Posts Tagged With: Christmas

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Joseph 0007. (December 31, 2018)

 

“However many sorrows you drag along with you, you’ll only have walked a few steps before bumping into someone who will remind you that there’s always another person with a far worse set of cards than yours in the game of life.”
Ruiz Zafon, Carlos. The Labyrinth of the Spirits (Cemetery of Forgotten Books) (p. 193). Harper.

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

(In 1919, one hundred years ago:

WWI officially ended in June 1919.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity is tested/confirmed by Arthur Eddington’s observation of a total solar eclipse in Principe and by Andrew Crommelin in Sobral, Ceará, Brazil.
Women’s rights: The United States Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would guarantee suffrage to women, and sends it to the U.S. states for ratification.
Prohibition begins: The United States Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto.
The American-born Lady Astor is elected to the British House of Commons, becoming on December 1 the first female MP to take a seat.
Female suffrage in Germany and Luxembourg.
May 25 Madam C. J. Walker [Sarah Breedlove], African American entrepreneur (First American self-made female millionaire, Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company), dies of kidney failure complications at 51.)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND THEREABOUTS:

 
The Coming of the Holidays

Sickness eventually, like most journeys, features periods of high and low adventure stitched together with periods of annoyance and joy. Then one briefly feels the excitement of reaching his or her goal. — Well, a goal if you achieve health — other options, not so much. A few days telling the stories of high excitement follow, then creeping boredom begins urging you to move on again to somewhere or someplace else. I’ve, alas, grown tired of my adventures with the dread disease. It’s been a week since my actual treatment began. Things went right, then wrong, then right once more, and so on. I thought when treatment began I would be happy and see each visit as another adventure of sorts or perhaps even experience a few descents into slap-stick. No, no such luck, they have now just become boring.

Anyway, the Holidays are rumbling on toward us. I am disappointed that I will not be able to attend my sister’s Christmas celebration this year. I will miss visiting with my Mendocino friends, Debbie, Nancy and Duncan, Maryjane and her clown, Brendan and Ashley, Katie and Quinn, Ester, and everyone else. Buon Natale to all.
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Christmas in Mendocino

I usually hate the holiday season — too much expectation, scant reward. My sister’s celebrations, however, are different, always better than anticipated.

 

More news about the Mysterious Orb.

 

Apparently, my announcement about the disappearance of the Mysterious Orb was premature. As you may recall, it appeared suddenly in the street in front of our home with a sign attached reading something like, “Take me — free.” It sulked around for a few days. Suddenly, the sign attached to the orb sprouted some more words declaring, “I am a fountain.” A day or two later, it disappeared from lurking in front of the house. I not many days after that, I dutifully reported here in “This and That” that I thought it had departed to find neighborhoods exhibiting greater empathy.

I was wrong. Naida told me today, that she has seen the Mysterious Orb skulking about in the alleyway that leads to the garages in back of the homes. She described both its demeanor and location as “slinking about.” It stayed about one week moving from one unmemorable location to another until It disappeared again a few days ago.

While writing this, I thought it would be a good idea to leash up the dog for his evening constitutional and have a look around to see if the whereabouts or fate of the Orb could be discerned. And so, Boo-boo and I departed the house and set out on our search. We explored the front lawns of the nearby houses, the street and the alleyway behind the homes. Not a trace of the Orb could be found. So, I decided to ford on off the property and into the narrow woods that covered the small hill separating Campus Commons from Howe Avenue.

Suddenly, as I brushed by some waist-high bushes, I glanced down to my right and discovered the Orb hiding behind a bush from which, I was sure, it could furtively observe the alleyways and garages. It was not more than a one or more quick steps from bustling Howe Avenue.

What to make of all this: Is it not as it declared, “A fountain?” Does it secretly travel about the neighborhood spying (Remember there are at least two human “spies” living in the subdivision.) Is someone, screwing with my mind by rolling that cement ball around — gaslighting me? Why? Who? Is Naida playing a joke on me? Is this a Christmas present from an alien presence on earth? Is the dog thinking of telling me something I should know? Too many questions, too little time.

 
I did it.

 

I mentioned in my last post that my frenetic repostings of two of my blogs on Facebook and other sites were intended as an effort to beat my annual number of views received by each. Well, by Christmas Eve I did it. I am proud of me. It makes me about as happy as learning that the Mysterious Orb still exists and is prowling about outside our door tonight. I can rest until the New Year.

 
A Christmas Story.

 

On the day before Christmas, I did not leave the house until the evening. That was OK. It was a grey day with a light drizzle and I was not feeling well. I did not sleep much during the night and the side effects of the cancer treatment played havoc with my body and emotions. I spoke with HRM on FaceTime. He had just finished a day of snowboarding at a ski-resort above Lago Maggiore. He looked well and happy.
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HRM at Lago Maggiore

Nikki was there also. He looked pleased but seems to have put on weight. HRM is soon off to England to spend a few days with Adrian’s family after which they will all fly with Nikki to NYC to welcome in the new year among the Times Square throngs.

I rested in the afternoon. Then I prepared to attend the Christmas Eve party with Naida’s children and their families. Naida spent part of the day practicing Christmas Carols on the piano. I concluded that meant we would spend a good part of the evening caroling.

I expected the side effects of the treatment will limit my eating, drinking, and singing. I hoped it would not put a damper on anyone’s enjoyment.

I remember, one night in Sicily about 50 years ago following the local automobile races. The participants and their families gathered at a large farmhouse among the vineyards. The old grandmother, who was bedridden, insisted her bed be dragged from the bedroom and positioned in the center of the salon. She spent the evening lying there telling all who would listen that she was happy everyone was having such an enjoyable time singing and dancing and how much suffering her various maladies caused her. It was all great fun. Later my girlfriend and I slipped out of the house and walked through the vineyards until the music and the laughter drifting out from the open windows spread across the hills adding their silver sounds to the silver light of the full moon. There we spent the rest of the night until the first light of sunrise brightened the eastern skies somewhere beyond Mt. Etna.

Shortly before we were to leave for the Christmas party, I gave Naida the present I had bought her, a large brown leather purse. She was distressed that the present she had gotten for me had not arrived yet. She rushed out to the mailbox to see if there was a late night delivery.

She returned carrying a large box and happily announced, “It arrived!” She then left me to open the box, took the purse and went upstairs to prepare herself to leave for the party.

I set about cutting away through the tough cellophane tape that bound the box closed. After a while, I had severed enough of them to be able to rip open the box. In it, I found the box filled with dried flowers. Lot’s of dried flowers.

Now, I have learned in the past few months that Naida’s thought processes could be quite subtle and so I decided not to jump to any conclusions and spent the next 15 or 20 minutes attempting to unravel the conundrum of symbols and goals that this gift, one of love I was sure, represented.

I couldn’t help but recall the 0’Henry story of the down and out Babbitts of NY. She who cut off her magnificent hair to purchase a watch fob on which he could hang his grandfathers pocket watch of which he was so proud and he in turn selling that same watch in order to buy her a glorious baret to display in her hair.

Eventually, I gave up trying to rationalize my way through the puzzle and carried the box upstairs. There I found Naida in distress. “I cannot find the purse,” she exclaimed. “It just disappeared.” Now, this was not some little purse, but one of those giant ones that someone could carry everything they own in it, even a small car. We searched everywhere. No purse.

I then showed her the box of dried flowers. “No,” she said, “it’s supposed to be a Hat. The winter hat you wanted, not dried flowers.”

We eventually reasoned that the dried flowers belong to one of the medical students living with us who plans to wed in a month or so. “But,” she said, “where’s your hat?”

We drove to her daughter’s house. Along the way, I noticed Naida appeared distressed. I asked her what was that matter. “I must be losing my mind,” she replied. “First, your present to me disappears and then there is no hat.”

The party was pleasant. We sang carols. Naida and Jenifer, her daughter, played the piano. I was a little too ill to fully enjoy it all.
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Caroling in Sacramento.

After returning home, I climbed the steps to the bedroom with the dog trailing along behind. He scooted over to his bed and sat in that proud erect way dogs sometimes do. He stared a slightly arrogant stare into my eyes. “Oh ho,” I thought, “what do we have here?” I looked closer and saw a small patch of brown leather peeking up from a fold in the dog blanket. He glanced were I looked. He knew he was caught out. He tried to resume his arrogant look but could only manage shame. “The game is up.”

Apparently, while Naida was otherwise occupied, he dragged the leather purse to the dog bed — the purse being about the same size as the dog bed. He carefully tucked it in the bottom so it lay perfectly flat. He then dragged over one of his blankets and tucked that in so that the purse was well hidden.

I called Naida to come upstairs. When she arrived, I told her the story and added, “See you are not going senile at all.” She seemed dubious. “Look at it this way,” I said. “We solved not one but two mysteries. We had a good time at the party. We discovered our dog to be a master criminal and we came away with a great story. What better Christmas could one have.”

She remained dubious. “Yes,” she drawled, “but what about your hat.”

 

An old year ends

 

On Christmas night at the early hour of 6PM, I slipped into bed, sipped from my well-steeped cup of cannabis tea and opened my computer. My thought was to make some sort of plan for the remaining six days of the year. Not so much a to-do list as a muddle-about-file which I could, now and then, dip into without too much difficulty in order to pass the time while waiting for this arbitrary section of my life to dribble on to the next.

The first thing to pass through my mind was Joyce’s opening line to Ulysses: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
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Buck Mulligan

I haven’t the slightest idea why it did. Except perhaps, to encourage me to contemplate why I would consider ending the year pondering the opening line of Ulysses. Perhaps, having not yet consumed enough tea made such reflection worthwhile. Maybe, my subconscious was attempting to jump-start the evening’s descent into irrelevancy.

The second item to suggest itself as a subject worth ruminating on was the first thing I read on my computer after opening it. Under a heading entitled notable events on history on this day, I read: “1194 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of the Romans [Germany], Sicily and Jerusalem, born in Lesi, Italy.”

That was something I felt was of little more consequence. Or, at least, I generally considered that someone who in his time was referred to as “Stupor Mundi” (Wonder of the World) was someone of greater consequence than “stately plump Buck Mulligan” and his shaving utensils — Then again perhaps not. Fredrick later in life was also referred to as “The Anti-Christ.” Nevertheless, I still felt, someone who held suzerainty over most of Medieval Europe, was of more consequence than a fictional med-student with flamboyant grooming habits — Then again, perhaps not.
federico_ambasciatori-alkamil-dipinto
Nicholas II

“Stupor Mundi” was clearly not fictional, although his adventures and the stories about him rival that of any character inhabiting the world of fiction. As to why I would consider intentionally including the contemplation of one or the other or both into my remaining six day’s of 2018, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because it is a mystery requiring a solution and that always pleases one’s consciousness. Perhaps it does not. Maybe it just has something to do with the cannabis. Take chess, for example, it has always appealed to me as a worthwhile way to cut two or three hours from one’s life. On the other hand, cocaine, cannabis and a host of other things, I think would do so as well, without requiring your consciousness to leap from the chair in which it had been dozing and actually exert itself entertaining you.

 
Strange Dream.

 

Since upping my medications in order to mitigate the side effects of my treatments, my dreams at night have become even stranger than usual. Last night, I found myself, a much younger man, well-dressed wandering about my dream New York. My dream NY is not at all like the NY I remember. It is a real estate development made up of large buildings in vibrant colors and streets dark, bleak, and dank. In this dream, a young man I knew, for some reason lost to the vagaries of dream memories, had been killed by the authorities. People were organizing to protest the death. The mayor and his advisers swore to put down the disturbance with maximum force.

I put myself front and center swearing to risk body and health in protest. As the police and soldiers could be heard approaching, everyone ran away leaving me alone to confront them. Alas, the police never arrived.

I then noticed another group of protestors forming. This one, well equipped with PR people. Again I put my body at the forefront willing to risk it in the name of the right and good. Again as the military closed in, the protestor’s disappeared, leaving me alone once more. After about four more events like this, I decided, I was not going to give up body and soul in the name of the right and good or anything resembling it, so I went home to take a nap and ponder the imponderables of life.

 

The Cat in the Hat.

 

The day after Christmas my hat arrived. It is red. It has a fluffy band around the outside. It might be a women’s hat or a pimp’s. I love it.

Here I am, the cat in the red hat standing by the wreath made by Naida from detritus from the Enchanted Forest
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The Cat, The Hat, The Wreath, and The Hibiscus.

 
From Christmas to the New Year

 

The first day after Christmas I spent with Dick, exchanging presents, picking up mail, and discussing Governor-elect Newsom’s plans for California and the possibility of his running for President in 2020. Hayden left me a much needed back-scratcher shaped like a stretching cat. Dick gave me a fine elegant sweater.

The next day, George and Maryanne arrived bringing gifts. George brought me a brown winter hat and Mary a bitching shirt. Here I am, The cat in the red hat on the top of the brown hat wearing the bitching shirt.

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The Cat, the Red Hat, The Brown Hat, The Bitching Shirt and a Pair of Sunglasses.

We ate dinner together that evening a Zocalo’s a local Mexican restaurant the Naida and I have grown to like.

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That night I had one of my most difficult dreams. It was a large space and horrible full of screaming, anguish, and fury. I awoke in terror and was afraid to return to sleep so I sat up. Eventually, I fell asleep. The next dream was different. Somehow I was high on a mountain on the border between Russia and some other country, I do not know which. I was living with a pleasant family of one ethnic group and a few steps away across the border lived a poverty-stricken family from the ethnic group they had been at war with for generations. We opened a cantina to service travelers. The other tribe settled down opened shops and prospered. I built a house overlooking the valley.

 
Capital Park.

