Posts Tagged With: Poetry

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Pops 0006. (August 29, 2017)

 

 

 

 

“Jefferson warned that without economic democracy there can be no political democracy”.
Fred Harris

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

 

A. Traveling from Bangkok to El Dorado Hills.

I do not know why it is but I usually find the most unpleasant trips the most interesting. It was that way on my trip back from Thailand. We left the apartment at about 7PM in order to get to the airport early enough for me to get a good seat. Suvarnabhumi Airport was more crowded and disorganized than I had ever seen it. After a difficult time securing my ticket, I was told the flight was delayed until 6:30 in the morning.

I arrived in Shanghai just as my connecting flight to the US was leaving. I had forgotten how the Chinese bureaucratic system differs from that in the US. In the US, probably for reasons of cost, people relating to the public are trained, for better or worse, to handle a number of somewhat discretionary activities. The Chinese it seems are not. Each functionary there appears to have been assigned only a single, not particularly discretionary, action.

As I exited the plane, I saw a young man with a sign that announced, “Transfer Passenger Assistance” and showed him my ticket. He looked confused. Walked away to speak to someone, returned and pointed vaguely toward a corridor leading from the hall. After passing through several hallways, I entered a large room containing several counters. Above one was a sign in English that read, “24-hour transit passengers.” I guessed that was the counter I was looking for. There was a long line and only one clerk. When I got to her and showed her my ticket she responded, “Transit Hotel.” I asked “Where?” She handed me a paper with my name on it and pointed to another traveler and said, “Follow that woman.”

“That woman” proved to be another lost and confused American who missed the same connecting flight as I. We passed through another warren of hallways until we came to a room even larger than the previous one with a lot of counters around the walls in front of which were crowds of clamoring travelers. We noticed a group of people in the center of the room who we recognized from our plane and asked them if they knew what was happening. One said, “I think we are supposed to wait here until someone comes for us.”

I noticed a counter over which was a sign that read something like “Transit Supervisor.” I approached him and asked what it is we should do. He pointed at a bunch of chairs against one wall and said, “Sit there, someone will come for you.”

So, we sat there for a long time and to our relief eventually, someone came and ordered us to follow him. We asked where we were going but received no answer. He marched us to a bus, too small to sit all of us and our luggage so many had to stand in the aisle amid the piled suitcases.

After a long long ride that ultimately brought us back to an airport hotel across the street from where we began, we disembarked and entered the hotel and milled around the lobby until one of us thought it would be a good idea to approach the reception desk. We did and at first, they did not seem to understand what we were all doing there. Then one of the women behind the desk motioned to us and began assigning rooms. When I approached and asked for a single room she said brusquely, “Two to a room” and assigned an elderly Japanese man to room with me. At first, I was offended that I had to share a room and with another, an old man no less, but I then realized he was no older than me. He spoke barely any English and I no Japanese but I soon discovered him to be one of the nicest and kindest people I had ever met.

I then asked about dinner and there ensued a several hour hullabaloo where I turned into the ugly American. I thoroughly enjoyed it, shouting away and laughing until everyone turned their back on me except for the servers who laughed with me (or at me, who knows).

The next morning at the airport the lines and confusion were staggering until a guard asked if I was on the plane to SF. When I answered in the affirmative he whisked me through everything and off I flew.

Having slept well the night before, I could not fall asleep during the flight so I watched all three episodes of Lord of the Rings. I found Frodo’s bulging eyes disconcerting and wondered why everyone had blue eyes.

It took five hours or so to get from SF airport to Hobbitown in the Golden Hills.

 

B. Back in El Dorado Hills.

Now some might wonder how I could equate EDH with the Shire. Easy, they both have a certain picturesque attractiveness; they both are set among rolling hills; they both are self-indulgent inward looking societies; they both see the outside world as full of orcs, goblins, sorcerers, violence and malevolence and; the citizens of both have hairy feet and do not wear shoes. Well, actually, the citizens of EDH do wear shoes.

I have resumed my life here as before; wake in the morning; drive HRM to school; Bella Bru for cafe latte and cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese; walk about three miles around the lake; return home and read a book; nap; have dinner and; retire to my room for my daily dose of existential anguish.

On Wednesday, I leave to spend a week at my sister’s home in Mendocino. She is hosting an engagement party for her son Brendan and his intended Ashley. She expects about 60 people to spend the weekend in and around the house. The Paella Lady and her huge paella pan will be there. Also, lots of Italian and Philippine food to eat and I expect a lot of music too.

On Sunday we plan to attend Paul Bunyan Day in Fort Bragg.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

When he was about 5 or 6, I used to tell HRM stories every evening. The following is one of them:

“So, last night, at bedtime, I continued telling the series of stories to Hayden that I had begun about two years ago. The stories concerned the adventures of Danny (Hayden’s alter ego) and his trusty pony Acorn (who Hayden now and then rides whenever we visit Bill and Naida’s ranch).”

“Danny was resting at an oasis in the desert following his besting of ‘The Old Man Under the Mountain.’ With him were his two friends; “The Black Knight,” a gorilla (Whose alter ego cuddly toy shares my bed) who is “The World’s Strongest Knight” and rides a white horse with brown spots like a cow and is called appropriately “White-brownie or Brown-whitey,” and; “The White Knight Who Used to be ‘The Old Man who Dressed Like a Beggar’ and was The Worlds Most Powerful Magician,” until Danny, in the throne room of the Green Castle, defeated him in a duel of magic aided by “The Monster Who Lives in the Closet and Who Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags,” and turned him into a mouse. In order for Danny and The Black Knight to escape from the dungeon of the “Old Man Under the Mountain,” Danny, again with the aid of “The Monster who lives in the Closet but Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags” turned him from a mouse into a young handsome human except with less magical power so that his full name now became, “The White Knight Who Used to be an Old Man Dressed Like a Beggar and the Worlds Most Powerful Magician Until he was Turned into a Mouse and Then into A Young Man who was Not so Powerful a Magician.” The White Knight rode a black horse named, “Blackie.””

“They had just finished dinner and were drinking their milk while staring into the campfire when a troop of musicians and actors who were camping nearby came by and offered to put on a performance for the famous Knights.”

“The knights agreed that they would enjoy that and the chief musician tuned up his Lute and began his song by introducing his main protagonist a skinny boy of indeterminate age named ‘Heimlich.’ Heimlich lived in a not so great but good enough castle in a dreary country somewhere that was always foggy. Heimlich was sad because his father, who was called Pruneberry the King of the Castle (and, if truth be known, King of little else) had just died. In addition almost before the body became cold or whatever it is body’s become after its inhabitant dies, his mother Natasha Dewlap married Heimlich’s uncle, Julius Caesar (we both thought that was a very funny name).”

“Anyway, Heimlich and his friend [who strangely did not have a name but it could just as well be something as ridiculous and Guildenstern or Rosencrantz or even Miracle Max] one evening, for some unknown reason, decided to go the cemetery to visit the site where Pruneberry was buried. Along the way, they came upon a pile of bones and a skull. Heimlich thought the skull reminded him of “Mortimer” his old kindergarten teacher.”

“Anyway, Heimlich’s friend decided to return home after they discovered the bones because he was a sensible lad and was creeped out by the bones and Heimlich’s weirdness. Heimlich went on by himself.”

“When Heimlich arrived at the gravesite, a Ghost popped out and said, ‘Heimlich I am your father, Pruneberry and I was killed by Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar who put poison up my nose while I was asleep.’”

“At this point, Hayden asked me ‘How can a ghost speak after he died?’”

“‘A keen observation,’ I acknowledged. ‘That is why Heimlich did not believe him and went back home.’”

“The next morning, as coincidence and fairy tales have it, a group of traveling actors came by the castle and asked Heimlich if he would like to have them perform a play. Maybe, Heimlich thought, if they perform Pruneberry’s death like the Ghost told it in front of Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar one of them would be reminded and say something like, “Say that looks familiar,” and Heimlich would then know what the Ghost said perhaps could have been true.”

“And so, the traveling players put on the show and at just the right moment, Julius Caesar turned to Natasha Dewlap and said, ‘Say Natty does this look familiar to you?’ At which point Heimlich became furious and drove Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar out of the castle where they were forced to live in a tent and sell apples and rutabagas to passers-by.”

“Hayden then asked me, ‘What are rutabagas?’ I said, ‘I did not know.”’

“Heimlich, thereafter spent every day alone in the little castle in that dismal country with his furry white cat named ‘Snowy,’ looking out of his window and down upon Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar trying to sell their apples and rutabagas to passers-by, except for once a year when the troop of actors came by and they had a party.”

“The End.”

“I then told Hayden that the actors would perform another tale that I would tell him about tomorrow [I was already working on a children’s version of King Lear]. But, Hayden asked me if Danny was ever going to go back home to visit his mom who lived in the cottage by the “Deep Dark Wood,” before setting out on another adventure. He thought it would be a good idea if he did.”

“I told him that Danny told the musicians that he would not listen to the story now because he needed to get a good night’s sleep so that tomorrow he would be well rested for his trip back through the ‘Deep Dark Wood’ to visit his mom.”

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

“Perhaps the greatest challenge of the algorithm revolution is that as machines and the algorithms that drive them have become ever-more complex, we are rapidly losing our ability to understand how they work and anticipate unexpected behaviors and weaknesses. From just 145,000 lines of code to place humans on the moon in 1969 to more than 2 billion lines of code to run Google in 2015, today’s systems are labyrinths of interconnected systems.”
Kalev Leetaru, Forbes Magazine.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Levinson on Top:

 

1948 — 1973 a golden age like no other.

“The second half of the 20th century divides neatly in two. The divide did not come with the rise of Ronald Reagan or the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is not discernible in a particular event, but rather in a shift in the world economy, and the change continues to shape politics and society in much of the world today.”

“The shift came at the end of 1973. The quarter-century before then, starting around 1948, saw the most remarkable period of economic growth in human history. In the Golden Age between the end of the Second World War and 1973, people in what was then known as the ‘industrialized world’ – Western Europe, North America, and Japan – saw their living standards improve year after year. They looked forward to even greater prosperity for their children. Culturally, the first half of the Golden Age was a time of conformity, dominated by hard work to recover from the disaster of the war. The second half of the age was culturally very different, marked by protest and artistic and political experimentation. Behind that fermentation lay the confidence of people raised in a white-hot economy: if their adventures turned out badly, they knew, they could still find a job.”

“The year 1973 changed everything. High unemployment and a deep recession made experimentation and protest much riskier, effectively putting an end to much of it. A far more conservative age came with the economic changes, shaped by fears of failing and concerns that one’s children might have it worse, not better. Across the industrialized world, politics moved to the Right – a turn that did not avert wage stagnation, the loss of social benefits such as employer-sponsored pensions and health insurance, and the secure, stable employment that had proved instrumental to the rise of a new middle class and which workers had come to take for granted. At the time, an oil crisis took the blame for what seemed to be a sharp but temporary downturn. Only gradually did it become clear that the underlying cause was not costly oil but rather lagging productivity growth — a problem that would defeat a wide variety of government policies put forth to correct it.”

