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Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Knowledge

In these times of flux and witch hunt, when old institutions are coming under increasing scrutiny and being toppled by modernisation for modernisation's sake, there are many things still in England hanging on, like seasoned limpets, against this swell, that any well rounded Knight will doff his visor to in respect.

In this area of arcane rules that produce a quality result, the Brit's will dig in their heels... and in few other areas will you hear such reverent tones spoken, than about The Knowledge.

If you want to drive and run one of London's black cabs, you have to pass The Knowledge, no ifs, no buts , you have to pass.

Taxicabs are regulated throughout the United Kingdom, but the regulation of taxicabs in London is especially rigorous both with regard to mechanical integrity and driver education.

The taxicab driver is required to be able to decide routes immediately in response to a passenger's request or traffic conditions, rather than stopping to look at a map, rely on satellite navigation or ask a controller by radio. Consequently, the 'Knowledge of London' Examination System, informally known as 'The Knowledge', is the in-depth study of London street routes and places of interest that taxicab-drivers in that city must complete to obtain a licence to operate a black cab. It was initiated in 1865, and has changed little since.

It is the world's most demanding training course for taxicab-drivers, and applicants will usually need at least 12 'Appearances' (attempts at the final test), after preparation averaging 34 months, to pass the examination

The 320 main (standard) routes, or 'runs', through central London of the Knowledge are contained within the 'Blue Book' (officially known as the 'Guide to Learning the Knowledge of London'), produced by the Public Carriage Office which regulates licensed taxis in London. In all some 25,000 streets within a six mile radius of Charing Cross are covered along with the major arterial routes through the rest of London.

A taxicab-driver must learn these, as well as the 'points of interest' along those routes including streets, squares, clubs, hospitals, hotels, theatres, embassies government and public buildings, railway stations, police stations, courts, diplomatic buildings, important places of worship, cemeteries, crematoria, parks and open spaces, sports and leisure centres, places of learning, restaurants and historic buildings.

The Knowledge includes such details as the order of theatres on Shaftsbury Avenue, or the names and order of the side streets and traffic signals passed on a route.

During training would-be cabbies, known as Knowledge boys (or girls), usually follow these routes around London on a motor scooter,

and can be identified by the clipboard fixed to the handlebars and showing details of the streets to be learned that day. Taxi-driver applicants must be 'of good character', meeting strict requirements regarding any criminal record, then first pass a written test which qualifies them to make an 'appearance'.

At appearances, Knowledge boys must, without looking at a map, identify the quickest and most sensible route between any two points in metropolitan London that their examiner chooses. For each route, the applicants must recite the names of the roads used, when they cross junctions, use roundabouts, make turns, and what is 'alongside' them at each point.

So there you have it. Using your brain intensely, in the computer like fashion it is capable of, is still revered and honoured to an almost holy degree in the UK.., so the next time you are sat in the back of a Black Cab, bear this in mind, before you open your mouth to say " shouldn't you have gone that way?"

Sir Dayvd (the London Eye) of Oxfordshire

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It Takes Two to Dance the Cosmic Tango

First, I beg your indulgence as I try to articulate the thoughts that have been charging the electrons and protons in my share why I believe it's essential that "It Takes Two to Dance the Cosmic Tango!"

It's really been part of my spirituality and humanity (it takes two) for a long time; however, it came to clarity while I recently took in the movie "Angels and Demons" where the scientific principles of matter and anti-matter, opposite forces of creation (it takes two), played a major plot in the story. Aside from the age old argument of science and religion (it takes two), which I believe must coexist...not to mention faith and reason (it takes two), which sometimes are the same as science and religion and sometimes becomes obvious that "It Takes Two to Dance the Cosmic Tango!"

The Yin and Yang of life forms the creation of a whole creature. Good and evil cannot exist without the other. Angels and demons cannot exist without each other. God and humanity cannot exist without each other. Heaven and Hell cannot exist without each other...for the one gives meaning, and therefore existence to the other. It is only through embracing both parts that we become the whole creation we are capable of becoming.

