Monday, January 22, 2018

105


 TRAVAILS IN EUROPE  1998


Typical Lunch 


Traveling in Europe is a very rewarding experience most of the time. However, once in a while there is a major glitch in the system and you are caught right in the muddle.  I have detailed a few un-planned experiences that you might be aware of next time you visit Europe.
   The following plan was to get to our hotel in Paris from the Orly Airport.  (Before DeGaulle opened).
Arrived at Paris Orly Sud from SFO late in day so walked over to Orly Hilton and got a room for the nite. Drank up all the stuff in the minibar plus a bottle of good French champagne for you know who. In the morning caught the Air France bus to Invalides, where we started dragging our bags around for blocks (big blocks) as we were looking for Tourist Office at 127 Champs Elysees. I figured with that address it would be in the first block. Wrong! We learned later that the numbering system is separated into Residential and Commercdial, Each a 2” square porcelain number, Blue for Residential (Or the other way around) and white for Commercal.
   We ended up struggling uphill  the entire Champs  (Joy bitching all the while in the heat)  as the numbers are the number of buildings, not shops. Once there , however, ,at nearly the last building next to Napleon’s Arch de Triumph,  it was just a matter of time before they found us a two star hotel in Montemarrte district. Armed with directions we found the outstanding Paris Metro (Underground) and zipped off in the wrong direction. After a couple of transfers we got back on track and to the hotel, a small eighteenth century three story place called L'Ermitage, run by a nice couple who nearly spoke English. This near Sacre Cour cathedral on Rue Lamarck.
   The Paris Metro is a very clean, efficient system, venders and musicians set up in the interconnecting tunnels and amplify all over the place, classical to rock to reggae. Remember that at that time, we didn’t have a cell phone and there were no ATM’s to pick up cash whenever you needed it.  Lots of rain in Paris. We got soaked the next day running around to American Express and Galleries Lafayette so Joy can buy a sweater as it is freezing ass. The store has a marvelous stained glass dome, maybe 100 feet in diameter and the space is five stories high. Also found a travel agent and bought Cooks Train Schedules which was indispensable throughout our trip. (Brentanos Bookstore showed us books on cooking!).
   After many false tries we found Bank of Lyons to cash our Travelers Chcks, this being before ATMs or anything. This place, previously the Bibliotheca National,  also has a great three story central space with curlicue cast iron pinned connections trussed framing and another glass dome .


LOST CAUSE                                                         
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE JUST FOUND MY RANT, I THINK THE FOLLOWING ONE REGARDING THE METRIC  SYSTEM IS JUST TOO INTERESTING TO LEAVE,
Just finished “World in the Balance” by Robert Crease, as I have been so frustrated that we in the U.S. Can't use the metric system and wanted to really get down and find out why. It seems such a system is nothing new as it was considered in 1791. The French were the instigators of such a system. Even then, they determined there were three ways to set a measurement  of a METER.  Meter is from the Greek “metron” or measure.
1. The length of a one second pendulum. (See Faucalt’s pendulum in the Museo de Metrics. (About a meter).
2, One 20,000,000 of the earth's equator.(I didn’t quite understand that one).
3. A portion of the meridian running thru Paris. e.i., the basic unit length would be based on a ten millionth part of the meridian. (One meter).
One universal and unchanging standard would be the meter (or tenths of) to be cubed in order to hold water (distilled at the temperature of melting ice.) (Perrier?). But it had to be a measure found in nature, so when a standard was lost or damaged it had to be replaceable. Of course, the French went overboard at first  – they also made clock time decimated in 10 hour days, 100 minute hours, 100 second minutes, which actually worked for ten years. They also got off to a clean start with the year 1793 replaced with the year one. Just like the Mohammedans. and Langworthy’s new dating system.
Copies of a meter were placed all over Paris and two are left. I'll try find the one on Place Vendome and report back to you later. (Sorry, I Forgot to look for it).
 In 1999 the $327 million Mars Orbiter disintegrated as it approached Mars because its American engineers mixed up meters and feet!
   In 1790, a Mr. Dombry (from France)  was sent to America with a meter and a cube (a litre?). Just as he neared Philadelphia, a storm sent his ship to the Antilles, a French colony. He was arrested and imprisoned. During a riot he was pushed off a rampart into the water, resulting in a bad fever. However, the govenor finally recognized him, put him on another ship to America. But a British privateer took him hostage and imprisoned him in the British colony of Montserat, where he died. But the cargo was auctioned and someone sent the meter and kilogram to the U.S., but never got sent it to the U.S. Congress. As each colony determined its’ own weights and measures, the Articles of confederation (1777) gave congress the right of “fixing standards of weights and measures”. Since no action was taken on this, we just borrowed the British standards. Madison at least got the coinage system into a decimal system by 1786, too bad he thought we needed pennies, or maybe you could buy something for a penny in those days.   Strangely after all this thinking and agonizing, the metric system is very similar to the units of measure used in Mesopotamia about five thousand years ago. (That would be Iraq). Where 1 meter = 1 Mesopotamian step, 1 litre=1 Meso. Bowl, etc. By 1880 half the world's population used the new system. But not us!  An early attempt in US was in the 1920's by a group of pesky women, The General Federation of Women's Clubs. It failed, unfortunately.
Part of our reluctance to change (other than our arrogance and smugness) was the cost of changing all our steel, lumber, screws, etc. was just too much for some. Another  major roadblock was put up by some religionists who had a very strong lobby. “We have to defend our Native Anglo-Saxon metrology which derives from the God-designed metrology of Israel and found in the great pyramid of Giza”  What? The Cubit?!             Meanwhile, the IS (System Internationale) is still refining the definition of a meter. In addition to the speed of light, we could use Plank's Constant, An elementary charge, Boltzmann's Constant or Avagdro's Number. Take your pick. The World moves on without us.
VIDEO ALERT
 Next time you see the Cult Movie  “THE BIG LABOWSKI” (The Dude)  be sure to note the fabulous house designed by John Lautner in Hollywood Hills,( Jeff Bridges was visiting one of the Bad guys ). Mostly cast concrete with a high peaked ceiling in the Living Area. He also designed most of the built in furniture (couches, etc).

DITTO
  TV Land is not altogether a wasteland as there are a few  videos that actually are worth watching and are informative. One such is called WHY WE FIGHT.  (2005). A documentary of personal stories of government officials  and soldiers as well as a few innocent victims, it examines political and economic factors, past and present., behind America’s Militarism.  I believe our biggest problem is what President Eiesenhower warned us about; the collusion between our Military and Industrial folks in order to create the great Empire.

