Sea days were lecture days on the Hillsdale Cruise, and the first two helped get us into the standard daily routine of morning lectures, lunch, afternoon lecture, and free time. Monday the 16th of July introduced us to the lecture hall, known aboard ship as the Galaxy Lounge. Here we all are that first morning of lectures.
The first talk of the morning was by Victor Davis Hanson, Distinguished Fellow, Hillsdale College (and distinguished classical historian). His subject was “The Current State of the US Military”, and as usual he held us all spellbound. Today’s military has been subjected to differing rules, regulations, and budgets depending upon who is president, and the discussion was spirited.
Next, we were treated to a talk by the President of Hillsdale College, Dr. Larry Arnn. Everyone on the cruise was very familiar with Dr. Arnn, and we enjoyed his speech. Dr. Arnn has always been one of my role models as a Good Person.
His was the last lecture of the day, so after listening to Dr. Arnn, we adjourned for lunch, and a free afternoon exploring the many wonders of the Crystal Symphony. Not far from the Galaxy Lounge is the ship’s Casino. On sea days, you could hear the merry jingling of machines and the hum of conversation from the casino whenever you passed near.
Sometimes we would have lunch in the Silk Restaurant, an Asian-flavored venue. I loved the decor there, including a wall of art most unusual, and pretty furniture. They also had some vertical gardens that lent a natural touch to the space.
After lunch, it was time for a tour around the Promenade Deck. At the bow of this ship is a “fitness garden” of outdoor equipment for people to take a turn on as they stroll the deck, as well as lifeboats and other safety paraphernalia. The sea and sky were beautiful this day, too.
Tuesday’s morning lectures were by George Neumayr, Contributing Editor of the American Spectator, and Nick Lloyd, Professor of Military History at King’s College, London.
This is Mr. Neumayr. We met him at dinner on Sunday and we enjoyed his talk.
Mr. Lloyd gave three lectures on his specialty, World War I, which were very informative.
Tuesday’s afternoon lecturer was Roger Kimball, Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion. His new book is very colorfully-titled, and available for purchase later, signed by the author. Many of the tour’s lecturers had books for us to buy, which we did!
Tuesday afternoon I did my tour around the Promenade Deck and took pictures, as usual. It looked like the weather was going to get stormier, so I took every opportunity to get outside. My readers will know that I have a fascination for the water and the sky from the ship, and I took many photos of the ever-changing sea.
I am currently on a cruise ship, the Crystal Symphony, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, heading east toward Mexico, in the company of a large contingent of Hillsdale College supporters and employees. On our sea days, we have been presented with a group of the best speakers known to conservatives. Self-identified Democrat Pat Caddell has treated us to some inside secrets of the polling universe, and we have been often startled by how conservative he actually sounds. In fact, I have been pleasantly surprised at how many times he has seemed to agree with my Hero, Rush Limbaugh, about events taking place in the US recently.
Nearly the first idea he expressed, that “the sovereignty of the US has been hijacked by the Political Class against the American People”. Funny, but Rush has been saying this for years. Mr. Caddell cited results showing that 70% of Americans have expressed the opinion that the country is “in decline”, and that today’s children will not be as prosperous as their parents are. He says that the political class has all the power, and uses it to make their own rules-there are essentially separate codes of conduct for the political class, and the rest of the people (to whom they are supposed to be answerable).
Here is Caddell’s Law: The Wisdom of the American People in the aggregate cannot be denied. Pat notes that the elites are allied with the mainstream Press in telling the People what they should think. Again, another place where he agrees with Rush Limbaugh, who has been discussing this for nearly as long as he has been in the public eye. And he agrees with Rush that today’s Democrats and bureaucrats are attempting to nullify the results of the 2016 presidential election that brought Donald Trump to power. He even used the same word to describe what is taking place! Both men, one a staunch conservative, the other a Democrat, have described the same actions of those who believe that Trump’s election was illegitimate, and that he is mentally unstable and unfit for the high office to which he was elected.