“The great boom began in the aftermath of the Second World War. The peace treaties of 1945 did not bring prosperity; on the contrary, the post-war world was an economic basket case. Tens of millions of people had been killed, and in some countries, a large proportion of productive capacity had been laid to waste. Across Europe and Asia, tens of millions of refugees wandered the roads. Many countries lacked the foreign currency to import food and fuel to keep people alive, much less to buy equipment and raw material for reconstruction. Railroads barely ran; farm tractors stood still for want of fuel. Everywhere, producing enough coal to provide heat through the winter was a challenge. As shoppers mobbed stores seeking basic foodstuffs, much less luxuries such as coffee and cotton underwear, prices soared. Inflation set off waves of strikes in the United States and Canada as workers demanded higher pay to keep up with rising prices. The world’s economic outlook seemed dim. It did not look like the beginning of a golden age.”

“As late as 1948, incomes per person in much of Europe and Asia were lower than they had been 10 or even 20 years earlier. But 1948 brought a change for the better. In January, the US military government in Japan announced it would seek to rebuild the economy rather than exacting reparations from a country on the verge of starvation. In April, the US Congress approved the economic aid program that would be known as the Marshall Plan, providing Western Europe with desperately needed dollars to import machinery, transport equipment, fertilizer, and food. In June, the three occupying powers – France, the United Kingdom, and the US – rolled out the Deutsche mark, a new currency for the western zones of Germany. A new central bank committed to keeping inflation low and the exchange rate steady would oversee the Deutsche mark.”

“Postwar chaos gave way to stability, and the war-torn economies began to grow. In many countries, they grew so fast for so long that people began to speak of the ‘economic miracle’ (West Germany), the ‘era of high economic growth’ (Japan) and the 30 glorious years (France). In the English-speaking world, this extraordinary period became known as the Golden Age.”
Marc Levinson, End of a golden age, Aeon

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

We would not expect someone to have the talent to pitch for the New York Yankees simply because he is wealthy, so why would we give to the wealthy, solely because they have been successful in making money, the right to tell us how we live, how our money invested in government is to be spent and a host of other things of common interest. After all, their expertise is limited to making money, usually in a very narrow field of endeavor. Why would we not expect their advice to be biased to favor them making more money?

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“A criminal is a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation”.
~Howard Scott

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

 

 

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At 7, I could not speak a second language and except for a passing acquaintance with Italian, I still cannot.
At 18, my mind concentrated on baser pleasures than the quality of its processing.
At 22, I could not remember anyone’s name. I still cannot.
At 23, I was in law school. It was not compatible with life satisfaction.
At 25, I was as weak as a baby. Still am.
At 26, I was married — the first of many.
At 28, I had not yet run a marathon. I still have not.
At 30, I do not know about bone mass but my adipose mass was clearly increasing.
At 31, it had been 10 years since I had last played a game of chess.
At 32, I could remember faces. I still can. There are some I wish I could forget.
At 39, whatever peaked was not applicable to me.
At 40, I had not won a Noble Prize — still, haven’t. I have never been nominated either.
At 48, I had not reached my peak income. That occurred 15 years later. I lost it all a few years after that. Is there a peak year for losing your money?
At 50, I could not balance my checkbook — still cannot.
At 51, I did not understand peoples emotions — never could, never will.
At 69, I was dissatisfied and moved to Thailand.
At 71, I began to use more profanity whenever I spoke with anyone.
At 74, you have got to be kidding.
At 82, I sure hope my psychological well-being will peak— nothing else will.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Richard K. Diran. Danae and the Shower of Gold.

“The King of Argos had only one child, a daughter named Danae. Although beautiful, the king wanted a son and went to the Delphic oracle to ask if there was any hope of having a son. The oracle said, ‘no’ and worse that Danae would have a son who would kill him. The king could not put his innocent daughter to death so he built a room sunk underground but with part of the roof open to the sky so that light and air could come through. “

“As she lay there a mysterious thing happened. A shower of gold fell from the sky, it was Zeus in this form who impregnated her and she would bear the son who would kill her father the king.”

 

 

 

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Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3rd.    2 Pops 0006 (August 17, 2017)

 

 

 

“He speaks loudly and carries a small stick.”
A Mexican official referring to “He’s Not My President.”

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BANGKOK.

 

The Hotel-Health Club is hosting the International Youth Muay Thai Championships. It is amusing to see these slender wide-eyed young people about HRM’s age arrive at the hotel accompanied by their huge tattooed coaches and parents. The most interesting is the New Zealand team of pale white youngsters alongside their gigantic Maori trainers and their facial tattoos. Alas, they have taken over the pool where I swim challenging each other in something or other that requires a lot of splashing and squealing. Although I secretly am amused by them as I sit on a beach chair and watch, I still am enough of a cranky old man to refuse to enter the water and brave their hi-jinks.

The other thing going on at the health club is that it is the time of the year that the Arab men with the shriveled or missing legs arrive with their bench press equipment with massive rubber covered weights. Each day they compete with one another in what appears to be bench press only contests.

The overcast skies and afternoon showers that characterized the weather here in Bangkok since I arrived appear to that ended replace by blazing hot sun all day. During the blazing afternoons, I can usually be found back in my apartment deciding what I will be taking with me when I leave. I will be giving up my apartment and have to decide what to take with me and what to leave. So far, I seem to have very little to take with me.

While walking to breakfast this morning I passed by an attractive woman wearing a tight pink shirt and jeans short shorts. She was talking to a rent-a-cop for one of the buildings nearby. As I began to move away the rent-a-cop started walking across the narrow street. The woman followed him and began shrieking at him. When they reached the sidewalk the young woman threw herself onto her back on the ground, her arms and legs wiggling in the air. She then did a backward somersault eventually tipping over and lying on her side like she was dead. She then sprung to her feet and did it all again but this time she ended up bowing her head to the ground in front of the several security people who had gathered. She leaped again to her feet and leaned close to one of the security guys as though she was telling him a secret. He pointed vaguely towards the end of the block and the woman strutted off in that direction.

I spent my breakfast trying to figure what it was all about. Couldn’t hazard a guess and just put it down to the theatre of the streets.

A lot else has happened to me here in BKK the last few days, but it is time for me to leave today and return to the Golden Hills. It saddens me a bit. This may be my last trip to South-East Asia. For almost 30 years I have been coming here and for a few of those years, living here. I will miss visiting with my few friends, the old sailor, the gemologist, the Canadian hockey player, the little masseuse, and others. There is a certain point in like when everything appears to be a parting.

On a positive note, both Peter and Naida seem to be doing well.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

Charlottesville, the American Kristallnacht.

The title of this post may appear overbroad. I am sure some people will be happy to point out the many differences between the two events. But, look at it this way:

We have a group of heavily armed men attacking mostly innocent civilians. In this case breaking bodies instead of glass, but the message is all too similar. The response of progressives or right thinking citizens and social media expresses shock and outrage but also urges calm. Meanwhile, the evil buffoon heading the nation at first support the thugs and then realizing they may be becoming politically dangerous and not under control issues a tepid criticism of them.

Imagine then, if the Nation’s leader and his cronies create an anti-terrorism, entity to subdue these Alt-right terrorists and all other groups or individuals they or the entity decides are terrorists. Sounds Familiar, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, the Progressives and others will probably still call for a reasoned careful response that will not place their supporters in harm’s way or to wait for the hoped-for return of the rule of law and reason that never comes.

This is madness. We should rather think about what the German Progressives, liberals, and people of good sense the very morning following Kristallnacht should have done to prevent the catastrophe that ultimately occurred. This like then is no time for tepid hopes and half steps. Like it or not the war has already begun and we either confront it now or we certainly will suffer its consequences later.

Fascism and the politics of hate have no place in any just society. It is time for Americans to throw back at these evil gangsters their own slogan and say, “No more, Not in our Country and Not on our Soil.” It is time to act massively. And if it comes to millions of citizens surrounding the White House and dragging these criminals out by their heels so be it.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

While rooting through the bowels of my computer for something or other I came across the following notice. It mentions one of the few things in my life of which I am truly proud.

 

Sheppard Mullin and Joseph Petrillo to Be Recognized for Work to Benefit the Homeless; San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to Honor Firm’s Efforts.

 

Business Editors & Legal Writers 

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–April 23, 2002 

The Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative (TIHDI) has announced it will honor the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP and partner Joseph Petrillo at TIHDI’s annual fundraising dinner this Thursday night, April 25. On TIHDI’s behalf, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will honor Petrillo, TIHDI’s Fundraising Chair, “for his extraordinary dedication and commitment to building a new San Francisco neighborhood from the ground up.”

“I am deeply honored that Sheppard Mullin is being recognized for its commitment to the community,” Petrillo said, “but I am even more proud of TIHDI’s success.”

Through Petrillo and Sheppard Mullin, TIHDI has benefited from pro bono legal services including work that has resulted in subleases for housing and service spaces. Sheppard Mullin has also provided important assistance in the development of memorandums of understanding between member agencies and the TIHDI Board of Directors.

Petrillo practices in the Real Estate, Land Use and Natural Resources practice group in Sheppard Mullin’s San Francisco office. One of California’s pre-eminent land use lawyers, he was principal author and administrator of California’s monumental coastal program. He has represented public and private clients throughout the United States in resolving urban development, natural resources, environmental and land use conflicts. Petrillo was recently appointed to the High-Speed Rail Authority Board by Governor Gray Davis. Petrillo served as chief counsel to the California Coastal Commission from 1973-1975, chief counsel to the California State Senate Select Committee on Land Use Management from 1975-1977, and executive officer of the California State Coastal Conservancy from 1977 to 1985.

 

 

 

 

 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Dragon on Top:

In the last issue of T&T, I included a chapter of one of my two unfinished and most likely never to be finished novels. Ruth L. (not Ruth G.) inquired in response why I had not finished them and if I had written anything more than the chapter included in the post. I promised her I would respond to her questions in this post where I can muck about with half-truths and rationalizations for all to see

Sheldon Seigal told me he began writing his first novel to see if he could do it. Sheldon, however, is far more disciplined and ambitious than I could ever be. He pecked away on his computer every morning on the way to our office on the ferry from Marin and again on the way back in the evenings. He also attended writing seminars.

I, on the other hand, could neither see myself writing with such determination nor would I ever conceive of attending seminars. I may have yearned to write a novel but never to learn how to write one. Nevertheless, I had begun T&T several years before because I wanted to keep a journal following my retirement. I knew I could never do so if it was only for my own amusement. I would soon lose interest and stop as I had whenever I tried to keep a journal in the past. So, I struck upon the stratagem of writing a periodic missive of my thoughts and activities and sending it to my nearest and dearest friends. In that way, I knew that most of them would soon, out of boredom and annoyance, cease reading them and I would avoid undue (or well due) embarrassment. I would also be able to maintain the fiction in my mind that I had an obligation to periodically inundate them with my flights of ego or for some reason they would become unhappy and consider their lives less rewarding.

I decided that writing a novel as a serial for the enjoyment of the readers of T&T would be a fine way to approach writing one without bothering with the boredom of research or the annoyance of discipline.

As for why I had not finished them, there is a different reason for each of the two efforts.