 
The next day, my sister, George, Naida and I traveled into downtown Sacramento to walk about one of my favorite parks, Capital Park. During the five years or so I have been living in the Sacramento area, I would try to spend at least day or so a month at that park. I usually would have my breakfast (Coffee and Bagel with cream cheese) at a restaurant called Chicory on the corner of eleventh in a building in which I had my office when I worked in Sacramento. It was a nice attractive place with a back room with a fireplace and a few comfortable armchairs. I also liked to see what new and strange tattoos the baristas had acquired that month. After breakfast, I would cross the street and spend the rest of the day walking around the park or sitting motionless staring at a particular monument or tree.

Surprisingly, of all the Vietnam War Memorials that sprung up following that regrettable conflict, I appreciate that one in Capitol Park the most. As a work of art, it is crabbed and inward looking. That is its beauty, I think. It is a monument to neither the heroism nor the misery of war but its banality, the burden of which is first borne by the troops at the front and then later by those back home who eventually wonder what it was all for. There are no necessary wars only mistakes and aggression.

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We spent a good deal of time at the Fireman’s Memorial where George could pay homage to firemen friends who he served with and who died in service. Then George and Mary left, back to Mendocino, and Naida and I returned to the Enchanted Forest. There we will wait out the end of this year.

 
More Dreams

One night, while waiting for the year to wind down, I had a dream.

Well, first let me tell you about what I think about dreams. No, I do not buy what those strangely obsessed physicians living in and around Vienna thought during the dawning years of the Twentieth Century nor their descendants. To me, a dream is simply non-quantum reality. Time and place are simply mathematical abstractions that impinge upon our neurons. In dreams, however, time and place and most of what we think we know during our waking life are not necessary for existence. They are only arbitrary elements.

Ah… well, enough — the dreams:

I first found myself on an airplane flying into an airport somewhere. We were not too far away, perhaps beginning our descent when I heard the shout. “Kill the Jews.” It came over the speaker and a few passengers jumped from their seats joining in. “The Nazis are at it again,” I thought and hunkered down hoping it was only an idiotic cowardly far-right group like the “Proud Boys” trying to stir things up and then running away. Then the killing started. Somehow, I found myself in the first class section. There were a few Jewish businessmen there. They asked me to help them escape. As we landed I led them crawling through what seemed to be the airplane’s engines into the large terminal. As we ran through the Terminal, others were running to escape the slaughter also. Those too old or weak would slip through a door opening into a side room off the endless corridors hoping their pursuers would not check those rooms. I felt, no I knew, in the dream, in my dream, they were going to die. I did not know who they were. They seem like everyone, every skin shade, and every dress type. I remember a Muslim dressed in a thobe, Bisht and kaffiyeh seeking refuge in one of those rooms. There were all sorts of people. “Why was I helping only the rich escape?” Then I awoke. I sat up and drifted back to sleep. The next four or five dreams all took place on public transportation, ships, planes, and trains. Always, the same — the screaming would start, then the killing. I would rush to the windows and break them. Then, I would help those trying to escape by pushing them through.

Then they would come. Large blood-shot eyes, slightly pointy teeth, they looked like Gollum although not as handsome. They ignored me like I was a wooden post. All they wanted was to get at their victims. I would put myself in their way as best I could in an effort to keep them away from their intended victims. I continued to push their prey through the windows. Often shards of glass would slice into their flesh as I pushed them. I never knew if any survived.

After each dream, I would sit up. Not because I feared to return to the dream but because I simply wanted to restore my strength. I did not know why I had to do what I was doing or whether it did any good or not, but I had to do it.

Then, in my last dream of the night, everything changed. No more was I the blind beast compelled to do what I thought was right but having no idea if it was or was not. In this dream interestingly enough, Goggin appeared. Like in real life whenever he appears, it was interesting — this time to my great surprise, I became rich — six million dollars rich. But as usual, it was not what I wanted, far from it. Perhaps I will tell you about it next year.

This mostly dismal year is now ending. Strangely, I think it is one of the best years of my life, even though it began in sorrow. I watched HRM grow from boy to teetering on manhood, discovered in Naida the love I always craved, laughed with joy of life with my Sister Maryanne and my Brother-in-law — no, George I consider my real brother, there is nothing In-law that I feel about him — My friends, Peter, Barrie, Dick, Ruth (my conscience) and yes Terry too and so many others who had been there for me when I most needed them and least expected them to be.

Tomorrow The New Year 2019 begins. To anyone who reads this far and to all those I send it to whether they want it of not, may next year last all year for you all.

One of the pleasures of being old is that now whatever foolish things I say, write or do are usually ascribed to senility or the wisdom of the aged.

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

Doug Jones writes:

 

“On Boxing Day [December 26] 2004, a tsunami resulting from a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake killed about 250,000 people around the Indian Ocean. This was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. The Indian Ocean tsunami illustrated a major theme on this blog: the importance of catastrophe in human history, and in the history of life and the universe”

“Earthquakes are one example of a phenomenon following a power law statistical distribution. The frequency of earthquakes drops off as an exponential function of their magnitude, so that on a logarithmic scale, the magnitude-frequency relationship looks linear. This is known as the Gutenberg-Ritter relation. (The deviation from linearity in the upper left part of the chart below may reflect measurement error, with a lot of tiny earthquakes not being detected.)”
pasted graphic
“Power law distributions are found in many other contexts, for example, in the frequency of wars versus their magnitude [as measured by the number of war deaths]. A power law distribution is very different from the more familiar bell-curve Gaussian normal distribution: extreme “black swan” events that are astronomically unlikely under a normal distribution may happen at an appreciable frequency under a power law distribution. Depending on the exponent, a power law distribution may not have a well-defined variance or even a well-defined mean.”

“For a technical discussion of why small scale processes sometimes aggregate to generate normally distributed outcomes, and other times aggregate to produce power law distributions, here’s an article on The common patterns of nature. A take home lesson — not always covered in introductory treatments of statistics and probability theory — is that catastrophes and extreme outcomes can be an expectable part of the natural order.”

“Finally, Steven Pinker and Nichlas Nassim Taleb have been squabbling about the implications of all this for the probability of a peaceful future. Here’s a level-headed review. And here are a couple of blog posts from me about why the bloody early twentieth century was maybe more than just a run of bad luck.”
https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/

By the way, the competing (or, a) theory is the famous and infamous “Bell Curve.” That placing the data points on a two vector grid events tend to congregate forming a hump or hill and if repeated, a wave. In other words, predicting the future of historical events on a two-axis graph produces either an inclined plane or a bell curve. Why this is so, I have no Idea. Maybe someday, I will find out. Right now, however, I couldn’t give a fig. (Actually, there is very little I would not give for a good fig.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

The United States is now presented with the age age-old bind of politics: Is the leader an ideologue or just an idiot?

 

 

B. Today’s Poem:
All though not my favorite for here in this post, I am aware that this year’s Winter Solstice Holiday’s Season is coming rapidly to a close. So, I decided to post this evening’s poem, In A Drear-Nighted December by John Keats. Unlike many of the other poets practicing in the poetic world, Keats could have done better.

In A Drear-Nighted December

1.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

2.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

3.
Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.
John Keats

 

 

C. Adventures with Hayden:

 

Hayden and I were watching television. Rather he was watching and I was playing with my computer. Someone on the show he was watching was crying. Hayden turned to me and said, “He is crying because his grandpa died. Pookie, I don’t want you to die. When are you going to start getting younger?”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“There is more than one heart unruled, on the walled shore and the new-caulked ships, watching the set faces on the ships grow more and more distant from the set faces upon the land, until the last sight of sails and gilded weather vanes is gone over the curve of the sea, and the day grows bright to noon.”

Saunders, Graydon. The Human Dress. Tallwoods Books.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 29 Pookie 0007 (December 12, 2018)

 

“I never liked trickle-down economics. It implies that there’s a leak somewhere.”
Pike, J. Zachary. Son of a Liche (The Dark Profit Saga Book 2) (p. 41). Gnomish Press LLC.

To everyone during this holiday season please have yourself a: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Fabulous Festivus, Sublime Saturnalia, Joyous Juul, Serene Sanghamitta, Zoned-out Ziemassvetki, Lively Yalda, Crazy Kwanzaa, Cheerful Chaomos, Spirited Soyal and a Happy New Year.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The weekend arrived. Saturday the Morning Coffee at the clubhouse got it all started with announcements about holiday shopping and parties along with cream puffs and a Christmas cake oozing brandy. On Sunday, the HOA held its annual Christmas Party with music at the Nepenthe Club House. A two-person group, a pianist and a singer, tried to lead the guests in singing carols with little success. Naida, I and a few others sang lustily along with the musicians while most of the other forty or so attendees continued their conversations. The louder we sang, the louder they talked.
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The Welcome Ladies

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The Musicians
On Monday, I spent the day trying to nail down the start of my treatment. Despite promises made to me at the end of last week that it would begin this week, I was told that a procedure to insert a “port” in my chest would delay things a bit. The port is inserted into an artery in my chest. It’s intended to pump some chemicals into my bloodstream for about four days. Then I will need to return to have the pump removed. After three weeks or so they will test me to see if the treatment is working. They will do it all again for another three weeks. If I do not appear to be responding they will repeat the procedure. They can do this up to six times before giving up.

On Tuesday, I spent most of my day on the phone trying to get a final commitment to begin treatment. I succeeded in getting everything scheduled for Thursday and Friday next week. I also picked up three new medicines. The nurse explained that the first was to be taken to relieve nausea and vomiting that often accompanies chemotherapy. The second medicine she explained is for when the first does not work and the third when one and two fail. What I do then if that also failed she did not say.

Later that day, I drove into Oakland to assist Terry through his most recent crisis. I slept that evening in a motel on the seedy side of McArthur Bvd.

Hayden called to ask how my treatment went. I was touched by his concern. I told him that everything was put off until next week. He that said he had gotten me a Christmas present and hoped I would have a chance to visit him before he leaves to spend the holidays in Italy.

In the morning, I drove Terry and Campoy to the Court House. I couldn’t help picturing in my mind a movie starring Walter Matthau and some other aging actors playing elderly grifters setting off on their last con in an effort to avoid the boredom of the nursing homes.

The morning at the courthouse was anticlimactic. If you have never experienced pre-trial hearings, unlike the excitement one sometimes sees in the movies, in reality, they are more boring than the waiting room in a doctors office. At least the doctor provides out of date magazines that you would never think of reading otherwise. (you know, People Magazine, Field and Stream and so on. One doctor laid out for his waiting patients old issues of a bicycle magazine. Another one at least had aging copies of National Geographic. Not old enough to display the naked breasts of various so-called native teenagers that modern sensibilities banished from their pages and replaced with photographs of things like crocodiles devouring a deer. This all to the distress of teenage boys everywhere (and if truth be known to older boys also). I suspect that they appealed to women too (although I have no first-hand knowledge of it).

The idea of physical beauty has changed perhaps more often than we humans have changed overlords. In Ancient Greece, the male body was adored. Both men and women, I assume, viewed men’s bodies as the idealization of beauty (although Sappho may have disagreed). Men were usually depicted in sculpture with each ripple of the body etched out in detail. Their facial features, dramatic, deeply creased, and unique. The women, often clothed, their faces placid and their bodies smooth were almost indistinguishable from each other. In the Renaissance Michael the Angel painted his women on the Sistine Ceiling with a blocky sameness, their faces with a spooky similarity. On the other hand, his men featured rippling muscles. Each face distinguished and clearly belonging only to the body it adorned.

Later, men dressed up like peacocks and sported make-up and wigs. Women were forced to follow with a vengeance — compelled to wear ever more outlandish costumes, wigs and makeup that converted their faces from their natural individuality into a doll-like sameness. In portrait painting, unlike warts and all uniqueness of men, women, with few exceptions, appear to look strangely similar. Nevertheless, as they began to be shown more and more naked and as objects of men’s lust (rather than mothers of his children), the idea of the aesthetic beauty of the male body began to erode.

I think it was the movies that completed the change. Despite the efforts of advertisers and the fashion industry to make all women into an idiot replicant, movies proved they were not. They did not all have the faces and bodies of a malnourished sixteen-year-old. They spoke. They did not all spend their days lying naked somewhere or writhing in some man’s arms or holding a baby or a dead child in their own. Now, we are in an age where the beauty of the feminine in all its forms has begun to become the aesthetic ideal. Then again maybe not.

To move as far away from aesthetics as possible, you may recall me writing about the Turkey flocks in the Enchanted Forest. Well, it seems about 60 or more of those huge birds gather every night at the street corner near our house like teenage gangs of the 1950s. A few days ago we discovered the mauled carcass of a large turkey on our front lawn, actually only its massive breast bone with bits of meat still attached. We could not tell if it was just a leftover of someone’s Thanksgiving dinner or the remains of a local predator’s predations.

One day, we had dinner at the Olive Garden. I mention that here because much to my annoyance I actually enjoyed it. It shows the sad level to which good Italian restaurant cooking has fallen to in today’s America. It is probably Obama’s fault.

Now it is Christmas shopping time. I have mentioned before I hate Christmas. I hate shopping. Trying to decide what would not leave the recipient disappointed (except for something like a new Ferrari) and evidence your thoughtfulness and sophistication is as difficult and as impossible as suddenly growing wings and flying off somewhere — something I would much rather do than Christmas shopping. I decided to abandon everything I hold dear in my philosophy of life and try to do my shopping on Amazon. I expected to be exposed to an unlimited number of choices that I could wander though in happy distraction. Instead, I was presented with only a limited about of uninspired choices. I suspect it had more to do with my unfamiliarity with the platform than with Amazon itself. What I did discover, however, is that it did not reduce shopping time or irritation. It only allowed me the benefit of never moving from my chair, never seeing a department store Santa and never hearing Christmas carols over the murmur of voices in a mall.

