Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 2nd Web Based. . .

        "Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin

Let me start this off the same way that I did a year ago, by wishing you all a "Merry Christmas" and a "Happy New Year", and tell you that despite the supposed recovery in the economy, my student "load" of 6 is exactly the same as it was a year ago, so once again, I'm "scrooging", but this means that although you don't get a card or letter in the mail, it allows me to freely share photos with you, which I could not otherwise do!

This year was a mix of good and bad for me; if you haven't been following the blog, which came to a screeching halt at the end of April with only sporadic entries after that, I lost my favorite cat, Kassie, to an undiagnosed illness, at that time.  About a month later, I started looking for a companion for Bella, searching all of the animal shelters from Seattle to Poulsbo, without finding a cat or kitten that I made a "connection" with.  Sometime late in June, while cruising web sites for ragdoll cats, I found a breeder down in Walla Walla, Wa., that had a female that looked a lot like Kassie, that was due to deliver in July, so I combined a motorcycle ride down to Richland for the annual "Cool Desert Nights" car show and high school reunion, with a side trip over to Walla Walla to see her.  Although she was ready to drop her kittens, and was very uncomfortable, she still came over and sat on my lap for about an hour; what a sweetheart!  

Two weeks later, the owner sent me pics of 5 or 6 kittens, and I looked at 3 before I saw this one, and felt my heart leap. . . It was "Love at first sight" and I immediately fired off an email to claim her!
 3 days before I took off for that trip down to the car show, my 35 year old refrigerator morphed into a freezer, overnight, and I decided that it was time to replace it.  The problem is that it was 32" wide, and the alcove that it resided in, between the kitchen and the bathroom was 32 1/4" wide, and to get it out of there, I had to remove the baseboards and door trim, and even the darned wall switch.  Once the fridge was out, I discovered that the little plastic tube that delivers condensation into the drying tray was about 4" too short, and had been dripping onto the floor underneath the fridge, causing part of the floor to rot out, so I had to rip out some fir floor, let it dry out, and then patch it, to bring it up to the level of the rest of the floor.

Having done that much, I decided that I might as well go ahead and redo the linoleum floor in the kitchen, which had gotten torn up (a bit), back when the tree came smashing through the back wall, in 1996,  and repaint or rewallpaper the kitchen, the fridge alcove and do the same to the bathroom and "water closet".  Also on the agenda for the summer "work party", was replacing a 14' section of bulkhead, and I gave myself until the 27th of September, which was when I was scheduled to take delivery of the kitten, to get all this wrapped up.  One of my friends suggested doing a slate floor, since I liked his so much, and once I decided to go for that, he convinced me to install sub-floor heating, alluding to the fact that at my age, I could not count on being able to continue heating with wood, for the next thirty years (something about the physics of rolling logs off the beach, towing them home and cutting them up. . . ridiculous, eh?), so I thought,"Why not?"  Well, over the 4th of July weekend, while I was installing the hardybacker subfloor for that, I found that I had gotten in over my head, because my back wall has a curve to it, and remember, my house is not square to begin with, it's a trapezoid, so I hired one of the guys that helped me raise the house last year, that had done several other slate floors for people here on The Beach.  I can't tell you how impressive it is to watch a guy that knows what he's doing.  But, for a month and a half, my front room looked like this:
And my bedroom was full of a washer and dryer, and bathroom cabinet, so, to get from the kitchen into my bed, there was a narrow pathway threading through all this stuff!  While I was waiting for Chris to get back from Alaska and do the floor, I started working on the walls, and spent 5 full days stripping the wallpaper in the 32 1/4" X 8' fridge alcove; talk about frustrating! At that point, I decided the big bathroom would wait for next summer, and when I moved in to strip the water closet, which is 4' X 10', I screwed up the walls so badly that I had to have a sheet rock guy come in and put a skim coat on it, and I decided, "No more wallpaper!" I painted the walls in the water closet and the fridge alcove, which was very easy, but man, has the price of paint ever gone up since the last time that I bought it!

At this point, which was about half way into August, and I realized that maybe my summer project was just a little too ambitious, and I decided to postpone the bulkhead rebuild until next summer!  Well, the weekend of August 24th I headed back down to Richland for my 50 year high school reunion (seems impossible that it's been that long!), and to check in on how the kitten was growing. Boy, was that a mistake, because while I was sitting in the breeder's house with my kitten on my lap, another little rascal came flying out of the back room, and did a "Nascar" around her front room and jumped up on my lap, and. . .
So, "Sia" is the upper cat and the original choice, and "Kydai" who came with the name, "Squirt", because of a story I'm not going into here, got a name change, at the request of my vet, who told me that I could just not stick such an elegant looking little cat with such an plain name.  Luckily, Bella, my Siamese, seems to love Sia, but just tolerates Kydai, because she is full of the devil, sometimes.  Sia, on the other hand, is a purrfect little lady, although I think that she's going to wind up being a pretty big cat, while Kydai is going to be much smaller.

Back to the house:  since the height of the floor, combining the sub-floor and the self leveling compound and the thickness of the slate changed by over an inch, I also had to remove all the doors, 3 of which were pocket doors, and trim about 1 1/4" off the bottom.  Of course, with the pocket doors, that meant tearing out all the door trim, so I wound up having to repaint all the woodwork, because the new paint didn't match the older, faded paint of the crown moulding.  And, once I put the stove back in the kitchen, I discovered that I couldn't open the cabinet doors, behind it.  It just seemed like the more I did, the more I had to do, that I hadn't forseen. . .

3 days after getting back from the reunion, I threw my back out, contorting to get some baseboards down behind the toilet, and since then, up until about a month ago, I started each morning with 2 "Breakfast of Champions" (Aleve!) with my coffee and oatmeal, in order to be able to keep working on the house.   My exercise regime had gone by the boards anyway, due to the fact that I was working on the house from about 8 a.m. until 9:30 p.m, 7 days a week, so, after the end of the year, I'm going to have to ease back into that, because I need it to keep myself in shape.

For maybe the first time ever, my revised project was finished, and the house was all back together on the schedule I had set, September 27th, but unforeseen circumstances delayed the delivery of the new members of the family until October 1st, so with the extra 3 days, I went to work on the crown moldings throughout the house.  Due to the fact that the molding is fairly inflexible, and that my ceilings weren't exactly flat, at various points, in all of the rooms, the ceiling would not meet the moldings, and that had been niggling at me for years, so with help of Red Devil's One Time Spackle, I managed to fill those little gaps and make it look great.  And I used the spackle to fill in around the gap between the trim for the circular staircase, and the first floor ceiling; finally, after. . . ummmm. . . 39 years (blush!), it finally looks finished!  Quoting another friend of mind, "Ya don't want to rush into anything."

Two summers ago,  I raised my house 18", and yesterday morning (12/17), I was once again happy that I went to the effort and expense that that "little project" entailed:
The bottom edge of the house used to be at the bottom of the the long beam, running front to back.  This pic was taken at peak high tide, and the wind started to really blow, about 45 minutes after this.  Had I not raised the house, my first floor would have been a wading pool.

So, now as the end of 2012 draws nigh, the house looks great, and I have 4 beautiful "grrrls" to make my heart smile (too bad 1 of them isn't a "2-legger, but I count my blessings!).  I've enrolled in a photography class that starts February 6th and goes every Wednesday evening for 2 hours, for 5 weeks, and I'm looking forward to that.  Also, one of my students runs a Tai Chi class every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. and I think that I'm going to take advantage of that, since it's just up over the hill from Salmon Beach, and takes place at such a "civilized" hour of the morning!

I hope that the "hollydays" will find you all healthy and happy and surrounded by your loved ones, and that the upcoming New Year will bring joy and prosperity to you all!

