June.01.2008 : They are on the way home !!


Mike and Chris will blog all the details at Piggie's Place.

June.02&03.2008....notes are below....

I can hear Zach purring from here !!


GlobalGirl is heading home tonight (June.03.2008)...


I shamelessly swiped Mike's and Catherine's travel pictures and posted my favorite Catherine people shots.

See Mike's Ireland vacation photo page for the whole story.


June.05.2008 .... first test run ...

watch me... ( 3.8 Mb quicktime movie..... give 15 seconds to load)


The Angry Young Writers of Counterweight Magazine


Shock+Water Proof & Dirt Cheap.....

jpg The new ATC5K and ATC3K, Oregon Scientific's action-packed followup to its ATC2K camera from 2006, bring a few common-sensical upgrades to the waterproof, shock resistant original. They still shoot VGA, but the 3K has new 48 degree field of view and a new CMOS sensor, while the 5K bumps it 53 degrees and a 1.5-inch LCD. The cameras run on AA batteries and can handle up to 4GB SD cards, but where these cheap-cams really "shine" is the multiple included mounting attachments for recording your various extreme sporting exploits. Or when you really just need to set yourself on fire and put it on YouTube -- that works too. The ATC3K will be out in July for $150, with the ATC5K following in August for $200.

i am imagining this thing mounted on my RC car during an outdoor track race at the RC Club on Bemis Road.... ooooo.


June.08.2008 ....after the crash and rebuild.....

watch me... ( 5.2 Mb quicktime movie..... give 15 seconds to load).


don't know what made me date these notes "July".... it's June !!



ran the RC car and camera a few trips around the yard .... beat it up enough (camera got twisted off center every time i ran it through a bush or flowers, plus the dirt and grass glippings were all over it!) that i went and ordered a really shockproof/waterproof web cam (see previous posting) which was only $120 with a 2Gb SD card ..... can only imagine what is possible now !!

I wanted to show off my new office and snapped this. In my serious photo days I would have had the sense to move the stupid hose, but maybe it adds the strength of the lower right corner..... and maybe it doesn't.... but my yard is pretty anyway..... gotta send this to my cousin in Arizona ... green is rare out there (and she will be green with envy [snicker] )!



fueled by caffeine, i drafted my policy statement on the US Constitution as a "Living Document" ..... that should settle the issue right there.

then i assembled my new gas grill (now i have 2 grills, which is absurd because we grill stuff 3 times a Summer, but we will do it more often now that we have 2 of them).

then i watched the outside air temperature hit 100F in the shade on the north side of the house, not including the radiation in the sunlight, and watched a baby bird harass its mama for food all day....

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then i went to a Junior Achievement snack thing at Slattery's .... the background noise drove me out of there in 45 minutes, but the beer was good.

jpg then my new action camera came... and i need to rethink how to attach it.

later comment: now i know (1) why this camera is shockproof - it's a "given" that you will slam it against a wall and (2) why it only costs $99 - picture quality is similar to (although not quite as good as) an 1850's dauguerrotype .

Debbie got a call from the mammogram lab and they want her to go back again and look at something again next week.... she is nervous..... this happened once before.

90 Minutes

tried to buy a TV last night .... for 90 minutes. did the usual research, decided which one, filled out the circuit city forms, entered VISA card #, hit submit order.

card rejected by your bank

huh? ..... hit back (wiped out all form data) and did it again, and just like physics i got the same result the second time.... card rejected?....BULL, i just paid it!

log into B&H .... go thru the drill again..... card rejected !!

tried one other place .... same thing..... so.... it's NOT them!

log into Chase / VISA page .... they changed my password so i had to redo the password thing and check my e-mail for buzz code and relog in and reset my password and found that my card was perfectly good ...???

yikes! .... pick up the phone (for me that's as rare as going into a church!)... robot answers and i type in all the data it asks for and it (the robot) immediately starts reading me every recorded card transaction for June, asking me to hit 1 for each legitimate purchase and i say screw this and hit the talk-to-a-person button, and some guy comes on and spits out words faster that a used car salesmen..... he then repeats what the robot was doing and i say STOP!!!!

and i explain the 3 failed attempts to buy a TV on the internet and he explains why i must answer his questions about each purchase so i agree and do it.

then he proceeds to win the Alfred Award for his company Chase/VISA as follows:

"Umm.... Mr. Leo, for your added security it looks like we automatically upgraded the security on your card and ....ummmm... we are categorically rejecting all online purchases of expensive electronics....."

long pause as my brain shoots sparks, sizzles, and finally short circuits.....

i let the long silence speak for the stupidity of that policy (without informing us card holders!) and i wait for it to sink into his head....

it finally does, and he says ..... "but at your request, i can release the card to make large online purchases again.".... smart boy, this one.

