Dave's Journal, July 2013

Charles Caron, a very good friend of Mike and Chris, invited me to watch him bottle his home brewed wine. Today was the day.

He has a great great sink to work at . . . I must get one like this in the basement. We (I helped with the corking) bottled about 70 - 80 bottles. 75% of the work was for him to clean and steriiize and rinse about 24 of the bottles, and the tubing and corks.

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Dave is so proud of his first corked bottle, isn't he !

Sorting through a box looking for an old picture of George's 1960 Impala, I stumbled across mom and dad on their porch on Staten Island. Did not actually remember this picture.


Despite the 95F evening, I trek'd back to local car show tonight. Saw the most beautiful 1958 Pontiac Chieftan ever. Perfect restored condition.


Chieftains went through another major styling change in 1958. All models were give honeycomb grilles, quad head and tail lamps, concave rear fenders, and longer, lower lines. The Super Chief sub-series was promoted to full model status leaving just the standard array of Chieftains as the entry level Pontiac. The "Sportable" transistor radio became an option, along with air-suspension.

As in years past, the V8 engine was enlarged. For 1958 it grew to 370 in3 and made 240 and 270 horsepower (200 kW) depending on version.

The 1958 models were the last Chieftains to be produced. It was replaced with the all-new Catalina in 1959.

The Cars of Summer 2013 Show

Blue Honey


These folks were playing at the Cars of Summer show. They were just great. Rock solid rhythm and the funkiest riffs and blend of harmonica, sax and blues guitar. I was just winging by but stayed around for 4 songs and enjoyed every one. The gazebo filled up really fast once they started playing.

They have a pretty weak internet presence, but I expect that will change.

The Election of 1800

I've been watching the mini-series "John Adams" and I'm getting re-educated.

My schoolboy history lessons painted the founding fathers as grand patriots with only the very best interests of their new country in their hearts. As a kid I came away believing these guys were all in synch with how to run a country and set up a government. Of course, my thinking was childish. These guys were as ruthless, narrow-minded, partisan and power-hungry as the politicians of today are; and they definitely did not agree on what direction the government should take the country.

Today, we adore and idolize Jefferson as one of the great minds in history; during his time, however, people did not view him this way. He had bitter political oponents, including his on&off friend, John Adams.

In the election of 1800, Jefferson beat Adams for the presidency, BUT . . . Aaron Burr tied Jefferson for the number of votes, so there was a deadlock. Jefferson asked Adams (who was now out of the running) to lobby for him, but Adams refused, and the vote went to Congress.

. . . continued . . .

Congress was so divided and confrontational that they debated and argued and voted to a deadlock 35 times ! ! Talk about useless leadership !

Finally, Alexander Hamilton (who absolutely hated Aaron Burr) did some political shmoozing and Jeferson won on the 36th vote in Congress. So Aaron Burr lost and Jefferson won.

Aaron Burr was very pissed off and he hated Hamilton and eventually the two guys had a duel (with guns ! ! ) and Burr shot Hamilton dead. Take a second and imagine this happening today in Washington - let's settle this [ Healthcare , Immigration, Taxes, Gun Control ] in a gunfight !

Wikipedia does a short summary of the political issues that divided the political parties at that time : The Election of 1800.
Read it slowly (just the top summary) - it's interesting.

jpgThe New Moon

Today is the midpoint of the new moon, and so I racked my carboy of wine for the last time. (Siphoned it to a new glass container.) I was amazed how very little sediment was left behind and how clear the wine is. Plus, I got a mouthful while siphoning and, although it is 6 months from being ready, it is not bad ! I actually siphoned the very last bit (where the sediment was supposed to be) into a bottle. Tonight I am going to pour a glass and see what happens.

Then I cleaned 24 bottles - actually they are soaking in a tub of TSP (which is dishwashing machine detergent). I plan to do the bottling late August or September.

Then I worked up my first draft of the label (there on the right).

July 11

Well . . . few days back I poured the wine from bottom half inch of the carboy into a bottle. Let it sit for a day, and poured a glass. I was amazed that it tasted as good as it did. It will not really be ready for serving until January2014, and I expected it to be bad, but it is not bad, in fact it's pretty good ! It will get better with time, and I am very encouraged.

So, I went and bought my next box of crushings - an Italian Chianti - and will start that going this week.

I also designed and built a small bottle rack, as a prototype for a larger one. The large and study store-bought racks are $200-$300, which is ridiculous for a basement storage rack. Took 3 designs to get one I like - it holds only 12 bottles, but the next one will be much larger.

