Monday, December 31, 2012

Video - Mower

As well as keeping Europe financially afloat, the Germans can also engineer some basic tasks, like keeping the roads and streets neat and tidy.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday's Column - Mojave River Forks Musem

This Sunday we visited a small museum in Barstow.  The town gets a bad press I think as it's sort of on the way to everywhere else, but it has five museums that I know of.  This article is about the first of two I went to the other day.
The Mojave River Forks Museum has a varied collection of stuff from years ago and some of it is outside the actual building itself.  This includes a very nice caboose from the early part of the last century.  There is also a collection of artifacts from the days of mining in the area.  It's easy to get to and there is no charge for admission.  You can read the entire article at

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tirade - Cheap Fares

What the heck is with these airlines?  The other day I arrived early at an airport and went up to the ticket clerk who was amusing herself watching people struggle with the "do-it-yourself" computer in front of her desk - they don't check you in any more, just watch you struggle.  I showed her my printed out boarding card, done at home, of course, and asked if I could get on an earlier flight.  She directed her attention to her own screen and punched some buttons.  "There's one in half an hour."  "That would be great," I replied.  But wait.  "Oh, your ticket is a reduced fare one."  This said as if I had a particularly virulent and visible form of venereal disease.  "There's an additional charge for that, I'm afraid."  "Oh really," I said, "what might that be?"  "$125!"  Good grief!
Now what's the idea behind the penalty. Are we supposed to buy more expensive tickets than the ones they advertise so that we can chop and change around?  It seems a little draconian to me.  Come on People!

Right Track - Unions

So let me see if I've got this right.  It now seems that 75% of the money from the stimulus package in Wisconsin went to union jobs.  This kept those people at work and paying union dues.  As unions pay massive amounts to the Democratic party to keep them in power, they naturally support the closed shop.
Now the "right-to-work" laws in 24 states stops this money laundering and allows people to work without joining a union and therefore contributing to a political party they don't like.  It also stops any thuggery.  No wonder the unions are mad as hell.
Ain't democracy a bitch!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Music Track - Carol

As we're still in the heart of the Christmas holiday, here's a rather different take on Carol of the Bells - see if you like it - I rather do!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


One of the best things about being retired is I don't have to deal with traffic.  Well, we do get our local rush hours up here where manic contractors who failed to get up in time are late for their first and then of course, subsequent jobs. Sometimes we get as many as fifteen cars waiting at one of the lights along the boulevard!
The other day however I had to go down to the flatlands and drive right into the heart of the beast.  I had to go along the 91, 55 and 22, for those familiar with local places.  For the others, let's just say it was travelling the biggest Freeways LA has to offer.  It was OK going but then came the return trip which began at 6 p.m.  This is not a good time.
It was fairly harrowing, but good to hone one's skills which had somewhat atrophied over the years.  The traffic was terrible and now in yet another search for funds to pay for overinflated pensions and benefits, the bureaucrats are doing away with car pool lanes in favor of Fast Track lanes that you pay for.  Unfortunately you can't pay for them at the time you need them - only in advance.  By the time I got out of it I was in need of a serious adult beverage!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Harley - R.I.P.

We had a great sadness in the family on Thursday.  We lost our friend Harley - Simon, Caroline and Evan's big dog.  He was about ten.  He was half boxer and half mastiff.  He was a lot of fun and we will miss him greatly.  On one occasion I was staying with them and there was some sort of domestic disturbance next door.  There was a lot of noise of doors slamming and shouting.  I was asleep downstairs, and Harley came down and sat next to me until the noise was quieted  down with the police arriving.  He obviously thought I needed protection.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Video - The Night Before Christmas.

