Dave's Journal, Aug 2012

Q: Would a federalized health care system suck more than the present capitalized (privatized) system?

A: I actually don't know, but I cannot imagine any system sucking more than the one that exists in the US today.

Note #1: I am not talking about Obamacare (a flawed law that needs 10-20 years of debugging before it works right, just like Medicare did), I am talking in general about the choice between a federally regulated health care payment system and a capitalistic payment system (as we have today).

Note #2: I am not talking about free health care for people who have spent their lives sponging off the system. In fact, I am not talking about "free" anything for anybody! I am talking about how health care expenses and payments are handled for us folks who spent our lives in the middle-class, pulled more than our weight in the workplace, paid all our taxes and have medical insurance.

What, you ask politely (but hoping that I just drop it and move on), brings this up?

Well . . . .

But first, a digression . . . . I got a new camera bag for our EU trip in a few weeks . . . nice LoweproRezo bag, but it had an ugly and useless and annoying flap that bothered me . . . here is what their customer service guy said in response to my question . . . jpg The front flap on the Rezo is ½ style and ½ security and weather protection for the accessory pocket underneath it. I've seen a couple of people cut the flap off. Depending on how carefully you do this it may or may not affect your warranty. Basically, if some structural failure occurred due to your cutting, it would not be covered by warranty.

Don't know if I voided the warranty, but I like my new bag a lot more now that I fixed it (and added a water bottle sack) . . .

yet another diversion . . . a short, but fascinating, utoob clip . . . Wonder Woman . . . (I forgot how great TV drama was back in the 70's)

The Coolest Mars Landing Ever

I have forgotten how exciting the US space program can be. It seems to have been buried the last few years under politics, economics and social problems. This story, hot today, is just great!

jpg(my cut and paste from the Time website)

NASA's latest Mars lander transformed an engineering team's high-risk brainstorming into reality on Sunday, safely lowering the 1 ton, $2.5 billion Curiosity rover into Mars' Gale Crater. The touchdown required an extraordinary sequence of events designed to slow the incoming spacecraft from a blistering 13,000 m.p.h. to 2 m.p.h. in just seven minutes. Among the new tools in play: a 51-ft.-diameter parachute with eight suspension lines - the biggest ever used in an extraterrestrial landing - and retrorockets designed to slow the craft almost to a hover. Then there was the little matter of the spacecraft's transforming itself into a sky crane just prior to landing, using nylon cords to lower Curiosity the final 25 ft. to the ground. (See the photo here. Like Sci-Fi, only it's real !)

jpg Link: Time Article

The photo (artists drawing) shows how the spacecraft hovered 25 ft above the Martian surface and slowly lowered the vehicle. Incredible stunt !

I am almost in tears looking at this stuff. This has been a "closet" project for 10 years; it got no media attention at all. What an incredible accomplishment . . . look at the complexity of this landing these people pulled off at a distance of (what?) 100,000,000 miles !

I can't even parallel park my car without banging into something !


Happy Birthday Debbie !


Dave Cuts a Wire

When my electric hedge trimmer suddenly stopped, I thought "Sh#t, nothing works right anymore", and I did this and that but the damn think would not go on. "Sh#t".

Then I thought "Gee, that wire looks shorter than it used to be."

Okay, so you figured by now that I cut the wire, and you are wondering how I am still alive to tell about it.

I am here because someone was smart enough to invent (and someone else was smart enough to install in my garden area) a . . . . what do they call it . . . a ground fault interrupter electrical receptical (sounds almost pornographic, I think).

Who Writes Greeting Cards?

As it is Debbie's birthday, I found myself in the card shop looking for (as you may wildly imagine) a card for her. Read . . . read . . . read . . . and I ask myself (for the millionth time in my life) "Who writes this stuff?"

"Our eyes caught each other from beyond the universe and I knew that I found the one soul in all of . . . "

"When you touched my hand, I knew that forever after . . . ."

It takes me forever to find a card that approximately sounds like maybe I would possibly think of saying something like this on your birthday, honey.

But . . I love you and happy birthday.


Ten years ago, I decide to quit my job at the bakery, subrent my apartment, buy a dog and travel across the USA to collect enough stories of my own to write the next great American road novel. I was on my way. The only train out of Hoboken that allowed pets on board, left the station at 2AM, so me and Pocahontas (my new dog) were pretty tired right from the start.

The rain poured all night and all the next morning and you could feel the train wheels slipping on the tracks whenever he tried to speed up or slow down. We actually slid through a "stop" signal in a small Penssylvania town, crashing through the swingdown gate with the red stripes on it. Two police cars tried to chase us down the tracks, but, hell, who can stop a train that's in a hurry?

We got off the train in Howell, Ohio, a burned out steelmill town populated now by third generation drunks and hookers, everybody else with skills or ambition having left there 30 years ago. Me and "Po" (which I called her for short) stepped into the Lazy Dream Diner ("Cheap but Good" said the flashing neon sign). Well, okay, I won't argue with the "Cheap" part. It wasn't the worse meatloaf I ever ate, but, as hungry as she was, Po sniffed the portion I placed in a dish on the floor and left it right there.

Half hour later we were set down under a bridge for the night, when two local drunks decided they needed some laughs before bedtime and startied in with "Hey, you ain't from round here, are ya? Whatcha doin sniffin round our bridge? You lookin for a fight or somethin?" It looked to me like they outweighed me and Po by 200 pounds, plus they were drunk and one had a broken baseball bat he kept tapping against his leg. The other one just dribbled beer out the corners of his mouth onto his belly. "We don't like strangers comin up and upsettin how things gets done round here." I didn't think I could talk my way out of a problem here, so I grabbed my bag, yelled for Po and bolted down the embankment under the bridge, arcoss the tracks into a feightyard of rusting trains. We cut under a box car and there were two more beer drunk locals waiting for us, so we cut right down running along the tracks.

