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.


  



Tuesday, August 08, 2017

98

98 BLOG

 
MODULES FOR LIVING

TABLE MODULE

                                                




MY LINE OF NOMAD FURNITURE
I've moved so many times since I left home for college that I finally had developed my own LINE OF FURNITURE.

_Flooring: We had all this cheap wicker type of squares 12" square that would easily fold up and stack for moving, yet presenting a nice warm, comfy floor in  the living area.

Chairs: I found some large, square, cushions and made a low base with a slanted back for two of the cushion, allowing us to sit around with our all on drugs &  wine to solve the problems of our universes.
Book cases: I finally devised a box that had handles cut into the ends, so they could be tossed in a trunk and not have to pack/unpack.  Books.
Bed:  The waterbed was around but I thought it too cumbersome so I opted for the inflatable mattress, just making an appearance.  The only real problem I had was they all came with a flocked coating which was very hard to get around when I had to fix a leak  with my bike tire patch kit. Otherwise this was ideal, except it was blown up manually and took some time. 
Eating: We didn't Dine, we scarfed.  For a table, I had a large 42" round  butcher block top, remove 4 screws, then roll it out to your car.

THE SPEC HOUSES

BRIDGE HOUSE
 
'M' FRAME



LANGWORTHY TOP OF WORLD

HEX HOUSE

CONCEPT ONE

CONCEPT TWO

            

Of course, the mere smell of wood & concrete this readily got me into building 'Spec' Houses in Laguna Beach .
Spec means that you buy a lot, design a house for it, then sell it on condition, or   'On Speculation' that you will recoup your investment plus some profit involved for all the work you've done. When I opened my office in South Laguna during my 'Mostly lived on carrot juice days' I met a Japanese fellow who had some backing from his folks in Tokyo and wanted to build some "On the edge of the Spearpoint ' house so we did a few really far out Spec houses.
            The first one went pretty well. The plan was based on three hexagons with the two car carport,  which had huge umbrella roofed area.  I did all the structural calculations (Still do) but after we finished the carport, there was an unusual flexibility of the heavy steel center support column as I could rotate the entire 20' roof roof with my finger several inches. But easily solved with a small bolt to the adjacent retaining wall. We alway re-used materials like the  wood siding was from a friends old fence. 
  But you have to realize, we knew that 99% of the market was being catered to by Tract builders,   so we were after the 1%, but not the 1% you know who have most of the money, we were after the .09% who had TASTE!  . Well, it turned out that the percentage was less than than that, but we got lucky,. An architect from Taliesin & his partner, a successful artist loved the place & bought it right away. Then we found an impossible lot , bought it and built an 'M' Frame house on it , We were able to use a lot of redwood plywood in those days as it was fairly cheap. This place had 20' ceilings in the living area and we actually  sold it too.
  But we kind of met our Waterloo when we built the plastic roofed house on Top of the World, the plan based on the old Mexican haciendas, around a small patio where one had to go outside (although covered ) to get to the living area. This was 1965, the lot cost 12,000, construction materials another 12,000 as we did all of the construction. (This, our Labor, turned out to be free). My partner & I did all the labor (I mean all, concrete, carpentry, electrical. Plumbing, etc.). However, after several months after we finished it we ran out of money to keep up with the loan (Yes! We were able to obtain  construction loans from the local bank) so we voted that Lamont move in and make the payments on the loan. You  can only appreciate the irony of me living  in the best house in Laguna, on Top of the World (That's what it is actually called, sitting up about a thousand feet above town, overlooking a huge cattle ranch) but friends generously collected food boxes from the elementary schools  for my small family (Me, Patricia & new daughter, Medina). But fortunately for everyone, our neighbors, who were renting, loved the house and bought it after several months. Ted & Lucy, both Greek scholars , also bought the lot across the street and hired me to design another fine home.
   My partner, Patrick, dropped out of the high risk games (He got busted for having a maryjane joint but my next client, Tom Lyster, got the bug, and after we finished building his house,  which was first published in a German Architctual magazine  called "Bauwelt" or something similar. built another Spec House on the adjacent lot that was more or less a historical garden from Old Laguna days. In order to preserve the wonderful historic gardens in this little Canyon, we used the obvious things, and built a "Bridge House out of pre-fabricated roof truss, as Tom was a salesman for them. Well, everyone builds a spec house that bridges 40' over the gardens below, don't they? But this time we got lucky and sold it before it was finished to a professor who was head of the Art Dept. at the new  Irvine University. This owner was great, as he hung original art work all over the place, like Licktenstein originals, (the guy who did blow ups of comic book people & things.)
  