Yesterday, Thursday, was a marvelous day. It began with Naida and I going our separate ways — she to doctors appointments and me into the golden hills to walk along the New York trail through the autumn leaf fall
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Fall Colors Fallen.

Later I picked up HRM and his friend Tall Long Haired Jake And
I drove them home, picked up my mail and my first Christmas present. I then drove back to the Enchanted Forest where Naida and I watched old movies and worked on our separate computers. We later watched a Highwaymen video (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jonny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson). Naida took out her guitar and played along with them. We also sang. I felt like I was back in SF in the early 70s. At one point, we started singing Frankie and Jonny and noticed each of us was singing different verses. We checked online and found as many as ten different versions including one by Burl Ives of surprising bawdiness.

Frankie was a fucky hussy,
That’s what all the pimps said,
And they kept her so damn busy,
She never got out of bed.
But he done her wrong.
God damn his soul.
Frankie she knowed her business,
Frankie went to the front door.
She hung out a sign on the door:
She rang the whorehouse bell.
“Fresh fish cost you a dollar here,
“Stand back you pimps and whores
Fancy fucking cost ten cents more.”
Or I’ll blow you straight to hell.
He was her man.
I’m hunting my man.
He done her wrong.
Who’s doin’ me wrong.”
Frankie went looking for Johnny.
Frankie drew back her kimono,
She hung out a sign on the door:
Pulled out her big forty-four.
“No more fish for sale now,
Rooty-toot-toot, three times she shoot,
Go find you another whore.”
Left him lyin’ on that whorehouse floor.
He was her man.
She shot her man
But he done her wrong.

And, as the evening wore on things got even better.

The weekend rolled around again like time took a holiday. Hey man, I’m damned old now. I want time to move as slow as I walk, Slower even. I’d like to see time bedridden.

Saturday, Naida continued to edit her memoir in silence. Boo-Boo the dog yapped at the leaf-blowers until the noise drove me to contemplate mass murder. Naida seemed to weather it better than me. When it all quieted down, I went back to doing nothing except playing on my computer until midnight.

The days move quicker now even though I spend most of my time doing little more than writing here and watching the news. Today I saw something amazing and amusing. The dust-up in the Oval Office between He Who is Not My President and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over funding the border wall. Trump managed to conflate shamefulness with transparency. After Trump bragged at how much he had accomplished with the funds he had last year for border security, Schumer said fine we will give you the same amount this year so that you can continue with your good work (actually he had only spent 6% of the funds appropriated last year). Pelosi simply pointed out to him he did not have the votes — in effect either negotiate with us or sit on it.

Two more days until my treatment begins. My neck pains these last few weeks have gone from non-existent to irritating to aching. I do not think that is a good sign.

Last night while we were taking the dog on his evening stroll through the Enchanted Forest, Naida recited Longfellow’s Ballad, “The Skeleton in Armor.” The following is the first stanza:

SPEAK! speak! thou fearful guest,
Who, with thy hollow breast
Still in rude armor drest,
Comest to daunt me!
Wrapt not in Eastern balms,
But with thy fleshless palms
Stretched, as if asking alms,
Why dost thou haunt me?”

An apt poem to recite while walking through a dark forest. It certainly represented a departure from our usual singing of old show tunes as we walked along.

Tomorrow we leave for the beginning of my treatments. See you all later. Have fun.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Billy Shaking Spears

So it goes…

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 
Draft first Chapter of a New Novel that will never be completed or published.

He nuzzled his nose against her neck and said, “Did we laugh before we fell asleep last night?” “No, We were too tired,” she replied.

He caressed her. Even at eighty, he marveled at her skin, feather lite and smooth to the touch. He tried to remember how long they had known each other. When did they first meet? He could not recall. About forty years ago she appeared in his life. Married to a friend. He died. He had held his friend’s hand that last day or so and they drank together his final whiskey and laughed.

He remembers the rest of that day and of a few thereafter. People, shadows mostly, moving about the room doing things that needed doing. He remembers holding her, grief-stricken and shaking. He recalled shadow cars passing beside him on the drive home.

Months later, when did the embrace of comfort lead to passion? Why? And now, almost a year more, worried about falling asleep in each other’s arms without laughing — without pleasure.

“How old” he thought, “must one be before love dies?” “Or does it. Yes, often. But this? No, I do not think so.”

He stroked her arm. Dry and warm. Soft so soft. “We look so much like crumpled cardboard when we are old,” the thought, “yet in fact, we are soft and delicate. Bones, the bones of birds, light and fragile. What has our flight of life seen so far? — Too much.” He snuggled closer. He did not want to get up that morning. He just wanted to remember the past, his dreams. His dreams, last night he recalled, he had washed up on the shore of an Island in a sea he had visited before — not in life, but in other dreams.

The natives in a little village took him in. “Was she there,” he thought? “No, Yes,” a wisp of a thought a longing. Who were these people, these natives? He could not understand their language and yet he could. He was not supposed to be there. It was not for him. Yet he was there and they needed him.

There were others, you see. Others on that island. Others that should not be there or should. They did not want him there. “Their world,” the villagers said or perhaps they didn’t, “is out of balance.”

Even during his dream, he could feel the warmth of her body pressing against him and remember her smell as she came to bed and folded herself into his arms.

Others came, they did not like the people in the village. “No,” he said to them “No.” He was on a ship. Their ship or his — he could not tell. The Island seemed to crumble before his eyes. “No,” he said again.

He woke up sweating and entwined in her arms. “Did we laugh before we fell asleep last night?” he said to her.

Late that morning, while sipping his morning coffee, he looked out the window. “Will it all crumple,” he thought? “for both of us?” “No, Yes, perhaps.”

He was dying, you see. He wanted more — years even days will do.

That day, he left the house they shared. One more errand. Once more a task he had done before. Then he would be free. They would be free. For what. To laugh before they sleep a few times and then no more.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

This and That…March 2012:

When I began “This and that…” almost two and one-half years ago I thought of it as merely a travelogue and tales of my missteps and foibles as I settled into retirement in another country and culture. Something with which to amuse me and a few friends and family.

Recently I have begun posting them into a blog and adding excerpts from my Diary and email exchanges with those of you who read them and choose to comment. Although I have entered a year or so of posts, I have completed entering everything, the posts, Diaries, and comments, on only the first quarter of 2010. In rereading it, I find myself somewhat disturbed, because I, as I see them for the first time all together, am meeting someone I did not know. Someone who I think even less of than I did. The Posts recorded my somewhat self-centered and self-indulgent adventures intending to be slightly amusing and to some extent artificial. The Diary entries reveal an even lesser person, perhaps even more self-indulgent and erratic. The exchanges of comments show, in my opinion, an insensitivity on my part that at times revolts me.

“Much of modern art often called serious by some, whether by those who benefit from the artists production or by artists themselves in their eternal struggle to break from the past and garner success of their own, has become not too much more than the so-called artists infatuation with his or her own experiences, assuming therein exists novelty. Alas, there is no novelty only recognition. As a society that no longer needs to move from cocooned comfort and travel the world like Burton or Stanley for physical or mental adventure, we now look within and wonder if we are different, unique and find too often we are not. In fact, we are less, less unique and less interesting than we feared. Does that make us feel better? Perhaps it is a cultural thing, the descent of Western man (and it is definitely both western and men) from their Procrustean cross into their all too soon to be despoiled grave.”

(I cannot believe I wrote that last paragraph. Worse, I cannot believe I let people see it for a second time.)

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

1. Sir Issac Newton believed doomsday would be in the 21 Century, calculated from clues in the Bible.

2. Benjamin Franklin invented the flexible catheter in 1752 when his brother John suffered from bladder stones. Franklin’s catheter was made of metal with segments hinged together with a wire-enclosed to provide rigidity during insertion. I bet Ben’s brother never spoke to him again after that enlightening experience. Experimenting on others is a cornerstone of medical science.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 
A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Doing something incredibly stupid and getting away with it can make your whole week.”
B. Today’s Poem:

 

A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General
His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he’s gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He’d wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old
As by the newspapers we’re told?
Threescore, I think, is pretty high;
’Twas time in conscience he should die
This world he cumbered long enough;
He burnt his candle to the snuff;
And that’s the reason, some folks think,
He left behind so great a stink.
Behold his funeral appears,
Nor widow’s sighs, nor orphan’s tears,
Wont at such times each heart to pierce,
Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say,
He had those honours in his day.
True to his profit and his pride,
He made them weep before he died.

Come hither, all ye empty things,
Ye bubbles raised by breath of kings;
Who float upon the tide of state,
Come hither, and behold your fate.
Let pride be taught by this rebuke,
How very mean a thing’s a Duke;
From all his ill-got honours flung,
Turned to that dirt from whence he sprung.
BY JONATHAN SWIFT

 
D. Adventures with Hayden:

CHRISTMAS SEASON 2016 — TOPPLING CHRISTMAS TREES AND SUPER GLUE.

One afternoon, we arrived home to find our fully decorated Christmas tree lying on its side amidst a splatter of broken ornaments and spruce needles. Dick the engineer hypothesized that the tree, despite out heroic endeavor three days ago to balance it properly, was, in fact, unbalanced and it took the tree this long to realize it. So, we lifted up the tree, rebalanced it, placed additional weights on the bottom, redecorated it with the remaining unbroken ornaments and hoped for the best.

On Saturday, a day of horrendous rain and fog, HRM happily announced he was going out to play in the rain. Noticing one of the eyelets in his boots was detached he decided to reattach it with superglue before flitting about in the rain. As misadventure would have it, rather than attaching the eyelet to the boot he managed to glue both his own eyes shut. HRM, Dick and I, then spent the next eight hours in the emergency rooms of two separate hospitals where the doctors worked to unstick his eyelids. One of the doctors, who was quite amused by it all, took me aside and asked, “We see this a lot, where children [usually in the 3 to 6-year range] glue one eye shut with super glue, but we have never seen anyone who managed to glue both eyes shut. How did he do this?”

“HRM,” I replied, “is a very special child.”

WWE blew in from SE Asia in concern for the welfare of her progeny and then promptly refused to accompany him to the ophthalmologist claiming she had more important things to do.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“The besetting vice of high office is the temptation to micromanage, to take direct control of a small, concrete, easily understood subsidiary operation and start issuing orders, to the detriment of the chain of command (and the neglect of the big picture). The reason micromanagement is a vice is that it’s a temptation to self-indulgence: it’s too easy to get carried away. Taking on a low-level coordinating role while retaining the full executive authority and fiscal responsibilities of senior rank is like playing a game you’ve mastered on the lowest difficulty level.”
Stross, Charles. The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files) (Kindle Locations 4545-4548). Tom Doherty Associates.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Joseph 0007 (December 27, 2017)

 

 

 

“A group of people all trying to impress one another was always more dangerous than the lone psychopath.”

Sanderson, Brandon. Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive (p. 630). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

Peter and Barrie returned to the Bay Area the day after the Christmas party. I resumed spending my days sitting by the window watching the waves crest over the bluffs and a hawk hunting gophers in the backyard. When not daydreaming by the window or amusing myself on Facebook, I wander about the town Christmas shopping, searching for the appropriate and affordable gifts for those on my list.

Nights are another thing. I sleep ok but, before I fall asleep and after I wake up, I feel an existential malaise that is difficult to describe to those who have not felt the night that never ends bearing down on them like an out of control train. It isn’t fear, I think. More like the sad wonder of a sunset.

For the past few days, they have been removing some of the large trees that menace the house. Over the last year or so, two of those trees have blown down, one of which destroyed the pump house. During my walks, I sometimes stop to watch them work. I find that watching other people work relaxes me. I wonder if Gautama sitting under his bodhi tree observed some people working in the fields when he decided living a life of contemplation was a good thing and we should all do it if we could figure out a way to get away with it.
IMG_3840

People have begun arriving for the Christmas Eve celebration my sister holds every year. A few years ago about twenty of us, friends and family, gathered together at a house that she rented for the holidays a few miles up the coast. Some of us slept on the floor. I slept on a sofa. We all cooked most of the day and ate and drank in the evenings. A great storm blew in Christmas Eve, throwing up giant waves that crashed on the beach, driving us all inside where we sang carols and opened presents.

That was a far cry from the Christmases of my youth when uncles, aunts, and cousins would gather with our family. The women would prepare endless amounts of food while the men napped in the living room. Dinner was a loud affair with everyone shouting and drinking wine until the arguments and tears erupted among the adults while the children hid in quiet corners and learned to hate the holiday for which they had spent weeks in eager anticipation.

Anyway, this year it was planned to be a smaller affair than usual. First to arrive, late Friday evening, were George and Maryann’s children Brendan and Katie with their significant others, Ashley and Quinn. The next morning we all got up, fitted a Christmas bow on Bingo the dog and watched Brendan, dressed in fuzzy brown PJs, make us all breakfast.
IMG_3848
Chewbacca and MaryAnn in the Kitchen.

 

That afternoon, I went to Fort Bragg and my favorite bar in the area, Milano. They were having their Christmas party and it was crowded. Most of the regulars were there. The old man who owned the place and always sat on the stool by the wall at the end of the bar, however, was missing. Perhaps he died. He was not looking well the last time I saw him well over a year.

I took an empty stool and ordered a Stella. There was food at the party, a potluck. The bartender urged me to get some food but I demurred for some reason or another. The noise in place was almost defining, There were several little groups talking loudly, others pounding their dice cups on the bar-top. A few people sat quietly staring at their drinks. I made a friend.