In Caddell’s talk on the polling business today, he started by describing how the media’s polls are biased, and ignore responses that are counter to their anti-Trump narrative (thus presenting false results). Bingo! Another area of agreement with Rush! He pointed out the colleges, like Marist and Quinnipiac, that have started their own polling operations, and how their student poll-takers are subtly influencing the answers they receive from those they poll. Remember now that most colleges in the US today are strongholds of progressivism, safe-spaces, snowflakes, and Trump-hatred. And he also noted how often media and college polls over-sample Democrats. Bingo again! Rush has been mentioning this for a long time, that this artificially lowers the ratings of Republicans, and understates the actual popular support for President Trump.
Caddell also notes how the media do minute-by-minute polls when the Republicans are doing poorly or in the midst of a (often media-fueled) scandal; but they go silent when the Conservative party is doing well. Bingo! Rush has mentioned often how the press kept the heat on President George W. Bush, and misrepresented the economy as doing worse than it actually was. Our speaker went over the whole Benghazi scandals, and how the media and the Obama Administration perpetuated lie after lie after lie to deflect attention away from Hillary Clinton’s culpability for the deaths of four of our American diplomats. Bingo!! More agreement with Rush!
Mr. Caddell says that the media are telling us which “truth” we may know, and they suppress the Truth. He thinks, and our audience agrees, that the press are making themselves the enemy of the American public. He emphasized how the advent of 24-hour TV news coverage has expanded the power of the media, and enabled them to literally destroy a law-abiding American’s life and career. Remember Joe the Plumber, whose life was turned upside-down when he was seen as not supporting the previous president? He notes that in the 20th Century, the press deferred to presidents, and did not ask tough questions. Now, they try to destroy the duly-elected president!
Rush has often discussed how the Press does not report what happened, but what they Want to happen, and Pat Caddell is in agreement with that. Mr. Caddell also discussed how in times past White House correspondents for major media organizations were experienced veterans of years in the news business, while today’s “reporters” are raw college recruits, with little knowledge of the way the White House should be covered. They mainly report on events that coincide with their preferred narrative, and ignore things that don’t. Bingo! Another agreement with Rush.
Mr. Caddell also discussed how today’s news-readers sound exactly alike when reporting a particular news story, to the extent of even using all the same words and phrases. Triple Bingo! Rush Limbaugh has had his experienced production team producing montages of all the news readers expounding on the same subject, and you can plainly hear how everyone sounds exactly alike! In fact, those montages are the best part of Rush’s demonstration of how today’s media operate.
So, Mr. Pat Caddell, when are you going to finally admit the obvious? Isn’t it time for you to leave the “dark side”, and come out and admit that you are not really a Democrat, but a Republican? If you do that, and join us, you will discover that we conservatives are real people, who work for a living and appreciate all work and workers. We conservatives do NOT attempt to destroy the lives and livelihoods of those with whom we disagree, we reason with them and try to help them see the light. We clean up after ourselves, and don’t leave the mountains of garbage behind at political rallies like the “progressives” do. And we welcome new people-the best conservatives are reformed “liberals”. You have already seen, over the past week on the sea and in Hawaii, how friendly we are. Join us!
Hubby and I went on the Hillsdale College 10-day cruise to Alaska, aboard the Crystal Serenity. We spent about three years’ worth of travel budget, but we sure got our money’s worth, and more. Hillsdale does a big cruise every summer, and this was our first time. There were “Seminars at Sea”, with noted speakers, including Michael Walsh, screenwriter and author; Victor Davis Hanson, Classicist and thinker; David Goldman, journalist, and John Steele Gordon, historian. There were shore excursions at every stop (I didn’t do any, and hubby did one, walking on a glacier). We mostly did our own exploring, traipsing through Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, and Ketchikan.
The luxury ship was everything we expected. Lavish breakfast buffet with every kind of food you could possibly want, lunch in the Grill, or The Bistro, and dinners in the ritzy Crystal Dining Room. There were two specialty restaurants, one Asian and one Italian, and we had delightful dinners at both. There was a full movie theater playing first-run movies, and we took the opportunity to see Jungle Book, which was fun and well-done. I had a pedicure in the Spa, and had a nice conversation with the technician, a beautiful young lady from North Yorkshire.