Having had the privilege to see the restored paintings of the Sistine Chapel in 2000...the classic center piece is the scene of man and God reaching out to each other. You could easily say its the power of the universe and the living creatures it creates reaching out to each other. Whatever you call cannot ignore that man at his most primitive form found the need to express himself spiritually and to reach towards the Great Spirit. I dare say that we cannot know how much the Great Spirit desired to reach towards and connect with us. The two need each other to exist.

When matter and anti-matter connect they create a reaction that scientist call "annihilation". It forms a great light as they consume each other. The bi-product is X-Rays...a technology that we use to see beyond the surface of things.

When the human and the divine touch they create "annihilation" and a great light goes off. We are able to see beyond the surface of things. This is a great grace and gift.

I believe this what the mystics call ecstasy, when the very source of life impregnates us.

I am called to be fully human and fully divine. That is why I choose Christ as my model. However, the religious and non-religious have distorted what this really means. The ultra religious only stress the divinity of Christ and our unworthiness. The non-religious only stress the humanity we share and not the divinity that we are meant to attain. However, the truth lies in the ability to embrace both potentials to their fullest.

Energy cannot be destroyed. This scientific fact alone means that there is some form of life after our death. Our life force cannot be destroyed. What that really means I cannot know, nor do I really care. Because, while I'm here in human form I am called to embrace humanity at its fullest. It is not a sin to embrace humanity in all its glorious variety.

So, where does this lead us? To the middle. To exist we must coexist. Embrace both forms, whatever they may be, and reach the common middle ground. It is the reaching out, stretching ourselves, that we meet the "annihilation" of creation in the middle.

The danger we face is our need to protect ourselves, our beliefs...even when we profess not to believe in anything. This became apparent to me while watching Bill Maher the other night. I enjoy his show, especially his ribbing of the Bush administration in its later days. I also enjoy his ribbing of the obvious flaws in organized religion. Bill, however, is just as evangelical about his non-religious beliefs as those he accuses of pushing their agenda on him. He condemned the use of coexist bumper stickers as naive bunk and something that is not possible to obtain. Of course this filps in the face of the KMSA.

All of the sudden, Bill believes that an Obama administration gives him a carte blanche platform.
I'm not sure what he's afraid of...but he is afraid. So is Rush Limbaugh...who ironically used Thomas Jefferson to support his right wing agenda the other day. Obviously Rush is not a history buff.

It's time for the radical left and the radical right to stretch towards each other and put away their fear. After all...they could make beautiful dance partners, because it's a scientific and natural fact that opposites attract!

Sir Hook the Cosmic Tango Dancer of Warrick

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beer News of the Strange

From the Now For Something Completely Different Department.

While scanning the www for interesting beer news, I clicked on an interesting site:

There you’ll find topics including Popular, Nightlife, Events, Movies, Oddities and… Daily Drink.

This is one site worth bookmarking. For example, here are just a few recent Daily Drink news features:

By Sean Madden

Kid Rock is having one hell of a year. His Detroit Red Wings are looking to capture their second Stanley Cup in a row. He is attending all the games and entertaining fans in the process. Kid has a new album ready to drop in November, and is hitting the road this summer, on a tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd.If that wasn't enough, Kid is making his own beer in the hopes of helping boost the economy of Michigan.

Kid Rock calls the brew "Bad Ass Beer." The rocker takes great pride in the fact it is brewed in his hometown of Michigan, which is helping to create local jobs. All the barley and hops is bought in the good old U.S. of A.

He went on to say it tastes like a good American beer with no bad aftertaste. Kid promises never to sell out to any overseas company from Belgian like other beer companies. They plan on a marketing campaign that will make fun of the beers like Budweiser, St. Pauli Girl and Corona.

Bad Ass Beer will be available by Labor Day.


If you plan on smuggling illegal liquor you may want to watch the way you drive. This advice could have helped two bootleggers in India.

Two men were smuggling the booze from the town of Ahmedabad when their car was struck by a large truck. Within minutes liquor flowed all over the pavement. When police arrived at the accident scene, they found over 100 bottles of the homemade hooch draining from the vehicle. The two were arrested after they were released from the hospital.

In an unrelated story, eight people and 45 other were injured when consuming tainted home liquor. Officials said the it was made with molasses but was contaminated with toxic methanol.

