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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Walpurgis Night

Tonight is Walpurgis Night. If you are Finish you would be outside drinking mead. The rest of us should go outside and drink beer to celebrate this ancient festival. The tradition of lighting a bonfire to ward off evil spirits and usher in the new light of May Day is very similar to the Catholic tradition of lighting the Holy Fire on the Easter Vigil. Once again, evidence that we are indeed Unified through our Diversity. Below is more information about Walpurgis Night from Wikepedia

The festival is named after Saint Walpurga, born in Wessex in 710. She was a niece of Saint Boniface and, according to legend, a daughter of the Saxon prince St. Richard. Together with her brothers she travelled to Franconia, Germany, where she became a nun and lived in the convent of Heidenheim, which was founded by her brother Willibald. Walpurga died on 25 February 779. She is therefore listed in the Roman Martyrology under 25 February. Her relics were transferred on 1 May, and that day carries her name in, for example, the Finnish and Swedish calendar.

Historically the Walpurgisnacht is derived from Pagan spring customs. In the Norse tradition, Walpurgisnacht is considered the "Enclosure of the Fallen". It commemorates the time when Odin died to retrieve the knowledge of the runes, and the night is said to be a time of weakness between the living and the dead. Bonfires were built to keep away the dead and chaotic spirits that were said to walk among the living then. This is followed by the return of light and the sun as celebrated during May Day. Due to Walpurga's holy day falling on the same day, her name became associated with the celebrations. Early Christianity had a policy of 'Christianising' pagan festivals so it is no accident that St. Walpurga's day was set to May 1st. Walpurga was honored in the same way that Vikings had celebrated spring and as they spread throughout Europe, the two dates became mixed together and created the Walpurgis Night celebration.

Happy Walpurgis Night...Knights!

Sir Hook the Walpurgis Knight of Warrick

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Haiku Part Duex

This is the cave entrance into the Chapel at the Jesuit Retreat House called the White House in St. Louis, MO. I have been attending a yearly silent retreat there for the past ten years. It's an awesome, spirit filled place. A place where the creature becomes the creator.

The cave is modeled after the cave in which St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, wrote his Spiritual Exercises. These exercises are the basis for every retreat since that time.

Jesuit Spirituality places a great emphasis on putting yourself in the scenes of Jesus' life and reflect in silence on how you experience this, vision movie. It's very creative. It's also a great place to write Haiku. One evening, during a particularly heavy thunder storm, I sought shelter in the cave and watched the flashing lights through the stain glass window light up my night and my mind. Here is the Haiku:

The Cave Shelters Seekers
Softening Hearts
Once As Hard As Its Stone

Sir Hook of Warrick

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ride 'Em Cowboy Knights

As they say, "Happiness is a warm gun...bang...bang...shoot...shoot!

Sir Hook the Cowgirl Poke of Warrick

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Have Small Goals?

Have Small Goals?

Yesterday I spent the day at a pre-1840 Rendezvous. Part of the mission of the Patoka Valley Muzzle Loaders is to continue the tradition of pioneers and “mountain men.” A Rendezvous is a two day primitive camp that includes shooting matches, tomahawk and knife throws and other raucous games.

While on the primitive woods walk shoot (trying to hit small targets in the woods from 40 to 50+ yards away, I was reminded of something I read in a book by a man named Mark Baker: “Aim small, miss small.”

Mr. Baker, one of the leading historians on early American woods crafts, was the technical advisor on the great movie “The Patriot.” When teaching Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger how to shoot a muzzle-loading rifle, Baker gave them the advice to “aim small, miss small”, meaning that if you aim at a man and miss, you miss the man, while if you aim at a button (for instance) and miss, you still hit the man.

The director loved the concept so much that he had Gibson's character say it in the movie.

“Aim small, miss small.” ~ Mel Gibson in “The Patriot”

I know that we're all trained to think of the “Big Picture” or the “Big Goal,” but I think it's perhaps more important to “Aim Small.” You might not hit it, but you won't miss by far either.

Focus, focus, focus on the details, and you and your customers will hit the mark.

The targets are, by the way, the last three shots at a three inch bull at 40 yards (notice that I didn't include the first seven – it took me a few shots to remember Baker's advice).

Sir Bowie “Boone” of Greenbrair

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A good man carries a good pocketknife”
-- my Grandpa Louie

Grandpa usually carried some sort of small, two-blade knife and used it for everything from cleaning out his pipe to cutting apples in the back yard so he could sprinkle them with salt.

I've carried a pocket knife since I was in 8th grade (minus the time a nun confiscated it for the rest of the school year).

Today I carry a Swiss Army Knife – more of a multi-tool than a knife; Still, I think Grandpa would approve.

There isn't a day that does by that I don't use one of the blades, or scissors, or screwdrivers, or...

It's part of me. Occasionally, I misplace her and, well, I panic; turn the house, cars, and office upside down until I find it.

I was thinking about that this morning as I started to journal. Pens and pencils, when combined with imagination, are great “multi-tools.” With them you can craft narratives, novels, humor essays, urban realism, poetry, Sci-Fi, fables, Stream of Consciousness writing, Haiku, and yes, even blogs.

So, I have two suggestions for Knights today.

One, go out and purchase a good pocketknife. Second, use your own built in “multi-tool” and carve out a good story – maybe start with a lesson your grandfather taught you.

Oh, by the way, my Swiss Army Knife has a tiny pen – in case of emergencies.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Haiku for Knights

Speaking as someone whose grasshopper mind has racing colors, I am always looking out for ways to slow it down, to sharpen and to improve it. Meditation, even ten minute meditation and emptying my mind proved as fruitless as bailing out a leaky skiff. How about a Novel? too long, Essay? too much research, no time. TV? I said improve my mind.