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It is incredibly tedious work to strip the labels off 24 wine bottles, even if they have been soaking in water & TSP for 3 days !. This is boring !

But . . . I started the chianti today - it is now doing its first fermentation in a bucket under a wet towel.

The Salon des Refuses, 2013

The very first Salon des Refuses happened in 1863, when the French Impressionists, whose paintings were rejected for exhibition by the national Salon, opened their own exhibit down the street. Their paintings were scandalous (by Royal standards), and the population went wild over them. That gave birth to the Impressionists movement.

Well, today the Rollstone Studios in Fitchburg held their version of the Salon des Refuses (which means, by the way, the Exhibit of Rejects !). They are exhibiting all the art that was rejected by the Fitchburg Art Museum (FAM) 2013 Exhibit. I have one picture accepted and hanging in the FAM, but they rejected the other one that I submitted, so I now have a picture hanging in the Exhibit of Rejects.

Today was the artists (I use the term recklessly) reception, and it was very nice. Very nice people, these rejected artists.



This hat wouldn't work on just anyone, but it works so well on me, huh !


After trimming the backyard bushes and mowing the lawn and waving Debbie off to work ("Drive carefully and use your seat belt and make sure you eat all your lunch."), I trek'd to Paradise Pond (that is the real name) for this year's first kayak paddling. Had the place to myself, if you don't count the dragonflies.



I am now extremely sweaty (the air temperature is 94 plus it's sunny and humid) and am now headed for the showers, the grocery store and the porch (in that order).

Next year I hope to submit something very edgy for the Art Museum exhibit. Have no idea what it will be or how I will create it.
I will be experimenting with this and that and seeing how it looks in a photo.


Gotta say that I am amazed what you can do with homemade playdough ! !


It all started with wallpaper cleaner. According to the lore, a preschool teacher told her brother-in-law that the modeling clay in her classroom was too hard for children to use. In 1955, he sent her a sample of his company's wallpaper cleaner -- a doughy substance that people rolled up and down their walls to remove soot deposits. It was non-toxic and easy to mold, and it was an instant hit in the classroom. Within a year, the wallpaper cleaner became Play-Doh modeling compound. It officially hit the market in 1956.

Roku, actually I should say Rokus

We have a modest 2 bedroom house, and only two of us live here.

We have 4 large flat screen TV's hooked up to cable, a digital video recorder on one of the TV's, three DVD players (two of them boosted into external audio amplifiers feeding subwoofers and whatever, and 2 Roku devices for streaming internet and Netflix movies into the basement and the living room.

Because of the genes that I inherited from my mother, I have been complaining all my life about the stupidity of TV content, but the circle is closing in on me. Mostly because of the Roku devices. These basically open the entire world of whatever anyone has ever made in the form of a movie, a video, a TV program. Last night I watched a 2 hour movie that was in German with awful subtitles and I had no clue what was happening, then two episodes of Dr Who that was in English but I still had no idea what was happening, and a travel video my Rudy Maxa (whom I actually don't like very much).

And I never had to even sit up straight in the recliner.


"What was the cause of death, doctor?"

[Long pause. Deep breath. Camera pans into the coroner's face. Switch to dramatic but sensitive lighting.]

"Rokus, son. It was the Rokus killed him."

[Fade to black.]


I have been very good in keeping religion, politics, the law out of my journal pages here, but . . . . but . . . . I got an e-mail today and it sent me off looking for facts and figures, and I found some.

I was interested in the death penalty for murder, and what those statistics look like, and I got a short education: The states that have a death penalty have a much higher murder rate than states with no death penalty. This actually surprised me.

jpg I also thought that New York, Michigan and Illinois would have the highest murder rates, but only Michigan made the top ten. New York (state) came in at #26 - not bad. New Hampshire is a wild blend of guns and hunters, bikers, artists - crazies, you know - had the second lowest murder rate in the country (or maybe they just can't find the bodies buried out there somewhere). (The yellow states in that chart of the top ten have no death penalty.)

In 2011, about 16,000 murders total in the USA that year (11,000 using guns). These are not convictions - they are simply the # of recorded murders.

Conclusion : stay the hell away from Louisiana and Mississippi.

Yikes - I'm on a roll now - check out the murder rates in Puerto Rico, Washington DC, the Virgin Islands, Mexico and the Bahamas !


Royals Admit: "The Baby is Fake"


BBC News / July.24.2013

The Royal Family has come forward with a stunning admission - the new baby is made of playdough.

"We were just joking around and one thing led to another, a friend made the baby with some homemade playdough, and, well, I guess we all got silly and went ahead with the fake delivery", said Kate, with William looking on somberly.

