Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Football kicked off last week - Hooray!  But I do have a small complaint.  Why do we have to start the pre-season in AUGUST, which is the hottest month in this very hot country.  Every year we read of players in colleges, and high schools suffering in the heat and some even die!  The actual season is just 16 games long and with the play-offs it's all over by the end of January - Duh?

So why do we have to start so early, and finish when winter is upon us?

Once football is over we are stuck with basketball, which a dreadfully slow game designed for seven-foot tall Negroes with pituitary gland problems.  It might be bearable if they raised the hoop a couple of feet, so that the smaller players could have a shot.

The game seems to last forever, and always comes down to the last couple of minutes and ends with a point or two difference, like 112 to 114.  Not a lot of fun at all.

Now if we began football in say October, when baseball is coming to an end, it would go on until the end of March when the pre-season for baseball has just started.

I have of course, not mentioned ice hockey as it's not a serious game and consists of men with no front teeth hitting each other with sticks.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The other evening we watched the movie Master and Commander, and it made me think of my grandfather.  He died in 1964 aged 84, which means he was born in 1880.  He was a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy and at first spent some time under sail, before he graduated to the engine rooms as an E.R.A. (Engine Room Artificer,) which was a fairly low rank. 

Lt. Commdr. William Victor Summons (1880 - 1964) in his formal uniform.
I have the sword under his picture in my office.

He served in the first world war and was in the Battle of Jutland.  He retired but was brought back again at the start of WWII to serve in motor torpedo boats up and down the English Channel.
One of his great heroes was Admiral Lord Nelson, who considering that he had already been dead for 75 years when my grandad was born, just shows how big the man was in naval folklore.

The movie, if you haven't seen it, is about as good a portrayal of life aboard a fighting ship in the time of Nelson with all its violence, and danger.  It also shows how a good commander can lead his men through these trials with an intimate knowledge of everyone on board.  It's one of my favorite movies.

As for my grandfather, he was a wonderful man and in the extremely unlikely event that we have the chance to meet up again after this particular ride in space, I should want to spend a lot of time with him as I did when I was a boy, and then a young man.

Monday, August 29, 2011


I'm surprised I've lived this long, when considering the unwise amounts of meat I've eaten in my early life.  All the dietitians I have ever heard talk about the matter have said that red meat it not good for you.  Over the last 20 years or so, I can say that we have cut down enormously on red meat as chicken is so widely available.  It's hard to imagine that as a child chicken was actually a luxury, and rarely available.

One of the treats when eating out in England used to be a mixed grill.  Often served in medium cost restaurants, this dish is a cardiologist's nightmare.  It consisted, if my memory serves me right of: a lamb's kidney; a small piece of gammon; a piece of steak; a sausage; a small lamb chop; half a tomato, and occasionally a fried egg.  So all the bases were covered.

I actually made one the other evening, minus the kidney of course, as "organ" meat as it's called out here is not easy to get.

When you consider that in addition most of us ate a full English breakfast before going to school, it's amazing that anyone survived beyond our forties.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday's Column - San Bernardino Museum

We have a very good museum in San Bernardino.  It is split into several parts but perhaps the most intriguing is the floor devoted to birds.  They have the fifth largest collection of bird's eggs in the world here, but also every type of bird is on display.  If you try and find a Mountain Chickadee in the wild you are going to have to look very hard for it.  They are quite small and blend in, but their whistle is unmistakable - it's a little like the opening stanza of "We're in the Money."  I often wondered what they looked like and it was here at the museum that I found out.  Now I can spot them clearly, although rarely up in the trees.

When I was there last one of the other things that drew my attention was this replica of an odometer used by covered wagons when they traversed the country in the 19th century.

It had never occurred to me that they had a way of calculating the distance they had traveled, and it must have taken some sort of genius with numbers to work it all out.  (I bet my friend in England, Paul, could do it as he's always helping my out with my poor math skills.)

Outside the building they have a huge steam locomotive to remind us of the days of even more expansion, and in the basement you can stand up next to a polar bear; truly one of nature's most fearsome creatures.

They work hard at the museum to keep it an interesting place to visit and I always look forward to my regular trips there.

You can read the entire column as always at

Music Track - Ravel

My thanks to Richard and Rosie for sending me this piece, which is self explanitory.

