Dave's Journal, November 2012

Let's start off November with a "What if . . . " story :
The Gatekeeper at King George's Motel

Ahhh . . . The 5th of November !

One of my very favorite movies.
I watch it every year at this time.


(do a mouseover)

B. Obama is Re-elected

I voted for Obama in 2008 and also this time around. I am an Independent, and I vote both sides of the fence, as I see the needs of the times. Happily, many many other people do the same, and I am pretty sure that we (the "I's") are the folks who make the difference. The hardcore D's and R's are committed and loyal to their teams, however pathetic the candidate may be. We I's generally don't vote strictly for our religious, moral, ideological "principles", and most (not all) of us are not "one-issue" voters. I think this helps candidates stay more in the middle of the road, because they need our votes to win, and we are "generally" not extremists and are very likely to vote for the other guy if you don't cut muster.

Of course, this morning the D's are ever so excited about the bright new day dawning for America, and the R's are so convinced that America's plunge into hell has now accelerated . . . what BS on both sides, huh? If We, the People don't tell our Washington representatives to start working things out together and getting something done for their paychecks, we'll play this stupid BS game (and I mean GAME) again in four years.

Footnote: with 300,000,000 people to serve, "middle of the road" federal politics is good !

Snapshots Rule

Going through the millions of pictures we took on our vacation, I noticed that the best "captures" came out of the cell phones and point&shoot cameras. This is one of Chris's and it grabs exactly how it felt to be in the Musee' du Louvre in Paris. Your quiet time with art? . . . nope. . . .


Yikes . . . I forgot that I was running for President !

What with our Euro2012 trip, photography and yard leaf cleanup, I let my campaign momentum screech to a halt and now I've gone and lost the election.

This would have gone unnoticed but the letter in the mail today from the IRS asking about campaign donations, triggered my memory. I was running for President, wasn't I ?

Sh#t !


I think that Norway is a wonderful country, and that the people are kind, intelligent and sophisticated . . . . so don't take this the wrong way.

And . . I envy the fact that Norway was smart enough to federalize their oil industry (this includes their platforms in the North Sea) so the profits from oil & gas drillings go directly to their federal government and their taxes are very low, their public education is free, as is their health care.

What pisses me off however is when someone from country X (in this case, possibly it might be Norway) starts explaining to people how the US should get its sh#t together and run the country the right way.

Well . . . Norway (the entire country) has a whopping total population of . . . 5million people.

Sh#t . . . New York City has a population of 8.2million !

There is not one molecule of comparison between the challenges of running a country of 5million people to a country of 310million people (representing every culture in the world!).

Truth be told, it's more difficult to run any major US city than it is to run Norway.

yecchhhh, the weather today . . .

getting better . . . .

The Woodright Guy

Weather today was a big improvement. I got outside ! Then here I am typing and watching TV - that woodright crafstman program. The guy uses only hand tools, and he takes great pride in spending 3 days making a wonderfully perfect picture frame that will look better 500 years from now than it does today. How silly, is that ?

Truth be told I envy the guy for the incredible woodshop he has (no machines), and of course his skill level is in another universe from mine (my picture frames look like crap the day I make them ! ). He's making a fence gate now. Oak, about 4'X8', looks like it could support a big truck. He made this with a hand saw, an auger drill and a chisel & mallet. Mortise and tenon joints, doweled in place (no nails, of course). My guess is that, 500 years from now, that f#%king gate will be working perfectly and looking elegant.

I don't have much to say this evening, so let me talk about brussels sprouts. I love them, simply steamed. The flavor (let me change the TV channel, some guy with flags behind him is speeching about "saving America" from some sh#t or whatever - aren't we over this sh#t now?) . . . of steamed brussel sprouts drives me wild. The only better option is to sautee them in butter and (very little) olive oil. Debbie's cousin, Naomi, did this and it was simply perfect.

Why Sautee'd Brussel Sprouts are Important

Not a long time ago, when I was working full time, I was talking to an engineer buddy about when we were going to retire. We said this and that, mostly how retirement was basically the end of your meaningful life. I made remarks about "pulling weeds from the garden" (we laughed) and he mentioned "volunteering at the library" (we laughed).

The stuff that meant a lot to us at that time was calculating things. Things that no one actually cared about except (in my case) the US Navy who paid me an ridiculous amount of money to calculate stuff that rotted in their file cabinets when I was finished calculating. On paper it looked great . . . the effects of shock loads in the X3V7Y1BF engine room . . . an optimum cooling design for Bi98CXR.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVED doing that work. It was mentally stimulating and (guessing from the pressure that people put me under to get the right answer as fast as possible) I would say it was important (at least to someone). But the truth is, I never saw whatever became of it. For all I know, my reports are still rotting in some Navy (or GE) file cabinet somewhere.