Beginning with the second, one entitled, “Here Comes Dragon,” a short synopsis might be helpful.

Matt “Dragon” Dragoni, a minor character in the first book, quits his prestigious law firm to become a relatively unsuccessful detective in San Francisco. One day while sitting in a restaurant in North Beach he is hired by a woman who owns a local tattoo parlor to locate her ex-boyfriend. Entering the last known apartment of the boyfriend he is roughed up by two men also looking for the boyfriend. The thugs, at the request of their employer, pressure Dragon to help them to find the boyfriend. The next day, while visiting a muffler shop at which the boyfriend worked, he is cornered by the owner of the shop, a Vietnamese gangster, who coerces him to investigate the disappearance of a local businessman who was engaged in a venture with the boyfriend and the gangster to import furniture from South East Asia and to take on his nephew as an intern. Eventually, the businessman turns up dead and the furniture missing.

It was my intention that despite all the intrigue and red herrings there would be no murder, only confusion and that would be the surprise ending. Alas, after about 30 chapters, and almost 50,000 words someone is murdered and to make it worse, I knew who did it and why and even worse, they get away with it. So, annoyed by the whole thing, I stopped writing.

I have located most if not all of the chapters and will send a complete copy to everyone either before you receive this or after. I appreciate your comments and suggestions
B. Today’s Poem:

‘Whitey on the Moon’ (1970):

A rat done bit my sister Nell
(With Whitey on the Moon)
Her face and arms began to swell
(And Whitey’s on the Moon)
I can’t pay no doctor bill
(But Whitey’s on the Moon)
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still
(While Whitey’s on the Moon)
Gil Scott-Heron

 

C. Comments on Previous Post:

Naida.

Good to hear you are still up to the international journeys! Bill remains in a nursing home, and I have made a tiny bit of progress in the new abode: Learned how to turn off the air-conditioning. This cost me a mere $89. For 2 weeks I had tried to teach myself how to operate the heat/cooling thermostat but succeeded only in turning on the heat during the terrible heat waves. The AC would go on about 4 AM, numbing my feet and keeping me awake (warm bedding still in the Rancho Murieta house). No neighbor or relative could help. So I negotiated the $89 deal, which could have been explained in 3 minutes over the phone.

Bill might be released to the new house on Monday, and at that time I will become a full-time caretaker.

 

Peter.

Luv my new titanium hip. Surgery was successful if a little late happening. Rather anti-climactic. Anterior entry is quicker, infinitely less physically disruptive, and will have much shorter recovery period ( month +/-). Now I’m shuffling along with the cane only, and popping an extraordinary collection of pills for one purpose or another, and doing little exercises to get the muscles back in order.

Bottom line: tedious but necessary. Shambling toward bionic beatitude.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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No Comment

 

 

Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    18 Joe 0006 (August 4, 2017)

“We are not who we think we are. We narrate our lives, shading every last detail, and even changing the script retrospectively, depending on the event, most of the time subconsciously. The storyteller never stops, except perhaps in deep sleep.”
Doctor Michael S. Gazzaniga, Neuroscientist.
TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CAMBODIA:
Having exhausted myself hiking and crawling around the ruins of Angkor, I decided to spend the time remaining before returning to Bangkok swimming in the tiny hotel pool and exploring the old French Quarter of Siem Reap (Siem Reap means “Defeat of Siam” to commemorate a victory over the Thais that never happened).
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Siem Reap’s old French Quarter extends in a narrow strip along both sides of the river which are connected by gaily decorated and lighted covered bridges.
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The French Quarter contains markets and sights mostly geared to delight tourists. The Old Market, located between Pub Street and the river, offers a mixture of souvenirs and a variety of food products. The Angkor Night Market and the Central Market mainly cater to tourists.
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That is dried fish behind me.
The area is also packed with bars, small hotels, and restaurants of all types. The streets are crowded with tourists, tuk-tuks, food carts and mobile bars.
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While most of the restaurants featured south-east Asian food, there were a few French Restaurants, a surprising number of Mexican places and a goodly number of Pizza parlors including one that featured pizza with crocodile topping.
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I ate crocodile fried rice at this restaurant.
In the evenings’ everything was lit up like a carnival, the bars were full and music poured into the streets like the monsoon rains.
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We spent most of the next two days before returning to Bangkok, walking around the markets, sitting on the bridges and staring into the water, eating in the restaurants and huddling under awnings to escape the afternoon showers.
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And then we left and returned to Bangkok.
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B. BACK IN BANGKOK.
As some of you know I suffer from depression and take “happy pills” to control it. Of course, when despite my medicine, I lapse into a depressive state, I rarely recognize it for what it is. “I am just tired,” I think, “If I nap a little longer I’ll feel better.” Or, “I think I am coming down with a cold.” Or, I am annoyed and snap at someone who perhaps I should be annoyed at, but otherwise, would avoid the snappishness. When I do come out of it, I usually recognize it for what it was. I then begin wondering if I should up my dosage.
Since returning from Cambodia, I have been down for some reason. I am out of it now. Still, I feel unhappy with my life here in Bangkok. It costs a lot to maintain my apartment and even more to travel back and forth. Why would I spend all that money just so I can walk back and forth to the health club, even if that walk takes me through a version of the theater of the absurd? Also, HRM is growing into his teenage years and I have become too old and frail to satisfy his needs for companionship. He still has Dick and Nikki and now Adrien to whom he has become quite attached. So, maybe it is time to look around for a last life change and a new adventure.
I approached the Old Sailor with the idea of returning with me to the Virgin Islands, buying a boat, and sailing around the Caribbean until one of us keels over from old age. I think that was too open ended for him at his age. Perhaps he is right.
Other options I have thought about, like relocating to Ecuador or Costa Rica or Taos or Sabina, run the risk of exacerbating the loneliness I often feel in Thailand even with the availability of the friends that I have made here.
Then again, tomorrow is another day — why plan for anything. As Rosanna Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”
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It always is, even when it is not.
Anyway, a few days later after a morning at the health club, I had a delightful lunch at Monsoon with the Gemologist/Ethnologist/Artist/Soldier of Fortune Character in Cris Moore’s novels.
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This is one of Richard’s Paintings entitled Painkiller.
I thought it would be interesting to include Richard’s write-up about the painting that appears in his catalog.
Painkiller is based on a photo I took many years ago of my friend Roberto and my wife Junko. Roberto is seated on his opulent opium bed draped with leopard skins. The panels behind him contain spackled violet, pure gold leaf, and butterflies, symbols of the metamorphosis. Below the panels are the four horses of the Apocalypse, galloping behind a plume of opium smoke burning in a gem encrusted ebony and ivory opium pipe. Roberto is a light lime green, an emanation or aura of death which I have seen sometimes in those who die violently. Roberto was murdered, stabbed in the back. There was an attempted murder of my wife Junko late last year when she was pummelled over the head repeatedly with a hammer. He died, she survived. This painting was cathartic in that it illustrates the murdered and the nearly murdered. The opium smoke dissipates into the atmosphere as does the transitory nature of life. ~ R.K. Diran, 2004
We discussed the financing of the gem trade, the problems artists have in selling their works and the tax based economics of the art world today. He informed me he has the world’s largest collection of ethnological photographs of the now vanished tribes of Burma and indicated his wish to exhibit them in the US. I agreed to look into it.
As you know, Richard is a featured character as the soldier of fortune in Christopher G. Moore’s novels about the Bangkok detective Vinnie Calvino. He was a little miffed that Moore’s most recent book “Jumpers” did not provide his character the quality of clever lines as in some of the other novels, nor did Moore consult him about some holes in the plot like the $700,000 counterfeit money printed with only a single plate.
Mostly, however, we spent the time swapping stories, discussing politics and commenting on the attractive women also having lunch at the restaurant.
Finally, I met with the Old Sailor. He reconsidered my proposal and suggested we explore settling on Hawaii instead. He has an 85-year-old Philippine dope grower friend who lives on the East side of the mountain on the big island. He says he has talked to his friend and they have many stories they could tell me about their life in among the islands during the 70’s and 80’s that they would like turned into a novel. I suggested we all meet in Hawaii during the winter holidays.
PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:
What is Elon Musk really up to?
Elon Musk is a phenomenon of our times. After a relatively brief period during which he made a lot of money but seemed to be reviled by his co-investors who removed him as CEO a few times, he launched a series of enterprises that appeared to gain the affection of investors and the media despite not yet turning a profit.
These ventures include: Tesla an electric automobile manufacturing and production company; SpaceX a reusable rocket and rocket engine development and production company; a battery research, manufacturing and production entity (in conjunction with other Musk operations); SolarCity a solar power provider (started by Musk’s cousins); Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system incorporating reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors; OpenAI, a not-for-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company; Neuralink, a neurotechnology start-up company, to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence; The Boring Company, a company to develop and operate massive boring machines to dig tunnels under the earth.
In addition, he has stated his intention to establish a colony of 80,000 people on Mars by 2040 and has expressed his wish to die there.
He has often claimed he is doing all this in order to change the world and humanity, including reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multi-planetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars.
Now the carnival barker may actually believe it when he tells you that you could knock the milk bottles off the stand and win the stuffed animal, but I am sure that if you believe it you will lose your money.
So, let’s look at what he is doing and see what we can make of it. Of course, making himself and his family filthy rich goes without saying. But why this particular collection of initiatives? They imply something more than simple financial accumulation and the saving of humanity.
We can see some relationship between the car company and the solar company; the Hyperloop and the Boring Company; SpaceX and Mars. But, unless we consider him simply another mad scientist whose attention is focused on whatever he last finds interesting, something else must be going on — some goal, hinted at somewhere sometime.
I got a glimmer of what at least part of the solution to the conundrum might be when I learned Elon had a brother, Kimbal (He also has a sister, Tosca, a film maker).
After working with Elon on the original start ups, Kimbal took his money and headed to New York entered a school for chef’s and opened a string of mostly high priced organic restaurants. He eventually became fascinated with organic and low impact agriculture leading to the launching an urban farming incubator called Square Roots. Square Roots grows everything inside of stacked shipping containers in a warehouse in Brooklyn. Each shipping container can produce the same amount of crops as on two acres of farmland. A container can operate on as little as 10 gallons of recycled water a day (about one shower’s worth). Everything can be monitored by a computer which can also alter the climate in the container. The light comes from LED lighting. The only problem is finding a reliable source of energy.
For someone like Elon Musk, convinced that humanity on earth is doomed and obsessed with “making life multi-planetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars, his brothers work is a missing piece, Everything Musk does seem to be ultimately directed to this goal —the reusable efficient rockets to get the materials and the colonists there; the inexpensive solar arrays and batteries to provide and store energy; cost-effective machines to bore through the Martian soil since the majority of a permanent Martian colony would have to be built underground; efficient transportation systems integrated into the electric grid; compact highly productive agriculture; and a wise computer that can communicate directly with the minds of the colonists.
Unfortunately, even if everything else is successful, there still is something missing and overlooked (perhaps several somethings) that must be in place before this utopia-lifeboat can achieve its goal and flourish. (Cont.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Four Years Ago in T&T:
Chapter 20 from my never to be finished mystery novel, ENTER THE DRAGON:

Dragon’s Breath.

