Sunday, October 31, 2010

Banking Week

No, this is not garter week, it is banking week. The woman in the picture had withdrawn $5 from the bank in the background, and is depositing the money in a garter purse. The picture certainly looks staged, but is interesting nonetheless. The picture was taken in 1908.

I very much enjoyed anarchist week last week. We saw that the anarchist are not only opposed to "government", they are opposed to large corporations. It appears the thing that annoys them most are large banks. So, this week we will be looking at pictures of bank, and be talking about the banking system.

Domestic Update:

Things continue to progress nicely out in the Been Barn. The picture above shows a nice piece of squash I picked this morning. The lettuce continues to do well, and the cucumbers are unbelievable. I had mentioned that Mrs. PJM took some samples to work, and everyone wanted to buy her produce. The two restaurants in the airport have pretty much said that they will buy all of what she brings in. Mrs. PJM has found that she does not have to compete with the grocery stores on price. People like the produce because it is "picked this morning", is pesticide free, and really of exceptional quality. So, if she charges grocery store prices, people will pick her produce over grocery store produce.  Since the produce is grown hydroponically, you can not describe it as "organic", but it really has all the characteristics of organic produce. So far, pretty much everything I have tried to grow out there has worked.

The one thing that you have to stay on top of with greenhouse vegetables is pollination. Since there are no natural pollinators in the greenhouse, you have to make sure everything is pollinated. For the cucumbers we grow, they are self-pollinating. Each bloom has male and female parts in the same location, so nothing needs to be done for pollination. For the tomatoes and peppers, each bloom has both male and female parts, but they are in different spots. So, you have to take a vibrating wand around, and touch the stem holding the bloom. The vibration causes a little cloud of pollen in the bloom, which results in pollination. For squash, watermelon and the like, some blooms are male and some are female. You have to go around and pick the male blooms off, take the petals off, and then place the tip into the female blooms and let the pollen spread around. This is a little tricky, and if you don't do it right, the fruit does not develop, or is misshapen. They do sell little boxes of bumblebees to put in the greenhouse to do the pollination, but I have not decided to take that step yet.

Also, last week my new large hydroponic systems came in. Right now, I am in the middle of a crop in the test systems I have set up, so I really don't want to break them down to install the new systems. I plan to wait a little, and install the new systems a little at a time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mystery Person Contest

Good Saturday morning to you all. This morning is Mystery Person Contest morning. Ready, set Go!!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Anarchist Alexander Berkman

Good Friday morning to you all. We wrap up Anarchy Week with the same way we started it; with a picture of Alexander Berkman.

I have enjoyed this week of pictures, and especially the civil discourse in the comments section on the topic of anarchy. I think the anarchy posters did an eloquent job in clearly stating their positions, but I remain unconvinced that mankind can live in small groups governing themselves without one of those groups deciding to take over their neighbors. I can see some aspects of attractiveness to the society they dream would exist, but unfortunately that society will never exist.

Hmmm . . . now to come up with a "Mystery Person" for in the morning.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

George Cochon

Today we feature a picture of George Cochon. He was a leading anarchist in Paris in the late 1800's. I can tell from the comments that some of you are growing weary of Anarchy Week here at OPOD. To that I respond, if I had to suffer through poetry week, you can suffer through anarchy week.

I found it interesting that we had even more anarchist speak up yesterday in the comments. It makes me wonder, are there anarchist who are daily readers of this site, or do they just search the WEB for anarchist discussions to join in on. Either thing would be fine, it is just I am curious.

OK, yesterday I presented the hypothetical situation of my real friend Matt, and how he would conduct himself in an anarchist society, and I suggested that he would loot and pillage hapless anarchy book stores and coffee shops. The anarchists responded, in effect, that anarchists are not necessarily pacifists, and nothing in the anarchist creed would preclude them from organizing, arming themselves, selecting leaders, and defending their coffee shops and bookstores.

