Monday, April 30, 2007

For the Musician

The Sea of Music

A simple movement of air across the room
And my breath draws shallow.
Jostling tides of the acoustic ebb and flow.
The world around me quietly falls away.

I hear, but more so I feel
Wading into the gentle shoals of the harmonic.
I am lifted and glide footless over the layered sands
Of countless notes that have never left me.

On this ocean where blind men see
And words need not be spoken.
I drift among the waves of endless hearts
Through crest and trough, a resonance beats

Over the sky, the sun and moon embrace
And it is not day or night but eternal dawn
The dawn of creation for the inspired soul
Who's melody moves me over the horizon.

Dwelling in this mystic sea I retreat to my thoughts
Where a thousand tunes and lyrics lay.
I close my eyes for a moment and dream within a dream
And thank the artist to whom I owe so much.

For it is only in the reflection of this water
You can truly know how you have stirred my soul.
And opened my heart to share with others
The wondrous gifts you have brought to our world.

So thank you and never stop setting sail
On uncharted waters where fortunes rise and fall
And know I am with you as you track the stars
In music's quest, where timeless chords avail.

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I Love This Country

Now before you roll your eyes, this is not about mindless patriotism. As many of you know already, this last weekend was ArtWalk, I’m not going to go into detail about what the event is, you can follow the link in Friends of the House of Love to find out what it’s all about, ArtWalk is one of two big events in Little Italy, and it affords one a chance to observe humanity.

I love this country for a lot of reasons, but what strikes me is this country’s immense tolerance for all kinds of people. This weekend I had the chance to see folks from all walks of life, from different countries, various sexual orientations (you pick), the heterogeneity of the crowd was stunning. I’ve been on every continent in this planet save Antarctica, and I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty that there is nowhere else that is more tolerant and diverse than the U.S. It is a truly amazing testimonial to this country.

We’ve come along way since I was a kid. Its funny back in the early 60’s there were only two interracial couples I knew of, Sammy Davis Jr., and my Mom (at least it seemed that way). Today the debate is whether race identifiers on various official documents are necessary or can accurately define someone’s ethnicity. One’s sexual orientation doesn’t seem to concern us in the way it did 35 years ago. I wonder if the young men and women coming out today realize how painful a life that was not too long ago.

In today’s America you can define yourself just about any way you like, pierced and tattooed to a fair the well, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Rocker, Punk, Skate Punk, et al. If you can think it, and it’s within the boundaries of civilized behavior you can pretty much be it.

Something to be proud of, don’t you think?

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

The play of the game.

Center Fielder

Dusting of his cap and leaping to the voice of his coach

Out into the April sun, he charges the field.

The wind echoing in his ear as he picks up speed

The scent of freshly mown grass invades his senses.

Stopping at his position, he bends and yanks a swath.

Grinding the blades between his fingers he takes a deep breath.

The crowd settles in their seats as the umpire signals

Glove on he waits for whatever his opponent can muster.

Honoring his coach and team with steely eyes he focuses.

The pitcher sets and for a moment time stops.

And then the windup begins.

Listening to the chorus of the crowd he watches the delivery.

The pitch, the swing...


The ball bursts through the infield like a comet.

The crowd roars and eighty thousand eyes focus on his next move.

All his muscles tense as he gauges the white streak.

A calculation in a millisecond and the sprint begins.

His destiny approaches fast.

Too fast, too low, no fly catch here.

Its a hard single, probably a double but not if he can help it..

Track, track, track...It's going to drop, hold back, wait, wait, wait...


Already ahead of the ball as it explodes off the grass

Leaving a small cloud of dirt marking its impact.

He imagines the next three seconds.

The ball's whirling red stitches like an archer’s target loom quickly.

But his stride is unbroken and his position is perfect.

The runner rounds first...

Like a final chess strike, the players line up to meet their fate.

Short stop to shallow left center. Left center behind to insure the play.

Second base is calling; the pitcher is halfway there.

Don't think… React! Make it count!


The ball freezes in the bare palm of his throwing hand.

But only for an instant as he shifts his weight to launch.

He rears his forward leg, drawing the ball far behind him

And like a tightly coiled spring releases his energy in a furious instant.

In a spasm of muscular ballet, the ball rockets from his hand.

Upward and to the left of second, a wayward throw?

Not today as the ball breaks down and back as he had foreseen.

A parabola of perfection, on the fly, lands squarely into an anxious glove.

A desperate slide, a ginger hop, and a fluid left arm sweep.

Your Out!!!

One battle won in a nine-inning war.

So it’s back to the trenches on a beautiful day.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Stick People

This is fun to watch

They kinda look like ants.

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ArtWalk is this weekend

Come on down and enjoy some culture!

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Moe, Larry, CHEESE!

Look's like Steve's havin a bit of fun!

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Has Bladerunner arrived?

A couple of interesting articles I picked up on the net today, the first is here, and the second is here.

Hat Tip: The Belmont Club

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Genesis, Chapter 3 Verses 6 -7

I think we can all agree that giving a toaster the right to vote is a downright silly idea. Will technology reach a point where we have human looking robots? Most certainly, as the creepy Japanese guy illustrates. Will we reach a technological level where machines can learn? Yes, we’re already there (unless you’re running Windows).

I cite Genesis because as the verses suggest, self awareness came to Adam and Eve the moment they ate the “forbidden fruit”. To be more precise they became cognitive of their existence. The ability to ask, “Why am I here?” or “Why am I me, and not you?” is uniquely human (unless you can prove it otherwise). The ability to understand the sentence – “To Be.” Be-ing; understood as a verb. We understand this as having a soul.

We recognize in our Constitution that we have certain inalienable rights, these rights exist a priori. There are no contingencies to those rights, they exist by necessity, it is true much like 2 + 2 = 4. They exist because our souls demand it.

Many movies have been made on the concept that human made, human like machines become self aware, Blade Runner, I, Robot. Even HAL 9000 the erstwhile computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey while essentially a software routine becomes self aware, to the extent that he (it) suffers from delusional paranoia. Is it inevitable that we create machines that will someday become self aware, to have the ability to ask that question: Who am I? It seems likely to me.

What then?

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Mother's lullaby to me.

Chocolate Choo Choo

(Click the Choo Choo to Hear the Song)

Look at the dandy,
Train made of candy,
Waiting on peppermint hill.
It's the chocolate choo choo,
Leaving for sleepyville.

Drowsy-eyed kiddies,
Visit toy cities,
Sandman is paying the bill.
On the chocolate choo choo,
Leaving for sleepyville.

Little boy blue is the engineer,
He's turning on all the steam.
All aboard, he's ready to go,
To the magic land of dreams.

You'll see the train go,
Over the rainbow,
You're bound to get such a thrill.
On the chocolate choo choo
Leaving for sleepyville.

You'll see the train go,
Over the rainbow,
You're bound to get such a thrill.
On the chocolate choo choo
Leaving for sleepyville.

Mm ooh, ooh, ooh, [like a train whistle
Ooh, ooh, ooh, blowing]
Ooh, ooh, ooh,
Leaving for sleepyville.

- Recorded in 1947 -

Vaughn Monroe

Thank you mom for the sweetest memories of my childhood.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rhapsody in Blue

Hat tip: Amalthea

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Thoughts on American Idol

Two really. Did you catch Celine with the King last night? First, is just me or do you get a certain creepy feeling when the dead are brought back to life to perform with a real living person?

Secondly, do you think if Celine accidently touched Elvis, there would of been a tear in the time-space continuum and I wouldn't be here typing this blog, and you wouldn't be there reading this post? Kinda like matter vs. anti-matter thing.

Just wonderin'

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A trip to Gliese 581 C

Before we pack our bags let's figure out how long it takes to get to this planet.

Gliese 581 C is 21.5 light years away. (Approx: 120 trillion miles)

A few calculations:

c = Speed of light in a vacuum: 186,000 miles/second.

