Dave's Journal, Aug2015

August was originally Sextilis, the sixth month in the Roman calendar and consisted of 31 days. It became the eighth month with a length of 29 days around 700 BC when January and February were added to the year. Julius Caesar added two days to the month around 45 BC. It was later renamed to honor Augustus Caesar in 8 BC.

I never get tired of looking at cars, and have been cruising car shows when I can. This weekend was a big one, near Boston - Tutto Italiano. This year, every Ferrari in the world was there, mostly grouped up on the hilltop. But lots of other great stuf as well. Had to be close to $100M worth of cars there.

More modestly, Friday night was the local "cruisin' car" event at Kimball's Farm Stand. Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

Be Patient while pictures load !

My favortite set of old car picture books....


A Hearty Soul

Our neighbor here is in her 80's, maybe close to 90. She is out there (walking fast as her age allows) in all kinds of weather in every season of the year. I've seen her when the snow banks were taller than she is.

Well, it is pouring at the moment, and there she is.


jpg "There is no backup plan when the parking at Alewife train station is full." . . . Mike.

When I go to Boston, I drive half way (25 miles), park at the Alewife station and train in the rest of the way. As I said in the last paragraph . . . there is no backup plan for parking. Over there on the right is my little Honda taking the *very last space in the overflow lot at the train station*.

The day actually got better from that point. Deb was out shopping with Elise and Emma (God save the budget). The Harbor walk was perfect, the weather too, until I got almost all the way home, so I can't complain. Great day for me. I did the harbor walk, which is different every time I do it (it was way too hot to walk inland).

Boston was a town of visual contradictions today. I love the place.



This UGLY UGLY painfully slow moving boat (I think a cargo ship) had everyone looking out asking "WTF" is that???" . . . Reminded me of those awful cruise ships that invade the river ports in Venice (Italy) and along the rivers of scenic European places. They totally destroy the look and feel of the place for everyone else visiting there except the people on the cruise ship. Anyway . . . I guess that cargo ships have to pass through the harbor here ..... strange that I never did see one before . . . maybe they slip through at night ? :)



I flashed my senior citizens card and dropped a huge $3.20 on a round trip harbor cruise over to the Constitution pier (it is in drydock repair) and back. This is one of the best kept secrets around Boston .... best $3.20 you will spend that day .... hell, I dropped $10 on a glass of "so-so" Reisling after the harbor cruise . . . but, truth be told, that Reisling allowed me to sit and sip and watch those summer skirts to pass by :))


Small Trees

I stumbled upon an exhibit of bonsai trees down at the botanical gardens. These old and very small trees occur naturally where their root systems are bound by rocks or sand or whatever. The starved roots just concentrate on keeping the tree alive and not growing it large.

This 250 year old Juniper (it grew in the wild) normally grows to about 25feet. This one was about 3feet tall.



Gardeners grow bonsai trees artificially by taking the tree out of its pot and cutting the roots severely every few years. Also note how small the containers are here.

This tree was 75 years old. I don't remember what kind it is. It's about 4feet tall.


A Scenic View Out of the Garden


It Doesn't Pay ("return on your investment") To Make The World Better

I mean, there is no cash profit to be made by fixing what's really wrong with the world (armed conflicts, disease and starvation in "3rd world countries", or for that matter disease and starvation among poor people in our "1st world" countries, political corruption, etc etc etc) . This is why, averaged over the whole lot of the 7billion people on the planet, the world we inhabit (and theoretically "own"), after so many centuries of cultural, political, religious, social and economic evolution is still a garbage pit.

It pays to be a famous entertainment person (actor, rock star, movie producer), a killer real estate dealer, a "money manager" for wealthy people, a political "media darling" (the stupider, the better), a yacht builder, an i-pod app creator . . . .

This is not a new train of thought, but now and then it pays (no pun intended) to remind ourselves of exactly why the world is still #####d-up, and always will be.

This one goes back a few years .....


Happy Birthday Deb ! !

We walked Boston, had lunch eats at a little (new) Italian place on Newbury St. called Piattini. Good Italian food and wine, and the prices were reasonable (for Newbury Street).


jpgFalling in . . .
and out . . .
of Love

That's my Fuji X100 over there. I tell people that it's the best digital camera I ever owned, and my 2nd favorite camera of all time (the Konica Hexar gets that award).

So why . . . every few months or so . . . do I get this close to selling it?

It's the perfect camera for me, it's small, pretty as can be, makes wonderful pictures right out of the box, it handles like it's part of my body, it gets lots of "I like your camera" comments from other photographers. I just love the thing.

But it's quirky (the menu system is a labyrinth), it does not zoom, you cannot change the lens, the pictures are soft at f2.0, using a filter sometimes gives you ghost images or hot spot flares.

So, I go through this exercise now and then. Take photos (like that one on the right) and write up the ad, and do some pricing research, and let all these thoughts stew overnight. I get up the next morning and give the thing a hug and wonder WTF was I thinking of about selling away my best camera.
And . . . what would I replace it with ???