And finally,

Picture this, you are waiting at the grave site of your dearly departed, it is just a sad day. The flowers are there, family and friends have gathered, the minister is ready to say a final prayer, but your loved one is nowhere in sight. No need to worry, the hearse just stopped off for a quick beer.
A hearse driver in Colombia is in deep trouble. Family and friends waited for several hours on a Sunday afternoon for the hearse to arrive with their dearly departed. Turns out the driver thought it was Miller time.

The family had just left the funeral home after the final viewing. They had just paid their last respects and were expecting to meet the body at the grave site. Relatives became concerned after hours had past and decided to alerted local police. The authorities found the hearse parked at a motel near the suburban town of Bogota. Further searches found the driver inside a nearby bar having a few drinks.

The funeral home is at a loss for words. They say nothing like this has ever happened before, and will conduct a full investigation.

Thanks Sean Madden, keep up the great work.

Sir Bowie “copy and paste” of Greenbriar

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Woodstock of the Mind

River Wye

I do love Oxford, not just for its beauty, and the fact you can go up many a twisty staircase in the Gothic towers, feeling frightened and exhilarated at the same time, but also for its central location to the verdant South of England.

A short ride to the East I get to enjoy the sights, bright lights and garrulous music bars of London, where everything swings like a pendulum do..., and to the West, I typically have the rolling hills of the Welsh Borders, around the Wye valley, where, when my shoulders used to let me, I used to limber up for any climbing expeditions I was set on, by practicing scaling and rappelling the cliff gorges over the river.

These days a visit there, as I did Monday, is a more sedate affair, especially when it involves a literary festival. The tiny town of Hay-on-Wye in southeastern Wales, just inside the border, seems like a curious place to hold a major literary festival.

Yet the Hay Festival, which began in 1988 as an insane glint in the eye of its organizer, Peter Florence, has expanded and expanded to become one of the world's best-known and most exciting literary events — the "Woodstock of the mind," as former President Clinton, a participant several years ago, put it. (Think of it as a literary Sundance festival, minus the Hollywood swag.)

For 10 days at the end of May, the town is given over to writers, and its population of 1,500 swells to a remarkable 80,000, as visitors troop to see the likes of Dave Eggers, Kazuo Ishiguro, Don DeLillo, John Updike, Clive James, Julian Barnes, Ali Smith, Patrick McGrath, Jeannette Winterson, Doris Lessing and Jaqueline Wilson, to name a few who have appeared recently.

Not only can these writers engage in ordinary literary-festival activities — reading from their works, discussing their inspirations and answering the inevitable pen-or-pencil-preference question — but they can also be found wandering around town, ordering coffee in local cafes, getting drunk in the bars and buying books in the used-book stores for which Hay is renowned.

Hay has a remarkable 39 bookstores, working out at about 1 store to every 38 people. In the season there are even "honesty" selections inside the ruins of the castle walls, where you leave 50 pence if you find a book you want.

That Hay has an absurdly high concentration of used-book stores is due in large part to the efforts of Richard Booth, a zealous used-book seller who opened his first shop in 1961 and has actively encouraged others to follow.

There's one devoted to mysteries and thrillers, one to poetry, one to bee-related books, another to books about music, and another to rare children's books. There are huge ones, like the Hay Cinema Bookshop, and modest-size ones, like the delightfully named Sensible Bookshop.

Trawling through one such shop, let alone a half-dozen, requires fortitude and flexibility of thinking, which of course is what a Knight of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale is all about. While I failed to locate the book I wanted : an early edition of "To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf — I did procure "The Art Of Living" by Andre Maurois ( in French, which I now aim to doggedly translate ), a nice early "Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame, and a first edition "Clockwork Orange" by Antony Burgess..

So a splendid way to spend a summer morning, followed by lunch in a town Inn of : a rich tomato-based fish soup, and moving along into a traditional Welsh lamb stew, helped down by a good local brew.

Replete and sated, it was a happy Knight who went down to the vast tented meadows on the outskirts of Hay, to listen in on writers reading from their latest tomes.....

.........and as I lay on the grass in the sunshine, I took from my knapsack, a further book I'd found in the castle grounds, by that arch -funster Arthur Schopenhauer, in which he says " the business of writers is not to chronicle great events, but to make small ones interesting". Quite so Artie.

