i watch a lot of movies this time of year (even Rudolf, Frosty and those folks !!) and have a stack of books right here, and the fireplace, that should carry me through winter..... and i really like the idea of Christmas, so my winter indoors is never as dark, cold and gloomy as the outside weather is.

spent hours today setting up to do a stopmotion movie and learning the software, and finally decided it would be an enormous waste of a lot of time for no good reason.... i have no plot, or any idea what i should shoot .... but if a good idea ever comes to me .... i'm ready to roll the cameras.

picked C & M up at the airport .... they are back from thanksgiving in Texas with Catherine and Loretta and family .....


gif in Italia, Mike and i got to thinking about a card game called "brisk" when i was a kid, but Italiani call it briscola.... of course i bought a deck of official briscola cards, and struggled to recall all the rules and lost the struggle as we played on the terrace in Padua.

but M sent me a link to a page of rules, and i reproduced some of it on this page: rules of 2-player briscola and i suspect we will give it try some sunday after breakfast (or at breakfast).

(i just made that cute but extremely annoying animated GIF on the left and it gave me an idea about writing a javascript card game .... keep me busy this winter, and of course i will never finish it.)

To click through a simulated game of Briscola (two players), one play at a time, see my page
cardgame.html .... (be patient, that's 7Mb of image files !!)

jpgThe Kite Runner

a story of repentance and redemption that doesn't end the way you think it will
.... not timeless literature, but very well written ...
if you ever did something that you are painfully sorry about, you'll want to keep some tissues nearby.

or if you ever tried to do something wonderful and had it turn into a horror that ruined lives .....

HTML .....
i've taken my devotion to a more public level ...


people behaving like people ....

i did one of my windtunnel experiments with the little engineers class at the middle school today, and they were buried in the activity when three school system admins showed up for an after-hours tour .... they were extremely courteous and curious and asked "what are they doing" and as i opened my mouth, two people who hadn't the slightest f%$^ing clue what the kids were doing jumped in front of me and "explained" it all.

being that the years of self-promotion are well behind me, i let the mouths flap and the stupidity spew into to the air, recalling that in my early days i was the worst of that breed ....

kindly, one of the visitors tugged me aside and asked me who i was and what was going on, and i winced and said (in my uncontrollably sarcastic manner) that i came in to fix the toilet plumbing and one thing led to another and here i was doing wind tunnel tests with paper airplanes ..... she winced and her eyes said that she was smart enough not to believe what i just told her.

(i hit her up for a date, but just then Debbie's picture fell out of my bag and she said ...."oh i know her, she works at my favorite dress shop" .... i told her that D was a distant cousin who had a crush on me and sent me her picture every Christmas .... she winced and her eyes said that she was smart enough not to believe what i just told her.)

Richard Nixon's Health Care Reform Plan

To be clear .... I voted for Richard Nixon and for Ronald Reagan ...... but I despise what Mr. Nixon (a brilliant, knowledgeable statesman) became in the end. And at the moment, I am an Obama fan, and I rage that our country needs health care reform desperately and NOW !!

It is with some irony then that Ted Kennedy (the Lion of Health Care Reform) died recently and a little known fact emerged in a Newsweek article the week after his death. It reads .....

The Obama health reform package Kennedy supported in his last days is similar to one Kennedy helped defeat when proposed by President Richard Nixon. If anything, the Obama plan is more conservative. Nixon would have mandated that all employers offer coverage to their employees, while creating a subsidized government insurance program for all Americans that employer coverage did not reach. It would take a miracle to pass such a plan today - public insurance plan and an employer mandate are two provisions of the proposals now in congress that are most in doubt.

But Kennedy helped kill Nixon's proposal not only because he preferred a government insurance option for everyone, but because he believed it was politically achievable. Medicare, the government program for the elderly, was then only nine years old, enacted as part of President Lyndon Johnson's campaign to expand the social safety net. Liberals hoped this would be a first step towards a national health insurance program that the next Democratic president could enact. That victory seemed around the corner - Nixon proposed his plan in 1974, while embattled in the Watergate scandal.

