Dave's Journal, Sep2011


Back to "reality". It was inevitable, I suppose, but here I am at my computer and promising to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (for at least the next few paragraphs gif ) I feel like a kid back in school after Summer vacation.

jpg The most adventurous task on my list is to explore a more fluid HTML format for this page, so things might get strange for a while. We'll see. (Beats hell out of jumping off a rocket at MACH6 I'll tell you.)

It's been a whole day now, and I am stunned to rediscover how boring my day to day life is, compared to the adventures of my imaginary self - whom I think I will have to find a name for, as I tell stories of his adventures.
(If nothing else, naming my imaginary self should make it easier for Deb to have me stored away in a cell somewhere, when the time comes . . . "He even has a name that he calls his pretend self, and here are his journal pages to prove it . . . ")

Flowers are not my best subjects, but for one reason or another, I dredged up a snapshot I had and did this and that to it this morning (The Gimp) and posted it for my Leica buddies to gush over . . . here it is . . . and I didn't even get a "nice, but boring, flowers" comment ! (these guys are brutal,


The Buddha described nirvana as the perfect peace of the state of mind that is free from craving, anger, and other afflicting states.

Up until three weeks ago, I subscribed to the daily newsletters from The NY Times, CSM, Reuters, etc etc etc. I would have my morning coffee reading about the political, social, economic insanities going on in the world. Without realizing it, I took all of that inside myself to struggled to understand and solve whatever problems went on in the US and around the world. I also weighed the endless, mindless, stupid commentary of the various political pundits and editors who have taken over the "news" world. Not to mention the legions of brain-dead niche voter groups who (mobilized like a stupid lot of sheep) have only one item on their "national" agenda (revitalize Christian America, no more immigrants, cut Medicare, or whatever). I had no idea how much this effected my general attitude about life, until I cancelled all those daily news letters.

Well, I am no longer up to date on the hot issues of these times, I no longer have an opinion on everything, and I am amazed that this has not had even a microscopic effect on the condition of the US or the world. However, I have found Nirvana, and I just ain't going, or even looking, back.

So . . today I rotor-tilled the back yard. Now I have to figure out why I did that and what the next logical step would be, if I had had a plan to start with.


The commuter train out of Lynn is a nightmare. I never rode it before last night, when, for some reason that I have forgotten, I got onboard.

People don't talk to each other on a train, they read the overhead ads, their books, papers, listen to music players, send text messages and games like Bejeweled and Space Commander.

I look around and watch everyone ignore me while they do what they're doing. I thought "Tomorrow I should caulk the moulding in the parlor before I paint it., whild the train rocked back and forth and would have made me sleep ecept for the noise and occassional jolt.

What I didn't know about the train out of Lynn is that it doesn't always run along the same route; it switches here and there along tracks that are also used by various freight trains that run in and out of the stock yards of factories, scrap iron works and garbage transports. The route it takes is decided, hour by hour, by some computers that monitor all the local passenger and freight trains. Since the traffic out of the various stock yards is not regular, the train routes are determined "on the fly" and your train may get switched to another track several times along your trip.

Happily, all the tracks run in and around each other, so you're never far from where you should be. But the big problem is that there may not be a passenger platform when your train stops here and there to let you get on or off. Even worse, most of the tracks run underground (as a subway), and when the train stops, you will typically be let out inside an underground cavern of pipes, transformers, electricals and locomotive parts.

This happened to me last night. I got off the train into a large, dark, damp cavern that looked like an underground power station. Scrap iron, garbage dumpsters, rusted train parts, pipes, hissing steam, dripping leaks, puddles and rats, sputtering light bulbs, ladders and walkways. The other folks apparently knew where they were going and they quickly disappeared in various directions, leaving me struggling as to what I should do.