As it really is The Night Before Christmas, this is a very good traditional interpretation of the poem.
My thanks to Denise in Florida for this sentimental video.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday's Column - Christmas

Christmas in Big Bear is almost always the ideal location for such a time - mostly there's snow on the hills and this year is no exception.  We've had quite a lot for this early in the season.
Naturally we have Santa in the Village - he's got Mrs. Claus around to help with all the requests.  I don't remember Santa had a Mrs when I was young, but perhaps with the years he's needed more help than the elves could provide.  We have Bear Valley Stage giving rides and also we now have a new ice rink.  You can read the entire column at

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tirade - Sandy Hook

Once again tragedy has struck a small part of America, and as usual the media has descended on the town in full force.  Once again they are ready to milk the situation and try and glean every bit of emotion out of the grief that the poor surviving parents are enduring.  And do it 24/7!
Then, of course, comes the perpetual question as to why this happened, and then the implication that somehow our 2nd Amendment rights caused it.  "We have to do something," booms the President.  Gun control talk buzzes around the tables of the Sunday morning political talk shows.  "We have to make our schools more secure," says one.  "We need to look at mental health," shouts another. Sadly we have few solutions for the act of a madman.  Because that is what caused it.  Maybe we should start blaming violent video games!  My solution?  Arm the teachers!  The little bastard would have thought twice before going into a classroom that could have fought back!  Come on People!

Right Track - Budget Cuts

My thanks to my friend Don for sending this to me.  It's rather sad in a way.

We are cutting back and you may want to also....
We're going to bite the  bullet !!!!
President Obama ordered the cabinet to cut $100,000,000.00 ($100
million) from the $3,500,000,000,000.00 ($3.5 trillion) federal budget.
I'm so impressed by this sacrifice that I have decided to do the same
thing with my personal budget. I spend about $2,000 a month on
groceries, household expenses, medicine, utilities, etc., but it's time
to get out the budget cutting ax, go through my expenses, and cut back.

I'm going to cut my spending at exactly the same ratio (1/35,000) of my total  budget. After doing the math, it looks like instead of spending $2,000 a month, I'm going to have to cut that number by SIX CENTS. Yes, I'm going to have to get by with $1999.94, but that's what sacrifice is all about.
I'll just have to do without some things.  I'll cut out six cents worth of luxuries, and I'll just have to live without them.
Did this President actually think no one would do the math? How idiotic to only cut $100 million out of a $3.5 trillion budget –  ludicrous!!!!!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

New layout

As we all seem to have survived the Mayan forecast of extinction, it's now the first day of winter, so we have a new layout for the blog.  I hope you like it.

Music Track - Webern

This only takes 4:17 minutes.  But it will strain your ears.  Anton Webern was an Austrian who died in 1945.  He was accidentally shot by an American soldier while enjoying a cigar on the veranda of his house in the woods near Saltzburg.  The soldier, mortified, eventually killed himself due to grief.  Webern was one of the principle exponents of atonal music along with Shoenberg and Berg.  It's tough stuff, and not many people truly enjoy it.  I'm not sure about it myself.  But in the interests of pushing the envelope, here are Five Pieces for Orchestra written in 1911.  As one critic said: It requires the utmost in concentration by the listener.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ear Test

Do you possibly have a diagonal crease across your ear lobes?  This chap doesn't.  It seems that going back as far as 1974, doctors have known about this strange fact, but no one has come up with a reason for it.  In one case, in the autopsies of more than 300 patients who died of cardiac disease, 73% had this ear lobe crease.  There is a Web site where you can see more about this at

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Citroen DS

One of the characters we see regularly on TV drives one of these - A Citroen DS circa 1975.
I only drove one twice (That's "two times" for the less eloquent of you!)  The first time was after a particularly liquid lunch in London with my two colleagues - we had been entertaining our bankers and it was a regular ritual.  Now here I suggest that those with a less than forgiving attitude to alcohol and the law may wish to stop reading as I have a confession to make which might upset you.  Back in the day, it was perfectly normal to go out to lunch and consume quite large quantities of booze and develop happy relationships.  It used to be enormous fun, and I don't regret it at all.  Anyway we rode up to town in this odd car, and I had a fancy to have a go with it.  It had a funny sort of suspension and a single arm holding the steering wheel.  I had no problems and we shot back to the inner suburbs where our office was located.
The next day as we were going out on another trip, I asked again to try it.  It was about 11 a.m. and naturally I was, as the saying goes, clean and sober!  I had a lot of trouble with this thing.  It felt really weird and moved around the road in all types of strange ways.  Which goes to show, if you decide to drive one you better be either French or seriously under the influence.  By the way, I never drive with any booze in me these days - I have S.W.M.B.O. do it!  Ha ha!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We did get our early snowfall just before Thanksgiving this year.  It's amazing how predictable that is.  It's never a great deal but enough to open a couple of the ski runs for the holiday.
Usually we might get another small one a week or so after and then it's quiet until we get into January when we get quite big falls..
This year, the big fall has come early - 13th of December and it's going to be a lot of snow.
Initially we have had the first of three storms to come through and the first amount at our end of the valley was about a foot by ten o'clock in the morning.
Fortunately I have a number of very good tools to clear it when it eventually stops snowing.
I have an electric blower for the deck, a big snow plough for the driveway and a new shovel for some odd bits.
But my favorite snow clearer of all is this one.  Boy is she good!   Often as I'm enjoying a hot cup of chocolate inside my office sheltering from the cold, I can see the work progressing and it's amazing to watch!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Video - Jackie Mason