President Jimmy Carter did not make health reform a priority, however, and Kennedy later regretted rejecting Nixon's proposal. "It was a rare moment in his senate career where he made a fundamental miscalculation about what was politically possible - a lot of liberals did," says Yale University political scientist and progressive health reform advocate Jacob Hacker. "What was not recognized by anyone at the time was that this was the end of the New Deal Era. What would soon come crashing over them was the tax revolts" that ushered in Ronald Reagan and a conservative, anti-government philosophy.

I'll say it again .... the two sided, confrontational, I-must-win-and-you-must-loose political mentality that we have in the US is literally killing us. If the R's hadn't spawned the Watergate break-in (to "win" and "beat" the D's) and if the D's hadn't used the Watergate scandal to "win" and "beat" the R's then health care reform would have been a done deal 35 years ago, and "both sides could have claimed a victory" .... instead, as always, We got fu%^ed and never even got kissed..... AND ..... AND .... we are still pissing on each other's shoes over which Americans deserve health care and which Americans don't.

Loretta updates her web page
(at last !!!)

L added some new comments (from her clients) to her duola page:

i visit southbridge ...


The World Happiness Map

The Satisfaction with Life Index was created by Adrian G. White, an Analytic Social Psychologist at the University of Leicester, using data from a metastudy. It is an attempt to show life satisfaction (subjective life satisfaction) in different nations.

In this calculation, subjective well being correlates most strongly with health (.7), wealth (.6), and access to basic education (.6).

This is an example of directly measuring of happiness -- asking people how happy they are -- as an alternative to traditional measures of policy success such as GDP or GNP.


USA= #23, Italy = #50

The Golden Age of Radio

jpg Before the internet, before TV .... there was radio, and most specially there was story-telling radio.
The folks at vintage radio shows have converted Gigabytes and Gigabytes of old radio shows to mp3's for playing on your computer or portable mp3 music player (I am listening to The War of the Worlds, as I type this).

The best deal is on the "ftp" page .... for less than $6 (that's six dollars), you can ftp yourself 1Gb of radio show mp3's (that's about 150 shows !!!) ..... I grabbed myself about 400Mb this morning .... you can do anything you want with these .... even burn a CD and share them with anyone !!!.

I got stories from The Lone Ranger, Jean Sheppard, Jack Benny, Death Valley Days, Abbott and Costello, Burns and Allen, Have Gun will Travel...... these were all (except for Jean Sheppard) just going out of existence in the 1950's when we all started watching TV.

Diane Keaton

diane keaton you could get arrested being this cute ...

watched her and Jack N and Keanu R last night
and the movie was very good,

but she was ... absolutely .... perfectly ...... sigh.

Calitri, Italia

for everyone who wants to retire to heaven, before they die, Mike thinks he found the town you are looking for ...

"This place is beyond imagination. Absolutely beautiful town of 6,000, over 2,000 years old, perched precariously on the side of a mountain overlooking the valleys below and snow-capped mountains all around. Surprisingly modern, yet steeped in tradition."

jpg For many, Calitri is the place to retire. Calitri is unspoiled Italy at its finest - overflowing with classic building designs, fine wines and delicious food. The cost of living in Calitri is amazingly affordable. For only $15,000 USD, you can purchase a small, unrestored apartment complete with kitchen and bathroom accommodations according to International Living. Unrestored, classic homes in Calitri can be purchased for as little as $42,000 USD. jpg Those looking to live modern in classic Italy can opt for the restored luxury models for around $64,000. The town of Calitri is surrounded by lush green fields and forests along rolling hillsides, offering great opportunities to wander off and take in the untouched scenery. What's more, you can also receive free health care if you become a European citizen.

I'm ready .... we just got the first 8" of snow this morning and they are talking lots of rain this afternoon .... I'm ready, Deb ..... AND ..... once I am an Italiano .... free medical care for the rest of our (long, happy) lives !!!

In Praise of Lowe's

HomeDepot sucks sucks sucks .... but i like Lowe's.