My favorite part of cruising is relaxing on deck and watching the water go by, and I had ample opportunity to sit out on our private verandah on the starboard side of the ship, with my camera and binoculars at the ready. As usual, I was a picture-taking fool, see below.
On the final day, the last stop was Nanaimo, British Columbia, and we were met by a Ricochet member who is now our friend. He took us on a nice stroll by the waterfront, we had a very good pizza lunch, then went back to his home for more good conversation on his patio.
Here is a selection of the photos I took.
This is Vancouver harbor, with the cruise ship terminal.
Here’s an example of a working waterfront. It’s almost like a ballet, the way the tugboat maneuvers the barge.
It was such a beautiful afternoon, I basically stood on deck with my camera until the sun went down. Sunset over the Inside Passage.
The next day was spent entirely at sea, and we had lectures most of the day. I tried to get outside as much as I could. I took lots of pictures of the ship itself, which I found gorgeous. I did a double-take when I saw this tiny detail that most people probably would miss. Crystal Cruises logo is two seahorses. Here’s an interesting place for it.
Yes, that’s the sandbox used for people to stub out their cigarettes! This is the pool. Notice that it’s empty-there was only one pool, and it didn’t get much use.
This is what I gazed upon from the Promenade Deck (the only level with an outside walkway all the way around the vessel.
Inside, these ladies were playing beautiful string quartet music, in the Crystal Cove. They are the Astoria Quartet, and they are all from Russia. Also note the piano, and the chairs the ladies are sitting on-Crystal!
Juneau was the first port of call, and I took pictures of the channel approaching town, the town itself, and some of the other ships and boats in port.
That’s a little river, cascading down the hillside-you can see how its path traces from the top to the bottom of the hill. Too bad it was very misty that day.
This is the cruise ship Disney Wonder. See the logo on the stacks? It’s huge!
Here are some shots of the town, and some other vessels we saw. Also, our National Bird, doing what big birds do.
The next day was a stop at Hoonah, and the weather was terrible, and the town was not too interesting, at least to me. So I did what came naturally-took pictures from our balcony.
The following day was the one we had all eagerly anticipated-the trip to the Hubbard Glacier. That’s what is in the new header, and here are a bunch of closeups of the glacier, the ice-flecked channel, and the mountainsides with many “mini-glaciers”.
I thought the glaciers behind the main channel looked like big waterslides.
After a morning of glacier-viewing, we retreated to the nice, warm Palm Court Lounge, where lunch was served.
Next stop, the town of Skagway. The weather cooperated, and we had a nice stroll through the gold-rush town, with all its tourist-trap stores. But it was fun anyway. Herewith, pictures of the town and the channel where the cruise ships dock, and the wind blew very hard, late in the afternoon.
Next port of call was Sitka, a place we’d never been to. All I knew was that there is a summer chamber music festival that has gone on for 30 years, run by string-players Paul and Linda Rosenthal. It’s a pretty remote place for chamber music! Just after being dropped downtown-5 miles from the cruise ship dock, we found the Lutheran Church. They have a small pipe organ, built in Estonia in 1844. Hubby got to play it, and he was thrilled!
Here are shots of the famous (three-times-rebuilt) St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church, and an interesting artifact that I couldn’t pass up.
Now, the harbor, and the working marina.
The next stop was Ketchikan, where we’d been before. We remembered from that trip that Ketchikan has a Starbucks, and no other stop had. So we walked for nearly a mile, and found it! Ahhh, the taste of your first Frappuccino in a week! Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, so we didn’t spend too much time. Here is what I saw.
The following day was again at sea, back south through the Inside Passage around Vancouver Island. I spent a lot of that afternoon hanging off our balcony, taking pictures of the beautiful islands, sea, and sky.
This next shot is an intersection of two channels. You can see the roiling waters, and the still picture can’t really convey the sense of the movement. I got out the video camera, and got video, to be posted on my YouTube site.
Thursday night we were honored to have dinner with our speaker, Michael Walsh. He had lots of interesting Hollywood stories to tell, and we enjoyed the dinner very much.
