Header Image (book)

aowheader.3.2.gif

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Looking Back On 2020

As we leave 2020 and begin 2021, we look back on the annus horribilis. Here is the summing up:
 


May 2021 be much kinder to us than 2020!

Happy New Year!   
Calendar, work your magic!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Christmas Visitor



Posted by Warren

(Originally posted on "Longrange" for Christmas 2004)

4:00 am 12/24/04

There was a knock on my front door which startled me awake. My dogs were barking which required my dire threats to quieten them as I answered the door.

Maybe you have heard of our weather and the unusually cold temperatures and large amount of snow that has fallen in the last 24 hours. I live just south of Interstate 64 in Southern Indiana and you may have seen the news about the closed Interstate and stranded motorists on the national news.

A man in his early fifties, about my own age, stood at the door. He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans, a field jacket and sock hat. His glasses were frosted and his pale white hands and reddened knuckles gave witness that he wore no gloves.

He told me he was lost and asked for directions to a certain address. I told him that he missed his mark by a mile and a half and asked him where his car was. He said he was walking.

I invited him in and sat a chair for him by the warm air from the furnace vent. He was shivering uncontrollably and a faint whiff of alcohol was on his breath. I asked if I could fix him something to eat but he refused and accepted a hot cup of coffee.

My wife talked to him as he warmed himself and I could hear him speaking as I prepared his fresh coffee.

My son heard his voice and came into the living room to sit and listen, and to watch, just in case.

His story unfolded.

He was homeless, he had been sleeping in a box, under a bridge over the Ohio river, several miles to the West. He had decided that it was too cold and he might freeze to death if he didn't find safe shelter with more than a cardboard box to keep him warm. About midnight, he had left his meager possessions and headed for his sisters home, a mile or so from my own home. He had walked past in the blowing snow and the dark but continued walking. He was lost, confused and probably somewhat drunk. Hypothermia can add confusion to even the sober mind.

As he spoke, I realized that he had mental problems as do many of the homeless.

There are places that provide refuge for the indigent, I'm sure he knew, but they don't accept anyone who is intoxicated, which I'm also sure he knew.

He drank his coffee then asked me if I would drive him to his sisters home. He then offered me two dollars. Of course I refused the money but offered to take him where he wanted to go.

I intended to take measures to see after him and he seemed anxious to leave.

As I drove, he told me that his sister was out of town but he had permission to use her house in an emergency. I was worried that he was just lying for reasons of his own but I was determined to see the thing through, even if I had to call the police to ensure his well-being through this cold weather.

As we drove up to the house, there was a porch light on and smoke coming from the chimney vent. Even so, it was apparent that there was no one home, the snow around the house was undisturbed.

I asked him if he was sure he could get in, he said, "Yes, she (his sister) told me where the key is." He reached out his hand, as if for a hand shake, and when I offered mine, pulled my hand to his lips and kissed it saying, "God bless you".

I was profoundly embarrassed but stayed long enough to see him dig around in the snow and find a key, unlock the door and wave goodbye.

I drove home, my thoughts disturbed, by the events that had taken place.

My wife was relieved as I returned and I started preparing food (very early,) for Christmas Eve. As I cut up fruit for salad and prepared the turkey for baking, my son came up behind me, hugged me and kissing my head, said, "Dad, you did a good thing."

Again, I was embarrassed, not by my son's hug and kiss but by his praise.

It was the right thing to do.

My son told me that he tries to help the homeless ones that hang around his place of employment. We spoke of how little we can actually do for them and I was proud of my son for being a good man and doing the right thing.

As I continued to prepare food for Christmas Eve, my thoughts drifted to a couple seeking shelter in Bethlehem and the birth of the Lamb of the New Covenant, and I felt God's Peace.

May God's Peace and blessings be with you all!
Merry Christmas.

Warren

Post Note:

First, please watch "Mary, Did You Know?" as performed by the Pentatonix, an a capella group. I hope that you love it as much as I do:


====

Sixteen years ago, I first posted this true story and I am always asked to brush the cobwebs off and re-post it for Christmas. The post note is changed to reflect my feelings and events.

