Tuesday, April 30, 2013


The other day we were out on our normal walk, when not for the first time, I noticed a large discarded can beside the road.  I assumed it had become visible after the snow had melted, and this might well have been the case.

As the unofficial obersturmbanfurers of the district, this can began to bother us and the other day I picked it up to throw it onto a residents yard.  Such trash is then removed when the owner turns up, but at least it's not blowing and being kicked all around the neighborhood.

The can was heavy and on taking off the lid, it was found to contain a number of toys, key rings and little handwritten notes.  These implored those who removed a token to be sure to replace it.

We had found a geo-cache, which is a relatively new phenomenon.  Basically if you have a smart phone with a GPS app, you can play this game of treasure seeking all over the world.  The object is to use a GPS coordinate and then track down the cache.  Once found you take a small token from it, perhaps leave a note and replace the token with one of your own.  Millions of people are engaged in this activity.  You can read all about it at http://www.geocaching.com/
Oh, I replaced the can in a not so obvious place, hidden from view.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Video - Biden's Advice

I'm grateful to my friend Keith for this fun video.

Recently our esteemed VP, Joe Biden, gave some advice on TV to his wife and other women who were scared of being attacked.  He forgot to mention that his wife in her position, is of course, surrounded by armed guards.  "Buy a shotgun," he suggests to her.  "It's a lot easier than an AR-15."  Well, it seems, not so much!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Column

There is no column this Sunday, so maybe my 12 1/2 year run is at a close.  We shall find out eventually.
In the meantime we have a new member of the family - George, a four year old boxer, who is now living with Simon and family in Tujunga.

The rescue service that had him were extremely careful of their choice of new owners.  Over a one month period, George came round for several visits and a couple of overnights.  Eventually after a complete check up and a chip being put in his neck, he was delivered to his new home on Friday.  He seems a great dog and very well behaved.  But boxers can be quite lively and maybe he was a little overwhelmed.  We shall see how he develops.  But in the meantime we're all very glad to have him.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Right Track - Differences

I took this off Facebook.  Someone had posted it there, I don't know who it was.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tirade - Compliments

I don't often find myself supporting the President, but in this case I think it's fair.  He was out here on yet another fundraiser and happened to speak to Kamala Harris, California's Attorney General.  He praised her in many ways and then said: "She also happens to be the best looking attorney General in the country!"  Now it happens to be true.  Ms. Harris is very attractive.  I very much doubt that she objected -  my experience is that attractive people rarely are that prickly. But anyone would have thought that the President had truly insulted her.  The "sexist" label was hurled at him and for several hours in the news cycle the media was all over the comment - as if there was little else to report.  He was forced to call her up and apologise.  Why?  Come on People!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Music Track - Bach

This is a transcription for piano for a piece that is perhaps one of the most famous organ works Bach wrote.  I think it's impressive perhaps for its unpretentiousness.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLFLhzb9xzs
I got into trouble with this piece at school.  When I was about 13 I asked our organist if he could play this.  And he volunteered to do so after morning chapel.  I stayed and listened to it and of course was late to class.  I was sent off to report myself for this offense and my housemaster didn't believe that I would be interested in such a thing. I was rather a naughty boy.  A few minutes interrogation and he realised that under the grime, there was a music lover and I was let off with a caution!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

No Shows

I know some people in the restaurant business, and they tell me one of the worst things they have to deal with is "no shows."  These are people who make reservations - usually at peak times - and then don't show up.  This can leave the restaurateur with the annoying and expensive task of turning others away.  I believe one enterprising owner has found the answer.  He takes the details of the person calling, and then if they don't show up he posts these details on Facebook for the world to see.  There have been howls of disapproval about it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I'm rather fond of crows.  We have a lot of them here hopping around flapping their wings.  Their voices are not too pleasant, but they are quite good fun to watch.  They have developed one skill however that is a problem.  They have learned how to perch on the edge of dustbins and then flap hard and turn the bin on its side in order to get at the contents.  These they will strew around the neighborhood.
We have recently had a new man in the area who leaves his bins out several days before collection, and then goes off the hill.  Neither bin has a lid, and the result is that the crows begin their work.  I told the man that if he was going to do this he needed to have a tight fitting lid.  He ignored me, but the other day he happened to be in the house when his bins were littered all over the place; he had to pick everything up.  As my father was fond of saying: "Experience is a hard school, and only fools learn in it!"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Video - Kites

Many thanks to my friend Paul for sending me this video of a special kite flyer.  He's 80, and deaf.  (Not Paul!) He has one kite attached to his waist and the others in his hands.  It's in Canada and takes about 5 minutes.  The music is the Flower Duet by Delibes. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=nr9KrqN_lIg

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday's Column - Moonridge Zoo

This week we visit Big Bear's Moonridge Zoo. 
Debbie Richardson - Curator of the Zoo

"It used to be called an Animal Park," said Debbie Richardson.  "But we have gone back to the title zoo as it's more easily."  The zoo is due to move its premises in about two years.  Originally it was to re-locate across the lake next to the Discovery Center, but now it's new site is just to the north of the nine-hole golf course.  Currently it's to the south of that facility.  There are about 150 different animals at the park. You can read the entire column at http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_23066730/big-bear-lakes-moonridge-zoo-has-wild-plans

