious about cards.  As serious as one can be over BBQ’ed shrimp and a couple of bottles of wine.  The six/seven of us would split the rent on a hokey beach-side cottage and/or condo and pretty laze about for seven days.  Boy, those were fun times.  Mark even invited us to a Mardi Gras ball one year where he was a member and float ride on St. Charles Ave (the traditional nighttime route).  After a while we felt we were spending too much time with the Miller’s; we were also getting more involved w/ a new church we had joined.  I don’t remember exactly why we stopped seeing the Australians, but we did.  A couple of years later they moved “back” to New Jersey and we lost touch all together.  Bummer.  I would like to know what kind of men Eleanor’s pals have grown up to be.


PET PEEVES.  Family, Former Bosses, Former Girlfriends:

Two older sisters.  One lives near Dallas, TX and the other in Washington D.C.  At first, I was more fond of my middle sister D (I was instrumental in hooking her up with her husband).  But as time went on, I realized that I had more in common with the older sister, S.  She’s only five years older, but to hear her tell it, I was and am the baby of the family.  As I have often told our only child, “Siblings are highly over-rated.”  D lives in D,C. with her attorney husband.  Bob is a retired Major General, having attained his rank through the Army Reserve (never done active duty).  This is not to demean B’s achievements.  They spent a couple of weeks one summer in Rome where B was a liaison for the Vatican. B was going into the Army as I was being discharged.  I was a draftee and managed to go to Electronics Calibration school in Maryland for 44 weeks and then 10 months in Okinawa.  Remember Vietnam was not over till 1975. This was normally a four year enlisted man’s assignment.  Never underestimate the US Army’s ability to “fluke” its soldiers. The older sister set me up on a blind date with my future wife. At that time Janet and S were working for the same company in Irving, TX.  It’s a small world.
PET PEEVES.  Former Bosses, Former Girlfriends:
Had four bosses in Texas; two in Houston in the 80’s & two in Dallas in 2006 & 2009.  Had more, but these  are the ones I’m referring to. When I was working for a huge A/E firm, I met Janet when I visited the sister in Fort Worth.  Several months later we decided to get married.  When I told my boss the good news, he asked when they we would see me next.  I told him we were going to Italy for six weeks.  He had in mind a traditional one week absence. I was told, “Don’t bother coming back because six weeks was unacceptable.”  I told him as nicely as I could phrase it to KMA!  When we returned to Texas, I found another job after a relatively short search for a small Landscape Architecture office.  I lasted about a year there before I went to work for a swimming pool contractor for 18 months.  Fred B., the owner of the small firm (2nd job) told me one time, “You know, Chuck, you really are nothing more than an overpaid draftsman.”  Needless to say, I couldn’t leave that job fast enough.  Bite me Texas!
Fast forward to the next century.  After Hurricane Katrina decimated NOLA in 2005, I was lured back to Texas, this time to North Texas.  By this time the 1st boss I had had in Houston, had his own company that had spread (much like a virus) to four major cities: Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.  I interviewed in Austin but ended up (thankfully) working in Dallas.  Most money I ever made, but only lasted 9 months.  The partner who ran the Dallas office pulled me aside one morning and said, “Chuck, you just don’t fit in.”  No shit Sherlock I thought, you’re not rewarded for thinking outside the box in this office.  Pertaining to lifestyle and beliefs not design, that is.  I definitely was not one of them.  BORING!  Then I got a short gig (8 months) in Bend, OR – Janet stayed in Dallas and lived by herself in our Dallas house / I rented a motel converted into a quasi-condo in downtown Bend.  If I were a skier, this was the place to live – magnificent mountains on three sides, absolutely gorgeous country.  Came back to Dallas and was able to finally get an exclusive residential design/build L.A. firm to hire me.  The time was October 2007.  Eighteen months later was in the middle of the “Great Depression” of the 21st century.  My boss’s flunky 2nd in charge let me go on a Friday telling that they had to downsize.  Meanwhile in the next room, the owner of the company was telling everybody that they had found a great replacement for Chuck.  The new guy started work three days later on Monday.
All four of these spineless employers were Texans.  It may be the best state in the Union, but it still sucks.  Actually, in hind sight, they were all good experiences.  In Texas then as well as today, one can be fired at any time for any reason.  Still doesn’t make it right.
PET PEEVES.  Former Girlfriends.
Didn’t get married until I was 37 (same as my dad when he married Mom in 1939).  By that time I had had a slew of girl friends.  Not bragging, because the number really wasn’t that many.  But the longer you remain single, the more and more inertia sets in.  Meeting my future wife for the first time, I remember thinking, “I could marry this gal.”  That was February of 1983.  Janet and I tied the proverbial knot by the end of August.  My soon to be brother-in-law, Chuck (the elder) dragged a ball and chain into the vestibule at Chapman Avenue Baptist Church on the afternoon of the wedding.  I remember seeing him, lugging it with a big grin on his face.
Josie, Judy, Viola, Annie, Patricia, Lloydel, Pattie, Anita, Rita, Harriett, Judith, Susan, Julie, Albertine and Jacqueline.  Seems like there were many more, I was such a stud – yeah, right…
One of the bosses above asked me one time which girl was a better candidate for marriage.  He was dating two women at the time.  I’m thinking are you showing off or are you this much of a dick that you have to ask my opinion?  As a “good” Catholic man he wanted to get married again, it was important for his image.  What a jerk, but I worked for him 2 X.
Anyway, Sister S fixed me up with a date one time. Norma.  She had been married before and had a son.  I ended up in bed with her in the sister’s upstairs bedroom.  We didn’t “do” anything because the whole evening was preposterous and we had no sexual feelings for one another.  How do porn stars do the deed when they just met?  I guess being naked and on top of each other might help.
Another time a girl friend asked for a loan of $800 or so.  I had talked to my mother and she said that this was the kiss of death for a relationship.  Anyway, I didn’t lend her the money and we ceased being girlfriend / boyfriend.  One time I was travelling by myself in Europe and met a girl at a hostel in Amsterdam.  She was definitely coming onto me (I reasoned later) but she was a good ten, fifteen years younger than me and I couldn’t get beyond the propriety of the situation.  What a moron.  But men, really don’t have a clue.  The women are always the ones  in charge.
Okay, enough with the recollections and on to the doggies.  Not much on this topic even though it is the second part of this blog’s title.  Our daughter is a “pooch.”  I just started calling her that when she was a kid and the name stuck because she often refers to herself that way and she also calls her daughter a pooch or perhaps a poochette.  My daughter will tell you that I invented the whole concept of “silly business.”
Wikipedia says:   A pet peeve or pet aversion is a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to them, to a greater degree than others may find.  Its first usage was around 1919The term is a back-formation from the 14th-century word peevish, meaning “ornery or ill-tempered”  Pet peeves often involve specific behaviors of someone close, such as a spouse or significant other.  These behaviors may involve disrespect, manners, personal hygiene, relationships and family issues.  A key aspect of a pet peeve is that it may well seem acceptable to others. For example, a supervisor may have a pet peeve about people leaving the lid on the copier up and react angrily, be annoyed when others interrupt when speaking, or be upset by messy desks of their subordinates. To most people, these may seem minor annoyances, but not to the supervisor. That same supervisor may witness employees coming into work late and not feel any annoyance whatsoever.


