On Iceland’s Ring Road

In 2001 when I traveled to Iceland, I purchased a bus ticket for one-way travel along the famous ring road that manages to hit most of the top sights on the volcanic island. I started by taking a bus to Akureyri through the center of Iceland through what is known as the Kjölur Route. From there, I traveled by bus along to Ring Road to Lake Mývatn, Egilsstaðir, Höfn, Kirjubærclaustur, Hvollsvöllur, Selfoss, and on into Reykjavík.

The majority of the population of Iceland lives along the Ring Road. There are no cities in the whole country that are not either on or close to the coast. As for the unpopulated interior, there are only two roads, the Kjölur Route and the Sprengisandur Route, and no towns of any size. In fact, no towns at all.

The Bus to Akureyri Along the Kjölur Route

When I returned to Iceland in 2013, I spent some time in the Northwest in Isafjordur, as I had skipped the entire Westfjords area on my previous visit.

When you get out of the city, Iceland is a country of waterfalls, rainbows, volcanoes, and geysirs. From one point of view, much of it is a wasteland; but, if so, it is a beautiful one.

New Year’s Resolutions?

At this time when we are supposedly making up New Year’s resolutions, I am reminded of this poem by Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentinian poet who died not long after his poem “Instants” was written.


If I could live again my life,
In the next - I'll try,
- to make more mistakes,
I won't try to be so perfect,
I'll be more relaxed,
I'll be more full - than I am now,
In fact, I'll take fewer things seriously,
I'll be less hygenic,
I'll take more risks,
I'll take more trips,
I'll watch more sunsets,
I'll climb more mountains,
I'll swim more rivers,
I'll go to more places - I've never been,
I'll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans,
I'll have more real problems - and less imaginary ones,
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives -
each minute of his life,
Of course that I had moments of joy - but,
if I could go back I'll try to have only good moments,

If you don't know - that's what life is made of,
Don't lose the now!

I was one of those who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
and without an umbrella and without a parachute,

If I could live again - I will travel light,
If I could live again - I'll try to work bare feet
at the beginning of spring till
the end of autumn,
I'll ride more carts,
I'll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live - but now I am 85,
- and I know that I am dying . . .  

Thank You, George Santos

George Santos (R,NY)

Thanks to George Santos fictionalizing his past and winning a New York congressional seat, I have decided to go into politics. If George can do it, so can I. Naturally, I will run as a Republican, because that party seems more friendly to liars and fabricators.

I feel I am uniquely qualified to represent California’s 33rd Congressional District. Although I see myself as a Never Trumper, I admire theex-President’s record of mendacity and fraud, which I will attempt to emulate in my own unique way.

What are my qualifications?

  1. I am an ex-Navy Seal who was directly involved in the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
  2. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Dartmouth College, I attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in Law.
  3. In my sophomore year, I won the Heisman Trophy as a soccer-style kicker for the Big Green’s football team.
  4. I am married to the lovely Taylor Swift, with whom I have three sons (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) and one daughter (Hermenegild).
  5. I speak twelve languages fluently, including: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Armenian, Syriac, Latin, Sanskrit, Iñupiat, and Choctaw.
  6. My personal fortune is worth $100 billion, mostly as a result of my investments in cryptocurrencies and block-chain technology.
  7. I invented the Internet.
  8. A talented jazz musician, I play the saxophone, French horn, bassoon, and harmonica.
  9. Currently, I am ranked third in the world in chess based on my Elo Rating.
  10. I have published numerous books on constitutional law in the United States, Moldova, and the Seychelles Islands.

As you can see, I am a shoo-in for any political position that requires skill, judgment, and giant whoppers.

Return to Uayeb Yet Again Part Deux

To date, I have written five posts about the Maya “month” of Uayeb or Wayeb, which consists of the last five days of the Haab Calendar of 365 days. The Haab calendar has twenty months of eighteen days each, which isn’t quite enough to make up the full complement, so the Maya added a short stub of a month containing the five “nameless days.”

There is also a Maya god named Uayeb, who is the god of misfortune. That sounds about right.

The Cartoonist Scott Stantis Has an Intuitive Understanding of Uayeb

Here is a link to my previous posts on the subject:

Below is the Maya glyph for the “month” of Uayeb, or Wayeb (kind of looks like a tiny-headed god flexing his muscles, doesn’t it?)

In his comments to last year’s post, my friend Mudpuddle noted that “the glyph looks like a surfer headed for muscle beach!”

I am amused by how well a Maya calendrical belief fits in so well with our civilization, in which the days between Christmas and New Year and almost universally considered as dead time.

So don’t make any big plans until the New Year. But you kind of knew that anyway, no?

An Abrupt End to Carols

It Happened Decades Ago in Sacramento …

I first met Martine when she was living in Sacramento and working as a civilian at the old Sacramento Army Depot. My mother was alive at the time and lived near McClellan Air Force Base. One day, while I was visiting her, I saw this young woman approach the front door carrying a bag of oranges. It was my first meeting with Martine, whom I invited out on a date set for New Years Eve.

It was a strange date. We saw a Swedish film called My Life as a Dog, then we went out to a Chinese restaurant. We had difficulty finding one, as there were rolling power outages occurring all around the city. But we finally found one where the lights were on.

When I would drive up to visit Martine around Christmas time, she typically listened to a radio station that played nothing but Christmas carols. That didn’t bother me much, except they always snuck in “The Little Drummer Boy” (pa-rum pum pum pum).

Once, as it was nearing midnight on Christmas Day in 1988 or 1989, they started to play that damned song. Somebody at the radio station must have been of my mind, because just as they were to ring out with the nth pa-rum pum pum pum, at the stroke of midnight there was a sound as if a chicken were having its neck wrung. And that was it for the Christmas carols on that station that year. I laughed so hard I started coughing.