Stangely the only direction you could exit the cavern was down, through what looked like a manhole cover, onto a wet, rusted ladder into an even darker room. Then along a tunnel too small to let you stand straight, across a catwalk, up another ladder into another cavern. Every now and then, I'd run into someone else as lost as I was, and we'd wish us well and climbed the next ladder. More often than not, I felt like I was going down, not up, and was pretty sure I had picked the wrong path, until at the top of this ladder, I could see daylight through the manhole. So I climbed upward.

I woke up just as my head stuck out of the manhole into the sunlight. Looked over at Deb sleeping like a baby.

Reality . . .

.... is boring. My reality at the moment is filling nail holes, sanding filled nail holes, smoothing butt joints with wood filler, sanding wood filler, caulking, priming and then . . . at long last . . . actually painting !

So, my normally imaginative mind is buried in this swamp of real life. I'm thinking . . . why haven't they called me to do one of those reality TV shows ? My life's just as meaningless as those TV morons from New Jersey, right ? . . . We could call the program "Let's Ask Dave", and I could make the world better by explaining to everyone who watches TV how they should do stuff.

Person: Dave, when should I roto-till my back yard?

Dave: Whenever you can't think of anything else to do.

Person: Dave, then what should I do ?

Dave: Think about what you should do next regarding that yard that you just ripped to shreds.

Person: Dave, should I do this at the same time that I am refinishing the parlor ?

Dave: Only a %$&^ing moron would do that, you idiot !

I sent an outline of my reality TV concept to the news media, and had extra phone lines installed here to deal with incoming pleas for TV rights.

In the meantime, I swiped some great cartoons from the New Yorker . . .

jpg jpg jpg


Ten years ago, I needed to make web pages for my teaching work. Looked at Netscape Composer, Dreamweaver, etc etc etc for a WYSIWYG html editor. Lots of stuff out there to confuse you, and I tried a few and didn't like any. One day I asked Mike what he used. "Notepad", he said. A basic text editor (not an html editor). Okay . . . I jumped in and learned the basic html tag definitions and have been using a simple text editor ever since then to make web pages. (In fact, I ended up writing my own editor in Tcl, but that's another topic).

I am still learning the ins and outs of html tags, trying to get away from "tables" to format my journal pages here, so the page is more fluid and easily readable on small mobile devices and tablets.

At the moment, you are reading today's triumph in my education. Took me two hours to get this to work, but I made that "div" element to the left here (containing the cartoons) float left of this paragraph and also have a left margin on the page. This lets the paragraph wrap around nicely, whatever type of mobile device or monitor the viewer is using.

jpg Then I coded the html lines into one button in my text editor (over on the right) and I get this to happen now by simply pushing that button, when I write my pages ! Two hours of struggle that paid off.

Admittedly, this moment of intellectual glory is probably the high point of my day (it's only 8AM), but you know "put points on the board whenever you can".


While Sharon was here cleaning the house, I trek'd around the wildlife sanctuary and captured a shot of an extremely dangerous turtle. We made friends and I moved him (?) out of the path so as not to be stepped on.

Then I popped my best shot yet of my two favorite benches, and added that to my CafePhotos / Gallery 5.

jpg3000 Flags

Our neighbor, George, puts together a 911 "memorial" every year, planting 3000 flags on his lawn. Lots of neighborhood help; near the end, we were tripping over each other and the flags! News media was there, and the video made Boston TV news last night.

Lots of military (retired and active) showed up too (George is a very active retired Navy guy).

At this point, most everyone was with me on the sidewalk taking pictures !

Goings on About Town

A young buddy of mine, Pete B., sold his Canon DSLR gear to buy a Panasonic P&S camera and another buddy, Jim L., sold one of his classic "muscle bikes" to buy a new Canon DSLR gear. Life goes round 'n' round 'n up 'n' down, don't it ?

I didn't sell anything this week, but today I bought a B&N "nook" e-book reader for a 14-day trial. If you recall (of course you do, who could forget) I test drove a book reader back in March (or was it June?, I forget ) and turned it back the next next day, because it made a horrid cup of espresso. But today, I lowered my expectation on the coffee brewing, and was "totally" impressed with the reading capability of the nook in bright daylight, and also, the very small size and ability to change fonts. Does it get better than this? I think not.