We knew that the cruise was about to come to and end. The next day was our last port call, Nanaimo, on the east coast of Vancouver Island. It was a gorgeous day, and when we went out on our balcony, we found at the next dock, a ship being loaded with logs bound for China.
We spent the afternoon with our new Ricochet friend, Pete. We went to a farmer’s market and to the marina for a stroll.
You can see the two cannons on either side of that piper. They were fired at noon, to great effect.
Here we are with our new friend. And here we are just before getting back on the ship for the last night’s festivities.
Friday night was the Hillsdale Farewell Reception. Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale gave a speech, and everyone mingled and drank champagne. It had been an extraordinary trip, and we hope to be able to do it again in the future.
And, here we are with Dr. Arnn. He is just wonderful, and we are blessed to know him.
So what kind of year was 2015? Statistically, not too bad. But statistics can be misleading (in both directions). Financially, I earned about as much in 2015 as I did in 2014, but my earnings went further. Much to my surprise and delight, I was able to sweep a fair amount of money from my checking to my savings account, and have more than enough in checking to pay all my bills. It sure does help to have no mortgage!
The stock market has taken us all on a wild ride this year, but I did not panic, and continued contributing to my 401(k) account at work. I am at full retirement age now, so I did slightly reduce the percentage of my contributions, but still have over 15% of my wages withheld for retirement. So, when I look at the total of all my investments, every single account has gains! Even if I wanted to harvest losses to cancel out some of my gains, I couldn’t do it, as I have no losses!
I gave mightily to charity this year, and the people at Hillsdale College, Curtis Institute of Music, and the American Society for Yad Vashem happily received increased donations from me in 2015. I can’t emphasize enough how good it made me feel to write those checks to causes I believe in. [Here’s a statistic. People self-described as Conservative donate a higher percentage of their earnings to charity than people self-described as Liberal. Liberals depend on the Government to help the needy.]
This was my first full year reporting to a new boss at work. That made work more congenial, working for a boss who I knew liked me, instead of working for someone who I knew would have liked to be rid of me. As a member of a new department, it was extremely gratifying to know that all my coworkers were happy that I was in their group. I worked a lot of overtime, and really didn’t mind too much. On the “minus” side, the company is engaged in a “total transformation” directed from the corporate level, and this is having many uncomfortable consequences for most employees. Entire departments have been re-formed, and physically moved, resulting in a much higher level of stress. Production employees have half the “personal space” they used to have, and since some heavy machinery has been moved from behind a wall out into the main production floor, everyone’s environment contains more noise and bad smells. “Standard work” practices will be applied more commonly, and I have heard some employees objecting to being made into machines. It’s no fun, and morale-lowering, to have less control of your work situation. I consider myself extremely fortunate that my department so far has been less-affected in this than most, but we know what’s coming for us.
I did some traveling in 2015, and both trips were delightful. In April, we went to Denver for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar on Churchill. We connected with some Ricochet friends there, and had a great time. After the seminar was over, we went down to Colorado Springs for a few days to connect with some more Ricochet friends. Our visit there, and to the Garden of the Gods Park, have been documented here.
In September, we went down to Reno for another Ricochet meet-up, and met some wonderful people who will be lifelong friends. We got a look at some beautiful country, and felt the effects of the wildfires in California. From the air, we were able to see the effects of the five-year drought, too, with the level of Lake Tahoe way lower than normal (leaving some docks high and dry).
Back home, there was a windstorm in November that caused a big tree to fall across our driveway, taking out a section of brand-new fence. During that storm, we were without power for 12 hours, but that did not stop the people from our neighborhood from getting out their chainsaws and cutting up the tree so we could get into and out of the driveway. My car was in the garage and undamaged, and hubby was away, so the main effects were a chewed-up lawn, a damaged pear tree in front, and a roof full of cedar droppings. Later, heavy rains caused the gutter over the garage to become detached from the edge of the roof, and we went through a week of anxiety before it was finally repaired, before it had a chance to fall off.