I have heard it said that Jews make the best comedians and tell the best jokes - certainly about Jews.  So here is on one of the best.  Jackie Mason performing at the Royal Opera House in London.  It takes about six minutes

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday's Column - Cabot's Pueblo

I'm not much of a desert man.  It's too monochromatic for me and also it's damned hot!  But I have to admit there are some interesting places to visit once you leave the mountain top and head a little east and south.
One such place is the amazing place built by one man, Cabot Yerxa.  He became destitute in the 1930's and bought some acreage just outside Palm Springs. Together with his trusty donkey, Merry Christmas, he trudged back and forth to get water each day.  And then he struck water on his own land.  But it was very hot water. Perhaps not what you want in 120 degree weather.
Cabot's Pueblo and Museum
Convinced of the healing qualities he found an investor and then began his great project - building a four story house out of largely discarded materials.  He called it his pueblo.  You can read the entire column at

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tirade - Prank

Am I  the only one getting a little tired of the sanctimonious attitude of the media over this Australian Broadcasting prank that went wrong?  The final straw for me was the tear filled "confessions" of the two DJ's who made the silly phone call to the hospital pretending to to be the Queen of England.  Frankly the female's sobbing performance was worthy of an Oscar nomination.  These two marginally talented people have made a name for themselves by doing this type of stunt before, and I really don't think they could be that upset over what had to be a coincidence.  The woman who committed suicide must have been on the brink to do it - after all she merely put the imposters through to the ward.  I can't see Howard Stern being that upset.  And he is the master of such stuff. Come on People!

Right Track - Arabs

I'm getting a little tired of the situation in Arabia.  And more so by our stumbling around wringing our collective hands.  Now I know we're all supposed to feel everybody's pain in these sensitive times but let's just look at the evidence  here.  These people don't know how to rule themselves.  Surely our experience in Iraq must have shown us that.  We removed a dictator and chaos followed.  Same thing in Libya; same thing in Egypt.  I hope the Pakistanis will forgive me, but it's the same there.  Total disaster!  Now we have good old Basher looking like he wants to gas his people, and that's sent everyone into a panic.  Why?  He'll do as he likes.  For the world of Islam, surely dictatorships are the way to go.  They actually work.  Particularly the really nasty ones.  So let's not get drawn into the tar baby of Arabia again.  They're not like us.  And also let's stop sending them any more money. We can have them hate us for free!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Music Track - Mendelssohn

My father loved Mendelssohn and would occasionally play some of his Songs Without Words.  This is Op 85 Number 4 and is just 2:53 of sheer beauty.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Accident - almost!