Vivian: What will your first step be?
Philip Marlowe: The usual one.
Vivian: I didn’t know there was a usual one.
Philip Marlowe: Well sure there is, it comes complete with diagrams on page 47 of how to be a detective in 10 easy lessons correspondent school textbook and uh, your father offered me a drink.
Vivian: You must’ve read another one on how to be a comedian.

Chapter: 20.

We drove to Crissy Field in silence, parked and bought some ice cream at the small restaurant and souvenir shop in one of the converted military buildings. We walked across the restored marsh on a little wooden bridge. In front of us was the Golden Gate, the bridge soaring over the strait to our right. Massive tankers and container ships lumber through flotillas of pleasure craft while wind and kite surfers dart among them seeking the strongest breezes streaming between the headlands.

It was a sunny summer day, breezy and cool. I leaned over the fence looking at the restored marsh, my back to the Bay. Joe faced the other way watching the joggers and power walkers pass by on the path in front of him.

Joe broke the silence. “So boss, what do we do next? Why are we here?”

I asked, “When you look at this wetland here, what do you see?”

He turned around, looked at the restored marsh for a moment then said, “OK,… I see some water, a lot of mud, a few ugly ass birds and a bunch of sick looking weeds. Do I pass?”

“It’s not a test. Wetlands like this are very fertile, a lot of things come here to eat, breed and grow, even humans used to hang around here, Indians. I agree with you its pretty ugly for something that is a nursery of life; the water is pretty stagnant, barely covering the land underneath and it smells. There’s mud everywhere and the “weeds” as you call them crowd the shore pressing against one another until like bankers they greedily seek more nourishment than the environment can supply and they die and eventually their husks will fill the marsh and it will disappear. The whole place reeks of death, and yet it is one of nature’s wellsprings of life. Nature made a mistake. No clear running water, crashing waves, or handsome trees. But here is where it, life, begins and flourishes hand in hand with death.”

“That’s sort of interesting boss. Weird too. What does this have to do about anything? You know private detecting or the case — er, the assignment.”

“This is a fake marsh. It was built by some rich people to memorialize what was here before. Sort of like a statue of a general on a horse representing some dead guy. In this case, it looks like the real thing and acts a lot like the real thing but, everything else that was there, that was a part of it, is gone even the Indians. We now have something else here, a new reality as well as a memorial”

“Are you stoned? It sounds like you’re stoned Boss. Did Martin freak you out? I remember at the temple monks talking like that, a lot of shit that makes no sense. Are you Buddhist?”

I chuckled, pushed myself away from the fence and began to walk back to the car. Joe followed.

“Did you notice in the movies I told you to watch everything took place over a couple of days, yet the movie only took 90 minutes or so. What do you think they were doing during all the other time? Living that’s what, eating, sleeping, jerking off, shitting and going back to their offices earning a living. That’s what they were doing.”

“So, what, we’re going back to the office? You don’t have one.”

“You’re right, sort of. I do not have any other assignments as well as no office. On this assignment, there is nothing to do until this evening. In the meantime, we eat ice cream and stare at a bunch of mud. If I were Buddhist I’d meditate to pass the time.”

“Does this mean you’ve figured it all out, solved it?”

“There is nothing very much to solve here. Nothing much has happened. Sometimes, most times, on most assignments nothing happens. People just imagine things.”

“Is that another rule Boss?”

I ignored him and continued on. We had passed around the edge of the restored marsh.

Joe said, “I don’t understand. You say nothing happened. The Reilly guy is dead that’s something and Martin’s furniture is missing that’s something too. And what about the two fat guys. That sounds like a lot of something.”

I responded, “As far as Reilly is concerned, he could have had an accident and fallen into the bay, or if he killed himself it could have been for a reason that had nothing to do with our investigation. And, if he was in fact murdered, Reilly was an asshole, a lot of people could have off’d him and I’m sure many have reasons to do so. We have nothing that indicates the failed business deal we are investigating has anything to do with it, except they sort of happened near to one another in time — the failure of the deal and his death — Interesting, curious perhaps but indicative of nothing. We, you, me and the others happened on the scene. Our ego’s want to make it all related. That makes good mystery novels but bad investigations.”

“Does this mean you are going to have me watch another prehistoric black and white movie?”

“No, it means we are going to visit a real private detective one with an office, a badge and who even carries a gun.”

DAILY FACTOID:
A scientific paper in Nature in September 2013 indicated that there exists a complete ‘machine ecology beyond human response time’ in the financial world, where stocks are traded in an eye-blink, and mini-crashes and spikes can occur on the order of a second or less.
“When we try to push our financial trades to the limits of the speed of light, it is time to recognize that machines are interacting with each other in rich ways, essentially as algorithms trading among themselves, with humans on the sidelines.”
 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
A. Sam on Top: Can Machines Evolve?
“A number of years ago, a team of research scientists tried to improve the design of a certain kind of computer circuit. They created a simple task that the circuit needed to solve and then tried to evolve a potential solution. After many generations, the team eventually found a successful circuit design. But here’s the interesting part: there were parts of it that were disconnected from the main part of the circuit, but were essential for its function. Essentially, the evolutionary program took advantage of weird physical and electromagnetic phenomena that no engineer would ever think of using in order to make the circuit complete its task. In the words of the researchers: ‘Evolution was able to exploit this physical behavior, even though it would be difficult to analyze.’
This evolutionary technique yielded a novel technological system, one that we have difficulty understanding because we would never have come up with something like this on our own.”
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
  If one can generalize a gender based approach to Justice based on scientific studies, it is, “For men, first punish the guilty and for women, first protect the innocent.”
C. Today’s Poem:
Catullus 16
Original Latin
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,
Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi,
qui me ex versiculis meis putastis,
quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.
Nam castum esse decet pium poetam
ipsum, versiculos nihil necessest;
qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem,
si sunt molliculi ac parum pudici
et quod pruriat incitare possunt,
non dico pueris, sed his pilosis
qui duros nequeunt movere lumbos.
Vos, quod milia multa basiorum
legistis, male me marem putatis?
Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo.
Literal English Translation
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you,
Cocksucking Aurelius and anus-busting Furius,
You who think, from my verses
Because they are delicate, that I have no shame.
For it is right for the devoted poet
To be chaste himself, but it’s not
Necessary for his verses to be so.
[Verses] which then indeed have taste and charm,
If they are delicate and have no shame,
And because they can incite an itch,
And I don’t mean in boys, but in
Those hairy old men who can’t get it up.
You, because you have read my many thousands of kisses,
You think me less of a man?
I will sodomize you and face-fuck you.
Whoa, them Romans sure knew how to deal with their critics. I did not know that what I heard on the streets growing up (and later in the offices of the high and mighty) was poetry. Now if modern artists could only have the balls to respond to their critics like Catullus did, one of them might even become Press Secretary for Not My President.
TODAY’S QUOTE:
From: Richard Diran 
Date: August 2, 2017 at 15:00:31 GMT+7
“Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy then gives them the drugs to take away their unhappiness. Antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable”.
Theodore Kaczynski. Ph.D., IQ 167, Unabomber

 

TODAY’S CHART:

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Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 Shadow 0006. ( July 18, 2017)

 

“If the mass of Thai people has a genius for anything, and that is certainly a fit subject for spirited debate, it is a talent for living day-to-day no matter what happens around them. It isn’t a show of resilience… it is more like the repeated invocation of a widespread collective unconscious, Thais can turn a blind eye to even the unhappiest of events. The Thais were a people who, after all, managed mostly to ignore World War II. They probably looked at the invading Japanese army as the latest wave of sex tourists to arrive on their shores, just a bunch of horny guys with money to spend, all of whom happened to be wearing identical outfits.”
Jake Needham

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS TO MY BELOVED SISTER MARYANN AND TO BOTH HER CHILDREN KATIE AND BRENDAN DREAPER AND ALSO TO MY FRIEND MARCO GALLO.

 

 

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

The extent of my explorations of Bangkok during the three weeks or so I have been here have been limited to the streets along a narrow mile long corridor between my apartment and the health club with occasional digressions to Terminal 21, the large mall at Asoke. Packed in along that short passageway, I encounter lifestyles as diverse as any I have seen anywhere. I sometimes feel I am in a movie where the universe changes with every step.

These streets are not a place for the rich or the petite bourgeoisie. Their habitats are the gleaming silver towers that loom over these streets. Nor are the people on these streets the teeming spitting masses. They live elsewhere, in squalor, and forgotten enclaves, along the rivers or in dark alleys behind the gleaming high-rises.

The people I encounter within the corridor are the hucksters, petty criminals, ladies of the night, and sneak thieves; those who never rest from scrabbling and fighting for a few baht to survive another day in order to hopefully rise up out of these streets to where they can feign respectability or in the case of the tourists sober up and return home where they reassume their pretend decency. Those that fail are here also, overdosed on alcohol or drugs and staggering along or lying on the streets and sidewalks.

I am old and bent now. I lean on my walking stick as I trudge the streets. Perhaps, I have become one of them now, a denizen of the Bangkok streets. Fortunately, I’ll be leaving here soon, flying back to the Golden Hills. Few of those I see on my daily walks will ever leave.

Peter, in responding to my last T&T post, reminded me that Mumbai and Calcutta are every bit as exciting — appalling, fascinating —wretched, and glorious — degraded as my little slice of Bangkok. That may be true and perhaps there are many more cities like those, but this is my here and now.

Sometimes when I take my walks through my Bangkok I feel a little like or pretend to feel a little like, Ulysses. Not the Greek Ulysses but the Jewish guy from Dublin, Leo Bloom who “ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls”. The difference between him and me, besides the relish for inner organs and his obsession with Blazes Boylan both of which I can do without, is that he was actively involved in the events of his day and in the city around him. I, on the other hand, mostly simply observe, avoiding involvement wherever possible. I stop a few moments and stare at whatever catches my attention and move on. Like, for example, the tiny pool in the sidewalk in front of the restaurant I eat at sometime. It is filled with giant Koi. Not the restaurant, the pool is filled with giant Koi. I stand there a second or two and wonder how the fish survive the night. Why haven’t the rats or the soi dogs scarfed them up — what about all the homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks? Surely some of them are hungry? Do the owners of the restaurant take the Koi in at night like someone would bring in their cat? That seems odd. Perhaps the Koi are fierce or mythical. See there, just like Bloom in Dublin, I also get to ponder the mundane, ridiculous and superficial as I wander about in my Bangkok.
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HRM arrived from Milan after having visited London, Paris, and Dubai. He liked Dubai best. We had dinner with N and Adrian at a Korean BBQ place. The next day, Nakoul (Nong), my old business partner in Ava Bar, invited me to visit his new venture a little further down Sukhumvit Soi 11. It is one of those upscale non-surgical cosmetic clinics that are becoming increasingly popular in BKK. It is called Kharites Medical Aesthetic Clinic. It offers Botox and ultrasound treatments to adjust facial alignments, vitamin injections and a number of generic facials and the like. I opted for a facial treatment that lasted for about an hour and a half.
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I am much prettier now after my treatment.