So, lets consider this for a moment. To keep things simple, lets say their little group has 10 people in it. For arguments sake lets say they put 40% of their people to work associated with the bookstore (culture), 40% of their resources to work associated with the coffee shop (food) and 20% of their people to work on defense of the little society (defense). Well, Matt can easily recruit a like number of rednecks into his little band of raiders, plunderers and pillagers. In this group though, 100% of resources are put into military training and arms making. They don't have to worry about wasting time on farming or that sort of stuff because they take what they need in raids. Now, when Matt and the Raiders go to war with Mr. Lemuria and the anarchist coffer shop and book store owners/patrons, well, it will be a massacre. For a real world analogy to this, consider Bill Quantrill's raid on Lawrence Kansas.

The sad fact is that it is easier to burn down a coffee shop than it is to build a coffee shop. People that spend their time building coffee shops can not adequately prepare to defend them against people who do nothing but raid, rob, and pillage. The sad fact is that we need government to provide the rule of law, and defense of individual rights. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wall Street Bombing

We are learning that the Anarchist are not just against government, they are also against pretty much any large institution that would exert influence over others, such as, large corporations. From my study, it appears that the banks and financial centers are particular sore points with the anarchists. The picture above was taken in 1920, and shows a bombing that occurred on Wall Street. So apparently this group did not just throw bombs at their own rally, but also threw bombs at other people.

I was very excited to see we had an actual anarchist post on the site yesterday, a Mr. Lemuria. From the post it sounded like he was not a real anarchist, but more of a hobby-anarchist, or armchair anarchist, or to coin a term, a Gentleman Anarchist. I would guess that he likes to read books on the subject, and sit around the coffee shop with his friends and talk about throwing rocks through windows, but probably would not ever really throw a rock through a window. I am not being pejorative, but just summarizing my read on his musings.

I hope Mr. Lemuria will post again today, as I would really like to better understand how this movement thinks. I am not interested in winning an argument, I just want to understand what goes on in these people's minds.

OK, so let me describe a situation. I have this friend named Matt. Matt loves guns. Every time I see him he shows me the 27 guns he has bought since the last time I saw him. He buys guns, he shoots guns, he fixes guns, and in fact he can even make guns from scratch. If there is one thing he loves more than guns, it is coffee. The only thing better than coffee is free coffee. The only thing better than free coffee would be an evening of drinking free coffee and burning down anarchist book stores. Now Matt might dream of stealing coffee from an anarchist coffee shop, and then burning down an anarchist book store, but he would never actually do it because of the Rule of Law. He understands that if he were to do those things he would be thrown into prison, and would possibly become a love interest of a 350 pound Hell's Angel biker. So, Matt behaves himself because there is a government, and rule of law, and prisons, and bikers in prison.

If Mr. Lemuria and his friends achieve their Utopian vision of anarchy where there is no government and no large corporations, the issue is that my friend Matt does not go away, and his friends do not go away, and his guns do not go away. Even if you got rid of guns as you got rid of governments, Matt could build one from scrap metal in about a week. So, if we have Matt, guns, anarchist coffee shops, anarchist book stores, and no government, there will be raids where coffee is stolen and anarchist book stores are burned. Oh yes, there will be coffee raiders, and coffee raids.

Mr. Lemuria now has the choice of either organizing his friends and arming himself, or becoming the victim of Matt and his marauding band of bookstore burners. If Mr. Lemuria does organize and arm, then Matt and his group get into battles with Mr. Lemuria and his group. So, we got rid of government but did not get rid of war. Also, Matt then starts banding together with other marauding groups, and organizes, and chooses leaders. Now all the sudden it sounds like we have a new government emerging. Matt now has a lot more men to arm, and he does not have the time to make all the guns, so a company is formed to make guns, and Matt uses the proceeds from his coffee shop raids to purchase weapons from the company, which begins to grow in size. So, now we not only have emerging governments, we have emerging large corporations and defense contractors.