 PROBLEM WITH YOUR EYES?
My eyesight was failing in my early teen years , so I was introduced to the work of  Dr  .W.H. Bates, another early pioneer of healing by natural means, (along with my Doctor; Henry Bieler). I was excited to find that Aldous Huxley also was restored eyesight using the Bates method of exercises. In the 1950’s. and wrote a book about the method entitled THE ART OF SEEING.  This type o healing has fallen out of fashion and probably not followed anymore by anyone. This has  fallen out of favor as most Eye specialist would rather have you buy expensive glasses for the rest of your life.

MORE ABOUT THE METER PROBLEM
FRANCOIS ARAGO was one of those intrepid souls who was really into his work; a Physicist, Astronomer, mathematician, etc.  Born in 1786, he and a collegue were commissioned to complete the survey of a Meridian  as South far as the Spanish Island of Baleraic.  Unfortunately, in the meantime, France & Spain went to war, and determined that the Astronomer was a spy, therefore, Arago escaped from the Island on a fishing boat to Algiers, from there he was able to get passage on a boat to Marsielle.  Unfortunatley, the ship fell into the hands of a Spanish corsair, where he was imprisoned in a fortress.  The town was captured by the French, who transferred the prisoners to Palamos.  After three months imprisonment, they were released due to the demands of the Fey of Algiers, where he again set sail for Marseille, but driven back to Africa by a Northerly wind to Bougie, Africa .  The only reasonable transport back to Algiers was overland, which took them six months, where he again set sail for Marseille, where he was quarantined in the lazertto.  He was later released due to a letter from Alexander von Humbolt (of Humbolt County fame).  All this, in order to determine the Meridian, ergo the length of the Meter could be deduced. Upon returning to Paris, at age of 23, he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences.
  My point of all this is to make you aware of the Medallions that were installed througout the city of Paris. The Dutch artist, Jan Dibbets, installed 135 of them from Chantilly to Port du Clignancourt running thru the Paris Observatory to memorialize Aragos work on the fisrt meridian which later got moved to Greenwich, England in 1884. You can get a map of where they are in Paris online.

                      
ARAGO MEDALLION

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

104


 TRAVAILS IN EUROPE  in 2003
                       

Hotel Fira from our Balcony
  Revisiting Greece to celebrate our marriage here 20 years ago, we spent a week on Santorini Island, in the same cliff hanging hotel as before, except it was now run by the children of the original owners.
We were always surprised that our used toilet paper had to go in a separate container, but with the preparation for the Olympics here in Athens, we thought they might have upgraded their sewer system to accept toilet paper. But NO. didn’t happen, although we were a couple of months before opening  time, and Calatrava’s partial covering of the football (Soccer) stadium was nowhere close to being finished.  We never stayed in expensive hotels and always wondered if they used the same miserable system as the lower class ones.  Well, our breakfasts were not improved during the 20 years, as the eggs were still over-cooked on one side, rather raw on the sun side. Forget their bread, it’s forgettable.  And Coffee?  Not on your life, get to like Nescafe.!  Let’s try a nice sunset dinner at an upscale restaurant, Selene.  Pretty hard to beat the location, on the Caldera lip, a thousand feet above the water, too bad they thought to have a restaurant here. Joy’s  rooster ( Entre $20, wine $32) was too tough to chew and we couldn’t discern what the various parts of a chicken there was.  My fish was just OK.
  Back in Athens, we thought we would see some local dance show  of “Greek Dancing” on a walk up to the Acropolis.  We stopped on a well  known  Taverna  in the Plaka area (Old Town) . A large room with a dozen dancers on a teeny stage faced a dozen Japanese and a couple of Brits and us. The show started off with a dozen ‘dancers’ who  reduced their numbers until just two guys were left. They had great costumes but totally uninspired. Hell, me and my kids used to Greek dance better than that.  But wait, there’s more.  During intermission, we were all waiting for the show to start the band played a few numbers (Piano, trumpet, drums, balalaika) so here comes an old Brit with his Old Korean wife in bobby sox on the stage and scooted around slowly with her for a couple of numbers. Man, was that ever weird! I would have enjoyed just listening to a good balalaika just by itself, though, Didn’t happen.
   Later, in Firenze,  where we Met our friends , Bill and 2D when they got off the train from Venice, to discover Bill had lost his purse + wallet+ passport) on the train . Man, was he forever in deep shit!
   Later on, we all went down to Chianti area, stayed at a 500 year old  Locandas . Bill drove us all down to Siena, about an hours drive , but finding a parking place there is a miracle. We found our small miracle in the soccer stadium, near center of town where there  are spaces for several cars, but all really jammed in. However, parking is very close and we had to fold up our rear view mirrors for the operation.  Bill, backing in and out to get into our space, he backed into the adjoining car ,but as  the other  car had was already full of small dents, but our rental had a broken taillight. His plan was to ignore the whole episode,  which turned out later to be the correct one.

                                                            
PORTOFINO, ITALY
  GREVE:  THE WORD FOR STRIKE! (THINK GRIEVANCE)
    After a few days in Rapallo, a small village on the Ligurian Coast, we were going  to train to Nice, then Lyon for some wine tasting in the Burgundy area.  First, we had to get to Genoa. 50 miles up the coast. Fortunately, our train was to be on Binario (Platform) one, so we didn’t have to drag our bags up and down stairs to get to the tracks. Chris Columbus is a big name here, as he was born here. This is a huge heavy industrial Port city, after all, they nearly conquered Venizia in the 15th Century. While waiting for the train, we checked the makeup of it which is displayed on all platforms. Our car was number 12, or the end one. Fast trains are in groups of 12, as some are connected together and makes them pretty long. Therefore we moved to the end of the binario where our car should be , except the train came in backwards (Don’t ask me how they do that), which meant our car was on the other end of this 12 car segment. Nothing to do but curse and run to the end as these babies stop for five minutes only.  Next time, we barely made it but next time we wait in the center of the un-arrived train.
  On to Nice! What a joke! Comfortably seated we are at last on our way to FrANCE. About half of this trip is thru tunnels and high viaducts hanging over the Mediterrain Sea, more rugged that the Big Sur Coast but also developed with small villages all over.  Only made a few stops, even though there was a town about every 50 feet.  We arrived in one called Ventimiglia, the last Italian town on the Italian/French border. The train was stopped for a very long time and we wondered what the matter was until the conductor came by and said everyone off the train!  OK, we packed our bags  (We had three small ones total). And stood around on the platform expecting a French Train to arrive (That sometimes happens).  Finally, a French couple informed us that the French train was on strike.  However,  In the small station, there was a long line , signing up for a bus to Nice.  Joy got into it while I guarded the baggage. Well, by the time she got near the front, we were told  “No more bus”, and didn’t know if there would be another. OK, we’ve handled strikes before in Greece, Italy & France, so we punt.  If we don’t get to our Hotel in Nice, we lose the €130 deposit so we negotiated for a taxi to take us 50 miles to the Hotel Windsor in Nice  for €90. We felt a lot better, after showering and a cool drink in our hotel, just forget about the money! We’ll work on Phase 2  manana (Getting to Lyon and Burgundy country.).
                                                            

