Thursday, October 31, 2013

Music Track - Segovia

This week's track is a short tribute to two of music's great talents.  J.S. Back and Andres Segovia  - Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Campsite Sight

On what was to be my last camping night this season, I was sitting in my fold up chair listening to my iPod and generally communing with nature, the way you're supposed to do while camping.  Along came this bride in full regalia and was about to enter a trailer parked across from me.  I took my camera and asked if she minded if I took a photo as she was so beautiful.  She sportingly agreed.  She was rather pretty and the occasion I thought demanded a shot.  (Being a very old man I can now approach young women with some degree of impunity!) After all you don't see people dressed like this in a campsite very often if at all.  She soon appeared with her two children.  I never saw the groom.  Does anybody get married these days without their children in attendance?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I've never had any real respect for actors.  It always seems to me that most of them just play themselves when they go on screen.  Perhaps Alec Guiness was an exception. But Sinatra, John Wayne and most of the others who were lauded in Hollywood just seemed to me to be themselves, and I've often thought I could do just as well.
I went along to see Captain Phillips the other day and found it a pretty good film.  In the final scene when Tom Hanks is rescued from his ordeal, he is taken to the sick bay on board the US Navy ship and looked after by a nurse.  He is in a great deal of shock and seeing him handle this and try and recover from it, made me realise that it was something I could never do.  Hats off to Mr. Hanks!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Video - Rainbow Mountains

This is not a real video but a series of photographs you have to click through.
I'm grateful to my friend Kevin for these wonderful shots of a place I had never heard about before.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sweeney Art Gallery - Sunday's Column

This week we visit downtown Riverside, which has become quite the center of culture with five sites to easily walk to.  This includes historic Mission Inn, but initially we begin with the Sweeney Art gallery, which is showing an exhibition by New York artist, Amy Myers, whose large scale paintings are worth spending some time with.  Unfortunately my stupid program won't allow me to rotate Ms. Myers so you'll have to twist your head.  You can read the entire column at

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Right Track - Ben Stein

I'm grateful to my friend Bob on the East Coast for this piece of insight by the great Ben Stein. It says it all.  I was also sent the same cartoon by Denise down in Florida.  Also Geoffrey in S/Bernardino.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tirade - Liberals

The other day I got into a discussion with a liberal.  I try to avoid this as much as possible but from time to time, in spite of keeping away from such nests one falls in.  It was extremely frustrating as he was very cross about my positions.  I didn't give it a lot of thought until I heard someone quote the late great William F. Buckley.  He said: "Liberals claim to want to hear opposing viewpoints; then they are shocked and offended that there are opposing viewpoints."  I shall try to remember that in future, in the meantime, Come on People!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Music Track - Adams

I don't put a lot of modern "Classical" music on the Music Track as it can be quite hard to tackle.  But this piece is quite good fun.  It's A Short Ride in a Fast Machine by John Adams and it was written less than twenty years ago.  It's typical of Adams with its chugging rhythms - no doubt influenced by Stravinsky.  It lasts 4:27 mins and the animations are quite good to go along with it

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Wall - part 3

The wall is arranged in order of the casualties.  In other words the height of the wall is greater in the middle of the war and less at the beginning and the end.  Here is the final panel of the dates when the conflict ended -  just five names.  How tragic for their families to have this sad notoriety.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The other day a friend was having trouble starting his motorcycle.  "It's the damned battery," he said.  I assumed that soon we would be making a stop at one of those motor supply shops that sell stuff.  But no, it wasn't what I thought.  It seems that Harley now produce key fobs so sensitive that if they are more than five feet away from the bike, the machine will not start.  The battery he was referring to was in the key fob and when it runs down the bike is neutralized.  Fortunately he had a spare with him and it was only moments before he replaced the offending small disc.  Problem solved.  But what if he hadn't got a spare?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Video - Bear Hunt

My friend Norm sent me this video.  It's about 5 minutes long but if you've not seen it before, it's fascinating.  How did they film this?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Keller Peak - Sunday's Column

We're supposedly in the middle of the fire season, but I think with a very early snow - about ten days ago - we might have actually dodged the bullet.  But nonetheless we can be sure that the people of Keller Peak are hard at work watching down from their high towers up in the San Bernardino Mountains.  There are several of these towers around the area and all manned by volunteers.  You can read the entire story at

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Right Track - Notices

I'm grateful to my friend Denise for forwarding this to me.  The subject had only vaguely crossed my mind before I saw it, but it shows the power of the bureaucracy.  It doesn't even matter which lot are "in" as it could be on either side. 

I have worked in the government on and off for 40 years. During that time I became quite familiar with requisitions, bidding, awarding contracts etc. It is a time consuming process with bean-counters and pencil-necked bureaucrats every step of the way. The simplest request takes months not days or hours.