Sir Dayvd ( who has got a good book in him, but that's only cos he accidentally sat down awkwardly on it ) of Oxfordshire

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

After Midnight

Yeah, after midnight I usually let it all "hang down"....meaning my head dropped down to my belly while I drool all over myself. A good friend of mine once commented that I look like I'd been shot sitting in my chair, still holding a firm grip on my beer!

Lady Allwinky found the above Birthday Card both amusing and appropriate for my 52nd Birthday and refusal to quit being an "Ole Rocker"!

Sir Hook's Traveling Medicine Show found its way back to the Sacred Grounds of downtown St. Louis and Busch Stadium for a Birthday/Memorial Weekend of Baseball, Beer, Italian Food and the Blues!

I'll spare you the usual rant on the Cardinals (who won both games we attended with the score of 5-0), paying homage to my Dad's brick at the main gate by the statue of Stan the Man, etc. OK, I guess I had to sneak it in!

After taking in the second win on my birthday, we headed up to Charlie Gitto's on the Hill for authentic "Mangia Mangia" time and then back downtown to Beale Street on Broadway.

The name says it all! Beale Street on Broadway is a hole in the wall gem of Blues music, set to an outdoor listening venue complete with Tom Sawyer river hut stage, and beer bottle lights hanging from the beams down the bar.

Usually on most weekends you'll catch local Blues legend, David Dee and the Hot Tracks. David, in his golden jump suit, Stevie Ray Vaughn hat, and diamond studded belt buckle that spells his name....warms up for the main act. David, who is pushing 70, can play the blues with one hand tied behind his back!

Being a lefty, like Hendrix, he doesn't use a pick, but caresses the guitar with his long lanky fingers, or slaps it with his hand like a nun whipping the bad boy Gibson Flying V guitar.

I always tell people that playing guitar is like making love to your woman. It has nice curves, a long neck and I get to put my fingers all over it...and if you're really good, it will scream for you! David Dee knows what I'm talking about!

One of his songs talks about how, "I ain't been fishing lately...but my hook is still good." Of course, Sir Hook showed his appreciation for that line!

After David left us dripping in the midnight sun...along came the main act...Magic Slim and the Tear Drops out of Chicago. Magic Slim is 72 years old. Wearing a hat inspired by Bo Didley, playing a Les Paul (unusual for a Blues master), not being too slim, but playing every bit as inspired as his Chicago brother Buddy Guy...Magic Slim and the Tear Drops proved that After Midnight the Ole Man can still play the game!

Well after midnight...we head back to our room at the Hilton Ballpark on Broadway and take the elevator to the 19th floor. I always love this elevator, because it has two mirrors on the side, so you get the infinity thing going on.

How many Hooks can you handle?!

Our room was 1926. We found that interesting, in that both our father's were born in 1926, they both pitched for the Navy and both were signed by the majors...mine with the Cardinals and Lady Allwinky's with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Play Ball!!!

This is the view of the stadium from our window. The grounds crew were still working on the field getting ready for the Sunday afternoon game.

After a late breakfast and Mass at St. Louis the King Basilica, we took the short stroll to the Arch, the Gateway to the West. This is at least my 100th time to stand here, but it is still inspiring to my spirit.

I remember going to the ballgames with my dad in the early 60's and watching this slowly being erected in the sky. I leave St. Louis satisfied and ready to drool on myself the next day.

Sir Hook That's Still Good and Ready to Go Fishing of Warrick

Monday, May 25, 2009

Last and First

Journal Notes
Saturday morning: The last time I write Amy Elizabeth Kuhn (our older daughter).
5 p.m. Saturday afternoon: The first time I write Amy Elizabeth Riley.

Yes, Lady Suzanne and I "married off" our older daughter Saturday.

There were a lot of activities and a lot of words spoken, but I'm sure that most of those things will be forgotten. What will be remembered is how Amy made us all feel: Relaxed, Happy, Jubilation...

Basically, she turned the event into a bubbly and joyous occasion for everyone. In fact, I'm not sure that I've heard so much laughter at a wedding. Below is Amy eating her favorite food: Cake and Mac 'n' Cheese (the caterer said that Mac 'n' cheese was a first; however, after seeing Amy and friends enjoy the less-pretentious food that Amy picked out, they would suggest it again).