OLD WINE PRESS in Beaune
   
VIDEO ALERT
  “Who shall we invade next? “  BY Michael Moore
Mr. Moore, makes me sick. He is such a fat slob, always wearing a baseball cap, showing zero class.  But has some redeeming features. This video is his research on several areas of our life in a democracy that need revising, and he does it well, if mostly one sided.
  He shows us that some grade school kids have nutritious lunches,(Iceland)  served on plates with glass containers for their drink (Non- Coke).  You’ll see how Norwegians have a prison that is designed to change the prisoners concept of crime. (Recidivists are 20%)This is contrasted with our prison in Attica, New York?  Recidivists are 80%) .How about a free University in Slovenia? In Portugal, Drug treatment is 180 degree different than here and a lot more effective.  Try Health treatments in Germany, etc.
These are issues we do not like to see or even hear about, but come on, we’ve got to do better.

















Thursday, December 14, 2017

103



2005
OUR CANAL BOAT IN HOLLAND  from Amsterdam to Sneek.   (All is not roses)
   We had just come up from the Normandy Coast, where it was kind of hot, this being June. By the time we got to Amsterdam it was Damn hot plus a very high Humidity.  We hopped on a ancient two car train, left over from WW2 I believe as it was a traveling antique. Our car, sparsely occupied, had no openable windows as well as no air conditioning. This was not what we had in mind when we signed on for this Holland trip.  This torture went on for about three hours, when we arrived at the Sneek Station, we were released to the exterior, which was not that much cooler, but we could actually breath again.  We called the taxi company on a phone, they picked us up in about 15 minutes, to drop us off at the boat landing, before we let them go we had them drop two of us off at the nearby grocery market so we could load up on supplies for our week long trip. We had asked them to return in an hour, in order to take us back to the  boat. We unloaded, got the low-down on how to run the boat. And I got to  the driving area inside, while the ladies were mostly topside, messing with the lines. However, I noticed we were moving out of our docking area and realized BJ was driving the boat but didn’t really know how.  You can’t drive from both positions so I ran around to the upper position to see what in hell was going on. BJ was happy to be moving so I assisted on making a starboard, then a port turn to extricate us out of port.  This was an expensive boat and with three staterooms, toilets, galley and salon, probably cost around  €100.000,.
And I began to wonder if our insurance covered anything near that.

                                                   
Our boat, 3 staterooms

Our competition

Collecting tarrif
                                                         

  These boats have a governor on them so we couldn’t go too fast but we cruised along, thru a couple of bridges that would swing up to let us thru. But when we got to a small town of Bruggeld  there was a guy on the bridge with a fishing pole with a small wooden shoe on it dangling it if front of each boat as we passed.  What the f---  was that all about we wondered, until ignoring him as we passed, he started hollering at us and running down along the canal.  We figured something was amiss, so we pulled over to inquire about the hub-bub. He was the bridge operator and wanted us to give him the €1,40 (They use a comma instead of a period here) required for our passage. This was new to us as it was always free on the French canals.  Again, I was reminded of the old saying “Going Dutch”. 
  Well, since we had already moored, why not run over to nearest market for supplies (Cold Beer, etc.).
We unloaded a couple of bicycles so BJ and I could find a store, but wouldn’t you know it, my front wheel was flat.  Undaunted, I was able to pedale around town even on the flat  until we got to the edge of town, (two blocks?), without seeing a market. It didn’t do any good to ask as not many speak English on these backways. But coming back, BJ hollered out “this could be one”, and it did look a bit different from the usual house so we went in. All we saw in this small room was a meat case. We asked if they had any milk. Sure. How about beer? Of course, the proprietor went into the back and brought a out a couple of six packs of Heineken and a cardboard bottle of milk, After going thru about six items that were all in the back I asked if he had a tire pump. Well, of course he did and brought it out, pumped up my tire. Wow, what a full service place for one disguised as nothing.
  Sometimes there are disappointments. While sitting and sweating on our boat we spied a Utility building across the harbor which had a  sign hung above it ‘Douche” . Well, we all knew what that meant so we donned our bathing suits, fast walked abound to the bridge  , with visions of a cool shower in our minds. When we got to the Douche  sign, it was over a Hose Bibb, about 12 inches above the grass. We looked around and indeed, this was it. To hell with it, cold water is cold water so we managed to get enough water on us , without any buckets or hoses to splash around and give us about ten minutes of cooler lifetime.
   These were only inconveniences, but for a real thriller, our next episode was hard to beat. After a few days in this port of the little town of Elburg, we packed up and moved out.  About the same time a huge rainstorm came on us and I mean huge.  Well, water is no problem for us as we slowly sailed out of the entry canal. Because it was raining so hard I was inside, below, but discovered there was something wrong with the steering.  I did know that there is a small red light on the bulkhead that to  show whether the controls are connected to below or topside. Since it was off, I ran up to the other control and wheel but could not get much response as there is not much rudder action when you are moving slowly in the water.  This would not be much of a problem if we weren’t in the middle of a well  traveled canal with large yachts and other boats motoring in and out of the small harbor.  The wind was moving us around so as to block the channel, much to the chagrin of the other boats.  We all did our best running around on the boats edge in order to fend off bashing into other boats, moored and afloat. It was apparent we were in distress, but it was raining so hard we couldn’t hear much if anyone could speak English.
  Since we were unfortunately at the end of the quai, we weren’t able to jump off and tie up to a bollard. Some one eventually saw our predicament, and ran down the bank to grab one of our lines and pull the bow around so other boats could pass in and out .  We managed all this without damaging any other boat which stills seems miraculous.  As soon as we had secured the boat I ran back to the public phone  (Don’t forget, this was 2005, before cell phones!) and called Home Base and was told the mechanic would be over in about an hour.  It was still morning and he did appear in about half an hour, having driven from a near-by base of the boat company. After investigating  the problem, he said “Oh, this is really simple, this red light was burned out and didn’t  register which control station we were activating’. No shit, Sherlock, is that all?
  After getting all that untangled  we cruised out of the port to our next stop at Kamdem. However, we traversed a couple of Inland Meer’s  which are very shallow but the Dutch dredge the channels to about seven feet deep and mark them all with the red and green buoys to mark your roadway. However, my navigator gave me a wrong turn direction and we found ourselves grounded in about three feet of water, but we are in a huge lake with the shorelines several hundred meters away.  It was a bit intimidating as being that far out, it doesn’t seem possible we are in such shallow waters.  We stirred up a lot of mud with the propeller and hoped we didn’t damage it much.  When we got through hollering and accusing each other, we finally had to get off the boat and push it backward a few meters to deeper water.  What is it about being in the water, we never think about the life jackets until it’s all over.