In less than 8 hours of the shutdown, miraculously, professionally printed 3X4 foot signs appeared all over the country in the tens of thousands saying-“this [park, facility, etc. with custom logos] closed due to government shutdown.

There has not been a government shutdown in 17 years. These signs were designed, specifications were determined, signs were then requisitioned, bids were posted and vetted, government contracts were awarded. The materials were then ordered and the signs manufactured then distributed U.S. Mails or freight companies. This shutdown was orchestrated and planned well in advance at least 6-8 months ago. Millions of tax dollars were appropriated and spent in this process.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tirade - Hugging

One of the first Tirades I posted was about hugging.  It solicited a number of comments and most of them suggested that in some way I was not getting into the spirit of modern communications.  The fact is that I'm not alone, and to quote a recent article on the subject, like the writer I find it a deeply unpleasant experience.  It's an invasion of personal space and frankly it verges on a form of personal assault.  Furthermore I believe it achieves no more than the traditional handshake of previous eras.  I can tell you that having been grasped by a total stranger on the first meeting (the guy runs a wool shop so what can you expect) I have become very wary of people - particularly men - who believe it is their right to grab me at an inkling.  Within the aforementioned article was a note that the worst of these modern invaders of personal space is none other than Bill Clinton.  It seems that once he has your hand it is almost impossible to break free of the next move, the all enveloping man hug.  It is something to be experienced it was said.  How awful.  Perhaps I should form a society of non-huggers with a very prominent badge of two embracing people in a circle with a red line across them.  Come on People!
N.B. The same revulsion does not apply to young attractive females!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Music Track - Schubert

Here one of my favorite impromptus is being played by the late great Vladimir Horowitz. It's about nine minutes of effortless playing by one of the true maestros of the piano.  This was also a favorite of my father, but he used to stop when he got to the difficult bit.  I don't blame him!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Wall - part 2

Along with the Vietnam memorial wall on its visit to Big Bear, there were other reminders on hand.  Like this one...

Over 58,000 died in that conflict, but there was another grim reminder of the past...

Over 365,000 dead in the Civil War, but I think that was only the toll for the north.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Good view from wonderful seats
Thanks to our friends, Jodi and Shayne from Ohio, we had some wonderful tickets to watch the Dodgers play the Padres the other day.  We were very close to home plate and it took a little time to reorientate oneself to the different aspect.  It's been about ten years since we were there and they have spruced the place up quite a bit.  Rupert Murdock bought it some time back and put expensive seats closer to the center of things, but he wasn't a baseball fan.  Then along came McCourt who owned car parks - he was a disaster.  Now we have a consortium of sportsmen led by Magic Johnson, who owns the Dodgers and it shows.  Baseball is not a business like newspapers or parking lots. It needs some soul in its owners.  It was a great outing and the Dodgers made it even better by continuing their winning ways and beating their San Diego rivals 2 - 1.  Go Dodgers! 
It got dark and we were still there.  Great Lighting!
The team have recently won their first game in the post season by beating the Atlanta Braves.  Is a World Championship possible?  Hopes are high! 
Sadly in the sixth game of the post season against the St. Louis Cardinals our team was thrashed 9 - 0.  Still there's always next year!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Video - Amazing Tricks

This four-minute video shows some amazing tricks.  What is about people that makes them want to do these things.  I note that none of them are over the age of 40!  Sent to me by my friend Denise in Florida.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pechanga Resort and Casino - Sunday Column

Pechanga Pool

I'm not a gambler so there is always a little trepidation when I visit a casino.  Let's face it if you don't play the various games then what do you do?  Well, in the case of the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula both S.W.M.B.O.* and I had a great time.  It's a wonderful place and you can read all about it at
*She Who Must Be Obeyed

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Right Track - Prophesy

My thanks to my friend Kevin for sending me this interesting piece of history.
H.L. Mencken (born 1880 - died 1956) was a journalist, satirist, critic, and Democrat. He wrote this editorial while working for the Baltimore Evening Sun, which appeared in the July 26, 1920 edition. 

"As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron."

---H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tirade - Produce Checks

On a return trip to California recently I had to go through a road check.  They are all over the entry points to the state and usually they are unmanned.  Firstly, what is the point of not manning them for what seems 90% of the time?  Secondly, when they do have a desultory civil servant in some type of uniform standing there what use are they?  On this occasion, a sheriff type was standing there looking incredibly bored. It's hard to tell what he expected to find in vehicles returning from the state of Nevada.  Apparently it's illegal to transport produce over the line, but why?  What threat does an apple entering California pose?  In any case the official had long since given up any pretense at looking in the cars and trucks - as for returning Harley Davidsons, not even a sneer. What a waste of money!  But I was forgetting we've got lots! Come on People!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Music Track - Delius

