jpg September (zodiac sign = Virgo)

Virgo is the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Virgo. In western astrology, the sign is no longer aligned with the constellation as a result of the precession of the equinoxes. In astrology, Virgo is considered a "feminine", negative (introvert) sign. It is also considered an earth sign and is one of four mutable signs. Virgo is traditionally ruled by the planet Mercury, but Ceres and several other planets have been suggested as the ruler of Virgo by some modern astrologers. Being the sixth sign of the zodiac, Virgo has been associated with the astrological sixth house.

Virgo people are ...

  • Modest and shy
  • Meticulous and reliable
  • Practical and diligent
  • Intelligent and analytical

... but are also ...

  • Fussy and a worrier
  • Overcritical and harsh
  • Perfectionist and conservative

Ceres ? .... there's a planet called Ceres ?

Ceres, formal designation 1 Ceres, is the smallest identified dwarf planet in the Solar System and the only one in the asteroid belt. It was discovered on January 1, 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi, and is named after the Roman goddess Ceres - the goddess of growing plants, the harvest, and motherly love. (Wiki discussion of Ceres.)

Annie Leibovitz

i missed this story in the NYTimes, about Ms Leibovitz, who is an extremely gifted and globally famous photographer. there is not much to say, but to repeat what everyone else is asking ..... "how could this have happened to her .... $24M in debt ? ? ". it is very sad to see the life of someone so talented and creative about to collapse.

Will Facebook survive without me ?

we'll find out .... i shutdown my facebook account .... i never quite understood what facebook brings to the internet, besides clutter and confusion and distributing personal remarks to networks of people i don't actually know except that they are "friends" of "friends" of "friends" ..... why is that better than personal web pages and e-mail? .... i don't know ..... then again, there is so much going-on that i don't quite "get"..... facebook being one of them.

The New Leica (rumor)

jpg a lot of normal people won't understand this, and to speak honestly, neither do i .

the high-end professional leicas cost only a little less than the Space Shuttle .... i have no delusions about ever owning one of those. but the low-end pro leicas only cost what your last new car cost .... and i simply won't drop the $$$ (sorry the €) on one of the M8's or M9's.

however ..... rumor has it ... and the internet is "a-buzz" today with pre-released pictures of the mythical "leica x1" (shown here) with a fixed 24mm (he breathes in spasms and clutching gulps) f2.8 lens.

the official announcement is dated for 9-9-09.

if this camera becomes real, it is surely my next best, one true destiny.

(which explains why i mortgaged the house this afternoon.)

Aging: Moderate Drinking May Help the Brain


"People over 60 who consume moderate amounts of alcohol have a reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, according to a large review of studies."

"Compared with people who don't drink any alcohol, male drinkers reduced their risk for dementia by 45 percent, and women by 27 percent."

My comment: Thank you, Dear Lord .... this news is much appreciated.

Oh my ....

just hours after i drooled all over about the new leica,
my beloved D2 came back from being recovered,
and it is beyond beautiful ....


Google Books

jpg i don't quite understand why the world needs various *proprietary* electronic gizmos (kindle, sonyreader, etc) to read *proprietary* electronic versions of books..... the best idea in my mind has always been something like GoogleBooks .... books are scanned and stored on a server to be read by any and every personal computer, laptop, netbook in the world.

Google has already scanned millions of books and lots and lots (?) of them are already available on line, free to read or download onto your computer, or just read it without downloading the entire file..... at GoogleBooks.

side note: i personally can't enjoy a book on a computer screen .... i like paper books .... but the idea of having all the world's writings available freely to everyone (who has access to a personal, school or library computer) is unarguably wonderful.


and in conclusion...

ladies and gentlemen of the jury, i ask you ...... look at that picture .... look at that smug and challenging smirk ..... why is this man smirking at the sad lot of us common folk? .... at you and i who respect common decency?

i'll tell you why, Your Honor .... in addition to holding my most beloved train set hostage (well .... at least i think it's my long lost train set), he has the blatant audacity, the unmitigated gaul, Your Honor, to show us that he also has posession of my equally beloved set of lost shooting bows.

look at those eyes ...... that snarling, smirkish grin ...... you just know that he's guilty just by looking at him ...... right? ..... and LOOK! .... he's already wearing a prison shirt !

