MY DIARY — MARCH 24, 1962

Today was the sixtieth anniversary of the day I started my diary.

As I recall the inspiration which motivated the start of my “journal”, (which is what I called it once I discovered “only girls kept diaries”,) was a book I discovered on a shelf at home that was written in 1906.

March 24, 1962 was a Monday, and I assume it was the start of Spring Vacation because I wasn’t going to school. (Easter that year wasn’t until April 22, so we didn’t call it “Easter Vacation.”)

To fill in some background: “Dennis the Mennis” was a comic book character, (sort of a suburban Tom Sawyer, or a Calvin without a Hobbs, though he did have a dog named “Ruff”.)

My aim was to tell of my own impish boyhood. I wanted to have the tale be warm and fuzzy. At some point, (perhaps a few years later), my grandfather plaintively expressed how he wished he had kept a diary he could refer to, (being at that time 74, and fated to live to age 90,) and I recall being deeply impressed.

“The Short Stop” was a book by Zane Grey. I was an avid reader, for a boy just past his ninth birthday.

“Monkey Monster” was a game played in an enormous copper beech in front of the house. The tree had long, low branches. The person dangling from the branches was the “monkey”, and the person running around on the ground was the “crocodile” attempting to grab the “monkey.” My younger brother was four, so I had a distinct advantage.

The shoes I had left at school were my dress shoes, as opposed to my everyday sneakers. The school wasn’t locked, in those innocent times.

“The fencing match” is actually a trauma, which is why the diary did not continue the next day. (It began again when school let out for the summer.)

One trait of my boyhood diary is that it goes silent when things I really wish I’d written about occur. My parents were two years from the start of an extremely acrimonious divorce, and the “fencing match” involved an athletic woman my father was in the process of having an affair with. Watching him talk to her made me want to cringe. Even at the age of nine I knew “this isn’t right”, and I also knew it was wrong when my Dad stated to my older brothers, “Don’t tell your mother; she wouldn’t understand.” Incidents such as this didn’t fit my reason for keeping a diary, which was to speak of the joys of boyhood. Even the tribulations in “The Real Diary Of A Real Boy” tended to be misunderstandings which, when resolved, brought tears to your eyes. The tribulations of my boyhood were not resolved, and were things I simply did not talk about. Whenever the diary stops I know there was heartache too painful to mention, yet after a period of some sort of recovery the diary always restarts.

As the diary continues on into adolescence, I do start to talk about things which were formally unmentionable, but my responses were often “alternatives lifestyles” which now make me cringe. The damage done by drugs is painfully obvious in the pages, which at times are downright crazy. Then there is a getting-religion and going-straight period of psychology and parapsychology which becomes cultish, and after that there is a reaction to the cults which involves pages and pages and pages of dreary soul-searching. Eventually the diary becomes more sparce, at times little more than lists of chores, because I became more comfortable with writing actual letters to actual people. However now, with the advent of cancel-culture, there are times I revert to the safety of secret pages.

In any case it has been sixty years. Yikes!

SLUGGARD’S SONNET

The womb of morning births a brand-new day
But I am too bashful to watch; too tone-deaf
To hear Spring's chorus; too starchy to dare pray;
Too unworthy to worship; too damn bereft
Of guts to rejoice; much too color-blind
To see beyond gray, and yet something stirs
In me. I'm still alive. Oh Lord, You are kind
And can comb my tangled hair; remove burrs
From my crabbed thought; slap my scrawny butt
Like a doctor does a newborn's; and boot me
Onwards into day where I don't know what
Miracles may occur. May my dull eyes see
And my waxed ears hear. Don't let me stay shut
Like a clam too afraid to sip the sweet sea.
Smile away chains and set prisoners free.

ARCTIC SEA ICE —In Memory Of Barneo—

For the fourth straight year the Barneo base on the Arctic Sea has been cancelled. It was fairly obvious that it would have to be cancelled, with Russia at war with Ukraine, and cooperation between Russia and Ukraine such a big part of what made that unique base work. As with all war, much that it is good is destroyed, and I am prompted to look back briefly at the good that was lost.

The Barneo base served three functions: Military, scientific, and tourist.

It was a military exercise in rapidly setting up an airstrip on the Arctic Sea, and deploying arctic troops on skis. Though always created on the Russian side of the Pole, it is quite obvious how advantageous such a base would be in wartime circumstances if set up, for example, off the coast of Alaska.

It was a scientific base, with boreholes drilled in the ice and various experiments set up on, in and under the ice, some of which were short term, but some of which drifted with the ice even after the base was closed in warmer weather. The “North Pole Camera” was for many years set up from the Barneo base, and sent weather reports, a GPS location, and visual pictures from April until it was retrieved by an Icebreaker down in Fram Strait, usually in September. This is how I came to first be acquainted with the Barneo base.

Lastly it was a lucrative tourist trap. Weathy individuals were willing to pay $10,000 to $40,000 for the unique experience of standing at the North Pole, or running in a marathon on the Arctic Sea, or in one case sky-diving to the ice in a wet suit and then water-diving under the ice. The base alone made roughly 60 million dollars a year in tourism, and hotels and airlines in Svalbard and Norway made more.