Lady Suzanne and I will share a little more as the week goes on, but for now I just wanted to introduce you to Lady Amy and Sir Mark Riley.

Thank you Amy for all the Joy and Laughter and Happiness that you have give all that you meet.

Sir Bowie "Daddy" of Greenbriar

Sunday, May 24, 2009

KMSA Thought for the Day

Increasingly as Blogs get condensed to haiku like twitters, I forward the motion that on top of the Knight Time feature I started a while back to encourage cross pollination of all things cultural between the members of the KMSA.. a new, KMSA Thought for the Day for Knights and Ladies to sprinkle us with the twitters that are on their mind.

To throw the first pitch ; When animals have surgery they put those cones around their heads so they can't lick their wounds so they can heal? I think someone should invent that for human emotions.

Sir Dayvd ( who is on the road, enjoying England being summer Green, Blue and Gold, instead of winter Brown and Grey ) of Oxfordshire..

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sir Hook's Traveling Medicine Show: The Ever Shrinking World

Feeling of late more like a Bedouin Nomad than a Hoosier Homebody...Sir Hook's Traveling Medicine Show recently invaded the Columbus, Ohio area for a week of pillage, plunder and fun!

This ever shrinking world brings us so many opportunities to expand our minds, our bodies, our souls, and our musical tastes. That became evident a week ago today when I visited Skully's Music Diner on High Street. First, it was not recommended to me by a local, or a google search, but by Sir Dayvd all the way from Oxford, England! He knows some bands that have played the venue and recommended I check it out. So, being the good mate I am...I did! I wasn't disappointed.

Walking into the lounge area, you're greeted by a leopard skin bar...shimmering red in the glow of dim lighting like a bordello in New Orleans...not that I would know anything about that! LOL!

I was a few days shy of seeing the band Asobi Seksu, which Sir D said to catch; however, after looking up who was playing I was pleasantly surprised by hearing the music online of the headliner of the evening...Jared Mahone. But first, I had the pleasure of wading through the musical waves of the following band...

The Floorwalkers...a Columbus favorite...who plays Ruby Tuesday's (Not the restaurant) every Wednesday night, opened up for Jared. Their name is appropriate, because I was FLOORED! This band is just a good manager, producer and some backing cash away from real stardom! They play original music that is an Alchemist Blend of funk, rock, pop and good old fashioned woop ass!

I bought their CD for $5, which was a huge disappointment...because like so many bands once they get to the studio (I know because I speak from experience about the following), they either over think the experience, follow blindly bad producing, or in this case, just forgot to translate who the hell they are when they are on stage. Like I said, just a good manager and producer away! I pray they decide to follow their gut!

Contrast that with the headliner, Jared Mahone, also from Columbus, and you have someone who looks like a school boy, but turns into a musical dynamo with his band of characters who ROCK! Jared's music I would compare with Gavin Degraw with a harder edge and more cleaver arrangements...blending funk, soul and a groovy rock n roll! A truly awesome artist...I believe he's ready to make a move. His music, available on iTunes, sounds great on CD and even better live!

One of the more interesting sounds of Jared's music is the use of good old fashioned analog synthesiser as filler and sometimes as lead. The Wizard of the Knobs is named Jeffro...and he is not only an accomplished electronic conductor...but a one man show in himself!

Columbus is a very interesting Mid West City. Best know for Buckeye Football, the creativity and vibe is more in line with Chicago, it's bigger Mid West sister. There's a musical, art and performance Renaissance going on in the middle of the country here. It even translates to its advertising...captured above with an actual Mini Cooper attached to a billboard road, attached to one of the parking garages at Easton Towne Center. I took this for Sir D, who's signs hang all over England.

The Apple Store is located at Easton, where I bone up monthly on what's new in the Mac world and drop way too much of my hard earned booty! This is their new "App for Everything" display in their main window. Of course, Sir Hook is cleverly placed inside the iPhone!