I Usually, I do not talk to anyone preferring to watch. But Gene, who sat down next to me, insisted that I engage him in conversation. “What’s your nationality?” he asked. “Italian,” I responded. “I’m Bohemian,” he said. I thought he was playing with me, but since I could not figure out the joke, I ignored it. I then asked him what he does for a living “I’m a stone contractor,” he said. Not knowing what a stone contractor was, I ignored this too. “I’m retired,” he went on, “but I still work 5 hours a day.” How one can work five hours a day and still consider himself retired I could not comprehend but I let that pass also. “I like my clients,” he then declared. “I did not like mine,” I responded. He stared at me a moment then said, “Attorneys are the most difficult to get to pay their bills.” “I can understand that,” I replied. “After all, they spend most of their working lives helping people to avoid paying their debts, financial or otherwise.”

I was happy when I left and drove back to my sister’s house. Shortly after I got back, two additional weekend guests, Debbie and Shelly, arrived. We had risotto for dinner.

The next morning, it was the day before Christmas. We had a long breakfast where we talked about many things that made us laugh and some that did not.

That evening, we gathered for Christmas Eve dinner. Maryjane (she who had married a clown) and her current husband Jovan, and Nancy and Duncan joined us. Before dinner, we snacked on stuffed calamari, baked eggplant, crab cakes, shrimp cocktail and a lot of other things — too many for me to remember.
25659716_10155840243925242_7198401999962067273_n
Debbie and Katie.

At dinner, we toasted to good friends and holidays and then dug into the marvelous cioppino my sister had prepared.
IMG_3878
Happy Holidays to All.

I sat between Nancy and Shelly. Nancy told me about her father (or Duncan’s, I forget which) who led a wonderful and exciting life and at 95 years old lives by himself in a house in Oregon, still drives and cooks his own meals and refuses to go to a senior home. Shelly, a potter by trade who’s studio is at the Women’s Pottery Studios on Noe in San Francisco told us about her good friend and studio mate who died at 105. She began her ceramics career in her late 40s. When she was 80, she was “discovered” by the critics and became a bit of a celebrity. She made well over 5 million dollars from her pottery in about 5 years. Because so many of her clients and friends were in the entertainment business, she began being offered roles in the movies. She was the voice of the grandmother in “Titanic.”

Following these uplifting tales and several different desserts, I went to bed.

The next morning, Christmas, it was Panettone and presents, coffee and wrapping paper, giggles of happiness and moments of silent contemplation of fleeting pleasures that penetrated the veneer of joy like no-see-umm pricking your skin.
IMG_3883
Christmas Morning with Bingo and George.

I then left drove five hours back to the golden hills where I opened more presents.

A woman, Wanni, who I assisted in the sale of her business, gave me a lovely blanket, fleece on the inside and smooth and soft to the touch on the outside. Adrian also gave me a number of great gifts as did Dick and Hayden. We then had dinner and I immediately went to bed where clutching my marvelous new blanket I thankfully quickly fell into a deep almost dreamless sleep.

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An Aging Childe Harold.

 

B. Molly had a Baby:

On Christmas Day, Molly had a baby. I was not there at the birth, but I had been there over 20 years ago at Molly’s birth along with her father Maurice, a dear friend and a kind gentle man. When the nurse brought tiny Molly into the nursery, Maurice. for a long, long time, stared through the glass at her with a wonder and love that stayed with him for the rest of his life. Molly soon became the child of all of us, our family and friends. She was a quiet waif of a child. Usually, she sat silently at the edge of things — an innocent in a cynical world. She wore large round glasses and had a shy smile. Often, she babysat my grandchildren, traveled with them and at lived with them in their house when Maurice worked.

When we awoke on Christmas Day, we learned she had given birth — to a boy, a Christmas baby she named Amir, Emmanuel, Duncan Trad (Trans: Prince, Messiah [God is with us], Dark Warrior [dark of visage, not of heart] Trad) a fitting name for someone born on this day. A few years ago, Molly wrote a prescient poem that she shared with me. Read it slowly.

A New Years Poem
I have a desperate attraction to new beginnings
Sometimes the numbers on the calendar look so beautiful
I think
Today’s the day I drink less and run more
No smoking, all veggies
Honesty, integrity, self-reliance, perseverance, creativity,
No fear, live large,
Dream big, be bright, believe in love and believe in yourself!
And I do
Today is an auspicious day
Today is my new beginning
Sometimes I just feel it, on a Tuesday
Today’s the day I keep doing yoga
I don’t back down when I’m right
I go to bed at a reasonable hour, pay my bills on time
Clean out the toe jam, learn all those languages
All the little steps start here and I’m climbing
I can feel it now, right now, and I won’t look back
This is it!
Today is an auspicious day
Today is my new beginning
Then I find myself making the same mistakes
Who manufactured the grooves in my record?
How would it feel if the dj scratched me across the turntable?
The dissonant rip, like a zipper coming undone
A cut away from the 4/4 time that I was trying so hard to hold
But this is why the crowd came to the club
To hear the sound of the universe tearing into a new song
The maligned has become music
We throw our hands up and we dance
I am scratched across the turntable and the crowd is screaming
We are scratched and screaming
And the dj takes it back, and the song plays
All of it is beautiful
Every moment new
Every moment auspicious
Every moment beginning
Molly Trad

IMG_1546
Molly and Amir Emmanuel Duncan Trad

 

C. SORROW.

Within minutes of finishing the above joyous account of a Christmas birth, I received the following distressing email from Naida regarding my dear friend Bill:

“I have been sitting with Bill next to his bed. His coughing woke me at 5 a.m. He asked me what my name was. I told him and, when asked what I’ve done all day, explained that I am his wife and I’ve been taking care of him. He said he’d been put away into in some attic. I told him he’s downstairs. He said he wants to see out the window. I explained that the sun wouldn’t come up for a couple of hours. He said, “OK. When it’s light I want to see out the window.” He also said, “I feel weird like I’ve been separated from all civilization” — followed by his characteristic sarcastic “huh” of a laugh. Then he asked if any of his relatives were coming to see him.”

Bill, a gentle giant of a man, has been my cherished friend for more years than I can remember — always cheerful and always seeming happy to see me when I visited he and Naida at their beloved ranch along the Cosumnes River near Sacramento.

Few people know that Bill was quietly responsible for the passage of the California Coastal Conservancy legislation, a key element of California’s Coastal protection program over 40 years ago. We were on the floor of the Senate. We clearly did not have the votes. Bill privately spoke to Senator Denny Carpenter a vocal opponent of California’s Coastal Protection legislation. He asked Carpenter to speak in favor of the legislation when it came before the Senate for its final vote. Carpenter agreed and did so, turning enough votes to pass the bill. So, whenever you visit a beautiful section of the California coast or San Francisco Bay that the Conservancy has had a hand in preserving, please remember Bill, Geyer.

I will miss him greatly.

And, the Great Wheel grinds inexorably on.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

A Simple Primer for Understanding Politics.

First, Democrats exaggerate, Republicans lie. So whenever Democrats tell you something about an issue, you can be reasonably confident it is not as bad or as good as they say it is. When a Republican, however, says something, you can be sure the exact opposite is true.

Second, when politicians tell you the deficit is too large and will lead the nation into ruin they are really saying that they want to reduce taxes on the wealthy and increase the military budget. Remember, no large private corporation can operate without debt. (Note: no politician ever claims the deficit or public debt is too small.)

Third, Promises are used to get elected not to govern. Trust is not a verity one can rely on in politics. The devil is always in the details. Whatever is promised before the election will not look like what you thought it would after. Especially, if it needs to be approved by the legislative body. Support politicians because you are confident you can persuade them to your point of view after they take office, not simply because they agreed with you before the votes were counted.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“This estimate is according to Five Thirty-Eight. Apart from post-mastectomy reconstructions, reconstructions, around quarter-million American women now get breast implants each year, including several thousand girls eighteen and younger. An additional 149,000 women a year have their breasts surgically lifted, a procedure that has become seven times more common since the 1990s.”

Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 251). Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Thoughts to Ponder:

“I’m a child of the enlightenment; I was raised thinking that moral and ethical standards are universals that apply equally to everyone. And these values aren’t easily compatible with the kind of religion that posits a Creator. To my way of thinking, an omnipotent being who sets up a universe in which thinking beings proliferate, grow old, and die (usually in agony, alone, and in fear) is a cosmic sadist. Consequently, I’d much rather dismiss theology and religious belief as superstitious rubbish. My idea of a comforting belief system is your default English atheism . . .. except that I know too much. See, we did evolve more or less randomly. And the little corner of the universe we live in is 13.73 billion years old, not 5,000 years old. And there’s no omnipotent, omniscient, invisible sky daddy in the frame for the problem of pain. So far so good: I live free in an uncaring cosmos, rather than trapped in a clockwork orrery constructed by a cosmic sadist.”

Stross, Charles. The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files Book 3) (p. 136). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

American’s have always considered belief to be more important than truth, money more desirable than morals, and celebrity more trustworthy than scholarship.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

THE HAPPY VIRUS

I caught the happy virus last night

When I was out singing beneath the stars.

It is remarkably contagious-

So kiss me.

Hafiz (14th Century Sufi Poet)

 

D. Some Comments on My Previous Post:

 

1. From Ruth:

So I fretted all week about your doctor appointments and whether to inquire what happened, but I got distracted by Moe’s medical adventures–which appear to be on the way to fairly good resolution. He’s out of the hospital and will go home from rehab tomorrow, but with a home health asst 12 hours a day for at least a while. I didn’t dare ask how that’s being funded, but he is in good spirits about getting home and back to something approximating real life.

From your missive, it sounds as if your situation is not as bad as you feared, but certainly bad enough to spoil your day.

It sounds as if SWAC remains true to character; she’s been sort of her own bulldoze-through-other-people individual ever since you first met her and probably way before then. One question is what kind of woman would give birth to a child and then farm him out in one foreign country or another for months at a time. And another question is what the hell is the matter with Dick that he would kick you out, especially in the present circumstances. However, there is nothing I can do about that and probably nothing you can do either.

I hope the various doctors are able to help you with minimal suffering on your part. Cancer unquestionably sucks, and so does the treatment.

And I hope you manage some festivity over the holidays. I’ll be in Vancouver at my cousin’s for a week, then home overnight, and then in San Diego for New Year’s. I plan to visit Joan on the way home if not also over that weekend.

Hang in there.

 

2. Gateser:

O.K., some unsolicited advice (but first a couple of unsolicited thoughts):

Thoughts:
1 – I firmly believe that stress is a cancer accelerator. I watched my mom die of it (cancer and stress) at age 46.
2 – It seems to me that you’re spending a lot of time with sick people and generally talking about sickness a lot — basically adding to the stress.

Advice:
Forget all that shit, do what you have to do to fight the good fight and, every time the subject of illness comes up, think about the Geriatric Round Table (and other ‘past glories’!).

It is what it is. As you know, talking about, stressing over and fearing what may or may not be there at the moment isn’t going to help, it just adds more stress!

I know, easy for me to say but … ‘I know things Lily’

Hang in! Happy Holidays!

Final unsolicited thought: We know all too well the type of person who would throw someone with cancer out of his home.

Final, Final unsolicited thought: Karma can be a bitch to bitches!

 

My Response:

I shall never forget the Geriatric Knights, their bravery in the face of temptation, their courage in discharging their duty and the fortitude with which they met their destiny.

I agree about spending more time with people who are not obsessed with sickness. But, when I am with people my age, sickness, and cloying memories are often all we have to talk about. I think that is why my time with Hayden is so enjoyable.

When are we going on that cruise together?

 

3. Fede:

I read that you are not well, and I’m so sad because of that!
I’m sure the biopsy will be negative and you will get well soon again!!
I’m sending you a big hug and Merry Christmas to you and the family!

Baci, kisses

 

4. Aline:

Joe, I can echo the statements of your friend regarding UCSF. The oncologists there are far ahead in their treatments and knowledge. My daughter has been cancer free for sixteen years because of UCSF doctors. She went through chemo, radiation, and surgery in Davis and all failed. She went to UCSF and participated in what was then experimental. It worked—from stage four cancer to cancer free! A lot of prayer was involved as well and those prayers are now directed at you.

As you stroll around Mendocino if you see a lady with a guide dog, say hello. She is my good friend Judy Chapman the dog is Jamie, a yellow lab.

 

5. Peter:

Maryann and George have a wonderful situation in a gorgeous place that seems so precarious; I think of My Fault vino up the road. Yet, imagine if/when the water is turned off in SF. Truly, living on the edge….

More Peter:

In a long run historical context, such as considering the progression of Chinese dynasties which included that roughly 200 year Period of Disorder (between Han and Tang), as the historians call it, what could be the brief (a trifle more than 200 years) American Period of Democracy could be viewed from the Far Future as yet another historical blip — especially if viewed from Elon Musk’s Martian refuge, which, rather than being the bridge and tunnel crowd, would be the dome and burrow bunch.

Still More Peter:

When faced with this, you can simple light up some candles and incense, adopt the eternal full lotus position, and intone Om and Oy Way and celebrate another swig of prosecco and a puff of the Great Weed.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“If there is something comforting—religious, if you want—about paranoia, there is still also anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long.”

—THOMAS PYNCHON, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)

 

 

 

Categories: October through December 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Joseph 0004 (December 31, 2014)

Happy New Year to All…

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

1. San Francisco:

Nona Teresa

I took the train to San Francisco, met George who drove us St. Ann’s Home to visit my mom. My sister prepared a small Christmas party for her. She was quite lively and happy although she kept getting confused about whether we were celebrating Christmas or her birthday.
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Mom and I
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Aaron, Athena, Nona Teresa and Pookie

Maurice Trad

At the funeral for Maurice someone observed that when Maurice asked you how you were he really did want to know how you were. I agree. No one I have ever known seemed so genuinely interested in those he met. His love for his daughter Molly was remarkably unqualified and selfless. It was reciprocated. When giving the eulogy Molly broke down in tears. Maurice and Molly were as much a part of our extended family as those related by blood or marriage.

Maurice was a cigar aficionado and his cigar collection was distributed to the mourners in his memory.