Late addition; I just got this from a friend, and it's a beautiful way to end this:


Your Li'l Salmon Beach Buddy


Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm baaaaaack!

It's been 5 months since my last post, and I'm going to try and get back to posting weekly with some new musical treats for you, my "usual" political comments, and whatever else I find interesting or think that you might enjoy.

I pretty much abandoned the blog to immerse myself in remodeling the back half of the 1st floor of my house, but despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans spent $2 billion in an effort to affect our government, nothing has changed; the same party controls the House, the other party controls the Senate and presidency, and both of them seem bent on wreaking havoc on the economics of our households and the nation, in order to prove how powerful their party is.  I keep asking myself, "Is this really the best our country has to offer?", and the answer I keep coming up with is, "Are you kidding me?"  Yesterday, Senator Jim DeMint (Republican from South Carolina) announced that he is resigning his seat in the Senate because he can be more "effective" as the head of the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation; I don't suppose that the difference of more than 3/4 of a million dollars a year in pay could have anything to do with that, do you?  Maybe he's right, as he now has a straight line to other senators' pockets, in which to dump lobbying money. . .  Then again, maybe that's just my cynical side coming out; I'm sure that he thought long and hard about how much more he could help our country from that position.

But, if you're as sick of politics, junk mail and robocalls as I am, let's move on to a 12 year old English girl that I heard on the radio, a couple of months ago, that just blew me away.  Her voice is beautiful, but what astounded me was that she wrote the song herself; talk about an "old soul". . .

This "kind of" tickled my funny bone, but it's a very weird story.  If you've been following my blog, you know that I lost my favorite cat, last spring, so when this story came out in June, I was shocked that anybody would do this to a loved "member of his family" after his passing, and I know that I would never have even thought of doing this, but it is a very original way to "honor" his pet:

The next post will probably be my "Christmas Letter", and seeing as how that special time of year is fast approaching, I'd better get this up, and get to work on that!  It will be different than most of my posts, in that it's going to have no politics, and probably a bunch of pics, so, until then. . .

Monday, July 30, 2012

I got this email, today. . .

and since I'm up to my eyeballs in revamping the house, I'm just going to post this, and hope that you'll copy it, and send it on to your friends:

         " This  should be on the front page of every  newspaper.

Charley Reese's Final  column!
  A  very interesting column.. COMPLETELY  NEUTRAL
Be sure to Read the Poem at the  end.

Charley Reese's final column for the  Orlando Sentinel...
He has been a journalist  for 49 years.
He is retiring and this is HIS  LAST COLUMN.

Be sure to read the Tax List  at the end.

This is about as clear and  easy to understand as it can be. The article  below is completely neutral, 
neither anti-republican  or democrat. Charlie Reese, a retired reporter  for the Orlando Sentinel, 
has  hit the nail directly on the head, defining  clearly who it is that in the final analysis 
must  assume responsibility for the judgments made  that impact each one of us every day. 
It's  a short but good read. Worth the time. Worth  remembering!

545 vs. 300,000,000  People
-By Charlie  Reese

Politicians are the only people  in the world who create problems and then  campaign against them.

Have you ever  wondered, if both the Democrats and the  Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have  deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all  the politicians are against inflation and high  taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high  taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal  budget. The President does.

You and I  don't have the Constitutional authority to vote  on appropriations. The House of Representatives  does.

You and I don't write the tax code,  Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal  policy, Congress does.

You and I don't  control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve  Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435  congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme  Court justices equates to 545 human beings out  of the 300 million are directly, legally,  morally, and individually responsible for the  domestic problems that plague this  country.

I excluded the members of the  Federal Reserve Board because that problem was  created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress  delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a  sound currency to a federally chartered, but  private, central bank.

I excluded all the  special interests and lobbyists for a sound  reason. They have no legal authority. They have  no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman,  or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I  don't care if they offer a politician $1 million  dollars in cash. The politician has the power to  accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist  promises, it is the legislator's responsibility  to determine how he votes.

Those 545  human beings spend much of their energy  convincing you that what they did is not their  fault. They cooperate in this common con  regardless of party.

What separates a  politician from a normal human being is an  excessive amount of gall. No normal human being  would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up  and criticized the President for creating  deficits. The President can only propose a  budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept  it.

The Constitution, which is the  supreme law of the land, gives sole  responsibility to the House of Representatives  for originating and approving appropriations and  taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John  Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party.  He and fellow House members, not the President,  can approve any budget they want. If the  President vetoes it, they can pass it over his  veto if they agree to.

It seems  inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million  cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted --  by present facts -- of incompetence and  irresponsibility. I can't think of a single  domestic problem that is not traceable directly  to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the  plain truth that 545 people exercise the power  of the federal government, then it must follow  that what exists is what they want to  exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's  because they want it unfair.

If the  budget is in the red, it's because they want it  in the red.

If the Army & Marines are  in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want  them in Iraq and Afghanistan ...

If they  do not receive social security but are on an  elite retirement plan not available to the  people, it's because they want it that  way.

There are no insoluble government  problems.

Do not let these 545 people  shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire  and whose jobs they can abolish; 
to  lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can  reject; to regulators, 
to  whom they give the power to regulate and from  whom they can take this power. 
Above  all, do not let them con you into the belief  that there exists disembodied mystical forces  like
"the  economy," "inflation," or "politics" that  prevent them from
doing  what they take an oath to do.

Those 545  people, and they alone, are  responsible.

They, and they alone, have  the power.

They, and they alone, should  be held accountable by the people who are their  bosses.

Provided the voters have the  gumption to manage their own  employees...

We should vote all of them  out of office and clean up their  mess!

Charlie  Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando  Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with  this article now that you have read it... is up  to you.
This might be funny if it weren't  so true.
Be sure to read all the way  to the end:

Tax his land,
Tax  his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he's  fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his  mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the  rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He  works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his  cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax  his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his  shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his  dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his  drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to  think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his  beers,
If he cries
Tax his  tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his  gas,
Find other ways
To tax his  ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him  know
That you won't be done
Till he has no  dough.

When he screams and  hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him  till
He's good and sore.

Then tax his  coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod  in
Which he's laid...

Put these  words
Upon his tomb,
'Taxes drove me
to  my doom...'

When he's gone,
Do not  relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance  tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building  Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette  Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License  Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income  Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax  (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License  Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax  (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross  Receipts Tax
Hunting License  Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS  Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of  tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage  License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property  Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate  Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security  Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle  Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income  Tax
State Unemployment Tax  (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise  Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee  Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local  Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage  Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and  Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and  Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge  Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License  Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales  Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well  Permit Tax
Workers Compensation  Tax

Not one of  these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our  nation was the most prosperous in the  world.
We had absolutely no national debt,  had the largest middle class in the world, and  Mom stayed home to raise the  kids.

What in the heck  happened? Can you spell  'politicians?'

I hope this  goes around THE USA at least 545 times!!! YOU  can help it get there!!!



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's been awhile. . .

since I last posted, and I thought that I'd be able to get back to the posting every couple of weeks, but I've been swamped with work.  I thought I had 4 "little" projects lined up for the summer, but that changed when my refrigerator died about 3 weeks ago.  I tore out the door trim, the baseboards, and the wall switch, so I could get it out of the little alcove in which it resided, and moved it out onto the back porch.  I bought a new one, 2" smaller in width, so I never have to repeat this process, but delivery date is scheduled for September 1st, so I can get everything done first.  Since I had had to do all that work, I proceeded to rip up the rest of the trim in the kitchen and both bathrooms, in order to lay down a new slate floor, and at the urging of several friends, I decided to include under-floor heat, which added a whole new set of complexities to the project.