On the other hand . . . tonight I cooked a wicked nice batch of brussel sprouts, and I can tell you they were very much appreciated.

The Lord of the New Cynicism

In case you haven't caught up with the Mike's blog, protesting the failings and frailties of mortal man . . . here's a good read: Nov11

Coincidentally, we stumbled into Dave (the new, nicer, kinder Dave who writes the journal that you are reading now and was sitting on his porch, typing nicer kinder stuff onto his journal pages, when we stumbled into him), and we asked him about Mike's (the blogger Mike's) attitude.

Interviewer: Dave, tell us, would you say that Mike has an "edgy" style in his writing in that he enjoys walking the tight wire between a fun and funky criticism of the general stupidity that inflicts the world as he sees it and, let's call it, a compassionate cynicism that he hopes to cultivate and grow to be the garden of a better world for all of us?

Dave: Yeh, sure. Can you you pass me those crackers?


Dave went to sleep last night knowing that today may be the last best day for Autumn yard cleanup. The weather was projected to be perfect, and there was really not much more than a day's work left out there. So, after 3 cups of Barista brand Columbian, he slipped his work gloves on, tied his laces, pulled the garden tools out of the shed and sat on the big tree stump. "What's the plan?" he pondered. Sip . . . sip . . . sip . . . good coffee. "Rake first? Blower? Vacuum? Mulch mower?" . . . . sip . . . . sip . . . sip.

It flashed through his mind that there are people sitting somewhere on a downed tree or an upturned car or a refrigerator or the shattered structure of their entire home that was, a few weeks ago, a major piece of their life.

At that point in Dave's thoughts, sitting there on that stump, cleaning up leaves didn't seem like such a horrible task.


I've had this DVD for years but watched it for the first time last night. Pretty decent DVD/TV grade movie with at least two main plots and 4 subplots interlaced by very non-linear editing (remember "Momento" ? )

The acting was excellent on all accounts, even though the plot was weak and kind of "who cares?".

American Art Review

As Deb was in the movies watching the very latest Twilight episode, I trek'd out for a walk and ended up at Barnes&Noble, where I had the good fortune to stumble upon Chris & Mike who were there for espresso.
I was there (it's a 4+ mile walk there and back) to buy the latest copy of American Art Review magazine.

To be 100% sincere, I enjoy reading this magazine quite a bit. It is loaded with . . . .well . . . nice pictures (of paintings) and very intelligent commentary about the paintings and their painters. It is a great (and cheap) education for me about what other people see when they look at pictures.

The other upside is that, when the chicks see me carrying this to the checkout cashier they nudge each other and whisper "That guy there . . . look . . . the guy with the American Art Review magazine . . . he really knows his stuff, I bet . . . you can tell . . . he really knows his stuff, don't you see?"

To be continued . . . .

Good morning. Where was I? . . . Art . . .

We argue this over and again on the photo forum. "Is this art? What is art? What makes that picture worth $$$$$$?" . . . . . everyone has answers (I should say "opinions") of course, and mine are no less foolish than anyone else's. Here is the executive summary of what I think.

Individuals and art galleries pay $$$$$ only when they think they can later sell the painting for more money. It's an investment to them, and most of these paintings spend their lives in bank vaults. The machine of the "art market" drives the price of art upwards. If a painting depreciated like a car (20% / year), no one would spend $5M on it. The marketplace is thus a self-fulfilling money machine.

The artist, in virtually all of these cases, either sold the painting to cover next month's rent or gave the painting to a friend to enjoy. It became a valuable marketplace gem after the artist died and someone capitalized on that. In a few case, a gallery owner "patronized" the artist by buying (cheaply!) his/her work as it was completed. The painter then had a steady (low) income and the gallery owner had a (hopeful) investment plan for future (sell this stuff when it became valuable).

Defining "art" is not possible. Nor is it necessary. If you like to look at a picture - good. If you don't like it - good also. Some very pricey marketplace wonders (in my opinion) are awful. Some are worse than awful, when you get the feeling that the artist is pulling everyone's "whatever" or making fun of a stupid lot of viewers. (I once saw, in the Boston MFA "contemporary gallery", an iron plate that the artist literally urinated on and let it rust, gave it a name and there it was in the art museum ! ! ! )

On the other hand, lots of truly wonderful pieces of art are sold for less than $100. Lot's of wonderful stuff is sold for $10 ! The marketplace "value" of a picture has not one molecule of connection to whether or not it is "art".

There now (as Granny Clampett used to say) . . . . I has spoke !


Well . . . at long last, I took Mike's advice and Chris's recipe and baked bread in a real oven. I had my doubts every minute, but . . . jees . . . it looks not all that bad at the moment (it's cooling) . .


