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05/07/22 06:33 AM #15972    


Jack Mallory

Almost every time I'm in the woods or on the water, I send a mental note of thanks for my VA cataract surgery three years ago. It was night driving  problems that pushed me over the edge, but the benefits have far exceeded that issue (I don't stay up late enough to drive much after dark anyway!).

Although I don't recall the medical details, I had to make choices about how to adjust/balance the correction to each eye. Given my joy in being outside, I went with lenses that require me to still wear glasses full-time--I wore reading glasses during recovery but the on/off/where did I put them routine drove me nuts. Without them, although I can't read my phone screen, I can see distance very clearly. And with them, even better than before, so for spotting critters and other nature features it was a huge improvement. 

Herons. That's a weird coincidence! Who would have thought that anyone would have a "special relationship" with a bird, much less that two couples might share such a preference? But Deb and I have been heron-focused since our beginning. Herons are not so common around here as to be common-place, so to speak, but we see them often while walking the Contoocook and kayaking just about anywhere. And we've seen herons in the US, England, Spain, and Mexico. A search with my photos app says I have 333 heron pix, more than any other animal. Good to know AI isn't perfect; the search returns one osprey pic, a duck, an egret, and for completely unknown reasons, a turtle. Deb has often paddled patiently or stood on the river bank while I chased herons, camera in hand. 

This was one of my first photos, taken 11 years ago, that made me think, "Hmm, I can do more than just snapshots!"



And this, capturing Deb and a heron in the same shot: 


No herons in the last Grand Canyon trip, Stephen, but we'll see what the next one brings!

05/07/22 10:15 AM #15973    


Jay Shackford


Who Leaked the Draft?

Republicans seem obsessed with identifying who leaked the 1st draft of Samuel Alito’s decision overturning Roe v Wade.  For a moment, take a look at who really benefits by leaking the Alito draft a good six months before the election.   Consider the following:

  • Americans have a very short attention span.  Remember the messy withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.  Many thought it would be a major issue in the 2022 elections.  Hardly anyone is talking about or even remembers Afghanistan. The ruling on abortion, however, could be a decisive issue in the off-year elections.  In other words, a few right-wing extremists believed that getting the ruling out early would burn off the some of the steam and outrage on the left, thus making it less of an issue in November.  
  • Chief Justice John Roberts was reportedly working hard on Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Comey Barrett to make some revisions in the 1st draft -- a decision as now written that would result in a complete ban on abortions in many states by turning over the decisions on the legality of abortions and the rules governing abortions to state legislatures, most of which are controlled conservative Republicans.  The Chief Justice was thinking about modifying the 1st draft to allow for abortions in cases where the woman was raped, a victim of incest or in danger of dying by carrying the pregnancy to term.  Such radical thinking!
  • Republicans want the November election to be a referendum on Joe Biden, and his policies that the GOP will blame for inflation, high gas and food prices, rising crime rates and lawlessness throughout the land.  The last thing they want is to make the election a referendum on abortion when 70 percent of American voters support upholding Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose.  

Considering all the above, my best guess is that the leak came from someone on the right, someone who had  access to the 1st draft and someone who has complete disregard for our democratic processes and the deeply held traditions of the U.S. Supreme Court.  The leaker, in my opinion, is Ginni Thomas – wife of Justice Clarence Thomas who is known to share his thoughts and opinions with his radical-to-the-core wife.   

By leaking the 1st draft, Ginni was, in effect, pressuring Brett and Amy to stay in line with the original Alito draft decision.  

Remember, Ginni Thomas sent dozens of emails to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows following the election urging Meadows to do whatever he could to “stop the steal” and overturn the free and fair election of Joe Biden, which he won by a landslide of 7 million votes.  

As a local sidebar, Ginni also successfully challenged her hometown city council in Clifton, VA, to take down the "Black Lives Matter" banner in downtown Clifton -- a small town of two blocks, a railroad crossing and a couple of restuarants in the horse country of Fairfax County and close to where I live and play golf.  So much for free speech!  To add some interesting history to the sleepy town of Clifton, it was also the site where Nancy Reagan had lunch on a regular basis  with Washington Post owner Katherine Graham back in the days when Democrats and Republicans actually talked and socialized with one another.  

But more importantly, Ginni also admits she participated in the January 6th rally on the Ellipse, although she has denied marching to the Capitol.  It’s well known that Ginni Thomas has been active in extreme right-wing causes for decades (raising money and supporting candidates who would make your blood boil), and reportedly has a great influence on her husband’s thinking on major cases.  She could have easily copied the 1st draft while old Clarence was snoring away, and nobody, not even her husband, would know it. 

Otherwise, it would have to be one of the nine Justices (very doubtful) or one of the Justices’ clerks – a move that, if uncovered, could send them to jail and destroy their careers.   If you clerk for a Supreme Court justice, the future is paved with power and riches.  Why risk everything when the decision was due to be released within the next six to eight weeks and negotiations between the Justices were already underway to moderate the 1st draft?

As they say, “be careful for what you wish for.”  Finding the leaker could boomerang for the Grand Old Party.   




05/08/22 02:26 PM #15974    


Jack Mallory

Mom, dad, and kiddo all home, but kiddo at bottom of nest getting fed, not photographed. The other day was the only time I've seen it since hatching.

05/08/22 03:42 PM #15975    


Joan Ruggles (Young)

Thanks for your various comments on cataract surgery. I chose the multi-focus lens for my surgery and I have to say in the eye that was already done I can see well at all distances. Regarding the color thing. I immediately noticed that looking through the new lens was like seeing light from a white light or daylight light bulb while the old lens sees things like a warm white light bulb. The new white one is super sharp.  A doctor friend told me that some enterprising ophthalmologists are telling 60-year-old patients "why wait till your cataracts get worse? Do it now and throw away your glasses?"  I knew nothing about cataracts till two months ago but if I knew then what I know now when I was 60, I would have had it done pronto. Amazing to me to think that one of the burdens of aging could actually be reversed!  There!  I'm done with a self-absorbed subject and promise not to do it again for at least 6 months.

Meanwhile, I arrived back in France a few days ago and am deep into preparing my vegetable garden for planting. I'm deep in mud and as happy as can be. 

05/09/22 09:57 AM #15976    


Stephen Hatchett

Joan, please tell us you are planting some tomatillos (and not zucchini).  But then, zucchini blossoms are a color you can now appreciate even more -- and they are plenty tasty.

05/09/22 05:12 PM #15977    


Jack Mallory

6:51 am. This is why photographers call the time around sunrise and sunset the golden hours. 


And more signs of Spring!


05/09/22 10:55 PM #15978    


Stephen Hatchett

Now those, Jack, are a couple of special Mother's Day pics.

05/10/22 10:49 AM #15979    


Jay Shackford

Great shots, Jack. Joan, glad to hear your eye surgery went well.  But I have one question.  According to my eye doctor, she says Medicare won't cover the surgery until your vision falls below 20/40 with corrective lenses.  Is that still the case?  Bests....



05/10/22 01:32 PM #15980    


Joan Ruggles (Young)

I was told Medicare would pay for only distance or reading - the most basic surgery _ I opted for the whole thing. I will have to pay for it and am happy to do so.

Stephen, I am not growing tomatillos because they have never been a favorite of mine, But I am again growing jalapenos from seed. I told myself I'd never do it again because who needs two hundred jalapenos,  But I'm stupidly doing it again


05/10/22 07:05 PM #15981    


Jack Mallory

Thoughts on the seldom-considered advantages of imperfect senses: 

At my Army physical on coming back from Vietnam I was advised I had some small degree of hearing loss. I don't remember the details--particular frequency ranges or something gone. I was told I could put in a disability claim; I said all I wanted was out of the US Army, immediately. 

But in an era where having really good (expensive) stereo equipment was very in, I could say to myself, "Why bother, I couldn't hear the difference!" Saved probably hundreds of dollars!

Similarly, having worn glasses all my life I never had any compulsion to buy the best (expensive) camera gear. "Why bother, I couldn't see the difference!" That's THOUSANDS of dollars saved!

Today's product of something other than a $3,000 Leica:


05/12/22 11:43 AM #15982    


Jack Mallory

Ever had a kid who REALLY didn’t like having their picture taken?


05/15/22 01:10 AM #15983    


Stephen Hatchett

Just a strong recomendation to take in the Netflix series "Our National Parks".  Here "Our" includes the whole world's parks, and marine sanctuaries.  Narrated by Barack Obama.  The photography alone is worth triple the cost of a Netflix subscription.  Drones must get some of the shots, but others, llike where we're looking a hippo in the nostrils confound me.  

05/15/22 06:02 AM #15984    


Jack Mallory

Out yesterday, in Stumpfield Marsh. The marshes, bogs, and sloughs have lousy PR agents, but are super-biologically productive.  Critters great and small!



And from HCR, the paddling pundit:


05/17/22 11:23 AM #15985    


Jack Mallory

Just paid for the upcoming Grand Canyon adventure. We're flying in on the 29th, Stephen, just to ensure that no flight complications screw things up for the canyon departure on the 31st. 



This cute little guy yesterday:


I'm getting the impression we should think about whether we need another year on the Forum? Not much use going into it these days. 


05/18/22 02:11 PM #15986    


Joan Ruggles (Young)

The forum dues expire in August. Jack seems to be suggesting that we don't need to continue........except he posts more than anyone! All your opinions are welcome. 

05/18/22 06:17 PM #15987    


Jack Mallory

I offered to fund another year, and that still stands. But I'm not sure we can't keep in touch through a group email just as easily, as little as the forum is being used these days. Maybe ask for opinions by some set time to see if/how folks want to stay in touch? Maybe by the end of June, so we know whether to keep it going after July? 


05/19/22 08:10 AM #15988    

Jim Boone

I would sure miss your brilliance, insight adn charm of everyone if this ceased being available. I read it every day.  jim Boone Non grad of 1964, old friend of Twoey Marles, now deseased, also non grad with them class but a big fan till his passing.

05/19/22 08:11 AM #15989    

Jim Boone

Twoey Markle, sorry for bad typing!

05/19/22 09:52 AM #15990    


Patricia Geiger (Bensetler)

I read every day as well. With all the ads I hope that the fee is not too high.



05/19/22 01:47 PM #15991    


Joanie Bender (Grosfeld)

I think in view of folks saying they enjoy checking the forum, it still would be a way to keep in touch. I also am in the lineup to pay I think after Jack but I am ok to pay in August if that helps assuming we keep it going.. Just don't know how to go about it.. Love, Joanie

05/20/22 05:17 AM #15992    


Joan Ruggles (Young)

The cost of continuing the domain is $19.95 per year. Even less if you sign up for multiple years. I too check the forum most days and while I would love to remain in contact via our email group, there is something to me about an email that suggests urgency. Checking in on the forum is something I do when the idea strikes me - no urgency.  And come on folks, I think pretty much all of us would be happy to chip in a $ to make it up to $19.95

05/20/22 10:47 AM #15993    


Jack Mallory

Sounding like we want to keep it going! Just let me know when/where to send the $.

The shy guy/gal this morning on the way to the VA.

05/21/22 01:40 PM #15994    


Janet Lowry (Deal)

Count me among those wanting to keep in touch one way or another. The forum has been a great connection to kindred spirits, and I would gladly contribute funding. My time and energy are in short supply so I don't want to commit when I'm afraid of not being able to follow through.

My liberty to post continues to be somewhat limited, but not as much as before. And what I have to say often is a complete change of subject.

So many things are going on here that I hardly know where to start.

One huge development is Nucor, a steel manufacturing business, has acquired +/- 1300 acres of largely agricultural land within spitting distance of my place, very nearly contiguous with mine. They haven't contacted me yet, and I don't know if they are finished their acquisition. Their property currently spans east from the Ohio River, enveloping the railroad and WV state route 2. (Property on both sides of that little old 2-lane 55 mph death trap.) As you can imagine, this includes wetlands galore.

I suspect that the next bit of news will be of building a new 4- lane highway to manage the increased traffic. Rte 2 itself is under water more than once a year. Lately, where this kind of progress has happened, the road has been moved to the next higher ground, namely the ridges (read: my place).

So I am feeling super uneasy about ever achieving my goal of preserving my little old 250 acres of hills, rocks, trees and ponds for wildlife and green space.

Does anyone among us have experience wrestling with these circumstances?

05/21/22 04:06 PM #15995    


Nancy Webster (Emery)

Hi,  I would like the forum to continue... but I can't contribute financially . It has been  interesting reading 

Thank you

Nancy E.

05/21/22 05:11 PM #15996    


Stephen Hatchett

I too want to keep this thing going.  We have now, I think, sufficient diversity, yet a basis of shared values,   to make for a good dinner party. And, for the most part, we're at that "lucky" age where we have nearly maximized what we've learned over the years, but before brain things have started to slip (very much).

We have things we'd like to bring up for a little discussion or feedback -- like Janet's last post.  Lots of things besides politics.  

For Janet:  What little experience I have with issues of the nature you describe, tells me to get neighbors organized and take your ideas and desires to the board of county supervisors.  From what you describe, you may well find an ally in your local chapter of the Sierra Club or similar environmental organization.  Locally, my neighors and I had an issue with the routing of an overhead electrial supply line.  The utility wantted to build the cheapest route, along the straight ridgeline, smashing all our views, instead of along the road down at midslope.  The along the road route inviolved more poles and bracing for the several changes of direction.  We wrote letters to the board and spoke at board meetings.  We used a tactic of emphasizing a real public safety issue -- power poles have pole fires, and the road provides access for fire vehicles to quickly reach and extinguish such fires.  (That actually happened 3 times last year --- something strange I think about "dust" that accumulated on the insulators).    A group of neighbors has also been trying to fight off a large (several hundred acres) solar farm that a company wanted to build nest to a road that the county planners, and voters, had said they wanted to keep as a scenic byway -- which it very much is.  Got some help from the Sierra Club and the Audobon Socciety -- much of the proposed land has shallow standing water in the spring when smaller waterfowl stop over there on their migrations north.  The county did not yet have a solar development policy -- a critical need.  So much testimony centered on "at least delay this untl a solar policy is adopted" and also emphasized utilizing other sites that would not clobber a scenic byway.  Right now things are on hold, and a law firm has been retained with donations from many neighbors.  Main theme: Organize and find allies.  And time is not your ally at this stage.

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