Dave's Journal, April2016

This photo, dated in pencil "January 1969" on the back shows a studio technician setting up the diarama that faked the US moon landing later that year. Turns out the government had diverted NASA funding to some CIA activities in the middle east, and the real moonshot became financially impossible. So, they faked it with the help of some movie-making techniques. A few of these polaroids survived. This one was recently found in the pocket of a pair of JFK's denim jeans that were bought at auction in 1987 for $249,136 but were packed in storage until February of this year.


April Flowers on the Kitchen Counter


(An old Konica lens with a Tiffen #2 soft filter.)


Jake Wirth's is a landmark German tavern in Boston. I walked by it yesterday, took that picture, and I have a story to tell about long ago.

Back in the early 1970's, GE gave a few suspects four months' (one college semester) paid leave to attended classes full-time at Northeastern University to get MS degrees. I already had an MS in Aero Engineering from USC, but I really wanted another one in Mechanical Engineering. GE was nice enough to pay the bills for that, and give us the time off work.

My school buddy was Dave Skinner, a friendly woodsman / farmer kind of engineer originally from Vermont. (We were working out of Lynn, just north of Boston.)

Dave is the bad influence who introduced me to Jake Wirth's pub. At least once a week, before we hit classes (sometimes instead of hitting classes ! ), we stopped in a Jake's for bratwurst, beans and two shots of Wild Turkey bourbon (those were the days, huh!).

We'd get to class ever so mellow and soft headed, eyes wet and glowing, grinning like two stuffed cats. Sit in the last row in back, and neither one of us was clear headed enough to take notes, so we'd sit there with arms folded, smiling up at Prof. Rosettos while he lectured. Never asked questions, never took notes, never answered question. Just sat there smiling pleasantly.

Happily, Dave and I nailed all the tests and did great on the homework so we got good grades.

Bob Eisert, our GE course supervisor, went to Northeastern one day to get a one-on-one review of our work from Prof. Rosettos.

Prof.Rosettos told him "Those are the two smartest guys I ever had in any course. They are so smart they never even take notes or ask any questions. They just sit there quietly like gentleman, and they ace all the tests."

Bob caught us back at GE and said "You guys are going to Jake's before class, aren't you?"

Who? . . . . . Us?

I took the long way back to the train, yesterday, and walked along my favorite street - Commonwealth Avenue.
Absolutely love the apartment buildings along here and a few of the streets that run parallel to it.


Bull in a China Shop

I am not all warm and cozy about Vladmir Putin; I actually don't like him, but, you know ......

The US and the EU have been tiptoe-ing about what to do (or not do) to intervene in the Syrian civil war. Our State Department has been doing reasonably well at what state departments get paid to do - negotiating terms of diplomatic settlements to war. They don't get paid to bomb people or move troops and equipment into combat. They get paid to divert that need.

So . . . . talk talk talk . . . . who gets invited . . . . who sits where . . . . and at best all they came up with was a tentative and fragile lull in the fighting. But no real end of Syria's war in sight.

Enter Russia, stage left. They bomb, they fight, they destroyed 200 oil wells and thousands of oil tankers that were held by "opposition groups". (The Russians themselves lost 2000 soldiers in the fighting. ) That work being done, the Russians quickly pull out (to some extent) and leave Syria in a more stable condition (albeit that Assad is still in power), and the US has backed off it's demand that Assad get booted out, because, you know, things are starting to stabilze there and we don't want to create yet another power vacuum (like we did in Iraq!). So .... Russia's idea, as much as it opposed the diplomatic work of the US & EU was a good one - stop talking and bomb the shit out of somebody. Maybe sometimes, you need to bring a bull into the china shop?

.... and another thing .....

Regarding Obama's nomination to the Supreme Court. The Republican plan is simple: wait to see who gets elected in November, then make a quick Yes/No decision on Obama's pick. If Hillary gets in, it's a "Yes"; if an R gets in it's a "No". Simple as that.

Actually SC judges should be assigned for a tenure of no more that 8 years (two voting cycles). This lifetime appointment idea worked way back when people typically died at 45 years old; times change.

Hillary's email . . . . "A Tempest in a Teapot"

I'm not going to incriminate people I knew back when we worked on Navy submarines. I'll just say that Hillary's ocassional use of an unsecure server for some "sensitive" emails to her staff is "so what?". They've been digging into that topic for a year and still can't come up with anything worth indicting. Drop it. Move on. (FYI, I am not voting for Hillary.)

Advertising slogans

Remember the great ad slogans?

Let's add this one to the list.....

"Never touch a dead mouse again." ? ? ? ... that's the best you guys can come up with?

Local Art Museum Visit

I dropped into the Fitchburg Art Museum (one street away from Debbie's bank), as the weather is pissy and anyway they have a cool exhibit going on. It's "art", so it's a little strange, but cool. It actually was pretty impressive. Not a very big exhibit, but the pieces were impressive.

Seems like every other retired person decided to do the same thing today !







A Bowl of Espresso Pods

(They look like Christmas ornaments.)


Cold, Windy Softball Game

My favorite photo model (Emma) is also a wicked good pitcher (who will be pitching in college next year as well). Watching the game today, We the People were ever so chilly and windswept, but it was worth it. She pitched Shrewsbury to a win over Leominster.

At bat.


Rick, David, Karen, Debbie


David's New Car (his 146th, I think?)