Maybe we could get a flash mob going at Stater Brothers - perhaps in the produce section!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


The other day I was walking down a local road and found myself behind two fathers with two little boys in tow.  Now, I'm not very fond of children in general as I'm never sure quite what to do with them, or say to them.  They are in a different world and most of the time I can't figure out what the hell they're doing.  It's only when they get close to an adult view of things that I can relax with  them.  Once they reach say about 12, I find them quite interesting and even amusing.

But these two little boys were really cute and I asked one of the fathers how old they were: "Just coming up to three," was the reply.  I told them to take plenty of photographs as the time goes by so quickly.  My children are now 48, 47 and 37.  It doesn't seem possible!
Next week, we have our grandson, Evan, coming up.  He used to spend weeks with us here every summer, but this year, at age 16, it's just four days, but we shall enjoy it nonetheless.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I hope all my friends on the East Coast are keeping their heads down.  I can't imagine what it must be like to await a huge storm like the current one barrelling north.  Out here we have earthquakes and fires to worry about, but not storms. 
About nine years ago, Yvonne and I were in Puerto Rico and we were due to leave as a hurricane was coming in.  By the time we left San Juan, all the shops were boarded up and all the shutters were down.  We got out, but the turbulence on the ascent was not something either of us enjoyed or wish repeated. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jet Man

My friend John in England sent me this clip.  It's pretty amazing.  It takes 5 1/2 minutes and you'll have some great views of the Grand Canyon.  One of the  comments was that this man is certifiable, but he seems to know what he's doing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Selling - Part II

I had my 30th birthday in New York.  I had won a sales competition and that was the prize; to attend a big conference there.  It was a turning point in my life.  Unlike British companies, whose managing directors were usually engineers or accountants, it appeared that all the CEO's of US companies were salesmen.  If they hadn't exactly come out of the ranks, they called themselves salesmen.  It was very refreshing.  I was offered a job and accepted, but the process of acquiring a green card was so long I had almost forgotten about it 15 months after it became available.  By then I was chasing a new position back in the UK

About this time I met a man who was a senior veterinary surgeon for the government.  During a conversation about our various jobs, I had used one of the old euphemisms for selling, like "area manager," and he said: "Oh, you're a company representative!"  I admitted it.  To which he told me this: "Soon after I left university, I was in a hotel with my old professor, and I noticed a number of extremely well dressed young men around. (this was in the days when there were virtually no women in the work force outside secretaries - sorry, ladies!)  I mentioned to my professor that maybe they were shooting a film there as there were so many of these smart young men.  He said no, they were company representatives to which I replied: 'Oh you mean they're just salesmen!'  He then said that I had underestimated their positions, as in fact they were hand-picked to represent their companies, rather like ambassadors.  He then said that the best person to represent a company was the managing director, but usually he was too occupied with so many other duties that he had to have personal representatives to do it for him.  So these men were chosen for that role."

I have had many young men and women join me for selling careers, and since that day I have always told them about this conversation I had so many years ago.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I'm getting more American, I think.  For several years I rather avoided football as I couldn't quite understand what was going on.  But over the last decade, I've become more interested in it.  It is, after all, barely concealed violence which I think is in our genes - well, the male ones at least, although a certain young lady did turn me on to the Philadelphia Eagles, who have a history of declared brutalilty.

I don't have a serious team as I've never quite bonded with one, so I have a certain purist attitude to games that appear on TV.  I've never been to a professional match although shortly after arriving here I did go with my sons and some others to the Rose Bowl to see a game between two local colleges.  We gave up after about half an hour as we didn't know the rules and there seemed to be no real fun going on.  Big men - or youths - sat around and then occasionally got up and ran around for about a minute, whereupon they went and sat down again.  Seemed pointless.

My son Simon is a diehard Raiders fan, and has no interest in any other team, which precludes watching any other matches, which I think is a shame.  Sadly the Raiders have done badly for some years now so there's little celebration in Simon's house during the season.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Music Track - Schumann

This is a performance of Horowitz playing Traumerei, by Robert Schumann.  It's a piece from Scenes from Childhood and it means "Dreaming."  It takes place in Moscow in 1986, and there was a lot going on in the USSR at that time, which no doubt created the emotional condition of the audience.  It's a piece I well remember my father playing when I was a child.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday's Column - Pharoahs

It's been a few years since I passed through the splendid door of Pharaoh's - San Bernardino's very own amusement park.  Over the years lots of plans have been made to upgrade this facility to make it even more interesting.  One season it hosted "raves" which caused the locals to get in a tizzy.  Today, the plans are more concrete and entail turning the site into an even bigger water themed park to make it the best in the Southland.