I have almost completed laying down the hardybacker underlayment for the slate, but, because the guys who assembled the old refrigerator cut the tube that delivers  the condensation to the little "pan" under the fridge about 6" too short, the water dripped on the floor, and I have a rotten spot, about 14" long, and 6" wide. Luckily, whoever laid the floor put tar paper under it, there's no rot in the subfloor.  I've dug out the rottten stuff, and have a heat lamp baking the dampness out of the rest of the wood.  In a week or so, I'll touch base with a friend, and find out what kind of plastic hardner/filler to pour in there, to bring it back up to level, and then I can lay the last piece of hardybacker.

Now, since some of you may not realize the logistics of getting materials down to the house, check out this picture of the stairs that things have to come down to get to my house:

This picture was taken back in '96, just after my house was hit by a landslide, but these are the 200 stairs that have to be negotiated to get to The Beach!

A friend and I had intended to lay the slate floor ourselves, but because: 1. my house is a trapezoid instead of a rectangle;  2. the fact that after the heating coils go down over the hardybacker, a self-leveling mix has to be poured over those, and the slate laid within 48 hours, and  3. my tolerance for frustration is somewhat limited at this time, I have decided to contract out the remainder of this project, and the arrangements with the craftsmen have already been made.

Geez, all that leaves me to do is repaint or wallpaper the kitchen and bath, repaint and replace the baseboards and door trim, rebuild part of my bulkhead and rebuild the remainder of the deck, which I started a few years ago.  Don't want to rush into anything, don't'cha know?

At this point, I have pretty well stuck my head in the sand, and am ignoring all the political crap that is being thrown at us, so it's up to you guys to keep an eye on the political "crooks and clowns" while I get this stuff done!

Back to work for this "kid"!  More later. . .

Sunday, June 3, 2012

We have OFFICIALLY. . .

entered the "Silly Season", a 5 month stretch in which we will be treated, non-stop, to exaggerations, distortions, promises, and now, due to the "Super Pacs", flat out lies, about the candidates and their positions and actions.  Keep in mind, as the election season progresses, that the Supreme Court, in all their munificent wisdom, have declared lies to be "freedom of speech"!  And, watch how much spending is done this year, in order to influence your decision on whom you will bestow your vote.  And then, go ahead and reflect on how little your vote actually counts, due to the fact that the electoral college, and not us, is who elects the president!  It is hard not to be cynical, in this day and age. . .

Before I go any further with this rant, let's go to something that's actually fun, entertaining and wont have you frothing at the mouth.  The other night, I watched a movie called, "Matha Marcy May Marlene", which won a Sundance Award.  The movie was not what I'd call "uplifting", but it was pretty good.  However, what made it worthwhile to me, was the discovery of a couple of songs by someone that I'd never heard of, singer/songwriter Jackson C. Frank.  The first is performed by John Hawkes, and is called, "Marcy's Song":

The second is called, "Marlene":  and is performed by Jackson himself.  It has minimal but very effective guitar work, and there is no real video.  I found both of these songs entrancing, and both songs, along with a lot of his other compositions are available on both Amazon and iTunes.  Unfortunately, Jackson's story is a truly sad one, and he died, destitute, back in 1999, of pneumonia and cardiac arrest.

On the "search for a new cat" front, I am still looking, and it occurred to me, a couple of weeks ago, that in the past, I have always felt an immediate connection to the various animals that I've adopted, so I have just settled back, and observed my inner reactions to the cats that I'm looking at, and so far. . . No connections.  Such is Life!  There has been an odd phenomenon around the house, in the time that Kassie's been gone, and I'm having kind of a tough time dismissing it; we're getting some odd noises, like things being knocked off of tables, or "skitching" sounds like an animal trying to launch itself on linoleum. . . Before you write me off, here, the sounds are also being heard by both the dog and the cat, and yet when I go to find out what it is, there's nothing there!  I'm not saying this is or isn't anything; I just know that it's not my imagination.

So, back to politics!  It's obvious that "the pres" doesn't seem to be able to get a grip on our economic recovery; the Republicans have made no secret of the fact that they were going to fight him all the way, on every possible thing they could, to make sure he would fail, even at the cost of our future.  Unfortunately, the Democrats have pretty well taken the same approach when there was a Republican in "the big chair".  "Obstructionism" has become the name of the game, and it is costing our nation dearly.  From every poll that I've seen, this is not what the general public is asking for, and I find it baffling that we continue to elect these buffoons!  Romney's answer to correcting the economy is to cut the crap out of all the social programs, and escalate military speneding: I still do not understand why the American public does not insist that the candidates focus on job creation, as that is going to be the only way out of this mess that we're in.

On the student loans issure, the interest rate is due to double, from 3.4% to 6.8%, on July 1st, if nothing is done by the House and Senate.  The Republicans want to take $6 billion from preventative health care, to cover the cost, while the Democrats want to take the money from some small business owners, in the form of a withholding tax.  Both of these methods are unacceptable, and I don't understand why no one has proposed paying for it by stopping the IRS from refunding $4.2 billion, a year, to undocumented aliens, some of whom are claiming as many as 20 deductions for kids who live in Mexico!

Conspiracy time!  I first started hearing about the Bilderberg Organization, about 20-25 years ago, through Art Bell's "Coast to Coast AM" radio program.  It all sounded pretty hokey to me, and if it was true, I figured that it was along the same lines as the Trilateral Commision, and the Council On Foreign Relations, to which many big businessmen, actors, musicians and politicians (almost all of our presidents, since 1921), have belonged.  But a few years ago, they held a meeting in Vancouver, British Columia (IF I remember correctly!), and the security arrangements brought them unwelcome attention from the world.  There appears to be very little debate about whether or not these elites are engineering a world economy, and you can bet it has as much to do (if not more) with the consolidation of wealth as with the betterment of mankind!  If you don't believe it, here's a link that will start you on a trip to knowledge, and perhaps, paranoia!  :)

So, I'll leave you with all those things to contemplate until next time; sleep tight!  :) :) :) :) :) :)

Oh, wait!  One more little tidbit to make you feel better about those who want the opportunity to lead our nation: 13 of the candidates that are running for the Senate have either criminal records or bankruptcies in their past! 

Inspires confidence in our leadership, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A follow up. . .

I had thought to wait for 3 or 4 months to let the feeling of loss fade, from losing Kassie, but the other cat, a "round head" Siamese named Bella, that had been "joined to the hip" with her since before I got her, seems to just be lost without her.  Last week, I stopped by the local Humane Society and Petco, to see what they had to offer, but didn't see any cats or kittens that were intriguing, and then I remembered the web site through which I had found Kassie and Bella:  After prowling through 10 pages of ads, I found a 2 year old cat, who had been living on the street, and, literally, sleeping beside the freeway, for a year before someone stopped and picked her up and took her to a shelter.

On Saturday, I made an 80 mile trip to see her and spend a little time with her, but as I sat with her, giving her pats and scratching her chin and talking with the ladies who had been fostering her, I was enveloped, once again, by kind of an "empty" feeling, and sadness, so, after 45 minutes, I left.   On the way home, I examined my feelings, which told me that I was leaving behind a special little cat, but I felt that I had made the right decision, and didn't have to worry about her being "put down", since they are a no-kill shelter.  Someone is going to wind up with a very nice little cat, who is going to provide years of love.   But I also came to the conclusion that I didn't really want to wait for another 3 months to go by; watching Bella prowl through the house every morning, looking for Kassie, and the fact that I find myself straining for a glimpse of her, has pretty well convinced me that we need to find another housemate.  So, back to Petfinders, and I found another cat in Seattle, a 4 year old Calico/Ragdoll mix, who is very appealing, and this shelter is obviously intent on finding her a good home!

I contacted them, and on Sunday I received a 3 page application from them, which had to be filled in and filed for approval before I can even see her.  I found this to be reassuring, but it took me almost 1/2 hour to fill out the form.  On Wednesday, they called to tell me that they had approved the application, and that I should come on up and meet "Willow", and Kate, the lady from the shelter.

