Mining the Benedict Option for Practical Advice – Part 1

As I mentioned I’m seriously interested in starting some kind of local organization to allow me to impact the community around me. But other than hot air of, which I possess an abundance, I was short on practical know-how.   I started re-reading Rod Dreher’s,”The Benedict Option,” and I think it will be useful.  I previously reviewed it last year.

A Short Book Review of Rod Dreher’s – The Benedict Option – Part 2

But now I’m looking at it more as a handbook, so it will take a good deal more time to weigh the information to decide what is helpful to me.   At this point, at the very least it has given me a number of resources for researching directions to go.  If anyone else is looking for ways to build alternative social platforms I recommend that you take a look at Dreher’s book. There are definitely some useful starting points at the very least.  And even if your position is non-religious there are things to think about in this book.



The Twilight Zone Revisited

My hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Last July I posted a review of the Twilight Zone in which I stated unequivocally that all but a handful of the episodes are unwatchable.  Once again, the SyFy Channel featured a marathon the episodes around the holidays and once again, I found myself watching way too many of them.  I recorded about fifteen of them on the cable box and proceeded to replay them almost obsessively over the last few weeks.  I did find a couple more that I had forgotten were pretty good and kept re-watching the few that I do enjoy.  But what became intolerable was having to deal with the commercials from the SyFy Channel each time I watched.  Even fast forwarding through became so painful I finally deleted all the episodes in disgust.

The one episode that I had forgotten I liked was “Two.”  Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery are soldiers from opposing armies that wander into a deserted city five years after a war has depopulated the world.  Surprisingly, the sparse dialog and minimal action work remarkably well and create a genuinely affecting moment.

Anyway, I buckled under the pressure.  I went on Amazon and bought the whole series on blu-ray, all one hundred and sixty odd, mostly awful shows.  I guess this proves I’m a hopeless addict to bad television.

It showed up tonight and I put on “To Serve Man.”  Oh well, at least there are no SyFy Channel commercials.  That’s one nightmare I won’t have to face again.  That’s at least an improvement.

“Mr. Chambers, don’t get on that ship!  “To Serve Man,” it’s a cookbook!”  Ahhhh, ain’t it grand!

He-Man Woman Haters Club or the Royal Order of Raccoons?

As is my way I’m trying to come up with the name of something before the something even exists.  I’ve become intrigued with the idea of starting a fraternal order that would provide a place for people like me to feel at home.  Both of the names in the title are imaginary societies that appeared in popular tv shows when I was a kid.  The He-Man Woman Haters Club was where the Little Rascals congregated when they were having trouble with Darla or the other girls in the neighborhood and the Racoon Lodge is where Ralph and Ed retreated to when Alice and Trixie were nagging them about the dumpy apartments, they lived in.  Of course, these names may be under copyright protection but any name will do as long as the ground rules are right.

Rule 1 – All voting members will be married men.  They have to be men because women are a nuisance.  They have to be married because wisdom only comes through suffering and no one suffers as much as married men.  Unmarried men are welcome but cannot vote.

Rule 2 – All memberships will be approved by me based on interviews and recommendations of people I can vouch for.  Memberships can be revoked any time someone stops fitting the membership criteria.  I decide the criteria and can change them anytime I deem it necessary.  It’s a flexible system and should prove robust.

Rule 3 – The women’s auxiliary is made up exclusively of wives who can make sandwiches.  They have no standing in the organization other than to assist the members, cheer at sporting events, chaperone children’s activities and make sandwiches (and other designated foodstuffs).  If any wife becomes a nuisance she will be ejected and her husband will be liable for the offense up to and including expulsion.  Girlfriends of unmarried members can join the auxiliary but must get along with the wives.  Any member who has a wife and a girlfriend will have to sort that out himself.

Rule 4 – All children’s activities must be chaperoned by the parents or legal guardians of the children attending.  This is key.  People should care enough to spend time with their kids.  If you don’t want to why would we?

Rule 5 – No member can openly espouse Democrat, progressive, communist, socialist, globalist, anti-American or any other pinko sentiments.  You can be an atheist if you refrain from annoying religious people about it.  The organization is innately pro-God because God has always done right by me.  But we are not denominational.  God only talks to me when I’m alone and won’t allow me to tell anyone else what religion he belongs to.  Sorry.

Rule 6 – Men will wear pants at all times.  This is very important.  We are Americans and American men wear pants.  End of story.  You Scots are out of luck.

Rule 7 – Whenever in the course of a meeting or in organizational documents a pronoun is used for a person of indeterminate sex the masculine form will be used.  If this bothers you then you’re in the wrong club.