%c ,,,,,,,,,,, Earth Time ...... Ship Time ...(Lorentz)
50% .......... 42 years ........ 36.1 years ........ .86
75% .......... 28.7 years ...... 18.96 years ....... .66
95% .......... 22.63 years ..... 7.06 years ........ .31
99% .......... 21.71 years ..... 3.06 years ........ .14
99.9% ........ 21.52 years ..... .96 (350 days) .... .045
99.99% ....... 21.502 years .... .30 (109 days) .... .141
99.999% ...... 21.5002 years ... .096 (35 days) .... .0447
99.9999% ..... 21.50002 years .. .003 (1 day) ...... .0014

Time will move much slower for the traveler (relative to the Earth observer) as he or she approaches the speed of light.

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Huge Discovery Today- Gliese 581 C

Artist's rendering
  • Rocky composition
  • Smallest extra solar planet found to date (announced today)
  • 50% more mass than Earth.
  • Average temperature (0-40 C)
  • Companion star: Gliese 581 (M class red dwarf star 50 times dimmer than our sun)
  • 15 times closer to companion star than Earth. (6 million miles)
  • Solar year: 13 days
  • Distance from Earth: 20.5 light years. (That's actually in our neighborhood as long as your not trying to go there)
  • May be completely covered with water.
  • May harbor life.

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You know I'm right.

I love this picture of Einstein.
He's wearing his best "Refute me if you can" expression.

Too bad he could never reconcile quantum mechanics with his general and special theories of relativity.

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Quote of the Day

The quantum-computational nature of the universe dictates that the details of the future are intrinsically unpredictable. They can be computed only by a computer the size of the universe itself. Otherwise, the only way to discover the future is to wait and see what happens.

Programming the Universe - Seth Lloyd

Hat Tip: The Belmont Club

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Where's the bees?

Did anyone see the front page of the San Diego Union Tribune yesterday?

“More than a quarter of the country's 2.4 million bee colonies have been lost – tens of billions of bees, according to an estimate from the Apiary Inspectors of America, a national group that tracks beekeeping. So far, no one can say what is causing the worker bees to become disoriented and fail to return to their hives, leaving juveniles and other bees to die”.

Apparently this phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder. From Wikipedia: “Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) is a poorly understood phenomenon involving the massive die-off of a beehive or bee colony. The BBC has referred to it as VBS (Vanishing Bee Syndrome). It was originally apparently limited to colonies of the Western honey bee in North America[1], but European beekeepers have recently claimed to be observing a similar phenomenon in Poland and Spain, with initial reports coming in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a smaller degree[2]. The cause (or causes) of the syndrome is not yet well understood and even the existence of this disorder remains disputed. Theories include environmental change-related stresses[3], malnutrition, unknown pathogens (i.e., disease[4]), mites, pesticides such as neonicotinoids, or genetically modified (GM) crops[5].”

If you think loosing tens of billions of bees is no big deal, think again. Bees are a fundamental link in our food chain. Again, from the UT story: “Honeybees are arguably the most important insect in the human food chain. They are the principal pollinators of hundreds of fruits, vegetables, flowers and nuts. With fewer bees, pollination will cost more, crop yields could be smaller and consumers could end up paying more.”

Did you ever wonder how bees got home? This is a good explanation. Mainly, they use the position of the sun get around, there vision is low resolution so they can’t actually see the Sun as a disc, rather they see it as a bright spot in their field of vision. By seeing the position of the Sun relative to their position and an internal clock, they can calculate distances. When it’s a partly cloudy day, the bees use Polarized UV Light, bees can also tell landmarks and use that as a marker. Interestingly, it is suspected that bees use the earth’s magnetic field to maintain their internal clock, much the same as the main spring in a clock keeps the clocks time. The earth’s magnetic field changes on a daily cycle, the bees sense the changes internally getting information on the time of day. Lastly, bees can determine distance, one by keeping track of the amount of energy used to get from point A to point B, and two measuring the movement of images across their field of vision – a concept called optic flow.

It’s interesting that when bees leave the hive to forage, they take a zig, zag pattern until they find a food source, and take a straight line direct path back to the hive. Even more interesting is that they communicate the location of the food source to other bees. Upon arriving back at the hive, they literally do a dance to impart that information. When other bees leave to forage, they take a straight line, direct path to the newly learned of food source. Smart little guys don’t you think?

The Scientific community does not know what is causing CCD, the Wikipedia entry has a detailed on possible causes including poor nutrition, pesticides, genetically altered crops, pathogens and immunodeficiency diseases, poisonous plants, viruses, and electromagnetic radiation.

I thought it was interesting that cellular phone use might be a contributing factor to CCD, although Wikipedia seems to poo poo the idea: “At present the link of either cordless or cellular phones to CCD is entirely speculative, and no research has been done to suggest or demonstrate such a link between the two phenomena. Regardless, such an explanation is not compatible with the historical and present patterns of CCD appearance, which have been intermittent and sudden.”

Far be it from me to be an alarmist, but again from Wikipedia: “From 1971 to 2006 approximately half of the U.S. honey bee colonies have vanished, but this decline includes the cumulative losses from all factors such as urbanization, pesticide use, tracheal and Varroa mites and commercial beekeepers retiring and going out of business, and has been fairly gradual. Late in the year 2006 and in early 2007, however, the rate of attrition was alleged to have reached new proportions, and the term "Colony Collapse Disorder" was proposed to describe this sudden rash of disappearances[1].”

35 years ago virtually all communication was over a land line, or sent to one land line to station to another via a microwave transmitter. I’d say the electromagnetic footprint then was exponentially less significant that it is today. Today cells phones are everywhere, wireless internet is everywhere, we are awash in electromagnetic radiation. If a bee uses fluctuations in the earths magnetic field to set its’ internal clock, by which it uses to gauge distances with the help of the position of the sun, it is in the realm of possibilities that the increased electromagnetic radiation messes them up.

Just one more reason not to take that cell call when you’re out to dinner.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good Morning Sunshines!

Tonight is a night of union for the stars and of scattering,
scattering, since a bride is coming from the skies, consisting of a full moon.
Venus cannot contain hereself for charming melodies, like the
nightingale which becomes intoxicated with the rose in spring-time.
See how the polestar is ogling Leo;
behold what dust Pisces is stirring up drom the deep!
Jupiter has galloped his steed against ancient Saturn, saying
"Take back your youth and go, bring good tidings!"
Mars' hand, which was full of blood from the handle of his
sword, has become as life-giving as the sun, the exalted in works.
Since Aquarius has come full of that water of life, the dry
cluster of Virgo is raining pearls from him.
The Pleiades full of goodness fears not Libra and being
broken; how should Aries flee away in fright from its mother?
When from the moon the arrow of a glance struck the heart
of Sagittarius, he took to night-faring in passion for her, like Scorpio.
On such a festival, go, sacrifice Taurus, else you are crooked of
gait in the mud like Cancer.
This sky is the astrolabe, and the reality is Love;
whatever wesay of this, attend to the meaning.
Shamsi-Tabriz, on that dawn when you shine, the dark night
is transformed to bright day by your moonlike face


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Monday, April 23, 2007

What a Sunset!

Or maybe a moon rise.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

When angels fall

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there

I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,

I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew -

And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod

The high untresspassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Poem by:
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee

No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

An American Hero
Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis
Rest in Peace

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The Jinx

How many of you watching a ball game, it’s late in the 7th inning and the pitcher has soundly trounced each batter to a rumba rhythm… one-two-threestrikesyourout. Not one batter has come even close to the ball. Could it be……..? Am I going to see this extraordinary event? NO DON’T SAY THE WORDS!.

Then, the announcer in a hushed voiced says with ultimate confidence, “ I think he’s on his way to a perfect game”.


Why did he say THAT! He’s JINXED it!

And the next batter hits a Texas league hit that doesn’t deserve to make an appearance and drops into shallow right field.

It happens every time.