The queen Mother did not take it well, and said into an open microphone "I told you he should not have married that little slut".

A Trip to the Sculture Park

Weather cooled off and I trek'd to the DeCordova Sculpture Park, which has both outdor and indoor (museum) sculptures. It's kind of interesting, and a very pretty walkaround.



You have to really be open-minded when it comes to the current indoor exhibit - these weren't what I'd normally called "sculptures. They were assemblies of common items. Not to be offensive, but I think a class of kids could create stuff like this - that's okay with me, but I gotta ask "Is this really Art?". It was enjoyable though.



On the way home I stopped at Walden Pond (remember that awful book by Thoreau?). Here I am at the site of his "cabin in the woods".


(Hard to believe that I handed my camera to a stranger to take my picture, huh !)

And you thought our $17T US debt was bad?

The oil and gas industries have in recent years forecasted profits from easier access to resource fields in the melting Arctic. Northern states have welcomed the trade routes that are emerging from the thick ice's melt. But those possible boons pale in comparison to the costs that methane emissions from the melting ice will have on the global economy, scientists have found.

The price tag? $60 trillion - or about the size of the entire global economy in 2012 - according to new research that modeled the economic toll that methane gases seeping out of the Arctic will take on the world.

"Its not just bad news for the polar bear," said Gail Whiteman, a researcher at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and a co-author on the paper, published in Nature. "It's a global economic time bomb."

Will anyone do something about this? No.
Does anyone really care? No.

jpg I forgot what got me thinking about The Moulin Rouge this morning, but here is what it looked like back in 1923. What a dump !

I always thought it looked like, you know, a Las Vegas casino. It's just a dumping looking bar - I guess it was that day's equivalent of The Bada Bing strip club (from The Soprano's) .

Moulin Rouge is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. Today, Moulin Rouge is a tourist attraction, offering musical dance entertainment for visitors from around the world. The club's decor still contains much of the romance of 'fin de siecle' France.

Peace in the Middle East ? . . . Coming Soon !

Today's news of "inching forward toward peace" in the middle east got me curious, so I looked up how many such peace proposals have been worked up in my lifetime.

Here is the answer: Peace Proposals for the Middle East

jpg Deb and I trek'd to Boston for the Summer Arts whatever at Copley Square. Perfect day for this. We saw Jake Shimabukuro perform - what incredible sounds and rhythms he gets out of a ukelele ! !

We walked through the park and discovered a huge pool (12" deep) filled with kids. It reminded me of Red Hook pool where I used to go with my cousins Gus and Iani back in the 1950's.


Monday . . . went back to Boston . . . This is a view of Rowe's Warf about noontime


A (Perfect) Day in Ogunquit, ME


More pictures here

We get up to Ogunquit once each summer. It's beautiful, very much so, but it's also crowded, very much so. The traffic jam at the center is always horrible. It's where cars filled with "beachees" jam with cars filled with (let's call them) "walkers". The walkers (Deb and I are walkers) park at Perkins Cove and walk along the shore (The Marginal Way, they call it). The beachees park in the beach lot and sit on the (you guessed it) beach all day.

Two years ago, the traffic was so bad that, after driving two hours to get there, we simply turned around and went to Kittery.

Yesterday, we discovered a cutoff street, that slips in and out of Perkins cove behind the center traffic jam ! The devil's chocolate cake !

And . . . and . . . I had the best homemade corned beef hash I ever ate - at Cafe Amore' - it really was the best ever.

Then we walked along the cliffs above the shore - just beautiful. I was so glad I thought to put a polariser on the camera - it made the ocean and sky colors wonderful !

On the way home, we stopped at Kittery for (what else ?) some shopping at the Coach outlet.

A great day - and it's only Tuesday !

Would you buy this microwave ? ?


jpg We did !

I fixed this twice and it is down again! Never ever again install one with brackets to the wall, above the stove. From now on countertop designs only.

This time I completely disassembled the control panel. I even stripped off the front touchpad skin with the flexible circuit on it's hidden side, not quite sure if I had a repair plan or not. When I got to the point I figured I ruined it for good, I searched the internet for a replacement control panel. Sorry, Dave, no one, no one has any left - apparently all bought for repairs like this. I did find one USED control panel for $60 and passed on that. Found one with a pretty close S/N and dropped $20 on it - WTF, right.

Then re-assembled the one I just took apart, and I can't believe it but it works again. I mean I really can't believe that I got it back together correctly!.

The spooky thing is that I didn't do anything to fix it ! !

Hey, Dave's Journal is 6 years old this month !
Started in July 2007 !