So.....we arrive at this fine moment to award Chase / VISA

The Alfred Award
for a
Notable Achievement in Stupidity



jpg made 2 new screens to sift rock and junk out of soil.... nice construction.... gave one to JB.... these 2 are the best ever.

at lunch, i retold the tale of the Chase/VISA Alfred Award (see above) and went on and on about the world getting generally stupider and stupider.... then i realized that oftentimes in my travels outside, i run into people who deserve an Alfred .... they don't necessarily read my journal pages here, so.... how to award them an Alfred in person....?

solution: print out a bunch of these images and simply hand them to people who deserve it!! (or leave one on their windshield if they look potentially violent... or you could bend down, pretend to pick it off the floor and say...."here, you dropped this". )...



from the internet (various sources) ....

WASHINGTON: Foreign terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba have constitutional rights to challenge their detention there in United States courts, the Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, on Thursday in a historic decision on the balance between personal liberties and national security.

"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court.

The ruling came in the latest battle between the executive branch, Congress and the courts over how to cope with dangers to the country in the post-9/11 world. Although there have been enough rulings addressing that issue to confuse all but the most diligent scholars, this latest decision, in Boumediene v. Bush, No. 06-1195, may be studied for years to come.

In a harsh rebuke of the Bush administration, the justices rejected the administration's argument that the individual protections provided by the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 were more than adequate.

"The costs of delay can no longer be borne by those who are held in custody," Justice Kennedy wrote, assuming the pivotal role that some court-watchers had foreseen.

my reaction....

This is a wonderful decision ! And, it underlines my belief that (if i may quote myself): All people (everywhere) are endowed with inalienable rights by the event of birth (not by place of birth), and these rights apply to everyone and do not diminish whatsoever in time of war.

June.13.2008 (Friday the 13th)

somewhere in the study of the numbers of things it turns out that, of all possible combinations, the coincidence of Friday and the 13th day of the month is the most rare such combination.... so it is considered an unlucky day.

that topic aside, i had a pretty lucky day today.... finished screening rocks out of the pond hole, then poured back a few wheelbarrows full of sifted dirt , laid in the underlayment and the rubber liner and started to fill the pond.... a slow process that needs you to work out the wrinkles as it fills.

note on heat transfer: black rubber lying in the sun gets extremely f$#@%$g hot very quickly.... it has to do with the thermal absortivity of things that are black, and dumb people (a small Alfred for me) who walk on it with bare feet get educated shortly upon doing that.


Happy Birthday, Rachel !!


marriage certificates ("digging up bones")

had to order a certified copy of my 1969 marriage certificate from California (needed for Italian citizenship, which i think i am going for just because i think it's cool and my parents would pinch my cheeks in joy to hear this).

the California website went on and on about the overload requests and the minimum 6 month backlog and the request-by-US-mail-only rules ..... and download this PDF then that PDF and do this and that and wait wait wait.....

OR .... way at the bottom of the page in microfont ..... order it online direct from the county clerk's office using your credit card and they'll ship it out in 3 days !!.

I HAVE AN IDEA ..... put the online instructions at the TOP of your web page in blinking red text and you will eliminate the 6 month mail room backlog you have ! (this is almost, but not quite worthy of an Alfred).

anyway.... i ordered one online today.

Debbie's working tonight and i have a movie to watch after grilled chicken for dinner.... another Ray Harryhousen stop-motion classic .....


June.15.2008 ..... Mike Rocks the Dance Floor!!

On his birthday, Mike had a few too many beers and tore loose with a few new steps he picked up in Ireland !! We were able to capture it in widecreen format!! Click the picture to check out the video.


on another topic: Io faro domanda per cittadinanza italiana (chiaramente io non abbandonero mai la mia cittadinanza Stati Uniti).


Happy Birthday Mom .... OR ... "Buon compleanno mamma ! ! !"



i am dead tired and sore, but the pond is installed and some small landscaping started, but the heavy work is over. i am slugging a well deserved beer, sitting on that little bench in the picture here.... then i am going to slug another one.

jpg jpg

Posted canyonlands vacation (2006) pictures.

Scenics and snapshots are on 2 separate pages. See link in journal cover page.