Then I recently discovered Haiku, Japanese three - lined poetry, the paring of thought into as few words as possible, making a verbal snapshot that connects the self to nature and the world. The original Japanese form demands just a restrictive 17 syllables, written as 5 in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third, which is fine in Japanese, but the English language structure is different, infinitely more supple and bursts to wriggle free to fully express "The Void of the Whole".

Its tougher than you think, the temptation to over try and be instantly profound, is overwhelming and like most arts causes people to scrap everything as rubbish after a few tries. The Best Haiku should flow straight off the top of your head, and like any skill you need to train up a little. There are many haiku generators online but 99% of them produce literal garbage at random. The only one I found to train on is:
which has a wonderful array of pull down menus set to the right phrasing, and right away you can start producing fairly credible haiku:
Here is my first one off the trainer:

The blue day softens,
Darkening evening soars,
Flies before twilight

I studied the pattern, and the skill of searching for the right verb or adjective, and then gradually added my own words in place of some on the menu.

A cold wind flurries,
Determined pink petal drops,
Floats nearer to me.

Till finally today I perchanced to have Lunch break alone in Oxford, so I took my two tiny "Haiku" Moleskines and a pencil ( with rubber, I'm not yet that fluid ) and sought out one of the city's ancient taverns, The Turl Bar, at the rear of The Mitre stagecoach courtyard, and whose cellars go back to medieval times but whose main building was put up in Tudor times.

There with a Welsh Rarebit ( special toasted cheese sandwich ) and a pint of the best local Real Ale I took my first faltering steps to producing my very own haiku. Finally, after many goes, I produced a haiku fit for the KMSA.

Atlas's of foam
clinging round a
half full glass.

Now, you thought I'd now put a photograph of a half drunk pint of ale for you........
Not so Knights and Ladies, its the haiku that is supposed to give you that image,...

It seems the meaning of life really is staring us in the face.

So I want you all to go and try it. Give yourself fifteen minutes with a cup of tea and a biscuit and enjoy yourselves, relax and gently ease open those doors of perception, and send some of the results to Sir Hook and Sir Bowie,.......... don't be shy, we'd all love to know what you are thinking.

Sir Dayvd of Oxford-Shire

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Welcome Sir Seamus of Marion

Join me in welcoming our newest, but far from the least, member of Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale. Sir Seamus of Marion has been a comrade in arms, and in drink, for many years. It was so obvious that he was a member of our esteemed clan, that I forgot to ask him!

Sir Seamus and I have been Rastafarian Sumo Wrestlers on the beaches of St. Bart's, conquerors of the French in St. Martin, traveling Pirates who made the Travel Channel wearing our Parrots proudly on our shoulders, etc..etc..etc.

Sir Seamus also makes his living in the creative field of marketing and advertising, bowls with Sir Bowie of Greenbriar, and was one of the city's finest Rugby players on and off the field.

Cheers Sir Seamus!
Sir Hook of Warrick

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Do You Have Change for a Beer?

On the night that the Pennsylvania polls shut down we found Barack Obama bringing his message of change to our hometown of Evansville, Indiana. It seems that we are now the big State to win for the Democratic candidates.

Pennsylvania was asked to embrace too much of a change. They have never elected a black or a woman to Federal office, even though it is the seat of our democracy. Fellow Knight, Sir Edward of Philadelphia, the Governor of Pennsylvania, endorsed Hillary Clinton.

What I like about Obama is that he personifies United through Diversity because he went through the University of Diversity in his life. Born of a black father from Kenya and a white American woman, the former a Muslim the later a Christian; raised by a single mother; embraced by his white grandparents and making it through all these barriers to arrive to where he is today says much about the character of this man.

My only regret is that I can't vote for him until Nov
ember because I am a registered Republican who will be unable to vote in the Democratic Primary. McCain is an honorable man who I respect, but that doesn't mean that I have to agree with him just because he is a Republican. I personally wonder who has kidnapped my party, but that is a subject of another blog. There is no doubt that we are not only ready for a change, but must have a change for this great country to survive and thrive.

Now on a lighter note, or perhaps an amber note, today is National Beer Day in Germany. I remember watching one of these bar maids tossing out big lad in a beer hall in Munich. After carrying all these liters of beer they get a bit of muscle mass going on. So remember, when you're finding yourself in a political discussion today make sure that you ask for some change so that you can enjoy on of Germany's fine brews!

Sir Hook the Bavarian Barack of Warrick

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

River Trash

To be honest, I really don't have a cohesive essay here; just have some ramblings.

I took a long walk by the Ohio River yesterday.
Some of the Native Americans called it the "beautiful river." They wouldn't call it that anymore. The Spring floods have subsided some -- leaving a bank full of trash beyond description. I couldn't help think, What the hell are we doing to ourselves?

So, today I open my email and receive an email announcing that today is the anniversary of the first Earth Day (1970).


Earth Day was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a
staunch environmentalist who hoped to provide unity to the grassroots
environmental movement and increase ecological awareness. "The
objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the
environment so large that it would shake the political establishment
out of its lethargy," Senator Nelson said, "and, finally, force this
issue permanently onto the national political agenda." Earth Day
indeed increased environmental awareness in America, and in July of
that year the Environmental Protection Agency was established by
special executive order to regulate and enforce national pollution

Earth Day has been celebrated on different days by different groups
internationally. The United Nations officially celebrates it on the
vernal equinox, which usually occurs about March 21.

- - -

Trash on the banks
Trash on the brain
What we do to our earth
Is truly insane

Trash on the sidewalk
Can't we clean up earth mother?
Yell "Get a frickin' job"
That "trash" is our brother

What we do to each other

Or choose not to do
Politicians tell us "vote for me"
And "I'll come to the rescue!"