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Right Track - Thatcher

My friend Van in Missouri suggested that I write something about the life of Margaret Thatcher whose funeral it was last Wednesday.  She was a strong proponent of conservative values and as such she created an enormous amount of hatred from her opponents -  hence the undignified "celebrations" seen recently in London.  I came to America in 1982 which was only three years into her time in office and so her UK effects were mostly lost on me.  However, she did stop the annual blackmailing of the country by putting a stop to the unions who regularly held us all to ransom.  Firstly the miners would demand more wages - they already could hardly spend the amount they had - then out would come the dockers, then the electricians etc, etc.  All in "sympathy." Thatcher stopped this lunacy and made it illegal for sympathy strikes.  The country then managed to control its own destiny by taking the power out of the unions hands.  Thatcher stood for freedom which somehow threatens the left; she stood for free enterprise as well, which is seen by the left as somehow immoral, as it allows people to profit from their energies and some to make lots of money.  I was fortunate enough to hear Margaret Thatcher speak sometime in the late eighties, and I consider it to have been a privilege.  R.I.P.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tirade - Trash

Now that the snow has gone we are left with the evidence of some of our visitors' habits.  For some reason they must believe that trash thrown onto snow, vanishes along with the ice. 

I'm afraid that this is not the case and it's possible to see the strewn soda cans and cartons that they have left behind.  Our solution is to pick it up, or throw it into the yards of owners who have rented out their properties to the visitors. 

Of course, it would be fun to collect it and return it to the homes where these tourists live. Come on People!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Music Track - Ella

Does anybody write or sing this type of music anymore?  Music and lyrics are remarkable and of course the singing by Ella Fitzgerard quite stunning. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRxS7Q64xUQ

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


There's nothing like the subject of guns to get the blood racing and the conversation charged up.  On the day after the authorities crowed at their success in getting 2,000 guns off the streets of Los Angeles with a voluntary buy-back scheme, this full page ad appeared in our local paper.
On the same morning, it was reported that some 400 teachers in the state of Utah had signed up for training in the use of firearms.  The L.A. buy-back program which swopped guns for grocery vouchers did bring in a large percentage of old and unworkable weapons, but hey, "we made a difference!"
As for the store selling them in San Beranardino, I rather fancy that Sig Sauer in the middle at under $400!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


There's nothing like these cheerful chaps to make you appreciate spring.

Daffodils are amazing flowers.  They seem to be able to ignore frost and they duplicate themselves.  This little group in our front yard increase each year from the few bulbs we put in nine years ago.  I always enjoy them coming out no matter how cold it gets.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Video - Carlsberg

I'm grateful to my friend, a long distance biker, Denis, for this amusing advert from le Continent!
The producers of this beer commercial borrowed a small 150 seat cinema playing a popular film, and filled 148 seats with rough-looking, tattooed bikers, leaving only two free seats in the middle of the theater. They then allowed theater management to sell tickets for the last pair of tickets to several young couples.
What would you do?  Watch till the end .....


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday's Column - Highland Springs Resort.

Some friends recently visited the Highland Springs Resort in Cherry Valley, and recommended it to me.  I went down and spent some time with Tina Kummerle the President of the place.  It's a very nice place to get away from the urban rush.  It's 2,400 acres of great farmland with olives, rosemary and lavender growing.  They also have a flock of sheep guarded by llamas.  You can read the entire column at http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_23021461/genius-idea-spend-time-at-highland-springs-resort

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Right Track - Stockton

The Californian city of Stockton is trying to become bankrupt.  I'm never quite sure why it's difficult, surely bankruptcy is being without enough funds to pay your bills and furthermore no hope of obtaining them.  However it seems that the city has allowed this situation to happen due to two circumstances.  a) A series of venal politicians who had no interest in the people who voted them in, and b) the public service unions who once again gouged the authorities for more and more money.  Now, I have the greatest respect for fireman and other public servants who are in the line of fire, but isn't $150,000 a year with retirement at 50 with 90% of salary plus full benefits as a pension just a little over the top?
Recently an administrator of a nearby city retired at 50 with a $500,000 a year pension plus full benefits to continue for life.  As the President of the country only gets $400,000 a year pension, isn't that a little too much?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tirade - sensitivity

I know we're all supposed to be a lot more sensitive these days but does anybody think we might have taken things a little too far.  Three items caught my attention the other day.  Firstly a boy was suspended from school - I think he was about seven - for eating his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.  The Maryland legislature has deemed it sufficiently important to introduce a bill to stop any such suspension in the future.  But my thought is what the heck was the teacher thinking?  Secondly, a child was reprimanded, and for all I know suspended, for decorating his cupcakes with toy soldiers.  Good Grief! Finally we have recently awarded a bronze star - about the fifth highest decoration in the military, I believe - for a power point presentation on how to treat Muslims and the Koran!  A Bronze Star?  Come on People!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Music Track - Gabrielli

This is just a minute and a half of very early music - around 1660.  It's Venetian and was composed by Giovanni Gabrielli  It's designed to be played in the great marble halls of worship and you only imagine the echoing that would follow each note.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMgGc7fus2o

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

US Flag

I took my grandson Evan to see the now grounded Endeavor shuttle the other day.  As we went into the hangar that is now its home, he asked me why the flag on the side we were looking at was "the wrong way around."