I met the president, Dave Simon who used to be with Disney and also ran the San Dimas water park, Raging Waters, so he certainly has the experience.  You can read the entire column at

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Many thanks to Derek Hermon, the owner of Bear Valley Bikes, for taking time to drag my old bones around the 15 miles plus of the lake to shave a generous two minutes off my best time.  It makes a huge difference following a professional racer and from time to time getting into his drag.  He said the best distance was to be between one and two inches off his back wheel - Phew!  A little too close for comfort at speeds of around 25 miles per hour, but it made a huge difference when I managed it.

The final climb up Red Ant Hill was a little more that I wanted, but it had to be done as his business and our start and finish point ended at the top - a sort of miniature Alp d'Huez!  For those keeping score we came in at 52 minutes 45.3 seconds.  This picture is just before the off.  Once again. Thanks Derek!  And also for the snazzy jersey!

Friday, August 19, 2011


These damned birthdays come round a little too quickly!  Today, I've hit another one and I've had so many that I've reached that age that should I have a cake, which I shall not, I'm only allowed one candle as the correct number would present a fire hazard!
However, I've decided to celebrate - if that's the right word - by cycling around the lake.  Furthermore this is to be a group effort to try and knock some time off my previous record, which is 55 minutes and 3 seconds.  Checking back I note that this was in 2002 when I was a mere wisp of a lad of 63.  But today, instead of going it alone, I have a team effort going on.  Our local professional cyclist, Derek Hermon, who owns Bear Valley Bikes has often said that with good pacing I could do better, so he's put together a "train," to help the old man get round.  We start at his shop at the top of Red Ant Hill, which means I have to ride there uphill to begin!  I shall report on progress tomorrow.  Regardless of the outcome, there will be a few pints downed tonight!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Like most Europeans, who had not visited this part of the world before, when I came here I had virtually no knowledge of Mexicans.  My total cultural understanding was limited to Speedy Gonzales, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass - not quite an in-depth knowledge!
Thirty years ago I thought all Mexicans were like this!

The fact is that Mexicans are a huge part of Californian culture and most of them are a real asset.  Far from spending all their time sitting under huge hats and blankets sleeping, they usually work extremely hard.

We recently needed the trim on our house repainted and I used a young man whom we knew from previous experience.  He spent several evenings coming along, fitting us into his work schedule, as he had other jobs in the area.  Firstly he really sanded down the wood, which had a lot of old paint and stain on it.  Then right up until it was too dark to continue, he kept putting on several coats, explaining to us how it would turn out.  In the end he put four coats on before he collected his check.  It was a first class job and I shall certainly use him again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sales 1

Like many young men of my generation, once I left school, I totally lacked any idea what I wanted to do with my life.

There wasn't anything that really appealed to me and so I drifted into that "mecca of the unskilled," selling.  In fact I carried a bag for the next 40 years in one way or another.

In the UK, selling was a "profession," that was not generally respected although as everywhere else, everything we buy has at some stage to be sold.; if not in whole at least in part.

In order to cover up this slight distaste for job, a number of different nomenclatures were used for the term.  Area Representative, was popular; as too Sales Engineer, or even Area Manager, to avoid the nasty term altogether.

Of course, the type of product one represented was important in this ever difficult class conscious world.  Naturally if it was brushes door-to-door you were at the very bottom, whereas if it was heavy equipment or power stations, you were at the top.  I wandered into somewhere about the middle, although I did drop down a couple of times, and was rather bad at it.

It was my first trip to America that put a different spin on to it all, and a few months afterwards, I was given a lesson in understanding of the role of selling that made me sit up and take notice.  See next week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


During part of my wandering around the Internet the other day I paid a call on a city some 55 miles from Madrid.  It is Segovia, and I used to go there many times to get out of the capital.

At the entrance to Segovia, stands this incredible piece of engineering.  It was built 2000 years ago and is the aqueduct that carries water over the sharp little valley of the city.

The Romans had come up with the keystone which is how the arches stay up, and they didn't use any mortar.

Day to day, traffic rumbles through these huge arches, and still it stands.  I don't know what sort of maintenance is carried out, but I suspect it's minimal.  And to think they did it all without building codes or planning departments with their intrusive inspectors!