"Mary, Did You Know?" by the Pentatonix, is my favorite Christmas Carol. If you haven't heard this version before or if you would like to hear it again, I urge you to put on your headphones or good speakers and have a listen. Maybe below you could tell me your favorite Carol.
I'm spending Christmas this year with Mr. & Mrs. AOW

Once again,
Merry Christmas!
Warren


Merry Christmas to all who stop by this site. Be blest!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

2020 Christmas Letter

(Light blogging alert! Comment moderation will be intermittently enabled. And for politics, please scroll down) 


Dear Blogosphere Friends, 

2020 – the Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I never thought I’d see the day that Americans were running around in masks! Some are even masked while driving alone in their cars – pure hysteria, in my view. Taking precautions is one thing, hysteria another. One of our precautions has been to postpone our planned moved to Indiana. Both Mr. AOW and I are quite high-risk for this virus. So, here we still sit in Northern Virginia and paying these outrageous real-estate taxes. Thanks, China. **heavy sarcasm** 

 This has been a sorrowful year for us. Our dear friend Patricia (aka blogger “The Merry Widow”), who helped us so much when I had kidney and other health troubles in 2016-2017 and who was also helping us with The Big Clean Out for our anticipated move to Indiana, died suddenly in Florida on March 29. What a terrible loss! Each of us an only child, Patricia and I considered ourselves sisters. She was planning to move with us to Indiana, too. We miss Patricia so much and on so many levels. 

This year, Mr. AOW and I have been having some health troubles – not a surprise for our age group (71 and 68, respectively). As of this writing, he is in Stage 4 Kidney Failure, and the doctors believe that the cause is long-standing diabetes and hypertension. My kidneys have been “acting up,” too; the treatment plan, if any, has not yet been determined. We’re doing our best to slog on. What other choice is do we have? Not much! 

Our other big personal news of 2020 is that we got a dog on September 3! Callie is an unruly three-year-old hound and Lab (and whatever else) mutt with poor training on nearly every imaginable scale – and nearly-total deafness, which her owner didn’t recognize before this mutt came to live with us. Her bloodlines and issues aside, Callie is adorable and has brought a lot of joy into our shut-in lives! I’m sure that our kitties Amber and Minxy don’t feel the same, though; they have had to cede to this canine brat quite a bit of in-house territory. 

The happiest time for us in 2020, annus horribilis, Governor Northam’s COVID measures permitting, will be another visit from our dear friend and this blog's webmaster Warren. He plans to spend the holidays with us. A wonderful time it will be – even if doing the tourist thing is well nigh impossible with regard to the usual Washington attractions: the Smithsonian and other D.C. and Virginia tourist sites are either closed or have impossibly limited hours during this pandermic. Nevertheless, the Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, is still, as of this writing, offering their usual dazzling displays; Warren and I hope to take in that beautiful sight. CHECK OUT THESE PHOTOS!  GLORIOUS! During the rest of Warren’s visit, all of us will be enjoying each other’s company. A wonderful gift in and of itself, especially during this time of lockdowns and isolated existence! 

Celebrating this Blessed Season and Merry Christmas to all who stop by here, 

Always On Watch 


Please enjoy my favorite choral Christmas song (composed by Richard Wayne Dirksen, 1921-2003, organist and choirmaster at Washington National Cathedral, and an important force in choral music here in the Washington, D.C. area):


The words for the above:
Welcome all wonders in one sight! 
Eternity shut in a span. 
Summer in winter, day in night, heaven in earth, and God in man, 
That He, the old Eternal Word, should be a Child and weep. 
Each of us his lamb will bring, each his pair of silver doves, 
Till burnt at last in fire of thy fair eyes, ourselves become our own best sacrifice. 
Welcome all wonders in one sight!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Few Changes Wrought By COVID-19

(For election-related politics, please scroll down a few posts)

Who knew that Hanna-Barbera's futuristic cartoon The Jetsons (1962), the Space Age counterpart to The Flintstones, would serve as a prophet?
Serious question: Have some of the changes wrought by the China Virus actually been of benefit?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Masking


I can barely tolerate wearing a mask,  I do so only because I must in order to enter any medical facility and any store — and because I'm a senior citizen at significant risk of contracting the China Virus.

When I'm wearing a mask, the seconds and minutes crawl by.  And I do mean crawl!

I recently had a kidney scan lasting almost two hours and was miserable beyond words.  The longer I have the mask on, particularly a medical mask, the more I gasp for air and — Get this!— begin to drool.  I can hardly wait until the time comes that I can sanitize my hands, then can rip off that mask and breathe.

And then came the day that I had to visit an oral surgeon for the extraction of a molar.  I had never before even laid eyes on this doctor of dentistry.  What an eerie experience!  I, of course, had to remove my mask, but the oral surgeon and his assistant were masked.  They were faceless.  They were nearly disembodied voices.  Twilight Zone time!  Remember this episode?
 

Here in this annus horribilis, we are being told that wearing a mask, even a cloth mask, is an important element of an effective method to curb the spread of COVID-19. An effective method now, that is.  At the start of the declaration of this pandemic, we were told that masks did no good and were even dangerous.  A few weeks later, we were told "Mask up!  I protect you, and you protect me."

Then the edicts from governors and mayors began in earnest.

Do masks protect us, really?  Or is something else afoot?