The first two must have guessed what we'd do, and they stopped us dead and we were blocked from front and behind, and outgunned now by maybe 600 pounds. I figured me and Po were up for a few days in intensive care, and then I saw the bat on its way to my head, and then a flash past between the bat and me and then the bat was gone, there was a dog chomping on a hand and it was Po and the hand was that drunk guy's hand. And I swung around and kicked one of the others pretty much where it was gonna hurt him the most. Then Po was on top of another one with a chunk of his beard in her mouth, and the last I saw of the fourth drunk was him scrambling under that boxcar on his way the hell out of there.

Po just sat down kindly, looked at me and I swear . . . I swear that this is true . . . she smiled at me.

Newport, RI

jpg Not that I needed convincing, but yesterday's trip to Newport convinced me: I should have been very rich. Filthy rich. Dripping wet rich. Then I would live on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Hard to say, at the moment, which mansion I would pick to live in. Yesterday we took the tour of Rosecliff. Not bad for a Summer place.

"Rosecliff was commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899. Her father, James Graham Fair, was an Irish immigrant who made an enormous fortune from Nevada's Comstock silver lode, one of the richest silver finds in history."

The day was nice, hot, tiring. Rebekah slept in the back seat all the way home and arrived refreshed and ready for another adventure; Deb and I slipt into our pyjamas and sent her off with Chris and Mike for the evening.

Newport pictures are here: Summer2012



I wonder what the poor people are doing today?
We picked up Subways and ate in the park, watching the ducks, etc swimming around the pond.


jpg Catherine flew in Friday night. Barbeque yesterday, and today (Sunday) we took the ferry out to Governer's Island off Boston. Never had done that before; very nice tourist day. We watched some of an "old tyme" baseball game being played. Viewed from the top of the fort, there was the city of Boston in the background.

We also saw the USS Constitution under sail ! It was magnificent. This is a one-day-a-year sailing, and it was "escorted" by probably 100 small sailboats. We were very lucky to stumble upon this view from our ferry ride.

They Went Home Today





I always have a tough time writing something after a sad anouncement, like the one above. It's been days and days now, but for anyone reading this, it comes like one second after reading about Gus's death.

Life goes on, they say. . . .

3 lenses for Europe ?

jpg I will pack my clothes in about 20 minutes, when the time comes. In the meanwhile, I will spend many days deciding what lenses to bring with me (the camera is set - Nikon D5100). I will only carry around the camera / lens in a bag, but the big decision is what lens? I actually can't make up my mind. I have a bunch of prime (fixed focal lengths) that make fabulous pictures, and two zooms that make adequate pictures, but are convenient in that they zoom.

I thought I had found the best option, when I picked up a used Nikon 24-50 zoom (for $120 ! ) - that could be the "one and only" for the trip. But, I did some sample shots and decided that at 50mm, the image quality was weak compared to my 50mm prime lens. (But, it wasn't bad at 24mm or 35mm.) That was disappointing.

So, today, I twiddled with my little bag and found a way to stash the camera and 3 lenses into it. The whole bunch is too heavy to carry all day around the cafes and museums, but I can mount one lens and leave the other 2 at the hotel, and decide each day which one to use. So . . . I am bringing the 28/2.8, 35/1.8 and 50/1.8 - all 3 are light, small and make great pictures.

If you hear of anyone wanting a Nikon 24-50 zoom for $75 (an absolute steal !) . . . .


Turns out to be a US patent granted on Aug.21.2012, and further turns out that my name is on it as one of the "et al" people. Goes back so far that I can't recall exactly what we were designing at the time, and the Patent Document is so boring I have to wonder why GE decided to go ahead with it, but . . . hey . . . it eats up another minute of my 15 minutes of fame, I suppose? (I'm down to 6 now.)

Curiosly, if you serach on that number in Google, you get the phone number of a shoe shop in the Bronx, which makes me think that Debbie had something to do with this.

life, kids and grandkids

nothing makes me more thoughtful than cooking while listening to music. in this instance, it occured to me that i have learned more about life from my kids and grandkids than i did from my parents. maybe my parents taught me how the old world used to work and my kids now teach me how the new world works.

On the Road

I went to bed early Saturday night (around 9 P.M.) so that I could be up early (about 5 A.M.) Sunday as we were heading to the airport to fly down to D.C.In my insanity I thought: If we got in the car and drove we could get to D.C. before the plane even took off in the morning. . . . . . . Two hours later we found ourselves on the highway, heading to D.C., and 8 hours later we were here. . . .

We had to stop by dads house to warn him that we had already left and that he didn't need to come pick us up for an airport run, and we needed gas and snacks.

There's a lot of my gen people out there who will think these words came from Jack Kerouac's classic "On the Road". Sorry, kids. It's from Mike's weblog.


Been digging in dirt and shredding plants and turning compost and tripping to the dump for the last 3 out of 4 days. Yesterday was my day away from that and I trekked out to The Ox Bow Wildlife Reserve.

It was boring. The only interesting thing was the reflection in the river at one point, so I played with the polarizer and made an artful background shot. Last night, I overlayed a photo of some Greek statue from our Newport trip and . . . here you go . . . "art" jpg


Page written by Dave Leo, July2012

O, I believe
Fate smiled and destiny
Laughed as she came to my cradle
"Know this child will be able"
Laughed as she came to my mother
"Know this child will not suffer"
Laughed as my body she lifted
"Know this child will be gifted . . . .
With love, with patience and with faith
She'll make her way"

. . . "Wonder", Natalie Merchant