June.19.2008 .... Water is the Enemy

in my 42 years as an engineer, fluids have never flowed where i wanted (needed) then to flow, and in my 63 years of life, water has never flowed through my life where it should have flowed ..... water is the enemy.

but first, a sidenote .... in the mid 1980's i was going through a divorce and i was utterly shredded.... no capacity left to face any new problems.... completely drained emotionally. (i was living in an apartment, sleeping on a matress on the floor.)

we had to sell the house and to get it ready for the sale, we had a contractor come in and look over the huge deck that came off the 2nd floor of the house..... it was damaged in spots and we were deciding what to do.

one thing led to another and he had me climb up on a ladder and reach in and grab the main beam of the house that the deck was attached to. this was a major structural beam.

i reached up and grabbed the beam and it crumbled in my hand like wet dust.

my emotions at that moment are impossible to put into words.... what had happened is that a small leak above the glass sliding door had (over the years) quietly rotted the main structural beam on the 2nd floor..... no loud noise, no catastrophic event.... just a beam that was rotted almost completely away and about to cave in the 2nd floor deck.

now.... today's story is less dramatic. but since i am exhausted from labor, it is a larger problem in my life right now that my problems from 1985.... today's problem involves water running over the soil and dragging dirt with it and filling my new pond with mud.

water is the enemy .... it flows relentlessly downward.... ever downward.... one small inch of slope and a river of mud is born .... leaving me with a muddy pond and no easy solutions..... how do i raise an 800 gallon pond a few inches?

all i can say is .... cameriere, piu vino! (waiter, more wine, please! )

jpg jpg

And, so, my fate in this regard is inevitable. I started out with a perfectly great pond and invested much time, pain and money to end up back where I started, almost. If anyone ever deserved the Alfred Award, at this moment, I do most of all .....

The Alfred Award
for a
Notable Achievement in Stupidity


goes to .... me ...



Al Gore, Rush Limbaugh and Bill Gates are on an airplane together and crash. They've just gone through the gates of Heaven, and God is sitting on a great white throne. God addresses Al Gore first.

"Al, what do you believe in?"

Al replies, "Well, I believe that the combustion engine is evil and that we need to save the world from CFCs and that if any more freon is used, the whole earth will become a greenhouse and we'll all die."

God thinks for a second and says, "Okay, I can live with that. Come and sit at my left "

God then addresses Rush Limbaugh. "Rush, what do you believe in?"

Rush Limbaugh replies, "Well, I believe in the free enterprise system, I believe that our leaders should be people of high moral character, and I believe that any philanderer who raises our taxes should rot and burn in hell."

God thinks for a second and says, "Okay, fine. Come and sit at my right."

God then addresses Bill Gates. "Bill, what do you believe?"

Bill Gates says ........ "I believe you're in my chair."


Garden Mulch, Whales, Sonar and N _ _ _ _ _ _ _ S _ _ _ _ _ _ _

no-one asked (no-one ever does!), but here is my opinion on the topic of garden mulch.... stop using bark mulch, it's ugly, suburbanish, and acidic and takes forever to decompose and does not do so gracefully. i use a mixture of humus+cowmanure(composted)+peatmoss .... it decomposes into gorgeous topsoil after maybe a year and works great as a mulch in the meantime and is cheap and perfectly natural looking.... and it lets bumble bees make there ground nests right in the garden .....which reduces their commute and makes gazillions more flowers for you..... (bees are good !)

also, equally important.... the Navy needs to cut the political BS and do it's war manuevers / sonar training more responsibly ... the sonar is deafening to whales, causing them to run aground and dying in herds everywhere sonar training is done near the coastline. (whales still become deaf when it's in the deep ocean, but they recover before running aground to die) .... the Navy says it's a matter of n _ _ _ _ _ _ _ s _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to continue the coastline training whatever the cost...... i say we (the USA) are in deep shytt (sp?) if the admirals running the US Navy can't come up with a reasonable workaround on this problem.

.... and barn swallows.... nesting in Loretta's window !!


and if you are looking to identify a bird, WhatBird is the place you need to be.

hail? in june ? .... yes, ma'm

this intense storm flashed up in 60 seconds and it hailed (rock salt size) and leaves came down like autumn and the rain followed in buckets for 3 minutes a left.... now it's quiet, but zak is still under the sofa.


Factoids from the (really really) olden days....

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

Most people in the 1500's got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Arnold Nelson Died

Arnold J. Nelson, age 84, of Franklin Park, beloved husband of Anne, (nee Sokoloff); dearest father of Steven (Ellen) Nelson, Ronee Nelson, Janice Leo, Susan Smolek, Debbie (Steve) Semenek and Steve (Vicki) Smolek; loving grandfather of nine; great-grandfather of 10; brother of the late Clyde (Charlene) Nelson; uncle of many nieces and nephews.

I haven't seen Arnold for about 30 years. He was a really nice guy, an engineer with a pretty level head and kind manners. He was a person you were glad to know.

Michu Mohamed is Dead

Relatives wash the body of Michu Mohamed, a four-year-old girl who died of malnutrition near Sheshemene, southern Ethiopia. The lack of rain and high food prices have left approximately 4.5 million Ethiopians in need of emergency food aid.


Other places to visit....

The Names of 4000 Dead US Soldiers


Index of My Journal Pages