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The Famed Camino Arrow and ‘Mileage’ Marker

May 31st, 2018 · No Comments · Pilgrimage, Spain

When treading the path of the western world’s greatest pilgrimage, the typical walker cannot help but peek — OK, stare — at the sandy-gray “mileage” markers that helpfully guide everyone along.

They serve three functions for those headed to Santiago de Compestela, and the cathedral there.

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Selective Memory on the Camino

May 30th, 2018 · No Comments · Pilgrimage, Spain

Both Leah and I had vivid memories of the events of Day 3 during our 2017 pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. It was a difficult day for both of us, for different reasons, and both of us had to overcome some trepidation. And did.

What was curious about the events of yesterday?

Each of us feared the walk for reasons that never really existed. Our memories were faulty. Our recollection of what went wrong — and what might go wrong — was flawed.

And now we have another leg of the walk to Santiago behind us.

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Make or Break Day on the Camino

May 29th, 2018 · No Comments · Pilgrimage, Spain

I fear today’s walk.

I have from the start. Back before I knew I could make it through the first three days. It fills me with dread.

It is not particularly famous for being difficult.

But this is the day, most likely, that will determine if we get through the final few days of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

It is not a long walk, but 15 or so kilometers is not to be shrugged at by civilians such as ourselves. People whose physical peak was not just years ago, but decades ago.

The rubber will meet the road in the final 6k — when we hit the infamous hills that conclude the walk to Arzua.

We have been there. We have no illusions. We are not green walkers who have no idea of what is ahead. We know it will be hard and long and uncomfortable, verging on painful.

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The United Nations of El Camino

May 28th, 2018 · No Comments · Pilgrimage, Spain

The pilgrimage to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is one of the modern world’s great multinational cultural/religious events.

Nearly two-thirds (64.7 percent) of the 22,067 peregrinos who reached Santiago via the Camino in April of 2018 were foreigners, according to statistics kept by the Pilgrim’s Office.

Spaniards provided a numerical plurality, with 35.3 percent of the total number of pilgrims. These are people who never have to leave their homeland to reach Santiago, which makes things a lot simpler.

Meanwhile, people from all over the world walked the Camino to Santiago in April 2018, with Germany the biggest contributor of foreign pilgrims, 2,509 — but at only 18 percent of the total.

The others in the top eight, in April of 2018?

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Punished by Day 2 on the Road to Santiago

May 27th, 2018 · No Comments · Pilgrimage, Spain

Let’s start with the statistics.

26.8 kilometers¬† — (16.7 miles)

6.5 hours on the road

41,360 steps

That was today on the Camino de Santiago, here in Spain.

Added to Day 1, yesterday, that takes our 2018 numbers to 51.7 km, (32.1 miles), 12.6 hours on foot and 79,140 steps.

Is that the sound of FitBit melting down?

Pilgrimages can be a rough road.

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Seeing Real Madrid Thrill a Tiny Spanish Town

May 26th, 2018 · No Comments · Champions League, Football, soccer, Spain, World Cup

So, four of us pilgrims set off on the Camino de Santiago this morning, marching 22 kilometers in about seven hours and 37,000 steps.

In other news … the little Spanish town where we halted for the day went slightly crazy tonight as Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 3-1 in an eventful Uefa Champions League final.

Spain is soccer-mad, and being in the same room with 50-some intense and nervous fans jammed into the Casa Cruz tapas bar … was a marvelous cultural activity for the visitors with U.S. passports.

Gareth Bale’s stunning bicycle-kick goal in the 64th minute gave Madrid the lead (and the Casa Cruz fans the chills) as the town’s clearly preferred team again reached the pinnacle of global world soccer.

Our friends from St. Louis joined us as we wedged into a corner of the bar, beneath one of two big-screen TVs. Our Missouri friends were right under the TV, and could not see very well, and across the table the other two of us craned our necks so hard for two hours that we may not be able to walk to the next Camino destination tomorrow.

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Walking the Camino … Again!

May 26th, 2018 · No Comments · Barcelona, Pilgrimage, Spain

We are doing the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Again.

Once could have been enough, but we are giving “the Camino” another try, a year and a month since we first did it.

Why? Because it’s there? A little.

But mostly it is about offering some companionship to two of Leah’s dearest college friends. Devout Roman Catholics, they have hankered to walk the Camino for years and years, and here they are, ready to go.

One of them had never been in Europe till they landed in Paris yesterday. The other had not been for 31 years. They are keen to see some sights — and take some walks — and their enthusiasm is infectious.

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’21 Books You Don’t Have to Read’

May 20th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Books

Many of us have strong opinions on X percent of the books we read, perhaps evenly divided between “loved” and “hated”.

Several of those in the latter category will tend to come from English classes in high school or college. Assigned reading for our greater edification. Books considered classics, though we may often wonder why.

Apparently, we are not alone.

GQ, the magazine once known as Gentlemen’s Quarterly, is a mostly harmless, occasionally edifying magazine (a Pulitzer this year!) that originally set out to make better dressers out of men.

(And goodness knows many of us could use some fashion advice — though we almost certainly are not regular readers of the magazine.)

But back to books: GQ editors and writers in the April edition identified 20* books that appear in this or that “canon” of great literature.

The contributors to the story beg to differ, with various well-known books, explaining why we do not need to read them and suggesting a more worthwhile alternative. (This is by no means an original idea; lists of “why do we have to read that?” have been going around for decades.)

Among the books GQ believes can be avoided are A Farewell to Arms, Catcher in the Rye, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Catch-22 and Lord of the Rings.

And what do lists like this do?

Create controversy and stimulate debate. Maybe even sell a few more copies of GQ.

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Don Markham: 1940-2018

May 15th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Football, Sports Journalism, The Sun

Where to begin?

Don Markham.

Rebel, loner, iconoclast. Admired, loved, loathed.

One of the great football minds to stride across the sport’s stage in the history of Inland Empire prep football, as well as one of the most polarizing personalities.

Markham died at age 78 yesterday, and anyone who saw his teams play will remember him.

First, some links.

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The Raptors Shoot Old Yeller

May 13th, 2018 · No Comments · Basketball, NBA

I don’t spend a lot of time watching the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. For the longest time they were reliably awful, then they were good in the regular season before tending to run into LeBron James, who tended to run them over.

Like this season, when James and the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Raptors in the second round of the playoffs. Crushed them, actually.

So, just two days after Dwane Casey got a coach-of-the-year award for leading the Raptors to a team-record 59 regular-season victories and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference … the Raptors fired him on Friday.

And I had to look at that story a little more closely.

Turns out, firing Dwane Casey apparently was very much like shooting Old Yeller in the sappy Disney film of the same name. That is, if we take the general manager and Raptors players at their word.

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