Other rules equally idiosyncratic will follow as I get around to making them up.  Suffice it to say that I will provide rules to prevent all the behaviors that annoy me in everyday politically correct arenas.  No make-believe pronouns, no gender equality, no weirdos of any kind (other than my kind of weirdos).

I am openly soliciting a name for this noble fraternal organization.  And if you can think of anything that needs to be added to the rules or if you have other comments, such as, “you must be insane!” then just leave them in the comment section below.

Yours in fraternal benevolence,

photog (AKA, the High, Exalted, Mystic Grand Master General)


24DEC2018 -OCF Update – Christmas Wish

Merry Christmas, to all of you who visit here!

I’ll have a photo and quote for the day on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  But I will be hobnobbing with my fellow wizards and ingesting mass quantities of Christmas comestibles both days and so I cannot promise much posting.  But I just want to wish all of you a happy and well-needed celebration with all your loved ones.


Images from Camera Girl’s Annual Christmas Cookie Project

Christmas cookies account for a full 30% of my annual weight gain.  Oatmeal, chocolate chip and Grandma cookies (or white cookies as one of my brothers calls them) are sinfully good with a mug of coffee.


Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens


Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens


The only ones that don’t tempt me are the sugar cookies.  With their sweetness and the colored sugar crystals adorning them I think of them as a snack for young children who haven’t yet developed a more discerning palate (to each his own).


Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens


Camera Girl is revered by all who can get their greedy hands on any of these treasures and the short time that they last is one of the high points of the culinary calendar.

That Damn Beaver’s Dam (and Lodge)

Since absconding with my game camera the Rodent of Unusual Size has been unobserved.  He probably sold it on ebay and used the proceeds to fund a vacation in Cancun.  Well, partially funded anyway.  But the puddle has remained at its elevated level so I decided to venture into the swamp and see what I could see.

There was no sign of the waterlogged rat anywhere but his handiwork was all around.

Here are some photos of his tree chopping abilities.

Beaver chewed branches, Sony A7 III, Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens


Beaver chopped sapling, Sony A7 III, Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens

And here is a mess he left while chewing the bark of sticks.  I should turn him into the Staties for littering.

Branches stripped of bark by beaver, Sony A7 III, Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens


Branches stripped of bark by beaver, Sony A7 III, Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens


Branches stripped of bark by beaver, Sony A7 III, Sony 50mm f\1.8 lens

And here is his Lodge (what a dump).

Beaver lodge, Sony A7 III, Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens


Beaver lodge, view from above, Sony A7 III, Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens

And here is the much vaunted dam.  Well, as a fellow engineer I can only say he’ll have to do a lot better than this if he expects to get his P.E stamp.

Downstream view of beaver dam, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens


Downstream view of beaver dam, Sony 35mm f\1.4 macro lens


Downstream view of beaver dam, Sony 35mm f\1.4 macro lens

And here’s a close-up of his handiwork.

Downstream view of beaver dam, Sony 35mm f\1.4 macro lens


Disappearing like this leads me to believe either he has been eaten by one of his woodland brothers (coyote would be my guess).  Or he’s gone completely nocturnal.  I could test this theory out if I still had a game camera.  Oh well, maybe Santa will come through.

A Photo Theme for the Next Few Weeks

I dug out a bunch of shots I took back in 2012 with my Sony mirrorless crop sensor NEX 5N  camera at the American Museum of Natural History.  This was an earlier mirrorless and really didn’t have good low light capability or auto focus but for non-moving dinosaurs and stuffed african animals it was mostly okay.  That museum is probably my favorite place in NYC.  A less well known fact is that the museum’s charter states that any resident of NYC can get admission by paying any amount of US currency he desires down to a penny.  But the museum posts admission fees that are over twenty dollars a head.  When I saw this that day I gave them hell and told them I was paying a buck a head for my family.  Hoping to get me out of earshot of the rest of the crowd they took my reduced price and rushed me in.  It’s a great place.  And the statue of Teddy Roosevelt on a horse with an African and a North American native flanking him is so politically incorrect that it always does my heart good.

American Museum of Natural History, New York City, Sony NEX 5N, Sony 24mm F\1.8 APSC lens
American Museum of Natural History, New York City, Sony NEX 5N, Sony 24mm F\1.8 APSC lens


Have You Ever Wondered Why Uranus is Lopsided?

That wasn’t meant as an insult!

Apparently several billions of years ago it was side-swiped by a planet at least twice as big as Earth and has been out of kilter ever since.  Probably a female planet like Venus not paying attention to the road (sorry Camera Girl, I had to say it).

Interesting article.  They even tackle the embarrassing alternate pronunciation for the planet’s name.