“Pet Peeves and Pooches” or “Pets, Peeves & Pooches” – works either way; an alliteration and a funny combination.

NOLA: The Mystic Krewe of Barkus (3 shown / if interested look it up on You Tube)


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Enough whine.  More authors:

ROSAMUNDE PILCHER has had a long and distinguished career as a novelist and short-story writer (website says), but it was her phenomenally successful novel The Shell Seekers that captured the hearts of all who read it and won her international recognition as one of the most-loved storytellers of our time. The Shell Seekers was followed by September and then by Coming Home and Winter Solstice, which also became worldwide bestsellers. She lives in Perthshire, Scotland.  Wikipedia says:   Rosamunde Pilcher, OBE is a British writer of several short-stories and 28 romance novels and mainstream women’s fiction from 1949 to 2000, when she retired from writing. Early in her career she was also  published under the pen name Jane Fraser.BornSeptember 22, 1924 (age 93), Lelant, United Kingdom SpouseGraham Pilcher (m. 1946 – 2009) Genre: Romance MoviesSeptember, The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher: Die zweite Chance  ChildrenRobin Pilcher (He has written a few novels himself). Another website says:  Rosamunde Scott was born on 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall, England, UK, daughter of Helen and Charles Scott, a British commander. Just before her birth her father was posted in Burma, her mother remained in England. She attended St. Clare’s Polwithen and Howell’s School Llandaff before going on to Miss Kerr-Sanders’ Secretarial College. She began writing when she was seven, and published her first short story when she was 18. From 1943 through 1946, Pilcher served with the Women’s Naval Service. On December 7, 1946, she married Graham Hope Pilcher, a war hero and jute industry executive who died in March 2009. They moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she still lives today with a dog in Perthshire. They had two daughters and two sons, and fourteen grandchildren. Her son, Robin Pilcher, is also a novelist.

Robin Pilcher was born on August 10, 1950, the eldest son of author Rosamunde Pilcher, née Scott (aka Jane Fraser) and Graham Hope Pilcher, also he had a brother and two sisters. He has been a cameraman, a songwriter, and a farmer, co-managed a mail order business, and has had numerous other jobs. He lives with his wife and children near Dundee, Scotland, and in the Sierra de Aracena mountain area of Andalusia, Spain, where he plans to establish a writing institute supported by the Pilcher Foundation of Creative Writing.

In 1949, her first book, a romance novel, was published by Mills & Boon, under the pseudonym Jane Fraser. She published a further ten novels under that name. In 1955, she also began writing under her married name Rosamunde Pilcher, by 1965 she her own name to all of her novels. In 1996, her novel Coming Home won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by Romantic Novelists’ Association. She retired from writing in 2000. Two years later, she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

 Novels of Rosamunde Pilcher
  • The Brown Fields (1951) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • Dangerous Intruder (1951) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • Young Bar (1952) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • A Day Like Spring (1953) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • Dear Tom (1954) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • A Secret to Tell (1955)
  • Bridge of Corvie (1956) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • A Family Affair (1958) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • The Keeper’s House (1963) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • A Long Way from Home (1963) (writing as Jane Fraser)
  • On My Own (1965)
  • Sleeping Tiger (1967)
  • Another View (1969)
  • The End of Summer (1971)
  • The Empty House (1973)
  • The Day of the Storm (1975)
  • Under Gemini (1976)
  • Wild Mountain Thyme (1979)
  • The Carousel (1982)
  • Voices in Summer (1984)
  • The Shell Seekers (1988)
  • September (1990)
  • Snow in April (1991)
  • Coming Home (1995)
  • The Audio Seekers (1996)
  • The Key (1996)
  • Shadows (1999)
  • Flowers (1999)
  • Winter Solstice (2000)
  • Tea with the Professor Gilbert (2004)

I have read sixteen of her “romantic” novels and a couple of her son’s  novels.  All from the library. And a bought a hard copy of The Shell Seekers for 8 bucks from Half Price Books at their flagship store in Dallas.  The Shell Seeker which was published in 1988 begins as such and I quote verbatim:

Prologue – “The taxi, an old Rover smelling of old cigarette smoke, trundled upon the empty, country road at an unhurried pace.  It was early afternoon at the very end of February, a magic winter day of bitter cold, frost, and pale, cloudless skies.  The sun shone, sending long shadows, but there was little warmth in it, and the ploughed fields lay hard as iron.  From the chimneys of scattered farmhouses and small stone cottages, smoke rose,straight as columns, up into the still air, and flocks of sheep, heavy with wool and incipient pregnancy, gathered feeding troughs, stuffed with fresh hay.