Thursday morning, I drove up to Seattle and picked up my friend, Michelline, who was responsible for helping me find my last 3 cats, and we drove over to the shelter.   It breaks my heart to see an animal that is so shy, and so scared.  She seemed very sweet, but after spending almost 1/2 hour, watching her crouched back in a corner of the office, and not even being able to tempt her out of  it with chicken treats, Mick & I left the office, and Kate, who was her “foster-mom”, snagged her and put her on her lap, and Mick and I went back in.  She’d let me scratch her under her chin and between her ears, and she was purring, but I was pretty sure that she wasn’t the cat for me, and Mick got the same feeling, but I did set up an appointment for Kate to come down and check out the house for approval, just in case I changed my mind.  Mick and I talked about it, and I took her home, and then stopped by Petco to look at another cat that I had seen on petfinders, but when I talked to the people, they told me that she was not real friendly toward other cats, so I didn’t even bother with trying to get acquainted with her.

Kate and another “care giver” showed up at 7, and I “passed the audition”, but by Friday morning, I had gone over a lot of stuff in my head, and remembered that, with each of my past cats, I had felt an immediate “connection” with them, and that there had been no doubts about whether or not they were the “right” cat.  So, I wound up calling Kate and talking to her, and telling her how I felt, but also how impressed I was with their organization’s care for placing animals, and asked her to keep my application on file, so that if I find another animal on their web site, I wont have to go through all the hassle, again.  She assured me that that wouldn’t be a problem. . . The search continues!

OK, for the musical "treat of the week", I'm providing 2 links to the same song called, "Buster Voodoo" by a couple of Mexican "kids" that I became aware of, about 4 or 5 years ago, who bill themselves as, "Rodrigo y Gabriela", and they are amazing!  The first link has better sound, but is just some pics of them; the second is a live performance of theirs on the Craig Kilborn show, back in 2009:

Summer is now underway, and I spent a few hours this last week, working around the deck and wood shed, assessing what upkeep I need to tackle this summer, and found that I cannot avoid having to rebuild part of the bulkhead behind the wood shed. . . groan(!). . . and that I need to tear down and replace a couple of beams, and part of the deck.  That wasn't a surprise; that's just part of living on the water and I've been putting it off for a couple of years.  But this is going to be labor intensive, so I've pretty well decided that I'm going to cut back on posting here, to every couple of weeks, until the summer work is done.

So, until next time. . .

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another departure from the usual. . .

I'm sorry, guys; I don't have the heart for a "political diatribe" today; not that I don't have the material, but I think I'll save that for next week. 

For those of you who actually know me, you are aware how much I love animals.  There seem to be "dog people", and there are "cat people", and then there are folk like myself who just love animals!  In my adult life, I've had, simultaneously, both cats and dogs, as well as guinea pigs, rats, snakes and fish; I have to admit that I didn't love the snake, but the rest have all, at various times, held a special place in my heart.

At Christmas, in 2005, I lost a cat, Kami, that I had had for 18 years, who I somewhat jokingly called "my little feline soul mate"; definitely the sweetest cat I've ever known.  6 months later, I went looking for another cat, as a companion to Miko (another cat that I had at the time), and as the fates would have it, I had to bring 2 kittens home with me from the "rescue place", as I had stumbled across 2 six month olds, that were obviously best friends.  I spent about 3 hours trying to talk myself out of that decision, to no avail; if I took one, I had to take her friend.  One was a Siamese called, "Bella", and the other was what I call a "dark calico", as the colors were all solid; black, orange and white, and her name was, "Kassie".

As most cat owners will tell you (and anybody that has ever had a cat will tell you that you do not "own" a cat!), every cat is "different"; no two are alike, and that can be a trial, because when you get a kitten, there is no guarantee as to the temperament of the animal, or what they will be like as adults.  One of the trials of being a cat "owner". . .

Kassie is the best argument for reincarnation that I've ever experienced; aside from being a different color, I felt as though Kami's spirit had simply relocated into another body, and found her way back to me.  Yeah, there were a few differences, but Kami's "essence" was there, and Kassie was a healthy, happy cat.

Friday was a day like any other; Kassie woke me up, had a "kitty conversation" with me (a very vocal cat with a huge range of sounds at her command!), and the day progressed as usual.  She went past me, at the computer, about 6:30 p.m., tail flying high, with the dog accompanying her, and I went down to fix dinner shortly after that.  At 8, I was back upstairs for a couple hours of TV, and when I headed down for bed, about 10, I didn't see her, so I came back up and called her name. She answered me, from behind the computer desk, with a sound so full of agony that the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  25 minutes later, we were at the emergency vet's, and about 2 hours later (I just could not stay in the reception room with 3 other people in obvious pain!), the doctor called to tell me that she had just died.  He could provide no reasons; an X-ray showed nothing, and blood readings were all "normal".

So, all I really have to say today is:  stop every once and awhile, and look around you; count your blessings, and appreciate what you've got, because sometimes, Life turns on a dime.  Take time to really enjoy the good times, and when things get tough, know that they will get better.  Kassie was only 6 years old, and next weekend we'd have had our 6th "anniversary" together; not nearly long enough, but I am so thankful for the time that we had!

Have a great week, guys; next week has got to be better than this one!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Arrrrrrggggg! As the weather. . .

gets nicer and nicer, I'm finding it's harder and harder to stay inside and work at the computer; if I was one of those folk who plan ahead, I might not find myself wishing I was out on the motorcycle!

Luckily, with the "silly season" (oh God, there's still 6 months left before the election!) fully upon us, finding things to chuckle at is no problem, and if there were no ramifications attached to the actions, it would all be fine and good, but. . .

How 'bout that little problem that the Secret Service guys had, down there in Colombia?  You know, I just find it hard to believe that adults can be so stupid, sometimes; these guys, when they are "working" in another country, are basically on duty around the clock, and here they are, screwing around on the job!   In their defense, however, i do have to point out that at the very least, they do have better taste in women than a certain recent ex-president that comes to mind!   And, who knows, maybe they were just being big hearted philanthropists, trying to help one mother with her beauty school and child rearing costs, and another pay for her schooling.  The thing that I find truly appalling is that we, the American tax payers, are going to be footing a minimum $1.6 million dollar bill for the investigation of this little "affair"!

Next up!  Man, those cats in the GSA sure know how to party, don't they?  And, apparently, that party in Las Vegas, complete with clowns (wait a minute!  They had clowns for these clowns?) is just the tip of the iceberg:  I don't understand how things like this go on; these guys, who are supposed to be "on watch" to make sure that a blatant waste of money like this doesn't happen, are doing it themselves?  How can they possibly look at themselves in the mirror?  Of course, now politicians from both sides of the aisle are pointing fingers (after all, we all know that they would never waste money, right?), and are pounding their chests proclaiming that this must stop!  Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defense continues to jaunt from coast to coast on his weekends at a cost to us of $32,000 per trip.  Honest; straight from the horse's mouth:

And, if you want more to tickle your funny bone, our tireless campaigner, Newt Gingrich, manages to both bounce a $500 check, drawn on a closed account, to the Utah elections office, , and get bitten by a penguin, , in the same week!  The first, I guess I can wrap my head around, if I try real hard, but the second?  Come on!  Again, in Newt's defense, I'd guess that most of us, in our time, may have bounced a check or two, but in his 1992 primary campaign, he bounced 22 checks to the tune of around $26,000 proving Newt to not only be a consummate politician, but a fine musician!