A BOOKLET REVIEW
CANDIDE by Voltaire
   Since I considered myself a Francophile, I was chagrined that I had never read one of Frances most revered authors. After all, we had spent a lot of hours walking along the Seine River on the  Quai de Voltaire, passing his house there in Paris.   So when I saw the book appear at the Graton Post Office (We exchange books there) I snatched it up even though it was a paperback on it’s last days. I taped  the back cover back on  and delved into a pretty extraordinary mind. Written in the mid 1700’s, this could almost be called Science Fiction (Without the Science).  It appears to be a satire of the problems he had with those in authority at that time in France, as he was exiled several times in his lifetime, finally settling in an area on the Swiss border, virtually starting a small town called Ferney.  He naturally makes a lot of fun of the churches and their ministers. But the big surprise were the half dozen drawings by one  Shielah Beckett, illustrating some aspects of the story. Lots of sex!  I assume the drawings were inserted in the 1959 printing of Bantam Books, although they certainly reflect the verse..

                                                               
Candide

BOOK REVIEW 2
  100 Ways America is Scewing up the World. The author, John Tirman, is no lightweight, is executive director of MIT’s  Center for International Studies , so he seems have a pretty good background for all his rants.  Just a fe of the 110 are: Earth’s Climate, Television. Cold War ,Dumbing Toxins, Blood for oil, Nuclear Weapons,  and so on, . But at least he presented 1o0 reasons that we helped the World.

   SMART FIRELINE
We Americans spend billions a year to invent, produce and deliver Death to thousands of people every year.  I’m addressing only the portion of our Military who hire our Industrial giants that is so successful in pinpointing a particular corner in Iraq  or any unfortunate country that has lots of people who hate the other half.  I’ve heard that most of this death from the sky is controlled in Australia. Is that possible?
 If that is possible, then how about trying this out? Let’s have a program, funded by the Federal Government ( Let’s take 10 Billion a year from the Military budget)  that will design  and develop a system of delivering some kind of water/fire retardant/ stopper directly to the fire line?  Come to think of it, better not use any government entity but hire a  private company like Tesla, who can hire real innovative thinkers, or maybe even some Dutch designers.
  Just imagine the scenario!  A Wild fire reported just outside your city limits!  Call the FEMA folks who are standing by for a disaster  to strike, They fly out their drones, from a giant storage building in central United States to the nearest airport to the fire.  They set the drones up,  activate their infra-red, heat source identification systems,  load them with the magic material (Look, it cost billions of dollars to invent this, right?)  The controleers whip out their Joy Sticks (does this sound dirty?) and go to work.  I suppose some of these drones would be destroyed  as designed when used but larger ones could drop and  re-fill just like manned coppers nowadays, except you might have a better retardant to use,  and not just water or retardant.  We got really good at dropping a linear inferno of Hell upon the countryside in Vietnam, maybe we could utilize some of those scenarios to stop a fire instead of starting them? 

BREAKING NEWS !!    (From 1940)
THIS JUST   IN….  Have you ever  wondered why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941? It must have been a Top Secret note as I have never heard in the last seventy five  years why they did.   A recent story in the Smithsonian Magazine noted that Japans rapacious grab for China plus a couple of bites into French Indo-China resulted in a Western Economic Sanctions imposed on Japan, the most critical being  an oil embargo from the United States.  Also,   Navy brass new that there could be hostilities between us  and the Japanese and had sent out memos to all bases regarding that. I always did wonder how our guns and planes were loaded and ready when we were attacked.

OTHER AMAZING NEWS
  I had always heard that the French troops were a sorry lot and had no spirit for warfare in the same war and the previous one.  But I am reading a book by a British  secret  agent who spent years in French occupied areas working with the French underground. Heslop’s account in “XAVIER” (his code name)  sheds a quite different light on the courage of the provocatieers, wives and children who led outwardly normal lives but always faced with capture, torture and death by German troops.  There were three groups that were organized during the war: One; German troops, mostly there to thwart invasion in the Mediterranian, Second; An organization of Frenchmen ( Groupes Mobiles de Reserve or GMR) well armed with sufficient training as soldiers , and  Third:  the Milice, from Frenchmen who had little love for the patriots and were very dangerous.  Against these were the patriots or Maquis (Ma Qee),  whosabotaged as much as they were capable,  blowing up trains, tracks, factories, supplied  by air drops from Britain.  If that were not enough, there was always animosity between certain factions of political parties, who were thinking mostly of their role when the Germans were evicted.  This could be very dangerous at times for the Maquis work. (The Gaulists and the Communists).









Saturday, November 18, 2017

102

102                       

NOT SO FOND MEMORIES OF TRAVELING
Moored near Fromagerie

2008  Baines Le Baines, France –
   Bill and I were relegated to find a market and buy supplies for a week on our self-driving boat on the old canal system  near Mid-France.   Before we dropped our rental car off, we drove a short way into town and finally did find “The Super Market”. I thought we had big markets in California but this one had us stunned. First of all, we could not find the entry, everything seemed to be an exit. After searching around for a while, we did manage to get inside, whether by a legitimate entry, we’ll never know.  We were amazed at all the selections., for instance there was even a quite large selection of just bacons.  We were like a couple of kids in a candy shop.  After loading a couple of carts up, we were able to get back to the boat, unload and shove off.
   The next week Joy & I drove to Marseille and Cassis, the main reason being I had always wanted to visit the Museo de Legion Etrangere (Foreign Legion) in Aubane, near Cassis.  These towns look small on the detailed maps we use and the town was a veritable puzzle to enter and find the Office of Tourisme.
And finding even a parking space near it was a long, involved problem.  We eventually got to the counter, got a map and directions, then back to our car to further on.  The Legione was on the other side of town and after a couple of tries we finally located it, only to find the Museo was closed on Thursday!  And of course, you can only guess what day it was. Damn! I was so looking forward to seeing Capitan D’anjou’s wooden hand there. That survived, but he and the other  60 Legioneres were killed at the battle of Camerone, Mexico, but not before they had fought off several thousand Federales, dying valiently to the Lasrt man.
  Well, on to Scotland. We had booked a flight on Ryan Air to Brussels, but got caught in the “Baggage Extra” syndrome, which cost us about $200 extra for our two bags. Remember from now on, Flights are Cheap, but baggage will cost you a mint.
    In a public toilet here, Joy encountered  a guy drying his false teeth on a roll type hand towel which was a new experience for her.   (Oh, Really?).