How many of you have a sweet deal in the works, but you don’t tell anybody because you don’t want to Jinx it.

Isn’t the word terrific?


I wondered where the word jinx comes from, and because it has such resonance in baseball, I thought it might come from the slang of baseball. Whether I am right or wrong is subject to debate, but it seems I’m leaning on the historically correct side.

World Wide Words describes the introduction of Jinx into the American lexicon.
”It does look odd, and its origin is in dispute. Explaining why is going to need a moment, since along the way we must take in the Ancient Greeks, the study of birds, witchcraft, nineteenth century vaudeville and the history of baseball.”

“First, the firm facts. The word jinx, in the sense of a thing or person that brings bad luck, is first recorded as sports slang from the US in the early years of the twentieth century. Most of the early American citations relate to baseball — for example, The Jinx: Stories of the Diamond by Allen Sangree of 1910 and Christy Mathewson’s Pitching at a Pinch of 1912, in which he says: “A jinx is something which brings bad luck to a ball player”. From there it spread out into standard American English and later to other varieties of the language.”

In the context of Baseball and things, which are, yet to come to fruition, the word Jinx refers to “tempting fate” to such a degree that failure is assured.

From Wikipedia’s entry on Jinx: “The superstition is sometimes used when talking about a future event with too much confidence. A statement like "We're sure to win the contest!" can be seen as a jinx by tempting fate. After such a statement, failure would be ironic. For the human mind, the irony makes it all the more likely. This therefore brings bad luck: it is a "jinx".”
Then, of course there’s the scenario as children when we say the same thing at exactly the same time.


I’m not sure of the etiquette of this game having never played it, but you can find it here. I’m of the opinion that this is a girls game, but La tells me no. I have only anecdotal evidence that my view is true, La however tells me she has empircal evidence.
The American Heritage Dictionary offers a rather dry definition of the term Jinx. It gives no sense of the term.

But it appears to have a military aspect as well, much like ‘FUBAR’, ‘SNAFU’ and “Older than dirt”.

“Barry Popik of the American Dialect Society suggests that the word should be traced back to an American folksong called Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, which was first popular in 1868.

One verse in one version goes:
The first day I went out to drill
The bugle sound made me quite ill,
At the Balance step my hat it fell,
And that wouldn't do for the Army.
The officers they all did shout,
They all cried out, they all did shout,
The officers they all did shout,
"Oh, that's the curse of the Army."

The reference to various misfortunes and a curse lend plausibility to this explanation.”

Murphy’s Law.

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Be careful where you walk

There's a world of talent out there.

Check out this particular artist working in a
very common but unusual medium:

Type rest of the post here

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Maybe tomorrow will be "Sunny Side Up"

Hey Chavo!

You feeling like this today?

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Deep Thoughts Early Sunday Morning

Why is it when the amount on a bottle of vitamins is an even number, and there are only two people in the family, that there is only one left in the bottle?

Why do we never look at the empy roll of toilet paper before we sit down?
Is Keith Richards a living example of the Picture of Dorian Gray? I mean the painting, not Dorian. In the same vein, is it really true that Mick Jagger can't get no satisfaction, or better yet, should these guys still be playing that tune?
Why, despite my better judgement, I read the Family Circus? And what is UP with Funky Winkerbean?
What's up with my eyebrows? And when exactly did hair start growing out my ears?
What movie did I watch last night?
Why are there car alarms?
Do I have a doppleganger and if so where does he live?
Is Diane Sawyer a nice person? She seems so.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Happy Anniversary


I promise to have the courage to love you completely and stand together in the face of adversity.
I promise to be a rock to hold onto in the storm.
I promise to cherish and protect your heart and soul and the love you give me freely.
I promise to trust you with my life and my heart.
I promise to love you with every fiber of my being even on the days I don't like you very much.
I promise to support your dreams and desires, even when they sometimes take you away from me.
I promise to respect your and my individualities, but also nurture our sacred bond.

And I never want you to forget how proud of you and honored I am that, against all odds, you chose to open your heart to me. Everyday, I choose you.

Here's to a fabulous first year and countless more.

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Happy Earth Day

And why did I think the notion of an ever expanding universe was romantic? But then, there's this to worry about.

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Scale of things in the universe

It's a big universe out there and it as a lot of big things in it..
Earth is not one of them...

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Why I love baseball

I love baseball. I grew up playing baseball. Dirt lots. Little League baseball diamonds. Conditioning a brand new glove with Wilson Glove Oil, gingerly placing a baseball in the pocket of the glove, and folding it just so; then placing it under the mattress for a month.
This is called breaking the glove in. This is important, any of you who have played the game with a brand new glove without breaking it in will remember the line drive shot right to you, you get a bead on the ball, the ball is in your mitt, you squeeze your hand to close the glove, already thinking to round second base and throw the runner out at first, but…

You can’t close the glove because it’s stiffer than titanium, and the ball hits your glove, pops out and bounces to the dirt. Your dreams of the perfect double play are dashed as you scramble to try to get the guy out at first because the guy running from first has already made it to second, but you come up short and the manager is yelling, “You dumb shit, why didn’t you break in your glove!”

Goats walk, to quote Charlie Brown.

So you see it’s very important to break in you glove.

I’m not sure coaches use that kind of language nowadays, but they sure did when I was a kid.

One’s choice of bat is also important in one’s baseball repertoire. My personal favorite was Carl Yastremski’s 36-ounce bat, of course being 14 years I couldn’t get the bat around fast enough, but hey if it was good enough for the Yaz, it was good enough for me.

I taught my brother to play baseball, who in turn became a better baseball player than me.

But not by much.

Baseball is as much an individual sport as it is a team sport. It depends on each member of the team to hustle and do their very best, but it also relies on each member of the team to know in advance how the play's going to go down. For example, there’s a man on first and a man on third. The count is three and one and there’s one out.

What does the batter do, should he hold up and take a walk or swing away?

What does the pitcher throw, should he smoke him with a fastball or take a risk and throw junk?

It’s all psychology. Well the pitcher throws a change up, the batter goes for it only to hit the ball to the shortstop, he checks the guy on third (but only for a millisecond), tosses the ball to the second baseman whose rounding around the base – taking out the runner and slings the ball to first base on the fly, taking out the runner and ending the inning.

Individual effort and teamwork.

Yogi Berra’s statement the game isn’t over until it’s over. It’s true. There are no time limitations to baseball, no running down the clock, NO TIES! I have actually been to a game that went 18 innings.

Baseball is like life (I hope that is not too cliché’). There are no time limits in life; it’s over when it’s over. In baseball it can look completely hopeless, and sometimes the players dig deep into their hearts they manage to pull off a win much as we do against all odds. Conversely, you can be in the bottom of the ninth, winning the game and through circumstances not entirely of your own doing you manage to lose.

That’s life isn’t it?

There are many nuances to baseball, just watch the manager, first and third base coaches. All those funny signals, it’s all contingent on what’s happening in the moment. It’s completely situational. Much like life.

I love baseball, it’s funny though, that I don’t spend a lot of time watching games, but I do think about it a great deal from April through October.

Maybe the Padres will make it to the Grand Finale this year.

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Baseball season is upon us and the Padres are going great! far.

Have fun with this:

We were overwhelming underdogs.

A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.

Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.

You mean now? (When asked for the time.)

We have a good time together, even when we're not together.

Little League baseball is a good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets and the kids out of the house.

The future ain't what it used to be.

If you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Pair up in threes.

Don't get me right, I'm just asking.

I wish I had an answer to that, because I'm tired of answering that question.

You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn't enough in the second half you give what's left.

90% of short putts don't go in.

We made too many wrong mistakes.

Thanks, you don't look so hot yourself. (After being told he looked cool.)

We're lost, but we're making great time!

If people don't want to come to the ball park, how are you going to stop them?

How long have you known me, Jack? And you still don't know how to spell my name. (Upon receiving a check from Jack Buck made out to "Bearer".)