"I'll clean up your water"
"I'll get your kids off dope"
"I'll bring peace to the world"
"I am your only hope"

Trash on the banks
Trash on my mind
I have to start with my trash
To save all mankind

- - -

Like I said, just a rant to start the day.
Off the pages of my Moleskin.

Regarding this photo:
"An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do." — Dylan Thomas

Sir Bowie of Greenbrair

- - -

Monday, April 21, 2008

While we’re on the subject of books of wisdom…

I just started a brilliant book of advice: What Time is It? You Mean Now? by “The Zennest Master of Them All” Yogi Berra.

Berra is a Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees. Yogi Berra's second claim to fame is for being one of the most quoted figures in the sports world. He is credited with coining the deceptively simplistic observation, "It ain't over till it's over." But he's also known many other brilliant sayings.

His book is funny, of course. But, it’s also very enlightening in a Yogi sort of way.

Here is a short collection of a very long list of Yogi-isms:

"You can observe a lot just by watching."

"He must have made that before he died." -- Referring to a Steve McQueen movie.

"I'd find the fellow who lost it, and, if he was poor, I'd return it." -- When asked what he would do if he found a million dollars.

"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."

"I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early."

"If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else."

"If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."

"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."

"Baseball is 90% mental -- the other half is physical."

"It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much."

"A nickel isn't worth a dime today."

"Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."

"It gets late early out there." -- Referring to the bad sun conditions in left field at the stadium.

Once, Yogi's wife Carmen asked, "Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?" Yogi replied, "Surprise me."

"Do you mean now?" -- When asked for the time.

"If you come to a fork in the road, take it."

"You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn't enough in the second half you give what's left."

"I made a wrong mistake."

"I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."

"Yeah, but we're making great time!" -- In reply to "Hey Yogi, I think we're lost."

"If the fans don't come out to the ball park, you can't stop them."

"Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel."

"I'd say he's done more than that." -- When asked if first baseman Don Mattingly had exceeded expectations for the current season.

"The other teams could make trouble for us if they win."

"It ain't the heat; it's the humility."

"The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase."

"You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours."

"I didn't really say everything I said."

If some of these sound familiar? "This is like deja vu all over again."

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Wisdom of Crowds

Perhaps we as Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale are wiser than we think! Or, is that we think wiser because we're Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale? That is what James Surowiecki thinks. He belongs to the New Yorker crowd. Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire recommends this book. I haven't read it yet; however, checking out the website, the Q&A section did peak my interest. Here that is for your review and future wisdom. Cheerio, Sir Hook is Getting Wiser of Warrick.

Q & A with James Surowiecki

How did you discover the wisdom of crowds?

The idea really came out of my writing on how markets work. Markets are made up of diverse people with different levels of information and intelligence, and yet when you put all those people together and they start buying and selling, they come up with generally intelligent decisions. Sometimes, though, they come up with remarkably stupid decisions—as they did during the stock-market bubble in the late 1990s. I was interested in what explained the successes and the failures of markets, and as I got further into it I realized that it wasn't just markets that were smart. In fact, crowds of all sorts were often remarkably wise.

Could you define "the crowd?"

A "crowd," in the sense that I use the word in the book, is really any group of people who can act collectively to make decisions and solve problems. So, on the one hand, big organizations—like a company or a government agency—count as crowds. And so do small groups, like a team of scientists working on a problem. But just as interested—maybe even more interested—in groups that aren't really aware themselves as groups, like bettors on a horse race or investors in the stock market. They make up crowds, too, because they're collectively producing a solution to a complicated problem: the bets of people betting on a horse race determine what the odds on the race will be, and the choices of investors determine stock prices.

Under what circumstances is the crowd smarter?

There are four key qualities that make a crowd smart. It needs to be diverse, so that people are bringing different pieces of information to the table. It needs to be decentralized, so that no one at the top is dictating the crowd's answer. It needs a way of summarizing people's opinions into one collective verdict. And the people in the crowd need to be independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own information, and not worrying about what everyone around them thinks.

And what circumstances can lead the crowd to make less-than-stellar decisions?

Essentially, any time most of the people in a group are biased in the same direction, it's probably not going to make good decisions. So when diverse opinions are either frozen out or squelched when they're voiced, groups tend to be dumb. And when people start paying too much attention to what others in the group think, that usually spells disaster, too. For instance, that's how we get stock-market bubbles, which are a classic example of group stupidity: instead of worrying about how much a company is really worth, investors start worrying about how much other people will think the company is worth. The paradox of the wisdom of crowds is that the best group decisions come from lots of independent individual decisions.

What kind of problems are crowds good at solving and what kind are they not good at solving?

Crowds are best when there's a right answer to a problem or a question. (I call these "cognition" problems.) If you have, for instance, a factual question, the best way to get a consistently good answer is to ask a group. They're also surprisingly good, though, at solving other kinds of problems. For instance, in smart crowds, people cooperate and work together even when it's more rational for them to let others do the work. And in smart crowds, people are also able to coordinate their behavior—for instance, buyers and sellers are able to find each other and trade at a reasonable price—without anyone being in charge. Groups aren't good at what you might call problems of skill—for instance, don't ask a group to perform surgery or fly a plane.

Why are we not better off finding an expert to make all the hard decisions?

Experts, no matter how smart, only have limited amounts of information. They also, like all of us, have biases. It's very rare that one person can know more than a large group of people, and almost never does that same person know more about a whole series of questions. The other problem in finding an expert is that it's actually hard to identify true experts. In fact, if a group is smart enough to find a real expert, it's more than smart enough not to need one.

Can you explain how a betting pool can help predict the future?

