Boondockery

Two nights in a row now staying in parking lots: last night at Walmart in Pace, FL and tonight in Vicksburg at Cracker Barrel. After a couple of days in DeLand, FL visiting my Duke pals Charles and Susan (with a special guest appearance by Jupe) I am now heading west, in the general direction of home. One last side trip, though: a week in Hot Springs, AR.

Many thanks to Charlie and Sue for great hospitality in their soon-to-be remodeled home. Got to watch some great ball games, including the last 3 games of the World Series.

Milestone alert: passed 10,000 miles on the Big ‘Un the other day.

10k

Tough to guess exactly how many miles the Beast has. Probably about half of that.

The night before heading out on the Hot Springs leg I trotted down to Tampa and met my former colleague and pal Walter and went to a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. Great game: went to overtime and about 10 rounds into a shootout before Boston finally won. I have rarely seen a more evenly played hockey game. And the accomodations were top notch: Walter has some primo seats which included complimentary grub:

food-wine-hockey

Food/wine/hockey. I’ll bet that trifecta all day.

Devoted followers may remember that one of my first posts on this blog mentioned staying a night in Vicksburg. That time I did not get a chance to visit the battlefield, so I stopped there briefly this afternoon with just enough time to see the visitor center but no time to actually tour the battlefield. The siege of Vicksburg, as it turned out, was a major Union victory under the command of Gen. Grant. It did not come easily. He tried to take it several times during 1862 with no success. The city was well defended, being 300 feet above the Mighty Mississipp’. But it was a key strategic port for controlling traffic on the river and ole U.S. was determined to take it. He won several key battles in March/April 1863 forcing the enemy to retreat to the redoubt of the city, then he bombed it constantly from the east and the west until it was surrendered on July 4, 1863.

grant-pemberton

The Confederate general was a cat named Pemberton.

vicksburg-siege

vicksburg-surrender

It makes me shake my head: these guys go hammer and tongs at each other for months, thousands of men die, and then they meet under a tree and negotiate surrender. War is a queer business indeed.

I’ve knocked several items off my reading list lately.

killing-sun

O’Reilly writes history as a page-turner by telling the main story through the individual stories of many of the folks involved. I really enjoyed it and recommend it for anyone with an interest in the topic, but not for the faint of heart. The war in the Pacific was as brutal as it gets. He touches on the story of the pacifist who served as a medic and won the Medal of Honor which is now the subject of the movie “Hacksaw Ridge”.

jeeves

The “Jeeves” books by Wodehouse represent classic British satire on the upper crust of the 1920s. I always find them good for a chuckle, though perhaps they are not everyone’s cup of tea.

pun-also-rises

This book started well, telling the story of the author’s victory at a punning tournament. The rest of the book tries to make a brief for the importance of the pun in human progress across the centuries: methinks he overstates his case a mite.

conflict-of-visions2

This is without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read. It explains in great detail the origin and development of what we call today “conservative” and “liberal” thought. The author is very much of the conservative persuasion, but he plays if pretty much down the middle in explaining the historical and philosophical roots of this most important political struggle. I first read it 10 or 15 years ago but recently finished “reading” it again as an audio book. Highly recommended for any politically engaged person, especially the written version since it has copious footnotes.

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