I'd say he's done more than that. (When asked if first baseman Don Mattingly had exceeded expectations for the current season.)

He can run anytime he wants. I'm giving him the red light. (On the acquisition of Rickey Henderson.)

I knew exactly where it was, I just couldn't find it.

If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.

You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bye Sanjayo!

Sung to the Hank William's tune Jambalaya.
Sing it like John Fogerty though...

Idol show, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go plug the ear hole, Oh Sanjayo!
My ear-drum!, It gone numb, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we've had our fun. Bye Sanjayo!

Tone deaf guy, he's playing shy but he ain't dumb though
'Cause tonight he'll get the kid vote by the ton-o.
Drop the bar, drop it far, then we pray-o
Son of a gun, we've had our fun. Bye Sanjayo!

Sing it slow, or up-tempo, you've sung a dozen
Milked it good, in the hood so tell your cousin.
You'll be rich in your niche, It's your day-o
Son of a gun, we've had our fun. Bye Sanjayo!

Tone deaf guy, he's playing shy but he ain't dumb though
'Cause tonight he'll get the kid vote by the ton-o.
Drop the bar, drop it far, then we pray-o
Son of a gun, we've had our fun. Bye Sanjayo!

Toast of the town, our little clown,. We'll read your bio.
'Bout how you made lemonade from lemonayo.
You sung so lame in this silly game, like a wounded rhino.
Son of a gun, we've had our fun. Bye Sanjayo!

Tone deaf guy, he's playing shy but he ain't dumb though
'Cause tonight he'll get the kid vote by the ton-o.
Drop the bar, drop it far, then we pray-o
Son of a gun, we've had our fun. Bye Sanjayo!

Click here to hear a cool instrumental duet of this song performed Roy Clark and Joe Pass.

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My Favorite Madonna Video

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International Joke

Heaven Is Where:

  • The French are the chefs
  • The Italians are the lovers
  • The British are the police
  • The Germans are the mechanics
  • And the Swiss make everything run on time

Hell is Where:

  • The British are the chefs
  • The Swiss are the lovers
  • The French are the mechanics
  • The Italians make everything run on time
  • And the Germans are the police

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A gift from Bobby Hebb

Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain
Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain
Oh, the dark days are gone and the bright days are here
My sunny one shines so sincere
Oh sunny one so true, I love you

Sunny, thank you for the sunshine bouquet
Sunny, thank you for the love you've brought my way
You gave to me your all and all
Now I feel ten feel tall
Oh sunny one so true, I love you

Sunny, thank you for the truth you've let me see
Sunny, thank you for the facts from A to Z
My life was torn like wind-blown sand
Then a rock was formed when we held hands
Sunny one so true, I love you

Sunny, thank you for that smile upon your face
Sunny, thank you for that gleam that flows with grace
You're my spark of nature's fire
You're my sweet complete desire
Sunny one so true, I love you

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spring omnipotent goddess thou dost
inveigle into crossing sidewalks the
unwary june-bug and the frivolous angleworm
thou dost persuade to serenade his
lady the musical tom-cat,thou stuffest
the parks with overgrown pimply
cavaliers and gumchewing giggly
girls and not content
Spring, with this
thou hangest canary-birds in parlor windows

spring slattern of seasons you
have dirty legs and a muddy
petticoat,drowsy is your
mouth your eyes are sticky
with dreams and you have
a sloppy body
from being brought to bed of crocuses
When you sing in your whiskey voice
the grass
rises on the head of the earth
and all the trees are put on edge

of the jostle of
thy breasts and the slobber
of your thighs
i am so very
glad that the soul inside me Hollers
for thou comest and your hands
are the snow
and thy fingers are the rain,
and i hear
the screech of dissonant
flowers,and most of all
i hear your stepping
freakish feet
feet incorrigible
ragging the world,

ee cummings

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I steal your blog

This was originally a response to the blog of a friend of mine. I was going to post it in response to Chavo's (Dad's) last blog, but I think it deserves to stand alone.

"You have to learn to live without violence in such a violent world. It is difficult to live sanely in an insane world, but that is the only life there is, and one has to find one's way to live through it. All that we can do is to never become violent against violence, because that is not going to help. Have deep compassion. If one has to suffer, one should suffer through compassion. And people who are violent are completely unaware; they don't know what they are doing. That's what Jesus has to say to the people; it is his last message to the world. He asks God to forgive these people because they don't know what they are doing.

So one can pray, one can love and one can have compassion, but the violence is there. And you cannot change it because the world is so big; how can you change it? One has to accept it. With tears, but one has to accept it. And one can go on doing whatsoever one can do on one's own... a little bit, whatsoever one can spread. Spread your love. The world is like a desert but even if you can sow a single seed and only two flowers come to it, even that is something. In this vast desert land if two flowers or even a single flower comes up, that too is good. So don't be too concerned about it, just be concerned about one thing: how you can love people who are violent and how to live in a world which is not sane at all. Find ways." - Osho

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Bye, Bye Sanjaya.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Didja Miss Me?

Sorry to have been remiss in my blogging, but we spent some time in LA this weekend. It would have been rude to sit down at their pc and post something. Thanks to the team for taking up the slack. Special thanks to Lord and Lady Voldemor for their splendid hospitality. And can't wait until the project is finished! At the moment, I'm home alone, been to the market, food in the fridge, and clothes in the dryer. La is getting an haircut.

The House of Love draws me, but I don't know exactly what to say. The VT tragedy has certainly dampened any enthusiasm to be "chipper". Suffice it to say that the families of the fallen are in our prayers. We can certainly empathize with them. Please see my post "Stardust" it is very germaine.

Don't go to bed mad at your lover. Tell your children you love them every day, because in the madness of life that may be the last moment you have with them.

Okay, I'm not going to go down that road..

But pay attention!

I'm done.


I'm happy to see Gretchen posted. Our lovely cub reporter. I was wondering when she was going to show up.

I'm a Kraft cheese kinda guy.

Sorry, no stinky cheese for me.

Anyway, I'm rambling, so I'll leave you with a poem:

Joy and Sorrow chapter VIII

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."
And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Khalil Gibran

Ya Ta He. (Walk in Beauty)

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Let There Be Cheese

As far as love affairs go, I would describe mine with cheese as having more of an opportunistic nature than anything else--if good cheese is invited to the party, I commit to it time and devotion, even turning a disinterested shoulder toward other guests to ensure my affections are delivered without distraction. But, like piano lessons as a child, acquired, cultured tastes take work to maintain, and when the party ends, so too does my crush. Until now.

I suppose it's the interactive feature of this particular cheese that initially sparked my interest; if you stare long enough, you can see a little cloud of mold microscopically extend itself into the cheddar sky (or perhaps it's just blurred vision). As the first true celebrity from the dairy family (although some may argue the dancing eggs or talking cows deserve this dubious honor...), this yet-to-be-named West Country cheddar has taken to stardom with a humble grace uncharacteristic of such a high-profile cheese (I can only imagine the brash behavior an aged gouda would display under such a spotlight).

Lest I dilute each individual's personal experience of cheddar vision, I will leave to form your own intimate relationship with _______. One final thought: beware of the milliseconds; they are mesmerizing.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Bond

As you well know by now
Your father is not a super hero.

Nor is he the best in the world at anything he does.
Nor is he the
or most courageous
man who ever walked the Earth.

But still he is your father and he will always be your father.

And here is the thing...

If, indeed a super hero were among us,
In all his superhuman power,
He could never break the bond of love for
You that your father has.

Nor could the smartest man in the world,
In his seemingly infinite wisdom, conspire and
Devise a method by which to unravel this bond.

Nor could the strongest man, in all his sinewy glory and
His muscular convulsing find a way to
Smash and destroy this bond.

Nor could the most courageous man in the world in all his perserverance
And brave resolve, against all odds, find a way
To surmount or overcome this bond.

Each would, in turn, discover a simple truth.
That this bond is immutable and eternal.
And not even your father, himself, could alter this bond.