     We took an overnight ferry to Edinborough, Scotland, checked into the Hotel Premier Inn ($85 about $170),no phone, no mini-bar, no coffee maker, no coffee. Had to get up early, get to restaurant next door for breakfast, about $20 each for a buffet. Found out later we could get a $6 continental breakfast.
Firth of Forth Bridge
   After visiting the Falkirk Wheel and the Firth of Forth Bridge, we were ready to walk up the hill to the Royal Mile, where the famous Pubs serve the exemplar Fish & Chips. After a very long wait near the toilet in a small hallway a table was ready. As soon as we sat down and ordered, I was in excruciating pain and we had to leave right away, find a taxi, and get back to our hotel so I could writhe around in style.
We were scheduled to fly out in the morning at 6:30 but  soon  called a taxi that took us to The Royal Infirmary”, whatever that was. By the time we arrived there, my pain was gone and I felt fine. But as long as we were there I signed up to see a doctor, who turned out to be a 16 year old blond girl. The first thing she asked was if I had ever had any kidney stones,  (nothing more than what I found in a couple of chickens.) This really made our day, as we had no idea what was wrong with my body, it could have been something fatal. This made us really happy.  After her exam we check in at the counter to see how much the bill was. We were told “No charge, just be on your way”.   Glad to oblige, Maam.
Delft, Holland
  We flew to Amsterdam without any more attacks, found our Houseboat on the DeCosa Gracht Canal. Unpacked and prepared to enjoy ourselves.  This was a nice, modern houseboat located in the middle of Old Amsterdam.  Before we knew it, I was writhing around on the floor , suffering from what we knew now was an attack by my kidneys, trying to send a sharp stone down my tube to my bladder.  This one lasted at least for eight  hours,  when it was over, we should have boogied down to Rookies Smoking Bar to load up on some dope to ease the pain.  This did not enter our minds. We were only on the boat for a few days, then trained over to Delft, another old walled town. The first order of business was to  find the huge hospital and see a doctor.  Upon entering the facility, a large hospital attached to the University, I was sent up to the finance department and relieved of about $250 dollars from my credit card before I was sent down to the doctor. (Now you know where the term ‘Dutch Treat’ came from).  After a short wait, a young man decided I should have an X-ray to find out where it hurt.  I was shot a couple of times by the x-Ray and the Doc said he would get me the print on a CD so I could show my doctor back in the States.  You probably won’t believe this, but he delivered the CD to my hotel the next day. Meanwhile, I was relieved of a few of my dollars from the credit I had left them with in their office. The Doc had also given me a prescription for a capsule pill to relieve a bit of the pain. We got this about 0400 and went out looking for the nearby Pharmacia. It wasn’t far but was difficult to find, only to see a sign in the window that they had moved to another location.  As most shops closed at 0500, we went searching for their new location, which we found just as they were closing, which meant pulling down steel shutters (They did have drugs in here).  Fortunately, a local lady came up and was able to get the m to open just to fill my meagre prescription for some kind of pain killer.  After all that hassle, I don’t believe it was much more than a placebo.  However, also, the doc had advised me to catch the kidney stone next time I peed so we found a small kitchen appliance store still open, nearby to seek out a small sieve of some kind.  When the saleslady asked what I was looking for, I improvised some small lie or another as it just didn’t seem right to state  that  I was straining my piss with her small sieve.  Actually, that was a waste of time, as I couldn’t balance it all and hold my pants  up to hold the sieve to catch any rocks in my pissing stream.  Being a male, I never considered sitting down until later (and too late).  Oh well,  we were at a hotel and not an apartment so we didn’t need the damn thing anyway.
 
JUST A REMINDER
  Regarding the “National Anthem”, The U.S Supreme Court made the decision in 1943. The high court ruled that our government cannot force anyone to participate in patriotic rituals, including listening to the Pledge of Allegiance. No one can legally force anyone to stand or say the pledge. They cannot punish you for refusing to participate.  Our constitution also states that “ no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics , nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith wherein”. (The Suprem4e Court announced tis on Flag Day).   Even by 1941, students saluted the American flag with what was called “The Bellamy salute” or to us, the “Sieg Heil” salute. When this got too embarrassing, it was changed to “ hand over heart’. Later, even  that became a problem as Compulsory unification was doomed to failure and was antiethical to the values set forth in the First Amendment”.  Freedom of Speech.  We can thank the Jehovas Witnesses for being  pests and balking at the concept being forced into obedience initially.

BOOK REVIEW
  ‘Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden will help you Westerners understand the concept and activities of the famous Japanese Geisha.  We can hardly believe there was not much sex involved, but I’m sorry to relate that some famous Geisha didn’t get kissed until they were about 30! However, there was of course some great concept that very rich men could bid on de-flowering 15 year olds but it was a one time thing. This was called Mizuage, the cost could exceed what a laborer earned in a year(About $50,000 in todays money). There was another system called, a Danna, where another very wealthy man  would kind of buy or  sponsor a geisha for life but it would cost a great deal as he would have to give her lots of expensive gifts as well as Yens.  All the wealthy business men wanted to do after work was hang out with beautiful women, drink sake and get silly. The wives didn’t seem to be phased by these shenanigans, as they felt secure in their role as wife.



BE PREPARED
  Before I get too excited before seeing   Bladé Runner, 2045”, I wanted to review the original first. Originally written as “Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep’, (Ray Bradbury?)  this movie  used the Ennis house by F.L. Wright plus the Iconic “Bradbury building as the prime sets.  Please notice the concrete blocks in  H. Fords’ pad and the multi story atrium in the Bradbury building (Los Angeles) where all the mayhem took place at the end.

                                                             
Some early US Truck Designs
      INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
  Or lack of it.  I always get excited when I see a well  designed modern European truck. Because in stark contrast, we build  big, ugly trucks all the time.   However, the Europeans  have got it. The big rigs are so beautiful, I’ve even wrote a small book about it. (See “The Little Book of Big Trucks’).  Every time we stopped at an Aire or rest stop in France or Italy, I Ran around shooting pictures of all the trucks in the parking lots. Our designers experimented in the early days of trucking but just didn’t get the concept like the Europeans. Maybe the French had  hired Industrial Designers to give them some panache, eh?  The above shows some of our early stabs at design and below show what a real truck looks like.
                                                     
Get your Copy Now!
                                                                PHOTO OF RENAULT

  
INFLUENCES?
  I’ve been asked what are some of the influences for my work and I have to think about that. But an important part of my education  was as  ‘House sitter’ for the Upton Residence for a year and a half, I have to say it was my dream come true and left an indelible mark on my soul.  This was built in early Scottsdale in  1949 by an Architect named Paul  Schweikher ( for the Maytag Owner, Louis C. Upton.). The model is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  It consisted basically of concrete stonework, redwood and glass.  The house sat empty as it was too rugged for the Owners. It was being vandalized so I convinced the Realtors that my presence there would protect this marvelous residence. Later, it was converted to a nightclub, and tragically was mistakenly demolished lain the 1970’s.

