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?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


We had a little panic the other night.  We lost our bar of soap.  No not the one in the bathroom, but the one in the bed.  We had turned the mattress and in so doing forgot the bar of soap that has sat under the bottom sheet for some time now.  In the move it had gone off to the side of the fitted sheet.
Now if you don't know this, soap has some mystery ingredient that keeps away cramps.  Is this really true or just coincidence?  It beats me, but neither of us has had one of those nasty leg cramps that afflict the aged since we insalled the bar of soap. Amazing isn't it?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

I remember the first time I voted.  It was at a school along the road from where we lived in Woking, Surrey.  There were two names on the ballot; one was a managing director and the other was a postman.  It turned out the postman was the Conservative and the MD the Labour candidate.  Naturally we mixed them up as there was no information other than their names and professions.  We marked the ballot with a pencilled "X" against the name with the stub of pencil that was affixed to the desk with a string.  True sophistication!

Now look at the system in California.  Here are two cards about 18 inches by 12; each with stuff on both sides.  And not just one candidate but several.

Here, for instance, is the choice for President; not just the two we all hear about but another five to consider.
The other items are choices for supervisors, school board members, sheriffs and the like.  Also several voter initiatives like Proposition 30, which is put on the ballot by Governor "Moonbeam" Brown.  He wants to tax anyone making over $250,000 p.a. for seven years to pay for schools.  He also wants to increase our sales taxes by a quarter percent.  These measures are just "temporary!"  Of course, nowhere does it mention that they already spend a huge amount on schools for really poor results.  Do they truly think that more money is going to fix a broken system?
Voting here is not for the fainthearted as you can see, and surely we've reached the stage where we need to test people to see if they are capable of the challenge.  Of course, that would mean a lot of stupid people unable to vote anymore, and we wouldn't want that would we?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Video - Russian Scary Ride

I'm grateful to my friend Keith for sending me this.  I must say it's been a few years since I took an amusement ride.  And I don't think I'd go on this one.   A really scary three minutes!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday's Column - Lazy Lizard

For anyone regularly driving up to Big Bear the "back way," that's via Lucerne Valley, must have wondered at one of the signs as the road begins to rise.  The Lazy Lizard is a funny sounding place, and the other day I decided to see exactly what was off to the right hand side of the road.

Plenty of Water a the Lazy Lizard
I met with Jerry Bryant, who has been the owner of the site for the last eight years.  He bought it after selling a ranch the other side of Victorville.  It used to be a stagecoach stop at the turn of the last century and is almost ready to open its doors as a motel, with a wonderful swimming pool.  Unfortunately the authorities are taking their usual time and so for now the only resident guests are horses who board there. You can read the entire article at

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Right Track - Sowell

I have a great deal of time for the Conservative, Thomas Sowell.  He uses logic, which is rarely used on the other side in political arguments.  This is one sent to me by my friend in Florida, Denise.

In case you can't read it with the dark background, Sowell says: "Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."

Tirade - Cartoon

This should perhaps belong on the Right Track, but it's so annoying I've put it here as it says a lot about our current society. My thanks to my friend Geoffrey for sending it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Suits - two

Continuing on with my recollections about men's suits, I should say that having one made for you was not the only way to buy this important part of any man's wardrobe.  I lived in the medium sized town of Watford, north of London.  On it's high street there were perhaps three or four large shops devoted to menswear.  Montague Burton, Weaver to Wearer, and the Fifty Shilling Tailor all come to mind.  These chains were devoted entirely to the sale of suits for men.  There were also one or two smaller shops that did the same thing.  It was a big business.  There were also two department stores, Clements and Cawdells that sold suits as well.  You'd think with so many stores doing this our closets must have been stuffed with suits, but it wasn't so.  Most men had about three or four in various states of wear.
I have no idea if these stores are still around or if they have gone away in the rush for more casual clothing.
Incidentally if you ordered a suit from these stores, they would measure you and the numbers were sent away to Leeds in the case of Burtons.  In a couple of weeks the suit would come back.  The entire thing would be assembled up in Yorkshire and then send out.  They weren't very good!