Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!” That famous quotation was uttered in August 1864, long before torpedoes as we now know them were created. At the time, mines were known as torpedoes. One of the squadron of ships David Glasgow Farragut commanded was struck by a mine during the battle of Mobile Bay. Farragut, the U.S. Navy’s first full admiral, issued the famous order in spite of (or because of) that attack as he noticed the hesitation of his crew aboard his flagship vessel, the Hartford.   According to the U.S. Navy’s website, Farragut’s loyalty was questioned when the Civil War erupted, despite his lengthy Naval career and his criticism that secession was treason. Apparently, the concerns about his loyalty disappeared after his success in Mobile Bay.  The Navy’s website indicates Farragut did not opt to discipline with corporal punishment. The website says his choice “…not to discipline with the lash despite its popularity among other captains…also proved that tolerance, kindness and moral courage are not disadvantages, but rather strengths to naval leadership.

Whether the Navy’s reporting about Farragut’s character and his leadership is accurate, I do not know. Because of what I have experienced during almost seventy years of learning and “being taught” about history, only to subsequently learn that more than a little of the country’s history has been whitewashed, my skepticism is always alive and well. If nothing else, though, the fact that current Naval press officers and historians assert that human decency is a strength is naval leadership gives me hope. By the way, Farragut’s father was Jordi Farragut Mesquida, who was born in Minorca, Spain; a subheading of the article that supplied the information I relate here (Navy’s First Admiral Was Hispanic Hero) celebrates that fact. Incremental growth in the incorporation of progressive philosophies in military institutions is better than no growth.


We have our tickets for the Peter Mayer concert in St. Paul, Minnesota. And we registered for a 2-hour kirtan workshop on September 2. If we were not going to Mexico to visit my brother and his wife, we might have instead gone to Santa Fe to hear Peter perform at a house concert; that would have been extraordinary, I think. But we’re happily planning both our trip up the Great River Road to Minnesota and our journey to Mexico. We’re fortunate, indeed. The term, kirtan, is new to me. According to Wikipedia, “With roots in the Vedic anukirtana tradition, a kirtan is a call-and-response style song or chant, set to music, wherein multiple singers recite or describe a legend, or express loving devotion to a deity, or discuss spiritual ideas.” A promotion of the workshop describes the practice like this: Chanting in kirtan uplifts your spirits, creating a joyful and blissful atmosphere. The rhythmic chanting and devotional mantras help release endorphins, reducing stress and anxiety. I have not gone all “woo-woo,” but I continue to enjoy having new experiences. I tend to think the experience of kirtin, as well as others (like meditation) that can help a person achieve, at least temporarily, a greater level of calmness is primarily a physiological practice; more so, I think, than what many call “spiritual.” Whatever contributes to the core substance of the experience, I imagine it will be interesting.


Yesterday, I got a pedicure, which left my feet and toes feeling quite happy. Today I will get a haircut, which will improve my mood when I look in the mirror. Tomorrow will be considerably busier: my geezer breakfast, a morning appointment with a mechanic to explore the cause of my car’s odd noises, a church board meeting, and a “World Tour of Wines” dinner in the evening. I am confident the evening dinner will again be a bright spot that will again elevate my mood. My phone just “dinged,” notifying me that my new morning news summary email link from Associated Press is available. Rituals, all, I suppose. Rituals tend to either annoy me or please me; I am not quite sure why, but I am exploring possible reasons. It’s probably my own psyche, rather than the rituals, that prompt my reactions to the experiences.


Early one morning four days ago, just after the sun began to illuminate the forest, I sat on my deck and listened to a cacophony of bird sounds; calls and songs and so on. I recognized and could identify some of them, but not all. So I opened my phone’s Cornell Lab Merlin app, which listens to bird sounds and identifies them. Usually, the app identifies four or five birds. Saturday, though, it identified quite a more:

    • White-breasted nuthatch
    • American crow
    • Blue jay
    • Carolina wren
    • Red-eyed vireo
    • Summer tanager
    • Ruby-throated hummingbird
    • Tufted titmouse
    • Carolina chickadee
    • Pine warbler
    • White-eyed vireo
    • Pileated woodpecker
    • Mallard
    • Downy woodpecker
    • Red-bellied woodpecker

I saw many of the birds, as well as hearing them. There’s something almost magical about seeing and hearing so many types of birds. One of the pileated woodpecker’s calls/songs is easily recognizable; it sounds to me like a laughing hyena. But even without its call/song, I usually can tell one is nearby when I hear its exceptional loud “pecking” against a tree. I am by no means an accomplished “birder” and I have no desire to invest the time and discipline in becoming one. But birds in the wild can mesmerize me. Their sightings and hearing their sounds tend to make me feel lighter and more at peace.


It’s almost 7:30! I’ve been up 2 hours and a bit, but it seems to me more like 30 minutes. Time on speed…ach, there’s not enough time to allow any of it to go to waste.


I have successfully minimized my use of the word “shard” in 2023; only four posts, before today, this year. I am not sure why the word seems to fit so perfectly in so much of what I write; it describes, as well as any word can, pieces of something. I can use pieces or scraps or particles or fragments or remnants or…plenty of other words…but shard suggests, to me, a shattered piece with sharp edges. Describing what’s left after breaking a sheet of glass as particles or fragments or scraps just does not spur the imagination’s creative visions quite as well.


Okay. Enough of this. I must shower, shave, and otherwise strip away the comfortable layers of laziness that embrace me. Oh, and I need to go online and order a swimsuit. 🙂


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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