Another blossoming area of Columbus is just outside of Westerville in an area called Polaris. I have begun to stay more in this area of late, because it is more centrally located to my various clients. Located there is the Cincinnati based "The Pub". Their newest flag is as close to England as you can get in the Mid West. Sir D still likes to laugh at its vain attempt of is better than a McDonald's on Charring Cross! Besides...they have Old Speckled Hen on draft!

Proving that the world is indeed shrinking...I introduce our newest Lady of the Knights...Lady Sam I Am. Lady Sam is full of live and will be graduating in theater very soon. She is also a cousin to someone I know well here in Evansville! We didn't know that until later in the conversation. For her young age, Lady Sam knows a lot about music and we enjoyed talking beer, music, art, literature, movies and plays...which makes her more than qualified to be part of our Merry Band!

Just up the road in Delaware, where another client is based, is one of several local Pubs called "Old Bag of Nails". This is my favorite, due to its outside bar area, which faces the Main St. of the town. It was a beautiful 74 degree afternoon, post meeting, beer inviting day!

Finally, as our State song says, "Back Home Again in Indiana". Sir Hook's Traveling Medicine Show is only making a 2-Day Home Stand before refueling physically and mentally for a wild birthday weekend in St. Louis!

Sir D designed this special rendition of the Wells Coat of Arms, with the Albert Pujols looking Cardinal at the top. He designed it to honor my father, who pitched for the Cardinals, and my family tradition of a monthly road trip to catch the games in the Cardinal Club at Bush Stadium.

Tonight they take on the Royals across the Missouri State in inner league play. Tomorrow, Italian food on the Hill and Blues downtown!

Next...Nashville...2 Trips to Columbus, Chicago and England the whole month of July!

Life keeps getting better...May you enjoy yours as much!

Sir Hook Who is Still 51 for 24 Hours of Warrick

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Signs for the Times

A popular phrase that has been thrown around Evangelical pulpits since I can remember understanding the English language (going on to 52 years on Saturday...trying to catch up Sir Dayvd!)...has been, "The signs of the times." In Evangespeak, that means the end of the world, the second coming of Christ, Armageddon, etc.

Today in my current organized religious calendar, i.e..
.the Catholic is the Feast of the Ascension. It celebrates when Christ was taken up to heaven after completing his mission here on earth. I take this day as a reminder to Ascend past my narrow views and self-inflected mind barriers, and to open my mind and soul to all the wonders of this world. In short to make every day as much as heaven on earth as possible.

Yesterday's blog challenged us to see past what religion pre
sents and to "Ascend" upward towards a true Spirituality. I found this appropriate as I drove the 5+ hour drive home from Central Ohio back to Indiana yesterday. Here are some observations of that trip. Fruits of a sunny day surrounded by silence as I pushed my body at speeds that would have had me burned at the stake just a few centuries ago. But the real catalyst was the following bumper stickers...I call the "Signs for the Times":

I couldn't find the actual sticker that I followed for awhile as I contemplated the person who put this on his car thinking himself smug and cleaver. That one read,
"Annoy a Liberal. Work hard to acquire wealth."

First, thinking for yourself is one of the first tenets of the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale...who I would hardly call conservative in nature. Like those who have more liberal views of life and politics can not think for themselves?! PLEASE! Like we don't work hard...we don't own guns (tell that to Sir Bowie with a loaded black powder musket!)...we don't support our troops...(I have a Proud Parent of An Army Soldier sticker on my car). These are all bumper stickers available under the Annoy a Liberal banner: Annoy a Liberal. Buy a gun. Annoy a Liberal. Work hard. Annoy a Liberal. Support Our Troops.

I thought about, "Annoy a Conservative. Agree with him!" (A subject for another blog.) "Annoy a Conservative. Buy him out!" "Annoy a Conservative. Fire him so he has to draw unemployment." Or better yet..."Annoy a Conservative. Lay him off so he can't draw unemployment." But alas, my nature of Unity through Diversity allowed me to finally pass this car, person and image with a smile and chuckle.

After reading Sir Davyd's Blog on the road, I came across this bumper sticker. I find it cleaver, and perhaps...without claiming to know the mind of God lik
e so many others...probably close to what religion should be.