So remember this...

When the superhero has vanquished a thousand foes,
And the strongest has lifted the Earth upon his shoulders,
And the smartest has unraveled the mysteries of the ages,
And the most courageous has subdued the greatest of all fears.

This bond will remain.

And your father will still love you.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Circuit de la Sarthe

[Editors note: I've posted this as a hopeful distraction from the tragedy that unfolded at Virginia Tech today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families]

So you want to be a race-car driver eh?

Well maybe you'll think twice after checking out this video from inside a Porsche 956 at Le Mans in 1983. You'll get a fantastic sense of speed as the machine hurdles down the famed Mulsanne straight at over 250 mph. (The car will cover 3 and a half miles in less than a minute)

Note: This footage is filmed in real-time and has not been sped up in any way.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

San Diego's Finest

DISCLAIMER: The not smoking thing is not going well. This will make more sense a little further down in the story.

Okay, glad to get that out of the way.

Yesterday La and I went to the San Diego Museum of Art to see ArtAlive. If you’re not familiar with ArtAlive, or are not from San Diego, ArtAlive is an event where participants create a floral display representing (hopefully) a piece of artwork that they’re assigned to. It’s been going on in San Diego nigh on 51 years now. As we have three designers representing Che Bella it was important for us to take a look and support our crew.
La and I walked to Balboa Park from Little Italy – a half hour walk on a beautiful sunny day to meet La’s sister in front of the museum to take in the event. We arrived a bit early, so La and I went to the Timken to kill some time. Not much has changed there, but the art is still beautiful.

La’s sister arrives and we take the tour. I must say that I do not know how the judges rate the florals because our staff’s work was superior to 99% of what was showing there, and we didn’t receive any kudos. I’m biased of course, but you can check it out yourself. Anyway, that’s beside the point. That said, I must say the Grand Prize winner did an excellent job, a beautifully balanced piece that gave motion to the still life that she had to interpret, truly a great job. She really deserved it.

Anyway, our plan was to survey the show and have lunch at the Prado. And that we did.

The Prado was PACKED; La was told there was a 45-minute wait (we were starving) so we decided to have a drink (or two) at the bar. Eventually, we were seated on the patio and to enjoy a lovely, languid lunch.

It WAS a lovely lunch; with two gorgeous girls I’ve known more than half my life; on a beautiful day in sunny San Diego.

After coffee and paying the check, everyone had to visit the restroom. Ladies’ rooms being what they are, I was done well before the girls were, so I decided that I’d meet them out front and have a smoke, and I’m feelin’ mighty fine after two beers, two glasses of wine, Ahi, and other sundry fine foods.’

I walk out to the parking lot, it’s kind of a Piazza for cars and I see two mounted policeman on the lawn. They were on horses. I stop and pull a cigarette out of my pocket and light up, take a deep drag…

…and I’m thinking to myself – nice horses, but those cops look ridiculous with those funny helmets.

“Hey You! Put out the cigarette!”

Is this guy talking to me? I shrugged my shoulders and looked at him with a “you talkin’ to me” in my best De Niro expression.

The cop does the C’mere gesture with his hand. I say this in retrospect as I was still trying to digest why this cop all of a sudden had my number.


“If I put it out are you going to give me a ticket for littering?” A G note fine by the way.

“That’s it, you’re getting a ticket”

What! C’mon man you don’t have to give me ticket.

“I do now”


“Because you didn’t come when I told you to come.”

Now I’m pissed. Luckily La and her sister come into the scene. This cop is intent on writing me a ticket, I’ve asked him numerous times to lighten up and just let it go…


He’s got to whip it out.

After all, he’s a cop AND he’s on a horse, albeit with a completely ridiculous helmet.

This guy is taking his ever-sweet time in writing this ticket, knowing that I’m getting more pissed off by the second. I am SO glad La and her sister were there to take control because this guy SO wanted me to say or do something to give him a reason to arrest me.

As they were walking up, I turned to a passerby (who happened to be Australian) and said, “Can you believe this sh*t, I’m getting a ticket for smoking! Last time I checked this was the United States of America!” The Aussie, God love him, put two fingers horizontally under his nose, and gave the Hitler salute.

This only served to further piss off said cop.

La engages the cop on the horse with the ridiculous helmet and her sister leads me away because she knows that in a 10th of second I’m going to go ballistic and end up in the county lock up.

By now I’m about 10 yards away, and La’s sister is telling me all the things to get my mind off the stupid cop who’s determined to give me a ticket. Such as, “I’ve never noticed the sailboat weathervane on the Museum of Man”.

“Me too”

In the meantime, La is looking up at the cop on the horse with eyes like the cat in Shrek.

Poor guy.

Then Dudley Doo-Right starts to get fidgety. He’s taking his sweet time writing the ticket and babbling on to La about warning people all day about not smoking in the park and this is his first ticket, and if I wasn’t so belligerent I wouldn’t be getting a ticket, and how there’s signs everywhere.

La looks around “I don’t any signs anywhere.”

“Well, there all over the place”

Dudley’s partner says “I don’t know why he’s so upset over a $10.00 ticket”

La says, “It’s not the ticket, it’s the (and she makes a gesture where her crooked little finger simulating a little … you know).”

“By the way”, La says, “why is it taking so long to write this ticket?”

“Well, you keep talking and interrupting me, and asking me for an explanation.”

“I haven’t said a word”

“Have so.”

Just kidding.

At this point, nature calls on the bowels of the horse. Jeez, right there in the middle of the park!

“Well, it seems your horse has made a bit of a mess?” La says.

He said, “It’s NOT against the law!”

Well that’s good to know, isn’t it? I’m not sure the dog owners know about that one.

Dudley has finally finished writing his ticket (it’s taken 37 minutes) and has to have me sign it. I ask him what if I don’t sign it…

“Then you go to jail.”

Can you believe that?

I signed, not wanting to go to jail. That said, I do know the King. I have to show up IN COURT for this, unbelievable.

If the guy had said to me, “Excuse me Sir, but it’s illegal to smoke in public parks, please put out your cigarette.” I’d put out the cigarette no question.

And that’s the end of the story. As Elvis Costello said:

“I used to be disgusted, but now I’m just amused.”

Y’all have a great weekend.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hawaiian Charmer

Don Ho

Rest in Peace Don

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Rene Descartes on Steve Jobs

iThink therefore iAm.

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A poem to my wife

Center Me My Love

Center me my love and hold tight my hand.
Lead me not away from this foot worn path,
Where the world about us offers scant repose.
From the lost souls among us where never angel rose..

We could not recede in breathless fury,
Nor conspire against a sea of ghosts.
Tread straight and true and forward through
Ageless truths renew.

For glory bound steps do unsteady
Lives vanished in bounties imagine made.
Treasures made need not be found.
Afoot they are, on familiar ground.

As legends told, a rib removed from life was drawn.
These stories etched in sandstone cliffs.
Yet yours is the strength of the divine
And fortune smiles as yours is mine.

Let us count not the days ahead
As truths avail in silent breaths exchanged.
On timeless shores we shall dwell
Beneath the stars from which we fell.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm a little aggravated today

So I'll tell a joke.

Jesus was on the cross, and in his suffering he cried out "Peter, Peter come to me my son!"

Peter, having heard Jesus and feeling immensely guilty about the previous night. Charged up the Mount, yelling "I'm coming my Lord, I'm coming!" Only to be met by a Centurion who intercepted him, and tossed him back down the Mount. Peter tumbled and crashed; hitting his head on a rock on the way down to the bottom.

Again, Jesus in his agony called out "Peter, I've called you to come to me, where are you?"

Peter hearing Jesus; girded his loins and again made the assault on the Mount only to be - again rebuffed by the Roman Guard.

Again, Peter crashed and tumbled down the hill, accumulating scrapes and scratches along the way.

"Peter, where art thou, I am not long for this world. I have something to tell you!"

