Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Game of Thrones Spoilers

It is no secret that I consider "Game of Thrones" to be the most entertaining television ever created. Sunday night's season 6 finale was amazing, and the fact that I must wait ten months for the season 7 premier is akin to waterboarding.

My nephew Kevin and I have tended to have a GOT chat during the week this season. I've enjoyed the conversations, and during today's he told me that he believed that there was about a season and a half's worth of material left. This got me thinking....about how things will wrap up when we sadly bid the show farewell.  And so I decided to make a few predictions (you should consider them spoilers) about some of the show's major plot lines. Please excuse the spelling errors.

Jon Snow--Jon Snow is alive at the show's end, and he is the King of the Seven Kingdoms with Dany his queen. It will be shown that his father had indeed secretly married Lyanna Stark, and so HE (and not Dany) is the true heir to the throne.

Dany--After taking King's Landing, she will eventually move north with her armies. She will fight alongside Jon Snow. They will fall in love. He will get the same deal that the Iron Island Queen got from Dany (essentially self rule) at Winterfell. This seems fine--until word arrives of Jon's claim to the throne. They decide to rule together, like the Targareyans of old.

Circe--dies a horrible death by dragon at the battle of King's Landing.

Jamie Lanister--is redeemed completely. He (eventually) rallies the Lannister armies to join with Dany and Jon Snow to defeat the White Walkers. In fact, he saves Jon Snow's life during the battle. But he is killed in battle, dying honorably, pardoned by Dany and Jon.

Sansa Stark--Is left at the end alone (likely not for long), but the Lady of Winterfell. She will commit a murder before the show ends.

Littlefinger--Dies at the hands of Sansa Stark

Tyrion--leaves Dany's service to take his seat as Lord of Casterly Rock

Varys--takes over from Tyrion as Jon and Dany's Hand.

Arya--Meets back up with Gendry, bastard of Robert Barratheon. They will marry

Jorah Mormont---arrives at a key battle just in the nick of time to save Dany from nearly certain death. Jon Snow--who has by this time fallen in love with Dany--gives Mormont his sword of Valarian Steel, which belonged to Mormont's father and rightfully is Jorah's.  Jorah is then killed in battle.

Bran: renounces his claim to Winterfell to assume full time Three Eyed Raven status, after he has told Jon that he is the son of the Crown Prince of the seven kingdoms and Lyanna Stark.

Sam Tarley--Sam is the key to all of this--which HAS to be the case since his story line is such a bore. While at the Citadel, he discovers a document that appears to be the wedding certificate of Rhaegar Targaryen & Lyanna Stark. If true, this proves that Snow is NOT a bastard, but the true her of Rhaegar and therefore, the true king of Westeros.

There you have it.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Up Early

There is a bit of a snore coming from the bed as I write this. Not a snore, really; more of a wheeze. The Kitten is sound asleep, as is normal for a Sunday morning at 0525, but I am not. I awoke 90 minutes ago, wide awake, and decided to enjoy the beauty and calm of the sunrise.

We are in the midst of an epic stretch of weather here on the Eastern Shore. Low 80's, low humidity, lots of sunshine. The house is wide open, and I'm enjoying the sounds of the morning with a small tankard of coffee, made without sufficiently waking up Zuzu (black lab, 3, rambunctious) to the point where she demanded her morning meal. Kitten #2 (Hannah, 15) must wake in 30 minutes, as she has yet another horse show to attend (Champion yesterday in two classes, natch) and I must get her to the barn. The Kitten (Catherine, age undetermined) will take Kitten #1 (Hope, 17) across the bridge a little later on to begin a week at camp with a good friend whose folks have a vacation house on our little peninsula.

Preparations are beginning for a long stretch of solitude here on the Farm, as my women will all abandon me on or about 11 July. Kitten #2 is heading to Cambodia/Thailand on a school trip, and the Kitten and Kitten #1 are headed to South America. I will be solo here for about a month, and while I will miss my girls, I am looking forward to the time of quiet contemplation, early bedtimes, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings marathons, cigars, steaks, crabs, the driving range, and general puttering about. The Kitten began my socialization for the time apart last night by walking me around the bits of greenery that will require my watering attention while she nation hops. I once was cast into the floral doghouse for failing to water a group of pointsettias while The Kitten traveled, and I do not wish this to happen again. That it was a Spring Break trip, and the plants were from the previous Christmas did not seem to matter, nor were my protestations of "I thought we buy these plants with the knowledge that they will die" much appreciated.

