Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nickel-colored skies and general gloom

Looking toward the south inlet at Red Haw at 2 p.m. Monday

We could use a little sunshine around here; blue skies, too, please. Not that the moderating temperatures aren't appreciated (of course it could be global warming). But cloud cover for the last few days has produced an odd milky light that can seem ominous at times.

Monday was a nickel-silver day, no sun to be seen at all. I took to the woods in search of green and found very little --- a bit early, although things soon will start to pop and I'm ready. Daffodils behind the house have budded, but still no color to be seen. 

The Canada geese are settling in on the big pond down at the marsh, honking and waddling on shore and strolling down the trail --- until humans show up causing them, wisely, to set sail.

By week's end, highs will descend into the 30s again and snow is a possibility. So it remains unsettled and unpredictable weatherwise, much like the situation in general these days.


Looking at this image of an old nickel plucked off the Web, I noticed the absence of "In God We Trust" and got to wondering when that phrase, now meaningless because of its universality, had appeared. On all coins beginning in 1938, I discovered. It became the "official" U.S. motto in in 1955, a year after "under God" was added to the pledge in a fit of ceremonial deism.

I see that a bill introduced by U.S. Rep Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) reaffirming the motto and encouraging its display in all public buildings and classrooms is due to come to a vote soon in the House. I really don't care too much about this one. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the phrase has "lost through rote repetition any significant religious content."

I still have trouble for some reason with the pledge, though, rarely join in and even when, overcome by a paroxysm of something or another, I do, it's without God. Affirm allegiance to the republic? Maybe. It's messy, but all we've got. Worshipping the flag, however, seems a bit much and the sentiments of Quaker forbears opposed to oaths and other instances of taking the name of God in vain rise up and choke me.


When deciding what to worry about, I usually take my cue from MSNBC --- so today it's that Japanese nuclear reactor rather than our newest war, in Libya.

Like many semi-Luddites, I'm uneasy about nuclear power (and genetic engineering, too), in part at least because no one's figured out yet how to defuse nuclear waste, which just sits around somewhere in a deadly state for millenia.

Although the situation in Japan has not been catastrophic (yet), it's not done much to build public confidence. I began sensibly, reading all of the "that-can't-possibly-happen" reassurances from the experts. Then, of course, much of what couldn't happen did happen and I'm left wondering what will happen next.

On the other hand, headed up to bed last night I counted as I turned off seven electrical devices in four rooms that had been switched on all evening --- it's so much trouble to turn the lights off and on, you know. So obviously the fuel needed to power my greed for illumination has to come from somewhere.


I was entertained, however, by the following clip --- a British parody of "Downton Abbey," recently broadcast on PBS, as well as all other period dramas, those who produce them and those who star.  Perhaps you had to watch the series to appreciate the parody --- and actually being British and attuned to British humor might enhance enjoyment.

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