This time Peter, charged up the hill with renewed vigour. He knew he had to make it. His Lord had something important to tell him. He clotheslined the centurion knocking the guard unconscious and kept running. Reaching the apex of the Mount, he threw himself at the foot of the Cross and cried. "My Lord, It is Peter, I am here! Tell me what it is you need to tell me."

"Peter, is it you?"

"Yes, my Lord what do you need to tell me?"

"Peter, Peter...."

"Yes, Lord"

"I can see my house from up here!"

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Sammy was born by the hand of small child.
A thousand siblings joined his quest as he flew into the beautiful sky above he and his creator.
Sammy turned to view the tot as he climbed higher and higher.
"Good-bye", the child said. "I will miss you."
Sammy smiled and rose again.

As the child shrank from his view, Sammy swirled around and around.
Rising through a thousand friendly rainbows, Sammy laughed and darted, dove and danced.
The clouds above looked down upon him and with billowing grins, winked their approval.

Higher again he rose until he left his siblings far below.
Passing through tumbleweed clouds of cotton, Sammy soared and soaked in the sun.
A tradewind beckoned and Sammy grabbed hold.
Faster and higher he went, rolling and rocking and surfing the wind.

With the Earth far below and the Moon still above, the Aurora took Sammy into her heart.
Shining brilliant Sammy sparkled like fire and was warmed by her embrace.
Again he was lifted until the blue sky fell away and day turned to night.

Sammy looked above, a universe of stars came into view.
Shining their beams through him the stars pulled Sammy higher.
As the Aurora bid him farewell, Sammy turned to face a great light.

The light immersed him and he felt himself float.
All of the Earth below was in view, spinning so slowly as to hardly move.
Sammy looked up to face the light around him.

Finally Sammy thus spoke,
"Why am I here O' beautiful light"

"Because you are home having made it so far."
"Is my life over?" Sammy inquired.

"Your life will have no end as it has had no beginning. You are the reflection of what your life is."

"What is that?" Sammy again asked.

"Perfection. You are and always will be the symbol of perfection in the world below us and the universe around us."

"I understand now.", Sammy returned. "Can you take me higher?"


And within the blink of an eye, Sammy the soap bubble went - Pop!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

One vs. One Hundred (Japan style)

Japanese college kids pranking around. This is pretty funny.
The spirit of Allen Funt lives on.

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The Golden Rule

There’s an interesting debate going on in the blogosphere these days centered around bringing civility into the discourse on the web. It’s interesting in that there’s a debate at all. Anyone, who’s cruised the blogs knows that the comments can get down and dirty

This is particularly true on political sites. Blogs that allow Anonymous entries are more prone to nasty comments (that is another reason why commenter’s have to log in on this blog). But apparently, it got so bad for one person (and not just mean comments, but alternate sites attacking her), that this gentlemen proposed along with the founder of Wikipedia what is now being called “The Bloggers Code of Conduct”. Here’s an NYT article that further expounds on the concept.

Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal online argues that while it is refreshing that the topic is being discussed, it is more of a sociological problem and not just confined to the blogosphere.

“Psychologists commenting on the phenomenon of Web-based verbal abuse or aggressive public heckling often talk about society's expanded notions of personal entitlement and the failure of baby-boomer parents to set norms of behavior for their infallible children. We have ratified a lot of over-the-line behavior. “

I’m of a mind to agree with Mr. Henninger. I don’t know that there’s any merit to a written “Code of Conduct” because there should already be one underpinning the person who’s typing on the keyboard. Besides its unlikely such a code is enforceable. When I was a kid, my mother taught me to be civil, to be respectful, to say please and thank you, and to remember the Golden Rule.

Okay, so now I’m an old fogey, and I walked barefoot 13 miles in the snow to get to school everyday, but the principle still holds no matter what generation you hail from.

The incivility that we’re inflicted with daily is another reason why I started this blog. I’d like people to feel good after visiting, much as I would a guest in my home.

So behave accordingly.

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Let's Give Them Round of Applause



Renee Sorry, but the lighting was pretty sucky in there. These photos don't do the pieces justice, so if you get a chance go see their work. They all did a superlative job! We're very proud of them.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

ArtAlive Starts April 12th

Che Bella has three designers representin', so go check it out. For details and tickets, click here.

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A universe of wonder. What's next? A monolith?

Here is a amazing snapshot from the Cassini spacecraft as it flew by Saturn's north pole recently. This hexagon is over 15,000 miles across (over 2 Earths wide) and scientists have no prior reference for the phenomenon let alone an explanation for it.

Here is a brief animation in infrared of the incredible planetary feature:

Click me to animate!

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Ode To Girls

I love girls. Particularly, my two girls but in the broader sense I just love girls. You may take issue with the fact that I use the term “girls” as opposed to “women”, but every woman has a girl inside. It’s that girlish sensibility I adore. That impish twinkle in their eyes, the squeal they make when something great has just happened or results in extreme happiness, a box of chocolates for example.

I love the way they dangle their pump at the end of their foot. I love the way girls bring one foot behind the other and tilt it akimbo. This usually happens when they’re standing in front of a mirror, but could happen in the kitchen looking over a cookbook.

Most of my friends are girls…

And I’m okay with that.

I don’t relate all that well to guys, I mean I can do the sports talk, and all that but I just prefer to be around girls. Listen to their conversations, gossip, etc. It is just so much more aesthetically pleasing to be around girls than men, face it.

I love painted toenails.

I love to hear the girls laughing from the bistro downstairs when I’m sitting on the balcony.

Thank God for girls.

Here’s something for all the girls in the world.

Your Laughter

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Pablo Neruda

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Ain't Got No Rhythm

Last night's American Idol was singularly unimpressive. What was remarkable about the whole affair, was an apparent lack or knowledge of latin rhythms. Each performer tried to fit a square peg into a round whole, by what seemed to me imposing R & B stylings into the songs.

My favorite - Melinda was completely out of her comfort zone, playing it safe all the way. It was in a word - yawn. And taking a jab at Simon is really bush league.

One note on Sanjaya (this is the last time I promise). He's not cute, and he's not innocent. That kid knows exactly where the camera is at all times and he's workin' it.

You know I really can't remember any of the songs they sang last night, that's how dull it was.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Happy Feet

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or this guy.

I report you decide.

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Monday, April 9, 2007

You can't always get what you want

"But if you try real hard, you get what need"

Life doesn't always provide what you might think is the most important thing to you at that particular time. And it's hard to differentiate what you want and what is necessary sometimes. Probably most of the time in our consumer based society. So what do we need really?

Family. That's the most important thing in mind, mothers, fathers, children, aunts, uncles, cousins... All those who make up the experience of being you. You don't have to like them, per se. But they do play a part in who you are, therefore are an integral part of the "I that I am".

Home. A safe house, a place to find safety and solace from the world. That place where traditions are made for generations to follow, and to follow traditions from generations past. Discussions around the dinner table, trying to help your child get through Algebra. Getting ready for First Holy Communion, then Confirmation, then the Sweet Sixteen Party and finally College. Home is an existential concept. A house is a building.

Friends. How we cherish that handful of people we call friends. Those with whom we trust our selves, that take us into their hearts warts and all, and we them. Who you can have a "frank" political discussion over too many glasses of wine in the evening and still get up the next morning and have a giggle.

Love. See above.

So, life provides many disappointments; that's true enough. But keep you're eye on the ball (see above) and I think you'll get what you need.

PS. I was going to add a decent living to this list, but I've been poor, and it's not about money; as La says "Love will get you through times of no money, better than money will get you through times of no Love."
Brilliant woman that La.

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

Winefest in Germany

Here's a little story about an event in my life you might find humorous. It was for me anyway, at least in retrospect.

During the fall of 1985, I was stationed at Ramstein Air Base near Landstuhl, Germany fulfilling a 24-month overseas commitment for the United States Air Force. It was a great time in my life and there was never a shortage of local events to check out or guys with whom to pal around during off-duty hours.