So, how can an anarchist society exist without wars breaking out, people organizing, and governments being formed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Anarchist Crowd

Anarchy week continues with this picture from 1914. It shows an anarchist crowd in Union Square in 1914. Alexander Berkman is addressing the crowd. 

I have found the comments this week very interesting. I don't post comments in the comments section, as that is your place to speak. I did detect a hint of anarchy sympathy in some of the comments. The point was made that not all anarchist want violence, and you can not lump them all together. I would claim that it is not about what anarchist want, it is about what anarchism leads to . . . it leads to violence whether the individual anarchist wants that or not. 

I will admit that as I get older I am leaning more and more in the libertarian direction, wishing for a much smaller federal government. While these are my sympathies, I realize that the "purist" libertarian ideals would not work. Since we have evolved into a society that has concentrated so much power in large corporations, a large government is in effect needed to offer some restraint. I think practically the only way to really move to a smaller government is to move to a simpler society where goods and services are manufactured locally, and sold by small locally owned businesses. Likely not going to happen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Anarchist Bombing

There was lots of interesting discussion yesterday about anarchist, and their objectives in the early 1900's. It was suggested that "Anarchy" and "Chaos" are two different things, and those who wanted Anarchy did not want Chaos. The picture above was taken in 1908, 20 seconds after a bomb went off at a rally of 5,000 anarchist at Union Square in New York City. The anarchist pictured had brought bombs to the rally, and were about to throw one at the police. The bomb went off before they threw it, injuring a large number in the crowd. 

So, I must ask you . . . if anarchist do not want chaos, why do they bring bombs to their meetings? Today, elements of the anarchist movement can still be seen in the violent protests at the various G-8/G-20 meetings. Again, if Anarchist do not want Chaos, why are their demonstrations SO chaotic?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Anarchy Week

Welcome to Anarchy Week here at OPOD. This is a topic I am interested in, but don't really understand too well. In the early 20th century there was a big anarchist movement. Anarchist come in many different flavors, but pretty much, they believe that there should be no government at all. They believe society should function without a "State" or "Government". I wish I knew someone who believed this, so I could better understand how this would work. I would think that if there were no government, there would be some people who would choose to be strong. The weak would seek protection from the strong, and then the strong could easily control them. I would think that if a state of anarchy existed, it would quickly turn into a state of feudalism. I think the early 20th century anarchist believed that people would organize themselves into peaceful commune type communities. This would be fine, but what happens when one commune decides to arm themselves, and expand their territory.

Anyway, the picture above is of Alexander Berkman and Helen Harris, tow of the leading anarchist of the early 1900's. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Traveling Soup Wagon

Today's picture is from Berlin, Germany. It shows a travelling soup kitchen. You can see people lining up for soup. In this picture you can see some women and children.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Soup Lines

No, it was not a picture embargo yesterday. I got up and my internet connection was not working, and had to get off to work. Sometime during the day, it started working again. So, we are back online and posting pictures. This picture shows a soup line in New York. The picture was taken in 1910. You don't see soup lines much these days, as they have been replaced by food stamps. I have read that the number of people on food stamps has exploded to an all time record. It is just not as visual as people standing in line waiting for a meal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Testing the Soup

This morning's picture is from 1942, and shows a woman testing the soup. Looks like she has her pressure cooker out as well, so perhaps she is going to can the soup as well.

Yesterday, Potamiaen asked for Mrs. PJM's green chili soup recipe. I am happy to share it with you. But first, if really needs roasted green chili, not canned. If you don't have roasted, buy some of the green ones in the grocery store vegetable area. Then roast them on your BBQ grill, or you can roast them by holding them one at a time over the stovetop burner. The outside really needs to be burned to get that rich roasted flavor in the chili.