This last Sunday, we spent in Cambridge / Boston with Chris&Mike. Brunch at the Cafe Luna [photo] (I must swap out my pictures there . . . so boring now). Browsed about the North End, watched the parade of Saint Rosali of Palermo [photo]; they stop in front of the cafe's and a cafe person runs out and drapes the statue with a garland of money while the news media takes pictures ! ! Then we walked about the harbor area, and a craft fair going on there.

I was extremely impressed by the work of an artist, Ekua Holmes. I ended up talking to her a long while, and added a paragraph about her on my (new) "local artists" page over in CafePhotos. The link is . . . local artists. Her work was very nice . . . worth your trip to her website.

This (early) morning, we (me and about 30 guys with "Marine" sweatshirts and Vietnam Vet Hats) pulled up the 3000 flags that we pushed into George's lawn on Saturday.

George is a gruff tough person, but quite the "giving" kind of guy. If for some insane reason (aren't they all ?) you found youself in a combat situation, he's the guy you want at your shoulder. Possibly suffering from ALS. Read up on it. Not a cheerful outlook.

Grandpa Davide Leo, 1902

Mike researched this and that and I checked with my Aunt Lu, and my father's father came over from Italia (that's Italy to you Americanos) in 1902, and landed in Boston. He settled for a short time in a house (it gets blurry here) within 1000 feet from this scene. Then he went back to Italy and brought his new bride (my dad's mother) back to New York City (I forget the date at the moment). We passed by the Boston site on Sunday. [A quiet street in the North End]

My Grandparents' (Fazio) House in Brooklyn

Hadn't heard from my cousin Pete F. for quite some time, until an e-mail this morning. Somewhere in these journal pages, a few years back, I wrote about my Grandparents' (mom's parents) house in Brooklyn. Of course, I didn't bookmark those notes, so I'll never find them gif . Anyway, Pete recently visited the place, and took some pictures to compare with his 1979 pictures.



The 1979 photo shows the huge first floor garage doors (100 years ago it was a coffin-maker's house, or was it a funeral parlor's coach house ?). The folks who bought it just a few years ago paid something like $1.4M. (I have that real estate report somewhere.) They gutted it and renovated it . . . actually they did it twice if I read the construction permit papers correctly. (Amazing how much info is on the internet ! )

While he was poking about there, Pete runs into Joey Manino ( ! ! ! ) . . . the next door neighbor who has been there forever.

Pete, it was wonderful to hear from you and we must (promises, promises gif ) stay in touch. In fact, I have given you a free lifetime subscription to read these journal pages ! I know, I know, I am ever so kind.

Free Voters Rule

jpg I no longer track the daily insanities going on in the US or rest of the world, but ocassionally get a glimpse of it through an e-mail, a magazine article, or a conversation. In this case, it was a phrase in a commentary in the New Yorker . . . . " The US is split into two Americas that are no longer within shouting distance of each other."

Then, I got some remarks about "Whose side are you on?", and I said "It depends on the topic, the times and the person up for election", and got some confused looks. Am I an elephant or a donkey? Am I red or blue? . . . Well, after a lot of thinking in those simplistic terms, I decided that my answer is . . . I am not red or blue, I'm the third color in the flag . . . white, and I'm an "Independent", or you might say a "Free" voter.

So I made up my own little "bumper sticker" (which is the highest level of complexity that most voters can understand any more).


Dave's Pizza

Having way too much time on my hands these last several years I've been wondering . . . what if I had done this ? or that? . . . what if I hadn't . . . ?
So, I promised myself to tell a few stories of the "alternate" lives that I (might have) had.

Today, I started the story of one of these possiblities: Dave's Pizza.