 

A few days later, I had lunch with the Gemologist and met his lovely wife. She was born and raised in Nagoya Japan. She is also a gemologist. They first met in Japan during the 1970s. He returned to the US and enrolled in gem school. They then completely lost contact with each other. She, later traveled to San Francisco to enroll also in gem school. While coming out of I. Magnin on Union Square in San Francisco, she bumped into someone who was not looking where he was going. It was the Gemologist. It was a better story listening to them both tell it while gently correcting each other on the details. They eventually, finished Gem school (he two years before she) and opened a well known Japanese Restaurant next to the Miyako hotel in San Francisco’s Japan Town before settling in Bangkok and a life of adventure.

Recently, the Gemologist, Richard Diran, who is also a well-known ethnologist and photographer had one of his photographs included for consideration in the LensCulture Portrait Awards for 2017.
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Every couple of days, I drop in on the old sailor in his room above a small plaza off of Soi 8. He doesn’t leave the room as much as he used to except for long morning and evening walks. He serves me fresh coconut water and regales me with stories of his life in the Caribbean.

One evening I went to the movies with Hayden, Adrian, and the Little Masseuse. We saw the newest Spiderman feature. As Superhero movies go, it was one of the more enjoyable. The acting was better than the writing. My favorite scene was the very last one in the movie.

Nikki then arrived. He, HRM and I spent a day at the health club pool and then they were off to Pattaya and the Little Masseuse and me off to Angkor Wat in Cambodia,

 

B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Vittorio and Teacher Brian arrived in Santiago de Compostela after their almost 30-day hike from France, through the Pyrenees and across Northern Spain.

2. A representative of the Thai government, in response to criticism that the military government had not done enough for the poor, proposed that the top prize in the State lottery be increased so that members of the poorer classes, who waste their meager income on lottery tickets, would stand a chance to be even richer if they win. A quick and unscientific poll on the proposal by the newspapers indicated that the members of the poorer classes addicted to the lottery thought it was a great idea.

3. A seemingly effective reformist head of a small rural community in Thailand and his family were killed in a home invasion by several hooded men in military uniforms carrying military weapons. The Thai police, upon arresting a suspect, announced the motive for the killing was a dispute over a mortgage on the headman’s property. The suspect, the lender on the property, apparently took back a mortgage and then promptly re-mortgaged the property to someone else. When the headman returned with the final payment on the property, the lender refused to honor the mortgage terms so the headman took him to court.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

I cannot help being amused by the misunderstanding most people have about power—that presidents or anyone else with executive power merely sat in their offices and decided what should be done next, then their eager minions hurried out and turned these whims into fact. In truth, managing or ruling anything, let alone a large country, is a process of learning about and reacting to hundreds upon hundreds of small problems, some of which would quickly become larger problems if left unsolved, and then persisting with them until they had been solved or at least reduced from crisis to mere irritation. And standing between a president and these solutions is not a horde of loyal citizens waiting only to be told what to do, but thousands of individuals, each with his own plans and wants, most of them quite willing to break the rules if they could get away with it, and yet each of them also furious at any idea their own rights might be somehow abrogated. And of these citizens, the wealthy are the worst, prickly and full of righteous demands. And alas, it is these wealthy, whose wealth allows their voices to clammer the loudest, who, more often than not, get heard first — generally to the dismay of everyone else and to the disadvantage of the nation.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

Five Years Ago Today In T&T:

This weekend I returned to “Paradise by the Sea” (Jomtien Beach) to visit with Bill who was spending a few days in “The Outskirts of Hell” (Pattaya) about two miles from “Paradise by the Sea.” He had just returned from a brief trip to Malaysia scoping out business opportunities there and unwinding somewhere between the gates of paradise and the portals of hell from the rigors of Muslim Puritanism.

I met him and Ray at the “Oval Table” where about a year ago the Geriatric Knights set off on their adventures. Three of the original five Knights were there, Density, Harvey, and Giufa. Horace who prefers to be called Jerome we would meet up with that evening. Spy was off knight erranting somewhere south of Outremer searching for the Grail or a stray yoni or two which was hard to find where he was at.

We decided to dub Ray into the club (The Rub a Dub Club?). We could not decide on a suitable heraldic name for him. We were stuck between “Omar the Tent Maker” and “Sinbad the Sailor.” I decided to compromise on “Sinbad the Tent Maker.”

Alas, Angelina-Tai, Selma-moo, Princess Oy and the other houri had long ago departed for other caravansaries, and soon so did we.

I checked into the guest house on Jomtien Beach Road Soi 3 where I stayed the last time I was there, napped and waited for LM.

That evening we met Bill, Mike, and Ray for dinner at a restaurant on the Walking Street. After dinner, we went to a nearby go-go bar where Ray was to meet with the ex-owner to discuss business opportunities in Pattaya. The ex-owner’s claim to fame was that he managed to sell his failing go-go bar to someone else and now passes himself off as an expert in doing business in Thailand.

The tiny club consisted of a row of booths surrounding a small stage upon which about 10 poles reaching to the ceiling were set. A selection of slightly overweight women, naked from the waist up, one hand on a pole, moved their bodies in a desultory fashion to some over loud 20-year-old rock music while staring bored at themselves in the mirrors that covered the walls behind the booths. We were the only customers.

We then went to a place called the Windmill a few steps away from the go-go place. Here the joint was packed. It featured various fully naked women performing simulated sex acts and others, equally naked, jumping in and out of Jacuzzis, while various old over-weight men with wallets out were peeling off notes from wads of Thai money and handing it to other naked women whose bodies were pressed against them.

For those who picture the Outskirt’s of Hell as a simply an aging white male sexist paradise, you could not be further from the truth. Unlike God, who seems to prefer well muscled male mesomorphs, Lucifer is nothing if not an equal opportunity corrupter. Within the Outskirts of Hell, there are alley’s devoted to transsexual (Be all that you can be) clubs, lesbian sex clubs and the standard run of the mill gay bars.

You can also shop for souvenirs and buy the sex enhancement medication of your choice at the many establishments specializing in selling those products. And of course, restaurants by the ton located on the land or on boats anchored offshore. Food, sexual indulgence, and gross corruption are never too far apart.

After a few minutes of observation, LM and I excused ourselves and returned to the hotel.

The next morning LM and I took the ferry to Koh Larn one of the several islands in the Bay of Thailand located off Pattaya and Jomtien Beach. It contains a small village and several tiny beaches adjacent to which one can enjoy lunch for about twice the price of similar fare on the mainland and stare at the high-rises lining the shore across the straight.

We ate lunch at a tiny place by a beach of strange maroon and lemon yellow stones. We were the only customers. After lunch, we returned to Pattaya and continued on back to BKK and our apartment.

Also:

Alas, it finally happened as it had to happen, the Sauna Nazi, decided to bump chests with me and scream because I put my bathing suit in the sauna to dry (as does almost everyone) so I punched him in the jaw. He staggered back and did something almost comical, he started dancing around and flicking out his leg like some Asian martial artist expert. As expected, the health club security intervened before things got further out of hand. After things quieted down they wanted to know if I intended to press charges. I declined but requested that they instruct him in the value of the word, please. I am amazed at how much pleasure I get, even at seventy-two, from involving myself in adolescent male adventures in foolishness.

Hayden asked me if that was how attorneys do it; insult their opponents in court before throwing punches. I explained that we generally refrained from the physical part, but that slander and defamation are our stock in trade. He said he still wanted to become an airline pilot when he grows up.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

This Equation Contains Everything We Know about the Universe.

the-whole-thingt

 

Although I have lost the cite, the above equation supposedly sums up everything we know about the known universe (Quanta, Relativity, the Higgs Bosun and what have you). The mathematician who put this together spent many months doing so. After he was done and his work was reviewed, it was discovered that somewhere he had inadvertently switched a sign. He was too exhausted to go back through everything to find it. No one else has been willing to do so either.

It should be noted the formula begins with a minus and ends with an empty set raised to zero power (which I think equals 1 in maths notation or the Higgs Field in physics). One might conclude from this that either the universe does not exist or, we are confused and know little or nothing about it or, it is what it is. If one did conclude one of these was true, he would probably be wrong and would in all likelihood have to begin at the beginning again. No rational human should under these circumstances go through all this again especially since it only exists when we observe it and who has the time. I can only conclude that we would all be happier considering the universe irrational and let it go at that.

I noticed there is no sign for square or any other root in the equation. Perhaps that means in our universe there are no square roots of anything. Millions of high school mathematics students forced to try to compute roots can now thank the gods that their ignorance has not been in vain.

On the other hand, as it often is the way with the universe, after writing the above, I discovered a much shorter equation by another mathematician:
Everyday-Equation 2
http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/01/04/the-world-of-everyday-experience-in-one-equation/

 

If I understand the maths symbols correctly, everything in the Universe but quantum mechanics is a set. That seems about right. In quantum mechanics, nothing is set until the damned cat gets out of the box.

Quantum questions — Once the box, that may or may not contain the cat, is opened and you see a cat lying at the bottom without moving, is it dead when you observe it or only when you feel for its heartbeat and find there is none? Does anyone care that the cat is dead? Did the cat know whether or not it would be found dead when the box was opened?

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. A Thai comments on his society:

 

Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most respected English daily newspaper recently wrote:

“Thailand – and I am trying to be fair here — is as honest as a North Korean press release on famine. We steal, we cheat, we lie, we treat people with a lower social status badly, we’re racist, the list goes on and on. For years we successfully hid all that behind the famous Thai smile and the ‘mai pen rai’ attitude. And by gosh and by golly, most of those suckers fell for it.”

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

“In America today you can make more money inventing a new conspiracy theory than you can from curing cancer.”

 

C. From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

 

“Zenosyne”

 

The Sense That Time Keeps Going Faster

“Life is short. And life is long. But not in that order.”

http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/tagged/dictionary-of-obscure-sorrows

 

D. Today’s Poem:

 

O what can the matter be
And what can the matter be
O what can the matter be
Johnny bydes lang at the fair

He’ll buy me a twopenny whistle
He’ll buy me a threepenny fair
He’ll buy me a Bunch o’ Blue Ribbons
To tye up my bonny Brown Hair

O saw ye him coming
And saw ye him coming
O saw ye him coming
Hame frae the Newcastle fair
English Ballad 1770

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“Some people knew what they wanted like they knew they needed to breathe—as though they had been born with goals written into the very fiber of their beings. They were a gifted minority of humanity in possession of a valuable thing. Those without purpose could not imagine what it was to have one—because to be able to imagine a true purpose was to have one. People like himself searched and searched within, only to find a void where there was supposed to be a mission. They had an absence—a space inside where nothing seemed more important than anything else, and the search for what mattered became the closest they could get. He’d envied those who had no need to search.”
Hodges, T. Ellery. The Never Paradox (Chronicles Of Jonathan Tibbs Book 2). Foggy Night Publishing.