                                                      
Upton Residence  - Scottsdale, AZ
          


 






Friday, November 10, 2017

101

                                         
DISASTER MAJOR
I never thought I’d be living in the midst of a major disaster but here I am. Fortunately my home and office are about a 10 miles west of where the inferno stopped.   They are still counting but it appears about 7,000 houses and businesses were burned down , as well as more than 20 deaths attribrituted to it.  This monster came into to the foothills and town in the middle of the night, as some unfortunates had to  run out without shoes , wallets, with nothing else but with their lives.  We were inconvienced only with things like a heavy smoke, long lines at gas stations, and lots of traffic.  My sign shop, Who made our 30th anniversary banner had just moved to his location but the building he was in burn out totally. His name is Amier and may be Arabic so he may not be able to get a grant or much to keep going. 
  How many can re-build?  Other fires had destroyed up to a thousand houses, not all homes were rebuilt, some say ½.  Evan at that , we’re talking about 3500 projects. That is impacting all local Architects, Builders, Consultants  beyond measure. Looking at the phone book, there are only about one page  ( 100 Architects in this area,  But 24 pages of Attorneys!).   That adds up to 35 houses per each Architect.  Small offices can do two or three houses a year!  Obviously, folks from all over the West will have to be involved.  A lot of the houses, apartments were built in the early 1980’s, maybe the tract builder is still around and has the original drawings, soil tests, structural calculations and could re-build like he did originally, on a mass scale.  FEMA is onsite with their heavy handed folks in moon-suits scouring burn sites for toxics and want to take it all away along with a foot or two of topsoil. To where? Maybe a toxic fill site in central California or maybe Nevada? They worry about things like paint that had lead in it!  It’s too early to see where this is going to go. There are horror stories that each house site may cost $50,000 to clear of debris & toxics!  Let’s see, times 6000 is how much?
                                               
THE FUZZ

ALL IS NOT LOST
   It appears that the New York police are exchanging their horses for Smart cars. The horses may me faster, but not as cute.
FALL VINEYARDS
WINE COUNTRY
  All is not lost, however, as the grapes were just harvested and their vines are shedding their golden leaves as we speak.

BOOK REVIEW
  I just finished a book titled “Invisible Armys” about Guerrilla warfare.  (by Max Boot 2013). A good sized volume of 700 pages, delineating the history of the term and who was doing it.   From the Greeks and Romans to our current problem with ISIS,  He does deleneated how the U.S. didn’t understand  (and still may not) the methods of offense when confronted with a non-State.  Have you ever considered that the American Indian was a Guerilla fighter?, That the early American Revolutionaries also could be called that.  From Book I; The Origens of Guerlilla Warfare, Book 2; The rise of the Liberal Revolutionaries, To Book 8; God’s Killers (Radical Islam) yuo’ll see why the us Military didn’t understand what was happening until too late,  and wonder why we need Billion dollars F-22 to fight someone in the streets of Afganistan.

BOOK REVIEW 2
  If there are a lot of Americans who are suffering from anxiety about our politics, they will really be upset after reading  Philip Roths’ book. THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA  written in 2003 about the beginning of WW2, and mostly about a Jewish family .  Charles Lindberg becomes President as he vowed to keep the US neutral and out of the war. Well, he is aligned with the German higherarchy and  it isn’t long before the Nazi are taking control of the army and National Guard, and begin arresting and killing people  (Jews, of course) like the popular radio commentator, “Walter Winchell”. The author gets us out of this sticky situatiion in a cavalier way, and we were able to re-align with the actual history to end the war.  Whew!! I’m certainly happy we have a stable and intelligent president to keep this from happening.
  I did enjoy the short notes the author inserted an the APPENDIX  regarding most of the players in the ww2 drama.  For instance, Lindburg did  receive in 1938 the Service Cross of the German Eagle, a gold medallion with four swastikas, conferred by order from Hitler. Also Ford’s  labor policies were condemned by the National Labor Relations Board and considered the worst in auto industry.  We get a glimpse of the seamy side of a lot of our heroes. 

A TELEGRAM FROM HARRY TRUMAN, PAST PRESIDENT (This may be false news, but I don’t care.)
  Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.

I HURT
  Am I the only want upset by how our army  guys wear their berets plastered down over their eye but their logo has to be offset to do it? I did appreciate that at least they got rid of that stupid cap they used to wear.  That upsets me almost how all our polititians must wear a little American flag pin on their lapel.  At Last Bernie didn’t.  Or how about coming to attention when the  anthem is being played? Shall we just jail any   basatrd who doesn’t act like it was a sacred religious song . ( All now, for der Fatherland!).













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Friday, October 27, 2017

100


DUE TO THE CURRENT FIRESTORM TRAGEDY HERE IN SANTA ROSA, WE INTERUPT THIS RANT  IN ORDER TO REFLECT UPON IT’S MAGNETUDE.  

I really didn’t mean to make a big deal of this initially way back in 2006., but My wife , Joy was complaining about my endlessly repeated stories as well as my complaining about virtually everything that I started this  blog. Now . eleven  years and 100 rants later, I’m still at it. Seems I never ran out of people and  things to rant about.  I know you find that hard to believe, but just remember the One  Thing that really drove me crazy, which was this:.  When ever I went to a bar, the first thing the bartender did was spin a napkin or coaster at me , then sat my beer/wine/or cocktail on it. Observing others at the bar, I realized it was de-riguer to keep your drink on the napkin at all times. Why? I am accustomed to the sound of my glass on a substantial bartop. There is something satisfying in the feel and sound that is therapeutic to me, and the Bar Tender is depriving me of this.  Oh, I do know that this may be  a code they use to let everyone know you have been serviced and are only waiting longingly for your libation to arrive to soothe your shattered nervous system.

WHATS A CURMUDGEON?
 It’s time to define what my license plate says;  Dictionaries define curmudgeon as a churlish, irascible fellow; a cantankerous old codger. The origin of the word is unknown, but it might come from an old Scottish word that meant “murmur” or “mumble”. The archaic definition made it a synonym for miser, and the word has had recent currency in a somewhat milder connotation, to describe a more entirely unlikable grouch. A curmudgeon’s reputation for malevolence is undeserved. We’re neither warped nor evil at heart. We don’t hate mankind, just mankind’s excesses. We snarl at pretense and bite at hypocrisy out of a healthy sense of outrage. We hurl thunderbolts  at middle class values, sometimes even trying to do so with a dry wit. 

It is a fine thing to face machine guns for immortality and a medal, but isn’t it a fine thing, too, to face calumny and loneliness for the truth which makes men free?  H.L. MENCKEN

AN ULTIMATE CURMUDGEON
(When questioned by Jack Paar) “What do you do for exercise?” Oscar Levant answered “I stumble and then fall into a coma”.
  