One such event was an annual autumn wine fest in a small town named Bad Durkheim about 40 miles from the base. The town was well known for its Neu (New) wine and people came from all over the country to attend the event. You could think of it as a mini Oktoberfest.

Now, the easiest way to get there was by train so I and a group of about dozen others decided that this would be the best way to make the journey as we wouldn't have to worry about designated drivers and such on the way back. We all boarded the train around 10:00 AM. It was a slightly overcast Saturday morning. Being September, the brief respite of summer was subsiding and the weather was cooling by the day. Still, I dressed fairly lightly in denim jeans, sneakers, Izod Lacoste shirt, and an Adidas jacket.

I had heard many things about the fair during the few weeks running up to the event so while the train shuttled us to our destination, I was anticipating a fun and relaxing day, tasting the wines and taking in the scene. Our train smoothly click-clacked along the rails and its tall windows made countryside viewing spectacular. One car of the train was a dedicated "bar" car so, as you can imagine it was easy to "get in the spirit of things" before actually arriving. With a few interim stops along the way to pick up more passengers it was about a 2 hour ride. So with the majority of my time spent in the bar car on the way up, I guess you could say I had "arrived" a good half hour before the we actually disembarked the train.

After the train ride, our group trekked its way about a quarter mile to the gates of the fair. Once inside, it looked much like any other fair you might see in America with people buzzing about to and fro, slipping shoulders to avoid collisions with each other, ride machinery creaking and groaning as the machines cycled through their evolutions and the general cacophony of screaming ride patrons and a thousand conversations taking place simultaneously.

Spinning and whirling lights and the funky sounds of buzzers, bells, whistles, polka music and neo-disco rhythms added to the sensory overload. It was a lively joint you might say. There was also an additional element which distinguished itself from most American fairs and that was the presence of at least a dozen over-sized tents, each containing 30 or 40 benches, where hundreds of people were thus seated and consuming new wine by the quart. Not a typical American scene.

It was about 1:00 pm and after a few rotations around the fairgrounds taking in a few rides and games, it was time to eat and taste the wine for which the fair was so famous. Each tent was sponsored by a specific region of wine so it made sense (at least at the time) to sample as many of the native wines as we could. Hey, the samples were free so what did one have to lose?

Now I should say that by sample I do not mean to take a bottle cap's volume of wine, swoosh it around in one's mouth, make a funny face, gargle and rinse.A "sample" was served in a glass of about a 24-ounce volume capacity and to take less from the local grower, well, that would be just considered rude. None of us wanted to be an "Ugly American" therefore we made sure that we each consumed the sample under the watchful eye of the wine's sponsor.

Smiles, smiles, smiles. Had to represent. This was not the place for tea totaling. After each sample consumed, it was time to visit yet another tent and start the process again. This went on for several more hours.

It was about 5:00 pm. By this time, our group had dissembled into three distinct units, each occasionally seeing another as we all wondered to and from the wine tents. As you could guess by now, I was not feeling too much pain. In fact, I 'm not sure I was feeling anything at all. I was still walking though but by this time it was more a function of my autonomic nervous system than a matter of will. Wine-filled I began the inevitable process of heading back in forth to the public restrooms when my body so compelled me. This regimen became pretty regular and between this duty and the less restrained flirtations with the local young ladies milling about, I became more and more detached from the group with whom I had spent the bulk of the afternoon and early evening.

It was getting close to 7:30 pm when I realized that I should probably start thinking about finding a few of my associates and try to get the group coordinated to meet back at the train. I made one more trip to the men's room and on the way, looking down, noticed once shoelace untied. Bending over, I securely tied down the wayward lace and stood up. Once up right, the world began to slowly follow. The delay caused by equilibrium to fail. I lurched sideways and then back again and then quickly copped a single knee to the ground to steady myself. As I looked around and struggled with an intense bout of vertigo, I could no longer maintain my focus on anything buzzing around me. I slowly stood and with much effort made it back to a wine-tent and sat down to compose myself.

Within a few minutes I found myself in conversation with a couple of girls who seemed interested in whatever I was blithering on about at the time. I looked down at my watch.


It was 9:15 pm and the train was leaving in ten minutes.

I had to find my buddies.

I politely but quickly excused myself and headed out of the tent to find them. Still reeling, I struggled to focus on the faces of people walking by me.

All strangers. Not a single familiar face.

Not even one I had seen before during the entire day. Continuing to circle the fair, I looked at my watch again.

9:22 pm.


"Ok. Decision time."

Do I continue this fruitless search or start heading back to the train station?

"No choice, I've got to get out of this park."

"OK. Steady yourself."

"Where's the exit?"

"Hmmm. Let's see. Oh. There's a gateway! People are congregating there."

So, I headed in the general direction of the herd. As I moved with the flow of humanity, I again looked at my watch.

9:25 pm.

"Oh man! This can't be happening. Maybe they’ll delay for a few minutes. I’ve got to get to the station. I know they'll be there."

I kept moving with the mass of people and suddenly as though a tornado had lifted from the Earth on its way to dissipation I was standing virtually alone, outside of the park. I hadn't noticed that the crowd had filtered off in various ways in a direction tangential to mine. I had followed another group that dispersed itself in parking lot almost immediately upon exiting the gate of the fair.

With automobiles now whizzing by me and standing alone, the realization resolved itself clearly.

I muttered, "They left me!"

At this point, I had no idea where the train station was or how to get there. I knew it was close but I had no clue as to the general direction I should head. Standing in the middle of a parking lot I doubted anyone would be interested in knowing where the train station was. Still, I asked a few people walking by and each shrugged and indicated either they did not know where the station was or they did not understand what the hell I was saying.

In fact, I'm quite sure that what in my mind sounded like, "Pardon me sir. Do you know where the train stations is?" probably sounded more like, "Traaassiinnthstatiooonnn, wherethhhh ithhsseeettttt?".

That's the thing about alcohol. When you drink to excess, you're mind is usually working fine and clear as a bell, albeit a bit emotional. The body (including the mouth), however, is anything but working fine. Anyway, I'm sure I frightened a few folks with my grunts and slurred expressions as I made little progress in resolving how to get back to the train station.

At this point, it was time to make another decision. I could head back to the gate, in hopes of contacting a familiar American who might take pity on me and bring me back to the base or at least the train station or head out and find it myself.

I decided on the latter.

Now, before going any further, it should be known that I was now down to my last few Marks having spent most of it on playing games and an occasional beer between wine samples. Taking a cab back to base was now financially out of the picture and besides, somebody in my group was already holding all of our tickets for the train and, of course, that included mine.

My rationale at that moment was that that one member of our group could have volunteered to stay behind and wait for me to show up at the station since my ticket would have been in hand by someone.

Looking back, however, I failed to realize that each of those lucky ticket holders was probably in about the same shape as I and completely clueless that one member of the group could have been missing at all.

Despite this fact, I decided to saunter on and try to find the station. I continued my walk. Before long I had left the lights and sounds of the fair far behind. I was alone, walking the streets of a silent German township, three sheets to the wind, and becoming less concerned with finding the train station than finding a single living soul on one of this small town's empty and shuttered streets.

Finally, I came to what appeared to be small restaurant. The lights were on and the door was slightly ajar. I could here a few voices chattering away so I walked up the short flight of steps leading into the foyer and peaked inside.

"Halo." I said.

"Halo?" another voice returned.

"Uhhhmmm. Phone?" I spoke again.

I man came to the door with a puzzled but friendly look on his face.

"Phone?" he said.

”Yah, Phone." I said.

He allowed me in and offered me to sit down at one of the tables. After I was seated he retreated into the back somewhere. There were a few people at other tables having a casual conversation over a few drinks and trying not to look too obvious in observing me. I was trying to keep a low profile but I'm quite sure they knew I was an American serviceman. Given the Adidas jacket, denim jeans and Nike athletic shoes I was wearing it was probably pretty obvious, notwithstanding my severely limited utterances.