It's easy to forget the great age of this structure, but I always used to spend a moment looking at it before I went off to find my favorite watering hole.  An interesting place and a wonderful time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Bless you!"

The other day, I was in a small local shop and I let out a sneeze.  The owner, who is an Arab, said "Bless you!"  It made me smile.  As there was nobody else in the store, and he and I know each other slightly, I asked him if he knew the reason for saying "Bless you," after somebody sneezed.  He wears a crucifix, but I don't know if that's to cover his real religion, but it's of no importance.  Most Americans have no idea why they automatically say "Bless you," or the German or Yiddish term "Gezundheit!"

A Google search will show up that nearly every culture says something after a sneeze - even the monks in Tibet.  However I've always been told by those who know that the origins in Christian countries go back to between 1348 and 1350.  It was then for the first time that the Black Death swept through Europe and killed between 30% and 60% of the population.  It seems that the beginning of the plague was a sudden sneeze; this was followed by an outbreak of boils usually around the torso or the legs or arms.  It was mostly fatal after just a few days.

The nursery rhyme says it all: 
Ring a'ring of roses (Reference to the red boils going around you)
A pocket full of posies (Reference to the bundle of fresh flowers to hold to your nose to avoid the smell of death)
Atishoo, Atishoo, we all fall down (Self explanatory!)

I well remember as a boy little girls skipping to a rope while singing to this.  Amazing that such an innocent song should have such a macabre history.

So the next time you say "Bless you," or have  it said to you, remember how far back the tradition goes - 660 years!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday's Column - Harvey House

This Sunday's column was about the Harvey House in Barstow.  Built in 1911 this was number four in a  chain of 84 "Houses" that Fred Harvey, an immigrant Englishman, began in 1878.  Trains were opening up the country, but there was no method for travelers to refresh themselves on the long journeys.

The building has just been re-opened as a headquarters for the local Chamber of Commerce and upstairs is a small exhibit of the original furnishings.  The station master's suite contains a bathroom, where in 1929, Winston Churchill took a bath.  He didn't stay there, just took a bath, and I was tempted to take a picture of the actual tub, but it was a little too cramped.

The Barstow Harvey House closed it's doors in 1959, but kept the restaurant running until 1970.  Two trains a day stop at the unmanned station - the South West Chief to and from Chicago.

You can read the entire article at

Music Track - Elton

Time for a little rock and roll, folks.  And this one does rock.  It's from the 70's and it's hard to fault.  It's from Caribou by (Sir) Elton John.  I can't really get used to that title.  Doesn't seem right somehow.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I've been lucky to spend some time in Denmark and I always enjoyed going there.  There is something about the Danes that is very civilized and sensible.  In fact on one occasion, knowing that she was from Scandinavia, I asked the girlfriend of a contact of mine if she was Swedish.  He took me to one side later and said, that I should never ask a "Scandy" that.  Better you should ask if they are Danish.  All the other Scandinavian nationals will be flattered that you should think them Danish, and of course, the Danes will be pleased.

I think one of the best examples of Danish savoire faire is the "Chamber of Commerce" in Copenhagen.  On my first visit I was taken to this place in the center of the city by a very smart man who used to be an aide to one of Denmark's admirals.  It was not quite what I expected.  It was a large club-like place with a long bar and a great number of attractive women in long evening dresses.  It was in fact a clip joint - the best in Copenhagen - and it was called the chamber of commerce, as the "ladies" became cheaper as the night went on.  My escort kept a very tight rein on me, although he didn't really need to do so.

Friday, August 12, 2011


You'd think that at my age, I would have got the sizing of my frame pretty much down.  But to add evidence to the saying "There's no fool like an old fool," the other day I made a mistake when purchasing underpants.
I found a set that I liked and went ahead and bought two packages.  There were of a rather expensive brand, and I foolishly bought LGE rather then X LGE, and then when I got home, I tore off the wrappings, and put the things in my drawer.
The first time I put them on I thought they were rather snug, but having laid out the expense, I persevered.  I tried another pair the next day, and then hoped that washing them would loosen them up a bit.  It was not to be.
I have to say that wearing tight underpants for an entire day is not to be recommended.  There is a claustrophobic feeling that is constantly with you.  Also there is a tendency to wriggle around and even try an adjustment "down there," when you hope people are not watching you.  There is also an enormous relief when it's time to put on the night attire - too much of a relief for it to be natural, if you know what I mean.  Eventually I had to face up to the reality of the situation and throw them away.  I didn't have the gall to even think about trying to return them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I feel very sorry for the folks in Texas who are enduring a terrible heatwave at the moment.  It always gets hot down there, but this year it's been brutal.
Some years ago I had to go to Austin in the summer and it was hot there too.  When I finished my appointment, I went to the airport to catch a flight to Houston where I was to go directly back to Los Angeles.  My flight had been cancelled and there was none other that day that would connect.