(lucky that i still have the strings and arrows, heh?)

Jake's ready, coach ....

let's Play Ball !



last evening at 6:15 i said ..."i'm going to doze off for a few minutes, wake me up at 7:00" ..... i opened my eyes and it was 3:00AM and i dozed off again and then it was 6:20AM .... 12hr + 5min later.

D is off to work (Labor Day !), and i may hike with Mike and/or play with the new carpet steam cleaner.

few days back we raised the Italian flag outside, below (of course) the American flag..... since Leominster is predominantly Italian, we should be reasonably safe from "patriots" throwing bricks through the windows.

(there is a guy who drives around the neighborhood in a rusted pickup truck (no muffler) with a flag pole bolted to the back and 3ftX5ft American flag blowing around on it .... must drop his mileage by 5 gallons, easy.)

Sep.07.2009 (cont'd)

Deb was scheduled for 9:00AM - 6:00PM today, and just before closing she found out someone made a mistake and she has to work until 9:00PM .... poor kiddo, on top of the medical shytt she is stressed out about.

my day was a lot lot better than hers .... after steam cleaning some carpets, i went out for a hike with mike around an audubon trail ..... i brought along a cane as a "hiking stick" and it was great .... will never hike without one again .... saw some guy with two hiking sticks like ski poles.

pictures sucked .... took the best 5 and made a poster collage.

jpgMt. Wachusett

haze in the air made the picture taking pretty sad..... there were some birdwatchers (gotta be a bunch of retired engineers) up there .... i guess the birdwatching was bad because all they did was watch me, and since the scenery was bad, i photograped them while they watched me.

...... ahhhhhh ..... retirement.... i gotta ask ....." i wonder what the poor people are doing right now."

...... (hmmmm.... maybe i'll just ask D when she gets home from work)

jpg Dunn State Pond

Gardner, MA is 20 miles northwest of our town. In it's heyday, it was a booming furniture city (called itself "The Chair City") where much of the furniture in New England was made there.

well .... that was then, this is now, and Gardner has seen better days.

but .... there's a little state park there that is exquisite ... perfect little pond with a beach and rental paddle boats and a nature center (with a deck and chairs and tables on the water's edge) and forest rangers (?) hanging out, and a trail around the pond through the woods .... ducks in the water, hawks overhead and a fishing beach on the oposite side..... i went there today for the first time in five years and walked around.

i shot 11,098 digital pictures and got only 2 that gave me the same feeling as being there ..... one of them is over on the right.

Link →→ Obama's Speech to Students

In his recent speech to American students, Obama encouraged them to stay in school, study hard, struggle against life's challenges and get help from teachers and the adults in their lives.

Sounds reasonable to me.

Killing Animals for Fun


anyone who kills an animal merely for sport should be thrown into a ditch, sprayed with lime, shotgunned and buried, dead or alive.

little farms here and there

all of new england is scattered with small farms interlaced with towns and cities.... we have lots of local farm fruit stands and country stores. there is one farm right nearby that we pass on our walks, and they are harvesting hay (i think) in bails and rolls, and lots of pickup trucks are around town way overloaded with this stuff.this morning the clouds were like cotton puffs, and the scenes were pretty.


jpgThe Hobbit

i should have read this 50 years ago when everyone else my age read it ...... it's a most wonderful story, with great characters (good and bad and in-between) very nicely written .... if you can deal with wizards, dwarves, elves, dragons and (especially) hobbits, you will love reading this storybook.


in reverence of this day (english?) and the unsuspecting civilians who died then, our neighbor George enlisted about 20 people to plant 3000 (that's three thousand, and yes sir he made every one of them) flags in his lawn (my hands still hurt from the 2 i planted).


i still cannot watch the video replays .... f%$#ing outrage when anyone deliberately kills civilians.

jpg Fish

the tank is doing okay ... lost a few fish, then replaced them .... have 8 rasboras, 8 rosy-barbs, one catish, one gourami .... plan to get some neons.

the schooling fish behave a lot better is there are 6 or more of each type .... they seem to fight otherwise....?


from The New Yorker ...