I always hated that song pa-rum pum pum pum.

The Better Angels of My Nature

Christmas Angels at the Grier-Musser Museum

Although I am of two minds about the Christmas holidays, the better angels of my nature have urged me to wish for all of you a time of caring and warmth. Even if you don’t have a tree decorated with ornaments and tinsel, even if you don’t send out a hundred Christmas cards, even if you don’t spend hundreds of dollars on carefully wrapped presents—may the real meaning of the holiday catch up with you and leave you with a good feeling all throughout this year and the year to come.

Merry Christmas!

From My Piblokto Madness Bed

William Gibson on Our Military-Influenced Fashions

There are few novelists currently working whom I like as much as William Gibson. His science fiction doesn’t go that far into the future, yet he constantly introduces concepts, which he doesn’t explain, and yet which fascinate me. One such is the Piblokto Madness bed in which her character Hollis Henry from Zero History sleeps at a posh London hotel. Looking up Piblokto on Wikipedia, I found this definition: “A culture-bound syndrome observed primarily in female Inuit and other arctic populations. Individuals experience a sudden dissociative period of extreme excitement in which they often tear off clothes, run naked through the snow, scream, throw things, and perform other wild behaviors.” Huh?

On another topic, Gibson is spot on, namely the civilian fashion of adopting military styles in one’s apparel:

“Sleight had arranged for us to have a look at a garment prototype. We’d picked up interesting industry buzz about it, though when we got the photos and tracings, really, we couldn’t see why. Our best analyst thinks it’s not a tactical design. Something for mall ninjas.”

“For what?”

“The new Mitty demographic.”

“I’m lost,”

“Young men who dress to feel they they’ll be mistaken for having special capability. A species of cosplay, really. Endemic. Lots of boys are playing soldier now. The men who run the world aren’t, and neither are the boys most effectively bent on running it next. Or the ones who’re actually having to be soldiers, of course. But many of the rest have gone gear-queer, to one extent or another.”


Bigend’s teeth showed. “We had a team of cultural anthropologists interview American soldiers returning from Iraq. That’s where we first heard it. It’s not wholly derogatory, mind you. There are actual professionals who require these things—some of them, anyway. Though they generally seem to be far less fascinated with them. But it’s that fascination that interests us, of course.”

“It is?”

“It’s an obsession with the idea not just of the right stuff, but of the special stuff. Equipment fetishism. The costume and semiotics of achingly elite police and military units. Intense desire to possess same, of course, and in turn to be associated with that world. With its competence, its cocksure exclusivity.”

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Today Is the Darkest Day of the Year

In the Northern Hemisphere, where 90% of the Earth’s population lives, this is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Conversely, in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Apparently, it all has something to do with the way our planet is tilted on its axis, with us in the North being farther from the Sun.

Since I am retired, it doesn’t matter to me that it gets dark early. I no longer have to put up with December traffic on my way home from work in the dark.

And as for darkness, it really isn’t all that dark, With all the external building lighting, together with the numerous fairy lights from my computer, television, air purifier, microwave, and whatnot, I can usually make way way around my apartment in the wee hours of the morning without kicking the furniture with my bare feet.

As for the title of this post, it comes from Simon & Garfunkel’s hit song, “The Sound of Silence”:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

What Are His Subhuman Powers?

One of 45’s New NFT Trading Cards: Only $99 Each!

It is ironic that so many people in America still see our last president not as he really is, but in the way he wants them to see him. His “Big Announcement” of last week was just another attempt to mulct the base by selling trading cards showing a set of highly idealized images of himself as a superhero.

I would like to think that the man’s powers are fading imperceptibly, from week to week, from a figure that purported to be a savior of the forgotten Americans of the Red States, to an extremely high maintenance liability known for shafting everyone who ever cared for him.

Instead of shelling out big money to support the man, I present to you a more realistic image of the 45th President of the U.S., who still thinks he’s President:

Statue of Donald J. Trump in New York

These images don’t cost no $99 either!

Watching Sports on TV

Messi and Teammates Celebrating After World Cup Victory

I woke up too late on Sunday morning to watch all of the Argentina-France World Cup Final. But I did see the second half, followed by the two overtime periods and the penalty kicks. And that hour and a half or so was the most exciting sports event I ever saw on television.

Now that pretty much everyone has weighed in on the game and Lionel Messi’s triumph and Kylian Mbappé’s stoic loss, I thought I would say a few words about the act of watching sports event. I am uniquely qualified inasmuch as I rarely watch sports events and have no clearcut team identification in any sport. Moreover, when I was growing up, my father would get so teed off when one of the Cleveland teams lost—and in those years they lost with amazing frequency—that I would have to go into hiding to avoid the paternal wrath.

It is only recently that I have come to love watching two types of sports events which, coincidentally, occur at four-year intervals. I am referring to World Cup Football (men and women) and the Summer Olympics. (The Winter Olympics—Meh!.) I have little interest in baseball, which typically involves a few minutes (if any) of intense action stretched out over several hours. American football, to me, is characterized by lots of starts and stops, followed after the so-called two-minute warning, by another hour or so of play.

Basketball has a lot of action, but there’s a lot of starts and stops there, too, as if the sport were devised with advertisers in mind. As for hockey, I find it too hard to follow the puck across the ice. All I see is the mayhem.

Only soccer football has continuous action, except for times when a player is injured or pretends to be injured. The final on Sunday built up to a pitch of excitement such that I have never experienced with any other sport. There was so much skill spread among so many players that it was a pity that someone had to lose. I would have been equally happy for either France or Argentina to win the game.