People I have not seen for many years attended the funeral, including “don’t call me Shipenis, Shipinus” and the “Shufat family.”
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Maurice Trad with cigar
2. Mendocino

I drove to Mendocino with my sister Maryann and her husband George to spend Christmas there. We stayed in the water-tower because their house was being remodeled. My sister invited several friends to spend the holiday with us. They rented a beachfront house in Cleone for everyone to stay at. Beside Maryanne and George’s son and daughter and their respective partners, there was a woman friend who we learned actually attended Woodstock and had the photographs to prove it. Another family, neighbors of my sister when they lived in Berkeley, were accomplished musicians. On Christmas Day we were joined by yet another Berkeley neighbor. I had a wonderful time. It is great to finally experience a Christmas that I actually enjoyed. That is a new experience for me.
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Preparing the food

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Setting the table
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Wearing Kesorn’s hats
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Crab and Eggplant Parmigiano
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Singing carols

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Having fun
B. BOOK REPORT:

I received several great books for Christmas. I still, however, had to complete the series I was already reading before I could dig into them.

Ever since opening up The Hobbit for the first time, I have had a weak spot for Swords and Sorcery and Fantasy genre. True, it has at times produced some of the worlds greatest literature such as, in the West, Homer, Wolfram Von Eschenbach, Poe and more recently Tolkien, Tad Williams, Donaldson, Ursula LeGuin, and Rowling among others. Nevertheless, for the most part, it ranks next to romance novels among the dregs of fiction. As with my life in general it is often among the dregs that I find myself the happiest.

Swords and Sorcery and Fantasy as a rule, no matter how exalted its literary pretensions, is usually what can best be described and the glorification of Autarchy. They are morality tales for the aristocracy. People born with privilege or inherited superiority struggle to rise to the top against a dark adversary, usually someone just the same as they are but more of a dick. The moral is generally don’t be an asshole to people beneath you unless you have to and if a lot of them die in order for you to survive, that’s ok because they are better off with you in charge than the other guy.

Anyway, I just completed reading a four book series called The Evermen Saga. Although the novels are quite good, the author’s life is probably more interesting than the books .

The author James Maxwell a young man who likes to travel and apparently writes these books in order to continue his hobby. His first he wrote on an island in Thailand, the second on a beach in New Zealand, the third in the Austrian Alps and the fourth on Malta.

Pookie says, “check it out”

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

The Little Car that Could:

V. Deterioration and Renewal
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In order to store the car during my stay in Canicatti my cousin Giovanni called a friend who had a large garage attached to his home. The friend, Luigi (Gigi) Gallo, came over and we took the car to his garage. I was convinced the car was on its last legs, or wheels. The engine stopped working before we got to the garage. We pushed it the rest of the way. Once we arrived and settled the car in the garage, I unceremoniously turned my back on it and walked away.

Today forty years later I feel bad about that. After all it safely took my young son and me almost 2000 miles across a continent from north to south, through one of the earths great mountain ranges. Yet as far as I was concerned its use to me was finished.

During the next four years or so while I lived in Sicily and Rome and even after I returned to the US, I would, at Gigi’s urging, return to the garage and check on it as its tires slowly flattened and dust and grime turned its white surface a pitted grey.

Eventually Gigi took it out to his farm in the country where the children could play in the slowly rusting hulk. One time, for some reason, thieves stole it. Gigi called the police who found it and returned it in even worse shape than before.
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As restoration began

Gigi eventually became a locally well-known race car driver. When his son, Marco, was about 14 years old Marco decided to restore the thing he played in for most of his life. According to Marco, he remembered the stories his father told him about the strange American and his young son who drove in the automobile across Europe from London to Canicatti. He wanted to see what the car originally looked like. So he contacted the Trojan Automobile Club and began assembling the car’s original parts and restored it. There now is only one Trojan 200 in Sicily and one in Rome. Marco also became a successful race car driver and now lives in Milan and is a practicing sports nutritionist.
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Gigi and the Trojan shortly after restoration

Today the Trojan 200 of my journey sits in a garage in Caltanissetta Sicily along with Gigi’s race and classic cars. I finally got to see it again after forty years.
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Pookie with the Trojan 200

The joy and the pain of a journey is increased by who and what one travels with. For this somewhat epic trip I was fortunate to have my young son and the Trojan along. I could not ask for better traveling companions.

End.
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. City Planning:

“Recent developments in the global system of cities present a curious paradox. With the cost of communications declining almost to zero and substantial, though less dramatic reductions in transport costs, there is now little technical requirement for most kinds of production to be undertaken in any particular location, or for elements of production chains to be located close to each other. This fact has had dramatic consequences for the organization of manufacturing industry. Simple production chains involving the import of raw materials, usually from developing countries, for processing in a specialized centre, have been replaced by far more complex structures.

Yet, in important respects, the dominance of a small number of ‘global cities’ has never been greater. In this paper, it is argued that the dominance of global cities reflects a desire for clustering on the part of finance sector professionals and corporate executives. It seems likely that such clustering provides private benefits by enhancing the value of personal contacts, but reduces the efficiency and profitability of the corporate sector.”
John Quiggin. Abstract to Cities, Connections and Cronyism. 2006.

B. Famous Errors of Prognostication:

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
H. M. Warner (1881-1958), founder of Warner Brothers, in 1927

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Thomas Watson (1874-1956), Chairman of IBM, 1943

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”
Yale University management professor in response to student Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith graduated from Yale in 1966 went on to found Federal Express Corp. 1966-1970)

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
Bill Gates (1955-), in 1981

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“I’ll just touch on something else: secrecy in government. Secrecy in government exists for only one reason: to prevent the American people from knowing what’s going on. It is nonsense to believe that anything our government does is not known to the Russians at about the same moment it happens.”
“Public Authority and the State in the Western Tradition: A Thousand Years of Growth, AD 976 – 1976” by Carroll Quigley Ph.D.
TODAY’S CHART:
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Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Joseph 0004 (December 21, 2014)

_________________________________________________
Happy Holidays to all.

__________________________________________________
“Every saint has a past,and every sinner has a future.”
Oscar Wilde. A Woman of No Importance.

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Well, for the last three years almost unbroken sunshine has fallen on The Golden Hills with bringing with it a terrible drought. For the past three weeks there has been very little sunshine at all. The rain dribbles from the grey skies and flowing along the gutters sweeping the streets clean of leaves.

I am back on antibiotics and feeling better but implacable advancing age grapples with my spirit and is now winning two out of three falls.

HRM is inexorably moving from dependence and fear to independence and self-awareness. My role lessens — from guide to observer.

A mud soaked holiday season approaches, its color certainly will not be white except high in the mountains.

The leafless trees scratch the grey skies, winter is here. Some may see it as an ending but I prefer to look at it as merely a preparation for spring — another rebirth, a promise. It is only we, in the winter of our lives, who know there are no more promises, no more springs. Nevertheless, we endure — for a while.

There is a nine-year old in town who has won the national cross-country championships. Hayden has raced against him in local races. It is fun to watch the young champion run, finishing the 2.5 mile course often 300 yards ahead of the second place runner, sometimes even passing the high-school runners pacing the race.

At one race Hayden went up to him at the starting line and said to him “You will probably win an athletic scholarship to a good school. I am happy for you.”

By the way December 20th in the Gregorian Calendar is a free day in Pookies calendar. The day you can do whatever you want. So, enjoy — but try to avoid hurting yourself or others.

We ought to give that day a catchy name. Any suggestions?

___________________________________________________

Maurice Trad has died. Maurice’s friendship saved me at a time I thought I could not be saved. He was always a better friend to me than I ever was to him.

I will miss you Maurice. Rest in Peace.
__________________________________________________________

B. BOOK REPORTS:

Sara King: Legend of Zero

It is always a sign of the deterioration of my mental health whenever I bury myself in obsessive reading to the exclusion of almost everything else. Usually it means I am teetering on the edge of depression too deep even for my happy pills to remedy. At Ruth’s suggestion, I am ripping through the Martin Beck mystery series. Interspersed with these I have begun reading Sara King’s Legend of Zero series. It is not her books that fascinate me. They are post contact warrior stories where humans and other alien species find themselves in foxholes together fighting an intergalactic war. Sort of like Starship Trooper except the insects are on our side and fighting among themselves because the entire universe is controlled by a galactic state that finds itself every few years putting down a rebellion by one or another of the bazillion species that make up the state. The rebels are usually the most horrible species one can imagine but not nearly as horrible as members of the state’s ruling caste. Everyone talks like post adolescent soldier grunts from WWII. For those that like this stuff it is pretty good and better than most.

However, what really interest me is the author. She lives somewhere in the wilds of Alaska. Her publicity picture shows a middle-aged child of the counter-culture from the 70’s — floppy hat, loose cotton clothing — standing before what looks like an organic garden. She says that she intends to “change the world” with her character writing. I do not know what that is or whether it is a good thing, but maybe she, like Zero the main character in her books, may well do so. She says:

“My name is Sara King and I’m going to change the world.
My goal is simple. I want to champion, define, and spread character writing throughout the galaxy. (Okay, maybe we can just start with Planet Earth.)”
King, Sara . Zero Recall (The Legend of ZERO, Book 2). Parasite Publications.

Pookie says check it out….

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

The Little Car that Could

IV Sicily
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Jason and I stood on the ferry’s deck as it approached the Port of Palermo, the three thousand-year old harbor originally built by the Phoenicians. The morning sun was shining brightly —the water a deep blue-green and the low-lying city a dusty brown with red arabic cupolas here and there and the cathedral a mix or gothic and moorish architecture rising up in the center.

At that time, 1968, the city had not yet sprawled beyond its medieval walls. Along the shore those walls still bore the scars WWII bullets. Mount Pellegrino loomed over the city like a frozen storm.
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Palermo Harbor with Mt Pellegrino in the background

As the ferry docked Jason and I ran down into the hold, squeezed into the Trojan 200 and waited for the doors to open. They opened slowly. Light penetrated the gloom. The noise was almost painful as the engines in the vehicles revved up together, and then we moved down the ramp and into the city.

We drove into and through the city looking for the road that would take us across the Island to its southern shore and Canicatti our destination.

While driving through the city we passed San Cataldo, The Cathedral and the Opera Houses and then we out beyond the walls heading toward the center of the Island.
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San Cataldo

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Palermo Cathedral

At that time there were no highways in Sicily, mostly two lane roads often rural and at times unpaved crossed the Island. Each road connected a town with the nearest one to it, pass through the center of the town and meander on to the next village.

After leaving Palermo, the first village we came to was perched on top of a mountain. The road swooped in long switchbacks until it entered the village. We started up the hill but soon the 9 hp engine could go no further. So I got out of the car and pushed it up the mountain to the edge of the town. It was getting very hot and I began to sweat a lot. I got back into the car and drove it through the village. As we wound our way through the narrow streets,The people came out to watch us pass by. Unlike towns in other parts of Italy where the people would shout, smile and gesture, the villagers here lined the road in silence — the women mostly dressed in black and the men with their caps slouched low over their foreheads. Only a child now and then would smile. When we came to the end of the settlement, I saw that the road swooped down from the mountain top, crossed a small valley and then careened up another mountain upon which sat the next village. And so it went. I would leave a village, drive the car as fast as it would go on the down slope so that I could get as high a possible up the next slope, then get out of the car and push.
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The Road up to Mussomeli

Troina,_sicily
(The above photograph was taken in 1970. It shows the single narrow road up to the village. It also shows the land as treeless, barren and rocky. It no longer is that today. After 2000 years trees are again returning to Sicily.)

Finally about eight hours later, I had travelled a total of 80 miles, my clothing drenched with sweat and every muscle aching. I decided I could go no further than the next village but as we emerged, I saw below not another mountain top village at the end of the road but a rather large town in the valley, Canicatti.

It was late in the afternoon when we arrived in the town. It was larger than I thought. That was a problem. I knew the last name of my relatives, Corsello, and the town in which they lived, Canicatti but that was all, no address and no first names. I had thought Canicatti would be a small village where everyone knew everyone else, but it was a rather large town instead. I drove into the town past a small park where I learned later my mother used to play as a child and stopped by a coffee-house with chairs and tables sprawled haphazardly about. The wall by the café was pock-marked with bullet holes. I was later to find out that is was the site of the Canicatti massacre where American soldiers slaughtered a number of townspeople for no reason.

So, I started asking if anyone knew where a family named Corsello lived. Someone mentioned some people by that name lived just around the corner. We drove there. It was a new building one of the few in the town at that time. I found the name on a card and pressed the button. “Qui e” someone responded. After a somewhat difficult conversation since I did not speak Italian and they did not speak English we managed to discover that they were in fact the right family and they came down from their apartment to greet us. They invited us in. But before entering Vincenzo the patriarch asked, “What are we going to do about the car. We cannot leave it here where it will be stolen.” (to be continued)
DAILY FACTOID:

2012: In Thailand a worker killed another worker with a machete after being taunted for having a small penis.

(I think is was Darwin who pointed out that a man’s chances of surviving to breed are greatly diminished by disparaging the size of someone junk when that other person is carrying a machete.)

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
BN-CU892_paydeb_G_20140515160642_2

This may be one of the most disheartening charts I have posted so far. What this means is that many of those graduating from college today are so deeply in debt that the normal process of exploring options and settling into a career are denied to them.