I think that the strongest bonds between people and their stuff is similar to the strongest bonds between people. Going through this cycle of love-hate-love-hate-love-hate tests that bond, and either breaks it or strengthens it. I am pretty sure now that me and the X100 will stay together until one of us dies (which is not on my schedule for many years to come). Other cameras will, as always, come and go, but this one is here to stay. (I still have the Konica Hexar, by the way.)

The most weird stuff pops into my head when I'm sitting in the dentist's chair. Like today, for instance.

I've had this one photo of mine that has been sticking in my mind for a long time as "This thing has potential, but it's boring and it needs something".

So, while the good doctor was fiddling about inserting and measuring and say stuff like "Hmmmm", and "Aw sh#t", I was thinking about my picture.

"Okay, Dave, this is going back to the lab for a rework" is what he said at exactly the same moment that I thought "A butterfly is what that picture needs"

And that pretty much explains what I have been doing for the last 3 hours . . . inserting a butterly in my picture (among a few other sneaky doings), and here it is . . . finished at long last....


It's off to the lab to see how it looks as a real live paper print.

jpg I hate it when I am feeling great - the best I have been in years - and somebody tells me "You may be sick". Well, sh#t, I may be from Mars too, but so what? Anyway, late last year some of my blood numbers caught the doctor's attention and we have been watching my PSA levels and that gauze there covers the needle hole from today's blood test, the results of which I won't know for a week. This is a non-issue, but it's my journal that you're reading here so I can record what I like, right?.

A more exciting event was that last night Elise blew 2 tires (2! 2? yeh 2 ) on a dark rural road near here with no cell phone service. Long story short, she is fine and back home and thanks to the anonymous nice old people in the house she walked to that helped her get help. She slept here, had the car fixed and drove home safely this morning. Scared the sh#t out of her parents who lost contact with her for a while last night.

Cheers for Deb who jumped all over this and got Elise back here safely last night.

It's been bothering me for some years now that my son Mike does not exhibit tons and tons of creativity. You know, I mean, like "What have you invented lately, Mike?".

Well . . . here's what: Mike's Go-pro+Plus

Aug14th . . . a beautiful day in Boston. I put on my good sneakers and walked more than ever. Off the train at Charles St., walked along the river (snapped a bicycle tour group and a panorama from the Harvard Bridge). Then down to the Arts Museum. Gotta be honest, I was not in an arsty mood so I just skimmed a few rooms and then settled into the cafe for a Chardonnay and a biscotti ( sugar and alcohol . . . . that should get me back to the train station).

I'm sitting in the museum cafe wondering if I should take the train right there or walk back through The Back Bay and get on back at Charles Street. Then . . . then . . . the Forces of Evil took command of my destiny. They (the FoE) demanded a report on the summer dresses along Newbury Street. "Resistance is Futile" they reminded me. So . . . I trek'd back to the Charles St station, via Newbury St.





Happy Birthday Dad !


Pictures from Chris' & Dominique's Last Sunday

People send me all kinds of strange pictures.


(Thanks, Pete.)


Is Donald Really Hillary's Puppet?

Donald T. is doing a fabulous job making a joke the Republicans. Not that they needed his help - The R's sold out true Conservative intelligence for media darling stupidity a few years back, but that's another story. The idea here is . . . is there anyone else on the 2016 campaign teams (for the D's or the R's) that is hurting the R's more than Donald? Is he really a liberal Democrat trying to undermine the R's candidacy? Is he really taking his marching orders from Hillary??

Packing for Italy

We have started the countdown to Italy (Oct 6 - 14). I am panicking about the language, but promise to pick up speed soon. Mike thinks we can each get along with one carry-on size bag plus a purse or camera bag. I was doubting that, but today's first shot at it shows that it's possible, if we can do laundry at mid-visit, and that is not hard.

My attitude is to pack light, and go to a pharmacy in Lucca to get soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. and buy whatever light sweater I made need. Recalling our 2009 trip, when we were in Padua, I boxed up all my "tourista Americano" wardrobe and mailed it all home and bought "locale Italiano" clothes at an outdoor market and had a tailor lady sew hems for me. I am now packing very conservative clothes.

My new Cabela's duffle bag is perfect (I think it was $49).




My camera bag will also serve as a carry-around while we are sight-seeing (I generally don't walk around with a camera bag). I am hoping never to use the zoom lens, but it's coming as an emergency backup. Prime lens will be the Fuji 18mm.


Practicing in-camera panorama stills
for the streets and museums of Florence


Holding the camera vertically adds 50% to the vertical view.

Dave's Medical Update

Well, I am in good shape. The doctor said my PSA levels went down slightly (this is good), and he is not panicking. We talked, and I talked him into a biopsy after we get back from Italy. He says there are many non-threatening reasons to have the PSA levels I have, but a biopsy is quick and easy (by medical standards, anyway).