IRA's - Ironic Retirement Accounts

There's a cruel irony attached to IRA's - taxes.

Let's say there are these two guys, and both of them need to buy new ride-around lawn mowers (or whatever - pick anything) that are priced at $1500. One guy is still in the work force, one guy is retired.

In truth, the new machine costs the working guy $1500, but it costs the retired guy $1875. Why? Because the retired guy has to pull that cash out of his IRA and get hit with (typically) 20% in state and federal taxes. (1875-20% =1500)

That reality, I say is cruel and ironic. Retired people must pay more for the stuff they buy.

For example.... that retaining wall I need to get replaced. The guy priced it at $4800. That kind of hurts because my life is not going to get one molecule better due to replacing that wall. So I need to withdraw $6000 for something I'm not even ready to pay $4800 for. (6000-20% = 4800)

Then you think ..... that wall repair guy has to pay (let's say 20% = $960) taxes on the $4800 I give him. That's a total tax take of $2160 (1200+960) for $4800 worth of work and labor. That's 45% of the purchase price of $4800 gets collected in taxes. (2160/4800)

The irony is killing me.

I'm going upstairs to pop an extra pulse rate pill.


Gorgeous day, so I did a morning's worth of Spring yard work. Running the snow blower dry - it's been running for over 3 hours, and still going ! Cleaned the shed a bit, but mostly cleaned up dead leaves and pulled up dead plants and young weeds. All that junk is going toward filling the pond hole.


Came to an agreement with the retaining wall guy, and now waiting for a bank transfer to get started on that.

jpg Lucky Me

Another nice weather day, and I opted out of yard work (my bones are too sore from yesterday) and went to Boston; specifically, the Italian North End. Had a double espresso and chocolate cheese cake. The guy said the sugar and saturated fats didn't count today because today is the birthday of St Almanzo di Bologna. (Maybe he just made that up?)

I thought of Brother Bob while sitting there. Imagined he was there too, having a cafe' Americano and a canoli.

Walked back to South Station via The Greenway, which is starting to blossom out.

I was back home by 2:00.


I was just snooping around Google News, looking for a few giggles (should it be called "Giggle News"?), and I found them. A laugh and a good coffee start the day off right.

This is Sarah Palin's recent comments on global warming. She does not believe it's really happening, and to clear it up for us, here's how she put it ......

"It's something that our [political] candidates should be talking about and giving us their view on and hopefully acknowledging that it needs to become, in the science community, less political. Otherwise, it leads us to believe that so many things coming from perhaps the scientists could be bogus. If this is bogus, you know, what else are they trying to tell us and trying to control us around if they can't get this one right."

As I wander through her fragmented sentences, she doesn't trust that (97% of the world) scientists are telling the truth about the atmosphere. They are, she says, "poilticizing" the topic. She thinks instead of believing science that we need to hear what our political candidates have to say on the topic. (WTF??)

I typically like to finish my journal comments with a punch line, but I'm gonna leave her babbling 6th grade level of stupidity right where it is.


A very thoughtful cartoon from the New Yorker .....


I may have some of this figured out ....

"Transvestite" = a person who simply likes to dress (ocassionaly) in clothes of the opposite sex, yet feels that they are in their correct sex; they just do this because they feel like dressing like that sometimes.

"Transgender" = a person who sincerely feels and believes that he (she) really belongs to the sex opposite of their physical organs. For example, his organs are physically male but he truly feels he is female. He (she) sincerely feels that he has the wrong sex organs.

"Transsexual" = a person who has actually undergone surgery to change their organs from one sex to the other.

I think?

The Back Yard Retaining Wall Project

Last Month (View from my neighbor's Yard)


7:20 AM This Morning









It's Done !!


Now we need to get some topsoil and plants growing along the top edge.

@ Leisa's & Michael_Vinny's

We went down for the afternoon (Ramona is going home Tuesday) for food and chit-chat. Sat at their bar, drank draft beer and sangria and traded stories about basements, X-boxes, kids going to Europe, etc etc. Turns out that the day before was Leisa's birthday ! ? (Who knew?). It was a good afternoon.




My Sunday Night Movie

(I always cry at the end of this one.)


Digging through mom's old picture, book this morning. This was 1947 (mom was 26), taken in Putnam,Ct, where they had cousins.

That is not dad's car. I remember that his first car was a 1936 Buick, and that ain't it.


jpg "Weeds, mulch, pathway stones, rocks and pebbles all played a large part in my day, yesterday, so this morning I am draggin' my little red wagon.
Don't expect much spunk from me today."


Canoes at the Wildlife Sanctuary (Today)


(1980 vintage Minolta 24-35 zoom on a Fuji XE1 body / processed for "drama".)

In Praise of Shell Scripts

It's been a few years since I wrote a shell script, and (truth be told) I had to open an old book to freshen up on it, but it's done now and I'm here to brag about it.

The problem: GIMP (the image processing program) creates multi-layered files (*.xcf). Each layer is a picture. Sometimes you need to strip each of the layers out and save them to individual image files (*.jpg). Hard to believe, but there is only one very complicated and computer-geeky mess of a program that does this and it often does it badly. So ..... after an hour of freshing up on shell scripts, and 5 minutes to actually write it, here it is:

That little thing will save me many hours of work in the future !!

I LOVE scripts !