went to the "home show" with M & C yesterday, and the "garden railroad club" had a train set / village running. . . very neat and realistic . . . these are outdoor garden trains, so you embed the tracks in the ground and they stay in place all year round, even up north here. . . . i checked out the prices in a magazine, and jees this stuff is not cheap !


why is the world better without kodachrome?

at one time, i could sit in a dark room and look at projected slides and hardly catch my breath for what i saw on the screen.

how did the death of kodachrome make my life better?

it didn't of course, and obviously i bring this up because i just looked at a series of old slides, and holy shytt don't they make these laptop images look utterly pathetic.


there is nothing outside but mud and mounds of muddy snow . . . this is the ugliest time of the year here, and won't end until the forsythia blooms in april.

booked our hotel in texas for our visit in 3 weeks. . . . got the wood for karen benson's bookcase, and cut the pieces to rough size, and chamfered all the edges . . . tomorrow is joint making and sanding.

decided to buy some slide film and bring some of my old cameras back to life.

jpgTom & Jerry Blast off to Mars

a complex plot that interweaves various facets of humor, animal-to-animal abuse and the timeless question "Can cats and mice live on some other planet besides Earth?"

(or maybe it's just a funny cartoon ?)

jpg Why do I need a new train set ?

because, my brother Bob is holding my old train set hostage.

here he is in his NY Yankees shirt (you remember them, right ? . . . they used to play baseball) showing off my trains to friends in the hilton head diner !

jpg Film

i happen to load up a slide tray the other day and turn off the basement lights and treated myself to a show of vintage (1980 - 1990's) slides. . . and i was stunned.

over the years, since the digital camera revolution, i have aclimated (sp?) to images on computer monitors and web pages . . . and i was amazed how far down my standards have dropped . . . projected slides are simply unbeatable . . . just stunning.

that's why you see 10 new rolls of slide film in my frig, a new tripod in my basement and my olden days nikon (FM2 with various lenses), minolta STR101 (with the glorious 50mm/f1.4 lens), konica hexar (the ultimate 35mm/f2.0), voigtlander bessa-T (15mm ! !) all dusted off and ready to come back to life.

D's little vase on the bathroom shelf . . .

jpgwanting to take nice, or even impressive, photos of stuff makes me look around all the time at everyday things that i would normally not see, like this scene, that is commonplace but very pretty.

you don't actually have to take a picture of everything . . . it's just nice that you learn to see these small, pretty things here and there during the day. . . most of my life i was "too busy" to notice.

Grandpa Dave and Debbie,
thank you for the birthday card. i am going to use the money to have my birthday party tomorrow at mcdonalds with my friends. i wanted to go to the park but it is raining AGAIN so we are going to play at mcdonalds and have ice cream there instead.
love, Ryan

jpg Comic Books

The bound volumes of my complete Sandman Mystery Theater arrived, and they are better than I expected (how often does that happen?) I am setting about now to reread the entire 3 volumes.

(which reminds me that i must finish Po Teeko's dreams . . . .)

jpg Another Example . . .

of why the world does not work today . . .

this my new (expensive) Kruig coffee maker and my favorite Starbucks coffee mug.

people who make stuff just don't care . . . .


went to the Italian Consulate today and applied for an Italian passport . . . Mike came along as my guide and interpreter . . we had some fun shooting over to the US Post office for pictures, then back, then fingerprints, but it should be mailed out to me pretty soon !.

Mike then went to work and I spent 2 hours prowling around the Science Museum and then walking along the Charles River to the train . . . extremely pleasant day for me.

(if i was 40 years younger, i'd get a place in Boston so fast your head would spin.

. . . if i was 30 years younger . . .you know, let's say like approximately Mike's age . . . i'd get a place in Italy and invite dad and Debbie to stay there January, February and March.)