BOOK ALERT
I found the alternate story of the WAR (not the last war) of WW2. It's titled   THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. by Philip Dick, who was a science-fiction writer and also wrote DO ANDROIDS EVER DREAM OF ROBOT SHEEP?  This later became the Cult movie "Blade Runner", which will be released in October as an upgrade of the older ones. It seems only S-F writers have enough imagination to write alternate histories. This was written 17 years after the war was over. An interesting story, as the author has the protagonist write an alternate of the alternate, (in other words, How the Allies Won" That was easier) The U.S.  was divided up between Germany & Japan, but it was better to be on the Jap side as the Nazi still liked to kill any Jews. But life is fair and the Germans attacked the Japs and took them over too. Are there any Japanese Jews? (Not any more!).

VIDEO ALERT
If your still interested in politics you might like REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM featuring Noam Chomsky, who is one of the few who have a memory of recent political happenings and the shenanigans of most of  our recent presidents. Wars, finances health care, don't seem to important issues with us .  Anyway, it's Rather sobering. (I'll drink to that!).

ANOTHER VIDEO
The curious case of Benjamin Button.  F. Scott Fitzgerald did a short story on a kind of reverse aging person who is born old but gets younger, unlike the rest of us. His relationships tend to get pretty weird as how would you like to see your spouse getting younger and reverting to a baby?

BELIEVE IN TRUTH
To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights. 
                                                by Timothy Snyder


I'M GETTING A LTTLE WORRIED ABOUT OUR SPORTS MANIA.
I happened on  to the beginning of a national basketball game a while back and was really appalled at the adoration of the Star Spangle banner was shown. This whole thing was rated as a Holy exercise, where all had to show obeisance to the music by standing, hats off, with their hand covering their heart. Usually the playing field is showing a giant American Flag (Patton!) and anyone stupid enough to forget the "under God l" would probably be tarred & feathered, and dragged  around the field before any activities began.
  This worries me a lot as it seems the mainstream has forgotten that there is no "Uber Fatherland" to require our obeisance especially with a song that was penned by a
 Brit who used the music of an English Drinking song but putting a more Nationalistic twist on the lyrics.  We have to be careful to be able to differentiate between Nationalism and Patriotism and Religion.