Sitting in the back of the taxi, gazing through the dusty window,Penelope Keeling decided that she had never seen the familiar countryside look so beautiful.

The road curved steeply; ahead stood the wooden signpost marking the lane that led to Temple Pudley.  The driver slowed and with a painful change of gear, turned, bumping downhill between high and blinding hedges.  Moments later they were in the village, with its goldrn Cotswold stone houses, newsagent, butcher, The Sudeley Arms, and the church – set back from the street behind an ancient graveyard and the dark foliage of some suitable gloomy yews.  There were few people about.  The childeren were all in school and the bitter weather kept others indoors.  Only an old man. mittened and scarved, walked his ancient dog.

“Which house is it?” the taxi driver inquired over his shoulder.  She leaned forward, ridiculously excited and expectant.  “Just a little way on. Through the village. The white gates on the right.  They’re open. There!  Here we are.”  He turned in through the gates and the car drew up at the back of the house.

She opened the door and got out, drawing her dark blue cape around her against the cold.  She opened her bag and found her key, went to unlock the door.  Behind her, the taxi driver manhandled open the door of the car and lifted out her small suitcase.  She turned to take it from him, but he held on to it, somewhat concerned.  “Is there anybody here to meet you?”

“No. Nobody.  I live alone, and everybody thinks I’m still in the hospital.” “Be alright, will you?”  She smiled into his kindly face.  He was quite young, with fair bushy hair.  “Of course.”

He hesitated, not wishing to presume.  “If you want I’ll carry the case in.  Carry it upstairs, if needs be.” “Oh, that’s kind of you.  But I can easily manage…”  “No bother,” he told her, and followed her into the kitchen.  She opened a door,  and led him up the narrow, cottage stairs.  Everything smelt clinically clean .  Mrs. Plackett, bless her heart, had not been wasting time during the few days of Penelope’s absence.  She quite liked it when Penelope went away, because she could then do things like wash the white paint of the bannisters, and boil dusters, and buff the brass and silver.

Her bedroom door stood ajar.  She went in and the young man followed her, setting her case on the floor.  “Anything else can do?” he asked.  “Not a thing.  Now, how much do I owe you?”  He told her, looking shamefaced, as though it were an embarrassment to him.  She paid him, and told him to keep the change.  He thanked her, and they went back down the stairs.

But still he hung about, seeming reluctant to leave.  He probably , she told herself had some granny of his own, for whom he felt the same responsibility.  “You’ll be all right, then?”  “I promise you.  And tomorrow my friend Mrs. Plackett will come.  So then I won’t be alone any more.”  This, for some reason, reassured him.  “I’ll be off then.”  “Goodbye and thank you.”  “No trouble.”

When he was gone, she went back indoors, and closed the door.  She was alone.  The relief of it.  Home.  Her own house, her own possessions, her own kitchen.  The Aga, oil-fired, simmered peacefully to itself, and was blissfully warm. She loosened the fastening of her cape, and dropped it across the back of a chair.  A pile of mail lay on the scrubbed table, and she leafed through it, but there seemed to be nothing there either vital or interesting, so she let it lie, and crossed the kitchen, opening the glass door that led into he conservatory.  The thought of her precious plants, possibly dying of cold or thrist, had bothered her somewhat during the last few days, but Mrs. Plackett had taken care of them, as well as everything else.  The earth in the pots was moist and loamy and the leaves were crisp and green. An early geranium wore a crown of tiny buds, and the hyacinths had grown at least three inches….”

This is the style of Mrs. Pilcher’s writings.  I think I’ve read this particular story at least three times.  Probably due for another.  Wanted to include more, but I was unable to find a web-site that would allow me to copy text.  The above text is reading my book and typing the story from scratch.  I’m not a typist and this is too much of a pain to do.

The book is divided into (17) chapter headings.  The Prologue plus sixteen others that are named for a character in the story.  NancyOlivia.  Cosmo.  Noel.  Hank.  Lawrence.  Antonia.  Ambrose.  Sophie.  Roy Brookner. Richard.  Doris.  Danus.  Penelope.  Mr. Enderby, and Miss Keeling.   Nancy, Olivia and Noel are Penelope Keeling’s three grown children.


 I can’t say enough about this guy (Below).  What’s interesting is that I didn’t really discover him until after he was gone.  Unfortunately he died in 2008 at my age now 71 (minus 11 months are so / George Carlin passed soon after he turned 71; I will be 72 in one week exactly.  None us knows exactly how much time we get in this life except God, so we all think we may live “forever.”  Carlin talked about what he would be doing at George Burns’s age.  Didn’t happen that way, perhaps he is looking down (up) on us and smiling.  I put “up” in here because one of his funniest routines was about dying and this notion that many of us believe that our dead relatives are looking down on us and offering advice through the cosmos or how ever it works. I wish he were still alive so he could continue “his observations” about our life on Planet Earth.

There is really no purpose to put these two persons together other than I like them both.  Mrs. Pilcher is alive and has lived in Dundee, Scotland since 1946.  She is now 93 and still an active writer although she hasn’t published anything recently.  Movies have been made and several TV series from her stories so they occupy a lot of her time.