MAO’S RED BOOK
    He died in 1976, You can visit his supine cadaver, well preserved , Like Lenin.
China seems to be coming out of a Communist era so I thought it about time to see what that was all about and read the biography of Mao Tse Tung, the guy responsible for most of it.   
  For all his brilliance in shaping the destiny of China, Mao remained essentially provincial, ill-equipped to understand the realities of the outside world except through the books he read, mostly nineteenth1century authors. Cut off from the world by America’s boycott as well as by his own isolation of China, He was not unlike the ancient Chinese emperors who, convinced that China was the center of civilization, he replaced the old regime with a newer, if not more benign, one. 
    During this time of strife and ‘The Long March’  I had gotten the impression from our media that his nemesis, Chiang Kai- Shek  was our choice, and not the brutal dictator he may have been.
  Most will agree that Mao was a historically important figure who set in motion forces that not only changed Chinese society but also affected the balance of world power.  One unanswered question is : who was responsible for killing more people? Mao or Stalin? Both chalked up more that 40 million deaths.  Those communists really do leave a bloody trail.
  Mao was furious at Krushchev’s charges had thrown into doubt the whole decades the credibility of the communist line Mao felt contempt for Stalin’s henchmen.
  The rise of Krushchev to power in place of Stalin had a profound influence on the course of word events.  Russia could devote its treasure and energy t to economic growth instead of sterile conflict.
  An early gesture of  compatability would reappear 22 years later as “Ping-Pong diplomacy”.
   “Every man has food to eat and clothes to wear” Mao said “Every man understands the rights & duties of citizenship and has a fair chance of education and amusement. Marriage customs are to be reformed, roads built, industry developed, a six hour day established. No foreign aggression, there is only equality and love. No one ‘ll get anywhere here if he ‘s after promotion, or out to make a fortune.  His ideals , except for the last three above sentences, sound like our Capitalism.
 
SMART FIRELINE
We Americans spend billions a year to invent, produce and deliver Death to thousands of people every year.  I’m addressing only the portion of our Military who hire our Industrial giants that is so successful in pinpointing a particular corner in Iraq  or any unfortunate country that has lots of people who hate the other half.  I’ve heard that most of this death from the sky is controlled in Australia. Is that possible?
 If that is possible, then how about trying this out? Let’s have a program, funded by the Federal Government ( Let’s take 10 Billion a year from the Military budget)  that will design  and develop a system of delivering some kind of water/fire retardant/ stopper directly to the fire line?  Come to think of it, better not use any government entity but hire a  private company like Tesla, who can hire real innovative thinkers, or maybe even some Dutch designers.
  Just imagine the scenario!  A Wild fire reported just outside your city limits!  Call the FEMA folks who are standing by for a disaster  to strike, They fly out their drones, from a giant storage building in central United States to the nearest airport to the fire.  They set the drones up,  activate their infra-red, heat source identification systems,  load them with the magic material (Look, it cost billions of dollars to invent this, right?)  The controleers whip out their Joy Sticks (does this sound dirty?) and go to work.  I suppose some of these drones would be destroyed  as designed when used but larger ones could drop and  re-fill just like manned choppers nowadays, except you might have a better retardant to use,  and not just water or retardant.  We got really good at dropping a linear inferno of Hell upon the countryside in Vietnam, maybe we could utilize some of those scenarios to stop a fire instead of starting them?  



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

99

NRA
It isn’t just the shooter who are making noise & lobbying. We forget all about the manufacturers who have a life (or death)  of selling all the paraphernalia to the shooters.  I picked up just one of the companies  brochures that supply the folks.,( Cabelas).
Here’s what they manufacture & sell:
Firearms, rifles & pistols – Get your Semiautomatic Tactical Riflle  (Looks kke an AK45) for $850!
                                It really doesn’t look like a hunting or skeet shooting gun.
A good shotgun for a couple of thousand,  & a nifty hand gun,  seven round magazine for $1,000.
Reloading -  gizmos to make your own bullets.
Optics, night vision for a few hundred
Accessories (tripods, holsters, gun cases, gun cleaning, gun storage
Clothing, boots , packs
Ammunitions – Lots of choices here.
 
Plastic Lavatory


MODULAR HOUSING
  I sometimes surprise my self. I was recently visiting my second modular Proto-type in Pasadena, I noticed the lavatory was very unique. At the time we were building our models, the plastic lavatory industry was just emerging.  Somewhere I was able to have some labs cast with this wonderful pattern in the bowl. Even after 50 years it still looks brand new. I tried to have it duplicated by current plastic (_Corian. etc.) but they just couldn't replicate it. It would probably be cheaper to have it hand cut in Alabaster at Volterra, Italia. 
  I  built it around  1968 in Laguna Beach,, installed it for a month in the State Fair in Sacramento, then moved it down to it’s current address in Pasadena. Plastic countertops were just being invented and I took advantage of that for this model, adding a spiraling faceted pattern to the bowl. 

BE COOL, MAN!
Seer Sucker shirts & suits.
            For those of us who have lived n hot, humid country, you may have a wardrobe of Seer-Sucker suits or  seersucker shirts in your closet. It's pretty interesting concept as it stems from the Persian, Sir-Suker, or puckered cotton and it does help some, if you have to live in Scottsdale, Arizona.



......

TO KILL A WHAT?
  I recently revisited the movie "To Kill a Mocking Bird" to see what all the brou-how is about.  Strangely, it is mostly about the children. The court scene where the black (African-American) was convicted of raping a loony white southern girl. Of course he was innocent but was convicted by the all white jury of red necks.  He was later shot while trying to escape as he knew what the final fate was going to be. But the real surprise was a neighbor man, who didn't seem to have all his marbles (There were a lot of people around there like that) kind of killed the father who was menacing the young children in a nearby glade. Since the movie confused me I had to revert to the written word, or the actual book to understand that the neighbor guy killed the father of the  raped (by him probably)  daughter. (Oh, those Southerners do lead an interesting life !). But, stay with me, the town Sheriff knew what had happened but considered that no one needed to know. But who did kill the father? I never could figure that one out.  But I do dig the title.

DIS-EASE
  Which the high cost of health care let's talk a bit about disease. This is a re-curring theme with me as I am intrigued by it, maybe because I've been able to avoid most of them , so far.  I've mentioned this before but am obsessed with the concept, since we seem to know so little about it.
I write these Rants not to inform you but to get me to investigate an issue before I dump it on you. Here's is what I surmised;


PREMISE; (Proposed by my doctor, Henry BIELER) The cause of disease is not germs. It is caused by toxemia which causes a cellular break down, which in turn, causes the way for germs to take over.
Bieler was an early proponent of nutrition, even published his iconic "FOOD IS YOUR BEST MEDICINE". in the 1950's.