LET'S TALK ABOUT OUR FEDERAL BUDGET
Maybe it's time to re-access our monetary requirements that impact our tax requirements so.
I noticed the other day an article talked about the small amount it took to take care of  one of our military problems (some trans-gender stuff) was only 3 to 9 million dollars. And went on to say it was ONLY .05% of our military budget I thought it was about  500 Billion.  Now, here I thought a few million was a large sum, but now it seems to be pocket change. Maybe our leaders should hire a  small book-keeper to set our national priorities. Here's how I would see it working;
   Let's begin with a clean slate and ask ourselves what exactly should be the role of the Federal Government? Our founding fathers may have done that but it sure got distorted afterwards.  I wonder if they knew about the power of lobbyists?
We pay most of our taxes to the Federals, except I now see our sales taxes (which are local taxes) are creeping up to 10% of all we buy (State Tax)(except food?).     
                        1.  Military - It is more efficient to band together and hire a Military force. That is the primary reason for a Federation of individual entities, isn't it? Also the expensive cost of weapons, especially nuclear subs, fast fighter planes & bombers can cost millions and billions each!  When did we assume we had to have the largest Military twice over of any country on earth? No other country spends 60 % of their money on the military . Even so, our new president wants to increase the percentage.
                        2.  Health care for all;(6% of our budget) Most developed countries have a pretty adequate Health system for most of it's citizens. Our best system is not even good enough for our Senators & Congress men, who have their own super Health care system. My favorite doctor is quitting (retiring) due to being overcome with paperwork that supports an inadequate health insurance.
We've given it over to large Pharma and Insurance corp. This means that the independent doctor will be extinct as he can't afford to do all the paper-work that large companies can do. Doctors will have to work for large companies that will relieve them of the obnoxious paperwork. Soon, Medical doctors will be majoring in accounting with a minor in Medical.  Maybe we could allow abortions but certainly not pay for them. And lets cut off the Viagra to the geezers. 
                        3.  Infra-structure;  -  Build & maintain a national system of roads and rail (& air) to move things and people around in a defense mode.  It should be obvious to our lawmakers that fast trains are much too expensive for any one state to afford to build, to say nothing of maintaining.
            The above items are large scale projects and need everyone to chip in. A good example is California trying to build a fast train from half the length of the state that is costing more than we can afford on a local level. All we have to do is look at other countries to see how they do it, and we may find that only the federal government  can afford to build & maintain such projects.                        I suppose infra-structure should include large electrical generating facilities, which used to be dams, but is now  PV or wind or wave generation. This takes a lot of money & support. What state can afford to put up $7500 for every electric car sold in their state?
$15.000,000 will cost the Feds for just the last 200,000 electric car still to be subsidized.
    How much money is generated every payday?  Maybe it sounds crazy, but maybe the Budget should be based on our earnings. Take 10% of that and that should be how much you can spend on everything. What percentage of that should you pay to Feds?, To the State?                          4. Social services. ;- This is a big one. Just look at your phone book (I know, you probably just google it) and you'll find most of it is Social Services that take up several pages .
How would you describe ...S.S.?  I suppose most of it would be something Socialist countries support , sometimes too much, making the country potentially bankrupt, or out of money. College? How about promoting & supporting work that will actually earn you a living? maybe education should be kept on a local or State level?
 Polititions love to use the word “socialism” in a derogatory way, but aren’t our Social Security, Health Care, Fire and police kind of Socialistic?  I don’t believe that is a dirty word.
            However, we sometimes are responsible for our own plight, as we are still believing Everyman should be able to own his own house, on a small plot of his own, even if there is only 3' to the property line. What Is wrong with us? Are we brainwashed to only want a small bit of dirt, but not all the  entities of communal living?. Just try to get financing on a very small living unit. I have, and couldn’t get anything.



A SHORT, INTELLIGENT NOTE
  The old American idea that giving money to Political Campaigns is free speech means that the very rich have far more speech, and so in effect, far more voting power, than other citizens.

                                                            Tim Snyder

Thursday, August 03, 2017

97

97 blog                                     

REVISIT THE DATING GAME
I thought I had it all figured out on my #66 BLOG , but after after thinking about it a bit, let's review it.  This will never be sought after by the U.S., we can't even get the Metric System accepted.
A couple of thousand years ago  Justinian accepted that the Christians were a formidable force, and  he restarted (changed)  the dating from the time of a wise man by the name of Jesus (at least 300 hundred years earlier.). But when Mohammed was born and conquered most of the contemporary world of the time, they started their own ,  at about 635 AD. , Do Muslims still use that system?
I might as well get on the bandwagon and announce that from here on, we will begin the dates from the time of my birth, which is kind of handy since it is on a decade number, say, 1930.. If we do that, today's date would be 87 AL (After  Lamont). Of course, everything that happened before I was born would be BL (before Lamont, or BS;  Bullshit), which we have been living with since day one (birth of Jesus?). Just kidding....
  Proposition; Let's try to minimize the use of "Before & After. " and start dating from around the time of Troy or 1200 BC.  That's kind of a wild card as no one knows when the time of Troy was.
However, assuming that, it follows that the following figures will apply
            Founding of cities                                -6800 BT ( We may
                                                                          have to use Before Troy)
            Discovery of writing                            -1310 BT
            Time of Troy-  1200                            0 (Anything previous to
                                                                                      be BT)
            Founding of Athens - 1000?                800?
            Founding of Rome                              753.   (By Remus
                                                                     & Romulus, a Myth)
            Socrates death - 900 (No BC or AD)  900?
            Jesus birth                                          1200 (Another Mythical
                                                                                             story)
            Mohammed birth                                 1850? (A real guy)
            WW One (The War to End All Wars?).  3114
            WW Two (Or was it this One?)            3141 (Pearl)
            My birthday                                          3130, June 4
            Birth of a Nation                                   2976, July 4