At 7:30PM last night, i went online and bought a snow blower from Lowe's and requested home delivery .... their procedure says they will call in a few days to set up a delivery date in a week or so.

At 9:30AM this morning I noticed strange tracks in my driveway going around back of the garage .... and there it sat .... my new snowblower .... all i can think of was that i did not hear the guy banging on the door, and he said "screw it" .... and dropped it off anyway.

good thing, as we got 8" of wet snow this morning, and i had about one pint of gas in a can .... enough to do the driveway .... AND ..... now i know how to operate a snowblower !!

(but .... i'll have to sell it when we move to the sweet, warm, sunny, green village hills of Italia next year.)


scroogeCharles Dickens' Wonderful Story

Scrooge: I see that you are chained.

Ghost: I wear the chain I forged in life .... I made it link by link, yard by yard ..... ahhhh... you do not know the weight and length of strong chain you bear yourself, Ebenezer.

Scrooge: But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.

Ghost (screaming): BUSINESS ? ...... mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearence and benevolence were all my business. The work of money and trade was but a drop of water in the ocean of my life's business.


Mike just called from the Italian Consulate's office in Boston .....
I am now officially, legally, internationally a dual citizen of both the USA and Italy, and that makes me feel wicked proud.

jpgMany thanks to Mike and Chris for the enormous amount of work they did to make this a reality.

And to Debbie who has been very understanding, and shares in my pride.

And .... they cut through a mountain of international red tape to have me immediately fitted for an Italian Army uniform (corporal third class, but they promised a lot of growth opportunities when i get back from antarctica).

Need Speed ? .... here ya' go ....

jpg So you want to go Mach 1.8 huh? Well now you can, for the low low asking price of $6,000,000 each. For the first - and possibly the last - time ever you can become the proud owner of 2, Sukhoi SU-27UB 4th generation fighter aircraft. .....Pride Aircraft in Rockford Illinois .... is offering for sale 2 Sukhoi SU-27UB fighters brought straight to you from a former Soviet Republic.

This is generally regarded as the finest fighter plane of its time.

Think this is a joke? ..... go here

MP3 Player "BoomBox"

jpgwent shopping for one for D's ipod .... they want $100 AND it only works with ipods (not also with my sansa, which was another $100) .... then i noticed the "aux" input jacks on our radios .... "aux input jacks ?", methought ... hmmmm .... yes .... two $5 wires later, we now each have our own MP3 boombox players.

"What's it about ? "

i have never been able to answer that question about a book or movie .... my brain goes into overload thinking of all the ideas you get out of the book, and i just stammer some stupid answer.

me: i just saw king kong .... great movie.
him: what's it about?
me: a gorilla
him: oh ... a nature movie.
me: a gorilla and a woman.
him: oh .... a porn movie.
me: he's 50 feet tall.
him: oh ..... it's sci-fi.
me: he wrecks NYC.
him: oh .... a guy-flick monster movie.
me: he dies saving her.
him: oh .... a chick-flick love story.
me: yeh ....that's pretty much it .... a nature, sci-fi, guy-flick, monster, pornographic, chick-flick, love story.

i bring this up because i am reading (the incredibly great book) Rebecca that is classed as a "romance novel" by just about everyone (who hasn't read it), and i don't find one shred of romance in it.... my full book report follows after the break....


jpg star this is a classic, exciting, mystery novel and i loved it.
"romance novel" .... ????? ..... why would anyone call this a romance novel?

i never saw the movie(s) version, so don't know how they compare, but this writing is right up there with The Age of Innocence and The Great Gatsby.

the "plot" itself is so good, i would even recommend reading the "clip notes" they sell in book stores, as long as you understand that all the great literature will be lost.

it's about this young chick who marries an older guy and has a hard time with the housekeeper ....(there, i got that out of the way).

Restoring a WWII P51-Mustang


"Among one of the most famous fighters of World War II, the P-51 Mustang has its roots in both Britain and the USA..... With the forging of the American airframe with the British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, it would be unmatched by any other piston aircraft of World War II."

a detailed reconstruction ...

