Dave's Journal, January 2012


2012 ! ! . . . yikes . . .

I woke up to the fact that my car registration is expired as of last midnight because I left the form in a pile of papers, forgotten. Oh well.

jpg We went to D's cousins' house for a really nice New Years Day dinner, and had a good time.

One of my favorite people is Russ, a Vietnam Vet and Harley Davidson guy who always supplies some good conversation. He is one of those rare people who (1) allows you to disagree with him without calling you an asshole and (2) says "I don't know" when he doesn't actually know something.

We talked for hours (!) about war, working all the way back to the 1940's when France occupied Vietnam and what happened to split North and South, and of course, Dien Bien Phu (1954).

Russ got talkative about his Vietnam (his daughter said she has never heard some stuff he said at the table, and it's been 40 years now !). jpg

Dave in 2012 bumper stickers are here.

From our 2012 Good News stories: Utah family rescued from icy river by bystanders

From the CSM . . .


FYI . . .

Jan.05.2012 . . . Mike Contempates Abstract Art at MFA, Boston


From our 2012 Good News Stories . . . Dog survives Montana avalanche, returns after four days

Amy Winehouse

What started me on this topic?

Amy Winehouse had a good voice, and very edgy style and overall an extremely communicative treatment of her music. It's definitely not the stuff that you'd hear someone humming in an elevator . . . she had a gusty interpretation of music and some talent to "put it on the table", I guessed you would say.

I think in ten years, if she had stayed on that trajectory she would have been a very influential force in pop / jazzy music.

I watched some of her youtube videos today; I'm sad that she's dead. It's popular music's loss, for what was to come.

Abstract Art


Comments coming soon !

Dave's Opinion of . . . Abstract Expressionism

People who embrace and appreciate "abstract art" say things like:

It's not necessarily a picture of something, the painting is a thing in itself, not a picture of objects.

It's how the artist felt at the time (emotionally), not what she / he was looking at. It's actually more personal than a picture of what the artist may have been looking at.

Look at the beauty of rock formations, swirls in oil and water, patterns in wood . . . none of these are pictures of anything, but they can be attractive, even beautiful. A painting can be similar. More than that, an abstract painting can express patterns and colors not seen in "nature" . . . it can be a thing in and of itself, like something you have never seen in your life.

I personally believe all of that is true. And I feel that if you enjoy looking at an image, that is all you should care about - your own personal feelings about what you are looking at. Don't agonize over what it means or who thinks it's great art or who thinks it's garbage or even don't worry about that you may not be able to "explain" why you like or dislike what you ar looking at.

Continued ->->->

Continued ->->->

It sometimes bothers me when paintings sell for extraordinary sums of money and (in my opinion) don't look any better than my basement wall (where I clean my paint brushes !) . . . but, hey, it's not my money, right? And . . . these paintings are (to the wealthy buyers) not works of wonderous art but simply financial investments in a fantasy marketplace (even more fantastical than the business stock market !) and the paintings will probably spend eternity in a bank vault in Switzerland. The irony being that the artist never got a lot of money for the painting in the first place, yet many people have become wealthy wheeling and dealing the painting through the years . . . . pathetic? . . . stupid? . . ironic? . . . yeh, all the above.

Well . . . I plan to continue to look at, and like or dislike images, whatever category they may fall into. Having made many many images myself, I am not embarassed to say "that sucks, but don't ask me why" . . . or . . . "I absolutely love that, but don't ask me why".

Wonderful Lines from Wonderful Writings, Part 1 . . (from the Great Gatsby)

They were uncaring people - they smashed things and they smashed other people's lives and then they retreated back into themselves and left everyone else to clean up the mess they had made.

Food to die for . . .

There's a good chance that, when the chariot comes to take me "home", it's going to be shrouded in flames with a devilish, horned driver cracking a fire-y whip, and the sign on the chariot will likely read "Abandon all hope ye that come aboard".