"Do these pants (purchased, by the way, in Padua, Italia) make my legs look too short? "



got a broken tooth repaired and bought a new hedge trimmer (Stihl).

the bad news is that i found 4 dead koi floating in the pond . . . to a fishpond keeper this is pretty upsetting, and i am pretty upset . . . they were maybe 5 years old, 6" big . . . there are at least 2 still okay and swimming around . . . these are about 10" . . . the pond froze over winter and i think it was that the water got oxygen starved for the # of fish . . . next year, i definitely keep the pump running all winter.

from the new yorker . . .


"Please move your car, Mr. Bond . . . that's Mr. Leo's parking space."

jpgthis is not the Italian passport of just any random fool you may fall upon . . . this passport is mine . . .

and i was surpised and happy to also learn that my father now also has been granted (posthumously, of course) dual USA - Italian citizenship.

now . . . we wait for Mike's mountain of paperwork to be approved by the scores of reviewers who will question every dot and fly speck . . .


today was just a grind . . . set up the pond pump & filter, got some stuff at Lowe's, put a primer coat on K's bookcase, got an upset stomach for a few hours . . . okay now . . . watched Ingmar Bergmans' "Virgin Spring" . . . . D is baking cookies for a baby party tomorrow and i am baking a sourdough pizza for dinner tonight.

tomorrow is the day that i load slide film into one of my old cameras and get crazy.


trying to be as good as i can be

it's not easy . . . . today, for example . . . .

it's been raining here since 1953 and i am certain now the sun is a myth from the ancient times . . . so i woke up mean to start with.

then i did federal taxes. . . come to find out that when i withdraw money from my IRA they tax it (all well and good, as it should be) . . . but then they increase the taxes i pay on social security income by 85% of the amount that i withdrew . . . . so that the net tax on whatever is drawn out of my IRA comes to 28% . . . so all that $$$$ you have stashed away for retirement is only worth 72% of what you thought it was worth.

the cruelty of this is that we all saved money in IRA's to be withdrawn "during our low income / low tax bracket" years so it wouldn't be taxed so high . . . BUT . . . when you factor in the fact that your social security taxes go up because of the amount that you withdraw, it works out to be the same high tax bracket you were in when you were earning the big bucks.

what's next . . . . ah yes, our airline tickets . . . a month ago, i spent 90 minutes on the phone with EXPEDIA (they suck suck suck) to book our round trip to Texas next week . . . so i decided to tie the loose ends and check this out today . . . . our itinerary was not logged into EXPEDIA or the American Airlines web sites . . .

here's the e-mail from EXPEDIA . . . .

Thank you for contacting us about confirming your reservation.

png We have checked our record but we were unable to find your reservation. It would be best if you can call us so that you can provide us more information about your reservation, which cannot be disclosed through email . . .

If this does not answer your question or solve your problem, feel free to . . . .

Thank you for choosing Expedia.

hmmmm . . .e-mails back / e-mails forth / e-mails back / e-mails forth . . . . turns out that EXPEDIA booked me as DAVIDMICHAEL and booked D as DEBORAHJEAN, so the airline could not find our tickets . . . . then we agreed (after some questioning) that would not be a security boarding issue . . . hey, let's check the seats that EXPEDIA got for us .

. . . . seats ? . . . seats ? . . ohh my gosh . . . you two actually wanted to sit together ? .. .

yet another e-mail from EXPEDIA . . .

Thank you for contacting us about seat assignments.

png All airlines retain control of their own seat maps and generally . . .

Airlines generally block 20-30 percent of the seats that are viewable in the seat map . . .

Although forwards your seat request to the airlines, we cannot guarantee that every request will be honored. If the seat map is unavailable . . . .

If this does not answer your question or solve your problem, feel free to . . . .

Thank you for choosing Expedia.

"why" (the world asks) "have you become grumpy and cynical?"