It also encourages students, rather than educate themselves to be able to handle social and economic changes, to prepare themselves for only jobs available upon graduation despite recent experience demonstrating that those jobs may disappear long before their working lives end. We are no longer educating students but merely engaging in vocational training.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The state is a good state if it is sovereign and if it is responsible. It is more or less incidental whether a state is, for example, democratic. If democracy reflects the structure of power in the society, then the state should be democratic. But if the pattern of power in a society is not democratic, then you cannot have a democratic state. This is what happens in Latin America, Africa and places like that, when you have an election and the army doesn’t like the man who is elected, so they move in and throw him out. The outcome of the election does not reflect the power situation, in which the dominant thing is organized force. When I say governments have to be responsible, I’m saying the same thing as when I said they have to be legitimate: they have to reflect the power structure of the society. Politics is the area for establishing responsibility by legitimizing power, that is, somehow demonstrating the power structure to people, and it may take a revolution, such as the French Revolution, or it may take a war, like the American Civil War. In the American Civil War, for example, the structure of power in the United States was such — perhaps unfortunately, I don’t know — that the South could not leave unless the North was willing. It was that simple. But it took a war to prove it. “
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

TODAY’S CHART:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good-Night.

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Categories: October through December 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Cold Tits 0003 (February 28 2013)

“Life is an application and not an operating system.”

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

When I was about seven years old we were quite poor. It was a few days before Christmas. My father was out of work and had disappeared, ostensibly to find a job. We did not have enough money for Christmas dinner nor for presents for my brother and I. The door bell rang. When my mom answered it, a young woman stood there smiling. She announced that they, the members of the Parish church, decided that we were the most destitute family in the Parish. She then happily presented us with a large turkey, baskets of food and presents for my brother and I.

I have always hated that woman. I could never forget the crushing humiliation I felt by that small bit of charity. Often I see her smiling face in my nightmares.

(“Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.” – John Dickinson (“1776”))
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Here in El Dorado Hills it is barely mid-February and the trees are already beginning to blossom. The crocuses have flowered and the recent rains have brought a green blush to the dun stained hills
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I now spend about six hours or so a day reading. It’s become an addiction, not too much different from alcoholism or gambling.

I have just finished a recent book about my favorite fictional repressed homoerotic couple, Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell in “Light of the World” by James Lee Burke. I wish they would just get it on with each other. It may lessen their dependency on mayhem, slaughter and alcohol.

This book finds our heroes in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana enjoying a vacation on the ranch owned by their friend, a well-known author and environmental radical. They are joined by Clete’s illegitimate daughter who was sexually abused as a child and used to be a hit-man (woman) called “Caruso” operating out of Miami on behalf of the Cuban and Italian mobs . She finally killed her abuser. Now she is a documentary film maker. Dave’s brought along his wife, an ex-Maryknoll nun who escaped the death squad slaughters of nuns in Nicaragua and married Dave (Come to think of it, the death squads don’t seem any worse than marriage to Robicheaux would be.) Also accompanying them is Dave’s adopted daughter Alafier, an orphan from El Salvador Dave rescued from the wreckage of a plane floating in the Gulf of Mexico and who after attending Reed College and Stanford Law School became an author just like Burke’s daughter of the same name did in real life.

In the early 70’s my son Jason and I used to spend a couple of weeks a year in the Bitterroot Valley with some friends there. They lived in a small A-frame that stood alone in the middle of the valley somewhere between Lolo and Hamilton or perhaps south of Hamilton, I do not remember which. No other structures could be seen only the valley’s flat grassy bottom with the mountains rising on each side. One winter the snow-covered the valley floor and we saw a herd of elk pawing the snow in front yard searching for the grass beneath. We watched them for hours as though we were looking at television or staring into an i-phone. Another time during the spring, we visited a ranch that raised and trained rodeo ponies and rode them all afternoon in the hills on the east side of the valley among the spring wild-flowers. Once while hiking in the Bitterroot mountains I got separated from my friend. He had Jason with him and I had his two children of about the same age with me. I am deathly afraid of bears. My friend had told me that these mountains were filled with Grizzlies. I got lost and began to cry. The children led me by the hand back to the car.

Anyway, our heroes Dave, Clete and their gang run amok among the mountains and valleys of western Montana in pursuit of a serial killer and also an evil petroleum billionaire leaving many many dead and maimed bodies in their wake. As in most of the other books in which he appears, Clete gets laid and the woman inevitably leaves him.

After reading the sixteen quadrillion books Burke has written in this series, I have become more fond of Clete. Dave could drop into a hole in the ground for all I care. Clete at least knows he is a screwed up violent alcoholic, Dave is a 12 stepper with all the cereal box morality and self-importance that implies. (I liked him better when he was still a drunk.) He also hallucinates, something I think is a hangover from his past hangovers. I suspect even the author has finally recognized Dave’s deficiencies. He has one of the villeins of the book, the son of the evil billionaire, say just before his head is blown off by a bullet from a rifle held by his illegitimate half-brother, a crazed ex-con who also has visions:

“We’ve researched every aspect of your life, Mr. Robicheaux. We have your psychiatric records, your pitiful statements about your dependency on your whore of a mother, your sexual history in Manila and Yokohama, the possibility of a homoerotic relationship with your fat friend, your constant whining about all the injustices visited on the miserable piece of swamp you grew up in. The fact that you take others to task for their mistakes has established new standards in hypocrisy.”
Burke, James Lee. Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (p. 539). Simon & Schuster.

Pookie says check it out.
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HRM and his team Mother Lode Rugby (Go you Mothers) played two games in Gridley a remote town in the middle of ranch and orchard country in the northern Central Valley. They lost both games to different teams by the identical score of 60 to 5. I guess it shows some improvement.
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Last week or so I joined a local health club. So, now I have physical therapy two days a week and exercise at the health club about four days a week. That leaves one day a week when I refuse to get out of bed.
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B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

I have been told recently from some of my correspondents in Thailand that the nature of the dispute causing the current demonstrations and turmoil in that country has changed from simple politics to concern about royal succession. The politics have always been centered on the conflict between the culture of corruption among the ruling economic and political élite and the alleged corruption concentrated in the hands of the family of Thaksin the Terrible the exiled ex-Prime Minister who had secured political power it has been said in return for programs that help the poor of the Country. It is now maintained by many that the conflict has shifted to the possibility that with the current King’s potential imminent demise the Throne will pass to his son. The son, it has been whispered about, is considered a creature of the same Thaksin the Terrible. Not only has it been alleged that the Prince received huge payments of cash from the ex-Prime Minister’s family in return for his support but that he himself is a monster who plotted to assassinate other members of the royal family competing with him for the crown. The leaders of the protest movement now insist that the demonstrations are not about political power but about preserving the Monarchy. Why having a king (or Queen in this case) more amenable to their interests is considered preservation of the Monarchy remains unaddressed.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
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These charts, if accurate, show why the cycle of poverty in the US is so hard to break. My daughter Jessica suggested that perhaps we should simply declare that, with few exceptions, once one reaches 21 year of age he or she are on their own, but until then society should guarantee children their education, health care, food, adequate housing and the like.

B. A Little Bit of Twain:

“There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.”
Mark Twain

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“We’re born arsonists and we die firemen.”
Camilleri, Andrea; Sartarelli, Stephen. Treasure Hunt (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries) (p. 238). Penguin Group US.

“I can be very rude, and when I was younger and scary-looking, people were very rude to me. But there’s much less of that now. When you become famous, people are much nicer to you.”
Mina, Denise. The End of the Wasp Season: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company.

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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See charts in Pepe’s Potpourri above. By the way, Finland operates more or less what my daughter suggests.

Categories: January through March 2014, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 27 Joseph 0003 (January 16, 2014)

 

Dum Spiro, Spero
“as long as you’re breathing, there’s hope.”

 
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

1. Before Christmas

A Great Blue Heron has taken up a sometime residence for the season at the Duck Pond a few blocks from my house. When I pass by during my walks, it makes me happy to see it standing there at the edge of the pond all majestic, silent and deadly.
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I always thought the depression that comes on me at this time of the year was brought on by memories of the horrors of the winter holiday season, the death of my child, the anguish of observing the failed hope of my parents mired in poverty as they sank deeper in debt to satisfy their children’s greed fueled expectations. I now believe it is much simpler than that. It is simply the darkening of the skies and the chilling of the air that brings on feelings of desolation like a cloying mist. I guess that is why a light in the gloom, a campfire, a candle or the tinkling lights of holiday display cheers most of us up; the festival of the lights, sympathetic magic to encourage the return of sunlight and warmth. I think it is also appropriate to feel this way as we age, cold becomes more unbearable and the dimming of the light more frightening. The Drunken Poet’s urging to, “…not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” seems to me easier done at the end of Summer than in the depths of Winter. Who needs to go through another February.
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Went to SF for a day. Had dinner at Pino’s Brindisi restaurant on Beldon Alley. The food was even better than I remembered. While walking through the City I realized how much I missed city life. A few days later I returned to the same restaurant with my daughter Jessica to have our annual holiday season dinner. It was the same evening of the last professional football game at Candlestick Park before it is demolished and the 49rs move to Santa Clara. I had gotten up at seven AM that morning to drive SWAC to the airport for her return to Thailand. I waited there a couple of hours to pick up Nikki arriving from Frankfurt to drive him the Emeryville Train station so he could travel to Sacramento to spend the holidays with Triple H. The time spent waiting at the airport and enjoying dinner with Jessica totaled about 5 hours at best. I arrived at my sister’s place in Berkeley to spend the night somewhat after 10pm which means I spent approximately 10 hours driving in the car to travel a distance of about 45 miles.
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A day or two before my epic drive I attended my sister’s Christmas open house at her home. Most of the guests were dressed appropriately for Berkeley in various shades of casual grey. I met a man there named Lloyd who the day before arrived in the Bay Area after walking here from St Louis. I asked my sister what Lloyd did for a living. She said as far as she know he walked.

Earlier in the day I spent a few hours with Peter Grenell sitting in the sun in front of Bernie’s Cafe drinking coffee and reminiscing. Our conversation produced such bon mots as, “Artists, the shock troops of gentrification,” describing those lower level employees of organizations (mostly women) who actually do the work as those who are “unclouded by visions of self-importance,” and finally describing our (Peter’s and mine) current state of being as “benign senility.”
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2. January 13, 2014 (23 Joseph 0003)

I have not written here for about three weeks in part because I have grown a bit tired of T&T, but mostly because my blood clots have returned and was too depressed to do much of anything. Today was the first day I have been able to walk for any length of time since the clot was discovered. I walked this afternoon to the duck pond and back. It felt good to be up and about. The sun was shining and the weather was quite warm for this time of year.

The duck pond is divided into two separate ponds, an upper pond which at this time of year is covered in a russet colored scum of what I guess is dead algae (see photograph above) and a lower pond than is mostly clear with a few clumps of green algae floating about. Between them a trickle of water flows over the dam on the upper pond under a small wooden bridge into the lower pond. As I stood on the bridge I noticed what looked like excavation dirt piled under the bridge for some reason. I went down under the bridge to investigate and stood on a rock to examine the pile and discovered it was made up of the dead russet algae through which water trickled into the lower pond.
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Christmas Eve I spent at my sisters for a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with our closest 25 or so relatives and friends. My mother was there in her wheel chair. I drove her back to the nursing home before driving myself back to El Dorado Hills.
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Christmas morning I woke up with severe pains in my foot. We opened presents. Dick prepared a lobster dinner for Nikki Hayden and I. We invited Stevie and Norbert to join us. By the evening I could barely walk and my foot began to swell. Nevertheless, the next day I drove with HHH to Mendocino, stopping for a few hours at Discovery Park on the way.
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The walrus and the Haystack

The pain increased and walking got even more difficult. George helpfully supplied me with generous doses of Motrin. I had a great time there despite my difficulties. We, of course, had a delightful picnic at Pacific Star Winery with Sally.
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We celebrated the New Year appropriately with funny hats and noise makers.
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Lloyd, Hayden, Maryann, George

When I returned to El Dorado Hills my leg had swollen a lot so I went to the doctor and after several days of testing learned that a clot had formed again in my calf and I now am back on blood thinners and spend most of my time lying down with my leg elevated and reveling in my misery.

 

 

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

As I have written here in T&T and in many of my blog posts, I believe that the world desperately needs to turn the reigns of economic and political leadership from men to women. While in times past it may have been sensible and properly celebrated in song and story for groups of under-employed young men to raid the lands of milk and honey, kill all the able-bodied men and enslave their women and children claiming that either their god or their inherent superiority justified it, modern technology makes this ideology inherently dangerous to the survival of humanity. The risk taking gene so useful in the past seems perilous now.

Even in that last vestige of unvarnished aggression and greed, the modern derivatives market, recent studies show that women outperform men.

From January through November 20013, a study by Rothstein Kass hedge funds run by women returned almost 10 percent on the funds invested while those run by men barely topped 6 percent.

According to Meredith Jones, a director at Rothstein Kass:

“There have been studies that show that testosterone can make men less sensitive to risk-reward signals, and that comes through in this study.”

The numbers are even more eye-popping for the six years from January 2007 through June 2013. Hedge funds run by women returned 6 percent compared with a 1.1 percent loss at the HFRX Global Fund Index. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 4.2 percent during the same time.

All which shows that not only do women hedge fund managers out perform men significantly but also beat the index which some male economists maintain is impossible over time.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

2013: During all of 2013 there were scientific 9,137 peer-reviewed articles published regarding anthropogenic climate change (human caused global warming). Of those 9,137 articles only one denied it exists. That lone scientist lives in Russia. Almost 50% of Americans and Congressional Republicans as well as Fox News passionately believes that one Russian scientist is correct. All the rest of the scientists they are convinced are part of a massive conspiracy by the solar power industry and the Muslim Brotherhood to weaken America.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
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What one may conclude from this chart is that the current financial system is not set up to provide funding for innovation, economic development and capital improvements but to provide fees for those engaged in what we lawyers call churning.