So . . I say, beat the devil at her own game . . . . get your well-deserved piece of heaven right now and cook up some brussel sprouts saute'd in a blend of butter and olive oil and then pan-cooked in salt and chicken broth.

Well worth some time in hell.

May The Force be with you . . .

From Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things -- the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals -- and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred, and were brought together by the same Great Mystery. . . . Luther Standing Bear (Chief of the Oglala, Lakota)

Abstract Stuff (very)


Her stuff is not what you'd find hanging on parlor walls, but Kelly Rae's images inspired a few Leica forum members (me included) to stop shooting what people want to look at. Shoot what you desire and live with the fallout. (I am still learning to do that.)


The good news is that I woke up this morning. The bad news is that I woke up this morning.

D is going in for an MRI in a few days and the phone and my e-mail server are abuzz with insurance issues involving me, Debbie, General Electric, her doctor, Aetna insurance, the MRI lab and (don't laugh) the Bank of America health care payment account that (allegedly) pays the insurance deductable that GE subcontracted to Aetna whose website shows D has no insurance though the GE website says that D is fully covered under the GE-Aetna insurance agreement for spouses of GE retirees. Of course, I cannot log into the BofA website as they say I don't exist ("please contact you local help desk administrator" . . . whomever the F#%K that might be for us non-existent-retired-citizens). Yikes . . . I left out the part about her workplace insurance, since she was hurt at her office Christmas party and who pays for that gets legally fuzzy.

jpg People want to know why we need to federalize health care. Actually it probably wouldn't be any better since it still involves people (who invariably must, being people, screw everything up either for company profits of for federal socialism - does it matter?), but at least all the people who are f$#^ing things up would be grouped in one organization, right? . . . so I could at least know who to complain about.

(I think)

On a higher note, I got back very nice prints of some stuff I was not sure about and am almost caught up on my homemade picture frames for my coffee house clients.

Also . . . the birds are pecking at the parlor window telling me "we need food out here, the feeders are empty" . . . sh#t, you stupid birds . . . where does it say that I'm the solver of every problem in the world ? Call St. Francis ! . . . he's the guy with the halo !

Today is Ben Franklin's 306th birthday

He is tired and frail, but still kicking around at the nursing home (his expenses are covered by Medicare). In a phone interview today, he offered this timely piece of wisdom . . .

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Another of my favorites is . . .

"Beer proves that God loves us."

And, at the moment, this is the specific beer that God hath sent unto me . . . and I thanketh Her . . .


Mom's opinion of TV commercials

Mom said it 40 years ago . . . "They must think we're all idiots".

Lots of things have changed since then, but that isn't one of them. The folks that write for TV still think we are all idiots.

Federalizing Health Care Insurance

I have spent the last two days investigating our (mostly Debbie's) health insurance coverage and claims. (See my comments a few items above.) GE, Aetna, United HealthCare, Bank of America plus the various doctors and labs. All private enterprises operating in the free market place.

What a f$%&ing mess of "We don't know, ask those other guys" round and round in circles on websites and automated telephone customer service. No one knows why the other guy's answers are totally different from their answers, and of course it's the "other guys" fault, so call them.

Centralizing this under federal administration could not possibly be one molecule worse than this bullsh#t.

Footnote ( a day later): in all fairness . . . today I got a phone call (from a human being ! - you remember them, right?) and an email (also from a real person) from 2 insurance companies and they squared away the discrepancies between whose facts were right or wrong. Maybe . . . . maybe (hope springs eternal ! ) . . . there are still some people out there who actually care about how well the world is working.

Very Bad "Solutions" to a Very Minor Problem

Two bills in front of Congress now will allow the government and some private companies to completely shutdown any website they say is posting stuff that someone else "owns". In today's world, it is not easy to say who "owns" what. If you are reading a book that you purchased and decided to quote a paragraph from it on your Facebook page or Twitter or your own page . . . you are technically posting work that you don't "own" . . . you don't own the copyright to it so, technically you would be acting illegally to do that.