P51 P51 P51 P51 P51 P51 P51

yes ... it's a small model ...
look at that detail !

An engineer buddy of mine sent me those pictures and this link to the web page of the retired dentist who makes these models. It's definitely worth 10 minutes of your time to read some of that page .... this level of craftsmanship doesn't come to you over a weekend.

Matthew's Knee

report from Texas ...

well matthew has an injury - while throwing a ball at baseball practice today he suddenly thought someone threw a hard baseball at his left knee and he fell down in pain. noone threw a ball at him, something just happened to his knee and that is what it felt like. turns out he has a bone chp in his knee that doesn't belong there, according to the xrays. so tomorrow he goes for an mri. i'll let you know what happens. hope it isn't the end of his baseball playing... he is making the most of it...."can someone get me a blankie?" "can someone heat this up for me?" etc. we'll give him a day of nice stuff then he'll have to deal with it!!

being that it is 150F outside and i am stuck in here, i spent an embarrassingly large part of the day wasting time ....

just for laughs ....
a "rap" song written in 1972
.. totally giberish ....
words are "fake" english ...
this guy is an italian actor.

go here

.... warning ....
spending too much time on boingboing
will warp your mind.

why i don't live in Iceland



Dec.20.2009 weather update
snowblower & generator stand ready
(i wait for Spring)

Killing the Red Nosed Reindeer

jpg i am personally not much of a christmas guy except for the heartwarming movies that make me cry, the gifts people had better give me to make me happy and too-much food and booze that pretty much ice the cake ..... but i would never ever shoot Rudolf the reindeer and string lights on him.

when my brother said that he joined PETA little did i know he meant People to Exterminate Animals .... but .... killing Santa's favorite reindeer and stringing lights on him in a show of twisted christmas irony ..... this is too much ...... too much ....


Video Art

a fascinating art gallery interlacing
layered stills and video.
this is not your youTube junk.


i have to do something like that....


Where do we Live ?

jpg at the moment, to the best of my knowledge
(hedging my bets there)
here is where the Leo branch of my family lives
meaning my generation and the next one down.

this is important, as it gave me something to do
while dinner was cooking.

(sure to piss someone off that i forgot
..... apologies in advance)



added Jose Carrera's version of "Nessun Dorma"
to my video page.... the pleasure was in listening through
amazon and youtube versions, and downloading and listening
over and over to this perfectly beautiful aria, as sung by various tenors.

The story is ..... Calaf has fallen in love with the ice-princess Turandot,
and has already answered the three riddles necessary to marry her.
But she is utterly turned off by his appearance, and he is so in love with
her that he gives her a chance to back out of the bargain ....
"if you discover my name by dawn, you may kill me,
but if you don't then you must marry me as promised."

Good News / Bad News

the good news is that we have passed the darkest day of the year ...

Mon., Dec. 21, 2009, 12:47 PM EST (17:47 UT), marks the solstice - the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere

the bad news is in that second sentence about yesterday being the first day of winter.


And .... on the Day Before Christmas ...

Quando, cosa ai miei occhi pieni di meraviglia dovrebbe apparire,
Ma una slitta in miniatura, e otto piccole renne,
Con un po 'vecchio driver, cosi vivace e veloce,
Sapevo che in un momento in cui deve essere St. Nick.
Piu rapida rispetto aquile suoi corsieri sono venuti,
E lui fischiava e gridava, e li ha chiamati per nome;
"Ora, Dasher! Ora, Dancer! Ora, Prancer e Vixen!
Su, Comet! su Cupido! su, Donder e Blitzen!
Per la parte superiore del portico! alla sommita del muro!
Ora Dash via! Dash via! Dash via tutti! "
Ma l'ho sentito esclamare, prima che ha guidato fuori di vista,
"Buon Natale a tutti, ed a tutti una buona notte."

English translation ....

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


jpg This is from the Italian News service ...

(ANSA) - Rome, December 23 - Telling someone they're talking bulls**t isn't offensive, Italy's highest court ruled Wednesday.