"how" (i answer) "the %$@# could i possibly avoid it?"


spent the day outside (!) doing Spring yardwork . . . loved every minute of it.

thought more about taxes and retirement money (see above) while i was working . . . . i decided that either some slimeball capitalists will take your retirement money (which they did in my case) or the federal government will take it (which they do in my case) . . . but at the end of the day, someone will take a huge chunk of everything you ever saved or invested.

the Italians have a phrase for this ..... "Siete stati avvitati"

the Americans have a phrase for this too . . . "It ain't gonna happen to me, I promise ya."

jpg those dark thoughts aside, it was a beautiful day today. . .

esp when someone loaded a ladder into his car, sticking it out the side window . . . making me thankful that my roadside jogging and bicycling days are behind me, and wondering just how many people he impaled on his drive home.

had dinner with the Mike's (Leo and Benson) at Terramia's in Boston's North End . . weather was great, dinner was excellent . . . ML went to Italian class and MB and me walked around and i took some photos.
here is the only nice one.


two sides of the political coin

looking at the history of US taxes, the federal budget and the public debt, i've decided that we need to rename our two major political parties, as follows:
democrats = "spend and tax the people party"
republicans = "spend and drive up the national debt party"

ironically, it has been the "conservative" republican administrations that have borrowed the federal government into massive debts (check out the statistics), and (in my lifetime) it was the crazy "liberal" democratic administration of Bill Clinton (i thought he was a jerk) that made the biggest step forward in reducing the national debt (which of course was immediately shredded by GWB's debt to finance the war to destroy Iraq).

now Obama is driving up the debt to dig us out of the hole that Bush dug is into . . . but you must wonder "is it really possible to dig your way out of a hole" ?

the two parties continue to shytt in the kitchen and leave the next guy to clean it up.

Dear Diary . . .

  • finally finished karen B's bookcase and am waiting for john to come get it.
  • moving bushes and plants all around the yard (before they leaf out) . . . killing off the pathetic ones . . . seriously cropping back everything (new hedge trimmer gone wild)
  • my gardening song is "Papa was a Rollin' Stone", because every time i dig in dirt i think of the line " . . . dealin' in dirt and stealin' in the name of the Lord". . . then the song stays in my head all day.
  • loaded slide film (yes, film) in a camera (15mm lens ! ! ) and went hunting today for that timeless masterpiece that is so overdue to me . . . (although i popped maybe 20 photos, that elusive masterpiece is still out there somewhere). . . this is my new . . . what's another word for "enthrallment"? . . . i don't know. . good old fashion slides, projected in a dark room with a glass of your favorite beverage at hand . . . . (why did we ever stop shooting slides? )
  • M is hiking up Mt. Watatic today and i am soaking in envy . . hell, in the olden days, i ran up the steep trail carrying a case of beer on ice, a small hibachi and charcoal, 10#'s of hamburger, and a 40# bag of photo equipment and made it to the top is 15 minutes. . . . but today i will settle for M's photos e-mailed to me from his cell phone on the top of the mountain . . . . shoot me please shoot me. Here is Mike's report !
  • D is working, poor girl, until 9:30 or so tonight ( i am not envious)
  • drove to Tewksbury this morning and passed along a few of my treasured technical books to my good friend Jim Luz (and his lovely wife, Audree, who has the most fabulous yard / garden) . . . Jim is one of the rare engineers who has a balanced brain . . . their (totally renovated) house is ever so lovely . . . but he still won't listen to me and retire (dumb kid).
  • i am about to log into the Leica international users forum and bless those guys with my precious wisdom (won't tell them that i shot today with the Cosina camera and lens).


Twenty years ago i started a "Jr. Engineers' Club" at the local public high school (noted more for it's troubled students than for it's academic status), and had the opportunity to get acquainted with some pretty smart kids. One day, we started a new class, and I asked the group to calculate and plot some engineering stuff on their calculators. Crunch . . . crunch . . . crunch . . . they worked away, but I noticed that this little red-haired kid in the back was staring off into space. He was very small and I figured he was too young and got in over his head here, so I went back to help him while the other kids struggled with the problem.

jpg I get back to him and I see the solution plotted correctly on his calculator (the other kids were still crunching), and I asked him what his problem was . . . . he says "I'm thinking about an alternate solution to verify my results".. I try to be cool as my jaw drops open, and I say something like . . ."oh . . . oh . . . that's good . . . that's good . . . what's your name again?" "Brendan" he says. . . . and I stammer "That's good, Brendan . . . alternate solutions are good" (That's him on the right, in the front row.)

