Saturday, November 9, 2019

Anzio: Italy and the Battle for Rome,1944 by Lloyd Clark

Book Review - Five Stars

Anzio, a little known quiet coastal town that marked a turning point of WWII, got caught in the cross hairs of time.

My uncle Lawrence Grimsrud, rifle in hand, somehow survived this deadliest of allied landings but sustained mental scars that plagued him his entire life.

This moving story helped me put a human face on this blood bath.

Anzio had gained a reputation for being one of the most dangerous places on earth. Troops arrived not expecting ever to leave.

The war correspondent Eric Sevareid entered the town soon after it had fallen and was shocked by the utter destruction that he found there. There was no longer any pattern to the streets, merely broken walls, brick dust and thousands of spent cartridge cases. In the wake of the tumult Cisterna had taken on an eerie stillness. Sevareid wrote: In the little park the palm trees lay blackened and uprooted. Over them a shining white victory statue stood erect on a pedestal. It was the figure of a woman holding aloft a torch in a gesture of triumph. Though her marble head and her torch were gone, in its present attitude of shocked surprise the statue seemed the only vital, living thing within the town.
Operation Overlord was to be the beginning of the end of the war against Germany for the Western Allies, not Operation Diadem. The price of this pyrrhic Italian victory had been too high, with 44,000 Fifteenth Army Group casualties since 11 May, whilst a large proportion of Tenth Army had managed to escape to fight another day. Rome had always been of limited military value, and few people, apart from Mark Clark and the Italians, got overly excited about its capture. For most, Allies and German alike, the events of 5 June were to merely usher in a new phase of the war in Italy. In a remarkable case of strategic myopia, Clark had been blinded by the Eternal City.

Monday, November 4, 2019

From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs

From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs by Andrew Weil

Defining, describing, analyzing, cautioning, and comparing a wide spectrum of drugs along with many substances not normally considered as drugs. Fascinating, informative, and well written, everybody needs to be aware and this book delivers the message.
Our purpose is not to encourage or discourage the use of any drug but rather to help people learn to live in a world where drugs exist and not get hurt by them.

We pay a high price today for our rejection of natural medicines in favor of potent chemicals. The tendency of pharmacologists and doctors to regard more potent drugs as better drugs encourages the use of dangerous derivatives of plants, when often the milder, natural originals would do as well.

It is clear that drug laws have done nothing to discourage people from becoming addicts. There are more addicts than ever, and the kinds of addiction are worse than before those laws were passed. The prohibition of opiates has spawned an ugly criminal underworld, given rise to powerful drug warlords, and led to the widespread corruption of public officials. Campaigns to stamp out heroin, while popular with politicians, have invariably had the opposite of their intended effect, ultimately causing more heroin to enter the world market, not less.

Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer

Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer
America’s ruthless history of “Manifest Destiny” with land free for the taking with Winchester repeating arms was unquestionably out and out genocide. This malevolent greed had no limit and was sold to the public as their inalienable right over savages.
This must read book is an honest look at America outside the bubble.
I think it is safe to say that many Ojibwe would go back to using wooden spears and birch bark canoes if non-Natives simply fished with cane poles from shore, with bits of pork rind on the end of their hooks, only as far west as the Ohio River.

Tom Shingobee has in his possession a grocery receipt totaling seventeen dollars that his father had to settle by signing over his 160-acre farm. During World War I, when many of the men were away fighting in Europe, the timber stands were cut down by large timber outfits. One man remembers coming home to his beloved forests only to find a desert of slash and brush and not a tree in sight for miles.

In all, during the forty-seven years the Dawes Act was on the books (the Indian Reorganization Act, passed in 1934, officially stopped allotment but did not formally rescind the policy), Native Americans lost more than 90 million acres of tribal lands, about two-thirds of the lands held by Indians when the Dawes Act was passed; Indians lost, roughly, land that equals the size of the state of California. Ninety thousand Native Americans were left landless and largely homeless. The problems of this kind of landlessness were felt well into the 1970s and are still felt today. During that time, many Indian families were found to be living in cars, under porches, and crammed eight and sometimes ten to a room in dilapidated shacks across the country.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Travel complications 2019