I was riding along our North Shore Drive the other morning on my way to an assignment.  Now I don't know what is wrong with this particular two-mile stretch of road, but it seems to me to have more than its fair share of accidents - and many of them with motorcycles.
The speed limit is 40 and I was doing about that when a woman in a red Ford saloon turned out right in front of me.  She was about fifty feet away and at first I couldn't believe she'd done this.  Now fortunately for me Harley Davidson provide excellent brakes on their machines and so I squeezed them both pretty hard.  Unfortunately however, I didn't have quite enough space to stop before I would have hit her.  I therefore pulled over the the crown of the road and would have had to clip a little off the oncoming lane too. 
A truck driver coming towards me saw my dilemma and pulled well over to give me more space, but by then the woman had sped up and I was safe.  She took the next turning on the right - without any signal, of course - and I'm sure she never even knew of my presence on the road.  The truck driver and I acknowledged knowing looks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Interesting Facts - Antarctica

Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country.
Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world.
As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert; the average yearly total precipitation is about two inches.  Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it,) Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The other day I met a man who told me his dog was in fact a wolf.  The animal was outside and it looked pretty tame to me, so I sacrificed a piece of the sausage I was eating and asked the man if I could give it to "Buddy."  He said he would love it.  So out I went to meet him and he was indeed happy with the proffered gift.  He was very tame and I enjoyed being with him.  Now the man had been a personal body guard to some rich client for some time so I didn't want to upset him.  The fact is I don't think it was a wolf at all.  More likely a Malamute, one of which I knew very well some years ago.  Here's a Malamute below, and you can see that he's not much different to the wolf above.

The fact is that wolves are truly wild animals and not domesticated to the point where I would trust them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Video - Happy

My friend Keith has been on a roll. He's recently sent me a couple of great videos for the Monday video track.  This one last five minutes but it's a wonderful thing to enjoy - take the time out of your busy day to watch.  I wonder who picked up this fellow's travel expenses?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday's Column - Wolf Fitness

This Sunday's column is about my local gym - Wolf Total Fitness.  I've been going here for about six months since my other gym closed down.  This is one of the problems with smaller gyms, they just don't stay in business.  Chris Wolfe is an ex-CEO of a large corporation and knows what it takes to stay in business, plus he's a fitness fan himself; running marathons and also boxing.  You can read the entire column at

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tirade - fiscal cliff

I don't know about you but I'm getting a little tired of all this fiscal cliff talk and the blame game that our elected officials like to play with us.  After all it is not us that  caused this problem, it is the very same politicians that got us here.  I would like to suggest that the GOP stop all this procrastinating and allow the Dems to do what they want.  Of course, it would be useful if someone with some common sense explains sensibly what is likely to happen to the job market when we stick up taxes and penalise the achievers - read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for a possible outcome.  It might only take about a year for things to go the way the GOP fears, and then they are in a position to say a very large "told you so!"  However, if taxing the achievers and giving free stuff to those sitting in the wagon, works, then hey, let's all climb back on.  This is not tough stuff to figure out.  Come on People!

Right Track - Fiscal Cliff

Now let's see if I've got this right.  Earlier in the year, both parties were unable to agree on how to reduce our deficit and increase prosperity for all.  The Dems wanted to increase taxes, and cut back on the armed forces and defense overall.  The Republicans wanted to reduce our entitlements which will not last indefinitely in their present form.  The solution at the time was to kick the can down the road until the end of the year, when they will institute an increase in taxes and cut back on defense.  This was referrred to as going over the fiscal cliff, as it was generally believed that the policy would cause a recession.
Now it seems as if both sides are back where they were with no compromise possible.  But wait, if we go over the cliff, the Dems get big increases in taxes, and a reduction in that provocative defense budget - which makes the world hate us - plus an added bonus; all the blame can be put on the Republicans.  As for the economic catastrophe, well if you want to end the unfair practice of capitalism, so that the shining white monolith of socialism can rise up, what better method?  I think we have to accept that the Dems are a lot better at the political game than the GOP!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Music Track - Stravinsky

When this music was first played in 1913, it drove people mad.  One man was taken outside after he had been pounding out the rhythm on the bald head of the man sitting in front of him.  It's still pretty controversial today, and made more so when the female dancer seems to lose her shoulder strap.  The BBC is soon about to put on an erotic music live concert in London, and I think The Rite of Spring is to be included. It takes about seven minutes here to see the entire clip of "the sacrifice."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oregon - Gas Pumping

On our motorcycling trip Michael and I learned an interesting fact.  You can't pump your own gas in the state.  We stopped just over the border in O'Brien to fill up, and there loitering at the pumps was a man whose job it was to pump the gas, as it's illegal for motorists to do it themselves.  However he didn't fancy gassing us up and stood by and let us get on with it.  Filling motorcycles can sometimes be difficult, with those little bellows things and the chance of blow back.  He said, the reason for the law was that the governor of the state's son needed a job as he wasn't too bright!  Do you think he might have been joking?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Punch Ups