Hybrid / Gas / Plug-in Car Cost Calculator

how could a retired engineer NOT love this ..... ProjectGetReady has posted a calculator to help you compare the life-tiime costs of various cars of the future..... be ready for a high jolt of sticker shock .....


png hen you're ready for sweet potato pancakes, here (according to Debbie) is where you want to go.


i went for the pastrami & swiss on rye.

(there's no punch line to the story .... that's all that happened.)

pnghen we headed for the mall (the excitement never stops, does it?) because D found an open space in one of several closets that she needed to fill with almost anything, but this time it was Coach (brand) purse #342.

got home and my new LLBean wheeler luggage was waiting .... you know, that proud - to - be - American iconic brand noted for durability, quality and traditional, down-home Yankee craftsmanship .....


Temperatures in Italia (0F)


Independent Restaurants [sep.18.2009]

a dozen of the local independent restaurants banned together and threw a great party last night and Jim and Audree drove in, picked me up (D was working) and we had a really nice evening. each restaurant had tables serving their specialties (you sat / stood at those tall barstool tables) and free wine and beer samples. i limped through the crowds with my cane looking ever so dashing.

the idea is to help the local independents stay popular in the shadow of the national chains (outback, 99 club, pizza uno's, texas roadhouse, chili's, olive garden, etc etc) that are like weeds invading every area and sending their profits far away. [/end of political statement].

surprisingly two local high schools have culinary departments and the stuff those kids whip up was seriously as good as the pro's .... most of the local restaurant chefs came out of those two schools also.

great time ..... but my leg got weary from standing (moderate surgery 24 hours before this), and when i got out of my chair at home at about 11PM, it damn screamed with pain, so i popped some advils..... this morning, it's doing pretty well..... i wanted to wait until after italy to do this, but the doctor thought otherwise [but then, he's a surgeon and likely wanted to accelerate his cash flow]..... biopsy back in 2 weeks, he says i'll be dancing next week.

Postscript: i changed the bandage .... looks like 2" - 2½" opening , maybe 8-10 stitches and ugly .... i was thinking ¾" but i guess he extracted more than what i expected...... walking feels very good (with the cane) ...... sitting feels very good (with leg up) .... but transitioning between the two hurts like &%$#$ hell.... so now i understand why mom moved up and down the way she did ..... getting up and getting down is the killing part ..... i also think "she had a metal rod screwed in place to hold her leg bone together ..... i had some little something removed from my skin...... okay okay, i'm a whimp, but it does hurt really. "

Health Care in the USA (in 37th place worldwide !)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year -- one every 12 minutes -- in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday.

"We're losing more Americans every day because of inaction ... than drunk driving and homicide combined," Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters.

Overall, researchers said American adults age 64 and younger who lack health insurance have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have coverage.

NEW YORK, Sept 17 (Reuters) -

Andrew Hall, a trader at a Citigroup unit, is contractually entitled to a 2009 pay package that could be worth $100 million. Prior Citigroup management signed the agreement that compels the bank to pay Hall so much, Pandit said.

Hall's massive pay package is a serious challenge for Kenneth Feinberg, the man U.S. President Barack Obama appointed to review executive pay at banks that accepted government bailouts. If the "pay czar" is seen as soft on Hall's pay, the public outcry could be strong. Hall's potential $100 million payday is equal to about 2,000 times median household income in the United States in 2008.

My comment: the federal government needs to put the lid on shytt like this..... capitalism has exceeded moral limits..... one man gets paid the equivalent of 2000 American households ..... WTF !

jpg Autumn, Coleus and the Cycle of Life

i said this often before..... coleus is my favorite plant, but it's an "annual" up here which means it's going to die with the cold. the batch out back (shown over there) is from a few scraggly clippings i brought into the basement last winter and moved outside this spring ..... but now the basement has too much of my other stuff in it and can't bring them back in, so they are doomed to the same romantic end all annuals are doomed to ..... a short, beautiful life that ends in autumn, the prettiest season...... it's ironic though that they show brilliant autumn colors all through their lifetime.

what did we do before we let cell phones interrupt every peaceful moment ? ....
why (you may well ask) would a person bring a cell phone into a garden?


jpg dad would be proud

i kept banging the back of my leg (where the stitches are) on chairs and doors and other things .... so i went to CVS who was ready to sell me a $20 thermo - plastic - turbo - mega - ultra - injury - attenuation - shield ...... so.... i asked myself ..... WTF, and grabbed some cardboard and tape and .... well .... there you are, sir.