EAM has made a WEB site which feature's Mrs. PJM's recipes, and here is her Green Chili Soup recipe:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Soup Kitchen

From yesterday's post, I bet you thought the picture theme this week was going to be ice cutting. No, the ice cutters in the picture were drinking soup from the little soup shack, and this weeks theme is soup. As a child I did not like soup, but as an adult it is one of my favorite foods. I like soups that are mostly broth, with just a few bits and chunks of goodies. There is nothing better than a well made soup. Mrs. PJM is famous for her green chili soup, and her vegetable soup. 

The picture above was made in 1915, and it shows soup being prepared in a municipal soup kitchen for Belgium relief.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ice Cutters

Good Sunday morning to you all. Today we feature a picture of ice cutters which was taken in 1910. In the days before refrigeration, ice would be cut from frozen lakes, and stored in ice houses. The ice would then be sold throughout the year for "ice boxes", a type of refrigerator which was kept cold with a block of ice inside. The men are taking a break at the soup house. I can not imagine anything that would be more enjoyable for ice cutters than a warm cup of soup. I really like soup, and when properly made, it is one of the best meals to have, in my mind.

Domestic Update:

I am pleased to let you know that things are going very well out in the bean barn. We harvested our first vegetables this week . . . a head of lettuce and a cucumber. To harvest the lettuce, you just pull it out of the nutrient tray. It comes out, roots and all. Then, if you keep the roots moist, the lettuce continues to be alive, and will stay nice and crisp. In fact, it looks so good it would make a pretty centerpiece.

We ate the cucumber, and it was delicious. Not a hint of bitterness, and the skin was smooth tasty, and not waxy or thick. Mrs. PJM was so proud of the head of lettuce, she took it into work to show it off. When she took it in, immediately, everyone wanted to buy it from her. She did not take it in to sell, but to show it off. She finally agreed to sell it, and got $2.50 for it. Then, everyone else wanted one, so she took orders, and basically sold out our entire first crop there all at once. 

Seeing how popular the lettuce is, and how well it grows in the channel trays, I decided to order a much larger system. My present test system has spots for growing 36 heads of lettuce. The new one I ordered will have 350 growing slots. A wise move, or just the latest incarnation of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Only time will tell.

If you remember last Sunday I showed you a little cucumber that was an inch long. Here is that same cucumber today. Notice how much it grew in one week! The cucumbers are grown in buckets that sit on the floor. The bucket is filled with perlite. Once an hour the system fills the buckets up with nutrients, and then the nutrients drain out the bottom, and are taken by a pipe back to the nutrient tank. By keeping the nutrient tank properly balanced, the cucumbers are constantly fed a perfect diet. Seeing that this system is working very well, I ordered the components to triple the number of plants I can grow like this. This system is also used for peppers, tomatoes, and pretty much any other vine like plant.

I have been experimenting with other vine type plants. I am having lots of success, and have found that just about anything will grow in these buckets. You can see below that a watermelon is coming on. Now, the days are getting shorter, so we will have to see if the baby watermelon can grow into a ripe fruit with shorter and shorter winter days.

With the successful production of cucumbers and lettuce, and with the successful sale of the lettuce crop, I feel I am growing ever closer to achieving my dream of being a gentleman farmer.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mystery Person Contest

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. In today's contest you must name all three people in the picture. The game has begun!

Friday, October 15, 2010

American Soda Fountain

Today's picture was taken in 1910, and shows the American Soda Fountain in Washington DC.

I enjoyed the comments yesterday describing a few remaining soda fountains in the US. In Dublin, Texas, there is the oldest Dr. Pepper bottler in the country. They still use the ORIGINAL formula using Pure Cain Sugar instead of corn syrup, and they have an old fashioned soda fountain. I don't drink much soda pop, but let me tell you that those they serve at the Dublin soda fountain are really something great. I think the sodas made at a fountain have a stronger "bite" from the carbonation, and canned sodas can not compare. Also, I think that the sodas made with real sugar have a much better flavor than the corn syrup ones typically canned today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Soda Fountain

An important part of many diners was the Soda Fountain. At the Soda Fountain, soft drinks were mixed up right on the spot from carbonated water and flavoring syrup. A variety of ice cream treats was also available at the bar. The picture above was taken in 1942, and the man making the banana splits was a veteran of World War I.