The End


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Did a post earlier on this subject (Nov 18, 2016 – before I started numbering them).  What’s a guy to do when he’s in his seventies and in semi-shitty health.  The Missus and I have a good laugh every time we talk about this.  This whole notion perpetuated by our nation that we are to be good little soldiers and work our asses off all our lives and buy a house for the equity and eventually you’ll get your gold watch after slaving away all your life and then retiring on your savings with Medicare and Social Security that will pay for your continued existence until you die at say 80 or 90 or maybe 98.  What a load of crap!  Sorry folks, it doesn’t work out that way.  What a crock!!!!!!!  I, being the free thinker and never doing exactly what I’m told to do, lived in Italy (even Sardinia) when I turned 31 for a year.  I chose an unconventional profession (or so I thought) and got to draw and design and build spaces all over the planet (well not really, but I always believed that it was possible).  At one time I considered working in the “Middle East” that is Saudi Arabia (this is before Dubai even existed).  Later I applied for but didn’t get an assignment in Rome and later still in the “Far East” that is, Hong Kong.  I wasn’t good enough or perhaps the planets weren’t properly aligned for these desires to take place.  But I did live and work in several spots in the United States: New Orleans, Philadelphia, Houston, Memphis, NOLA a second and third time, Bend in Oregon, Dallas and now Kansas City.  Even considered Southern California, but wisely chose the South instead.  It’s been a good life.

But not without temptation.  Young people just don’t get it.  If they get tired of their partner or spouse, they just call it off and try again.  Nobody today believes in the sacredness of the wedding vows.  Everybody is in a hurry to get what they want and they want it RIGHT now.  Kids are pathetic today.  Did they do their time?  Did they serve in the Armed Forces somewhere for $200 a month.  Of course, NOT, it’s all about ME and living the life that I want to live w/o anybody telling me a damned thing.  Pathetic, just pathetic!

The first full-time job I got after my two years as a draftee in the US Army was in Philadelphia, PA (Go Eagles!).  I started out with a salary of $8,000/year.  Did you hear that, you millennials, not $80,000, but 8 grand a year?  A hell of a lot more than the Army was paying me but still practically nothing.  Kids today just don’t get it.

A whole nation of CRY-BABIES.  Let’s all feel good and like one another and everything will be all right.  Bullsh**t!   Has anybody lived in West Africa or perhaps Pakistan or maybe North Korea?  There you are told what to believe and if you’re not careful, you might be thrown in jail and even be executed because you’re an American (well maybe not West Africa, but you still have to be careful there).  We speak from experience; in 2000 we visited a missionary doctor friend who was then working at a Baptist Hospital in the Ivory Coast.  He still lives and works there, but has moved to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.  He is from Nigeria and chooses to live in his native land.  He works for “peanuts” there and could move to the U.S. and make what doctors make in America.  BTW, shortly after his family left Cote D’Ivoire  (2002), rebels took over the hospital and today it’s used for something else.  We have no idea as Americans as to how easy we have it here.


No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Of course, if you’re not a believer then you haven’t put this handy scripture verse to memory, so that you must deal with whatever comes your way on your own.

In today’s society in America and most of the “First World,” T & A is in your face 24/7.  It’s hard not to lust after women.  If I have to explain this to you then you’re either from another planet or you not very observant.  And yet Democrats would have you believe that all conservatives are sexual predators.  Again, if you’re not a “believer” you probably won’t understand this or agree with it.  God made man and woman.  He made sex.  Think about it,  Why do we humans reproduce the way we do?  God could have just as easily made us one sexual where we are able to reproduce all by ourselves as some species do on Planet Earth.  But no, he had to go and make it fun to have sex.  I’m just saying.  Certain folks would have you believe that it’s all our own damn fault or specifically, my gender’s fault (original sin and all).  Bullsh**t.  Women are just as guilty too; even though they are normally not rapists.  Or at least, this is my belief.  We as Americans and especially American Christians have a difficult time talking about sexual intercourse.  You don’t have to have a college degree to get the concept.  We are all wired that way.



*Opening pic is from the West Texas blog (#148)…                 

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Well, one – “Opening Picture,” but that’s all.  It turns out that WordPress.com which offers free service, only has 3 GB in this account.  So after (154) postings with a lot of photos (personal photos often have large bytes files more so than the web) one reaches the limit of this service unless one pays a small fee to enlarge it to 10 GB.  I’m wondering if I can just start a new blog and have another 3 GB to play with rather than enlarge this one, say “whiningsofanoldguy72” – seventy-two being my age in nine days.  Will let you know.

The daughter is 33 tomorrow.  Where has the time gone?  She hates it when I say this, but we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect, sweeter daughter.  She is a testament to her name which is her grandma’s name (my mom). Life often brings you fantastic gifts along with the trials, tribulations and sufferings.  I’m not complaining, my life so far, has been a real kick in the pants. What will our days ahead bring?

It appears that my own  main gift is my eye that is, “taste” or collecting and sorting out ideas and images and arranging them for a viewer’s pleasure.  I would love to have a writer’s flair say like, Wallace Stevens, that I’ve shown in previous blogs, but that will never happen.  I appreciate good crafting of our language, English, but as far as  penning my own unique style, that’s not going to happen.  Boring is the word I’m searching for.

Be that as it may, I know how to yammer on, on seemingly pointless topics, but these are subjects that often are dear to my heart or just plain “goofy” and need to be expressed or so I think.  My high school yearbook for 1963 implies that I’m a a quiet soul with little to say, and they wrote and I quote, “Men of few words, are the best of men.”  Where did the 17/18 year old editors come up with this malarkey? Everyone else got labelled with a more hip and fun epithet  like, “Born silly and had a relapse, If silence is golden, then I’m dead broke, My only books were women’s looks, and folly’s all they’ve taught me, I like work; it fascinates me; I can sit and look at it for hours or My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.”