Religious nuts give organized religions a bad name. Picture yourself as God...a religious nut is like the family member we all have that you have to tolerate
on Christmas. Religious nuts occupy Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Republican Party....and the list goes on. However, religious nuts do not give one the right to say that all religious and spiritual people are hypocrites. That religion and spirituality do not have a place in today's society. That is a cop out. All great religions and spiritual disciplines teach how to "Ascend" past our limitations and tap into the limitless power of God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it. I still stand by my comment yesterday that true authority is given to those who serve others. It's what my Grandfather would say, "It's better to live what you should preach, instead of preaching what you should be living." That is authentic authority through spirituality...which bears fruit for the whole world.

So today, crack the nuts and enjoy the fruit of your spirituality...however you wish to express it...and Ascend toward a better you!

Again...Happy Birthday to Sir Davyd today and to this humble errant knight on Saturday!

Sir Hook the Sage with Age of Warrick

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Knights and Ladies of the KMSA are often encourage to think spiritually... ...and i got to thinking, in a break between the grind of the rat race this afternoon...... on this the last day of my 53rd year..

How do get to have a gig like the Dalai lama??.. or the Pope?...or even Jesus.? . I mean you get to slack around your well appointed house all loose fitting robes.. You get well looked after by everyone...sponge off your disciples... you don't have to lift heavy things or meet mortgage payments, fill in tax forms, scratch around the economy food aisle in the Hypermart...

You get Free travel, Free Hotels. Free Medical, Free dental..... and all for being what ??? Beatific?? Holy ...say a few prayers over people... I could do that..!! Come on you knights founding fathers I could come over to your houses and be as Beatific as you like ... I could do it for years..... As I said to Hooky the other day...I have as much authority as the Pope but not as many people who believe it.

No... something tells me , that if I sold all my belongings and started wearing robes and grew a long beard and hair ( with a bald spot which I'd cover up with a tall hat ) and started hanging out at my friends houses saying I was a messenger from God... I wouldn't find a very Holy attitude in return.

That said..I probably wouldn't be able to hang out at the bar and have a few there are some perks to being a Pleb. Still it would be fun to try a dog-collar out and see if I make any money..

Sir Dayvd ( who is as Spiritual as you can be...But with big Bills to pay and is really being ironic ) of Oxfordshire

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Squire Kuhn Meets Mr. Lincoln

Sir James of Taylor and I went back two hundred years and spent the weekend in the Lincoln Pioneer Village in Rockport, Indiana.

(above photo by Melissa Miller)

We camped through extreme heat, a thunderstorm in the middle of the night, and finally turning to a cold front the next evening. Lady Suzanne and Lady Allwinky stopped by on Saturday and enjoyed a bowl of peach cobbler I baked in my
dutch oven (see below):

We attended the rendezvous as part of the bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. While there, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mr. Lincoln and I asked him to tell me about his time here in Indiana:

“We reached our new home about the time the State came into the Union (Indiana in 1816),” Abraham Lincoln reminisced. “My father removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer county, Indiana, in my eighth year. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, so called; but no qualification ever required of a teacher, beyond "readin, writin, and cipherin, to the Rule of Three. If a straggler supposed to understand latin, happened to sojourn in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three; but that was all. I have not been to school since. The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity. I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty two.”

Your father was removed?”

“This removal was partly on account of slavery; but chiefly on account of the difficulty in land titles in Ky. He settled in an unbroken forest; and the clearing away of surplus wood was the great task a head. I was very young, but large for my age, and had an axe put into my hands at once; and from that till within my twenty third year, I was almost constantly handling that most useful instrument--less, of course, in plowing and harvesting seasons. I took an early start as a hunter, which I was never much improved afterwards. A few days before the completion of my eighth year, in the absence of my father, a flock of wild turkeys approached the new log-cabin, and standing inside, shot through a crack, and killed one of them. I have never since pulled a trigger on any larger game.”

He discussed how, in 1860, he became the 16th President of the United States and successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserving the Union and ending slavery.

I asked him if he would please share some of his success strategies that I could share on this blog.

“Blog, what’s a blog?” Lincoln questioned. “What is this strange language of which you speak?”