Our holiday party this year was a rousing success, and we made the acquaintance of more local Ricochet members. Our Ricochet memberships have been great to have this year, as we are able to document our meet-ups, and make many new conservative friends. Living in an area that is deep-blue like Seattle, it is very gratifying to know that others who think like us are just around the corner!
Around the world, 2015 was a year filled with Islamic Terrorist attacks, on their home countries in the Middle East, and on countries in the West. Paris came in for more than its share of Islamic Terrorist atrocities, with a satirical magazine, kosher supermarket, concert hall, and street cafes being attacked, and dozens of innocent French citizens slaughtered. Boko Haram continued its reign of terror in Africa, murdering hundreds and wiping out entire villages, basically with impunity. And Islamic State, Al Quaeda, and the Taliban continued to dominate entire swathes of territory in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, slaughtering men and enslaving women. Europe found itself inundated with waves of “refugees” from the Middle East conflicts, and proved incapable of handling all the crowds of essentially illegal immigrants supposedly seeking asylum. We already know that a huge percentage of those migrants just happened to be military-age males, and we wonder how many of them are not-so-well disguised jihadists. We actually found out, as at least one of the November 13 Paris attackers had recently entered Europe as a “refugee”! The United States also was attacked by Muslims who were sympathetic to Islamic State, and haters of the American way of life. Garland, Texas, successfully dodged bullets, and San Bernardino, California, was devastated by the married Muslim couple who attacked a holiday party.
And through it all, the president of the United States and his party, refused to acknowledge the source of those attacks, and to lie about the possibility of a “backlash” against “peace-loving American Muslims”. The denizen of the White House is a Muslim-sympathizer, and continues to ignore the imminent threat to Christians everywhere in the Middle East. He delights in accepting hordes of Muslim “refugees”, while ignoring the religious cleansing being carried out by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. His behavior is despicable, and he does not support the basic American values that he likes to tout. He also encourages hordes of Hispanic illegal immigrants to illegally cross our southern border, and claim services they have not earned and do not deserve. He continues to release “detainees” (terrorists) from Guantanamo Prison, to return to their terrorist ways overseas. He values Muslim Terrorists over innocent civilians.
Our country was roiled this year by the “Black Lives Matter” demonstrators, who caused mayhem, interrupted presidential candidates’ speeches (Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders!), and made policemen’s jobs more difficult. Funny how they totally ignore the thousands of blacks shot and killed by other blacks! Baltimore and Chicago saw huge increases in their murder rates in 2015, largely black-on-black crime. And they continue to deflect attention away from their own problems, toward policemen who are trying to protect them.
The US Supreme Court distinguished itself this year, ruling against the values that still motivate a majority of Americans. They found a right for homosexuals to “marry”, canceling out dozens of state laws affirming the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman. And they again ruled ObamaCare constitutional, so it can go on to ruin the best medical care system in the world.
Still, we here in the United States of America are still the world’s most prosperous and peaceful nation. More downtrodden people all over the world still wish to come to America, where they know they can make a better life for themselves by their own hard work and determination. In spite of all the cultural degradation taking place daily, children not being taught in government schools the real history of their nation, and college campuses being turned from institutions of learning into glorified day-care centers, this is still the Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth. I amproud to be an American.
On Calling-all-RushBabes, 2015 was a very good year. I discovered the Weekly Photo Challenges at the Daily Post site, and participated in many of them. I am thrilled that so many professional photographers seem to like my strictly-amateur photos, and follow my blog. I thank everyone who follows and comments on my blog. This year, I posted two important efforts, my paper on Medieval Music, and the photo essay on my 1991 Cambridge trip that spawned that paper. I had fun doing photo essays on my two big trips, too. Now that I have learned to use my home scanner, I plan on more photo essays, on the Everett Symphony trip to Vienna in 1996, and our New York trip in 2006.
I guess that makes me a risk-taker. I am currently 66 years old, my full SS retirement age, which makes me Social Security and Medicare-eligible. A couple of years ago, I made the decision to reject both SS and Medicare. I am gainfully employed, and expect to be employed for the foreseeable future. I am VERY fortunate to be married to a man nine years my junior, who has 35 years with his employer, and makes twice what I do. I am covered under his company medical plan, and expect to continue to be. I object to my doctors having to choose treatment for me according to “what Medicare will pay for”. I’m damned if I’ll have some faceless bureaucrat in Washington DC telling my doctors what’s “allowed”.