...Suffice it to say that some people are too much in a state of fear and ignorance to see mask mandates as anything but safety measures, but most of us know when we’re being played — and we are indeed being played. We can see it in the experts’ vacillation since day one of the pandemic. 

We began with “15 days to flatten the curve” to no end in sight for lockdowns and masks eight months later. We began with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s claim that “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” but now experts insist that they are “required” to stop the spread. We began with the logical assumption that a vaccine would bring us back to normal, but then we heard from Fauci that a vaccine won’t change anything “for at least a year.”...

"A vaccine won't change anything for at least a year"?  

Huh?  The way that talking heads and politicians of all stripes are pontificating about masks, we are led to believe that COVID-19 vaccines are magic talismans, along the lines of "We're going to wave the magic wand and get back to normal."

Meanwhile, masking has now progressed to lockdowns mandated by state and local governments.  Talk about isolation on steroids!  Sheesh.

Returning now to the above-cited essay, which ends as follows (emphases mine):  

If we wish to remain free, however, we should reject mask-wearing as any kind of normal. We should never get used to seeing a landscape of masked faces at the grocery store, at businesses, and especially out in the open air. Small children in particular should never have to adopt this as normal — because it is confusing and abnormal. It isolates us and erases our unique identities. 

Acquiescence to politicized mask mandates also removes our sense of common humanity. We end up living in a faceless, dehumanized sea of anonymous people, and that is no way to live.

Please read and consider the entire essay HERE.  Worth your time.

What do you believe about masking and lockdowns?

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Christmas Musical Interlude: The Wexford Carol

(For politics, please scroll down)


For this third Sunday of Advent, please enjoy this rather unusual offering....The Wexford Carol, performed by Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma:


Lyrics for this traditional Irish Christmas Carol based upon the Nativity Story told in Holy Scripture:
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.

[...]

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Prepare and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born.

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went this babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife.

[...]

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.
Merry Christmas to all who stop by this site. Be blest!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

COVID-19 Vaccines: Not A Panacea


[Caveat: this post is not an argument for refusing to take COVID-19 vaccines. For such an argument, see Tammy Swofford's Why this Registered Nurse will Opt out for the Covid 19 Vaccine]

China has ruined the world!  

Hyperbole?  Maybe, maybe not.  But China surely has changed the world for the foreseeable future.

Please be informed as to what these COVID-19 vaccines actually provide.  What they provide is not in line with what we have been led to believe — that is, that these vaccines will return us to normal.

Try not to get lost in the weeds here (emphases mine)....

From Time Magazine:
[E]ven after more people get the shots, we’ll still have to wear masks and stay a respectful six feet apart from each other. [...] 

First, there’s the question of efficacy. Yes, Moderna and Pfizer reported that their shots are 94.5% and 95% effective, respectively. But that efficacy refers to the vaccines’ ability to protect against COVID-19 disease—and not necessarily against infection with the virus. Both of the rigorous trials to test the vaccines were designed to measure COVID-19 illness—trial volunteers were randomly given either the vaccine or a placebo, and then asked to report any symptoms of COVID-19 they experienced, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or muscle aches. The study researchers then determined whether or not to test them. If people tested positive, they were logged as a confirmed COVID-19 case, and the researchers then looked at the group of COVID-19 cases and compared how many people had been vaccinated versus how many had gotten placebo. The effectiveness measured whether these people went on to develop more symptoms of COVID-19. 

That means that people who are vaccinated are not necessarily immune to getting infected; but they are more likely to experience fewer symptoms and not get as sick as those who aren’t vaccinated. 

[...]

[B]ecause the vaccines do not necessarily protect against infection, that means that public health measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings are still critical to containing the virus. 

[...] 

[T]he ultimate goal in controlling the pandemic, herd immunity, likely won’t happen until well into next year, when enough people are vaccinated and can ward off serious illness. “Not until a substantial proportion of the population is vaccinated, and the caseload has dropped to very low levels, will we be able to breathe (without a mask) a sigh of relief,” says Emanuel Goldman, professor of microbiology at Rutgers University. And even then, he points out, researchers will have to remain vigilant about tracking any changes in the virus as it finds fewer and fewer welcoming hosts. “The virus might have other ideas and try to change in a way that makes the vaccine less effective.” 

Only by vaccinating millions of people, and monitoring how their immune systems react, will experts get a better handle on what it takes to extinguish COVID-19 or at least make it much more difficult for it to spread....
Whether or not these first-generation vaccines prevent transmission of the virus remains unknown.  Therefore, masking and social distancing will likely remain the order of the day for a long time.  **sigh**

The best news is that, so far, a very small percentage of our population has caught this damn virus.  We shall see what we shall see when the Thanksgiving and Christmas surges have weighed in.