BOOK ALERT
DARK MONEY by Jane Mauer
If you are interested in where the money comes from in American politics, you might be interested in reading this book. Climate change? Lots of money will take care of that from the Koch (Coke) Brothers. 25 million. Obama Care? More $$ will take care of that. Amway gave 20 million to get out of paying taxes to IRS. These folks have invented an array of organizations that are called "Tax - deductible Philanthropy" , academic institutions, Think Tanks, Congress, etc. Have you even heard of Richard Mellon Scaife? He & the Koch's buddy in donating millions to orgs so they could get around paying taxes.  Jane traces the Byzantine trial of the billions spent by these folks and gives us vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy. It appears we are duplicating the fall of Athenian Politics, as their 600 senators were all Land Owners. No peasants, please.
           
          
Jeffers Place

Wright's Walker House
 















ON A LIGHTER VEIN.   We visited my old haunts in Big  Sur & Carmel a while back and I use these times to re--connect with my love of  Robinson Jeffers work. His fabulous stories of old Big Sur I have read several times as they are so pithy and manage to convey the early people who lived there.  He built a wonderful small stone house in Carmel that is always worthwhile, also it is nearly across the street from Wright's 1948 Walker house, perched on the seashore there. Anyway, it gives me an excuse to remind all of you readers (of books, you are out there , are you not?) of Jeffers works. ('Give my Heart to the Hawks,' 'Tamar', 'Roan Stallion'). 
           
SO MUCH FOR SECURITY  When the secret service was established in 1865, it had no responsibility for protecting the president. This, despite the bitterest irony in American intelligence and protective services; The authority to form the Secret Service was given by president Lincoln on the day he was shot. The agency began with ten men, and it's first mission had been to combat currency counterfeiting at a time when more than 1600 private banks printed their own money. It was not until after 1906 that Congress authorized the agency to expand into a protective force around the president, a espesially  after the deaths of Garfield 1881 and McKinley in 1901. But remember; Guns kill people, not guns.

MISCELLANY

DEFINITIONS; A   musical interlude
The ARCHITECT is the  COMPOSER hired by the KING or the  OWNER
The  DIRECTOR  is akin to the CONTRACTOR, organizing & keeping the workers  in line
The SUB-CONTRACTOR is akin to the MUSICIANS who actually do the work.
The AUDIENCE or your FRIENDS enjoy the fruits of every ones labor.

Hot day; Cool beer.

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME
My first experiment in beer making was a gallon of Mead, something akin to what early, Medieval  imbibers drank. A simple recipe, mostly fermenting some honey.  Along my trail of beer making, I usually showed friends how to make their own Pliny the Old Guy.
Michael wanted to make up a small batch of it so I showed him the ropes, then he took the gallon jug home to ferment on the kitchen counter.
The crucial item I did not give him was a cork that had an air-lock, which allows the gases to escape as they build up in the container from the yeast action.  Mine only fit larger bottles.
Well, during the night, Michael was awakened by an explosion and he opened the door of the end room, he noted the hallway was sprinkled with glass shards. Luckily, he or his young son had not been in the hall , they may have even seriously hurt, if not killed, when the gallon of beer exploded due to build up of pressure that had no other way out but to explode.