When I was growing up, Drug Stores were typically small mom and pop type shops. They would have a small pharmacy in the corner, where you could pick up medicines. They then had a soda fountain serving beverages and ice cream, and also had a diner for full meals.

I think we have really lost something having most all of the drug stores, and virtually all retail outlets for that matter, go to the big box stores.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Elder Michaux

This is another picture from inside the Happy News Cafe. I have found the pictures of the Cafe interesting, but also, there have been some clues that perhaps there is more to the story than just a simple cafe. First, we saw on an earlier picture that under the "Happy News" sign outside, it said, "Bernarr Macfadden Foundation". The "Foundation" part might indicate that this was perhaps some sort of Soup Kitchen with Dignity type of thing. Notice also the "Vital Foods at Bargain Prices" on the sign. Bernarr Macfadden was a publishing mogul, and perhaps his foundation did charitable work.

The picture above shows Elder Michaux working the cash register. Eldoer Michaux was a very early black evangelist, who  was the first black person to host a TV show.

What makes things more confusing, the customers in yesterday's picture looked fairly well off, dressed nicely. So, perhaps the exact story of the Happy News Cafe remains somewhat of a mystery.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back, by Popular Demand!

Yesterday we saw the outside of the "Happy News" cafe, and today we see the inside. It looks like business is booming. The picture was taken in 1937, so I am surprised that by the "No Smoking" sign. I guess they were ahead of their time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy News Cafe

Today' picture was taken in 1937, and it shows the Happy News Cafe ni Washington DC. Interesting that the sign on the door on the left says there is a ladies dining room upstairs. I am not sure why women would be seated separately at this time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Alpine Diner

Welcome to Diner Week! We will be looking at scenes from a bygone era when meals were well under $1. The picture above was taken in Alpine, Texas in 1939. Click on the picture to zoom in, and take a look at the prices. Perhaps we can date ourselves . . . what is the cheapest you ever remember paying for a hamburger. I believe when I was growing up in the 60's you could get one for 35 cents. I can remember getting change back for a dollar for a hamburger, fries and a drink.

Domestic Update:

It has been a while since I updated you on the Bean Barn. Well, I am happy to report that it is completely finished. The electrician came last week and put the final switch in, and I can officially declare the construction project complete. As you remember, my mom and I did most of the construction, but on some of the plumbing and electrical work I got professional help. At the point it was almost finished, I went ahead and fired up my experimental hydroponic systems. I say experimental in I put together very small systems so I could see what works and what does not work, and then I will expand the systems to fill the space as I learn what is the most effective.

I must say I am very pleased with the results to date. I had tried gardening many times over the years, but I was always frustrated. No matter what I tried, the vegetables came out with defects . . . bigger on one side, non-uniform color, misshapen, split on top, or perhaps with some bug bites. Being a perfectionist, even though the vegetables were fine to eat, I was always unhappy that they did not have the uniform perfection of store bought produce. So, I finally stopped gardening because of the non-perfect visual appearance of what I was growing. I am happy to announce that I am getting exceptionally attractive results so far in the Bean Barn.

Now I ask you, is that not beautiful lettuce. I looked at every leaf and could not find a single defect. I also like how uniform and symmetric the heads are. I am not sure when to pick them, but I think they are getting close. Here is another picture that shows the system they are growing in.

There is a large tank built in the floor of the greenhouse. It does not show in this picture. The tank has the nutrient solution in it. There is a pump in the tank, and the pump sends the nutrients up to the long white grow channels in the picture. The lettuce is started in little holes in the grow channels. The nutrients flow through the channels like a river, and then return to the tank in the floor. So, with this system there is no growing medium at all. The roots just go down into the nutrient stream, and drink their fill. The nutrients constantly circulate. Once a day I go out and measure and adjust the nutrient pH and concentration. I am very pleased with the lettuce but would like the leaves to be a little deeper green, so next time I will add a little iron chelate to get a little deeper color.