The other evening, She Who Must Be Obeyed (S.W.M.B.O.) and I were popping out for a quick aperitif at one of our favorite places.  It was about six and all was quiet.  However as we turned into the street there were about six or seven men brawling.  Now this is not the sort of thing one expects at that hour.  I can't comment on later as I'm rarely out then.  But here we were trying to get down the street and fellows were all over the road.  We eventually made our way through and entered an empty bar - everybody was outside watching or engaging in the fray.  Eventually the sheriffs arrived and made a couple of arrests.  One was of a young man who stupidly tried to hit one of the officers.  Not a bright chap obviously.
What was interesting was that the fight was nowhere near as good as those shown in movies.  There everything is choreographed beautifully, whereas in the real world there's a lot of shouting and pushing, a few wild punches thrown that didn't seem to land anywhere and one torn shirt.  Still enough to get the adrenaline up - particularly for the participants!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I was sent this by my friend Geoffrey.  I think it's rather interesting as well as inspiring.

On Monday, I played the Disney, Lake Buena Vista course. As usual the starters matched me with three other players. After a few holes we began to get to know each other a bit.
One fellow was rather young and had his wife riding along in the golf cart with him. I noticed that his golf bag had his name on it and after closer inspection it also said "wounded war veterans".  When I had my first chance to chat with him I asked him about the bag. His response was simply that it was a gift.  I then asked if he was wounded and he said yes. When I asked more about this injury, his response was "I'd rather not talk about it, sir".
Over a few holes I learned that he had spent the last 15 months in an army rehabilitation hospital in San Antonio Texas.  His wife moved there to be with him and he was released from the hospital in September. He was a rather quiet fellow; however, he did say that he wanted to become good at golf.
We had a nice round and as we became a little more familiar I asked him about the brand new set of Ping woods and irons with which he was playing.  Some looked like they had never been used. His response was simple. He said that this round was the first full round he had played with these clubs.
Later in the round he told me the following.  As part of the discharge process from the rehabilitation hospital, Ping comes in and provides three days of golf instruction, followed by a club fitting.
Upon discharge from the hospital, Ping gives each of the discharged veterans, generally about 40 soldiers, a brand new set of custom fitted clubs along with an impressive golf bag.
The fellow I met was named Ben Woods and he looked me in the eye and said that being fitted for those clubs was one of the best things that ever happened to him, and he was determined to learn to play golf well enough to deserve the gift Ping had given him. Ben is now out of the service medically discharged just a month ago. He is as fine a young man as you would ever want to meet.
Ping, whose products are made with pride here in America ( Arizona ), has the good judgment not to advertise this program.
God Bless America and the game of golf.
Thank you PING !!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Video - more magic

My friend Keith sent me this five-minute video on a magic act in France, I think it is.  I'm not a great lover of such things but this one is easy on the eye.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday's Column - M/C Trip

I'm glad to report that all is back to normal at The Sun and my weekly columns should now be up on the site.  This week is the second part of the motorcycling trip I took a couple of months ago.
After we "turned the corner" in Oregon we headed for Mount Shasta and this was the view as we left that spot.  A wonderful trip all round and you can read the account at

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tirade - Cowboys

I'm not a huge football fan; I have a few teams I quite like, The Cowboys, Raiders and Broncos, but the other day I was watching the last few minutes of a Cowboys game.  It was down to the last five seconds and the Cowboys had 15 yards to go with two downs left.  They were three points behind and so it was pretty exciting stuff.  Tony Roma snapped the ball and then the program switched off to go to commercials.  Along the screen came some rubbish that "contractual obligations" meant they had to go to another game.  And eventually this other game began with time wasting and the usual kick off.  Now by all that's holy what lunatic writes a contract that allows such stupidity?  Five damned seconds for heaven's sake? Come on People!