RELIGION & MYTHS
Since the discovery of  Akadian Clay tablets (Part of the Epic of Gilgamaesh, King of Ashurbanipal , 668 BC) more than a dozen Cuneiform tablets have been discovered, all of which have some version of the FLOOD  MYTH  , some which pre-date the bible  myth by a thousand years. (That would be the Old Testament). 

A LITTLE POETRY INTERLUDE  IS CALLED FOR HERE;

From 'I AM A LOVER'  My favorite book from 1961 (Captions of Photos)

I am a Lover,
But have not found one to love.


How shall I learn, Supreme Mystery?
To know thee, tho I muse continually?
Under what form of thine unnumbered forms Mayst Thou be grasped?       
                             Bhagavad Vita

Winter is icummen in,
 Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop.
And how the wind doth ramm!
                          Sing: Goddamm.      
                                                Ezra Pound (I never could understand that guy)


In the artists studio all distinctions disappear.
One has neither name nor family;
One is no longer the daughter of one's mother,
one is one's self - an individual -
And one has before one
ART,
And nothing else.
                        Marie Bashkirtself  (Never heard of her)

'Twas brillig,
                        and the smithy troves
Did gyre and gamble in the wabe:
All mimosas were the boron overs. . .

He took his Vorpel sword in hand;
            Long time the manxome foe he sought -
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
            And stood awhile in thought.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
            The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun. . .

...the frumpious Bandersnatch!                Lewis Carroll. (Now that I can understand !).

            Let your life lightly dance
on the edges of Time like dew
On the top of a leaf.
            Rabindranath Tagore

CORDOBA
Distant and alone.

Black pony, great moon,
And olives in my saddle-bag.
Although I know the roads
Never will I reach Córdoba.

By the plain, through the the wind,
Black pony, red moon.
Death is watching me
From the towers of Córdoba.

Ay, the road is long!
Ay, my valorous pony!
Ay, that death should await me
Before I come to Córdoba!

Córdoba.
Distant and alone.
                        Frederico Garcia Lorca

            Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year.
My soul is all but out of me - let fall
No burning leaf, Prithee , let no bird call.
                        Edna St. Vincent Millay

The capacity of the people for error
Is not to be underestimated.
                        Westbrook Pegler


VIDEO ALERT
I've just discovered on YOU TUBE I can pick up short bits of the great movies, like "Blazing Saddles", "Young Frankenstein" & "Little Murders" Even Bob & Ray Radio clips. But my favorite is the Wedding Scene from "Little Murders", one I've always wanted to show my kids. But now you can see it anytime by You Tube , Wedding in "Little Murders". This as written by Jules Fiefer, a fabulous  Political Cartoonist of past days. The movie is probably from the '70's starring Don Sutherland & Elliot Gould, who photographs dog shit.