On a more serious note, in case you think that the battle for internet freedom has been won. . . THINK AGAIN! It will take you a couple of minutes to read this, but Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, has a few words of warning to convey.  Since the deregulation of the news media, we have very few places to turn for news, other than those provided by about 3 media conglomerates, and be assured that they are not interested in sharing unfavorable views of the actions of governments all over the world, unless it is in their best interests!  So, please people, stay aware of what's going on on this front, because it is going to affect the future of the world!  The internet is our "window on the world", without a giant corporation's filters and biases; it's worth the effort to keep it free.

On the music scene, Neil Young has a new album, "Americana", due out on June 5th.  Neil has made no secret of his disdain for the sound quality of digital media, over the last 25 years, despite the assertion of this article, , and he filed 6 trademarks with the US Patent and Trademarks office, almost a year ago, which will improve the quality of music downloaded from the internet; a blessing for those of us who do not appreciate the low sonic quality of mp3s!

Although it's a few months early, or maybe a few months late, check out this beautiful and haunting tune; Thea Gilmore's "December in New York":  Over the last couple of years, she has become one of my favorite singer/songwriters, and I think you'll like her!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Spring and. . .

the sun is starting to stick around to tempt us all into the outside world; working in the gardens, riding motorcycles and walking in the woods are starting to become more and more attractive!  The problem with this is that most of us would rather be outside than inside, in front of a computer ferreting out news, which makes it much easier for the the politicians to slip things past us.  They have not given up on their desire to take control of the internet, and the newest "incarnations" of the SOPA and PIPA bills (if you don't know what they are, "google" them. . .) are a flock of bills coming up that are very loosely written, in order to give them the maximum ability to expand their power over this wonderful medium.  They all have these wonderful sounding titles that are totally misleading, kind of like "The Patriot Act" had, and will have far reaching effects, should they be passed into law:  It is definitely worth keeping an eye out for things like this, and the first of the new bills is called CISPA.  Of course, they deny that it is anything like SOPA, but check it out. . . I love the fact that all of the sponsers of these bills claim, "Well, it's not perfect, but. . ."

I had to laugh today, when I saw that Dick Cheney, of all people, had called Obama's administration an "unmitigated disaster"; as if our country did so well under the administration in which he worked, which left Obama so many problems to try and deal with!  I'm not an Obama fan, but this seems to me to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

OK, 'nuff of that!

For your "musical sortie" of the day, try your ears out on Diane Birch: in which she sounds a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n roll, or in which she sounds a bit "bluesy".  A few months ago, my godson asked me if I had ever heard of her, and directed me to a session that she did at Daryl Hall's, "Live From Daryl's House", and I was just enchanted!  The girl has a great voice, and her songwriting takes some unexpected turns, which adds a lot of interest to her tunes and progressions.

And, to close this out so that I can get outside, let your mind wander down these tracks. . .

Have a great week, guys!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

They just never change. . .

I apologize for not getting something up, last Monday, but the audio-visual project that I was involved in, all of a sudden developed a serious need to be wrapped up and gotten into the mail.  Once done with that I developed a bad case "Screw it!", and just relaxed for a couple of days.  And then I started to pay attention to what was going on in our world, and found that I had a plethora of things to write about. . .

But first. . . I went online this morning, to find a tune for you guys, and learned that a relatively unknown guitar player whose talents I fell in love with, back in '94, Bugs Henderson, died about a month ago.  I discovered an album called, "Daredevils of the Red Guitar", in the demo bin at Silver Platters (local CD chain, where I worked on the weekends), and started playing it over the PA. about 2 weeks before it was released.  I also wrote a review of it, in our quarterly music magazine, and created such demand for it, that Bug's manager called the corporate headquarters to find out why we were selling more of the discs in the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington, than anyplace else in the country.  He was a constant on the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas music scene, for the last 54 years, and has turned out a bunch of albums, although not nearly enough.  Here's a great example of his playing, although it really isn't a video, and you'll find a lot more of his work posted here: and for those who'd like a little more "rock":  Thanks for all the good music over the years, Bugs; hope you've got a Paul Reed Smith with you.

Ok, back to "business". . . President Obama signed the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act into law last week, which stops members of the Congress and Senate, the president, and federal workers from profiting from nonpublic information.  HOWEVER, the congress did NOT require public reports from people, like lobbyists and friends, who get information from these same sources, which means that they can continue to collect and sell this private information to investors.  Nice little loophole, isn't it?  And, of course, once that information is delivered to someone, it's no longer private, which means. . .

As I've noted before, it continues to chap my butt that no one except the American tax payers and the common people all over the world have had to bear the cost of the economic meltdown of 2008.  Last Thursday, Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial agreed to pay $5 billion to the federal and state governments, and another $20 billion to cut mortgage debts and restructure troubled loans.  Of course, they are not admitting to any of the charges brought against them by 49 states, and the federal government.  Personally, I think that they should be made to hurt, and I suspect that this penalty is a lot like that leveraged against Michael Milken (the "junkbond king" of the '70's and '80's) in 1990; he was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud and sentenced to 10 years in jail; he wound up serving 2 years in prison and fined, if I remember correctly, about $200 million and $600 in restitution, but was left with something like $150 million, gained from his scam.  On leaving jail, he was given a job teaching finances at Stanford!  And as the real "topper", if you look him up, he'll be listed as "an American business magnate, financier and philanthropist", not as a scam artist!  Anybody care to guess how much the banks made off the financial meltdown?  You can bet it was a whole more than $25 billion!

Along the same line, the government is trying to bring one MF Global (and, no, folks, "MF" is not slang, in this case!) executive to task for his bank's part in the meltdown. However, with the legal staff he has, who knows what will come of this; private industry has the ability and desire to hire the absolute best people in their field to go against the government's "public servants".  In this article, the reporter stated that no one has been held responsible for the economic meltdown because, "the vast majority of what happened in the years leading up to the financial crisis was legal, courtesy of silly laws championed by the industry and enacted by Congress. But Congress can't admit that, so Congress instead blames prosecutors and regulators for being too wimpy."  This just makes me sick!

Despite the fact that the U.S. is slowly and tentatively recovering from our recession, the International Monetary Fund is asking the U.S. to kick in and help out the European nations.  Although it claims that our financial security is dependent on the stability of the European nations, we would have to borrow that money, since we are already deep in the red, and in an election year, it is somewhat unlikely that the politicians will want to go there!

Oh man, enough!  I'm sorry. . . I'm gettin' pissed off and frustrated, and that is just not right on Easter!  I hope you had a great one, and I'm outta here for a ride on the bike!

Monday, March 26, 2012

I've been involved. . .

 with an audio-visual production that's taking up waaaaaay more time than I thought it would, and I've gained an amazing amount of respect for people that do this for a living!

I've also learned that if you have any old photos that you value, and you're intending on digitizing them, that the sooner you get to it, the better results you're going to have.  "Back in the day", when I was taking pictures with my 35mm camera, and I had to take them in for processing, I was offered the option of having them printed on "Kodak paper", for an extra 25¢ (I think!) a picture.  Because I didn't have a lot of money, a lot of the time I'd skip the extra expense, because you never knew, at least at my level of photography, how they were going to turn out.  Well, despite the fact that I have always taken pretty good care of my pictures, always keeping them away from the light, and in photo books, the ones printed on stock paper have faded, and some of them, drastically!

If you're in college, or have a kid in college, you might want to investigate this article.  I warn you, it is not a short read; it has a ton of links to be investigated, but it is a very scary expose of  the growing involvement of "Big Brother" on campus.  I guess that I shouldn't have been suprised, but I was.

Luckily, the politicians are still behaving themselves, hoping you'll forget what they have or haven't done or accomplished in the last 2 years.  And, of course, since the media is owned by just a few big corporations who support both parties, they are not out there investigating what kind of crap these guys have been up to, lately.  So, once again, just on principle, I urge you guys to vote a strict anti-incumbent ticket, because it should be obvious to everyone that the Congress and Senate, as is, is broken; they are not taking care of the business of the country.