(It tastes great too! ! )

Refrigerator Art


A few T-shirt laughs for my geeky readers . . .

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And one for Debbie . . .


Dust Storms ("So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh")

I never quite got impressed with the legendary dust storms of the 1930's. I knew they destroyed farmland and peoples' lives, but the enormity of the storms themselves never sank in. I think because all I ever saw was pictures of people walking through what looked like fog just a lot of dust in the air.

I was totally ignorant of what a "dust storm" was really like.


PBS is showing a documentary on The Dust Bowl, by Ken Burns. It is also available to stream into your computer: The Dust Bowl, Part One

Very well worth the time to watch. Gets a bit depressing, once the years of hardship and the ruination of lives sinks into you. Ironically, tragically, coincidentally, this natural disaster occured during the Great Depression (these two events were unrelated).

An interesting side story: During the enormous Black Sunday storm, Woody Guthrie was stranded in a church on the Texas panhandle. Lots of people in there were (as you might imagine) very religious, and it got around that day was truly going to be the end of the world. People were genuinely terrified and distraught they were all about to die. After a few hours of cold silence and crying and families hugging, some lady says "Well, so long everybody, it's been good to know yuh." And everyone kind of picked up on that piece of courage and started shaking hands and hugging and telling each other "So long, it's been good to know yuh".

And that is what inspired Woody Guthrie to write that song !

Happy Thanksgiving !

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and today we will be getting ready for it (14 - 16 people coming over). Moving furniture, setting up tables, chairs, the porch, firewood etc etc.

So, if I don't get back to my computer here, I wish everyone a very happy holiday, and hope that you take the day to forget the bad stuff in you life and feel good about the good stuff, at least for one day, huh.


The Party's Over

The food's gone, the fire's out, the crowd's gone, the dog's gone. Deb had the kitchen cleaned up in a jiffy. Me and Lexie (there on the floor) are giving thanks . . . . that it's over and time to quietly chill out.! I'll put the parlor back in order tomorrow.


I was too busy for lots of pictures (Tammy shot thousands!), but I got a few . . . .

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Nov.23.2012: twisted knee / beautiful day / K-Mahjongg

jpgThe housekeeper (me)
twisted his knee,
and stepping upstairs was a pain,
but he got up the nerve
from his courage reserve
and went for a walk with his cane.

Well, my knee is not better, but I feel new and improved with all that fresh air inside me now. (Speaking candidly, this glass of wine is helping my recovery as well.)

Turns out that yesterday (with the party going on in the background) I accidentally did an upgrade to my netbook OS (don't laugh - it's a long story - well . . . it's actually a short, but boring and irrelevant story so let's move along here). Today I discovered new an cool stuff in the new OS (GNU/Linux/Mint) . . . most notably I discovered KMahjongg, which is a very nice variation of my all-time favorite computer game (based on Mahjongg . . . kind of loosely).

jpg I am also kind of flattered that this new variation works a lot like the X-mahjongg GUI front end that I wrote a few years back. This one is more nicely integrated into the mahjongg game code and the bells and whistles are very very nice.


These guys are always circling overhead, but this is the first one I saw land near the ground, and there it is on my fence. This event lasted 30 seconds before it flew away (this was taken through a window and a dusty screen !) . Definitely it was scoping out the little finches, wrens and sparrows feeding on the seed I threw out on the ground a few days back (the food chain in action, huh! ).

Sitting by the fire at the moment, texting to Rebekah.


The Blues

Well . . . it's been maybe 5 years since these crooked fingers and locked joints made me give up playing the blues on my ukelele. And, sadly, even those precious videos of me singing the blues classic "Trouble in Mind" have gone underground. (Rumors that I am scheduling a new session, to be recorded here on my netbook webcam, cannot be denied or confirmed at this point.)

Okay, putting me aside, the topic now is The Blues.

BB King, despite is mass-media popularity, is a phenominal blues guitarist. He's elegant, he's smooth, he funky and he has the infinite confidence of a master. For example: BBKing

So . . . I thought, hey, you know who needs some funk in his life? . . . my baby brother . . . and I emailed him the youtube link to watch BBKing, you know? and get down with some blues.

As brothers do, he sends me a note to check out the blues guitarist Albert King, and so I did. Jeepers W. Creepers . . . . ladies and gentlemen . . . Albert King (lie down now, because this is gonna kill you . . )


I personally have never been kicked in the gravel pits, but I can imagine how terribly it must hurt.

1948 - 2012 (How time flies, huh?)

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Can't Stop Them Blues . . .

From cousin Pete . . . Eric Clapton / Groaning the Blues

Okay, Okay . . . now I have to dig up some Steve Rae Vaughan videos..

Hey, by the way . . . Happy Birthday, Pete ! !

Page written by Dave Leo