Never mind, I said. Just share some helpful tips:

1. You can be humble and ambitious.

There is the part of the Lincoln legacy everyone knows—born in a log cabin, self-educated, and honest to his lanky bones. But, by the time “the rail splitter” was elected president, he was a wealthy, successful lawyer who had represented some of the nation’s largest interests, such as the railroads.

Bruce Levine, the James G. Randall Professor of History at Illinois, believes it was Lincoln’s skill in reading the public that people too often attributed to divine inspiration. In so doing, they missed the first lesson Lincoln holds for us: saints can be shrewd.

“Lincoln was a man of deep convictions,” says Levine, “but beneath these convictions was a shrewdness that enabled him to read a situation and make tactical decisions.”

2. To manage people well, it helps to genuinely like them.

During the early days of the Civil War, when the Union’s efforts met with continual defeat or stalemate, Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward paid an evening visit to the home of the Union’s contentious commander-in-chief, General George McClellan, to discuss war strategy. The general wasn’t at home, but Lincoln and Seward waited for more than an hour. When McClellan finally returned, he snubbed his visitors and proceeded straight to bed. Instead of chastising McClellan for his disrespectful behavior, Lincoln quietly left.

The story is often told to demonstrate Lincoln’s ability to place historical necessity above personal feelings, says David Herbert Donald, a Harvard historian and U of I graduate who wrote the bestselling biography, Lincoln.

“Lincoln reasoned that the war effort was more important than this slight to his dignity,” says Donald. “When McClellan later failed in battle, Lincoln was less forgiving.”

But Lincoln’s restraint in dealing with McClellan also highlights another lesson in greatness: ego must be kept in check to win friends and manage opponents. “There was a self-confidence underlying Lincoln’s modesty that enabled him to surround himself with strong, often discordant personalities,” says Donald.

3. Have a sense of humor.

One of his most powerful weapons for swaying others to his cause was his sense of humor. Donald says Lincoln used humor masterfully to disarm opponents and win supporters. A senator might march into Lincoln’s office to confront him about a bill only to leave befuddled and unsuccessful, after Lincoln sidelined him with a long, seemingly pointless anecdote from his days back in Illinois.

4. Don’t hold grudges.

“Lincoln never held grudges,” says Donald. “He easily separated political disagreements from personal ones.”

5. Never stop learning.

A case in point, says Levine, is that Lincoln came to the presidency with almost no military experience, yet sat down with the ranking generals of the army, read a load of books on military tactics, and, in short order, was a perceptive and able military commander.
But the most notable example was his change in position on racial equality. Although always opposed to slavery as a matter of human rights, it was through his friendship with the black abolitionist Frederick Douglas that, according to historialns, Lincoln came to insist upon a new understanding of liberty: “equality of opportunity in the race of life.”

When criticized for his shifts in ground, his response captured his commitment to growth: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. The case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”

6. Build a strong team.

When he had to build a team, he built one in spite of initial personal animosity rather than because of close relationship. From this group of competing and, in some cases, openly antagonistic people, he built a team that helped him to ultimately hold the Union together.

Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals details this process really well.

7. Tell Stores to get your message across.

Lincoln was a tremendous story teller. Many historians point to his ability to tell appropriate stories as part of the "magic" that drew people to him once they got to know him.

8. Persuade more than you coerce.

Lincoln seldom used the power of his office to force compliance with his wishes. He told stories.

9. Learn to speak in public.

Lincoln was a noted public speaker. Much of his influence is attributed to his ability to deliver a message publicly.

10. Master and become comfortable with paradox.

Lincoln was able to handle the tension of living in the paradox (a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth)

For example:
* He built his cabinet from political rivals.
* He looked past personal slights and insult to build strong alliances (Edwin Stanton).
* He was consistent in his principles and flexible in his pursuit of fulfilling them.
* He understood both compassion and accountability.
* He took risks, he created new approaches, and he demonstrated patience in his timing.

11. Give the public what they want: The facts and beer!

Mr. Lincoln encouraged all Knights to keep up the good work. When I mentioned the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit, and Ale and our efforts to help save the world, Mr. Lincoln replied:

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

Thank you Mr. Lincoln.

“You're welcome my son. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've a play to attend.”

Sir "Squire Kuhn" Bowie of Greenbriar