.... actually i have been very (overly?) preoccupied with this little incision. probably because of the upcoming trip and i cannot afford any setbacks whatever..... there's just no time to recover from broken stitches or infection.

which brings me face-to-face one of my lifelong idiotic fears ..... always, always, i have asked myself "can you survive the worst possible outcome from this next event ....? and if that's questionable ..... what is your backup plan when the parachute doesn't open? "

this relentless, questioning mindset has been with me every day of life and it has never stopped ..... for some reason, i expect myself to have a plan in place for the worst possible outcome of the next event in my life, and also a backup plan when the primary plan doesn't work ..... i never had much time in my life to think about this, but now i do, and i think that recognizing this explains a lot about me and my life (thus far).

jpgi am insanely overcautious .... thinking relentlessly that it is far easier to avoid a problem (by intelligent behaviour) than it is to get out of one ("o shytt, now what do i do now that everything is utterly $%#@ed-up ?").

but why, you and i rightly ask, am i like this? and what would have happened in my life if i had simply said "%$^# it ..... jump ..... worry about the %$#@ing parachute on the way down" ..... or .... "drop out of school, buy the %$^*ing harley and have a life worthy of some great novel."

why have i been trapped in this too-cautious life?

and .... while you were reading this, i redesigned my splint to allow air to get into the wound and further reduce the probability of vacation-threatening infection.

but as soon as we get back, i'm getting a tattoo and a motorcycle.

jpgMary Travers Died Last Week

jpgPeter, Paul and Mary were the idol of many young folks back then (me most of all). She died, more or less, of lukemia .... a sad week on that account.

so i dredged up a nostalgia snap of me and my cousin Joanne from 1963?, singing folksy-tunes and looking ever so serious about it. ..... i still have that guitar and it is probably my most treasured possession ..... it was my constant friend through college and helped keep me sane in insane times.


comcast dropped a line and pulled mike's server off the internet for a day or two, but we are back now, and we had lunch at the daily bagel cafe, which is my new favorite lunch place now. we talked about books and the LOTR and Po Teeko's Cave .... he agreed to reread Po (for the 3rd time) and i think that i agreed to read LOTR on vacation so we could chat chat chat endlessly about what the author's of these two great masterworks "really meant" by all the embedded symbolism.

Dave's Video Page

found myself this morning watching YOUTUBE videos, and decided to clip out a few of my favorite amatuer videos: link to my new video page

The Sign of Po Teeko

a story is a collaboration of people who have never met ..... the writer and the readers.
no one story is ever the same to all its readers.


jpg i watched a PBS bio on Alexander Hamilton, and i was completely enthralled .... not by Alexander so much, as the realistic assessment of politics back in those days (politicians hired their personal newspaper writers, the dirt was thrown much worse than today !!! , politics and bribery and down and dirty collaborations were seen as the normal process .... some politicians owned there own newspapers )..... i was also thrown by how chaotic the "US" was after they won the Revolutionary War .... we were "free" but were totally broke, did not even have a common currency !!! .... every state had its own government and currency and there really was no federal government, so the "united" states was a cruel joke on everyone..... there was no such entity...... and the state governments owed tons of money to private "generals" who had personally funded their own militias to fight the "Revolutionary War".

i was also taken down by Thomas Jefferson whose idea of the "common man" was an independent family farmer .... but what he meant by that was a plantation owner who owned slaves to do the farm work !! .... Jefferson was a brilliant man, but was trapped in the idea of the day that "common" meant to be a rich and powerful plantation owner..... he wanted the US to be a totally agricultural country (no industry).... Alexander wanted the US to be a world power, a strong government, strong military, strong economy.