The term "cannot be construed as an offence against the person if it is a mere assessment of the merits of his arguments," the Cassation Court ruled in a 2003 parking row.

The defendant, Davide S., and his father got into an argument with a lawyer who insisted on parking his car in a condo lot near Venice despite an agreement that the carpark was too small for everybody.

When the lawyer, Giancarlo M., continued to remonstrate, Davide allegedly told his father: "Let's go Dad, we've got more important things to do than listen to his bulls**t".

The angry lawyer sued and secured damages in 2004 but an appeals court overturned the ruling a year later.

On Wednesday the Cassation Court said Giancarlo M. had no cause to get so annoyed and no legal entitlement to damages since the term BS was "certainly offensive but in this case merely descriptive, in the defendant's view, of a baseless argument".

The lawyer was instructed to pay court costs.

at first glance you think .... jees, they took this all the way to the Italian Supreme Court .... what an expense.... but then you look at Italian justice .... after years of legal wrangling the jerk who brought it to court lost the case and was sentenced to pay the court costs !!! .... i love it.

jpgDec.25.2009: NORAD confirms it ....
Santa has completed his mission for 2009 ...

we had dinner last night with Mike, Chris,
Andrea and Marion and it was just peachy.

today we are off to Rick's for afternoon dinner. i'll bring a gas mask with me, as i'm sure the alcohol will flow and the talk will be political and huge, choking clouds of opinion will be blown into the atmosphere.


Christmas at Karen's and Rick's .... a Postmortem

my predictions of political (verbal) violence went wrong .... all was calm .... until about 5PM, when the alcohol kicked in, the women migrated to the living room and the men to the kitchen. (i wandered aimlessly looking for a place to go into a coma, but no luck today.)

it got SO BAD in the kitchen that Don himself left for a while and sat with the women. then he went back in and then i did too and it got dead quiet for 60 seconds, but in the next hour, six drunk guys spewed out those clouds of stupidity that had been my forecast for the evening.



and a group shot from Loretta .....

and an older shot of Catherine (the elusive, international woman of mystery who never sends pictures to her dad ! ) and Sarah (sidekick of Catherine)

jpg jpg

(in C's defense, she is one of those over-achiever ladies who works works works and studies studies studies .... but someday she must slow down, right?)

jpg why don't i have this tattoo'd on my arm?
.... i should.....
will that be my new year's resolution?


the geometry of this shot was too good to drop,
and i spent (too much) time playing it through GIMP filters
and finally got a believable cartoon-like version ...


for laughs ....


i tried .... i just can't do it ...

for the 123875672th time in my life i went upstairs and tried to watch what people refer to as "news" on TV.... i was hoping that it had improved since my last attempt (about a year ago).

well.... "hope springs eternal" .... but the mass of the general public still eats this mountainous pile of BS they are fed via TV .... god help us.... actually i think it's even too late for god to help us, if people believe this shytt.

the latest bullshytt boils down to some nigerian moron got aboard an airplane with a bomb. despite the fact that his father had alerted the state department and US homeland security that he was a potential US terrorist and despite that the TSA let him on board with explosives .... the government's reaction is to increase security by prohibiting you and me from going to the bathroom or reading a book or watching a movie or playing games on a laptop for the last hour of the flight.

the TV news is presenting these new restrictions as a positive step in the "fight against domestic terror" .... and countless millions of morons in front of their TV's are signing up for this shytt.

the fact is that the passengers on board that plane had to save themselves from certain death due to government f%$^-ups and now the government turns around and makes flying worse for passengers and TV "news" tells us that the new restrictions are a very great step toward making our lives safer .... i'm ready Lord ... send down that chariot and take me home ...

i still "got it" ..... after all these years...


resolutions (and other broken promises)

here is the list of my 2009 resolutions and how i would grade myself on each one.

so .... my overall grade for 2009 comes out to ....

γα×σΔ÷(¾)Σ(♦+♠) = jpg

i'm calling it A+


Index of My Journal Pages

(You're never too old to learn something stupid.)

page written by Dave Leo