Right Track - only in America

I'm grateful to my friend Frank for this.  He warned me that it might send my blood pressure up.  Sadly I am aware of most of these foolish anomolies.

TOP-10 "Only In America " Observations ~ by a Canadian:
1) Only in America , could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a$35,000.00 a plate campaign fund-raising event.

2) Only in America, could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal workforce is black while only 12% of the population is black.

3) Only in America, could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner, the head of the Treasury Department and Charles Rangel who once ran the Ways and Means Committee, BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

4) Only in America , can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.

5) Only in America, would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege while we discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just 'magically' become American citizens.

6) Only in America, could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as "extremists."

7) Only in America, could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcoholbut not to vote.

8) Only in America, could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).

9) Only in America, could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded historystill spend a Trillion dollars more than it has per year - for total spending of $7-Million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.

10) Only in America, could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes - be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Music Track - Spell

Here is the old Screamin' Jay Hawkins favorite, see which you prefer - Alan Price  or Nina Simone  Two for the price (no pun intended) of one!
Of course, if you'd like to sample the original artist (!) then here he is.  Good luck!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

If I won the Lottery - three

I think I would like to take up flying.  When I was working I had neither the time nor the cash.  Today, I've certainly got the time.  I don't think I would want anything really flash just a small monoplane like the Beachcraft Bonanza. 

Not a Bonanza but probably a Cessna of some type

Incidentally I wonder if you know that in the flying community the Beechcraft Bonanza is called The Doctor Killer.  Apparantly it's difficult to fly and lots of doctors bought them in the 60's and 70's and were killed.  It's easy to spot with its vee tail and no fin, unlike the one here which is probably a Cessna - they usually seem to be.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Sponsors

We welcome two new sponsors.  You can see their logos on the right.  Wolf Total Fitness which is the best gym in the area by far.  Also Bikernet, which covers all aspects of the motorcyling world.  Visit both of them by clicking on the logos.

Interesting Facts - two

The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen supply.
The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States .

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Endeavor's new livery

Recently we had the space shuttle Endeavour arrive in Los Angeles at LAX.  It stayed there until they could remove enough trees and lamposts to tow it to the Science Center in South L.A.  It travelled at two miles per hour overnight, and was slow enough for some additional decorations.  It did after all go through "the hood!"  Thanks to Kevin for sending me this funny picture.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Video - Forklift

I'm grateful to my friend Keith for sending this to me - it takes about two minutes and shows how to operate a forklift truck with dexterity!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday's Column - Camping

I remember my father's oft quoted words when I was just starting out in life: "Trevor, remember, no one in industry is indispensible!"  Well, sadly I have found out that one young lady's presence at The Sun is indespensible in getting my weekly column on their Web site.  This young lady has been on vacation and it seems she's the only one who knows how to do it. 
This was one of the places we stopped - Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.

It appears that she has returned and so you can read the column at

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tirade - Texting

The other evening at our favorite watering hole there were three young men with three girls.  The girls were sitting together as were the men.  All the girls were texting on their cell phones, and ignoring their dates.  We got talking to one of the young man and mentioned it.  He said it was quite normal behavior these days.  In fact he was on a first date with some girl and she sat in front of him and texted all the time she wasn't ordering from the waiter.  The result was he excused himself and left the table never to return.  Later she asked him why he'd left her - by text of course.  I'm not sure what his response was.  Mine would have been pretty tough.
So now do we have to teach a new rule of etiquette - is this a date with cell phones or without cell phones?  Come on People!

Right Track - Thanksgiving

Part of Thanksgiving that is not taught in schools is that the pilgrims on the Mayflower formed the Compact, which originated from the bible.  William Bradford's account shows that the 40 pilgrims intended to equally share the common store with equal shares for all.  In other words socialism!
During their first winter many died and the colony was almost ruined.  The ablest bodied saw no reason to extend any further efforts than the laziest.  In other words long before Marx, America's first settlers tried out socialism.
As a result of this failed experiment, William Bradford, who became the first governor, allocated one plot of land to each settler, thereby releasing the power of the free market.
Bradford wrote of the first experiment: "The experience that was had in this common course, and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing - as if they were wiser than God.
"For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.  For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work other men's wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Music Track - Piaf

Last week I put a classic track up of Marlene Dietrich.  This week another artist from the same time but from France and not Germany.  Edith Piaf was known in her own land as The Sparrow.  She was tiny and learned her skill as a child singing in the alleyways of Paris for pennies (sous) to be thrown down to her.  In this track it is her voice but the clip is from the movie called "Piaf."  "I regret nothing," is the translation.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

If I won the lottery - two.