B. A bit of Twain:

“I was a mugwump. We, the Mugwumps, a little company made up of the unenslaved of both parties, the very best men to be found in the two great parties–that was our idea of it–voted sixty thousand strong for Mr. Cleveland in New York and elected him. Our principles were high, and very definite. We were not a party; we had no candidates; we had no axes to grind. Our vote laid upon the man we cast it for no obligation of any kind. By our rule we could not ask for office; we could not accept office. When voting, it was our duty to vote for the best man, regardless of his party name. We had no other creed. Vote for the best man–that was creed enough.”
Mark Twain’s Autobiography (North American Review, Dec. 21, 1906)

C. Something everyone should read:

I recently ran across a letter to a parishioner written by a Baptist Minister of all people entitled “A Letter to Louise”(http://godmademegay.blogspot.com/p/letter-to-louise.html) that I recommend everyone should read. While its focus is a rebuttal to those individuals and religious leaders who condemn homosexuality as contrary to biblical lore, it is really an examination of the essence of morality.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Categories: January through March 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 5 Joseph 0002 (December 25, 2012 Christmas Day)

 

“We all (in Bangkok) celebrate the birth of a Jewish man, who’s a messenger to the Muslims, God to the Christians and another reason to get drunk for the Buddhists”
Voranai Vanijaka, The Bangkok Post.

I hope you all are enjoying your holidays

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

1. A brief trip to Paradise by the Sea.

To celebrate my free day, observe the ending of the world and visit Bill’s new venture the “Winchester Gun Club,” a “gentleman’s club in Jomtien Beach, I decided to travel to Paradise by the Sea and spend a few days there. After a not too unpleasant two-hour bus ride, we arrived and tried to find a room at the little guest house that we usually stay in.

Alas, it was the time of the year for the mass migration of Russians from the frozen Steppes south on to the ragged edges of the Indian Ocean. The only similar migration of which I am familiar was the sweeping of the “alters” from the frigid streets of New York and the depositing of them like dice rolled in a street corner craps game upon the burning sands surrounding Biscayne Bay, there to remain until their internment in some recently reclaimed bit of the Everglades.

Even though the area in which the little guest house was located was downscale even by Russian standards (but not so for American expats on Social Security) there were no accommodations available in any of the 50 or so small hotels in the two block area. All that was left were a few tiny windowless rooms usually reserved for short time rentals. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term “short time,” try to think of what activity requires the rental of a hotel room for three hours or less.)

The streets, hotels restaurants, bars and massage parlors in this little neighborhood teemed with Russians; Slavs with their inverted banana ski-jump noses and the denizens of the Caucuses and the Steppes with their grand potato schnozes.

Now some of you have commented on my obsession with probosci of all sort. That infatuation, however, is not engendered by a fondness for my Mediterranean ancestors spread along all sides of that remarkable inland sea who sport some of the most gargantuan and bizarre examples. You probably do not know this, but one of the first physical changes that separated us from our cousins the chimpanzees and bonobos was movement of our nostrils from within the plane of our facial plate outward, to dangle in space at the end of a slightly flexible hunk of cartilage. So when you hear the phrase, “follow your nose,” it does not mean to follow the smell since that sense had diminished greatly from the capabilities exhibited by our simian relatives when we obtained our proboscis, but to follow the ascent of the various permutations of civilization these inquisitive appendages, for better of worse, have gotten us into.

We chose a room in the place I usually stay at. The street level floor is an open shop front with a counter. The proprietor sits behind the counter. She is almost always accompanied by her child who appears stricken with severe birth defects, rendering her immobile and deformed. When not dealing with customers, the woman spends her time rubbing down the child’s limbs, feeding her or speaking or humming something softly into her ear. The woman has a look of intensely deep sorrow. It is beyond anything I have ever seen in Thailand. Everyone else in the country seems to hide their feelings behind either the ever-present smile or a blank emotionless face that leaves one often wondering if anyone is at home. I do not know why I always chose to stay at this particular guest house, but I do.

As I said our room is windowless that means if there is a fire we die. Since the world was going to end in two days anyway, I was willing to take the risk.

The next morning we got up early and went out for our walk along the beach. When we got on to the sand we were greeted by the sight of hundreds’ of exposed boobs, both male and female glistening brightly like bleached bones in the morning sun, destined to glow a bright cherry red when the sun reached it zenith and turn a dark mottled brown like burnt toast when the sun sets that evening over the gulf of Thailand. On a pure tonnage basis, including my own not unsubstantial addition, I reckon that the males have the females on that beach beaten by the proverbial country mile.

As long as I am discussing humanities difference from other simians, I should point out that at about the same time the protuberance made its appearance in the middle of our ancestors faces, perky little sprouts bloomed upon the chests of their pubescent females that contrasted greatly with the determinedly consistent flat chested aspect of our ape cousins. Another advance in the humanity’s march to dominate its environment. Another time, if asked, I will explain the role in the development of civilization of the disappearance of hair from most of our ancestors bodies and the Sophie’s Choice that it presented to the human body louse. (Speaking of Lice, did you know that Napoleon’s army was not destroyed by the Russians but by typhoid bearing lice. It was a lousy way to go)

 

I took a long walk along the water’s edge. The water was as warm as freshly spilled blood. Now and then I would leave the sand and run across the road to look at the condo sale and rental ads in the windows of several of the real-estate agent’s shops that lined Beach Road. I still hoped to return to live there some day.

After the walk, we returned to the room to rest and escape the midday heat. While dozing I dreamily watched a television news program showing a security camera tape of a child, about two years old, playing near the rear wheel of an automobile. Suddenly the car backed up running over the child. It then moved forward running her over again. Shocked, I screamed, ran into the bathroom and started retching. I could hear the television reporters describing the scene as they played the tape over and over again. When I finished retching, I returned to the room and quickly shut off the TV, threw on some clothes, left the room and ran down the steps to get some air. LM ran after me, “Wait,” she said, “Good Luck. Baby lived.” I ignored her. Outside, I walked rapidly back and forth in front of the hotel wondering what kind of culture would show such a thing on television. At least there were no hoards of reporters seeking out the child’s pre-school classmates in order to get exclusive interviews on what they thought about the situation.

I no longer felt like visiting Bill’s new place and after a brief evening walk along the beach, I went to bed and slept badly. Thankfully, my dreams were not about run over little children or even those shot with assault rifles. Instead the blackness of my dreams were filled with giant translucent jellyfish like those that wash up on the beach here in great numbers. They resembled giant oozing glowing boobs that loomed up out of the darkness. They chased me along the beach. I tried to scream when they caught up to me but I couldn’t because they began to smother me, and then of course, I woke up. Interestingly, I did not dream about noses. I probably do not fear them as much.

In the morning, another walk on the beach followed by a van ride back to Bangkok. For the first time in over a decade, I did not feel sad at leaving Paradise by the Beach. I guess that will pass, eventually.

2. Twas the night before Christmas.

It actually began the morning before Christmas. The depression that had been building for a week now crashed in on me and I could hardly move from bed. It simply may be the traditional despondency I (and probably many others) feel during holiday season. I do not know. By midday it had blossomed into full-blown despair. It was not so much that I no longer wanted to wake up in the morning, every morning for as long as could to see how things turn out, but I no longer cared if I ever got out of bed again. Desperation, hopelessness and guilt had gotten to me.

LM wanted to go to the movies. So that afternoon I dragged myself from the apartment and we went to see “Life of Pi” at the theater in the Terminal Twenty-One shopping mall. The movie managed to blow away much of the melancholy I was experiencing. It was not so much because the movie was simply another a feel good film with their usual 5 minute shot of euphoria. Rather it was because, to me, the film seemed to be saying that in life perseverance was all that mattered but even so, all you ended up with are stories. Stories, perhaps meaningful to you and perhaps not, but to others whatever it is that they see in them that makes them feel good is OK. For some reason that cheered me up.

Just before going into the theater, I received a call from Nikki. He said that the man who SWAC decided to spend the holidays with in Vancouver called him distressed by her beating Hayden. Later after I told LM what Nikki had called about, she said, “Why would she do that. Nikki sends her enough money?” I will never understand this culture. Their cupidity is moderated only by their passivity.

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Street Sweeping in Bangkok.

The Bangkok Post reports the beginning of a crackdown on foreign prostitutes with the arrest of a number of Kazakstani (or Kyrgyzstani; I am unclear about which) prostitutes working the streets of Bangkok. The police spokesman said that the reason for the crackdown was that prostitution is illegal in Thailand and it posed a threat to the moral fiber of the nation. During the 20 or so years I have been coming to Thailand I have observed a number of crackdowns on “foreign” prostitutes, but never any on domestic Thai ladies and ladyboys of the morning, evening and night. I assume that is because there are no Thai prostitutes. However payment for performances of traditional Thai erotic art still appears to be permitted.

2. The law is the law.

The political party in power, unable to gain amnesty for the deposed, fugitive and exiled Prime Minister Thaksin the Terrible because of the committed opposition by the minority party (which, as far as I can tell has no other issue it really cares about.*) has decided to charge two of the leaders of the opposition party with murder and other crimes. The opposition party understandably has cried foul. Spokesmen for the party in power have said the action has nothing to do with their deposed leader. Anyway he really does not want to come back if there is anyone left who does not want him to.

(*The leader of the of the opposition party, Abhsit the Unready, in commenting on the ruling party’s plans to rewrite the Nation’s constitution said that he did not care what they wrote into the Constitution as link as they did not change that portion that prevents TTT from returning.)

3. Say what?

The Thai military that has governed the country through a succession of coups for most of the last 80 years, has announced they have no interest anymore in the government or the country but only in protecting the honor of the monarchy that they deposed 80 years ago.

DAILY FACTOIDS:

From Harper’s Index:

Percentage of Canadians who believe in global warming : 98

Of Americans who do : 70

Of Republicans : 48

Percentage of Republicans who believe in demonic possession : 68

Percentage of the population of Valencia, Spain, that is currently unemployed : 28

Price of a weeklong prostitution training course offered there since May : $127

Cost of a pair of “all-American” blue jeans designed by Glenn Beck : $129.99

The question this raises is whether someone in Valencia is possessed by demons if they buy Glen Beck’s jeans instead of learning how to get fucked or are they all really Republicans from Canada? Does anyone actually read Harper’s Magazine? How many people even know what it is?

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

205105_10151376564753487_480843197_n

The drop in income after 2005 among the 90-95% may have been caused by the collapse of the real estate industry at that time.

B. Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (chapter three or four).

I got back to the Mo Chit Skytrain station without too much difficulty and took the train a few stops back to where it meets up with the elevated railway that goes to the airport. I crossed over to the Airport train station and paid my fare. I discovered that I had paid a three dollar fare for the luxury express. I did not know there was such a thing. Normally I would have chosen the lower fare train, but I guess in my hurry I was not paying attention. When the train arrived and I entered the car I was surprised. Normally the rail cars have the usual bench like plastic seats aligned along the walls facing each other. Here they were upholstered airline seats in orderly rows facing forward. As I took my seat and the train started up I was pleased despite my extravagance. I was comfortable and the trip would be much shorter than the local giving me time to get my business done at the airport and return to the Immigration Offices.

Although the existing Skytrain had been built through the center of Bangkok, touching almost all the tourist and commercial areas and had already been extended halfway to the airport, the powers that be, both financial and governmental, decided it would be in their interests to create a separate company and transit line just to service the airport. They would place their stations where the airport line intersected existing mass transit lines . The theory being, I suppose, that the people, in the tourist and commercial areas and the like who wanted to get to the airport by less expensive mass transit would be willing to lug their suitcases on to one mass transit facility, travel for quite some time to the transfer point and then lug their things over to the new line for the final trip to the airport. Everyone was surprised when it didn’t work and the expected ridership failed to occur. Since then there have been the usual marketing campaigns, promoted by marketing mavens who convinced the powers that be that poor marketing was the problem and not any defect in the concept. That has not worked either.

Anyway I took my seat and stared out of my window as we rode high above the city. In an effort to reduce costs, in addition to scrimping on the quality of the stations, the roadway and the rolling stock, a route was chosen that avoided the developed portions of the city. From a point some where not too far from the palace grounds on the river and extenuating almost all the way to the new international airport there extends a relatively undeveloped strip of land about a half a mile wide. I have no idea what urban development dynamics caused this. Through this stretch the airport rail line travelled.

As I looked out my window I could see that in this stretch of land the jungle still existed. Not the jungle one sees in documentaries with thick gnarled trees and multi-storied green terraces, but a marsh jungle of grassland, clumps of thick vegetation with wispy leaved trees and black waters peeping through from beneath it all. In the distance the shining high rises gleamed and the pressed in on the margins. Here and there a collection for shacks of what I have learned are referred to as informal communities appeared. Rusted corrugated roofing covering dwellings and shops made from a variety of urban detritus, Narrow little lanes teeming with people zigzagged through each community. The structures were either built on stilts over the black waters of the marsh, or crowding over remnant canals.

I was enjoying the view and my contemplation when the first attack occurred. Fleas began their relentless assault of stinging bites all over my body. I wanted to run from the train howling, but it was the express, so I had no choice but to sit there. When the train rolled into the airport, I left it quickly. I already had started to feel the little red welts rising all over my body. I thought I must have looked as though I had come down with a case of measles.

At least I had arrived. I consoled myself with the thought that the protagonists of Conrad, Kafka and Coppola who furnished the material for this extended and convoluted metaphor faced worse. (Next – Disgust, loathing and redemption at the Airport.)

TODAY’S QUOTES:

“Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”
– Robert A. Heinlein

“There isn’t bad weather, only wrong clothes…”
Ken Bruen
TODAY’S CHART:

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Could this mean that Americans hate other Americans more than Muslim terrorists hate Americans?

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

DSCN0538
Christmas in Thailand

 

Categories: October 2012 through December 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 26, 2011

TODAY’S FACTOIDS:
1. Education matters:

A study, published through the National Bureau of Economic Research, collected data including interviews with charter school principals and teachers, student surveys, lesson plans, and video observations. It shows that input measures associated with a traditional resource-based model of education — class size, per pupil expenditure, fraction of teachers with no teaching certification, and fraction of teachers with an advanced degree — are not positively correlated with school effectiveness. Instead the factors that were meaningful are frequent teacher feedback, data driven instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and a relentless focus on academic achievement — explains almost half of the variation in school effectiveness. Moreover, these variables continue to be statistically important after accounting for alternative models of schooling, and a host of other explanatory variables, and are predictive in a different sample of schools.

2. 2011:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

1. Thai political adventures:

Thaksin the Terrible, the exiled fugitive ex-Prime Minister of Thailand and brother to the current Prime Minister, Princess LuckyGirl, has secretly received a Thai passport. This has dominated local media and has generated calls by the opposition party for  impeachment of LuckyGirl.

2. Floods:

More people died in the one day of flooding in the Philippines, than died in the two months of flooding in Thailand.

3. Christmas:

The sale of Christmas trees in Thailand (a Buddhist country) have skyrocket this year.

4. The Flying Ladyboys:

This past year PC air (that is not a joke), a regional Thai airline, announced it was hiring ladyboys as flight attendants. Among its initial hires, the airline proclaimed, was “Thailand’s most beautiful transvestite.”

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

I am generally up and about. My cough has receded to a sometime thing. I still find myself quite fatigued. I hope that clears up as I get back into my daily exercise regime.

Yesterday I went to see the some of Bangkok’s Christmas decorations. Yes, Thailand (at least the commercial sector), a 96 percent Buddhist country, celebrates Christmas with a fervor that would make Faux News proud. The Central Department store boasts the worlds tallest Christmas tree. Tinkling lights, Santa Claus and peppermint candy canes are everywhere. Carolers, not the 4 or 5 person groups dressed in 19 Century outfits that we see in the US but full choirs, belt out nearly recognizable western carols. But no crèche. Damn the ACLU.

I also attended a Thai-Korea friendship festival put on in the plaza in front of one of the City’s largest department stores. There were, Taekwando exhibitions, singing and dancing, incomprehensible award ceremonies and a fascinating troop that painted large canvasses as they danced.

On the way home, I bought a Thai crêpe from one of the sidewalk food vendors.

Sidewalk food vendors in BKK and far more ubiquitous than Sabrett Hot-dog venders in downtown Manhattan and much more varied. From fried insect specialties to full meals, just about everything is available to eat on the streets of BKK. There are even guides to the best street foods in the city as well as the best Thai street food recipes.

BKK street food is some of the most varied in the world. Although, I have not yet tasted anything sublime (for example the perfect cannoli that I have searched for the world over and found something close to in Venerio’s on the lower east side of NY), it has often been quite tasty. The risk of potential food poisoning is substantially reduced by avoiding ice in your drinks, assuring everything is well cooked and avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables unless the skin is removed in front of you or it comes from something with a thick, inedible rind. On the other hand, what is one or two days a year of puking your guts out and wishing you were dead compared to  excitement of culinary adventure.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The recent international climate change conference in Durban, South Africa has concluded with an insipid agreement by the attending countries that they will continue to work together on the problem. Of course, even that is probably a lie, since the fact they were not willing to work together at the conference is a good indication that they have no intention of doing so after it ends.

Apparently a number of consultant, advisors and commentators at the conference cautioned against doing anything because it could cause economic stress and advised that future technological advances could perhaps resolve the problem. This is a little like saying, when faced with a Tsunami, do not try to seek safety, because perhaps a rescue is being organized and you can avoid all the effort and risks associated with scurrying about trying to escape.

Add to this some interesting facts I came across a few days ago, if they are believable. The current value of the oil reserves held by oil companies and producers totals more than the total GDP of all but the four or five largest economies in the world. What conceivable reason would cause them to give up that wealth before it is sold and converted into profits? What entity, public or private, is large enough and powerful enough to resist being bought out or off or outright attacked if it places that treasure in jeopardy?

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

RED STAR

Chapter: Escape without dignity.

Isabella dragged Vince across the dining room toward the doors leading into the kitchen. She thrust him against the wall, hard, pushed open one door with her foot, and with her gun pointed straight up toward the ceiling just like in the movies, gingerly peered inside. The shock of the impact from her shoving him into the wall hastened the return of Vince’s senses. Along with that came realization of the precariousness of his situation. Before he could act on this dawning awareness and probably panic again, she grabbed his arm, pulled him through the door, pushed him ahead of her and yelled, “Go, go, go, go!”

With the return of his reason, Vince’s male pride also swarmed into his consciousness, almost overwhelming it. He felt furious at her shouting and pushing him around. But before he could react, she shouted “down” and spun around to get off two shots back at the door they just passed through.

That was enough. Vince, wounded pride forgotten, replaced by self-preservation, hunched over bending himself almost in half, scrambled toward the door at the back in the kitchen, as fast as that contorted posture allowed. He stumbled through the door and on to the stairwell landing. Isabella, followed on his heels, shouting “downstairs, go!” Vince flew down the stairs, lost his footing and clumsily fell against the wall.

Isabella grabbed his arm again and by alternating pushing and shoving him managed to drive them both down the next two flights.

On the third landing they hesitated. He to catch his breath and she to check into the stairwell below and above her. Above the door appeared to open. She fired another couple of shot. The door slammed shut again. Leaning back against the wall, she extracted a magazine from her magic purse, ejected the now empty one and slammed in the new.

Then they were off again down the stairs until they arrived at the bottom, a small alcove with two doors. One marked with the word “Lobby” in large red letters, the other obviously leading to the alley at the side of the building.

“Which one,” Vince shouted reduced once again to near hysterics as he heard the thud from the footfalls of their pursuers racing down the stairs above them? (to be continued)

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

1. The impossibility of parody:

“It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”
~Newt Gingrich, telling us we should do as he says, regardless of what he actually does.

2. Buddy Roemer on China:

China’s protectionist trade practices and human rights violations are an abomination, and as president he would retaliate so fast it would make Chinese heads spin while potentially igniting a global trade war. Roemer’s “fair trade” policies would be very specific: tit for tat retaliation for unfair trade practices. “If your goods come into this country, and they’re made by children or by prisoners, they will not be allowed in.”

3. David Frum Republican Party consultant and conservative political commentator explains Faux News:

“But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics.”

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

1. IQ matters too:

a. Levels:

 

b. Signs you are smarter than average:

“…new findings, from a landmark study published [June 2007], showed that eldest children had a slight but significant edge in IQ — an average of three points over the closest sibling and it found that the difference was not because of biological factors but the psychological interplay of parents and children.”
The New York Times

I am the eldest child in my family, both my sister and brother are smarter than I am, was that because I did not get along with my mother?

2. : What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

a. It is time that we as a nation begin growing back together again.

 
b. It is time to start listening to those who founded our nation again:

I find it fascinating how much John Adams and the CEO of Goldman Sachs look alike.

3. The defining characteristics of Fascism:

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each. Here are the first 5:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution…

4. The Adam Smith on why we sympathize with the rich and hesitate to tax them overly much:

Smith attempted to explain why, despite the fact that we have a moral obligation to tax our superrich at the peak of the Laffer Curve: to tax them so heavily that we raise the most possible money from them — to the point beyond which their diversion of energy and enterprise into tax avoidance and sheltering would mean that any extra taxes would not raise but reduce revenue, we in society feel it is wrong to so tax their incomes. In the case of the hard-working rich (as opposed to inherited wealth), he posited that we sympathize with the type of person who:

“devotes himself forever to the pursuit of wealth and greatness….With the most unrelenting industry he labors night and day….serves those whom he hates, and is obsequious to those whom he despises….[I]n the last dregs of life, his body wasted with toil and diseases, his mind galled and ruffled by the memory of a thousand injuries and disappointments….he begins at last to find that wealth and greatness are mere trinkets of frivolous utility…. Power and riches….keep off the summer shower, not the winter storm, but leave him always as much, and sometimes more exposed than before, to anxiety, to fear, and to sorrow; to diseases, to danger, and to death…”
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

According to economist Brad deLong, we don’t wish to disrupt the perfect felicity of the lifestyles of the rich and famous; and we don’t wish to add to the burdens of those who have spent their most precious possession — their time and energy — pursuing baubles. These two arguments are not consistent, but that does not matter. They both have a purchase on our thinking. Unlike today’s public-finance economists, Smith understood that we are not rational utilitarian calculators. Indeed, that is why we have collectively done a very bad job so far in dealing with the enormous rise in inequality between the industrial middle class and the plutocratic superrich that we have witnessed.

5. Department of abasement, apology and correction:

Some of you have commented that the personal calendars I sent to you appear very complicated. I suspect that was because I did not have the proper application and had to use a financial template to display a yearly calendar instead of the normal monthly one. That and that I also inserted the corresponding Gregorian Calendar dates for reference I am afraid made it confusing. In fact, your personal calendar is much less confusing then the Gregorian one you are currently using. In your personal calendar, you have only two months with different days ( eight 28 day months and four 35 day ones) with the Gregorian Calendar you have at least 3 (one of 38 days, 4 of 30 and 7 of 31). Also, every month in the Gregorian Calendar more of less differs from every other month in the year. Not so with your personal calendar. In addition, every day in your new calendar falls on the same day of the week each month forever. Thus if you were born on the 15th day of the 10th month it would always fall on a Monday.

I have attached a more recognizable graphic of the two calendars.

The first 3 months of the standard Gregorian Calendar :

Graphics not available at this time…..

 

And since there are only two different months in your personal calendar, I have been able to show the entire year with just two attachments.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Christopher Hitchens maintained his resolve and did not turn, he did not repent, he died an unrepentant and defiant atheist. That would mean today, if the Scriptures mean anything, that he is in Hell today.

But here’s my point, the point I was making earlier is that if he is, if Christopher Hitchens is, in fact, in Hell, he’s there because God loves him. Not because God hates him but because God loves him. And I explained what I mean by that. What I mean by that is that God loves us enough to, in the end, give us what we insist on having. If we are determined to have our own way then God, in the end, is going to give us what we insist on having, because that’s what you do for people you love.”
Bryan Fischer – conservative fundamentalist minister.

Huh – Let’s see if I got this right : God sends us to Hell because he loves us and wants us to have what we most want. Therefore Hell means getting everything you want. Heaven then must be where you get nothing you want. I always expected as much.

TODAY’S CHART:

Finally something that explains the difference that I can understand.

Alas, If truth be known, both my menu and french fries preferences are decidedly conservative.:

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:


TODAY’S FACEBOOK POST:

Repentance is definitely needed indeed!

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:


I hope you all had a Merry Christmas too.

Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. November 23, 2010

TODAY’S FACTOID:

Hagia Irene over the Ruins of Byzantium

Hagia Irene over the Ruins of Byzantium (Photo credit: voyageAnatolia.tumblr.com)

Seventh CenturyThe veil, beloved by Muslims, began in the courts of Christian Byzantium. When Arab armies captured the cities of Syria and Egypt in the 7th century they adopted the practice for their own women.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:

a. The catastrophic decline of the dollar’s value continues, but appears to be slowing. At the bank yesterday I received a little under 28 baht per dollar, down from the over 36 that I received when I arrived in January.

b. Russian, Chinese and Japanese travel agents are pre booking huge numbers of Thai hotel rooms for between 30 and 50 percent of standard rates.

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Yesterday I went to Central Mall in the Outskirts of Hell to do some banking in preparation for my trip back to the US. On my return I thought it would be a good idea to walk back to my apartment along the sand the entire length of Beach Road.

As I walked, I approached one of the large boat ramps that lie across beach every kilometer or so. It was a fairly low tide, so instead of walking around the ramp by returning to Beach Road I decided to cross it. As soon as I stepped on to the ramp, I discovered it was slick with algae. I slipped and fell, banged my head on the cement and slid into the surf. I tried to get up but the ramp was too slippery and I continued to slip and fall. I rolled around in the surf helplessly for a while until two Thai fishermen hauled me out. After checking my head for blood, I went on my way thoroughly drenched with an aching head, scraped and bloodied knees and feeling greatly embarrassed. I also lost my eye-glasses. As I continued to walk along, I tried to convince myself it was not all my fault.

Today is Loy Krathung, the Thai festival of lights. Loy Krathung along with the Water Festival in April at the start of the monsoon, are the two most significant holiday’s in the country. They are analogous to Easter (the spring planting festival) and Christmas (The festival of lights) in the West.

It is my favorite festival. The Thai women dress up in traditional costumes, all silk with gilded floral headdresses and everyone goes down to the shore and launches small boats (Krathungs) made from flowers and containing candles and incense into the waters in and around Thailand.

Tonight, I went to the beach and waded out into the surf to launch my little flower boat. The scene was quite amazing, thousands of other boats had already been launched into the surf. They bobbed up and down lighting up the bay with their tiny twinkling lights. While up above additional thousands of large rice paper cylinders with a small flame in the bottom of each launched from the sand slowly and majestically floated up into the sky, filling it with a mirror image of the drifting lights on the sea below.

The following morning those krathungs that had not drifted out to sea or been picked up by the children swimming among them last night, washed up on to the sand. The umbrella and beach chair concessionaires were busy raking up the residue, sometimes assisted by the children of the tourists. Every now and then groups of tourists would gather up some mostly intact Krathungs and make figures ( hearts and circles) with them on the sand.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. More from the Princess Bride:

Prince Humperdinck: “Please consider me as an alternative to suicide.”

b. From God’s lips to your ears:

Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

– Numbers 31.17,18.
TODAY’S QUOTE:

“. . . the governments of the people are better than those of princes.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the first Ten Books of Titus Livius. Book I, Chapter LVIII
“Ciao…

 

Categories: October through December 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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