As to a topic, how about someone else’s writing?

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Winner of the 1961 National Book Award

Reviewed by Kathleen Fitzpatrick

The dazzling novel that established Walker Percy as one of the major voices in Southern literature is now available for the first time in Vintage paperback.

The Moviegoer is Binx Bolling, a young New Orleans stockbroker who surveys the world with the detached gaze of a Bourbon Street dandy even as he yearns for a spiritual redemption he cannot bring himself to believe in. On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, he occupies himself dallying with his secretaries and going to movies, which provide him with the “treasurable moments” absent from his real life. But one fateful Mardi Gras, Binx embarks on a hare-brained quest that outrages his family, endangers his fragile cousin Kate, and sends him reeling through the chaos of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Wry and wrenching, rich in irony and romance, The Moviegoer is a genuine American classic.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick continues to write: Rereading Walker Percy at age 30 is a bit unnerving.  When I first read The Moviegoer, at age 18, it was a mesmerizing, eye-opening experience. I entered an entirely new world, and fell in love with the protagonist, Binx Bolling. I saw him as revolutionary, uniquely perceptive, a sighted man in a world of the blind. Here was a true romantic, a man — however fictional — who had figured out society’s ugly secrets and had formulated a way to separate himself from them: He took his ideals from the movies. I aspired to be more like him, to consider my life philosophically, to feel myself on a search.

It’s astonishing now to discover just how much I misread the book.  Originally published in 1961, The Moviegoer won the National Book Award in 1962, and is generally considered Percy’s masterpiece. Percy trained as a doctor, with a specialization in pathology and psychiatry, but when he was 26, in the early 1940s, he contracted tuberculosis and was confined to a sanitorium. Percy began reading philosophy during his convalescence, particularly the writings of the existentialists. Not long after, he made the radical decision to become a writer.

Percy’s biographer, Jay Tolson, has described this change as the central mystery of Percy’s life: “An intelligent, attractive man in his early thirties, a man with a promising medical career ahead of him, decides not only to abandon his profession and become a writer but also to embrace a religion, Catholicism, upon which he, an ardent believer in science, had previously looked with respectful but thoroughgoing skepticism. He also decides at roughly the same time to give up the ways of a minor Lothario and marry a young woman he had met a few years before and with whom he had since conducted a fitful on-again off-again relationship.” This is also the central idea of The Moviegoer, and the heart of most of Percy’s novels: the hero as knight-errant, the search as spiritual odyssey, the solution as a most improbable return to religious feeling in the midst of modern civilization.  In fact, this religious sense permeates the novel, though it is perhaps less overt in The Moviegoer than it is in Percy’s later works, particularly The Second Coming. But the spirituality is definitely there; Binx is hesitant to speak about the object of his search in The Moviegoer, though he alludes to its location:

What do you seek — God? you ask with a smile. I hesitate to answer, since all other Americans have settled the matter for themselves and to give such an answer would amount to setting myself a goal which everyone else has reached — and therefore raising a question in which no one has the slightest interest. Who wants to be dead last among one hundred and eighty million Americans? For, as everyone knows, the polls report that 98% of Americans believe in God and the remaining 2% are atheists and agnostics — which leaves not a single percentage point for a seeker. For myself, I enjoy answering polls as much as anyone and take pleasure in giving intelligent replies to all questions.

Truthfully, it is the fear of exposing my own ignorance which constrains me from mentioning the object of my search. For, to begin with, I cannot even answer this, the simplest and most basic of all questions: Am I, in my search, a hundred miles ahead of my fellow Americans or a hundred miles behind them? That is to say: Have 98% of Americans already found what I seek or are they so sunk in everydayness that not even the possibility of a search has occurred to them?

On my honor, I do not know the answer.

This passage is notable, not only for the lyrical flow of Percy’s writing, the way one sentence loops you inexorably into the next, but also for its focus on the idea of “everydayness.” Everydayness, malaise, despair — these, for Percy, are the bane of modern existence, foggy states of mind that must be fought against. Unfortunately, the whole of modern culture, from its technologies to its relationships, works to maintain exactly that sense of the everyday. This is the origin of Binx’s attachment to the movies, and his conviction — which one can see played out in an entire range of contemporary novels — that movies have become more “real” than reality, that nothing can be “certified” as real until it has been seen in a film:

Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.

This notion of certification is one of Binx’s numerous philosophical inventions throughout the novel, the frames by which he attempts to control and explain his life. This philosophizing, and this attachment to the movies as creators rather than reflectors of reality, were what first drew me to The Moviegoer. At 18, doing the first serious reading of my life, I passionately believed in Plato’s dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living; Binx’s search, and his determined rejection of the “deadness” he sees in everyone around him, were precisely the kind of self-consciousness by which I hoped to live.

Years later, I find myself agreeing with Binx’s aunt when she accuses him of being incapable of truly caring for anyone. Binx has philosophized himself into a moral and emotional deadness of his own, living at an altogether irresponsible remove from his own life. I see in Percy’s narrative a shockingly late coming-of-age story, in which a 30-year-old man comes to terms with his adulthood by locating the object of his spiritual quest in his connections to those around him.

What I wonder, however, is what I made of the novel’s ending 12 years ago. I honestly don’t remember my reaction. This time I found the ending — am I giving too much away by revealing that Binx gets married? — distinctly unsettling. I don’t think I was supposed to; Binx’s reconciliation with the world around him seems only positive, bound up in love for his family. But what of the dangers of the entry into everydayness? Can Binx live in the world without being of it?