Houston, Texas

I always carried a small atlas of the US with me on my travels and I looked at the distance between Austin and Houston - about 150 miles and I had 3 hours before the flight.  If I drove like a European, I could make it and still catch the plane; I rented a car.
I was making pretty good time and after about an hour I stopped at a small village.  It was very green and there were cattle grazing out in the fields.  I had of course, been cocooned in air-conditioned comfort, but when I opened the door all that stopped.  It was one of the hottest experiences I have ever had in my life.  It must have been at least 100 degrees, with almost 100% humidity.  I actually ran from the small shop where I'd bought a soda, and threw myself back in the car.  It's something I've never forgotten, although I always have fond memories of the lone star state.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Riots in London

Beware the power of the mob - once started it's hard to control
I am sure people must be amazed at the rioting in London.  I have been asked about it a lot.  Here is a report regarding riots. "London was the scene of the worst riots in English history.  Chapels, prisons, and  hundreds of houses were burned to the ground; drunken toughs and gangs of apprentices and prostitutes terrified and molested the inhabitants; thousands of troops with orders to act at their own discretion were called in; at least 700 people died and the damage was incalculable." 

This is from the fly leaf of a book I have on my shelves called King Mob.  It's about the riots of June 1780.  After the revolution in America, France too took matters into its own hands with the terror and the grand terror in 1794.  People all over the world were ready for change.  But beware what you wish for.  And remember: Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!  The more things change the more they stay the same!
For a fuller explanation of the situation in the UK, this is an article from the Daily Mail's Max Hastings which tells the story of how we got to this place.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


From time to time I quite enjoy a Guinness.  They've got the canning of this pretty well down these days, but it wasn't always the case.

In my early drinking days, Guinness, was a tough thing to swallow.
With so many Irishmen in England however, there was a regular call for their national beer.

The trouble was, and they were the first to admit it, it just didn't taste the same as "back home."

Guinness had a brewery in north London at Park Royal, and they tried really hard to get the flavor right, but it just would not comply.
They even tried trucking in the water from Ireland - the stuff that originated in the River Liffey.  If you've ever seen the River Liffey, you'd wonder about that.

Eventually, some tests were done in a lot of different pubs.  What they found was interesting.  It seemed that in an average British pub, a barrel of Guinness was consumed about once every five days, whereas in an Irish pub they drank a barrel every morning and every evening.  The trick was to drink it as quickly as possible, a bit like Beaujolais Nouveau.

Funnily enough a taste was developed for the bitterer flavored Guinness that was brewed in England.  I think this must be why you can buy it in bottles and also in cans with a small "widget" that puts the fizz in it once it's opened.  The latter is much smoother - take your pick!

Monday, August 8, 2011


There is no end to the amount of time you can waste wandering around the Internet.  A casual enquiry as to the rate for a room in a hotel I used to stay at in Madrid, Spain, sent me over many of the same routes and sites that I became familiar with during the four years I spent visiting and living in this wonderful city.

For instance, this is in El Retiro Park, which is the very center of Madrid.

The Madrilenos take very long lunches and I didn't always have a meeting arranged for that time.

When this occurred, I often used to take a sandwich to this statue - I never did know what it was for as Spanish history is as complex as English, and impossible to absorb in a short period.

I used to enjoy sitting here usually on a folded newspaper, as the stone was quite cold in the winter.

I think this is the central Post Office in Madrid.  (It might also be the Bank of Spain.)  It's typical of the ornateness of some of the architecture.  It's at a junction of traffic called Cibeles, with huge fountains.  It's also the gateway between the old and the new part of the city.

Just up the road is the gate of Alcala, which proudly displays bullet holes and scars from the civil war which took place in the late 1930's.