"NEW" GUITAR PLAYER   This 28 year old Texan is obviously an "old soul", and has been playing since he was 12 years old.  He was on Eric Clapton's 2010 "Crossroads Festival" video.  Enjoy!

OK, it's time for me to get back to my "little" project.  Until next week. . .

Monday, March 19, 2012

A "hard left" from the usual. . .

"Girls", no matter what age, are the most wonderful of God's creations, at least to most of my gender!  No doubt about it, these mysterious and magical creatures are capable of bestowing great happiness, or inflicting immense pain on us; inspiring us to heights that we didn't realize we were capable of achieving, or plunging us to depths that we didn't know existed, and the best of them seem to be sprinkled with just a touch of fairy dust.  And I met one, last night!

Keep in mind that yours truly, while having lived what I consider to be a really good and happy life, have been "flying solo" for the last 18 years, so. . .

I was visiting with one of my very best friends, down in Oregon, and we were out wandering around a combination street fair and farmer's market.  Bobby's one of those guys that can pick up seemingly any  instrument, and have beautiful music flowing from it in a very short time.  Understand, this is a trait that I find extremely irritating, because I have had to work hard, to make progress on one instrument!  When I met him, back in the winter of '67, he was already a pretty good guitar player, but since then, he not only continued to develop his abilities on the guitar, but has also acquired considerable facility on the piano, harp (and no, I'm not talking about the harmonica!), violin, cello and, much to my disgust, the penny whistle, which I find to be an annoying instrument, but which, I guess, has a place in Irish music.  However, to watch him play duets with himself, one inserted in each nostril, I do have to admit, is quite entertaining.

It was dusk, that time of day between light and dark, when the color hovers between dark blue and purple, and the sky was clear and full of diamonds.  We just kind of flopped down on the grass, by the edge of the river and were indulging in a favorite pastime of ours, people watching, when one of Bobby's friends asked us if we could run an errand for him.

Unfortunately, Bobby was scheduled to perform in just a few minutes, so the task fell to me, so he threw me a handful of keys and told me to take his car.  A few minutes later, I found myself in a driveway, beside his car, trying to figure out which key it was that would permit me entry, and finally finding it, inserted it, only to have it snap off in the lock.  I'm standing there thinking, "Oh, great!" because the car is blocking the alley, and I look behind me to find a guy driving some kind of convertible (I can't tell what kind, because his head and shoulders are protruding from a car cover. . . Don't ask!), and tapping his fingers, in aggravation, on his steering wheel.  A couple of minutes later, in frustration, he just pulled into a parking space, and walked off.

So, I'm headed off to find out if my friend has an extra key, and walking in front of me, is a girl in an emerald green (my favorite color; the first time I remember seeing it, it was on a little '40 Ford coupe, and looked about 3 feet deep!) full length dress.  Her hair was a gorgeous dark auburn, and pulled up in kind of a haystack, doubled over and bunched.  Entranced, I walked by her and glanced at her face, and couldn't help but exclaim, "Freckles!", a spattering of which were under both eyes, and sprinkled across her nose, and I could not help but notice her skin color, which was that kind of golden brown that is particular to just a few redheads.

She smiled and looked over at me, and. . . Holy crap!  Set in this beautiful, heart shaped face, her eyes were this, I don't even know how to convey the beautiful dark gold color, with a kind of lighter gold wavy line around the iris, and I was just . . . Lost!  Completely forgetting what I was supposed to be doing, we proceeded on down the street, talking, and entered an artists' loft, where another friend of mine, KC, from Ashland, was displaying her stained glass work, and we separated, with me headed upstairs to see KC, while she was looking at other stuff downstairs.  KC's studio had an open window, overlooking the first floor, and while I was telling her about "the girl", I heard her voice from below, telling a friend of hers about me and saying, "He was just going all 'New York' ", and I burst out laughing, and woke myself up!

Now, I've got to tell you, that was a 5:00 a.m., this morning, and those of you that know me, know that I'm not a morning person, and describing me as being "New York" is about as far from the truth as anything could be, but waking up laughing is a real treat, and I decided to just get up, savor the feelings that were running around inside my head, and go ahead and enjoy the day.

For your audio treat for the day:  I've been hearing this song as "bumper music" on the Coast to Coast AM radio program for the last couple of months, and although I'm not usually too fond of this song, this version of it has completely changed my mind about it!

Have a great week, folks!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I can't believe I did it!

Before I get into "it", here's a treat for your ears:  Jonell Mosser is an incredible talent, who sings some wicked blues.  I became acquainted  with her work through a demo album called, "Around Townes", a cover album of Townes Van Zandt's work, that she did back in 1996.  A couple of years ago, I discovered a video on youtube, a duet with Mati Haskell, called, "Blessing" (available on Amazon, and well worth the 99¢!), that still sends shivers down my back.  Unfortunately, the video has been removed, but these 2 ladies can really sing!  Take a couple of minutes, and enjoy yourself before reading on. . .

OK, I have a confession to make; back in 1998/9, I actually gave money to a politician!  And not just any politician, but one who is now pushing to involve our country in yet another "police action". like North Korea (which is still continuing), or Vietnam.  Yes, I decided that John McCain was a straight shooter (no pun intended!), and that I would support him in his bid for the Republican nomination for president.  Now, in my own defense, I still believe that he would have been a better president than George W. Bush, but, c'mon. . . Almost anybody would have been!  McCain now seems to be the main instigator for getting us involved in Syria, and I have little doubt that although our county's financial situation is dire, that we are going to get involved.

President Obama and Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, are itching to take action, but are looking toward NATO and the United Nations for the authority.  Congress also seems to want to get in there, but are threatening the President with impeachment, if he doesn't come to them for permission! 

Agreed, what is going on over there is horrendous, but there are a lot of horrible things going on in nations all over the globe, but if nothing else, we should have learned, over the last 25 years, that there are consequences to sticking our noses into other country's business.   Of course, our government has the audacity to claim that all these military actions are in our "national interests", but when it comes right down to it, what they are actually interested in, is preserving the profits of "big business", at the cost of thousands of young lives, and hundreds of billions of dollars, and the welfare of our nation.

While I'm ranting on the stupidity of government, are you aware, that with millions of families  losing their homes in the past couple of years, that the current administration now wants to provide financial bailouts for investors that bought multiple homes for investment purposes, before the housing crash?  It sounds outrageous, to help out the "buy and flip investors" who helped drive up the cost of housing, during the real estate boom, but the government, banks and mortgage companies have decided that empty houses are in no one's interest, and therefore, the taxpayers should bear the cost of helping everyone out. . .

I looked for something lite and happy to end this post with, but the only thing I could find, was an article that is fairly ironic, after the above examples of our government's "big heartedness":  It seems that a former marine wants to adopt a bomb sniffing dog who served our country in Iraq, and for some stupid reason, is being refused.  If you'd like to sign a petition to help her in her efforts, go here:

Until next week. . .

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Forget 2012; 2013 is LOOMING!

There has been a lot of talk, over the last 37 years (that I have been aware of, although the intensity of the talk has greatly increased lately!), about the upcoming date of December 21st, 2012, and the end of the Mayan calendar, and what it means for both man and the earth (google it; either the date or the calendar).  Should the cataclysmic event happen, and nobody seems to know what that might be (although there is an abundance of speculation out there), we wont have to worry about February of 2013, when an asteroid, approximately 190 foot long, discovered by Spanish astronomers, will pass within 17,000 miles of the earth!  That is approximately 3/4 of the distance from the earth to the moon, and there is the possibility of it hitting either the earth or the moon; it's a short article, about 2-3 minutes to read. . . Give it a shot!