Well, predicting the future is what bettors try to do every day, when they try to figure out what horse will win a race or what football team will win on Sunday. What horse-racing odds or a point spread represent, then, is the group's collective judgment about the future. And what we know from many studies is that that collective judgment is often remarkably accurate. Now, we have to be careful here. In the case of a horse race, for instance, what the group is good at predicting is the likelihood of each horse winning. The potential benefits of this are pretty obvious. If you're a company, say, that's trying to decide which product you should put out, what you want to know is the likelihood of success of your different options. A betting pool—or a market, or some other way of tapping into the wisdom of crowds—is the best way for you to get that information.

Can you give an example of a current company that is tapping into the "wisdom of crowds?"

There's a division of Eli Lilly called e.Lilly, which has been experimenting with using internal stock markets and hypothetical drug candidates to predict whether new drugs will gain FDA approval. That's an essential thing for drug companies to know, because their whole business depends on them not only picking winners—that is, good, safe drugs—but also killing losers before they've invested too much money in them.

You've explained how tapping into the crowd's collective wisdom can help a corporation, but how can it help other entities, like a government, or perhaps more importantly, an individual?

Well, the same principles that make collective wisdom useful to a company make it just as useful to the government. For instance, in the book I talk about the Columbia disaster, showing how NASA's failure to deal with the shuttle's problems stemmed, in part, from a failure to tap into knowledge and information that the people in the organization actually had. And in a broader sense, I think the book suggests that the more diverse and free the flow of information in a society is, the better the decisions that society will reach. As far as individuals go, I think there are two consequences. First, we can look to collective decisions—as long as the groups are diverse, etc.—to give us good predictions. But the collective decisions will only be smart if each of us tries to be as independent as possible. So instead of just taking the advice of your smart friend, you should try to make your own choice. In doing so, you'll make the group smarter.

When you talk about using the crowd to make a decision, are you talking about consensus?

No, and this is one of the most important points in the book. The wisdom of crowds isn't about consensus. It really emerges from disagreement and even conflict. It's what you might call the average opinion of the group, but it's not an opinion that every one in the group can agree on. So that means you can't find collective wisdom via compromise.

What would Charles MacKay—the author of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds—think of your book?

He would probably think I'm deluded. Mackay thought crowds were doomed to excess and foolishness, and that only individuals could produce intelligent decisions. On the other hand, a good chunk of my book is about how crowds can, as it were, go mad, and what allows them to succumb to delusions. Mackay would like those chapters.

What do you most hope people will learn from reading THE WISDOM OF CROWDS?

I think the most important lesson is not to rely on the wisdom of one or two experts or leaders when making difficult decisions. That doesn't mean that expertise is irrelevant, or that we don't need smart people. It just means that together all of us know more than any one of us does.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hell Freezes Over Just in Time for Knight's to Celebrate

That's right...the Saints Agree! Drinking a Beer as a Knight of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale is not only a Sacred event, but necessary to guarantee that hell remains frozen over. One of the first duties of a Knight is to protect the innocent and not so innocent in his charge. Sir Davyd of Oxfordshire has shared an article that he discovered that all of us wish we had the intelligence to write. So, in honor of contributing to the continuing freezing of hell last night I now share it with you:

The following is supposedly an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term paper. The answer from one student was so profound that the professor shared it with his colleagues, via the Internet, which is why we have the pleasure of enjoying too.

Bonus question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs

Most students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyles Law (gas cools when
it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student,
however, wrote the following:

First we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need
to know the rate of which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which
they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets
to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how
many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that
exist in the world today. Most of the religions state that if you are not a
member of their religion you will go to Hell. Since there are more than
one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one
religion we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death
rates they are, we can project the number of souls in Hell to increase

Now we look at the rate of change in the volume in Hell as Boyles Law
states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the
same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionally as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter
Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all
Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase in souls in
Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

Which is it?

If we except the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year
that "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you" and take into
account that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true. Thus
Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this
theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not
accepting any more souls and is therefore extinct..... leaving only Heaven
therefore proving the existence of a divine being. Which explains why, last
night, Teresa kept shouting, "Oh, my God"


Carry on my wayward sons and daughters,
Sir Hook the Hell Freezer of Warrick

Friday, April 18, 2008

Greetings from China

Dear Knights:

Greetings from (cough) slightly overcast Beijing. I had some Tsingtao last night in honor of all your knightships... last night, the Peking Opera... later today the Great Wall. Wish you were all here!

Sir Joseph Gould of Exeter

Founders Day Comes in With a Roar

Our first Founders Day was greeted at 4am this morning with a 5.2 earthquake. As Jerry Lee Lewis would say, "There's a whole lot of shaken going on!"

It only seems proper, since the world has been shaken by the words, wit and wisdom we share here everyday. It's been quite a ride since April 18, 2007. We have grown in numbers, in wisdom and in friendships since our humble beginning with Sir Bowie and myself sketching this concept out in our Moleskine's during the Cinco De Mayo Mini Beer Tour at Old Chicago in Evansville, IN. Sir Dayvdd of Oxfordshire became an honorary Founding Father and has graced us with his artistic talents and his witty observations. Here are some facts:

1. We have grown from 2 to 78 Knights and Ladies; 72% are Knights, 28% are Ladies (Explains the Jousts!)
2. The majority of us are American; however, we have active members from England, Canada, Scotland, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti and Jamaica.
3. 44% prefer Ale as their favorite beverage and 42% prefer using the Moleskine to journal.
4. Our favorite thing to do is a collective experience of drinking, journaling and spiritual quests (60% of us answered all the above in an early poll.)
5. We have 37 Official Fest Days, meaning that besides weekends and other State recognized holiday's, we are feasting and celebrating over 10% of the year!
6. This is our 213th post since November of last year, when the site was launched.
7. We have granted access to other members to contribute to the posts.