I am also experimenting with a bucket system where the plants grow in perlite, which is a white material a little like small pebbles.

Again, I am experimenting to see what works here. Closest to you are the tomato vines, which are looking good and about to get their first blooms. The taller vines behind, with the big leaves are European cucumbers. These are those that are expensive in the grocery store and that are individually packaged. The cucumbers are going crazy, and will be to the top of the greenhouse in the next few days. They are covered with blooms, and the cucumbers are starting to grow. Over on the left is a watermelon vine, jalapeƱos, bell peppers, and a squash. I am also experimenting with snow peas, broccoli, chard and spices.

I am hopeful I will have a grown cucumber to harvest by next weekend.

I feel that this progress brings me ever closer to my goal of becoming a gentleman farmer.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mystery Person

This week I am sure I will win. Ready, Set, Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Robert Frost

No, that was not a picture embargo yesterday. What happened is that I woke up to find my computer had crashed during the night, and did not want to boot up. I spent a few minutes trying to get it to work, and then had to get off to work.

OK, today's picture is of Robert Frost, another famous poet.He lived from the 1870's to the 1960's, so he saw lots in his life, and he wrote lots of poetry. Below I feature one of his poems, Mowing. To be honest with you, I don't get it. Maybe you will enjoy it.


There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound--
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labour knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

George Bernard Shaw

It is Wednesday, and I am wondering if Poets Week will ever be over. I am thinking back fondly of Typewriter Week. But, I will persevere and finish this week of pictures on Poets. Above we feature a photograph of George Bernard Shaw, taken in 1905.

We feature his poem "Back Kitchen" today. To be honest with you, I don't get it.

If you think George looks  a little sinister in the picture above, that would be because he was in fact quiet sinister. He was a fabian socialist, and an early big thinker in the eugenics movement. He was an early and vocal supporter of Adolf Hitler. He believed that government boards should be set up, and people should be required to go before the boards every five years or so to justify their existence. Those who were deemed to be of little value would be killed. He was very interested in science creating a "Humane Gas" to make the task of killing large numbers of people easier. "Humane Gas" was a term he used, and later used by the Nazis, who in fact did develop such a gas, and used it to murder countless people. Shaw's vision was not so much to exterminate specific races, but believed it should be more on an individual basis, with metrics determined by, I guess, his elite group of friends. I am sure "Poets" would have been deemed to be of immense value to society. An interesting youtube video of him here.

Back Kitchen

In my back kitchen all is quite still, 

I have cooked my food and ate my fill.
Then the dishes in the sink had their say, 
He always eats here but he does not pay.
The empty bottle of fresh brewed beer, 
Said, 'He drained me dry without a tear.'
Then of course the mess he makes, 
To cook a meal the time he takes.
Could he not eat in the restaurant next door? 
They need the money because the Boss is poor.
The only thing that had nothing to say, 
Was the frying pan it was not its day.
The knives and forks were filled with rage, 
He is a messy eater he should act his age.
Picking out bits here and there indeed, 
No wonder he takes so long to have his feed.
Have you ever listened to your kitchen tools? 
Mine complain I am the king of fools.
They say I should go out to eat, 
Order fresh vegetables with plenty of meat.
Not to come home and start to cook, 
I should be relaxing with a good book.
They have no respect for me you know, 
Just because I am old and getting slow.
I wash the pots and pans clean each day, 
Then I carefully put them all away.
I think I will throw them away onto the rubbish heap, 
Except for the sugar bowl that I will keep.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oscar Wilde

Today's picture is from 1882, and shows Oscar Wilde. A very strange character, if you do a little research on him. Below, I present his poem, "By the Arno". To be honest with you, I don't get it.