If you're inclined to read a medically-technical article in The Lancet, please see: What can we expect from first-generation COVID-19 vaccines?   This article also makes it brutally clear that these first-generation vaccines are not a panacea!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Unstoppable Establishment


Silverfiddle Rant!
If the past decade or so has not convinced you we are not a nation of laws, but rather a nation of The Establishment, by the Establishment, and for The Establishment, then nothing will.  Please stop reading this and put your head back in its storage compartment.

Obama ignored federal law and implemented DACA by royal decree, and it was all cool.  Trump tried to end it, but the progressive mullahs in black robes forbade him from doing so.

Obama and Clinton pardoned rich donors, terrorists, and politically-connected cronies. Trump Pardons General Flynn, and there are rumblings of a judicial challenge, all this after Judge Emmett Sullivan delays justice and conducts the prosecution on his own, running out the clock on the Trump Justice Department so Biden's team can continue the lawfare persecution against General Flynn.
"USA Today just issued an op-ed piece suggesting that the pardon of General Flynn could “be challenged in court as self-dealing, corrupt, and therefore illegal.” USAToday offered no evidence. Yet its piece also suggests such a challenge could prosper on appeal." (NY Sun)
This after it has been proven General Flynn's only crime was daring to stand up to Emperor Obama.

Monday, December 7, 2020

"A Date which will Live in Infamy"


Silverfiddle Rant!
I wrote this years ago to commemorate Pearl Harbor day.  The chances of our nation being attacked militarily now is almost nil.  An ignorant and debased nation of people easily propagandized is vulnerable to a variety of more subtle, non-violent attacks. Nonetheless, the lesson still applies.



My wife and I took our kids to a museum here in town on December 7th a few years ago. While there, we had the good fortune to meet a WW II Navy veteran who had survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. We also encountered the famous WW II picture of the Frenchman crying. These two contrasting encounters taught my family a lesson that I want to share with you.

At the beginning of our tour I spied the aging sailor wearing a veteran’s garrison cap emblazoned with the words “Pearl Harbor Survivor.” I crouched down and quickly tutored my children on the man’s significance upon that historical landscape. Fortunately, the kids grasped the meaning of the moment and we approached the gentleman. A mellow, unassuming man, he treated our questions with kindness and received our thanks with humility.

At the end of our museum tour we came face to face with the elderly veteran’s polar opposite: the picture of the Frenchman crying. Many of my fellow Americans would probably enjoy hearty anti-French belly laughs at this picture, but I feel only sadness.  This is the face of  people everywhere who lack the means or the will to defend their freedoms. This is the face that trades death and destruction for subjugation and humiliation.

I felt just as compelled to introduce my children to the Frenchman crying as I did to the aging hero. I directed my kids’ attention to the picture and asked them to describe it. “He’s crying,” and “That man is sad,” were the answers I got. They could see his distress and wanted to know what had caused it.

I told them this is how you end up when you're unable or unwilling to fight for your freedom. I told them that if they were not prepared to risk their lives for their country, they had better be prepared to stand on the street crying as the conquerors march by. I insisted they study the picture some more, observe the pain on the man’s face, notice the tears running down his cheeks. “Remember that face,” I told them, “and may that never be you.”

Reliance on Maginot Lines and international organizations provides a sense of security--up until the inevitable failure of such contrivances. Then, alas, it is back to blood and steel. Sadly, we are all too human after all.

The veteran and the Frenchman stand in stark contrast. Taken together, they remind us of two unyielding truths: The opposite of war is not necessarily peace, and freedom is never free.

---
As of September 2020, "according to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 325,574 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2020." (National WW II Museum)

Sunday, December 6, 2020

For Advent 2020

(For politics, please scroll down)

For this second Sunday of Advent 2020, savor this joyous rendering of "Carol of the Bells" by the St. George's Chapel Choir:
 

The St. George's Chapel Choir, Windsor Chapel have sung several times in the presence of Her Majesty and The Royal Family.
  
[about "Carol of the Bells", composed 1914 by Ukrainian Mykola Leontovych, who was assassinated by Soviet agents in 1921 while he was celebrating the Orthodox Feast of the Nativity]

Complete lyrics of "Carol of the Bells":

Thursday, December 3, 2020

President Trump on December 2, 2020: "This may be the most important speech I've ever made"

Whether or not you respect our POTUS — and I know that several readers here detest President Trump — in my view, we should give him a hearing to decide for ourselves if he has any valid points about fraud allegations related to our 2020 General Election. What he is alleging matters for our republic's future elections.
 

Gateway Pundit has been compiling a great deal of material of which WE THE PEOPLE should be aware.  Please take 30 minutes to read and watch HERE

Graphic from the above:
!--BLOCKING--