Now I thought I had managed to convince him that I knew everything there was to know, but this one stumped me and I had to go and ask a nearby docent, who was nearly as old as me.  He told me that in the US any flying object - and this included every plane in the US Air force - had flags that always faced away from the wind direction.  Therefore a flag on the starboard side would have the blue and white stars towards the nose.  You can learn something every day!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Recurring nightmare

Picture this.  You have all your possessions confiscated; you're shouted at by rough uniformed guards, you've no belt so your pants are close to falling off, and you have to clutch them with a spare hand, but not before you are made to stand in front of a device that can see you naked, in case you have some means of escape upon you.  After sniggers from some faceless "trusty" in a booth, you shuffle your shoeless feet off to join the others hunched and cowed in your group to await your fate - perhaps even a personal interview with some butch female with hands the size of shovels, and who in spite of having all the authority in this place, has a serious attitude.

What awaits?  Years behind one of these damp, rusted cell doors in a dank soulless dungeon with nothing but moldy crusts to eat and brackish water to drink?  No, what awaits is Flight 1824 from Burbank to Oakland at 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning.  Good grief!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Video - Spain. Human Towers

I'm grateful to my friend Keith for sending me this interesting video of a town outside Barcelona where they do this sort of thing every year.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday's Column - Darts

This week we cover two subjects, the game of darts and a little history. Did you know that Ann Boleyn gave her then boyfriend Henry VIII a set of darts?
At that time the target was likely to be an upturned barrel and not these modern electronic dart boards.  If you'd like to read the entire column then go to http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_22971325/dart-over-nottinghams-tavern

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Right Track - Gun Video

Normally I post videos on Monday's but this black woman's comments on the 2nd amendment are so good - they take about 3:30 minutes - that I think it belongs here.

Stick with it to the end, and remember the very last sentence that she would speak to her children!  My thanks to Denise in Florida for this inspiring clip.


Friday, April 5, 2013


Just a small post to acknowledge the sad loss of Roger Ebert.  He will be sorely missed.  I always used to read his reviews and they influenced me greatly in the films I wanted to see.  I also often used to look them up after I'd seen the movie, to see how he reviewed them.  I'm now at a loss to find anyone like him.  He'd struggled greatly with most unpleasant illnesses over the last decade.  His was a unique voice, although so sadly he had lost his own in the struggles.

Tirade - knives

I'm constantly amazed at the way bureaucracy functions.  Let's look at the recent decision by Homeland Security to allow knives to be allowed on planes.  I'm glad to see that there has been push-back from flight attendants and pilots about this, but can we understand the mindset of these pencil pushing idiots?  Since the attack on 9/11, we have all managed to survive flights without the need of a knife.  But now for some inane reason we can carry them on board.  What possible advantage is there to overturn a rule that everyone has become familiar with?  About the only people I can think who are pleased with this must be terrorists, who want to cut someone's throat - as in the 9/11 attack.  Come on People!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Music Track - Kenny Ball

Kenny Ball died the other day I think he was 82.  He was extremely popular back in the 60's and 70's.  Here is perhaps his most well known hit.  See if you reconginse it.  I always rather admired the trombonist's sideburns! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn8Os8nig74

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Raccoons - Again

If you check the archives you'll see that I've written about these little devils about four times.  The problem is that they are just so darned cute.  But of course, very aggressive and quite dangerous.  So this winter we had an episode where one, who had obviously remembered a happy event from the previous year, came along in the middle of the night to try and get into a crawl space underneath our bedroom.  I had blocked it up completely so the raccoon's efforts came to naught.  I did catch him on the deck looking around and he ran off.  The other day I sneaked a look under the boat covers, which are due to come off in a few weeks.  I'm damned if they hadn't managed to climb up under the engine well and run around in there.  They are always very good in my boat, and never have one of their infamous "parties," just leaving a calling card or two on their way out.  The fight goes on!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Baseball New Season

The baseball season began yesterday, although many of us aficianados have been watching some of the spring training matches with interest.  Once again The Los Angeles Dodgers have amased a pretty good team and we fans have our hopes up.  Led on by the dulcet tones of Vin Scully in the commentator's box we will hope for the best after last season's disappointing close.  Unfortunately if history repeats itself, come the mid-point and the All Star game, we'll just have to revert to our usual refrain: "There's always next season!"

Monday, April 1, 2013

Video - Bike Ride

I'm grateful to my friend Kevin for this amazing and scary video of a downhill bike ride.

The most exciting bike ride I've never taken. And never will.  Camera on
2nd rider makes you feel like you are there.  Watch at full screen for
maximum thrill.  It takes 4 1/2 minutes.