The bills actually say that if you post any idea or words that someone previously wrote and copyrighted, you are breaking the law. This is insanity . . . . there is no thought, idea or set of words that anyone ever wrote without borrowing from what they had read or heard somewhere before.

Even our most famous founding documents "borrowed" ideas and words from earlier works . . .


If you want to have a say in what Congress does about this . . . GO HERE, and fill in the form.

Hey, what if . . .

You were rich. You bought, let's say, 93,668 shares of Wesley Jessen VisionCare Inc (a contact lens company) for 43.4 cents per share. That's a total investment of $40,652. You sit on these shares for two years and, amazingly, their value skyrockets to $22.32 / share (they increased in value 50 times what you paid for them). They are now worth $2,091,000. You now should pay the government tax on your capital gain of $2,050,000.

Now . . . your religion also expects you to donate 10% of your gross income to their church.

What to do? What to do?

Here's what you do . . . you give those shares that you paid $40,652 for to your church. Their value now is $2,091,000 which helps with your 10% obligation to the church AND the federal tax law allows you to take a $2,091,000 charitable deduction on your tax return ! ! You invest $40,652 and get a double-whammy benefit on $2,091,000.

I'm not rich, and my church doesn't ask for 10% of my income, so this story is not about me.

The Keystone XL Pipeline

This seems to be a factual, objective summary of the issue: CSM article

Sounds like a good idea to me. Don't know why we can't get this project started immediately even while planning a new route through Nebraska.

One piece of BS that I do see is that this project will "create a lot of jobs". The numbers don't support that myth. It will create 10,000 temporary jobs for only two years until it's finished. Then the jobs go away. And considering that there are about 14,000,000 people unemployed right now, 10,000 temporary jobs don't mean a thing to the big picture.

Obama needs to jump back on this and make some deals and get this going.

Iran Bans Barbie

Well . . . don't hope to pick up your new Barbie doll while vacationing in Iran . . .

jpg Iran's morality police are cracking down on the sale of Barbie dolls to protect the public from what they see as pernicious western culture eroding Islamic values, shopkeepers said on Monday.

The new order, issued around three weeks ago, forced shopkeepers to hide the leggy, busty blonde behind other toys as a way of meeting popular demand for the dolls (!) while avoiding being closed down by the police.

(As much as I complain about the USA, I thank you God ever so much for this country and my good fortune to be here. Amen.)

More to come . . .

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Nam lacus. Fusce accumsan. Phasellus vitae elit. Vestibulum eleifend. Nulla sodales elit in quam. Maecenas vehicula urna vel dolor. Cras lorem. Pellentesque aliquet blandit mi. In nisi. Cras id elit. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae.

Art ?. . . Craft ? . . .

It becomes "art" when someone drops $10,000 on it and stashes it away in a bank vault or lends it to a museum . . . below a $10,000 selling price, or simply hanging on someone's parlor wall, I call it "craft".

This following image (made today on my parlor floor with an uncooked egg and a plastic spoon) is what I call an as-yet undiscovered work of art (I am the only person who has seen it up to this point) . . . (are those trumpets I hear ?)


My "Liberal" Friends are going to Sh#t
My "Conservative" Friends will Choke on Disbelief

The last federal politician who made me really proud to be American was Ronald Reagan.


I swear if we dug up his bones an injected some DNA in there, he would kick the living sh#t out of the R-party as it exists today.

Ah . . . the good old days (1952 Popular Science magazine) . . .


A Very Short Interview

NY Times Reporter: Dave, tell us honestly . . . . are you absolutely f$%#ing sick of hearing about Middle East religious / political conflicts that you have been listening to endlessly over and over for the previous 50 years of your adult life, and in your heart knowing that these problems are rooted in the unresolvable hatred installed in these people by their various religions, the end of these conflicts having never had any possibilty of reasonable, sane, peaceful resolution, leaving you with the feeling that the populations of these places are a lot of violent, intolerant, unforgiving morons who will probably cause the end of the world ?

Dave: Yes.