So . . . whatever happened to Brendan?. . . well, I got an e-mail from him today . . . .

I'm a former member of your young engineer's club from back in the day. I've been in touch with Peter B. [photo, back row, center], and he forwarded your email on to me. After high school, I majored in mechanical engineering. My grad school and post-doc work spanned an eclectic mix of chemistry, aerospace engineering, and plasma physics. I've just recently taken a job with NASA. I am in the Washington, D.C. area now working at the Goddard Space Flight Center. I am in the process of setting up a new laboratory and calibrating spacecraft instruments.
Just thought I should drop you a line.

Jees !


the US health care bill ("which one ?" you ask . . . ."beats me" i say) got passed today . . . i am a big supporter of health care reform (shytt, who isn't) but my informed opinion will have to wait until i read up on who does what to whom, and exactly who / whom is gonna pay for it, after we get back from Texas next week.

Mar.30.2010 . . . home in the rain

we had a great Texas visit with L, M and the gang of 9 . . . came home to rain and more rain, and it's still raining.

have to note that Christopher and Matthew have changed the most, though Andrew has added about 15 pounds.

this morning i posted my snapshots here: Texas2010.html . . . will add some words when i get to it . . . . have to organize my junk around the house today.

"The Rage Is Not About Health Care"

this is an excellent op-ed from March27 New York Times on the incendiary raging over the health care reform bill: NY Times Opinion

This has also inspired an ugly discussion in the international Leica (photography ! ) forum, where I was motivated to post the following comment. . .

The new US health care bill is very controversial because it touches on intense religious beliefs (abortion), states rights, federal intrusion into the marketplace and into people's lives, immigrants (legal and not), the fear of socialism, the distrust of big business (insurance companies), the ever-increasing federal debt, "back-room" deals for various states to get them to sign up (that's how Washington works, kids), and social prejudices (America is for middle class white Americans, the others are "fringe" people who are forcing us to give them free health care and passing the cost onto our children).

Everyone has some kind of bone to pick on one or more of those topics, and the health care bill is laced with the whole lot.

I'm giving myself a year to see how it plays out before i decide if it's good or bad. . . . it will probably take 10 years to shake out the bugs.

And my follow-up comment, after things got ugly . . .

the toxicity level of this thread is now in the red zone.

we (US members) have now demonstrated to the rest of the Leica forum members how utterly intolerant and disrespectful we are of each others' opinions.

left right, black white, up down, liberal conservative, Dems Reps, right wrong, me you, us them, good evil . . . utterly embarrassing.

It was only a few US loudmouths spewing on about taking the country back, Marxism, Socialism, the death of Free Enterprise, Christian values imbedded in the Constitution, and Armageddon . . . but they dominated the talk, insulted about every person who questioned what was going on over here, and convinced 90% of the international viewers that we are a sorry lot of brain-dead morons. . . . i ended up saying . . .

. . . . it would be a mistake to take the remarks made here and conclude "that's how the Americans feel about health care" . . . we are extremely divided on the topic for a great many reasons.

png And another provocative article in the CSM: Who is the father of healthcare reform: Obama or Mitt Romney? . . .
which reminds me of my notes from Dec2009 on Nixon's Health Care Plan.

Jaime Escalante died yesterday

my brother brought this to my attention just now . . .

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jaime Escalante, the math teacher who transformed a tough East Los Angeles high school and inspired the movie ''Stand and Deliver,'' died Tuesday. He was 79.

"The day someone quits school he is condemning himself to a future of poverty."

"That's the point. It goes like this: Teaching is touching life."

"One of the greatest things you have in life is that no one has the authority to tell you what you want to be. You're the one who'll decide what you want to be. Respect yourself and respect the integrity of others as well. The greatest thing you have is your self image, a positive opinion of yourself. You must never let anyone take it from you."

"I came up with one idea . . . you don't count how many times you are on the floor. You count how many times you get up."


Index of My Journal Pages

( enter monthly witicism here)

page written by Dave Leo