OK, so three days in a row, I have admitted that I don't get the poem, even after reading it carefully. You are probably thinking that I could have never made it through college literature with three "I don't get it's" in a row. I will have you know that I did make it through college literature, and I am going to share my secret with you right now. When I was in college, I was doing well in all my hard classes . . . getting A's in Science, Engineering, and Math classes. I was, however, struggling in literature. I talked to one of my engineering professors, and he shared with me the secret to doing well in literature.

Lets take yesterday's poem for example, "Beat! Beat! Drum!". We had lots of comments on it, and three basic interpretations emerged . . . it was against the war, it was for the war, and it was neutral on the war. I will tell you that ANY of those three responses would have gotten you a solid "C" or perhaps at best a "B". In order to get an "A" you would need to follow my engineering professors advise. You see, he told me that to get a really good grade, you needed to come up with a really ridiculous interpretation that was nothing like what the poem was about, and make sure the interpretation had some perverse angle to it. When I started doing that, I started getting all A's. So, for the Whitman poem, here is the winning interpretation.

The poem has nothing to do with war, it represents Whitman's childhood. The drum represents his father, and the bugle his secret love for his mother. He resented his father as the father was the object of his mom's physical affections. The beating of the drum represents his inner desire to beat his father and the blowing the bugle represents his desire to declare his secret love of his mother.

Yes folks, that is the type of interpretation that will get you an A in college literature.

Anyway, for your amusement, I present Wilde's "By the Anon". Maybe you could try your hand at interpreting now that you know the secret formula.

      THE oleander on the wall
      Grows crimson in the dawning light,
      Though the grey shadows of the night
      Lie yet on Florence like a pall.
      The dew is bright upon the hill,
      And bright the blossoms overhead,
      But ah! the grasshoppers have fled,
      The little Attic song is still.
      Only the leaves are gently stirred
      By the soft breathing of the gale,
      And in the almond-scented vale
      The lonely nightingale is heard.
      The day will make thee silent soon,
      O nightingale sing on for love!
      While yet upon the shadowy grove
      Splinter the arrows of the moon.
      Before across the silent lawn
      In sea-green vest the morning steals,
      And to love's frightened eyes reveals
      The long white fingers of the dawn.
      Fast climbing up the eastern sky
      To grasp and slay the shuddering night,
      All careless of my heart's delight,
      Or if the nightingale should die.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Walt Whitman

Sorry for the delay in posting today's picture. I had a white fly infestation out in the Bean Barn, so had to run to town to get some neem oil to try and kill it back before the cucumbers were ruined.

Today's picture is of Walt Whitman. The picture was taken in 1879. He is sporting his trademark beard in the picture. Whitman was a poet, and one of the poems he is remembered for is "Beat! Beat! Drums!". To be honest with you, I don't get it.


BEAT ! beat ! drums!—Blow ! bugles ! blow !
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a force of armed men,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation; Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride;
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace plowing his field or gathering his grain ;
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.
Beat ! beat ! drums ! Blow ! bugles ! blow !
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? No sleepers must sleep in those beds;
No bargainers' bargains by day—no brokers or speculators. Would they continue ?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums-and bugles wilder blow.
Beat ! beat! drums ! Blow ! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation;
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer; Mind not the old man beseeching the young man;
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties. Recruit! recruit!
Make the very trestles shake under the dead, where they lie in their shrouds awaiting the hearses.
So strong you thump, O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Edgar Allen Poe

Welcome to Famous Writers week at OPOD. We kicked things off yesterday with the Mystery Person being Walt Whitman. I guess that was a pretty easy one, as old Walt had a pretty distinctive beard and face. Today we feature Edgar Allen Poe, who was a poet of the early 1800's. I will share one his famous poems, The Raven. I am going to come right out and admit to you . . . I don't get it. Maybe someone can explain.

The Raven

horizontal spaceOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Typing Class

This is a picture from the early 1900's which shows a classroom at the Washington DC school for secretaries. I wonder what all skills were taught at the school. I could imagine typing, shorthand/dictation, and filing. I am curious if there were other office duties taught back then.