I’ve already started in a small way, being self-sufficient in health-care. My hubby’s plan has prescription drug coverage, but I do not use it. I take a bunch of prescription medicine for my chronic disease (psoriatic arthritis), and I pay every penny of the cost myself. All my medicines are generic, and I have a great relationship with the Costco pharmacy 6 blocks from my house, so I know I’m getting the best prices. It makes me feel great that my doctors and I, not some insurance company, determine what medicines I take, and how much to prescribe (my doctors write in quantities of 100, so I get even better pricing).
So my life is free from the worries about having enough money saved for retirement (not retiring!), and how to maximize my Government Dole Payment (Social Security).
Here’s another good reason to reject Social Security-a story that just hit the news this week.
Oh, I almost forgot! The reason Hillsdale and AEI (American Enterprise Institute) are in my title is that neither of those organizations takes any government money. That makes them independent of any government control over their institutions-remember that if you or your organization takes even ONE PENNY of government money, the Government Controls You. So I support both of them, because they can always use more citizen support. I urge you to do the same.
The best thing I did in the last year and a bit was to join Ricochet.com.
By doing that, I opened up a whole new universe of erudition and wisdom (and humor, which is often lacking in today’s world). I have met, both on-line and in person, people who think like I do, admire what I admire, and fret about the things that make me anxious. Living in a deep blue state, it’s often difficult to find others who are conservative in their outlook. But my Ricochet membership opened up whole new avenues of friendship. Who would have thought there were so many wonderful, conservative people right in our area?
Shortly after my husband and I joined, we went to a meetup of members at a coffee shop in South Lake Union. We spent a very pleasant two hours in conversation with a dozen of the nicest people! They came from as far away as Portland to get acquainted with their fellow Ricochet members. After that, it just sort of snowballed. In January, I participated in my first “AMU”, or Audio Meetup (basically, a big conference-call). People literally called in from all over the world! The hosts are three members, one from Pennsylvania, one from Wisconsin, and one from Japan. Yep, Japan!! So I could place a voice, if not a face, with some of the names I’d seen on the site. And I discovered that there is more total “sense of humor” on Ricochet than anywhere else online or off. Even when we’re discussing how our country is going down the tubes, we can laugh. The member from Japan is especially funny, and I look forward to talking with him on almost a weekly basis now.
In May of 2013, Hillsdale College had scheduled a National Leadership Seminar in Seattle, so I decided to try to get together a Ricochet meet up around that seminar. My husband and I decided to stay at the convention hotel downtown for the seminar, so I reserved a room at the restaurant in the hotel for our get-together. Then I posted a notice on Ricochet, asking for potential attendees to get in touch with me if they were interested. Well, that meeting was a rousing success! We had about 20 people, including one of the contributors to the site, who is a long-haul truck driver, and an awesome writer. One of the Hillsdale professors came, as well as a Ricochet member who is one of the first class at the Hillsdale Graduate School of Statesmanship. You can see video of that here
In July, a member who lives in Whatcom County suggested a picnic, so I helped organize a nice outing at Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds on Puget Sound. That outing, too, was loads of fun, and members brought their families for a beautiful, sunny afternoon.
The best part of the year, though, was in October, when we drove to Las Vegas and back for a Ricochet National Meeting. Members, contributors, and even an Editor came from all across the country to meet and have fun with their fellow members. I actually found members in Idaho and Utah to get together with on the way down, too. On the trip home, we went to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks.
So, now it’s 2014, and we look forward to more audio and physical meetings with our new Ricochet friends. In February, we are going to Phoenix for another Hillsdale National Leadership Seminar, and we already have found one Editor and three fellow members to get together with. Truly, if you join Ricochet, you will never lack for friends to meet, wherever you travel. For any of you who are interested, just drop by Ricochet, and take a look. If you decide to join, you will not be disappointed!