I can say with confidence and all candor, that my life has not been the same since the birth of the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale. It has made me truly embrace thinking, drinking, writing, being merry and open to diversity like I had never been before. I feel a certain freedom, not least in expression, that adds much to my life as I enter the next half of it. Thank you for being part of this crazy dream and for helping to make it a reality. Now, let's see how we can make YEAR 2 even more exciting and better! Be sure to check out the new polls and remember to Think, Drink and Be Merry!

Sir Hook of Warrick

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I have a...

If you work with computers for a living, you've probably experienced that occasional crash resulting in everything from loss of a file to complete, catastrophic destruction. My computer system runs my video editing application and is responsible for my clients' television commercials and audio/video projects -- and my livelihood! So, when my system crashes, it's a life and death EMERGENCY!

Or is it?

I vaguely remember the event surrounding this day in 1970 (The movie Apollo 13 brought it to life for me a few years ago).

(Notes from

With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft
that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely
returns to Earth.

On April 11, the third manned lunar landing mission was launched from

Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L.
Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The mission was headed for a landing on
the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon. However, two days into the
mission, disaster struck 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No.2 blew up in the spacecraft. Mission commander Lovell reported to mission control on Earth: "Houston, we've had a problem here," and it was discovered that the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light,
and water had been disrupted. The landing mission was aborted, and the
astronauts and controllers on Earth scrambled to come up with emergency procedures. The crippled spacecraft continued to the moon, circled it, and began a long, cold journey back to Earth.

The astronauts and mission control were faced with enormous logistical problems in stabilizing the spacecraft and its air supply, as well as providing enough energy to the damaged fuel cells to allow successful reentry into Earth's atmosphere. Navigation was another problem, and Apollo 13's course was repeatedly corrected with dramatic and untested maneuvers. On April 17, tragedy turned to triumph as the Apollo 13 astronauts touched down safely in the Pacific Ocean.

- - -

200,000 miles from earth facing a real life and death situation and Lovell reports,
Houston, we have problem here.” A problem?

Today, you'll find the movie poster from Apollo 13 in my office. It's a reminder that, when faced with a situation like a catastrophic computer crash or other problem, to remember, “...we've got a problem.” It's not life or death, it's just an inconvenience. It's also there to remind me that “problems” have workout solutions. If those three brave men and a team at mission control could overcome all the obstacles they faced, I can get through just about anything you can throw at me.


Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Clogging or Morris Dancing?

Morris dancing in the grounds of Wells Cathedral, Wells, England - Exeter Morris Men

Everyone, including myself who is of English descent, thinks that Clogging, or step dancing, is only an Irish tradition, which was later brought to the Colonies and combined with Folk Music in our history. However, it appears that step dancing also has roots in England. Called Morris dancing, it began during the late middle ages and has enjoyed a rebirth in England due to interest around Oxford in this century. Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire has sent me the following link for those who would like to explore this great tradition in more detail.

I don't know about you, but the men in the picture look like strapping lads to me! Plus, the fact that they are dancing in my ancestral home of Wells makes it slightly more interesting to me. My dad used to do a dance he called the "Barn Yard Shuffle"; however, looking back at his form now I would say that Morris was dancing in his shoes.

Sir Hook the Prancing Dancer of Warrick

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Freudian World of Golf: Part 2

An Esteemed Errant Knight has sent the perfect follow up to my earlier post on the Freudian World of Golf. It seems we have found the strapping lad and the swinging lady. The only question that remains is, can he figure out the break before he putts?

Here's to Golf and All its Pleasures...and Frustrations! Swing Well and Keep Straight!
Sir Hook the Envious of Warrick

The Freudian World of Golf

A Picture is worth a thousand words!
Sir Hook the Strapping Lad of Warrick

Monday, April 14, 2008

There's No Talk Like Pub Talk

I began reading the New York Times on Sunday's because my local paper has become nothing but an ad rag. Not that I'm against advertising, since that is in part how I make my living, but I digress. I discovered this article, by Jonathan Player, about a Pub crawl in Oxford, home of Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire. I found it to be not only interesting, but also supporting to why the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale came into being. Below is the article in full. I have taken the liberty to bold the type I found to be most profound. We'll defer to Sir Dayvd about its accuracy. All I know is that it made me want to visit Oxford, open a real Pub and feel blessed that we made the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale a reality. Enjoy and Cheers! Sir Hook of Warrick

R. JOHNSON declared a tavern seat “the throne of human felicity.” A good pub is a ready-made party, a home away from home, a club anyone can join. Some British pubs began as simple meeting places, some as coaching inns — hostelries where stagecoaches stopped for the night for fodder, bed and stable. Generally these were larger, and had a secondary pub at the back for ostlers, farriers and other riffraff.

In Oxford, which has some pubs — like the Bear, on Blue Boar Lane, and the Mitre, on the High Street — that date back to the 1200’s, many of the names echo the Middle Ages. The White Hart (a stag, Richard II’s heraldic emblem), the Kings Arms (named for James I, during whose reign neighboring Wadham College was founded), The Bear, the Wheatsheaf: all are names that call up a past of knights, farms and forests.

A pub is a great leveler — not a workingman’s club, but an everyman’s club. The best are filled not only with the scent of yeast and hops, but also with banter and wit. Back in 1954, when the Rose and Crown on North Parade Avenue in Oxford was threatened with closure (inadequate toilet facilities), the defense that won the day called it a “home of cultured, witty and flippant conversation.” Whether it’s how to warm plates swiftly or use the hyphen correctly, there’s no talk like pub talk. Some, like the Rose & Crown, are a kind of family. Its landlord, Andrew Hall, knows exactly how much to know of his regulars’ business. But every well-behaved person who is neither a dog nor a politician is welcome too.