Alexander was shot dead in a duel by some corrupt political hack (Aaron Burr) that he insulted ..... but ultimately the US became what he had envisioned it to become, but despite that fact there is no monument to him anywhere in the USA.

(it is possible that sometime in my teenage years, some poor teacher tried to get these points across to me, but all i recall being drilled on for the tests was a bunch of %$^^$$ dates and the names of %$^%$#@ wars.)

There's Death in the Details

Chris: How are you guys getting from the Venice airport to Padova?
Me: The train ..... I think.
Mike: Huh?
Chris: You realize that your flight does not actually land at the Venice airport, but in Treviso which is 50 miles away?
Me: Yeh .... yeh....
Mike: Oh .....yeh ....
Chris: You realize that you are about to leave soon?
Me: Yeh .... yeh....
Mike: Oh yeh ....
(i rush home, scrambled onto google maps .... "shytt that's a long way from there to there" .... where's the train tracks? ..... no way i'm taking an italian taxi ride for 50 miles ..... 100€ for a cab to the hotel !!! ..... i thought mike had this covered....)
Mike: shytt .... didn't i tell dad to work out these details? .... anyway i thought we were landing in Padova .... where's Treviso anyway? .... who's going to Treviso?
Chris (and Deb) : dear God, please watch over these two ..... they mean to harm no one, we promise.
Me (at the Treviso airport): Per favore, signore .... dove e stasione di tren di Padova?
Italian Guy: Forget the train amigo .... my cousin will take you to Padova on his Vespa .....
yo, Vinny, vieni qui !

Caption Contest ?

jpg let me start by saying that i love my brother endlessly and un-conditionally .... despite what some people may call his flawed political orientation, and his dual-lifetime subscriptions to the Fox_News_Brotherhood and the Obama_bashers_bowling team.

and i do have him to thank for this idea, because he sent me a "poster" (shown here) that had a caption that he KNEW !!! was going to elevate my blood pressure ..... so ..... the table turns and me thinks to meself "why not a caption contest?".

this might not be easy since i don't allow the riff-raff that drifts about the internet to leave comments on my web page here, but ...... people could send me their captions via e-mail (if you don't know my e-mail address, that means you are not eligible for the grand prize).

jpg what? you might well ask, is the grand prize?

the grand prize is that i will pay to have GWB's image tattoo'd on your butt (or Christina Agulliera's or George Clooneys, as your preference dictates).

Zach (who is sleeping in the cardboard box over there) will judge the entries..... his ruling will be unchallegable.

footnote: last years caption contest winner was actually Christina A. herself .... i was of course personally flattered by her choice of butt-tattoo.

jpg A Beautiful Monument I Never Knew About

This monument (to the people who died in the 9.11.2001 attack) is on the New Jersey shoreline, looking out toward lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. It was created by Russian sculpture, Zurab Tsereteli, and dedicated in 2006 as a gift from Tsereteli and the Russian people. The base is similar to the Vietnam War Memorial in that it shows the names of the people killed in the attack.

It is beautiful (to me) in its simplicity and elegance, and it strikes me as a very emotional homage to those victims.

Link to the New Yorker article.

(I didnt know this existed until my brother Bob e-mailed me the pictures.)

I am Fine, Thank You

biopsy came back .... i scored well .... death is not leaning on the doorbell .... why the hell aren't we in Italy yet? my clothes are packed (my favorite hat included), new shirts from Cabela's (with a desert southwest motif) more camera SD cards than any sane person would own, (Mike's) laptop, moleskine notebook and legendary Pelikan fountain pen ..... where the %^%$#$ is Monday and why isn't she here yet ???? ("he's" are always on time .... "she's", like Monday, are always late.)

Jr Engineers Redux

we restarted the Jr Engineers club at the local middle school, and we bribed 10 kids to take it by promising them each a calculator if they completed the 10 weeks ..... a shallow, but most probably an effective ploy...... today i had them shoot rubber bands at each other and gave the a $1000 for each hit ..... needless to say, the class was a big hit..... next meeting we do the math of projectiles ..... i'll need some advil that night.

all of this however is trivial chit-chat, as Italy looms large in my immediate future and that's all i can think about.


jpg jpg

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