Dave's Journal, Dec2013
Well, we were at dinner last night and on the wall was a mural of Venezia (Venice). I look up and say with the casual authority of the world traveler "That bridge is the Ponte Vecchio. Remember that Deb?" Most everyone understood at that point how very cool I am to know such things.
"Dave . . . ummm . . . the Ponte Vecchio is in Florence, not Venice"
After some scuffling, that involved a quick internet search via Rick's cell phone, I had to admit it . . . the Ponte Vecchio is in Florence. But then . . . what is that bridge up there on the wall ? Turns out it is the Ponte di Rialto.
For the record then, the Ponte Vecchio (Florence) is below on the left and the Ponte di Rialto (Venice) is on the right.
Humbled (but in good company) I turned my attention to a plate of Veal Siciliano and a glass of Valpolicella.
From the New Yorker . . .
Let's call this an unscheduled test of your reasoning abilities.
This episode started early today when I notice a puddle in the basement and drippings coming from the kitchen sink upstairs.
Here are the questions:
- What new kitchen appliance did I buy today, after extensive research on the manufacturer's website, to get exactly the correct model to replace the leaky one?
- How many million questions did I "harass" the Lowe's appliance person with to be sure this was an easy installation that required no plumbing modifications whatsoever?
- Has anyone, anywhere, ever in my life ever told me the whole truth? (I guess not. People tell only partial truths.)
Here's a hint:
I know . . . like everything else, we will get past this. But at the moment, with no kitchen sink and no solution plan, I . . . . actually . . . at the moment I don't really care.
Two days later: I got the new plumbing set up and it seems to be working without leaks. Had to bend a few plumbing rules, but hey, it works now.
Got the Chardonay into the glass "carboys", where it will sit for 60 days before being bottled. Need to make another 30-bottle wine rack !
My retirement nest egg cracked over the last 15 years (like many many other peoples' nest eggs). It's all water under the bridge now, and I try not to think "I shoulda done this, I shoulda done that" . The world changes too fast for any plan to work for very long anymore. What worked last year, fails miserably this year.
I am working now with an investment adviser - personal face to face discussions - no more internet robots plotting out the future for me. (Actually I got out of stocks and stashed my last few eggs under the bed, some years back.) This guy seems to have his stuff together, and I am listening to the various options he puts on the table, and he listens to the various bugs of mistrust and paranoia that infest my skeptical mind. For example, a number of times yesterday, I just had to say "That's bullsh#t" just to let him know that I was listening to him and actually thinking about what he was saying.
So . . . based on some historical statistics he threw out and charts and graphs he gave me, I am writing my own spreadsheet for the future. I love running numbers and I can do that better than most other people (actually, better than anyone !). But of course the final answers are never any better than the input data and the assumptions that you embed in the calculations - and all that stuff is (as I said above) "bullsh#t". My approach here is to statistically randomize the predictions of what the mutual funds will "return" each year, devise a periodic cash withdrawal strategy (this is the killer !), and run through 100 cases of what might happen over the next 20 years.
Twenty years from now, I will look back at this plan and say . . . " I shoulda done this. I shoulda done that."
We put the tree up today. Deb refused to get in front of the camera, so I went with the next best composition . . . .
I mentioned this before. Being deaf and having to read closed captions, whether or not the movie is in English, has made my world larger. Watching foreign language movies is just as easy as (or, at least, not any harder than ) watching English language movies.
The South Korean movie "Baby and Me" would do well on the Hallmark TV channel - it's a really nice, semi-tearful story, every scene of which you can predict, yet you still love to watch it play out. Aside from being very pleasant, it reminds me that people (nice people, anyway) are the same all over the world. No doubt, an American version will be coming soon for DVD/TV.
Did I say that "people are the same" . . . I need to amend that for my next movie - "Baaria", which is a chronicle of life in a Sicilian village. I grew up thinking that Sicilians have their own crazy way of getting through life, and this movie pretty much re-enforces everything I was assuming about that.
The story (is there a story ?) jumps all over the place and skips around in time so it was never clear to me if there is a plot going on or not. But that, in the case of this movie, is unimportant (which is a perfectly Sicilian thought) - the great thing here is to watch the people on a scene by scene basis how they react to what life throws at them. Emotional, irrational, chaotic, crazy, loveable. So utterly different from the way I have lived my life. Almost makes me want to move there for a few years and become as loveably crazy as those folks are.
Let's fix the Problem - Abolish the US Senate
I have decided that the US Senate is the reason our country is choking itself to death. Every new idea dies in the Senate.
I am not complaining about the death of any one or two Bills, but I am generalizing about who (what) is killing any progress that the popular opinion wants to make.
The Senate was a last minute addition to the US Constitution. Originally, The House of Reps was the only legislative body, and voted in by popular vote of the people. But, the smaller states would not sign the Constitution like that, so someone dreamed up a legislative body that gave every state an EQUAL say in what becomes law and what does not. That means that states like Wyoming (576,000 people) and Vermont (626,000 people) have the same legal clout in the Senate as California (38Million people), Texas (26Million) or New York (20Million).
Any new federal programs that the scattered people in these small states don't like will die in the Senate, despite that there may be 100Million people in the populated states who want these new changes.
Thus . . . I hereby dissolve the Senate. Laws will be approved by the popular vote of the people, as represented by the House of Reps.
I has spoke.
'Tis the Season to be Jolly
I set up a web page for Christmas Trees !
Since we are scattered all over the country, I was thinking it would be cool to see each others' tree. So . . .
send me a picture of your tree and I will post it at the link below, so we can all feel at least moderately together (in a simulated kind of way):
Christmas Trees, 2013
If you don't set up a tree, any Christmas-y picture of whatever decorating you may set up, will do just fine, if you desire. Or just you and the dog sleeping in front of the TV with "It's a Wonderful LIfe" playing on the screen and an empty bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream tipped over on the carpet . . . . whatever.
Also . . . If you have a Christmas-y message to want to include, send it to me and I will put that on the web page as well.
It's a Flat Stanley Christmas up Here
Flat Stanley (my grandson Jacob's buddy) dropped in for a visit today. We got to hanging out, watched some TV, had some beers (his were Root Beer !! . . . . mine weren't). I dozed off in the recliner and he just kind of hung around the Christmas tree while I took a nap.
I could not wait for Christmas, so I popped the very first bottle of my Chianti (bottled in August). It's not bad ! A little "lite" for a chianti, but it's not bad at all.
I am not going to pop the Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (the really "good stuff") until February. And I want to let most of the chianti (I have 27 unopened) age longer, but the holiday spirit got me and I am going to enjoy this bottle!
Dave gets his grits home-delivered through contacts living in Alabama.
He told us . . . . "Man, I love my grits. Apple grits, chicken grits, bacon grits, Boston grits, 'bama grits, grits Italiano . . . anyway I cook 'em, I just love my grits. MMMM . . . . MMMMM. And thank y'all for my Christmas grits - hey, wait, wait . . .
Merry Gritsmas, Y'all !!!!!"
Okay, Ramona, this is for you . . . Dave's special Grits Florentine.
Well, it's over, and we survived the holiday !! Here are some Pictures