What struck me about this quote was neither its eloquence nor its profundity but its resonance with my life. I cannot recall ever having a goal in my life other than now and then to complete whatever I found myself doing at that time. More often than not, even in those cases my goal usually was to avoid as much work and responsibility as possible. Even if this is not the best way to be, it is probably how most of us behave. There are a lot worse ways to live our lives.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:
Pasted Graphic

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHS:
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A Few Short Years — HRM Grows Up As I Grow Old.

 

Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Shadow 0006 (June 22, 2017)

 

 

“Almost everyone would be rich if great wealth came to people from hard work.”
(Someone, I do not know who)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SACILE, TAMAI, AND VENICE:

 

Sacile and Tamai

On Saturday, Vittorio and Teacher Brian intend to go off on a 30 hiking pilgrimage from France, through the Pyrenees Mountains, and across northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela a journey of about 500 miles. Their friend Marco decided to hold a bon-voyage party for them at his house.

Both Vittorio and Brian are accomplished hikers. Vittorio hikes 20 kilometers several mornings a week. Brian, an American originally from South Dakota, who now teaches physics and other sciences to high school students at the nearby American military base (hence the nickname Teacher), has an interesting back story about his commitment to hiking. When he was a young man serving in the military he was diagnosed with a large growth in his lower spine. After its surgical removal, it was feared he could never walk again. But he did and now hikes regularly through the Veneto plain and the pre-alps.

Anyway, we gathered at Marco’s for the party. I was pleased to see Professor Hank and his wife there. He is a professor (hence the nickname) of economics at a college in New Jersey and used to teach the same at the military base. Like Teacher Brian, he and his wife have a home in Sacile and spend summers there.

The dinner, in good Italian style, lasted from 7:30 when we arrived and until 1 AM when we left. It began with Prosecco, moved through Thai main courses (Vitorio’s wife and several other people there are Thai) and finished off with Italian pastry, sweets, liqueurs and cherries marinated in grappa. It was a truly multi-cultural meal.
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Professor Hank, a thoughtful gentle man whose company I find extremely enjoyable. As usual, when he and I get together, we talked about many things including the possibility next summer of he and I traveling together to visit his friend who lives in Marshall Tito’s old villa on the Ischia coast of Croatia. Thereafter we would take the ferry to Bari and tour Calabria, his wife’s birthplace. After that, I could go on by train to Sicily and visit Antonio and my family before setting off to Thailand. This excited me because I had hoped to take a similar trip this year but had to cancel it because I had not yet fully recovered from my treatment.

 

Venice

On Monday I set off to Venice. I wanted to see how the Biennale exhibits had changed since I visited there almost two years ago.

Although I visit it often, Venice is not my favorite city. Perhaps, it is because of having read Thomas Mann or seen the movie made from his book. Perhaps, I am terrorized by people who creep about at night in masks and garish costumes. Perhaps, it is the signage for the route back to the train station that always seems to lead me through a section of the city I had never visited before, usually, one that I never even knew existed, and lose me there (this visit was no different). But mostly I think, it is because I have never eaten a good meal in that city. Despite whatever it is that puts me off, I still find myself returning again and again and happy I did so.
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Back in Sacile and Tamai

The rest of the week included trips to the markets, mornings and evenings in the cafe’s talking with Hank, Lucia and others. I marvel at how these few people, Vittorio and Anita, Lucia, Professor Hank and Teacher Brian have become such close and important friends of mine despite having first met them only a few years ago and having visited with them only briefly since. I consider them as close and as dear friends as any I have made in my life.

On my last full day there like my first, I accompanied Vittorio to a nearby town where he marched with his band in a religious procession. Although growing up in Tuckahoe where religious processions were common, I have rarely seen them since then. Along with the procession, the town held a soccer tournament and hosted a dinner beneath a grand tent where I watched some men play “scopa” (a popular Italian card game) well into the evening.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

On Friday, Vittorio drove me to the train station for my five hour trip to Rome. The train ride was uneventful other than when somewhere in the middle, I noticed my suitcase was not where I had left it. After some frantic searching, I found it at the opposite end of the car. The car itself was full of American college students on their way from Venice to Rome so I guessed it had been moved to make room for their mountains of luggage and backpacks. I otherwise dozed, read, or watched the hill town pass by my window. Sometimes, I tried to guess their names and recall if I had ever visited them.

Having lived in Rome for three years back in the late sixties and early seventies, I consider it my home. There are four cities I think of as home; Rome (and Sabina), New York City (and Tuckahoe), San Francisco, and Bangkok. I have lived for a considerable length of time in all of these cities. Whenever I return to any of them, I find myself just as happy sitting quietly or strolling around as I would in some more energetic or social activity; so it was with this trip. I am still too weak and ill for anything more than the briefest of walks. Nevertheless, on Saturday morning I ambled to my beloved Borghese Gardens and sat on a bench near the magnificent Borghese Museum that as usual had sold out its tickets for admission about a week in advance.

I sat where I usually do, on a bench near the accordionist. I have been coming here for about 10 years now and sitting on that bench listening to him play. He bills himself as “The Ukrainian Organist,” but I suspect he is just an ordinary Slavic accordion player. He plays light classical music which I always felt had been written specifically for sunny days in a park with breezes rustling the leaves of the trees, filtering the sunlight and dappling the ground in shadow or destined to be stolen by some modern musical comedy composer caught in a momentary lack of inspiration. Today alas, he, the musician, seemed distracted. He’d play only a few bars of a piece before jumping on to another. Even his piece de resistance the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach(what the phantom of the opera plays in his grotto under the Opera House whenever he has agita) seemed forlorn and discordant — at least, more so than it usually sounds.

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The “Ukrainian Organist” at the Borghese Gardens

On Sunday my delightful cousin, Federica picked me up at my accommodation in the Castro Pretoria section of Rome. She first drove us to the “Quartiere Coppede a fantastical mix of Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Mannerist, Medieval, and, overall, Art Nouveau mixture created by the mostly forgotten architect Coppedè in 1919.
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Fede and Pookie Footloose in Rome.

After that, we drove out to Sabina where we had a great lunch with her parents and another cousin Andrea.

Lunch was the typical 3 or more hour affair. It began with kisses and hugs all around followed by the antipasto. I do not recall all the ingredients included in the antipasto but I remember fried zucchini and potatoes, tomato and peppers (or perhaps just red peppers) and olive oil on a lightly baked breaded cracker of some sort, I think. Small mozzarella balls, mixed vegetables, and cantaloupe with Parma ham. The pasta course contained cold Ziti (?) mixed with vegetables. Then we had turkey involtini and a salad. A fruit compote followed by ice cream cake (chocolate) made up the dessert —followed, of course, by coffee. This was all accompanied by interesting conversation and a very good chilled white wine that I, unfortunately, was unable to drink more than a sip.

We also spent some time looking at old family photographs and watching the finals of LeMans on television. (Andrea is service manager for Ferrari and had a professional interest)
IMG_2943 - Version 2
The Cousins and me

After the lunch, Fede drove me back to Rome and the next day I set off for Thailand.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Recently my daughter, who is a scientist herself, expressed her concern about the anti-science mania rampant in our body politic. For example, there is distrust of the findings of almost every scientist who has produced a peer reviewed article regarding climate change. Not only is this response unscientific it is irrational as well. What is the down side to moving to renewables and lowering our carbon footprint? Even if all these scientists were ultimately proved wrong we still would have a better world.

The issue is financial and political, the understandable reluctance of those few individuals and institutions who believe they own the wealth of hydrocarbons yet untapped to surrender their prospective fortunes. But who owns the billions of years of accumulated sunlight trapped in the ground— certainly not those few. At best, they have a revocable contract to invest their funds in extracting those resources in exchange for a reasonable return on their investment. It is not a scientific issue.

There is a similar negative and unscientific reaction also to things like GM crops. GM is merely a more efficient and safer method of improving crops than the radiation method we have been using for the last 100 years. Yes, there is probably not a single bite of food that you eat today that has not been genetically modified. Almost anything conceivable produced by GM can be produced by other means, but probably not as efficiently at this time.

The problem is not a question science or safety, but of adequate regulation and those who would subvert that regulation. Nevertheless, there remains those who are fearful of putting their safety in the hands of others and try instead to stop or deny the science. Although, I for one having been intimately involved in difficult regulation from all vantage points, am sympathetic with their concern, nevertheless, I believe the worst of all options is to try to halt the growth of knowledge through Luddite over-reaction.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Remember,” he said to the two beloved faces crowding the carriage window. “No drinking out of wet glasses. No betting on slow horses. No—” The jokes died in his throat. “Oh, Jesus God Christ, what am I going to do without the two of you?” He turned away, bleak with loss.
Delaney, Frank (2009-10-13). Ireland: A Novel (p. 226). HarperCollins.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
1525410c3f1938edbd7c8de7c5dc43e0

 

The interesting thing to note about this chart is that almost all the non-stressful careers are in engineering and are relatively highly paid, while most of the highly stressful jobs are dangerous or low paying or both. So, one would think, if you are young and looking for a career you should head off to engineering school.

 

Alas, here in America over the last score or so of years, we have been closing our engineering schools or being forced to fill them with students from other countries. Yes, the continued health of our modern technological society depends on the despised immigrants. Apparently modern white American males shun the hard work required to earn an engineering degree. And yes again, engineering in America has been often seen as a male only profession. Perhaps, it is the time that American woman should be encouraged to flood the remaining engineering schools and begin taking over this sector of our economy. Obviously, the men find it too difficult. Maybe, that well-represented tee-shirt slogan should be amended to read: “A woman’s place is in the House, Senate and in engineering school.”

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
498

 

The Mormons believe Native-Americans are descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel. Anthropologists argue over whether they are descended from East-Asian immigrants to the continent, or Central-Asian or even European. Some Native-American religions believe they are descended from those who migrated through a hollow log or a long deep cave. I believe, however, that by studying the noble noses of some these dignified and proud people one can only conclude that they are Italian.

 

 

 

Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 30 JoJo 0006 (June 16, 2017)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN TRANSIT:

The last few days before leaving on a trip are usually part of the voyage itself, even if, like me, you just fuss and fume about not doing anything to prepare. A few days before departure, I did manage to throw some clothes and medicines into a suitcase.

Usually, I have no anxiety about going on a trip — no matter how long and arduous it may be. This time, however, I was apprehensive. Perhaps, it is because of the state of my health or maybe it is my age. In any event, whenever I think about my travels this summer an indefinite shadow of concern rattles around the back of my mind.

On Wednesday evening, Dick drove me to Sacramento Airport for my overnight flight to New York. After saying goodbye to him and to HRM, I walked into the airport. I decided to act the part of a bent and befuddled and creepy old man. An easy task since I am, in fact, a bent and befuddled and creepy old man. So, leaning heavily on my imitation black thorn shillelagh cane, I stumbled around and forced everyone to repeat whatever they tell me twice. I did this because I thought it would help me get assigned better seating and boarding preference (it did), and also because many, many years ago when introduced to “method” acting one of the exercises was to stumble around like an old man. Now that I am an old man, I thought it would be interesting to see how accurate we had been. It was great fun.

In New York, I managed to spend a bleary-eyed day at Kennedy Airport waiting for my flight to Milan. It doesn’t matter how old, bent and befuddled you may be, in New York they will still tell you to “go fuck yourself” or the like if your responses are too slow.