Frederick Delius was an English composer who died in 1934.  His music was always evocative and moody.  Here is his "On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring."  It's very English and so are all the photos, which were taken in the Peak District of England.  As we begin Autumn, it's good to realize that Spring is really not that far behind.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Wall - part 1

Recently the replica Vietnam Memorial came to Big Bear.  It was here for four days and drew a lot of visitors.  The original in Washington DC is made of marble but this 80% replica is made of steel.  It is a sobering sight to remember so many who died.  Over 54,000.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I still think of mechanics tinkering with spark plugs and tuning up carburetors.  They use to call themselves wrenchers not so long ago!  But things have definitely changed.  On a recent motorcycle ride a friend decided he would have his machine "Dyno Jetted."  I'd heard about this but didn't know quite what it meant.  Well, his bike was strapped down inside a trailer and a long probe inserted into the exhaust pipe; a few wires attached to the leads, and the back wheel forced down hard on a rotating drum.  The machine was started and taken up through the gears.  At one point they raced it to 110 m.p.h. in fourth - the bike had five gears.  Everyone in the booth wore ear defenders and this went on for about half an hour in total.  The result was that the bike was diagnosed as running a little on the lean side and various adjustments were made to the laptop computer.  No wrenching at all, just adjustments to the bike's brain.  Amazing!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Video - Putting up the flag

I'm grateful to my friend Jim in Pasadena for this three-minute video.  He says it's been around before but I hadn't seen it.  I think there are more people still in this country who feel like this fellow than do not.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Norton Air Force Base - Sunday's Column

Before its closure some fifteen years ago, Norton Air Force Base was one of the biggest employers in the Inland Empire.  Today, it's site is the yet-to-be-opened San Bernardino International Airport.  But one small corner of this is given over to the Norton Museum, which celebrates the previous facility.  It's a compact museum with artifacts laid out neatly explaining the role Norton played in equipping the USA's military operations.  You can read the entire article at

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Right Track - Blockage

Perhaps I'm getting so used to the ways of Washington and the methods of the main stream media that the shutting of the government and the way it's been reported no longer shocks me.  Frankly I see no way around this.  Representatives are elected by voters to stand up for the principles they have campaigned on.  Therefore as the left wants more and more government and the right wants less and less, there is bound to be a blockage.  One side has to cave in and at the moment, as usual, the left is better at the blame game then the right so they will eventually win and the country will move inexorably leftwards.  Elections have consequences!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tirade - Toilets

It seems that Al Gore's greatest political achievement is causing some blow back.  He managed during his lengthy time in office to have the nation's toilet tanks reduced to cut down on the amount of water they used.  Now it seems that with the popularity of wet wipes, there is a lot of cloggage going on in the country's sewers.  Also a company out of Venice, CA, is promoting their new product called One-Wipe Charlies, which is being endorsed in TV ads by several hulking linebackers out of the NFL.  It seems we are headed to some sort of sewer crisis if this all globs together.  An absence of water in the pipes and an increase in wipes that although stated as being flushable, may not be too good once the initial first flush of enthusiasm has been carried out.  Obviously what we need here is a government committee to solve this rampant problem. Come on People!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Music Track - Ronstadt  Sadly Linda Ronstadt announced that she is giving up her singing as she has contracted Parkinson's disease.  She was quite something in the 70's.  I wonder if Governor Moonbeam up in Sacramento is having some moments of thought.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I was recently invited on a motorcycle ride with about six others.  My thanks to Yvon Martineau for the invitation.  It was a great ride even though we did 447 miles the first day, which is a lot.  Perhaps a stop halfway next time.

I left the group and traveled back on my own after a couple of days, which was an interesting experience with a night's camping on route.  Once again, I'm amazed at the reliability of Harley Davidson's.  The only bad experience of the entire trip was how cold it was.  It seems we're getting winter early this year.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sunshine and Oranges

I've just finished reading a very disturbing book written by Margaret Humphries.  She is an English social worker in Nottingham, and she was contacted by a woman in Australia asking her if she could locate her mother as she had been deported from England as a child in the late 40's.  A resulting search uncovered a system where many disadvantaged children were sent away to Rhodesia and Canada, but mostly Australia.  These children had no idea why they were sent away and many of them suffered dreadfully at their final destinations.  The system began in the late 1930's.  Naturally there was no enthusiasm by the charities and the government authorities who were responsible for this scheme to explain what happened.  In the end Humphries began a trust to pay for finding many of the relatives of people, who up to then had believed themselves to be totally alone in the world.  She was eventually decorated by the Australian government and acquired a CBE from the Queen.  She found that a total of 10,000 children had been sent away; a practise that ended finally in 1967.  A very moving story, which was made into a TV film and a documentary.  The book was called Sunshine and Oranges, which is what many of the children were promised they would receive before they set sail to the other side of the world.