Sometime between now and Italy (Oct 6th), I hope the dental lab gets my teeth squared away.

This will give me just enough breathing room between those two topics to call U-Mass Medical and schedule testing for a cochlear implant.

I'll tell you. If I didn't have this medical sh#t going on, I'd have nothing to talk about !

1. I am getting along just fine now with running all my food through the food processor. It actually has helped my digestion enormously.
2. I have absolutely no symptoms whatsoever of a prostate problem, so that does not bother me day-to-day.
3. I also don't mind being deaf, as much as you might think. Most of what I can hear is hardly worth listening to anyway !!

So . . . you gotta wonder why I need all ths medical attention ! ?

I Found This Fabulous (1947) Picture

Went to the safe deposit box for our passports. Rediscovered a picture from my 2nd birthday in this old photo book. Turned this picture over and Mom had identified all the kids. It's (almost) everyone I can remember from that time. Incredible, and thank you mom!!

It also records that street address (108 14th Street) that I was searching for a few months back. See the street view picture below.

Footnote: Mom was 25 years old when this picture was taken ! Look how formally she wrote our names out. I am "DAVID LEO" !!



Italy is coming up fast

I am actually getting a bit anxious about the language. Have also been reading up on the etiquitte (sp?). Love those Italians, but you know every place you go has a different vibe. Anyway, I am wrestling with it, just because I don't want to be another tourist who assumes that the local Italians owe it to me to speak my language. (Americans have a bad reputation in Europe, on this topic. We act like Europe is Disneyworld, when it's really someone else's home.) Anyway, I am doing my best to get back into the language. I am compiling a list of phrases that are slighlty out of the usual "hello" and "how much is that".

I speak little Italian.
Parlo poco italiano.

My hearing is very bad.
Il mio udito e' molto cattivo.

Please speak simple and slow.
Si prega di parlare semplice e lento.

Two tickets to Florence, please.
Due biglietti per Firenze, per favore.

I am sorry.
Mi dispiace.

Yesterday today tomorrow.
Ieri oggi omani.

milk water coffee
latte acqua caffe'

When does the train [bus] depart [return]?
Quando parte [fa ritorno] il treno [bus] ?

Depart soon.
Partenza presto.

Return tonight at eighteen o'clock
Stasera rientro alle ore diciotto.

Where is the train station?
Dove si trova la stazione?

Where is the bus stop?
Dove' la fermata dell'autobus?

Very good.
Molto bene.

I am sick.
Sono ammalato.

My stomach hurts.
Mi fa male lo stomaco.

You are a moron.
Sei un idiota.

You are an asshole.
Sei uno stronzo.

You are very kind.
Sei molto gentile.

You're a hot babe.
Sei una bambina calda.

No, she is not my wife. I met her in a bar in Milan and she followed me down here on the train. I think her name is Debbie.
No, lei non e' mia moglie. L'ho incontrata in un bar di Milano e mi ha seguito qui sul treno. Credo che il suo nome e' Debbie.


Since I spent all day yesterday doing yardwork and gardening stuff, I bugged out of here today. Met Mike and his work buddy Iuri at Harvard Square (they work there) for coffee and pastry. The place was jammed with students who have just moved in for the new semester. Zillions of them.

Then I hopped the train into town. Not many tourists now, as a few weeks back. Nice day, long walk. So sleepy now.



jpg knock knock knock

I open the door and see an FBI guy, a CIA guy, a HS chick, all dressed in black and wearing (what else?) dark glasses.
"You Dave Leo?"
"Depends on who's asking"
"We're asking."
"Yeh I'm him."

The HS chick pulls a picture out of her chest pocket and hands it to me. (It's still warm.)

"You know this guy?"

I hesitate for a moment and the CIA guy writes something in his notebook ( it's a small Moleskine' with a snakeskin cover, and I see that he's using a fountainn pen (a Pelican, I think), so maybe he's not the sh#thead I expected him to be.)

"Yeh, I seen him in a bar in Winsconsin last October. Said his name was Jeb, I think. Yeh, that's him .... Jeb. He goes there a lot, you should go to Wisconsin and check it out."
"You're not sending us on a wild goose chase, are you, Dave?"
"No, Really, Wisconsin is where this guy hangs out. Really."

They Leave. I get on the phone.

"Sh#t, Mike, whatever you do, stay the hell out of Wisconsin for a few months."

How close are you to Cher?

Let's say that you are generally familiar and communicative with 200 people (family, friends, internet pals). Each of those 200 people knows, let's say, 100 other people not included in your original group of 200. Each of those 100 people knows 50 "new" people, and each of those 50 know 25 more new people and each of those 25 know 12 new people and they each know 6 new people. That means, in our network, we now have 200x100x50x25x12x6 = 1.8Billion people who connect with you along a zig-zag path of only 6 people.

There are only about 310million people living in the US now. So, there is a very high probability that you are connected with Cher by a path that has only 6 people between you and her. This is not an original idea of mine, but for some reason, that idea flashed back into my head today.