I always enjoyed covering the doings at the Barneo base because there was something delightfully in-your-face about jets landing on the sea-ice, when compared to the Alarmist narrative that the sea-ice was melting away. The Alarmists tended to use every crack in the sea-ice as proof the ice was thinner and more “rotten” than ever before, (and was going to melt away completely that summer, as early as 2012), and if a lead formed on the blue-ice air strip they took that as evidence as well, (for example in 2011), yet Alexander Orlov, who managed the production year after year, was never discouraged, and seemed to have an uncanny ability to handle all the problems with sea-ice shifting, logistics, and political squabbles. His death before the start of the 2018 season seemed to mark the beginning of the end.

With the advantage of 20-20 hindsight many of the squabbles were ominous hints that the current war was on the horizon, though in those happier times few people felt other people could take such petty differences to the lengths they have reached. For one thing, with 60 million dollars to be made in a mere month, few felt such money would be cast aside, but it was cast aside, even before nonsense got out of hand, and even before the difficulties created by the coronavirus appeared.

Outside of the 60 million made at Barneo, considerable money was made on Svalbard by having the rich tourists pass through on their way to the Pole, but some in Norway felt outrage about how Russians behaved in Chechnya, and this created an unwillingness to support the Barneo base, which meant Russia had to create a new support route through Franz Josef Land, and all the hotels in Svalbard lost out. How Alexander Orlov handled such squabbles must have been fascinating, but as soon as he was gone, they spiraled out of control.

Another difference which seemed almost comical at the time was the squabbles between Greenpeace and Russia. Greenpeace had the strong belief the Arctic Sea should be a pristine National Park, or perhaps World Park. while Russia felt its northern lands should be developed and that a Northeast Passage to China be made feasible by launching a fabulously expensive fleet of enormous icebreakers, some of which were nuclear powered.

The humor entered in because Russians would not, when discussing its north coast waters, use the word “development”, seeming to prefer the word “exploitation” simply because, over at Greenpeace, the word “exploitation” made heads explode. At that time some of Greenpeace’s actions were borderline-militant, as they blocked the passage of large ships with smaller boats, and even boarded ships as part of their protests. The Russian response was to simply throw the protesters in jail and serve them non-organic food. This caused problems for our State Department, but after ninety days in a Russian Prison the protesters were in no hurry to protest again.

Five years ago this did not seem likely to ever be anything other than fringe-politics, yet now things look different, and we are in a situation which we should have seen coming. The simple fact the USA is midst an energy crisis, when only 16 months ago we were energy independent, seems largely due to Greenpeace-thinking, and the simple fact Russia is making boatloads of money with its oil despite sanctions, seems largely due to its anti-Greenpeace-thinking.

Here’s a bit a good bit of detective work I did, concerning an uproar Russia generated when a Ukrainian jet crashed at Barneo, “polluting” the arctic.

And here is another post from that year, hinting at the problems Alexander Orlov had to deal with,

Much more can be discovered simply by searching this site using the word “Barneo”, but my conclusion is that the entire situation is very sad, and that I side with neither side.

What is my side? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of serious thinking about that subject. I will likely devote a long and tedious future-post to my thoughts. In essence it is that Truth should never be denied for the sake of an “agenda”, and an “agenda” should never hide its true aims. (If you worry about over population and your agenda includes reducing the world population by eight and a half billion, you should just say so, just in case someone has an alternative idea which is better, which it might do you good to hear.)

Also, I shall soon write a post about the sea-ice maximum, which is currently occurring, or has already occurred.

However, my main reason for this post is to express my sadness about what war costs us, not merely in terms of the physical destruction of life and property (which the sensationalist media smears all over the screen), but also in humbler terms, terms involving the quality of our lives, and our ability to study simple truths, and enjoy simple things.

NOT A CARE IN THE WORLD

The national and world news seems so bad that at times I find myself gasping for relief, and one relief I find is to take small children at my Childcare on a hike. Partly the relief involves the simple fact small children require constant attention, and I have few braincells left to think about the cost of gasoline or suffering in Ukraine. But another source of relief is more subtle.

Yesterday I had a couple “former students” visit after five years. Brothers, the older was at the threshold of adolescence, and ordinarily in such circumstances I find a strange amnesia has set in. I am looked at across a vast chasm, as if fifty years had passed. However, for some reason no such amnesia affected the brothers, and they regaled me with fond memories they had, including some things I did (and stories I told) which I myself had no recollection of. At one point the older brother looked about the pasture, where small children played in the distance, and folded his arms, smiled, and pronounced, “The Childcare: Where there’s not a care in the world.”

I was touched to be remembered in such a way, but it also made me think, for, when I am hiking with small children, I often feel I’m in a different dimension, utterly alien to the world of adults. It is not merely that war mongers have no use for old men and small children, but also that, old men and small children have no use for war mongers.

I led a gang of three-to-five-year-olds
Into deep woods, where we followed old stone walls
To a slanting, fallen tree with hand-holds
Better than any jungle-gym's. The hallowed halls 
Of looming trunks hushed to hear the laughter,
And silent deer and foxes peered from down
The corridors of trees, seeking after
The joy. No crows croaked; no eagle's frown
Disapproved; no jays cried harshly, "Thief! Thief!"
There was only the sound of children at play,
And perhaps my long sigh of thankful relief.
This poor old world hears news day after day
That tires the heart. It relieves to be free
Of such souring news, and watch kids in a tree. 

OLD SONG APT FOR TODAY

I was listening to this fifty-year-old Randy Newman song today, and something about it seemed strangely prophetic. It was not so much the rational of the song, but the heart of the song. Not that the Swamp seems to be anything but selfish and heartless, but the heart of the Heartland has a power beyond the ken of so-called rational people, spoken more clearly by music than words.