The Rose & Crown is an ideal pub. Half a mile north of the city center, it’s only 140 years old, but the three small, wood-paneled rooms and the affable, eloquent host make it a home away from home. It also keeps the best pint of Old Hooky in town. Brewed about 20 miles away at Hook Norton, said to be the country’s last “steam brewery” (i.e., very old-fashioned), it’s a legend in the annals of real ale, a vessel of hazel clarity, redolent of harvest stubble lit by an evening sun, of woods drenched in rain, of dewy meadows at dawn, of cattle in dells, of Thomas Hardy and sandy-gray churches nestled in the nook of sheep-studded hills. If this isn’t the drinkable essence of England, nothing is.

Some say the pub is in crisis. A few years ago, The Guardian reported that for the first time since the Norman Conquest fewer than half the villages of England have a pub. Chains of horrendous corporate-owned “vertical drinking establishments” — giant Identikit bars — threaten the real pubs, and the real pubs are mostly owned by equally horrendous “pubcos,” companies invented to dodge laws against brewing monopolies. Yet somehow real ale, championed by Camra (the Campaign for Real Ale), and real pubs do survive.

A chap at the back bar of the Kings Arms, with long hair, sports jacket (slight rip in shoulder seam) and a pint of Waggle Dance at his elbow, is holding forth about Bulgaria “I’ve always loved the country,” he drawls — then about Falstaff. Some say the death of Falstaff in Shakespeare’s “Henry V” symbolizes the death of merry old England. In come the Protestants, out go the bibulous friars, jolly yeomen and Mother Mary. After that, only in the public house did the Middle Ages continue to find shelter.

The Kings Arms is a linchpin of Oxford life. Situated at a junction in the heart of the city, it has spacious, airy front rooms, and at the rear three or four small rooms, all thick with honey-colored wood and irregular in shape. It was founded in the early 17th century when adjacent Wadham College was being built (the landlord presumably hoping for trade with the masons). It used to be host to bare-knuckle and cudgel fights, almost to the death, in its courtyard.

The Bear, tucked down Blue Boar Lane at the back of Christ Church, has only two tiny wood rooms, which date from 1242. They are covered, wall and ceiling, with picture frames containing short pieces of ties. Ties of clubs, regiments, schools — the Royal Gloucester Hussars, the Imperial Yeomanry, the Punjab Frontier Force, Lloyd’s of London Croquet Club — telling of an older, more powerful, more sedate England. Croquet, beer, cricket, empire and P G. Wodehouse: a snip off your tie, and you’ll get a free pint.

The small Eagle and Child on the broad boulevard of St. Giles’ was for decades distinguished mostly by the coziness of its nooks, and by the fact that — like its counterpart across the road, the Lamb & Flag, where Graham Greene liked to drink — it has long been owned by St. John’s, a college of spectacular wealth. But in the last few years, since the “Lord of the Rings” movies, it has become a celebrity among pubs. It was here that the Inklings (Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and others) would meet of a Tuesday to drink, talk and smoke.

On a summer evening, when green-filtered light from the trees floods in through the front windows and the sheen on its paneling is restful on the eye, it’s both dark as a hovel, yet struck through with daylight. But alas, the nooks were clearly made for smoking, and feel denuded now that a smoking ban began last summer. These oak rooms without smoke? Any writer of the 19th or 20th century — Tolkien, Lewis or whoever — without pipe, cigar or cigarette? Unthinkable. Unwritable.

There’s no mistaking the age of the Turf Tavern. Its string of low-beamed, stone-walled rooms could be straight out of Chaucer. But what really makes it is its three gardens. In one, beside the cottages of Bath Close, you could be in a Cotswold village, with flower boxes and black beams. The other side, you’re deep in the shade of the ancient city wall, erected against the Vikings. You can hardly tell if it’s 2008 or 1408. You hear no cars or TVs, only the babble of voices softened by ale and nighttime. How many centuries have people hungry for learning, for the book, sat here under the walls swigging jars of ale? On a summer night, with the sky stretched over the stones of Oxford, history becomes a living stream of Ruddles and Theakstons, Hook Norton and Feathers.

Here, allegedly, Bill Clinton didn’t inhale. Here, too, Bob Hawke most affirmatively did swallow a yard of ale (two and a half pints) in 11 seconds, securing a place in the Guinness World Records, as well as (later) the Australian premiership.

One could crawl on and on. There’s Old Bookbinders down in the canalside neighborhood of Jericho, a stone’s throw from Castle Mill boatyard (threatened with imminent development), which inspired Phillip Pullman to create the Gyptians boat people in “The Golden Compass.” At Bookbinders, the ales are kept in barrels behind the bar, and you can reach into a tub for free handfuls of ground nuts. There’s the Gardeners of Plantation Road, with its armchairs and two wood rooms, and the best vegetarian food in town. Not to mention the Trout on the river, the Grapes in the center, the White Horse, and the little Half Moon by Magdalen Bridge. Oxford: what a surfeit of good will in its honey-gold stone and nut-brown glasses.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Talking Snake & the Delusions of the Faithful & the Faithless

I didn't intend for this to become another Sunday Sermon; however, last night watching the latest edition of Bill Maher on HBO I could not remain silent....for God's sake! A pompous, yet brilliant, Richard Dawkins was being interviewed by the equally pompous, yet brilliant, Bill Maher about the absurdity of the belief in God. As Bill and Richard kept implying, those who can believe in a talking snake are basically "idiots". Thank God that we have Spiritual leaders like Pope John Paul II, who answered the deep questions that can divide us about Faith and Reason. You see, Faith and Reason are the two pillars that support the human race. Somehow in today's society it is implied that you can't be a Republican without being a numb skull, right wing, self-righteous fundamental Christian; you can't be a Democrat without being a gay loving, Hollywood producing, forgot my Jewish heritage, bleeding liberal moron; you can't be Muslim without being a crazy kill anybody without a turban, AK47 carrying, berka wearing, Koran thumbing fundamentalist; you can't be an intellectual without being an atheist, and you can't have faith in God or in Spirituality with a prestigious college degree.