I’ll have to spend more time with Percy, rereading his other novels before I attempt an answer — perhaps to see if they’ve changed in the last 12 years, too.


The Moviegoer

By Walker Percy


Copyright © 1961 Walker Percy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-1625-5 


THIS MORNING I GOT a note from my aunt asking me to come for lunch. I know what this means. Since I go there every Sunday for dinner and today is Wednesday, it can mean only one thing: she wants to have one of her serious talks. It will be extremely grave, either a piece of bad news about her stepdaughter Kate or else a serious talk about me, about the future and what I ought to do. It is enough to scare the wits out of anyone, yet I confess I do not find the prospect altogether unpleasant.

I remember when my older brother Scott died of pneumonia. I was eight years old. My aunt had charge of me and she took me for a walk behind the hospital. It was an interesting street. On one side were the power plant and blowers and incinerator of the hospital, all humming and blowing out a hot meaty smell. On the other side was a row of Negro houses. Children and old folks and dogs sat on the porches watching us. I noticed with pleasure that Aunt Emily seemed to have all the time in the world and was willing to talk about anything I wanted to talk about. Something extraordinary had happened all right. We walked slowly in step. “Jack,” she said, squeezing me tight and smiling at the Negro shacks, “you and I have always been good buddies, haven’t we?” “Yes ma’am.” My heart gave a big pump and the back of my neck prickled like a dog’s. “I’ve got bad news for you, son.” She squeezed me tighter than ever. “Scotty is dead. Now it’s all up to you. It’s going to be difficult for you but I know you’re going to act like a soldier.” This was true. I could easily act like a soldier. Was that all I had to do?

It reminds me of a movie I saw last month out by Lake Pontchartrain. Linda and I went out to a theater in a new suburb. It was evident somebody had miscalculated, for the suburb had quit growing and here was the theater, a pink stucco cube, sitting out in a field all by itself. A strong wind whipped the waves against the seawall; even inside you could hear the racket. The movie was about a man who lost his memory in an accident and as a result lost everything: his family, his friends, his money. He found himself a stranger in a strange city. Here he had to make a fresh start, find a new place to live, a new job, a new girl. It was supposed to be a tragedy, his losing all this, and he seemed to suffer a great deal. On the other hand, things were not so bad after all. In no time he found a very picturesque place to live, a houseboat on the river, and a very handsome girl, the local librarian.

After the movie Linda and I stood under the marquee and talked to the manager, or rather listened to him tell his troubles: the theater was almost empty, which was pleasant for me but not for him. It was a fine night and I felt very good. Overhead was the blackest sky I ever saw; a black wind pushed the lake toward us. The waves jumped over the seawall and spattered the street. The manager had to yell to be heard while from the sidewalk speaker directly over his head came the twittering conversation of the amnesiac and the librarian. It was the part where they are going through the newspaper files in search of some clue to his identity (he has a vague recollection of an accident). Linda stood by unhappily. She was unhappy for the same reason I was happy—because here we were at a neighborhood theater out in the sticks and without a car (I have a car but I prefer to ride buses and streetcars). Her idea of happiness is to drive downtown and have supper at the Blue Room of the Roosevelt Hotel. This I am obliged to do from time to time. It is worth it, however. On these occasions Linda becomes as exalted as I am now. Her eyes glow, her lips become moist, and when we dance she brushes her fine long legs against mine. She actually loves me at these times—and not as a reward for being taken to the Blue Room. She loves me because she feels exalted in this romantic place and not in a movie out in the sticks.

But all this is history. Linda and I have parted company. I have a new secretary, a girl named Sharon Kincaid.

For the past four years now I have been living uneventfully in Gentilly, a middle-class suburb of New Orleans. Except for the banana plants in the patios and the curlicues of iron on the Walgreen drugstore one would never guess it was part of New Orleans. Most of the houses are either old-style California bungalows or new-style Daytona cottages. But this is what I like about it. I can’t stand the old-world atmosphere of the French Quarter or the genteel charm of the Garden District. I lived in the Quarter for two years, but in the end I got tired of Birmingham businessmen smirking around Bourbon Street and the homosexuals and patio connoisseurs on Royal Street. My uncle and aunt live in a gracious house in the Garden District and are very kind to me. But whenever I try to live there, I find myself first in a rage during which I develop strong opinions on a variety of subjects and write letters to editors, then in a depression during which I lie rigid as a stick for hours staring straight up at the plaster medallion in the ceiling of my bedroom.

Life in Gentilly is very peaceful. I manage a small branch office of my uncle’s brokerage firm. My home is the basement apartment of a raised bungalow belonging to Mrs Schexnaydre, the widow of a fireman. I am a model tenant and a model citizen and take pleasure in doing all that is expected of me. My wallet is full of identity cards, library cards, credit cards. Last year I purchased a flat olive-drab strongbox, very smooth and heavily built with double walls for fire protection, in which I placed my birth certificate, college diploma, honorable discharge, G.I. insurance, a few stock certificates, and my inheritance: a deed to ten acres of a defunct duck club down in St Bernard Parish, the only relic of my father’s many enthusiasms. It is a pleasure to carry out the duties of a citizen and to receive in return a receipt or a neat styrene card with one’s name on it certifying, so to speak, one’s right to exist. What satisfaction I take in appearing the first day to get my auto tag and brake sticker! I subscribe to Consumer Reports and as a consequence I own a first-class television set, an all but silent air conditioner and a very long lasting deodorant. My armpits never stink. I pay attention to all spot announcements on the radio about mental health, the seven signs of cancer, and safe driving—though, as I say, I usually prefer to ride the bus. Yesterday a favorite of mine, William Holden, delivered a radio announcement on litterbugs. “Let’s face it,” said Holden. “Nobody can do anything about it—but you and me.” This is true. I have been careful ever since.