Rodent of Unusual Size Strikes a Blow Against the Paparazzi

Those of you who follow this site know that recently the swamp that abuts on my property became the home of Castor canadensis (a beaver).  Next to the edge of the swamp is a small shoreline where I sometimes see foxes, coyote, deer and other woodland inhabitants.  A couple of years ago I was given a game camera as a present.  I sometimes install it in various locations to get nighttime shots of the critters.  A couple of weeks ago I strapped it to a sapling near the swamp and got some shots of the foxes, coyotes and raccoons.  I typically take the memory card out every week and then re-insert it after downloading the files.  I went to re-insert it today and couldn’t find the camera.  Thinking that I had forgotten where I’d set it up, I looked around the area pretty thoroughly.  I didn’t find it but I did notice that a lot of the smaller saplings were gone.  The beaver has been busy.  And I think he took the sapling the camera was attached to!

I’m usually a live and let live kind of guy.  But stealing my camera strikes at my very identity.  Who ever heard of a photog without a camera?  The lodge is in a fairly inaccessible corner of the swamp and getting to it probably will entail personal discomfort on my part.  Plus, I’ll be on his turf.  In my mind he has fired the first shot and must now be considered hostile.  I feel like Captain Kirk in the episode where he is being stalked by the big lizard man called the Gorn.  Yes, just like that.  It’s going to be him or me.  I wanted to coexist.  I came in peace for all mankind.  But now where can I go to be safe?  Before you know it, he’ll be dragging my truck down into the swamp.  Then I’ll be trapped without an avenue of escape.  And then he’ll come for me.

Like Kirk I have no phaser, no space age weapon to give me the clear advantage.  It’s his giant razor-sharp incisors versus my brain.  But he has a brain too.  It may not be as large but it’s backed up by all the cunning and savagery that his rodent ancestors have accumulated down the long span of this island earth.  He has that and also the hatred that all rodents feel for those who put out spring traps for their diminutive brethren the field mice.  How many of his kindred have I snuffed out with my traps.  I’ve thrown their bodies down by the swamp for the fox to eat.  This must be the basis of his vendetta against me.  What was I thinking?  How else could he take that except as a war crime.  Well, it’s too late now.  Nothing will suffice but that this contest reach its bitter conclusion.  Two will go in.  Only one will emerge from the arena.  If this be my last post then let me just say it’s been an honor.  If it turns out not to be my last post then maybe I’ve slightly inflated the situation.  Only time will tell.

Post script.  Yeah, nothing happened.  Never mind.  But my camera is still gone.  That fur-bearing bastard is probably taking selfies of himself inside his lodge and laughing and laughing at my expense.

To be continued.

It Was Midnight on the Ocean, not a Streetcar Was in Sight

My longtime readers may remember me mentioning my maternal grandfather.  He was the one who took on the pseudonym Charlie Young and lied about his age in order to enlist for World War One.  He was an extremely colorful character who was a cop in New York City during the first half of the twentieth century.  Toward his own children he was the typical autocratic Italian American man.  But toward his grandchildren he was like a big kid.  He brought us out for hamburgers and ice cream and whatever else he could think of.  He would tell us stories of the old days. Some of them quite remarkable.  And whenever things got quiet, he’d sing some variation of a song that we thought he had just made up.  It would usually go something like this,

“It was midnight on the ocean

Not a streetcar was in sight

Me and my old friend (fill in the name of a particular grandson)-boy

Were eating by the candle light

When along came a big whale

And washed us all away

Then grandma came along and saved the day.”

Now this song varied by the identity of the grandchild and the details of the trip we were on.  But it was mostly along these lines.  And to a little kid who was out on a fun car ride and getting fast food hamburgers and ice cream it was Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.  Well my grandfather’s been gone about thirty five years and about ten years ago it occurred to me to try to find the lyrics to his little poem on the internet.  And what do you know?  It turns out it’s an old English nonsense poem.  And more to the point a song was made out of it by an American country singer named Harry McClintock back in the 1920s called Ain’t We Crazy (catch the words at the 1:00 mark of the song).

Well, at the time the song was only available as part of an imported music collection that cost $600 so I couldn’t buy it then.  But this week I found it on an inexpensive album on Amazon and got it.  It turns out McClintock also has a song that ended up on the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack (Big Rock Candy Mountain).  I guess he’s not as obscure as I thought.

I sent the above link to my siblings and cousins and many of them have the same fond memories that I have of this little ritual my grandfather had.  I think I will adopt it with my grandchildren.  Of course, I’ll have to personalize it for each of them but that’s half of the fun of it anyway.  And while I’m at it I’ll tell them stories about their great-great-grandfather Charlie Young who went off to war as a very young doughboy and shot it out with 1920s gangsters from the running board of a speeding car.  They’ll probably think it’s as crazy as the song.