Yes, I agree, the idea of the Creationist and literal interpretation of the Bible drive me nuts. We have scientific evidence to prove evolution, but who is to say that God's hand is not in such an incredible display of power and life! We have the intellect to interpret the stories of the early Bible as they were meant to be, allegories about how humans related to each other, to themselves and to God. What is happening now is that both sides, the atheist and the fundamentalist, are using literal interpretation to prove the other wrong in an ironic clash of self-aware elitism.

I believe that you can have faith with reason. Or, for that matter you can have faith without reason. You can also have reason without faith; and for those dangerous few, no faith and no reason; however, faith and reason are separate entities which should be used to support each other rather than destroy each other. I choose to be a supporter of faith and reason. I may not agree with all that a Creationist Evangelical degrees, but I do respect their faith. I only ask for the same respect, which seems reasonable to me.

Yes, Adam and Eve were not this super mom and super dad of the human race, and evil incarnate didn't speak through a snake; however, the real story is not so much an ancient attempt of describing the human condition, but how we as humans have always had the desire to reach beyond ourselves towards the Divine. It's written on the walls of pre-historic caves in France, the hands on cliffs in Australia and in the wisdom of the tribal Shaman across the globe. Fight it, love it, hate it; whatever, it is a reality of not only faith, but reason.

Besides, snakes do talk. Just ask the neighbor who loves to gossip, the unjust boss who tells you one thing and then says another, the intellectual who believes his brain and degrees make him superior to the simple man.

We are mighty indeed when given the chance, but we will never by the All-Mighty. The sooner we all embrace this reason, the sooner our faith in the Divine Energy of Life, our fellow humans and the potential for our planet will be realized.

With Faith and Reason,
Sir Hook of Warrick

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Page of History (from a Knight's Tale)

I was going through some ancient history the other day -- ancient history being a file of old poems wrote in the 80s. I was always a little on the melancholic side back then.

Here is one example (and the doodle I made in my journal when I wrote it at the Duck Inn):

I sit swilling beer in a loud, dimly lit bar

That's me at the corner table

I down my fifth fish bowl and stop to take a breath

The liquid lunch flows to my gut and over my belt

My stomach swells and pins me

between the table and the wall

Nobody notices me

And I die without paying my bill

A turtle on my back

-- David A. Kuhn (sometime in the early 80s)

Unfortunately, I've got a drawer full of crap like this.
(Oh, if you're a publisher and you like crap like this, then give me a call and a book deal).

The great comic Henny Youngman ('Take my wife, please” fame) once said, “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”

Though I have certainly giving up reading my old work, I enjoy reading others. Here is a couple of observations from one of my favorite authors, Dave Berry:

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was a fine invention, but the wheel does not go as well with pizza.'

And, one final thought:

Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night”
(That has nothing to do with beer, but I still think it's good advice!)

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Friday, April 11, 2008

Led Striped Pencil

While Sir Bowie was sharing his mathematical formula for drinking beer, I have been taking it to a field test as of late. It works! In the course of my 4 pub visits this week I had the most interesting discussion about the different types of beer made available at our Founding Place, Old Chicago. Specifically, this young lad was sharing how much he liked Red Stripe, the beer of Jamaica. We shared our stories of drunken, Pirates of Caribbean style parties while under the influence of Red Stripe.

(Me & my Kids enjoying a Cold One by Dunn's River Falls)

The discussion came down to two points: 1) Does Red Stripe put hair on your chest?....or...2) Does Red Stripe put led in your pencil?! This is where I won the field of trivia battle. My bar mate has only been to Jamaica once, where as I have been ten times.

've slept in native villages, help build homes in the mountains, and smoked Ganja with Rastas at political meetings, hell, I even met my wife there in an elevator. Not once did the natives echo that Red Stripe put hair on your chest (no offense to Sir Dayvd's Uncle's Pec Grooming Stout), but it was unanimous that it did put Lead in Your Pencil (Not the second grade kind, mind you.). Of course, in Jamaica there are many substances that can, by tradition, put Led in Your Pencil like, Conch, Spliffs, Climbing Dunn's River Falls behind a wet, spectacular booty!

So, it's official! Red Stripe puts Led in Your forget the Viagra and get your ass down to Jamaica, or at least a pub that sells it. Perhaps I'll name my next band the Led Striped Pencils?

Cool Runnins'
Sir Hook the Led One of Warrick

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I was never very good at math, but...

Are you having trouble “figuring” out whether or not you should go out tonight to a pub/bar and enjoy your favorite brew? Let's figure it out scientifically. You do the math:

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to go out to to have a beer (more than once but less than 10)

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1758...
If you haven't, add 1757

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born

You should have a three digit number

If the first digit of this was your original number (i.e., How many times you want to go out for a beer), and the next two numbers are YOUR AGE...

then it all adds up. Go out tonight and enjoy yourself (if you're 21 or older, of course)

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Knight By-Line

While Sir Hook was busy drawing a blank the other day (and while I was busy all day with the image of actually “drawing” a “blank”), Sir Paul of Lyon was being published in his local paper. Well, actually his article appeared in the Sunday edition of the Princeton, Kentucky Times Leader.

Paul drew on his experience as a nature volunteer and hiker to give us a glimpse into the natural beauty of his little section of this great kingdom: Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky. It's always great to see words of our Knights pop out of the Moleskine (or whatever journal you use) and into the public eye.