From Florence, 2009

Lured myself into reprocessing a photo I took in Florence in 2009. Used the Gimp, decomposed it to the RGB layers, torched the red and green layers and did a prespective mod (to make the vertical vertical) on the blue layer. Then blurred the digital noise out of the sky. [photo]. Saved a poor snapshot from the scrapheap.

A Quote from Woody Allen

"In my next life I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people's home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day. You work for 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm!"

Jeeves (P.G.Wodehouse)

I come to this topic via a twisted (let's say "convoluted") path, but, that aside, here is my point . . .

I kept the B&N nook e-book reader and I am hooked for life. Downloaded stuff and am reading constantly when I am not painting (by the way, the parlor is now finished with painting) or making pictures or helping people on the internet understand why my opinion is important in their daily lives.

jpg A few of the free e-books that I downloaded are P.G.Wodehouse's "Jeeves" stories (that I never read before) and I laugh at every page. Fabulous stuff. These stories were written about 100 years ago, and they pretty much defined the character of the English butler, as we in the US perceive it. (Think of the movie "Arthur", as an example.)

So I scouted around the internet (while the paint dried on the radiator covers), looking for what's out there regarding Jeeves, and I came across a British TV series. The guy who played Bertie Wooster (the well-off clod) is Hugh Laurie (from the American TV program "House"); his butler, Jeeves, is played by Stephen Fry (you remember him from the movie "V, for Vendetta" ).

Okay, I am finished talking about Jeeves now.

Today's artistic creation gif shows the fresh paint drippings on my work bench [photo]


Well . . . the parlor is painted and done, except for the reorganizing and moving stuff back in and new curtains. Actually rolling paint on the walls took about 3-4 hours. Preparation to that point took 3-4 weeks!

Trekked to the wildlife sanctuary (Autumn is a great time there; every day is different). took the long zoom lens (hardly ever do that without a tripod). Bagged 2 nice shots. [hawk] and [bench]

jpgThis is the shed they store the canoes in. Get closer and you can see all the junk they have back there, so I shot it across the sheep meadow. [shed in the sheep meadow]. They actually do use sheep to keep the land trimmed and neat : [sheep]

Lens Fever

Am fighting off one the worst cases of lens fever that I've had in a long while. Actually thinking of trading in a camera & lens set (probably the Cosina-Voigtlander with the 15mm lens) to get a used Leica R-type that can be converted to mount on my Nikon digital. The Cosina & 15mm is a gas, but I use it for one roll of film every 5 years.

Next day: the fever broke. I am fine now. Keeping my camera.

Captain's Log / Sep.26.2011

The little B&N "nook" book reader has me busy busy reading like a maniac. I love the thing. Have read short stories by John Cheever and F. Scott Fitzgerald, "A Study in Scarlet" (A Sherlock homes story), two issues of the New Yorker and I am back to Richard Russo's "The Bridge of Sighs", which I started in paper form a few months back.

Have not been inspired to write or "blog" anything myself (but I do have something cooking).

Hung new Curtains yesterday. Parlor looks good.

San Fransisco is two weeks away. Italy got pushed out to one year from now (cash flow).

After pumping the pond and adding fresh water, I imagined this nice picture of the roses. So I cut some, put them on the bench and made . . . [roses on the bench]

Our Friends, Saudi Arabia

These guys are our buddies. We trade with them, we get lots of oil from them, we never step on their political toes. (Let's skip over the fact that most of the 9-11 terrorists - and bin Laden himself) were Saudis. We foam at the mouth about North Korea, Somalia, even China for human rights abuses.

Here's the latest abuse from our Saudi bedfellows:

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers. The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July. The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.


In 1997, Kodak shares sold at $90. Today they sold at $1.74. Kodak has taken a bath due to digital photography, and speculation is that Kodak may soon not exist.

The irony: Kodak invented digital camera.

page written by Dave Leo

Unless otherwise noted, all cartoons on this page are boldly and shamelessly swiped from The New Yorker without permission.