In the evenings I usually watch television or go to the movies. Week-ends I often spend on the Gulf Coast. Our neighborhood theater in Gentilly has permanent lettering on the front of the marquee reading: Where Happiness Costs So Little. The fact is I am quite happy in a movie, even a bad movie. Other people, so I have read, treasure memorable moments in their lives: the time one climbed the Parthenon at sunrise, the summer night one met a lonely girl in Central Park and achieved with her a sweet and natural relationship, as they say in books. I too once met a girl in Central Park, but it is not much to remember. What I remember is the time John Wayne killed three men with a carbine as he was falling to the dusty street in Stagecoach, and the time the kitten found Orson Welles in the doorway in The Third Man.

My companion on these evening outings and week-end trips is usually my secretary. I have had three secretaries, girls named Marcia, Linda, and now Sharon. Twenty years ago, practically every other girl born in Gentilly must have been named Marcia. A year or so later it was Linda. Then Sharon. In recent years I have noticed that the name Stephanie has come into fashion. Three of my acquaintances in Gentilly have daughters named Stephanie. Last night I saw a TV play about a nuclear test explosion. Keenan Wynn played a troubled physicist who had many a bad moment with his conscience. He took solitary walks in the desert. But you could tell that in his heart of hearts he was having a very good time with his soul-searching. “What right have we to do what we are doing?” he would ask his colleagues in a bitter voice. “It’s my four-year-old daughter I’m really thinking of,” he told another colleague and took out a snapshot. “What kind of future are we building for her?” “What is your daughter’s name?” asked the colleague, looking at the picture. “Stephanie,” said Keenan Wynn in a gruff voice. Hearing the name produced a sharp tingling sensation on the back of my neck. Twenty years from now I shall perhaps have a rosy young Stephanie perched at my typewriter.

Naturally I would like to say that I had made conquests of these splendid girls, my secretaries, casting them off one after the other like old gloves, but it would not be strictly true. They could be called love affairs, I suppose. They started off as love affairs anyway, fine careless raptures in which Marcia or Linda (but not yet Sharon) and I would go spinning along the Gulf Coast, lie embracing in a deserted cove of Ship Island, and hardly believe our good fortune, hardly believe that the world could contain such happiness. Yet in the case of Marcia and Linda the affair ended just when I thought our relationship was coming into its best phase. The air in the office would begin to grow thick with silent reproaches. It would become impossible to exchange a single word or glance that was not freighted with a thousand hidden meanings. Telephone conversations would take place at all hours of the night, conversations made up mostly of long silences during which I would rack my brain for something to say while on the other end you could hear little else but breathing and sighs. When these long telephone silences come, it is a sure sign that love is over. No, they were not conquests. For in the end my Lindas and I were so sick of each other that we were delighted to say good-by.

I am a stock and bond broker. It is true that my family was somewhat disappointed in my choice of a profession. Once I thought of going into law or medicine or even pure science. I even dreamed of doing something great. But there is much to be said for giving up such grand ambitions and living the most ordinary life imaginable, a life without the old longings; selling stocks and bonds and mutual funds; quitting work at five o’clock like everyone else; having a girl and perhaps one day settling down and raising a flock of Marcias and Sandras and Lindas of my own. Nor is the brokerage business as uninteresting as you might think. It is not a bad life at all.

We live, Mrs Schexnaydre and I, on Elysian Fields, the main thoroughfare of Faubourg Marigny. Though it was planned to be, like its namesake, the grandest boulevard of the city, something went amiss, and now it runs an undistinguished course from river to lake through shopping centers and blocks of duplexes and bungalows and raised cottages. But it is very spacious and airy and seems truly to stretch out like a field under the sky. Next door to Mrs Schexnaydre is a brand new school. It is my custom on summer evenings after work to take a shower, put on shirt and pants and stroll over to the deserted playground and there sit on the ocean wave, spread out the movie page of the Times-Picayune on one side, phone book on the other, and a city map in my lap. After I have made my choice, plotted a route—often to some remote neighborhood like Algiers or St Bernard—I stroll around the schoolyard in the last golden light of day and admire the building. Everything is so spick-and-span: the aluminum sashes fitted into the brick wall and gilded in the sunset, the pretty terrazzo floors and the desks molded like wings. Suspended by wires above the door is a schematic sort of bird, the Holy Ghost I suppose. It gives me a pleasant sense of the goodness of creation to think of the brick and the glass and the aluminum being extracted from common dirt—though no doubt it is less a religious sentiment than a financial one, since I own a few shares of Alcoa. How smooth and well-fitted and thrifty the aluminum feels!

But things have suddenly changed. My peaceful existence in Gentilly has been complicated. This morning, for the first time in years, there occurred to me the possibility of a search. I dreamed of the war, no, not quite dreamed but woke with the taste of it in my mouth, the queasy-quince taste of 1951 and the Orient. I remembered the first time the search occurred to me. I came to myself under a chindolea bush. Everything is upside-down for me, as I shall explain later. What are generally considered to be the best times are for me the worst times, and that worst of times was one of the best. My shoulder didn’t hurt but it was pressed hard against the ground as if somebody sat on me. Six inches from my nose a dung beetle was scratching around under the leaves. As I watched, there awoke in me an immense curiosity. I was onto something. I vowed that if I ever got out of this fix, I would pursue the search. Naturally, as soon as I recovered and got home, I forgot all about it. But this morning when I got up, I dressed as usual and began as usual to put my belongings into my pockets: wallet, notebook (for writing down occasional thoughts), pencil, keys, handkerchief, pocket slide rule (for calculating percentage returns on principal). They looked both unfamiliar and at the same time full of clues. I stood in the center of the room and gazed at the little pile, sighting through a hole made by thumb and forefinger. What was unfamiliar about them was that I could see them. They might have belonged to someone else. A man can look at this little pile on his bureau for thirty years and never once see it. It is as invisible as his own hand. Once I saw it, however, the search became possible. I bathed, shaved, dressed carefully, and sat at my desk and poked through the little pile in search of a clue just as the detective on television pokes through the dead man’s possessions, using his pencil as a poker.