I hope you all take the time to read it:

And don't forget to visit Paul and Sonja's Sugar Tree Valley; It's a great Knight get-away. Check out their site at:

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Good, Bad and the Cowboy Knights

Once again Sir Dayvid of Oxfordshire reminds us of how small our world really is and that England and America share much in common, especially when it comes to beer drinking scoundrels and those fortunate enought to live life to the fullest.

"Sir Hook. It seems the scion of my relatives from the Carr family... that got washed up on your shores...were not just content to get shot for throwing snowballs at the Redcoats in Boston, but instead got on their horses and rode West and made a bit of that thar gold in them there hills. Records show that one of the Carpetbaggers made it as far as Cripple Creek, Wyoming where he appears in records to be partners with a guy called Kuykendall and became a Stockmen, owning vast tracts of land, ranches and cattle in 1884, even having their own cattle brand that I have found in an old book of Western Cattle Brands in a second hand bookshop. Remarkably it seems that old habits die hard and Carr decided to use the shape of a shield as his brand to mark all his cattle.

Kuykendall and Carr became so rich that they started a transportation firm of stagecoaches, and when the railroad came overland to California they not only purchased track but sold huge amounts of their land for use by the railroads.

My search peters out a little after that, but I do find archival records that the predecessors of Carr and Kuykendall, possibly their fathers or uncles, John Carr and Matthew Kuykendall, joined the US Army in Wyoming and fought at the Battle of San Jacinto just after Alamo in 1836. At this point I find out that John rather let the side down and became a deserter. Hey, he wanted a beer and a bit of peace to drink it in...fair play to you John...

Americas short history is a mighty landscape to search through. Ride em Cowboy!"

Sir "Buck" of Oxfordshire

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hitting the "Save" Key on a Moleskine

I want to take the opportunity to thank the founders of this extraordinarily good blog for giving me the opportunity to contribute. I hope to write my best and offer my best--or as Hemingway put it: "All I have tried to do is write the best I can... some times I get lucky and write better than I can."

At any rate, I was writing on one of my Moleskine cahiers today, going about 120 mph and at one point it seemed like my hand wanted to automatically reach for the Ctrl+S key combination and save what I had written. Of course, this comes from a long history of losing stuff I typed back in the day. I started working with computers when DOS was 1.o, and the best thing you could get on a PC of the day (possibly a x386 if you were lucky) was WordPerfect. Remember WordPerfect? I remember losing a great deal of typing--research papers, love letters to a certain senorita South of the Border, my letter of intent to join the U.S. Marines back in 1985, etc. I lost it all, and I mean all. All you had to do was try to print your document without first hitting F10. If you were lucky, you could do both things, and all was right with the world. Forget to hit F10 before hitting F7 and you could be in for the ride of your life in the "Wordlight Zone." Nowadays, I hit Ctrl+S just about every other even-numbered second or so.

And writing down my thoughts today when in reality I was supposed to be paying attention at a conference proved the ultimate test: listen to what was being said, write the next great American novel, listen to what was being said, write the next great American novel.... and every few seconds or so, hit Ctrl+S on my Moleskine! Cheers mates!
Sir Joseph Gould of Exeter


I'm drawing a blank...

...well, not actually, since I don't know how to draw a blank. Come to think about it, I've never seen an actually blank? Unless, you count all the blank 22 cartridges I fired off when I was a teenager into the woods behind my house. I killed many imaginary enemies with my blanks! Of course, I've never shot a blank when it comes to sex. Lucky me! So, why am I drawing a blank?

Sir Hook of Drawing a Blank of Warrick

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Einstein's Theory of Relativity

So what does this have to do with Einstein's Theory of Relativity? Simple math really, the more gas you burn the less cash you have...or...
E=wf2. Yes, E means we've been f'ckd twice. We have an empty wallet and a not quit full gas tank.

However you look at it, paying for gas has become a pain in the ass. Or in my case, my front right pocket where I keep my credit cards.

Less we whine on forever; I have been reminded by Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire that we Americans have enjoyed low gas prices for decades. In fact, in England they are paying close to $10 per gallon. So Colonist, suck it up, ride your bikes, take a walk, or just stay home and tell you grand kids how you remember when you could buy gas for 35 cents a gallon. Of course, as I remember it, my wallet still remained empty. Oh well, everything is relative.

Sir Hook the Einstein of Warrick

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time Again for Husband of the Year Awards

Courtesy of Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire, the official High Judge of this year's Husband of the Year Awards, we have our 1st Place winner: IRELAND. It's why we love the Irish so, they're True Romantics.

Coming in a close 2nd Place, we have Serbia. Now,
they really know how to take care of their women there!

Last, but certainly not least, our 3rd
Place winner is where democracy was born and men would be men, especially with men, GREECE. This pictures just shouts "Come On Baby Light My Fire!"

Keep up the Good Work Husbands!

Sir Hook the Lover of Warrick

Friday, April 4, 2008

Expensive Taste

Sometimes I'm in the mood for something exotic in a beer -- no matter how much it costs. Heck, I'm willing to pay up to $2 for a bottle.

Anyway, here are a couple that I won't be trying anytime soon (unless one of you good Knights is willing to open your wallet or purse and gift one to me):

From the interesting web site

Vielle Bon Secours:

This tops the list of the world's most expensive beer, costing around £500 (equivalent to around $1,000) per bottle or about £39 (equivalent to around $78) per pint. It can only be found in a bar called the Bierdrome in London.

Samuel Adams' Utopias:

This beer is brewed by the Boston Beer Company, using the brand name of Samuel Adam's Utopias, named after one of the founding fathers of the USA. This comes second in the list of the world's most expensive beer which costs around $100 per bottle (24 oz) or about $67 per pint, sold in copper bottles resembling the copper brewing kettles which are used by brewers for hundreds of years.

Enjoy, and remember, Sir Bowie day is just a few short shopping days away!

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar