Monday, March 31, 2014

Video - Flash Mob  I've never seen a flash mob in action in real life.  This one is on a tram in Budapest and I like the outside decoration too.  Thanks to Paul in England for this one.  It takes about 4 minutes.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday's Column - Private Train

I don't think I've ever been in an engine driver's compartment.  So this was a first for me.  It is a Canadian Pacific engine attached to the private train which belonged to Clara Baldwin Stocker.  She was the daughter of "Lucky" Baldwin of early Los Angeles fame, who left his two daughters $10 million dollars each when he died.  Clara bought this train with the money and you can read all about her at

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Right Track - Freedom

I heard a commentator say the other day that you don't have a really free society if you're not allowed to own a gun.  To follow up the thought perhaps it's best to remember the history of the American Indian.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Trevor's Tirade - Irish?

Let's get some basic facts on the table.  I was born English but chose to become American.  
I've been to Ireland many times - both north and south.  I've also been to Scotland and Wales.  But those two countries have never tried on any occasion to encourage me to become one of them.  Nor am I expected to wear a thistle on St. Andrews Day. (November 30th), a leak or daffodil on St David's Day (March 1st) or do I ever put on a rose for St George's Day (April 23rd.)  So why on earth am I expected to put on green or wear that very common weed the shamrock on March 17 - St Patrick's Day?  I'm not Irish and I'm certainly not going to drink green beer, any more than any self-respecting Irishman would.  So March 17th passed as any other day and I avoided the celebrations by the 90+% of those Americans who have never set foot on the Emerald Isle!  Maybe I'll just wait for Cinco de Mayo!  Come on People!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Music Track - Lili Marlene

I recently played what seemed like German martial music from WWII, which in fact was written by an Englishman in the 1950's.  This however is the real deal - Lili Marlene - which became an instant hit with German Soldiers during the war.  Then for some strange reason it crossed over and was loved by Allied troops as well.  Here it's sung by the original and only Marlene Dietrich.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


We went along to a concert given by the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra the other day.  I was a little sceptical as I don't particularly like music butchered by youngsters no matter how keen they are.  However, I was most impressed as they were terrific.  Only a couple of split notes by a trumpeter and a few accidental glissandi by some string players.  Other than that they were very good indeed.  Also they were only aged from ten to fourteen.  Here is the link to the organisation

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Some time ago we bought an electric heater to add a little extra boost to our living room.  It was advertised as using virtually no electricity.  During the month of December when things get fairly chilly up at 6,750 feet, we used it to warm up the center of our living area.  It was quite efficient.  Then the electric bill came in. Holy smoke!  Foolishly the electric company gives one a little graph to show you your usage compared to other months; we had gone through a lot.  We cut out the heater immediately. Yesterday last month's bill came in and it was half the amount.  I guess energy efficiency is a flexible term!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday's Column - Hotpoint

This week we look at the Ontario Museum and the origins of the Hotpoint Company.  Did you know that the inventor of the famous brand started his commercial life out here in California in a tent?  It's an interesting story of how he went from tent dweller to one of the richest people in the state.  As for the name, well it came from his iron being able to send heat to the point of the iron.  You can read the entire column at

New Layout

With the arrival of spring we change the layout once more.  I hope you like it.

Video - Wolves

I'm grateful to my friend John in England for this great video on the effect of introducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park.
I had the pleasure of visiting the park last year and it is a wonderful place.  We learned of the introduction of wolves back into their natural habitat, but these advantages were new to me.  A sort of biological trickle down economics?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Right Track - Liberal Heaven

I'm grateful to my friend Kevin in the Marina for this always timely quote from the true liberal's chum, Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona

"A "Liberal Paradise" would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only Law Enforcement has guns. And believe it or not, such a place does indeed exist ……it's called prison!"

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Remember it was this sheriff who dressed the inmates in pink, and when they complained that they didn't like their accommodation of tents in the desert, he told them they were living better than the troops in Iraq.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tirade - Coffee

When I first used to come over to America in the 70's and then moved here permanently in the 80's decaffeinated coffee was a bit of a problem  It usually meant that you would be given a cup of hot water and a little sachet of coffee called Sanka. Do you remember that?

Eventually the powers that be convinced people that there was little point in jolting yourself and taking caffeine, and it became frowned upon.  Also it elevated the blood pressure.  Everyone switched to "decaf!"  Now it seems as if the trend is reversing, and if you go into one of the many coffee places that are everywhere with young people ordering a complex assortment of lattes, espressos and the like, they no longer have a brew of decaf available.  Are we to revert to Sanka soon?  Come on People!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sunday's Column - Local Fun

It's been a pretty mild winter.  I haven't used the snow plough once and the shovels have been underutilized as well.  A strange thing as we had our first snowfall on October 10th last year and we all thought it portended a big season.  Nonetheless with modern science the slopes have been busy and our local snow slide has all sorts lining up to go down on inner tubes.  You can read all about the activities in last Sunday's column

Music Track - Radar Love*

*I always thought that this was Red Alert!  I obviously wasn't paying attention to this 1973's  hit.  Still a good bit of driving rock.  The video is also quite amusing and it features a Reliant Robin.  A particularly nasty little bit of British automotive engineering.  Just try getting that by the EPA/DMV agencies today!  I once saw a bloke driving one of these up the Kingston by-pass at 90 m.p.h.  He was also wearing a very large pair of headphones.  A man before his time!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Thanks to my friend Paul in England for this interesting map of the world.  When people figure out that I hail from England and not Australia, I often tell them that we Brits are quite proud of the fact that most of the ills of the world can somehow be traced to us.  After all we have spent a lot of time invading countries and trying to convert them to playing cricket and drinking tea out of small, thin, china cups.  The white bits on this map show all the countries that the English haven't invaded.  Pretty impressive I think.  But there's still time!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Remarkable Burial

If you look closely in the green compartment you will see a man on a Harley.  He's dead!  He's on his last ride to the cemetery where he will be buried in his Plexiglas coffin astride his beloved bike.  He is/was Billy Standley of Ohio and he had planned this for the last 18 years.  The casket was built by his sons.  He was 82 - the bike was 47.  R.I.P.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Video - ISS

I'm grateful to Don in Orange County and Keith in the Desert for sending me this fascinating video.  It's a tour of the International Space Station.  It takes 25 minutes so make sure you've got the time to watch as you won 't be able to stop once you start.  I've must look up the name of the lady commander*.  She's really good.  I hope she got back OK.  But I'm sure she did.
*I checked the lady's name and it's Sunita Williams here is the link to her if you want to know more

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Right Track - Higher taxes?

We are often lectured to by our ruling classes that we need to pay a little more.  Well, what we can never get a firm answer to is the question of exactly how much more?  That's always a little fuzzy around the edges.  Here is a five minute explanation about taxes that tells an interesting story.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tirade - Bureaucracy

We had a particularly nasty case of a bureaucracy over-reaching the other day.  A well known and well loved music teacher was suspended from her school in South Los Angeles.  Her crime?  She was escorting her choir on a trip to the east coast and called the White House to ask if she could bring the children along to sing for the president.  He agreed and after clearing it with the school principal she duly took her charges - who have in the past gone all over the world to perform - to Washington.  Unfortunately she failed to clear the event with the next layer of bureaucrats, and they subsequently suspended her.  She was the founder of this renowned choir over twenty years ago and is a much respected teacher.  No matter, the bureaucrats were outraged.  Come on People!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Music Track - Muller

No doubt like me you may wonder why nobody seems to compose music the way it used to be done years ago.  Are there no budding Mozarts or Beethovens around any more?  Well, this man is called Stadius Muller and he's into his eighties.  He lives in the Dutch Antilles in Curacao.  He used to be a specialist in security matters but now he composes and gives concerts.  This could be by Chopin I think; see how it sounds to you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


A couple of times a week I go to a small doughnut shop to buy a coffee to go.  I've been tempted a few times to buy a doughnut to go with it but so far I've managed to resist the temptation.  I don't miss many things about England, but I do miss the occasional doughnut.  They're very different over there.  For a start they're smaller and much softer.  Rather like a soft, deflated tennis ball.  Also the most popular are covered in sugar and filled with runny jam.  I remember an occasion when we had some visiting bankers to see us in the conference room.  The girl in charge of such events had supplied a plate of such doughnuts.  Most of the bankers found them to be very difficult to eat delicately, and several of them had jam squirt over their ties.  It was rather amusing, but the order was given that in future we'd avoid such confections.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Time Bandit - Scuttled

The recent storm which came though on February 28/March 1st did little damage in our area.  However one casualty was the Time Bandit, which is our local pirate ship.  Those of you who visit Big Bear in the summer may well have traveled on it or at least seen it sailing around the lake.  It often fires its canon on its way back into port, but it's going to be a while before the gun fires again.  I talked to one of the owners and suggested that maybe a couple of hatches might have been left open, which she vigorously denied.  She assured me that it will soon be refloated using inflatable bags.  It is a 1/3 scale replica of a 16th century Spanish galleon.  It was originally made in the 60's and used in the 1981 the movie Time Bandit.  We hope to see it up and running again soon.

The Time Bandit on the blue waters of Big Bear Lake and not underneath them!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Video - Mont Blanc Ride

I'm grateful to my friend Kevin in the Marina for this wonderful ten minute video.  Ten minutes is a lot of time to invest in watching a video on a computer but I couldn't stop watching.  See what you think.  Here's the intro and the link.

“OK class, we're meeting in the Alps for a little fun.  The 'copter will take us to near the top of Mont Blanc at about 13,000 feet and we'll work our way down to around 3,000 feet in the valley below.
Our guide will be the red sail, and we'll all have yellow sails.  Try not to get ahead of the red sail, unless you know the up drafts and craig heights very well.  And try not to run into other sails.
The total flight will take about 10 minutes.  Great scenery.  You can probably get in another run before the end of the day if you're so inclined,and if you don’t hit the mountain, houses, power lines or lift cables and kill yourself!”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Right Track - Crimea

I have to say that I feel rather sad for President Obama.  He's not had a lot of luck with his programs and apart from those wanting free stuff they've not been well received.  Now he's got a bad dose of schoolyard bully on his hands and the poor fellow just can't cope.  His Nemesis this time is Tsar Vladimir with his aggression in the Crimea.  As a devout liberal, Obama tends to view the world as he would like it to be and not as the way it is.  (To quote Dick Armey, an ex-speaker of the House: Conservatives believe it when they see it; but liberals see it when they  believe it!)  Remarks by the Secretary of State about illegal acts by the Russians aren't going to cut much ice with the bullies.  Sadly, there are shades here of that other European bully back about 75 years ago.  First there was the march into the Rhineland; then the Sudetenland; the annexation of Austria after a referendum no less! Then finally Poland. At that time we too had a liberal trying to appease the bully with words and diplomacy.  To quote the philosopher George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tirade - Oscars

When I was quite small I would, like most children, break out of my natural shyness and act up.  The usual response of my parents was to tell me to stop showing off.  It was so ingrained in my youth I think that I developed a great dislike of the practice - good for my parents, who were like most of their ilk total novices in the art.  A few days ago I was in a local hostelry and on the big screen they had the annual nonsense of the Oscars.  Fortunately the sound was off.  But I was able to see out of the corner of my eye the dreary parade of over-dressed "celebrities" congratulating themselves on what has to be the ultimate showing off.  Perhaps this is why I never watch it or in this case hear it or have any interest in it.  I was able however able to pick out two of the three winners entirely due to the application of my "liberal guilt" system.  Come on People!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Music Track - Yardbirds

It's hard to realise that this is 50 years old!  It's currently being used in an advert for flowers, I think.  I remember wondering at the time why the lead singer is wearing sunglasses!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trains Part Two

When I was about ten I had a friend, Chris, who introduced me to a pretty amazing experience.  He took me down a steep embankment to the edge of the railway track about five miles from Watford Junction.  It was some 100 yards from the tunnel that took trains north toward Birmingham about 90 miles away.  At a few minutes after five each evening, the express would come through and Chris would lay some pennies on the rail and await the train.  We would crouch alongside the line and eventually hear a slight ticking on the rails, then a whispering followed by a full bodied murmur.  Finally in a gust of air and smoke the beast would roar out of the tunnel and thrash it's way past us, pulling its dozen carriages at about 70 m.p.h.  We would squat about three feet from the railway bed and that meant about six feet from the rail itself.  It was a terrifying experience but we were quite safe as long as we didn't move.  We were too scared to.  At best we never found more than half the pennies we had placed, but the ones we collected were pretty banged up and precious souvenirs for a long time.  I only went a couple of times with him.  My mother would have killed me had she known!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wedding Photo

I don't often post jokey emails and other stuff on the blog as I'm sure we all get enough of them in our mailboxes.  But my friend Don in Orange County sent this to me and it's too good not to share.
I can't improve on his remarks which were: "Hopefully things went better on the honeymoon!"

Monday, March 3, 2014

Video - car crusher

Is it me or does this video make you feel a little sad.  Most of us lavish quite a lot of time and attention on our cars, and even though we know that eventually they have to go to the happy parking lot elsewhere, this is tough to watch.  I'm grateful to my friend Keith in the desert for this instructive piece of video.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday' Column - Nethercutt Museum

I do wish editors wouldn't cause errors with articles.  There is a whopper in the first paragraph of this week's piece on the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar.  I checked my original copy and I'm glad to see it's not me that made it.  So why change it at all?*  Never mind, the place is a wonderful collection of vintage cars.
This is a 1938 Mercedes that was bought by an Englishman in Italy.  It was converted to right hand drive and then the war intervened.  The Englishman no doubt skedaddled back home sans auto!  Finally a GI picked it up and brought it to the USA in 1945.  Like all the other exhibits it's in pristine condition.  You can read the entire article - error and all - at
*After much whining, they subsequently rectified it!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Right Track - Sequestration

We don't hear a great deal about the awful effects of sequestration these days.  Somehow the nation has survived such draconian cuts.  However the recent budget talks agreed upon by both parties allowed cuts to our military's pensions.  Now how can that happen?  Also why is it that when the talk of serious cuts comes around it's always Social Security, and military cuts on the table.  It's never pay for our politicians or their pensions?  For your amuseument here are some of the pay scales.  Remember a one term in congress guarantees a pension for life!  My thanks to Don in Orange County for this example.