Dave's Election 2012 Disclosure Statement

So that my sad lot of readers understand where my mind is (as they read this journal), let me tell you who I am voting for President in 2012.

Obama . . . unless something like a political, ethical, moral, economic tsunami hits our shores, Obama is getting my vote in 2012.

I don't explain this or defend it or ask for anyone's approval. It's a simple fact I want to put on the table to help people interpret my viewpoints as I rant and rave here on the state on America.

I stand ever ready to change my mind, switch my vote, as the political scenario tumbles through the rapids of these modern times. But, as of today, I hope that Obama is our next President.

Senate Race in MA

Both Senate candidates have pledged a civil campaign by signing a charitable donation agreement.


BOSTON (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his chief Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, have signed a pledge to curb political attack ads by outside groups in their Massachusetts Senate race.
Under the terms of the deal, each campaign would agree to donate half the cost of any third-party ad to charity if that ad either supports their candidacy or attacks their opponent by name.

Dave's comment: "Hope springs eternal."

Actually these are both very good candidates for the Senate. Neither one is a niche market darling, both understand that they answer to an overly-intellectual population, so stupid bumper-sticker quotes won't get you any votes. I could probably live happily with either of them in the Senate, but I'm voting for her because I think she is really cute and very smart and I love the way she talks.

Time . . . Don't You Just Hate It ?


When The Big O took office, I said (in Jan2009) "We have been vigorously digging our country into this economic / warfare grave for 8 years. It's going to take us 8 - 12 years to get us out of this hole if we work hard at it and pull in the same direction."

No one actually pays any attention to me, but if they did, we would all recognize that Obama has been at the wheel for 3 years (not 8 - 12) and no one in her / his right mind would say that Congress has been pulling in the same direction in this time.

So who ? . . . who, I ask ? . . . can intelligently expect us to be "recovered" at this 3 year milestone ?

The Left Side of the Room Cheers Insanely and Soils Their Underwear in Their Excitement for Dave's Viewpoint

The Right Side of the Room Boos, Farts and Throws Stuff Around the Room Chanting "No New Taxes . . . No New Taxes . . . . "

Dave (as he exits the room): Well, it looks like we will forever be 8 - 12 years away from recovery.

My Federal Taxes

The last full year that I worked, our federal taxes came to 25.3% of adjusted gross income.

For comparison:

Happily, now that we are living on a GE pension and SocSec, Deb and I have moved into the same tax bracket as the Romneys.
(maybe we'll run into them at Target some day, huh?)


Drop Them in a Blender

Don't laugh for a minute until you think this through.

What the R-party needs, to restore it's credibility and it's representation of (what I call) true Conservatism . . . is to drop Mitt, Newt, Ron and Santorum (sp?) into a blender and whip up a person who stands up for a blend of all those principles.

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it . . . . What the USA needs is to drop all of Congress in a blender and come up with 500 people who (don't snicker) care about the common-welfare of the 310,000,000 people they represent.

Jees . . . what was in that drink ?


Before I start into a new woodworking project this morning (small table), I had to see some numbers. So I dredged up a chart on (2010) family income for us to stare at . . .

Median Household Income

. . . . .

Back on the woodworking / table topic (it is now late afternoon, not early morning like the paragraph above). I envy people with handy skills and also people with common sense, neither of which I have (not that I blame anyone but me for this). Being an engineer, I tend to see everything from a structural / earthquake / tsunami event scenario . . . .you know . . . "will this little tray table stand up to someone emergency landing a fully loaded medical helicopter on it, and if not, are you ready to accept the responsibility that it collapses under the helicopter, killing everyone on board?"

On the other side of the coin is watching that guy on TV build a gothic cathedral using only a handsaw, mallet, chisel, plane and six wood dowels.

I call my projects "The Frankenstein Birdhouse" . . . "The Frankenstein Bookcase" . . . "The Frankenstein Traytable" as they have ten times more screws, glue and dowels than sane woodworkers use, and the beams and columns are hopelessly overdesigned (you know, for that incoming helicopter).