COMMUNICATABLE DISEASE
   Most of  these have come down to us as we have integrated (You figure that out) with our animals that we have domesticated since around 8,000 BC (Sheep have to be in here somewhere.?).
     Measles                              from cattle? 1600 BC?
      Whooping Cough              ?
      Smallpox                           ?
      Venreal Disase –  Gonorrhea        from sheep (Or girls?)
                                    Syphilus          from the Americas? (girls)
      Plague                   fleas from rats?
      Typhus                  Squirrels?
       Malaria                  Mosquitos thru chickens, birds?        
      Leprosy                 (We don’t even want to talk about this)         
      Mumps      `           400 BC but where?
      Tuberculosis.         Cattle? (airborne?)
      AIDS                      Monkeys? 1959

NON-COMMUNICATABLE DISEASE   These appear to come from nowhere, maybe DNA? (Can these be related to our Diet?)
     Cancer                   Increasing
     Poliomyoltis            Almost eliminated by vaccine 
     Diabetes                 Increasing
     Multiple Sclerosis  A Mystery?
     
  HELLS DEVILS.     ( This is a bonafide rant!, the real purpose of all this, except somewhere along the line I segued into a philosophical potpourri)  Ever since I got out of high school I have begun to quiet down any machine I drove.  Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the concept of a motored cycle to carry a person around efficiently. But if you are a motorcycle affectianado and an owner of a Harley Davidson you will be doing just the opposite. I recently read an encouraging report that the fuzz are taking it all kind of seriously and will begin giving you a ticket if you have just blown out all the ear-drums within  a two block radius. Let's ask the primary question; Why do motor cycles make more noise than an auto or truck?  Answer? Because the owner will disconnect any noise muffling system that the 'bike' comes from the factory with. I have to confess we're working on heresy here as no one but me seems bothered by the audacity of some bearded, fat guy, who has to be heard several blocks away. There are some ''general rules that  have been in effect for decades; one is if the exhaust is louder  than the engine, you may have violated the maximum sound level of  80 decibels. What that bull shit means is that you may make your little bike a monster with the sound alone. This hurts my ears just writing about it.   There is some screwball rule that the bike's noise is tied into his manufacturing date. Gimme a break! When I was a kid (High School) we were plagued by the cops if we had a groovy sounded hot rod. We would actually get tickets!  Granted that was 70 years ago but we had the same cretin mentality that drives the Maxi-noise biker.  Even the French are not immune to this travesty of sound. Young boys rip around the small quiet villages on their screaming off-road bikes but we hope they will quiet down as they age or Mature.  Frenchmen seem to end up with more quiet bikes and much more practicable, like sometimes even with covered tops for rainy days.

OBITUARIES
  I'm writing this letter to the local newspaper as a warning to grieving relatives who want to post a note about their friend dying. Please realize my local Press Democrat news has dispensed with the nasty term "Obituary" and now calls it "Life Tributes" .  I have noticed that most obits tell of their friend has "passes", not died, mind you. Now just where has this person passed to? Will he /she be coming back around? That sounds a lot like hearsay , therefor  they might be touting re-incarnation, etc.  But that is not my point here. I want to warn everyone that dying is an expensive proposition, and to have it published in your local news is kind of pricey. Also, I object to "Sanitizing" death.
When my friend , Jack Jones died, I wrote and submitted the obit but it cost me over $350.!  Yikes! I thought this was news, not just a way to generate cash . Does the substitution of Life Tributes over obituary kind of make you angry? Obituary means you have died, but Life Tributes? What days that mean? It also means that the more money you are worth, the longer your "Life Tribute" will be. As you will be charged by the line ($6.50 a day + $50 for photo).

IMPORTANT NOTICE
 There has been an erroneous "Fake news" that a group of baboons is called "A congress of baboons". This seems to be in error as the actual terminology is " A Troupe of Baboons". This is very wrong as well as very disrespectful of baboons, so let's try to clear this up.

VENICIA
 For those fortunate ones who are destined to visit Venice, (Even before Paris?) you must see the You Tube regarding the installation of the incredible gates that have been installed for billions of euros to protect the city from current flooding as well as future global warming floods. Called the MOSES system for some reason, go to You Tube, and Moses Barrier to see the incredible engineering feat the Italians have construed. It is just being finished.

 
Still tilts but notice lead weights on left

PISA
While you're at it, see the remedial work done on the Bell tower of Pisa, where the Italians actually closed it, spent millions to stop and reverse the 17' lean. It has been closed for years during the work, but don't worry, they only got it back an inch or so. And know enough to make  sure there is a proper lean in this "leaning tower".  It isn't too often that an Architect's failure is a Huge success.

POLITICS
  How can we get our Pols to be more human? I heard that Obama wanted to wear a brown suit but it created such a Brau Hau that he had to revert back to the standard dark blue suit (and don't forget the obligatory American Flag lapel pin.) I just can't believe they are so up-tight that they can't leave a tie off once in a while. Is it true that certain tie diagonals refer to the College you attended? (Harvard, etc.) If I was invited to the White House by a president, would I not be admitted unless I wore the usual "Suit of Armor”.  What a sad state of affairs.?  Let's face it, before we have a black, woman president, a man with a beard or mustache could be president.
Try to remember what Samual Johnson said; “PATROITISM IS THE LAST REFUGE OF A SCOUNDREL”.

MORE POLITICS
 You hear the derogatory term "Socialist" whenever health Care for all is brought up. Well, let's face it, we have a certain amount of that already installed in our systems. What does the Big Webster dictionary say a Socialist is?
   SO.CIAL.ISM  - A system of social organization which advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
  That is pretty confusing as it sounds like capitalism. However, we have Social Security, the concept that when we age, we will have some income derived from portions of our wages or income during our life of work. Why is it that we are the sole developed country that doesn't care for part of our population and can't provide health care?  And what about our military? That has to be controlled, financed , etc. by the State?  How about Interstate transportation systems?,  But do we have to be involved with schooling? (The Party Line?)

 VIDEO ALERT
  "Before the Flood" refers to the rising sea waters as the poles melt down. This video is about global climate change and examines it from various perspectives in this illuminating documentary chronicling actor Leonardo DiCaprio's crusade to increase awareness of the potentially catastrophic effects of the changes already under way. But then, you may have to be one who thinks further than just what your having for breakfast to imagine what the life of your grand kids will be facing.
      Decaprio is kind of a odd guy as he is using his fame and fortune to further our dimming awareness about Global Warming. This is an hour & half of seeing the actual effects of the warming. He gets to see the Pope and even Obama, (who kind of moves it all around to national security, rather a let down.)  Anyway, probably a video we all should have in our repertoire.