HISTORY OF THE CAMERA
  Of course the first 'Camera'  was a room with a small hole in one wall that projected an image (upside down, before  Single Lens Reflex Rooms))  discovered by some painter in France or Holland around 1600's .But carrying a room around with you was not practical at the time.. 
And they also had a hard time selling upside-down paintings,
  For those of you who only know that your iPhone is also a camera, It didn't change much the first few decades after it was invented in 1814, but Eastman made it so most of us could take a picture by 1900. Color was not available until 1907, but not for mass consumption. The early photographers of the West needed a whole wagon to carry their own development lab, but by the 1950's serious photogs carried glass plates around and viewed their image upside down, when doing serious work. However, we may have won the war with Japan but their ingenuity was evident in their development of cameras. Before that, if you wanted to view the subject as is, you used one to look down into, or upside down,  but soon, the Japanese invented the Pentra-Prizm, SLR (Single Lens Reflex) that turned it rightside up in your Lens. Even during the 60's I developed my own photos  (we're still in black & white mode) in my bathroom. The Japs eventually excelled and took away the market from the Germans. Prior to this , you had to use a large plate , ergo, a large print in order to get a fine print.
The electronic camera wasn't developed until the late 80's, after the 'Land Camera' was invented in order to get instant photos. It was basically a photo lab in you camera and spit out a complete print 'In Color' in  a few seconds. However, after a few years , the photo could deteriorate, much to the chagrin of us looking thru old photo albums. But the electronic camera changed all that. NO FILM REQUIRED! Even on our initial trips to Europe (1980's) we had to save all the used rolls of film and buy new film in the Farmacia, In France or Italy.  By 1995 we could buy small cheap "Point & Shoot" cameras that stored hundreds of shots on a small chip. The downside of that was when a thief took your camera (and they will!) you lost hundreds of shots of your vacation in Europe. Our  solution was to change the card every week so you wouldn't lose them with you're camera.
But now I could store them on my desktop computer and view them large scale.
  Then apple comes along and adds an excellent camera to your phone. But if you are serious and need telephoto lenses, or other filters, you may still want to buy the $2,100 model from Nikon.    

NOTE: The origin of the  THE VENICE CARNIVALE is  "MEAT IS VALID" Must have something to do with the Catholic "Lent period".

Note #2: The Italian name for Eggplant is 'Melanzanov' which means "Unhealthy Apple" which comes form the mid Eastern 12th century. Don't ask me why.

Note also; The Porcini mushroom means 'Piglet', don't ask me why.



HURRAY! THE WARS’ OVER!   (This from 2003)
Our president (Bush) has  just told us  the war in Iraq is over.  I was wondering how that was  going.  I guess we’ve got all the  nuclear warheads out of. Is  there still a war in Afghanistan?  And remind me what we were doing there. Other than protecting our oil supply.   Do we still believe we are there to help  these poor bastards into Democracy? Don’t any of our advisors read history books? We all know that these Muslims have been killing each other since   Mohammeds brother started an off shoot of Muslim religion .
     I know its’ not PC to question ‘What went wrong?’ but I have to. Just ask anyone from ORHA (Committee to put back the country after we’ve trashed it, or the one’s who were supposed to set up a government when the killing stopped , like we did for Germany and Japan , two years in advance).  In actuality, we began planning for such a thing in Iraq until a couple of months before “Mission Accomplished”.  The ORHA folks were given a bare space without even desks, to say nothing of the telephones. Washington sent recent Grads from Prestige Schools to help run Iraq. One young woman was given the job of all traffic control in the country of millions! Yet she knew nothing of Urban Planning. Worse yet,  in 2003 Paul Brenner was sent in to run the whole crazy deal. He initiated several disastrous programs.
    First, he closed all form of government the Iraqi’s had.
2nd; He fired all Saddams workers and disbanded the existing Army. That immediately formed a group of 500,000 men who had no jobs & no way to support families & relatives. Oh, and by the way, these men knew where all the arms wore stored. Immediately there was wholesale looting of one of the most historic Museums in the world, as well as their incredible library with thousands of ancient writings, but worse, the U.S. didn’t feel it was necessary to protect theses from looting and destruction.
I forgot to mention he let out 100,000 prisoners to help out the looting.
   3rd;  And we didn’t see why it was necessary to protect the several large arms dumps.
Have I painted a stupid enough picture yet? 
I’m glad also we got it all sorted out about just who or what was the difference between a Rebel, insurgent, Militant, Shiite and Sunni?

These new wars against a sect of Muslims, fighting them  in the streets doorways with with huge aircraft carrier and supersonic fighter planes.  At least Drones can get in closer than a high altitude bomber at 30,000 feet.  Our politicians still don’t admit to why we were in ‘nam or Iraq, but don’t we all know it’s the Oil?
Destroying expensive equipment (Humvees, helicopters, etc)  so our Military/Industrial folks can keep up their living style? Is that why we keep doing all this?