I used to play a game with young people with this question: What would you do if I gave you a couple of million dollars?  They would always say things like "I'd buy a big house."  I then would say; well I've thrown that in with the money.  Then they would say "Oh, I'd buy a Ferrari," and I say I'd thrown that in as well.  Down the list we would go and it always used to stump them once all their material wishes had been granted.  I think it is an age thing.  But I have to say that there is perhaps one little - or should I say big - thing I would buy if I won the lottery.

Some time back I listed some of my favorite cars and this was among them.  Mine was the hard top version.  I would dearly love to own one again.  But more importantly have the room to store it and also maintain it, as I have no idea - only how to drive it! Oh, it's a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado, by the way.  Magnificent example of American automotive engineering. What a beauty!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Interesting facts

My friend Kevin sent me an email the other day with a lot of interesting facts.  Unfortunately with these types of things, one tends to read it quickly and move on.  But some of the facts were quite new to me.  Here is the first one.

Did you know that Alaska has more shoreline than the rest of the USA put together?  But does that include Hawaii, I wonder?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Video - Flagman

Some people think that patriotism's bad and some people think that patriotism is dead.  My friend Kevin sent me this video which in this case certainly proves both thoughts wrong.  It takes about 2 1/2 minutes to find out why.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday's Column - Laband

The San Bernardino Sun is moving its headquarters to the center of the city.  In the process, they seem to have been unable to put my weekly column on line so you are unable to read this week's effort.
It was about a visit to the Laband gallery which is located in the Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, near LAX.  At the time I visited, they were hosting an exhibition by a Japanese artist who uses the entire floor area to make seascape designs of salt.
One of the interesting things about university galleries is that they do show some of the most extreme forms of art around, and this was no exception.
Moto Yamamoto producing his seascape out of salt

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Right Track - Ineptocracy

Sent to me by my friend Jim in Pasadena.

INEPTOCRACY (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy)-a system of government where
the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of
producing, and where the members of society least likely to
sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and
services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing
number of producers.

Tirade - Petreus

Once again one of the powerful and influential has been caught with his pants down - literally!  General David Petraus has admitted to an affair and resigned from his post as chief of the CIA.  However having covered the story, the media now considers it fair game to dig and dig for more and more sleaze.  Would that they showed the same zeal in digging for information on our esteemed president!  But no, there is nothing titillating about an academic career and an odd birth certificate and old girl friends etc. etc.
So now for the next conceivable future we are to be bombarded about what went on between two consenting adults and what will happen to the wife who has shared 37 years of marriage with this man.  So a powerful man has had an affair!  Is this really news now that he's done the decent thing?  Come on People!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Music Track - Marlene

I saw an old WWII movie the other evening.  Marlene Dietrich was in it and during the playing of this song, she explained that although it was played by both sides in the war, the German version was far more poignant.  Here it is in German sung by the great lady herself.  If you care to hear the English version sung with her customary clear diction, try Vera Lynn's.  It's on the same U-Tube page

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Having just written three posts about men's suits, I got to thinking about some of the other oddities that we used to wear when I was a lot younger.  So this post is about collars.  Most men up until the late sixties kept separate collars in their wardrobes.  Now in these days it's hard to imagine that shirts were often worn for several days at a time.  In fact often for seven.  In order to preserve the appearance of freshness the collars were removable and usually very stiff.  In the UK there was a company called Collars of Wembley, whose entire business was to collect a box of seven collars from a house, launder them and return them a week later while collecting another batch.  You therefore had to have 14 in order for the system to work.  The collars were attached to the shirt by a front stud - usually quite long - and a back one which was much shorter.  They were extremely smart, if a trifle restricting.  I can only image the horror if I were to try and get my 17 year-old grandson to wear one today!  I believe that separate cuffs were sometimes worn in the past too.  However even I, at my hugely advanced age, can't remember them.
The only wearers of collars these days!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Road Runners

We spent some time recently at our vacation home.  It's at the other end of the valley and is a totally different atmosphere from the pine filled alpine setting we normally live in.  At Baldwin Lake it's high desert and even the fauna changes.  We have rattlers there and the birds are different too.