No matter how tiring and uncomfortable traveling may be, especially by airplane, there is usually something interesting to watch. That is probably because unlike passing strangers on a street or in a restaurant, on a plane or waiting around an airport boarding area you are involved in a short term community and with people with similar goals— to survive the trip.

While waiting in New York’s Kennedy Airport at what I thought was the correct gate, I noticed that the boarding area across from me was fitted out with tables and chairs decorated as though a party was going to be held soon. Waiters spread out among the other gates in the area offering everyone free fruit juice. Soon strangely dressed people began to drift in outfitted in various odd costumes usually including a strong dose of sequins. It all began to resemble a Fellini film. Then the star of the show arrived. At least I think it was the star since almost everyone in sequins and some without would come over to her, smile and then kiss and hug her. She was about six feet two inches tall with one of those tight skinned expressionless faces like Trump’s wife’s that are the frightening wonders of modern cosmetic surgery (you wonder how and why). Her breasts were out of a porno comic, her butt something that would make JayLo’s appear malnourished and her dress easier described by what it did not cover than what it did.

Anyway, eventually they all gathered at the tables and after about 20 minutes or so of partying and picture taking, they all got up, including the super-star, and marched through the gate marked “Vienna.” So, if you read or hear about anything unusual happening in Austria during the second week in June, I’d love to hear about it

Shortly after the carnival departed, I learned I that I had been waiting at the wrong gate. So, I rushed across the airport to the correct one where I was met by Frank Cozza, an Alitalia employee, who Nikki arranged to take me through security and generally ease my transit. He told me that he had paged me for an hour or more. But, I guess, with my diminished hearing and all the partying, I did not hear it. Frank arranged for me to decompress for a half hour in the first class lounge.

The most interesting thing about the flight was that sitting a few rows from me was about five deaf Italian women who had been visiting the US and were now returning to Italy. Although I cannot read sign, I could understand them easily since I am proficient in Italian facial expressions and hand gestures. In the US and most other places, I guess, signing carries the message with facial and hand gestures used for emphasis. In Italy, or at least among these women, facial expressions and hand gestures carried the message while the signs seemed to be used only for emphasis.

They were loud also. At the luggage carousel, everyone’s eyes were drawn to them as they talked or argued in sign over the various pieces of luggage that trundled by.

.
B. TAMIL AND SACILE:

The following day, I arrived in Italy, the land of expressive hands and dramatic noses. Nikki met me as I exited the plane at Malpensa near Milan. He was scheduled to fly a plane to Tokyo in a few hours. We had lunch. I ate spaghetti and lobster. I actually could taste the lobster. Perhaps my taste is returning. Or, perhaps I can only taste things that come packed in their own slime.

Then it was off across northern Italy by train to Sacile where I was met by Vittorio who promptly drove me to a cafe where the two women owners implored me to assist them with drafting their proposal for developing a techie way of assuring artist profits in the face of discount sales. I agreed. At a little after one AM, I finally got to bed following well over two days of traveling with little sleep.
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Sacile

 

At 8 AM the next morning, Vittorio and I drove across the Veneto farmlands toward another town where he was to play in a marching band during a commemoration ceremony for the town’s Alpine troops who died in the two world wars. As we drove, on our right the pre-alps rose above the fertile plain like a Roman shield wall before an assault by the Gauls. It was a lovely day.

Vittorio plays tuba in a number of bands and orchestras in the area. Like with Peter Grenell, who I often follow along to his various gigs, I happily follow Vittorio along to his whenever I am here. I guess I can be viewed as a “geriatric groupie.”
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Vittorio and His Tuba

Vittorio’s band mates and the Alpini veterans all wore their distinctive hats with one stiff erect eagle feather jutting above each. I learned that the dark feathers ment the person had been an enlisted man and the lighter stiff erect eagle feather signified an officer. I could not help noticing that the stiff erect feather of the officers was, on the whole, distinctly smaller than those of the enlisted men’s except for one or two of the officers whose stiff erect feathers were larger than everyone else’s. You may make whatever sociological conclusions from that you want.

Upon our return, we stopped in Sacile for Prosecco at Lucia’s “Le Petite Cafe.” Disney-world is not the happiest place on earth, Lucia’s “Le Petite Cafe” is.
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Lucia and Vittorio at “Le Petite Cafe” in Sacile.

 

Following an afternoon nap, we set off for a bon voyage dinner in honor of Vittorio and Teacher Brian’s impending 30-day walking pilgrimage to Compostela in Spain. But, that is for my next post.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

There is a proposal to privatize the Nation’s air traffic controller system. Air traffic controllers are responsible for airline safety in take offs and landings at the Nation’s airports and the skies around them. In other words, like traffic cops except with more authority and responsibility.

I guess, the first question that comes to mind is how comfortable will passengers be knowing their safety rests in the hands of the lowest bidder on the contract. Will we find ourselves sooner or later hearing a corporate executive of the traffic controllers private company paraphrase that infamous pharmaceutical exec and claim his job is not to assure the safety of the passengers but the profits of the shareholders?

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

The Secret of Thai Soap Operas as Revealed by the Little Masseuse:

 

During my weekly massage, my masseuse likes to watch Thai soap operas on television while she administers the various pains and pleasures of her therapy.

Now, as I am sure we all know, soaps are a window into the dark, twisted soul of a society, so it is with Thai soap operas.

To me, all Thai soaps appear to tell the same story and contain the same characters. There is usually the beautiful innocent heroine and another equally beautiful though not so innocent young woman. You can usually tell them apart by their eyebrows. The innocent heroine’s eyebrows are somewhat rounded, while her evil counterparts appear straighter. They are accompanied by two equally attractive young men, one good and the other not so good. Both men are clearly in charge although in general, they are often remarkably oblivious and at times stupid. These four then are supported by a cast of actors and actresses of varying ages often playing family members of the protagonists. There are also one or two comic characters, usually played by ladyboys.

Although the stories are, generally, all the same, their location varies. I have seen Thai soaps set in the homes of the rich, and others in the homes of the poor living beside a klong somewhere. I have also seen them set in grocery stores, health clubs, and farms. Some occur in modern times others in old Siam and still, others are set in times of magic or in some guerrilla campaign somewhere. One, although clearly set in Thailand, had everyone dressed in American cowboy clothing. There was even a western saloon with swinging doors. Ghosts are popular but production values are low.

Anyway, this particular day, the masseuse was watching a soap in which the straight-browed beauty dressed all in black and carried a sword had just done unspeakable things to a group of poor people locked in cages.

Viewing this through my western acclimated eyes that see everything as a conflict between good and evil no matter the atrocities performed by either side, I commented, “She must be the bad girl.”

To which my masseuse responded, “Good or bad, it makes no difference. She is beautiful and everyone cares about her and what she does. If she were not so beautiful no one would give a damn at all about her or anything she does.”
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The Little Masseuse

 

 

CRACKED FACTOID:

 

According to David Wong, who is definitely not an authority on anything, monsters come in two types — those that breed and those that do not. Frankenstein is one of the latter. Once he is dead everyone can go back about their business. The breeders, however, are another matter. Zombies, vampires, and werewolves are breeders. That means, if you come across one of them, you can be reasonably sure there are more of them out there.

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Life is a maximum security prison in which all the inmates live on Death Row.

images
The Young Trenz Pruca

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The English language needs a word for that feeling you get when you badly need help, but there is no one who you can call because you’re not popular enough to have friends, not rich enough to have employees, and not powerful enough to have lackeys. It’s a very distinct cocktail of impotence, loneliness and a sudden stark assessment of your non-worth to society.”
Wong, David. This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It (John Dies at the End 2) (p. 23). St. Martin’s Press.

English does have a word for it dude. It’s the second word in the phrase “you’re fucked.”

 

 

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Pookie in Tamai, a Child of the Corn.

 

 

 

Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 JoJo 0006 (June 4, 2017)

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
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Why are these people smiling?

 

So, I spent the Memorial Day weekend at my sister’s house in Mendocino. The sky was overcast and the ocean calm and gray. It was abalone hunting season. Parked cars filled the side of the road along the bluff disgorging their black-rubber suited occupants and their tire irons. The divers lined up and marched down the sinuous steep paths that snaked along the bluff face to the water below. From the top of the bluff, they looked like a dark ant army covering the rocks and invading the kelp beds. A lot of them were Asian, Japanese and Chinese tourists I guess, flown over here for the abalone hunting season. I suspect, if they were Muslim the current administration in Washington would suddenly become abalone conservationists.

Most of the time, Mary, George and I sat in the house by the large windows overlooking the ocean talking and laughing among ourselves or buried in some book or reading the NY Times.

On Sunday, we went to the Casper Community Breakfast and Flea Market. Mary and George set up a few tables in the grassy area at the side of the Casper Community Center. On the tables, we placed a few things they had lying around their garage to be sold at the market.
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I headed off for the community breakfast leaving them to their commercial endeavors. The community volunteer waitpersons sat me in a middle seat at a rectangular table seating six. I did not know anyone else at the table. Having as a result of my therapy an upset stomach, lost most of my hearing and taste, and blurry eyesight, I had little expectation of enjoying either the food or the company. Suddenly across the room, I saw a nose — Not just any nose but a magnificent nose. The nose was appended to the face of one of the woman volunteers waiting on the tables. As noses go, it was extremely well shaped. It was also huge as though insisting we all acknowledge its magnificence. It moved through the dining room like an icebreaker through the Arctic. I was enthralled.

As many of you know, I abhor the cult of small noses and people who have them. It is insulting to those individuals proud of their prominent noses to know that others are encouraged to cut theirs off so they may become fashionable. Why are tiny-tot noses so fashionable anyway? What are they hiding behind those tiny nostrils? How do they enjoy the full aromas of life around them? Where is the facial drama — the character — the pride?

 

1indians420
Now that is a Nose to Remember.

 
B. BACK TO THE GOLDEN HILLS:

 

On Monday, Memorial Day, I drove back to EDH. It was a long but relatively pleasant drive— past Lake Mendocino, Lucerne (The Switzerland of California), Clear Lake, through the wildfire ravished forests of blackened trees, the folded hills and out into the green expanse of Great Valley and into the Golden Hills. Since returning, I have resumed exercising — walking around the lakes in Town Center and swimming in the pool at the health club.

One day, I took HRM to the orthodontist to have his braces removed. I was startled when, following the removal, I was invited to watch everyone, including the orthodontist himself, sing, dance and throw around balloons to celebrate HRM’s relief from two years of discomfort.

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That is the orthodontist on the right showing off his dance routine.

 

When I was a kid I never heard of dancing dentists. I still think it is odd. Lampedusa in his novel Il Gattopardo has his main character, the aging Prince, after observing the antics of the younger nobility at the great ball of the Sicilian nobility, comment, “Just look at them. In another generation, they will be climbing back into the trees.”