Less than a minute later, the man who had sat me down returned. He said something but I did not understand what he was trying to communicate so I made the dialing motion with my hand and I think at that moment he understood that I was not there as a patron of his establishment. With a look of comprehension finally on his face, he walked over to the door and motioned for me to follow. I did so and stepping onto the sidewalk outside, he pointed to a pole-mounted public-phone about 25 yards down the street.

Now, at this point, I kind of figured that this guy knows I'm not going to drop a Mark in his restaurant and probably wants to get me out of there as soon as possible and with out much commotion. I reached into my pants pocket and pulled out the remainder of my stash, about 3 Marks.

"Phone", I uttered, hoping against hope that he would let me use his phone.

Again he pointed down the street.

"OK. Danke. Bye-bye"

"Bye-bye" he returned.

I walked out of the establishment and down to the phone.

Feeling quite annoyed by this time and frustrated that I could not "exactly" communicate my intentions to the restaurant owner, I angrily picked up the phone and dialed the base central office, which being a 24 hour operation, was guaranteed to have a guy on duty. The phone rang a few times and, as I had expected, was answered.

"1964th command group, central telephone office, may I help you?"

I immediately recognized the voice but in this telling I could not remember the young man's name. He was, however, a fairly green airman and had been with the group for only a couple of months.

"Hey!!!! This is Apollo!!!!!!"

"Oh... Hi Apollo, How's it going? What's up?"

'They left me!!!!!!"

"Theeyyyy left meeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!"


"Those bastards got on the train without me. I need one of guys to get in your friggen car and come pick me up!"

"Ok, Ok, , calm down Apollo - take it easy. We can definitely do that. Just relax. Le me get a pen"

'Fine..." I muttered.

About half a minute later, the airman returned back to the phone. During that time, I had noted the street name from a sign not too far away from where I was standing and also the address of the building in front of which the phone was mounted.

"Hi, Apollo. OK. We'll come and get you. Give me the address..."

That would be the last I heard from the central office that evening as a half second after the word "address" had trailed off his lips, over the wire and into my ear, the phone clicked and I was listening to the monotonous drone of German dial tone.


"Hello!!!!!!" I screamed.

"Oh my God!!!!! I don't believe it!!!

Then like the first proto-human climbing out of the forest primeval and howling at the moon having had never seen before, I went into a rage. Cursing everything around me, I yelled at the top of my lungs and into the cooling night sky. I was exhausted. It was past midnight. I had been walking around this town for over 2 hours. Finally, I came to the realization that I was just not going to be rescued from the current situation. Time to buck up and show what you’re made of”, I thought to myself. I decided, “The hell with it. I'll just walk back.”

Ok. So I decided to walk back to Ramstein AB. I still didn't know which way to go so I simple chose one. I continued walking along this long quiet street. The buildings were thinning out by now and my surroundings were becoming a bit more rural. I followed another street down for a while and came to what appeared to be a main road on the outskirts of the town. As I approached the road I could see there was a sign post with at least 8 directional arrows, 4 pointing one-way, 4 the other. “This is good.” I thought to myself as I approached the signpost. “Surely, Ramstein, Landstuhl, Kaiserslautern, SaarBrucken, or some other familiar town would be displayed on the sign.”

As I approached the Tee intersection and could resolve the names, I did not recognize a single one. Now I was livid. At this rate, I figured, by dawn I was either going to be back at base or somewhere in East Germany. I sat down for a while and contemplated my next move.

”Ok. This is stupid." I thought to myself.

"Don't panic. That won't help."

"Got to work the problem..."

By now, some (not all) of my alcoholic stupor had been shorn off with the haphazard early morning, sightseeing tour I had been on.

I chose to re-trace my steps and head back to the fair. My reasoning was simple, I remembered, finally, that the train station was less than a quarter mile from the fairground. I knew that if I made back to that location, I could probably locate the train station.

So thus, I began my long walk back.

An hour or so had passed and I was making pretty good time heading back along the streets on which I had earlier traveled. There was a slight drizzle but nothing too uncomfortable for an early morning stroll such as my own. I wasn't thinking about too much, just sort of zoned out as I closely watched my feet hitting the sidewalk before me. Then, the drizzle faded and it began to rain in earnest.

I quickened my pace a bit.

Now, it began to rain heavier and as I briskly traced my steps, I began to realize that something was wrong. I was getting wetter than I should have been. In fact, I was getting drenched and it was not more than a few seconds when I realized why I was getting so thoroughly pounded by the rain.

My Adidas jacket was gone.

Long gone.

To this day, I have no idea what happened to that jacket. I probably fell but I do not remember this at all. All I know is that I didn’t have a jacket on. This fact only added to my total and utter incomprehension of why this was even happening to me. In fact, I did not even break my stride. I simply grunted and continued my power walk back.

Another 30 minutes had elapsed and the rain was steadily falling. I decided to pick up the pace a bit again. In fact, I decided to jog back.

So, I started to jog.

I jogged for at least 20 minutes before I realized something again was quite wrong.

As I jogged, I began to notice certain landmarks I had passed earlier. This buoyed my spirit and I felt a second wind pick me up as I continued my journey back. I began to see automobiles and the cityscape coming into view was, now, no longer an isolated township but that of a mid-sized city with traffic going to and fro. Cars began to drive by me in each direction. As I jogged into the city center, the rain had morphed into a downpour. While jogging into the city, I realized that the smooth cadence of my stride had become somewhat stilted and staccato. I didn't even think to look down but I knew something was wrong. I continued my fearless penetration into the city center and finally having jogged far enough, slowed down to catch my breath a bit. As my jog slid back into a brisk walk, it became all too obvious what was wrong.

I looked down at my feet and saw something there quite odd.

Turns out, I had lost one of my brand new Nike tennis shoes, somewhere along the journey. It was the right shoe and it was missing.

In fact, I had to stop.

I looked down at my right foot and it appeared that my sock was gone as well. I lifted the hem of my right trouser leg to observer the oddity.

As my foot came into view, it was obvious that part of the sock has survived the journey. Still attached to my foot, there was not much left of the sock, save the elastic band around my right ankle.

There was, however, a single flap of sock material pasted nicely over the top of foot in what could best be described as, now, a spat.

About the time I realized I was missing much of my wardrobe, I noticed cars driving by me with faces pasted to the windows. I guess by this time, I was pretty much a mess. It was about 2:30 AM, I was soaking wet, I had no jacket, no right shoe, and only had half of a right sock.

But guess what?

I jogged right into the train station where there were dozens of people still waiting for the next train.

Ok. Yeah… I looked like crap and I was broke. However, I had surmounted all odds and made it back.

There was still one thing left going for me after all my travails that evening.


And believe me, I worked it. I wandered up to a small lineup at the ticket counter. Recognizing a serviceman, I asked him if he would be so kind as to buy me ticket since I was basically stranded if not ditched.

Taking pity on me (of course), he assented to my request and bought me a ticket.

He and I went over to a bench, sat down and had a nice conversation for a few minutes and the train arrival was announced. We both took our seats on the train and waited for the departure.

As we waited, I noticed a train engineer walking down the aisle checking tickest from each of the passengers. As he reached me, I handed him my ticket. He punched the ticket with the small hole-punch he was carrying and turned to face the serviceman who had just purchased it for me.

This poor guy didn't even see it coming.

The engineer asked him for the ticket.

He responded, "I bought two tickets, isn't that ticket (the one I was holding) for two?"

"Noooo, it only for one." the engineer responded.

Now at this moment, if I had been Matthew Broderick playing Ferris Bueler, it would have been the perfect moment to look directly into the camera and smirk.

Fortunately, the engineer allowed the guy to purchase the ticket on the spot and he was out of the jam.

After the ordeal I had just been through, I'm not really sure if I would have been so magnanimous as to admit he had purchased the ticket for me. Hey, who knows? The money probably went into the engineer's pocket anyway.

By this time, I was too tired to care.

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