Luckily, the pols continue to be somewhat quiet, except for their silly season oratory, in which they continue to tell us how much they do for us, and care for us, and how responsive to our wishes they are, and what they are planning on doing for us (more like to us!). .  . So listen to what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says: "In the commercial context, we allow a decent amount of lying. It's called puffing. 'You won't buy it cheaper anywhere,' " and "So maybe we allow a certain amount of puffing in political speech as well. Nobody believes all that stuff, right?"  They call this, "Freedom of speech"; I'm not sure that is what the framers of the Bill Of Rights were talking about.  Again, is it any wonder that the people have so little respect for our politicians?  'Nuff!

 Last Saturday, in an attempt to bring something "new" into my exercise program, I dipped back into my high school football days, and dredged up "squat thrusts", of which I did 5; HUGE mistake, for which I've been paying ever since, and although the "bill" is almost fully paid, sitting in front of the computer is not the way that I want to spend my time, so today's post is going to be short!  And, by the way, I've decided that I will not be adding this exercise to my repertoire!

So, I'm outta here with only 1 comment: "Getting older is not for pussies!"

Monday, February 27, 2012

A very "lite" week!

It's pretty obvious that the politicians are well aware that there's only about 8 months left until the national elections; either that, or the 3 main media organizations have decided not to report their shenanigans!  No huge scandals, no super controversial bills in front of the houses, so we just get a "breather for the blood pressure"!

Despite the cautious proclamations of an increasingly better economy, a 15 year veteran police officer (ex), in Columbus, Ga., decided to rob a bank of $1,000, in order to "enroll" himself in the "Federal Health System".

And in San Francisco, a rather large naked lady was offended by the fact that John Knight was driving a blue Volvo station wagon!

It seems fairly obvious that we are now fully involved in the "silly season", and I can hardly wait for the first week of November to be gone!  The worst part of the next few months will be the frantic phone calls that we will be receiving from the pols who thoughtfully exempted themselves from the "Do Not Call" law they passed, a few years ago. . .

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me this link to a band that I've been aware of for a number of years, but had never heard:  The quartet is from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and formed in 1985, and it just blows me away that they've turned out 8 albums, and aren't better known.  They are a good guitar-driven band, that put out some really nice sounds, and actually seem to have something to say.  Enjoy; they have a lot of videos up!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Good week for music; not so much for politics!

So let's start with a music link for a guy who should be famous:  His name is Paul Thorn, and I picked up on him back in '97, when I pulled his first album, "Hammer And Nail".  He's the son of a preacher and he spent a few years boxing, and the guy sings of Life with both insight and humor, and straight from the heart.  He's a good guitar player,  a great songwriter, and a very good performer.  This song, "Things Left Undone"is one that really touches my heartstrings:   And here's one that's pretty funny:

Hey, do you guys remember when "Presidents' Day" was actually 2 holidays, celebrating George Washington's birthday, and another celebrating Abraham Lincoln's birthday.  Nowadays,  from what I see in the newspapers and TV, it seems to be "All About The Benjamins"!

Apparently, America is not the only country with an "obesity problem". last week, a man in England was involved in eating a 6000 calory hamburger, at the aptly named, "Heart Attack Grill", when he suffered. . . You guessed it; a heart attack!  Truly a study in irony.

And on to the things that do, can or will affect our lives.  On Feb. 14th of this year, ABC news reported that Iran is "allegedly" involved in attacks on Israeli citizens and Jewish interests around the world, although not here in the States.  If war should erupt between those 2 countries, America would undoubtedly be drawn into the conflict, since we are Israel strongest ally, and this article, lends credence to that speculation, going so far as to predict action commencing in September to October.

And onwards, to the shenanigans of our politicians!  Somewhere in the last 4 to 6 months, it's come to light that many of our Congressmen and Senators have been enriching themselves by activities that would land any other citizen in jail, and that is, the practice of insider trading.  When John Stewart brought this to light on his "Daily Show", , he also brought to light the fact that on Feb. 9th, these fine, upstanding examples of morality passed the "STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) ACT", , which would supposedly put a stop to this. . . Riiiiiiight!  Instead, what Congress passed was a watered down bill that eliminateed "“political intelligence” registration requirement and dropping anti-corruption legislation". . . Nice, eh? Here, you want a quick read, guaranteed to raise both your ire and blood pressure:  And they have the audacity to wonder why only 8% of the public has a "favorable" opinion of Congress? 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another reason for term limits!

You know, just when you think that maybe the politicians have gotten the message (Jan. 22 post), and you feel a little bit better about our "representative form of government", something like this happens:  Basically, it says that Harry Reid (Democrat and Senate Majority Leader) has not only not gotten the message, but is going to push for any even stronger bill!  So, stay on your toes, and stay informed, and do not give up, folks; "Eternal Vigilance" is the message of the day, and really, if you take 15 minutes a week to keep yourself up to date on what ever issues you care about; that's 1/96 of a day!  Not much of an investment, is it?

If you are one of the naive who still don't believe our government would not lie to us, I present these 2 articles on what is going on in Afghanistan: and , about the views of Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, in direct opposition to the positive spin which our government presents to us.  Note that no action has been taken against him by the U.S. Army, but a spokesman for the Army dismissed his report by saying (paraphrased), "Well, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. . ."

While doing research on the National Defense Authorization Act, I touched base with an old school mate of mine, a Marine who served in Vietnam, who went on to become a well respected lawyer, in Las Vegas.  While David Rivers is a bit to the right of me, politically, he and I do see eye-to-eye on this subject, and he steered me to the Oath Keepers' site ( ), which is an organization of "non-partisan association of currently serving military, veterans, peace officers, and firefighters".  Part of their oath is, "Our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and we will not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders, such as orders to disarm the American people or to place them under martial law and deprive them of their ancient right to jury trial."  I strongly urge you to visit their site!

A postscript to my last post about ramping up for military action against Iran: and a cautionary "tale" from the poet laureate of my generation, Bob Dylan, "Masters Of War", performed by Leslie West and Ozzy (a very different version!):  I heard it last night while I was listening to "Coast to Coast AM" (google it!), a late night nationally syndicated program (around 550 stations!), which I've been listening to, off and on, since around 1988, when Art Bell was the host, and who has been since been replaced.  On most Saturday nights, John B. Wells sits in the "captain's seat", and the guy has the most magnificent set of "pipes" that I've ever heard!

As I'm sure you're aware, we lost a major musical talent on Saturday, but if you've passed through the grocery store check lines in the last 15 years, I'm sure that the death of Whitney Houston, at age 48, did not come as a surprise.  I was not a big fan of Whitney's, but this morning I heard her version of the Star Spangled Banner, at the 1991 Superbowl, and I was blown away; I don't believe I've ever heard it done better:  After all the deaths of musicians, artists and movie stars over the last 50 years, and despite my psychology background, I still do not understand how or why these people continue to get caught up in drugs and/or alcohol. . . It's just sad, and I can't help but feel that the world is being robbed of so many of their potential contributions. 


Monday, February 6, 2012

Hold on, folks; here we go, again!

Seems as though the world is spooling up for another "party"; I look at Drudge and see headlines that proclaim that Iran is working hard to develop nuclear weapons (no doubts!) and the means for delivery; the U.S. & England are moving warships into the Straights of Hormuz; Israel is considering when might be the proper time to strike. . . And "The Beat Goes On"; (thank you, Sonny & Cher!).  Isn't this an instant replay of 9 years ago? 

We've just gotten our troops out of Iraq and are now in the process of withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan, and things over there are returning to "normal": their people are killing each other in the name of Allah.  Did we accomplish anything?  Did we, indeed, make America safer?  To justify these actions (not "war", mind you!), we used the same excuses (loosely) that we used in Vietnam, but, at least back then, the government thought we could afford it, economically; I don't think they ever consider the physical and emotional costs to the nation.  Now?  "Ah, just put it on the credit card, and let the future generations pay for it!"  How are they going to pay for it?  On the other hand, it is wonderful for the businesses involved in manufacturing for the war effort!