A Road Runner on grass - not its normal surface

While I was there one day sitting on the deck I saw a Road Runner cross in front of me.  I've never seen one before up here, although they are often around in the lower desert locations.  They are funny looking.  About 2 1/2 feet from beak to tail end they are somewhat scruffy.  They don't fly much as they're not very good at it, but they can run with a top speed clocked at about 26 m.p.h.  The bird I watched ran one way and then another; I waited but there was no Wile E. Coyote behind him!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

End of Summer

It may have happened officially some time back, but the real alert for the end of summer is when the boat comes out.  This year I decided to go mean and wrap it myself, after it was steamed cleaned.  Up here, we have to plan for snow and sometimes quite a lot of it, so there's no use throwing a tarpaulin over and hoping for the best.  So here is the first stage - a skeleton of wood and fiber tape.
Please note the little Styrofoam pads on the tops of the uprights as they stop the tarp from coming through.
Almost finished, we just need to put a little duct tape on some of the seams.  Other than that we're ready for winter.  Bye-bye summer!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday's Column - Bus Rides

If you're tired of doing all the driving to reach some of the places I write about, then why not climb aboard a nice air-consitioned bus and have some else do all the work. The City of San Bernardino runs bus trips to interesting places about five times a year and they are very well organised.  There is one coming up next Saturday to the little town of Julian.  You can read all about the upcoming trips and get all the details at

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tirade - parking lots

Is it just me or are parking lots becoming more and more dangerous?  Let's face it out on the highway we have a lot of rules that most of us obey.  But in the shopping parking lot, it's total anarchy.  It's every man and woman for themselves. Cars come at you from every direction and pedestrians who were a few moments ago motorists themselves, or about to become so, become enemies of vehicles, and walk aimlessly about in front of moving cars with impunity.
The other day I saw a man drive in front of another and both were determined it was their right of way.  It was quite amusing for us bystanders as tempers were lost and rude gestures thrown.  Can someone come up with some rules, please.  Come on People!

Right Track - Results

The results are in and it shows that the USA has decided it wants to join the other parts of western civilization and go socialist.  As a staunch conservative I naturally regret this having lived under socialist rule for some time.  I came to the USA to get away from it and yet now it has become the desire here.  More people now want to be taken care of than do it for themselves.  As the government expands, it is well to remember that it is only reducing the opportunity to grow the private sector and therefore its ability to produce wealth.  Eventually therefore there will not be as much money to go around and standards will fall.  As life is no longer like it was in the 50's and 60's it will never be the same again from now on for most people.  We shall wait and see.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Music Track - Barry

The other week I posted the theme song for the new James Bond Picture - Skyfall.  It had definite overtones of John Barry's original theme and got me to thinking about the great British movie composer who died in 2011 at age 77.  Here is a clip from a movie I've never even heard of, Fred and Cyd

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Suits - three

The final post about men's suits is about their care and handling.  It was generally believed that having the suits dry cleaned ruined them.  The best way was to have them "sponged and pressed."  This meant dabbing at them with a wet sponge and then applying a hot iron over a damp cloth.  It certainly revived any tired fibres.  But the truth of the matter is that over time, and this could mean years, the suit took on all the pollution that was in London's air.  Everybody smoked, including the wearer, there were coal fires and lots of exhaust fumes covering a suit every day it was worn.  But having it dry cleaned seemed to knock the stuffing out of it.  In truth all the pollutants were removed giving it an unaccustomed soft feel which men thought had altered it in some way.
One firm, University Tailors, had a business where they would call once a month, take away the suit, repair any small tears, replace any broken or missing buttons and care for it.  I used them for a year and they certainly helped with my suits.
I wonder what they did to stay in business, when everybody opted to wear jeans every day?