I was extremely fortunate to have been able to spend so much time here and the memories are still pretty sharp.  I hope to go back someday in the future.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday's Column - Del Mar

Sunday's column was about the racecourse near the sea - Del Mar.  It's the first time I've ever actually been to a grandstand horse race, and I have to say that even though I don't bet (poor arithmetical skills make working out odds almost impossible) it was a great experience.

I was quite unprepared for the sheer excitement as the horses came down the final stretch and although I didn't have anything on any particular animal, I was shouting too - for what I have no idea.
We went on opening day and it was a wonderful event with around 45,000 people dressed up and ready to enjoy themselves.  You better be prepared for plenty of time on your feet though as seating is not easy to find.
The people and the horses were all in very fine condition and you can read the whole column at

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Music Track Brass

I don't know if it's still the same, having been gone for close to 30 years, but there was always a huge tradition in England for brass bands.  Mostly they were in the north, but most small towns had them.  They were manned with miners, shipbuilders, carpenters and other artisans who would fill their cheeks on a regular basis, and then pursue a national crown as being the best in the land.  Usually the competition was at the Albert Hall in London.
I always found the tone of a stringless band rather mournful, but there was no escape as a child, as my father used to like it.  Every Saturday afternoon there was a program on the BBC - Strike Up the Band, I think it was called - which he would play, and the wireless would boom out the plaintiff sounds of cornets, euphoniums and horns.
This track is Nimrod from the Enigma Variations by Elgar, played by the Grimthorpe Colliery Band.  It's about 3.30 long.


Some years ago I saw launched on TV a new idea in transportation called The Segway.  It was demonstrated by the inventor and it looked a very interesting idea.  Just two wheels and a small platform with a sort of joy stick to steer by.  Quite how it worked was amazing as it used gyroscopes to keep it upright and you leaned forward and backwards to make it go in the direction you wanted.

I always fancied a go at one, but there didn't seem to be any way to do that apart from renting one and driving it round a parking lot, which didn't appeal very much.  On our trip to the Safari Park in San Diego, however, they had a tour called Rolling Safari which involved Segways, and I requested that.  Here Mrs. S. is getting instruction from Laurel La, who was our guide for the trip.  I thought Mrs. S. did very well with this new challenge, and after the two-hour tour it was completely second nature to work the machine.  Great fun!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Uncle Jack

My friend Jim, in Pasadena sent me this video.  It's a 17- minute story of Gary Sinese's surprise for his Uncle Jack, who was a navigator aboard a B-17 in WWII.
It's well worth the time to watch it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I was sent this the other day from my friend Don, in Orange County.  In the UK, aprons were often called "Pinnies."
The History of  'APRONS'

I don't think our kids of today know what an apron is.
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material; but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. 
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.
After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the Autumn, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the menfolks knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.
They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on it.

I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.  Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Two Wheels Part IV - The last episode

I'm indebted to my friend Tony in England for this clip of a fellow called Robbie Maddison.  The clip is self expanitory, and along with it came the words, "This guy is nuts."  You be the judge.
It lasts 1:30 minutes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Del Mar

Recently, the acclaimed Mrs. S and I went on a little trip down south.  I had been invited to do an article on the racetrack at Del Mar.  Furthermore, it was opening day there, so hats were to be worn - well, by the ladies.  Brandishing my shield of journalism, I managed to persuade these young ladies to pose for me.  It's amazing what an accent, seriously old age, and some tacky credentials can do to approach pretty young women.  I wish I had known about it 50 years ago!  There were about 45,000 people on the day and of these at least 20,000 were female.  I have to say I have never seen such an incredible array of beauties all together in one place in my life.  There were a few flags thrown on the field of play for ogling!

Monday, August 1, 2011


Like most Americans, if I want a steak I usually go to the local supermarket and either buy the meat out of the cabinets, or have the butcher cut one off for me; take it home and barbecue it.  However, every so often I get the urge to have a steak cooked for me in a restaurant.

The other evening, I decided we should go back to a restaurant specializing in steak.  The last time we were there was at least seven years ago.  It's an OK place, but I never felt it was that good.  There have been several changes of ownership recently and so I though it might have improved.  I was wrong.

The above picture shows the sort of thing I was hoping for, but it fell far short of expectations.  In fact it was the worst piece of meat I have ever eaten in the US.  Perhaps in these dark days of economic news, it reflects the lowering standards all around.  I was not deterred, I took it home and ground it up for a burger, but the experience was a great disappointment. Back to the butcher and the BBQ.