Our economy is slowly picking up, but our country is still producing very little to sell to other nations.  The millions of well-paying jobs that have disappeared since the '90's have been partially replaced by lower paying jobs, many of which are part time.  The middle class is disappearing, and if our economy is based on "consumerism", what are people going to buy "stuff" with?  I mean, this really is a rhetorical question. . .

Man, I don't mean to start off the week with a bummer, so, here, for a bit of musical hilarity:
Watch the drummer!

And, for just a beautiful bit of mandolin playing, and a song I've always liked:

And, for a final positive thought. . . It feels like Spring outside; 5 straight days of beautiful weather, and more coming!  After 5 weeks of not being able to get out on the bike, this is refreshing, to say the least.  And, the sunsets are beautiful!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

OK; so I'm a day late!

I have no excuse, except that, for the first time in about 5 weeks, we had a couple of clear days, and I got to hit the highway "on 2";  I really miss it when I don't get to get my "acceleration fix" for awhile!  Getting on the freeway is really the only place I get aggressive with the bike, and I know I probably shouldn't, but it's such a rush. . .

A couple of weeks ago, I addressed the question of why, after the economic collapse of 2008, no one was being held responsible, and posted a couple of links that suggested why.  Another example came to light this week, with the arrest of Texas "financier", Allen Stanford, who, for 20 years had been running a $7 billion ponzi scheme, and had been protected from investigation by members of the SEC, who are supposed to protect us from crap like this."  Better late than never", I guess, but how many people have been hurt or destroyed by this thief?

For the last few months, I've been watching a bill called the "National Defense Authorization Bill" making it's way through the Senate and Congress, and, although he said he was against it, the Prez signed it into effect on Dec. 31 of last year.  Here is the truly frightening portion of the bill:

"The detention sections of the NDAA begin by "affirm[ing]" that the authority of the President under the AUMF, a joint resolution passed in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, includes the power to detain, via the Armed Forces, any person "who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners," and anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the U.S. or its coalition allies in aid of such enemy forces, under the law of war, "without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF]." The text authorizes trial by military tribunal, or "transfer to the custody or control of the person's country of origin," or transfer to "any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity."[18]  Addressing previous conflict with the Obama Administration regarding the wording of the Senate text, the Senate-House compromise text, in sub-section 1021(d), also affirms that nothing in the Act "is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force." The final version of the bill also provides, in sub-section(e), that "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States." As reflected in Senate debate over the bill, there is a great deal of controversy over the status of existing law.[19].  An amendment to the Act that would have replaced current text with a requirement for executive clarification of detention authorities was rejected by the senate.[20]" (From Wikipedia)

What this basically says, is that should this blog, or anything published on the net, in the newspapers, broadcast on TV or radio, be considered a "belligerent act" by our government, and notice that that term is not defined (!), the author of such can be taken into military custody, with no legal recourse, or taken to some other country. . . You may say, "but this says that it doesn't apply to U.S. citizens, but there are 2 other bills before both houses, which make it possible for the government to strip citizenship from an individual, which also means removing their rights!  Again, I urge you to contact your Congressmen/women and Senators about this; page down for a link to them!  Ok, so, enough politics for the week. 

To mellow you out a little bit, here's a link to 2 of my favorite performers, Grace Potter and Joe Satriani, teaming up on a great Neil Young song:  My favorite moment is about 4 minutes in, when Grace starts cracking up with joy; man, she is just so darned cute, and what a voice!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This has been a good week for us, folks; once the light was focused on what the politicians and the corporations were trying to do with the SOPA and PIPA bills, the politicians flew from them like birds from a tree, despite the time and money spent by the lobbiests to get them passed.  It just goes to prove that with the medium of the internet, we do have the ability to quickly organize and affect the way that politicians respond, and it gives lie to the statement, "We don't really have any power."   It just takes a small amount of time, and attention to stay informed, and use your power!

'Nuff politics!  As much as I lovc living where I do. it does present some difficulties, sometimes.  I woke up yesterday morning, and went to make some coffee. . .No water!  A log with some branches  sticking out, had floated in under the deck, and a branch had hooked the water line. tearing it out.  I walked out on the deck, and found water gushing from MY side of the meter (naturally!); I turned it off, went back in, got the coffee pot and off to a neighbor's to bum a potful of water.  Coming back, I looked down the trail at the bottom of the bank, and behind my woodshed, and about 10' of it was GONE!  One of the vertical braces for the bulkhead had fallen over, letting the waves wash out the trail.

Once I got the water hooked back up, I waited for the other shoe to drop, and sure enough, when I turned on the computer, I found that somehow, I had screwed it up, the day before, while trying to do a backup. . . 3 hours later everything's back to normal.

Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Let's make short work of the political part of today's entry, and then you may want to return to the peacefulness of these photos, just to sooth your mind.  Have you ever wondered why, after the economic meltdown of 2008, no one has been charged with fraud or corruption, when a 602 page finding published by our justice department, found overwhelming evidence of such?  When and if you follow the following links, it'll become quickly evident to you, and, as promised, neither article will take you more than about 3 minutes to read:

On Jan. 15, 2012, Yahoo Finance reported Goldman-Sachs as being one of the "top 10 most hated companies in America:  'Goldman Sachs’ (NYSE: GS) poor reputation was cemented when the government sued it for fraud in 2010. The firm settled with the government for $550 million, but this was viewed as little more than a slap on the wrist because of the bank’s immense wealth. And the fraud accusations have not stopped — they have actually accelerated. Goldman faces a set of suits over mortgage instruments it sold worth a total of $15.8 billion. The Federal Housing Finance Agency in September accused Goldman of misrepresenting the quality of $11.1 billion worth of residential mortgage-backed securities. In the cases in which Goldman has settled claims, the press has not always been favorable. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Goldman agreed to forgive 25% of principal balances on 143 mortgage loans to borrowers in New York, or $13 million of a total principal balance of $52 million. The $13 million is less than a senior banker at Goldman might make in a year. Perhaps those homeowners are part of the Occupy Wall Street protests against big banks, for which Goldman is the poster boy.'  "  Some recommendation, eh?

Remember, folks, the only way that we can bring pressure on politicians to do something different than what they are doing right now, is to become educated about just a few things, and then DO SOMETHING; talk to some friends about the issues that you care about; write an emai to your U.S. senators:
or U.S. congressmen:
or steer some of your friends toward this blog; maybe we can inspire them to become politically active!

So, enough politics (almost)!  My trip into a local park where the above photos were taken, was in response to a discussion that I had been listening to on the radio, about the Enemy Expatriation Act (HR 3166 and S. 1698, which I'll maybe tackle in a later entry), which is being considered by congress, right now.  I thought, "Not possible!", and fled to the woods with my camera, just to remove this abomination from my mind.  I soon found myself lost in the freshness of the breeze, and the colors, which seemed to wax and wane as the patches of clouds flowed across the sky.  I might have headed out on the motorcycle, except for the fact that it was only about 37•, and that is just a bit too cool to entice me to mount up!

When I was a kid, there was a "western" author named Larry McMurtry that I used to read, probably best known for his book, "Lonesome Dove", which was later made into both a TV series and a movie.  Somewhere in the late '80's, I think, I discovered that his son, James McMurtry, seemed to have inherited his dad's talent for storytelling, but he works in the medium of music.  His voice isn't all that great, but, having grown up listening to Dylan & Neil Young. . . Well. . . But, he is a good guitar player, with a lot to say!  In keeping with the spirit of this blog, here's an intro for you: