Ah yes, the night of mystery and magic named for an albino wallaby.

Um, OK, it’s the other way around. She’s named for the saint whose cannonization date is the name of a rather strange night in German. Saint Walburga, or Walpurga, was cannonized on May 1. Thus the eve of her secondary feast is Walburga’s Eve, or Walpurgisnacht. It coincides with a quarter-day, between the equinox and solstice. Continue reading


Pilot vs. Flying Movies

I had the lyrics for part of a song from Top Gun floating through my mind as I started to write a scene, so I hunted up the whole song. I found a decent video using clips from the movie. The lyrics were what I recalled, and I remembered why it was one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack (“Through the Fire” by Larry Greene). The video . . .

*Closes eyes, sighs, gives the sinal salute* I love the flying and the camera work. But the cockpit shots had me talking to the screen. Continue reading

ANZAC Day Observed

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere tend to forget how much the Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans, and colonial troops contributed in WWI, WWII, and to later conflicts.


April 25th is ANZAC Day, but it will be observed on April 27 this year. It honors the men and women who served in the Australian and New Zealand forces in wars ranging from the Boer War to Vietnam, the East Timor conflict, and other fields of battle.

Members of the Albert Battery shoot a volley of fire during the Anzac Day dawn service held by the Currumbin RSL on the Gold Coast on Monday, April 25, 2016. Australians and New Zealanders today honour those who died on the 101th anniversary of the battle of Gallipoli in WWI. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Why April 25? Gallipoli began that day, in 1915.  The Australian War memorial, which is an amazing museum and highly, highly worth visiting, has an excellent history of ANZAC Day.  We in the US don’t often realize just what a terrible percent of their military-age young men Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and other parts of the Commonwealth have lost in WWI, WWII, and other conflicts.

Lest We Forget.


Democracy, Populism, and Why England was Odd (Maybe)

A comment the other day at According to Hoyt referred to an argument among academics and others about “Where did Germany go wrong?” After WWII, people tried to sort out why Germany went to totalitarianism when the rest of Western Europe inclined toward democracy. Some have pinned it on Fredrick the Great’s grandfather, some on Martin Luther, some on Bismarck, some on the tension in the culture between social harmony and individual freedoms (sort of Luther but not totally) . . . I don’t think you can point to any single person or moment and say, “This, this is when the Sonderweg began to diverge from the rest of Western Europe.” Continue reading

Reading List: The History of the Environmental Movements

A few years ago, I did a three part series on the environmental and conservation movements in the west (western civilization, not US West). This was the list of books I recommended for further reading. I have nibbled a few newer titles since then, but these are still solid, and generally easy to find. There are lots and lots of very good books about specific aspects of environmental history, but these cover the movement and its background, as well as some different philosophies. Since yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day (yawn), I thought I’d run this again.

Well, after going through my notes-n-stuff, I’ve also added a few intro-to-environmental history books that some folks might find interesting. As you would expect, environmental history books can range from dry and preachy to dreadfully preachy to pretty good to readable and fascinating. I’ve tried to go easy on the first two categories. These are in no set order. I’d recommend using Inter-Library-Loan for most of them, due to either scarcity or specialty. Continue reading

What’s in the Bag?

No, this isn’t a version of LawDog’s “Angry Thing in a Sack” story (as a pilot, I do NOT want to discover that one of my passengers has brought along an Angry Thing in a Sack.) This is a version of what Brigit at Home on the Range (Mausers and Muffins) did the other day. What is in your day-to-day bag, if you carry one? Besides pet fur and that paper napkin that really ought to go in the trash because it’s gotten torn and shredded. Ditto the plastic grocery bag used to keep the rain off of the laptop (from before I got the zipper on the satchel repaired.) Continue reading

A Dark and Moon-lit Night

A repeat from 2015.

Your humble scribe may or may not have participated in, spoken with, associated with, or even know one or more of the parties involved in the following story, which is purely a work of fiction. And it may or may not have happened on a college or university campus between the Front Range and the Atlantic Ocean.

Scene: A college campus in autumn, several hours after the sun has set. The almost full moon hangs high in the night sky, dimmed for a moment or two by wisps of cloud. Two older students, grad students perhaps, stand near Old Main, the administrative building, watching the night sky, contemplating the wonders of Collegiate Gothic architecture, and noting the bats flitting around.

Older Student #1: “You’re right. The building does look a little creepy by moonlight.”

Older Student #2: “Like the Hotel Dracula or something.” Continue reading

Story Fodder?

Perhaps for André’s and Lelia’s tenth anniversary?

The image is from: https://www.instagram.com/p/B7000i-ATJx/

The photographer is Emmanuel Coveney, https://www.instagram.com/manucoveney/  The hotel is Le Chateau Frontenac in Montreal, Quebec. It is Victorian neo-Gothic (sometimes referred to as Collegiate Gothic). And no, most of the time it does not look quite so spooky.