The idea of a search comes to me again as I am on my way to my aunt’s house, riding the Gentilly bus down Elysian Fields. The truth is I dislike cars. Whenever I drive a car, I have the feeling I have become invisible. People on the street cannot see you; they only watch your rear fender until it is out of their way. Elysian Fields is not the shortest route to my aunt’s house. But I have my reasons for going through the Quarter. William Holden, I read in the paper this morning, is in New Orleans shooting a few scenes in the Place d’Armes. It would be interesting to catch a glimpse of him.

It is a gloomy March day. The swamps are still burning at Chef Menteur and the sky over Gentilly is the color of ashes. The bus is crowded with shoppers, nearly all women. The windows are steamed. I sit on the lengthwise seat in front. Women sit beside me and stand above me. On the long back seat are five Negresses so black that the whole rear of the bus seems darkened. Directly next to me, on the first cross seat, is a very fine-looking girl. She is a strapping girl but by no means too big, done up head to toe in cellophane, the hood pushed back to show a helmet of glossy black hair. She is magnificent with her split tooth and her Prince Val bangs split on her forehead. Gray eyes and wide black brows, a good arm and a fine swell of calf above her cellophane boot. One of those solitary Amazons one sees on Fifty-seventh Street in New York or in Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Our eyes meet. Am I mistaken or does the corner of her mouth tuck in ever so slightly and the petal of her lower lip curl out ever so richly? She is smiling—at me! My mind hits upon half a dozen schemes to circumvent the terrible moment of separation. No doubt she is a Texan. They are nearly always bad judges of men, these splendid Amazons. Most men are afraid of them and so they fall victim to the first little Mickey Rooney that comes along. In a better world I should be able to speak to her: come, darling, you can see that I love you. If you are planning to meet some little Mickey, think better of it. What a tragedy it is that I do not know her, will probably never see her again. What good times we could have! This very afternoon we could go spinning along the Gulf Coast. What consideration and tenderness I could show her! If it were a movie, I would have only to wait. The bus would get lost or the city would be bombed and she and I would tend the wounded. As it is, I may as well stop thinking about her.


Me speaking: The above passages both from a reader/writer/reviewer of The Moviegoer (Kathleen Fitzpatrick) and also, the first few pages from the book itself, I copied from am online source since this blog posting is about text, that is writing and not graphic images due to WordPress’s byte size limitations.  As I mentioned before in a previous blog, Walker Percy was a friend of the family and my parents socialized with his family in Covington, Louisiana when we had a summer cottage in nearby, Abita Springs, Louisiana (1950 – 1986).  I was acquainted with his older daughter, Mary Pratt Percy.  SEE BLOG post # 142: “Our Covington Friend.

I read this book when it first came out in the 60’s.  After skimming the above excerpts, I can see that I’m going to have to get a copy from our library and read it again.  All of the topography and city and neighborhood names are places that I am familiar with having grown up in NOLA. But beyond that, his style of writing is quite seductive. It’s a book that the son-in-law might like.  I think it rates with “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee that is one of AJ’s favorites.

Let me study this piece for an idea of how to proceed.  I just picked a book at random.  I have forgotten how good Walker Percy’s books are.

The End






Jael is from Switzerland.  We knew her when we had moved to the west-bank in NOLA.  She may have stayed with us for a short time (can’t remember the details).  She decided to take a short trip to see the rest of the US (CA / NYC etc.) on her way home.  By this time we were living in Dallas and I believe Eleanor was there for a short visit before returning to college in California (CSFU).  The time was late summer 2006 and Jael stopped by my office on East Mockingbird St. in a new “hipster” building.  She also may have stayed with us for a couple of days when the daughter was there and we ended up site-seeing at the Fort Worth stockyards.  We had lunch at a “Texas” style restaurant and Jael looked at the menu and decided on the “chicken fried steak.” After we were served, the Missus asked Jael how her meal was.  She exclaimed, “This doesn’t taste like chicken at all!” European Tourists, duh!  Hehe.

Once she was back home, we corresponded for a while and Janet received some great news:

Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 4:18 PM
Subject: Fw: new e-mail-adress

Attachments:  Jael’s wedding photos. She looks beautiful and VERY happy. Notice the red hearts pinned on everyone.   JC

On Wed, 2/24/10, Jael > wrote:  Subject: new e-mail-adress

Hello J !!!  How are you doing?  I’ve got a new e-mail-adress, since I’ve got a new name through my marriage from last fall J.

Since you couldn’t attend our wedding (you were just too far away J), I send you attached a few pictures of our beautiful wedding. For those of you who know Switzerland: the church wedding was hold in Goldiwil (above Thun) and for the banquet we’ve been at the wonderful Parkhotel in Gunten at the lake of Thun.

I hope you are doing well.  Be blessed!

Jael ……………………… No virus found in this incoming message.

This is Jael’s sister (holding the umbrella).  Love this pic.  We only know the bride,  we have never met any of her family and friends


Note:  For some reason, WordPress.com won’t let me download anymore photos from my “Jael files,” it says “not enough space to upload.”  I’ve tried other comparable files with no problem.  If I can ever figure out what is the issue, I will amend this blog.  Sorry!  Had hoped to show you all over the beautiful scenery  around where she lived in Switzerland.