Jane and John, Palma de Majorca, May, 2019

First let me say, everybody has problems.
My youthful frugality has served me well and has seen me through some troubling times.
I had a plan to finish my last two years of school that required saving money, which I did. Without complicating the story, somebody beat me to the money leaving me desperate. My dear old dad extended me enough to carry me through if I was extremely frugal and worked after school and weekends.
He set an example for me. As a young man my dad had developed three newspaper routes, cleaned a drug store before high school every morning, and repaired bicycles in his spare time. He walked five miles a day to save a nickel bus fare to get his pharmacy dad was no stranger to frugality.
When I finished my school I paid dad back in full...I know that he would have forgiven the debt, but I knew that this was a point of trustworthiness and honor. We both were happy. I then went on to pay off my house mortgage only making bank interest payments on while finishing school. By paying ahead on the mortgage I made my last mortgage payment at age 28, owned my home, car, and business, never again needing to feed bankers. Thank you Dad!
Being debt free the rest of my life set me free to fulfill my dreams and see me through two devastating economic collapses without being foreclosed upon. Frugality was resumed!
Four years ago I went to the doctor with a urinary infection and came away with problems: walking in and coming out crippled. Thirty days of the antibiotic Cipro left me with tendinitis, painful leg spasms, and sudden onset instability from low blood pressure. I still had my urinary infection which I resolved myself. Trust in the Mexican government social security medical system was gone.
This led to a long and tedious recovery that has not been 100%, the tendinitis could be lasting. A special diet, daily full body massages, plus walking with trekking sticks was imperative.
I longed to bicycle again, but that was looking impossible.
Eventually I discovered I could use my small folding bicycle as a walker for daily therapy. After two months I put the seat low and tried getting on...this was very difficult. Next I tried pushing with my feet. Eventually I was able to get my feet on the pedals...I had some colossal crashes. After a month my instability still held me back. My persistence story continues.
Today I ride my bicycle every is limited to quiet streets on relatively level ground. Getting started is difficult, and it is imperative to dismount to cross busy intersections.
To this day I can not step up or down a curb without a hand rail or my little bicycle used as a walker. Standing in line for five minutes is painful and my limit. I am thankful for what I can do and always think of my dear old friend George Tappin, who on his deathbed said to me, “John, I would give anything if I could just walk out that door”.
This year we planned a Europe trip to Madrid, Palma de Majorca, and northern Germany/Netherlands. Our health was the number one consideration. Jane’s blood pressure and asthma had to be under control. She has done heroic measures over the years of diet, exercise, and radically reducing medications by strict adherence to diet, not imbibing corporate prepared foods plus low salt and sugar. Our ecologically friendly home and surroundings are virtually chemical free and that includes insecticides.
I will keep this brief …nearly twenty years ago Jane had a heart attack, her wonderful doctor got her on a strict diet that enabled her to get off all of her medications while controlling her weight, and she was cross country bicycling within two a sensible rate. She later needed glaucoma medications that she eventually developed an allergic reaction to. Luckily the one eliminated did not cause any eye complications, but blood pressure needed controlling.
Jane was at the IMSS Mexican social security medical clinic for her yearly vaccinations, and they took her blood pressure. It was too high, they gave her medication and asked when the last time her doctor tested her. The doctor never tested her though Jane had visited monthly. The IMSS director made a schedule for Jane to get daily blood pressure evaluations. Jane’s doctor prescribed three asthma medications. Amazingly Jane’s asthma became severe and her blood pressure erratic. Jane in desperation made an appointment with her private doctor. Her doctor heard her coughing in the waiting room, and when she came in told her that the problem of high blood pressure was caused by her cough and an infection. Then her private doctor saw Jane’s medications prescribed by IMSS and discovered all three of them induced coughing complications. He prescribed a blood pressure medicine to be taken only when needed. This was the answer and Jane’s health miraculously improved, and we both were feeling great.
We were happy and our Europe trip plans could be put back on schedule.
Two more health calamities occurred. The first was the blood pressure medicine bought for our three month Europe trip turned out to be a fake, and Jane nearly had a stroke due to spiked blood pressure. Thankfully our dear friend Helga in Germany got Jane good medicine and that problem was put behind us. The next problem was a mysterious fluke. Briefly: When we were disembarking our flight at Palma de Majorca we noticed a baggage handler give our folding bicycles flying lessons complete with crash landings. Jane’s sprocket was badly bent, but I had the ability to bend it back into alignment. Less than a week later we were biking in Germany, and I took a colossal crash, broke my bicycle helmet and received a brain concussion. My sprocket was also broken but the chain guard has splintered and formed a hook that snatched my bike pants into the sprocket and sent me flying. The reason this didn’t happen at Palma de Majorca was that  I wore short biking pants when bike there.

A note: Our Dahon folding bicycles made eight trans Atlantic crossing and miraculously survived brutal handling, this was the crowning punishment. They are still rolling with us.