My Day (Jan.27.2012)

. . . . was better than most other people's day, so this is not a complaint.

To start off the day, D got a cortisone shot in her knee . . . the needle was so long that it went through her knee into the adjacent room . . . then she went to work (after writing a list of Action Items that I needed to close out before she got home).

One A.I. was to mail her new Coach purse back for a refund (she actually has more of these than the store in the mall has). So, I trek'd to the Post Office. (Knowing that I'd be standing in line for most of the morning, I brought a drill with me and gave myself a lobotomy in the car on the way there.)

Me: I'd like to mail this box.
Post Office Person: Priority mail?
Me: No just regular mail.
Post Office Person: First class?
Me: I guess so.
Post Office Person: Or parcel post.
Me: What does that cost?
Post Office Person: Seven dollars.
Me: Okay, parcel post.
Post Office Person: It'll take seven days to get there.
Me: Okay.
Post Office Person: Do you need insurance?
Me: Um, no.
Post Office Person: Do you need a signature or receipt?
Me: Um, no.
Post Office Person: Do you need any stamps today?
Me: Um, no.
Post Office Person: Envelopes ?
Me: Um, no.
Post Office Person: Boxes?
Me: Um, no.
I recall Cloris Leachman and Gene Wilder on the staircase in Young Frankenstein . . .
Frau Bucker: " . . . . Ovaltine ? "

Then I came home and made sawdust and woodchips for a few hours . . .


In case you missed this: Amy Winehouse, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" . . . kills me every time I hear it

Why Wedding Photographs Cost So Much

I have shot a few weddings and the experience really sucks for me, and I will not shoot another one ever. But the topic here is why photographers charge so much to produce a set of wedding photos.

This came up on a photo forum, and a pro wedding photographer gave a pretty detailed explanation, and here is a link to her reply.

My observation is that people, in general, think you pop snapshots for 4-8 hours and anyone can do that. My response to this is twofold:
1. If you can't see the difference between professional wedding photos and family snapshots, then you are crazy to hire a photographer to shoot your wedding. By 100 one-use cameras and turn your guests loose with them, and save yourself $$$$$
2. If you think one of your friends could (and is willing to) do the job, then drop $700 on a camera and lens for them and give them the job and let them keep the camera & lens as payment. But the deal here is you get what you get, and if you aren't happy, maybe you loose a friend in the deal, you know?

I have no particular reason to put this on the table this morning. It just popped up in my travels around the internet with a cup of French Roast coffee.

Postscript: actually I now recall our wedding photographs (1990). They suck. We never ordered any prints, and we don't even know (or care) where the book of proofs is (are?). And the photographer shot with a Hasselblad medium format camera that you dream about. She was a friend of a friend and (it turned out) was a pretty bad photographer (but we hadn't really checked out her work beforehand). Never do business with a friend of a friend.

PS . . . . The flights for our October 2012 European trip are now booked ! ! (Thank you M&C for all your work.)

One from the olden days . . .


jpg A Good Book

Just finished a book Loretta gave me for Christmas. Very nice. Lots of laughs, nicely written, but before you "drop out" of the stressful world you're in to open that blissful vineyard of your fantasies . . . drop a few bucks and read this story.

Politcal "SuperPAC's"

This article will make you proud that you're an American . . . Political Donations

Fear not though. Hope springs eternal. Yesterday I gave a speech at the ECCADV (East Coast Convention of Americans Who Don't Vote) : here is what I said.

The Good Old Days

When you get to feeling like "restoring America to the good old days", give a serious review to the realities.

Life expectancy of a white male born in America. . .
in 1900 = 48.23
in 1929 = 59.1
in 1950 = 66.3
in 2004 = 75.7

Not to mention the good life that women had way back when . . . that is wheelbarrow filled with cowshit - used to burn in the cooking stove - must have filled the kitchen with a wholesome family smell, huh.


Okay, now . . . we're off to February . . .

Page written by Dave Leo