Watering the plants will be an after dinner pursuit, and I will need to stock up on cigars (Macanudo Portofino) "to keep away the bugs". If anyone has suggestions for how to handle a cup of coffee, a cigar, and a hose---all at the same time, please pass them along.

You may be asking "why are they traveling without you?" Several reasons apply. First, if you've ever traveled with me, you might have some insight into why they are eschewing the pleasure now. Secondly, The Kitten has a habit of putting off the planning of her trips to a point with which I am uncomfortable, and I invariably have already scheduled a number of important events. Thirdly, and most importantly, I've managed to once again box myself in work-wise with a monstrously busy summer. For some reason, my business (Consultant, Defense) gets busy in the summer, and it has since I've been doing it. I do have two, week-long "staycations" planned (one of which will occur whilst the Kittens travel), but the problem with them is that I generally just work at 3/4 speed rather than putting it aside.

My morning bliss has been interrupted by a group of noisy birds just outside the bedroom window. I suppose they are blackbirds or crows, but I really don't know as all I can do is hear them. They are making quite a ruckus, and I'm surprised they haven't awakened The Kitten. It's the kind of cacophony one hears when a group of birds in a tree are approached by one of my cats, but both cats are inside the house, so the source of their disquiet is known only to them.

The sun is up and from the sound of a shockingly loud alarm from the upper reaches of the house, so should Kitten #2 be. I am surrounded by women for whom an alarm is considered a suggestion, rather than an order, and so it sometimes falls to me to ensure they are up and about. Though this one (#2) is the best of the lot in getting up, especially when there is the prospect of a horse show on a beautiful day ahead of her.

Friday, June 24, 2016

On the UK/EU Divorce

It is a sad thing indeed, when a man as addicted to American politics as I am is forced to watch ITV Britain's coverage of the Brexit question last night. It seems I've become so bored with our own situation that I turned to our Mother Country for some political thrills. And boy, did we get them.

Simply put, I do not know enough about the issue of whether the UK should have remained in the EU or not to have a coherent opinion. And while this seems to be no impediment for what passes for insight and analysis on the interwebs, I don't feel like I ought to make bold pronouncements based on scanty information. I'm funny like that.

The little I do know does not add to my clarity on the issue, nor will it lead to yours. Clearly, an element of the British population had come to see EU membership as onerous. Some of them believed this as a result of the UK's having to abide by immigration rules not under control of their own Parliament. Some of them believed this as a result of the UK's having to abide by an increasing number of economic and environmental regulations, as well as judicial decrees, not under their own sovereignty. Some saw the EU as a mechanism for the transfer of wealth from rich, Northern European countries to poor, profligate Southern European countries. Some of them I think, simply saw it as a matter of national pride, pride that was being swallowed up by a new "European" identity. There is merit in all of these views, and they are not inclusive.

The case to stay in the EU fell generally to those in what some here in the US (not me) would call "The Establishment". They pointed to economic benefits of European integration, and the greater opportunity for folks striking out on their own to work in fields of their choosing in other countries, freed from individual national employment regulation. They pointed to the political power on the world stage that 350 million Europeans could wield rather than divided polities. They pointed to the case of a divided Europe being just what Vlad Putin wants. There is merit in all of these views, too, and they are not inclusive.

There was a good bit of fear-mongering in the run up to the vote, with the "Remain" side generally predicting all manner of doom should the UK leave. I am not qualified to say whether the doom is warranted--to include economic privation, loss of influence, and isolation. I can imagine how these would come about and that they are possible. I can also imagine that they aren't inevitable.

And while I am unqualified to opine on the wisdom of their vote, I find myself generally well-qualified to offer a few policy suggestions about how we--the US--should proceed.

1. Don't be churlish about this. This is an adult nation making an adult decision. No collusion with Germany and France to teach those Limeys a lesson. Chive on.
2. Remember the special relationship. It is special.
3. Make a grand gesture of friendship and support. What do I suggest?  Well, I'd start with forward stationing three destroyers in the UK. With the decline of the Royal Navy, there's a ton of open pier space, and we eventually have to start re-arming in the North Atlantic anyway.
4. Look into some kind of UK/US/Canada free trade agreement. I realize this goes upstream of the isolationist, protectionist winds that are blowing in the US these days, but there is goodness in a union of English-speaking peoples.

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