My departure next week for Italy and Southeast Asia has me a bit anxious. A few months ago I spent two days planning the trip knowing I will still be suffering the side effects of my treatments. I researched and listed in a notebook all the things I absolutely should bring along with me and how they should be packed. I planned out meticulous itineraries and identified all the pertinent phone numbers and contacts I would need. Finally, I prepared a detailed budget. Then as I always do, I promptly ignored everything finding it all too complicated and deciding instead to wait for my departure date, grab whatever is near at hand and take off hoping for the best.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

For eight years I have sent out This and that from re Thai r ment to my best and closest eighty or so friends.(I have also published them in a blog https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/ ) I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to go back and look at my first post from each year. Here are some excerpts:

 

January 17, 2010: From Thailand.

“I arrived safely in Thailand and am now attempting to cope with jet lag in my hotel.

Normally, I despise 20-hour plane rides, but sometimes, like on this trip, the movies make up for the discomfort. I managed to see:

‘The Bastards’: Great Tarantino. All the gratuitous violence you could want wrapped into an engaging story.

“Surrogates,” with Bruce Willis. He seems to make a career out of appearing beat up and disheveled. This was a lot like, but not as good as, “Twelve Monkeys” but worth seeing nevertheless.

“Zombie Land.” I expected to hate it but enjoyed it a lot. A road picture with 4 misfits who hook up and find a life, if only to fight zombies. Great bit with Bill Murray.

Some coming of age French flick with the usual, but much more intelligent, teenage angst and starring an actress whose name I did not catch playing the mother of one of the slightly wayward girls and who is one of the most engaging actresses I have seen in a while.

Well, that’s all for now, most of the rest has been sleep.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/this-and-that-january-17-2010/

 

January 11, 2011: From Thailand.

“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-january-10-2011/

 

January 1, 2012: From Thailand.

“Yesterday I was in my manic state, the drooling but happy one. On my way to exercise in the morning, I felt good enough to do an impromptu little soft shoe on the street corner including a Durante-like shuffle with my hat waving in my hand by the side of my face. The Little Masseuse was embarrassed and asked me to stop before people began to think I was not 100 percent.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-12-joseph-0001-january-1-2012/

 

January 4, 2013: From El Dorado Hills.

“I am considering starting a new blog. It will focus on commentary about historical events. Of course, if it is anything like my current and past attempts at blogging, I can expect that after a year of effort, I will have received about 35 hits and perhaps a dozen comments. About half of the comments will be from Nigeria or someplace like that letting me know that my efforts have changed their lives and inquiring if I would be willing to open up a bank account in their name where they could deposit $20 million they just happened to find lying around in the jungle that, for “technical” reasons, they cannot move out of the country. The other half will come from people with names like Cindy, Mindy, Sandy, Darla, and Isabel telling me how “awesome” (yes, that is the word they use) they found my post to be and how awesome (again) it would be to get together sometime where we could exchange blogs in private.

Anyway, I am thinking of naming the blog, ‘A Commentary on Historical Events or What the Fuck Happened?’”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-16-joseph-0002-january-4-2013/

 

January 16, 2014: From El Dorado Hills.

“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 I am 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.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-27-joseph-0003-january-16-2014/

 

January 9, 2015: From El Dorado Hills.

“Today I said to myself, “The hell with the temperature or my physical maladies I’m going swimming.” So I dove into the outdoor pool at my new health club and swam for twenty minutes which is pretty good since I have not seriously exercised for over two months. After my swim, I spent some time in the hot tub, took a steam bath and showered. It made me very happy.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-20-joseph-0004-january-9-2015/

 

January 14, 2016: From El Dorado Hills.

“On this the first day of the year 2016 of the Gregorian Calendar, my 76th year of life on this minor piece of interstellar detritus, I decided to review the 200 or so books I read in the past year. I discovered, to my not so great surprise, that I would classify all but about 20 of them as entertaining trash. My first resolution of 2016 is to reduce the number of non-trash novels I read to below 15. At my age, I see no pressing need for self-improvement.

My goal in life is to have no goals — a few desires perhaps but nothing greater than the most ephemeral of longings. When I was 5 or 6 years old and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, “ a bum” or “a hobo.” It seemed to me, even then, that any other life choice demanded submission to the desires usually of others but sometimes my own and not to the simple limits of nature. I guess this means I craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments of inconsequential obsessions. It is a very hard thing to do. I usually just take a nap and consider the day a success.

Speaking of naps, I take them not so much to rest but to enter an alternate reality when my waking life seems to be on re-run. As an example, on Sunday HRM was gone on a play date, Dick decided to take the day off to rest and I had no car. It was cold and rainy, so going for a walk was out. I was soon bored with reading Facebook posts and decided to nap and visit my alternate reality. In this case, I found myself in a large log structure during the dead of a snow-filled winter day. There were several families living there in a communal arrangement. Most of the families were led by women but some were led by men. Children happily played around the fire pits. We seemed not to be stressed by any outside events that may have caused us to be there but, in fact, we appeared quite happy… and then toilet overflowed and things got weird — I could not get the plunger into the bowl, people kept telling me I was doing it all wrong, strange creatures appeared in the snow then disappeared and the overflow topped my shoes and drenched my socks. “Shit,” I exclaimed unnecessarily. So I woke myself up before things got worse and I went back to Facebook which although just as weird as my dreams at least my socks stay dry.”
https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-25-joseph-0005-january-14-2016/

 

January 1, 2017: From El Dorado Hills.

Treatment has begun to take on the feeling of a deadly boring job. Get up, off to work, come home and prepare for the next day, catch a few social interactions and some entertainment where one can.

HRM has settled happily into the Christmas dither, shopping for presents and planning the cake he intends to bake for us. I asked him what he would like for a present. He said, “A toy I can play with for a day and then forget.”

Magic Mouthwash:

The week that began with great promise as to the course of my treatment came to a close with me feeling more like road kill. So, I complained to the hoards of technicians attending me at the hospital that I was beginning to question the value of experiencing the pain and that I considered balancing that against possibly living five more years or so. They gave me a prescription that I was to pick up the next morning at a pharmacy near the hospital.

The next morning, I arrived at the pharmacy and was given a bottle filled with a pink liquid. The medicine was labeled, “Magic Mouthwash.”

Now, I am of that generation where referring to something as Magic this or that was usually not medicine and certainly not approved by the FDA. In addition, this particular medicine did not come accompanied by those inserts containing, in small and unreadable print, descriptions and warnings about your purchase. Instead, it contained a one-page notice that read in part:

Uses: Consult your pharmacist.
How to Use: Consult your pharmacist.
Precautions: Consult your pharmacist.
Drug Interactions: Consult your pharmacist.
Side effects: Consult your pharmacist.
Overdose: Call 911 or local poison control center.

So, I asked the pharmacist. He took me into a corner and, sotto voce, rattled off several long GrecoRoman words representing the contents of the medicine. I gleaned there were a least two antibiotics and a pain control substance. The other two or three ingredients escaped me.

Anyway, I took the magic mouthwash with me to the hospital parking lot where, in my car, I poured the amount of liquid the pharmacist recommended into a small plastic cup and swished it around my mouth.

Suddenly pain shot through my entire body and everything went white. Sort of like what happens when one takes those magic potions that appear so prominently in the cheap fantasy novels I am so fond of reading. When my eyes cleared, I fully expected to see a few pixies tossing gold dust dancing in the car in front of me, a unicorn in the parking space beside me and Marley’s ghost. Instead, I found myself free of pain and washed in a warm comfortable glow.

So, I left the car, skipped through the rain and into the hospital to find the chief nurse of the Radiation Oncology Department.

She was in her office dressed in fuzzy antlers and Santa Claus cap and a dark green tunic covered in Christmas ornaments. “What do you know about “Magic Mouthwash,” I enquired?

The nurse is from England and speaks with a Cockney accent so thick that, at best, I could understand only every other word. She also refers to me as “my darling” instead of Joe, or Mr. Petrillo or even Pookie. “Oh that,” she responded. “That’s your doctor, Dr. Jones’, favorite potion.(yes she used that word).” “He and the pharmacist cooked it up for when the patients are experiencing too much pain.” She then listed the ingredients like the pharmacist did. This time I caught that one of them was a steroid. That, I thought, explained the skipping through the rain.

“Oh,” I said. “Uh, what about the FDA?”

“Don’t worry my darling, all the ingredients have been approved. They only mixed them together. The patients seem to like it a lot.”

“I can well understand that,” I responded.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Iroquois on Top:

“Who were the Haudenosaunee? (Pronounced Ho-deh-no-shaw-nee.) We know them as the Iroquois, a league of six nations of the Northeastern Indian tribes, consisting of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas (the original Five) and later the Tuscaroras. Their confederacy stretched across most of New York State to Lake Erie, south to the Adirondack chain, west to the Ohio Valley, and north into Ontario. Iroqu (meaning rattlesnake) was the name given to them by their enemies the Algonquins. The French added the suffix “ois,” as an insult, thus the name Iroquois. They preferred to be called the Haudenosaunee (People of the Long House).”

“Dekanawidah, born in Ontario, founded the Iroquois and bound the original five nations together into a Confederacy, establishing the Gayanashagowa – The Great Binding Law – which ensured a lasting peace among these independent tribes. They were bound together with this formal “constitution.” To this day the Iroquois are the oldest, continuous participatory democracy on Earth! The Ha do no sau nee, living in peace under one common law. They have practiced this representative form of government for centuries. In the Iroquois’ Book of the Great Law, there are striking parallels with our country’s Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches. It is well acknowledged by historians that the democratic principles of the Six Nations influenced and shaped the Constitution of the United States.”

“Apart from this remarkable fact is an even more astounding item. The clan mothers (or Gantowisas) were female officials who enjoyed political, economic, religious and social powers unprecedented and unparalleled in any civilization! These ladies owned the land and homes, and all the children. They had the right to adoption, to determine life and death. They declared and ended wars. They conferred or retracted citizenship. They had the exclusive right to raise up or depose Chiefs. They had to be represented in all councils. They made or abrogated treaties. They also held trusteeship of tribal property. The tribes relied on their opinion and ability to make wise decisions. These women were the political and social backbone of all the Confederacy.”
Gregory Christiano

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I have always craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments of inconsequential obsessions.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

Excerpt from Lyrics to “The Crickets Have Arthritis,” by Shane Koyczan.

 

It doesn’t matter why I was there, where the air is sterile and the sheets sting.
it doesn’t matter that I was hooked up to this thing that buzzed and beeped every time my heart leaped, like a man whose faith tells him:
God’s hands are big enough to catch an airplane

or a world,

doesn’t matter that I was curled up like a fist protesting death,
or that every breath was either hard labor or hard time,
or that I’m either always too hot or too cold
it doesn’t matter because my hospital roommate wears star wars pajamas,
and he’s nine years old

His name is Louis

and I don’t have to ask what he’s got, the bald head with the skin and bones frame speaks volumes.
The Gameboy and feather pillow booms like, they’re trying to make him feel at home ‘cause he’s gonna be here a while

I manage a smile the first time I see him and it feels like the biggest lie I’ve ever told.
so I hold my breath
cause I’m thinking any minute now he’s gonna call me on it
I hold my breath
cause I’m scared of a fifty-seven-pound boy hooked to a machine, because he’s been watching me, and maybe I’ve got him pegged all wrong, like

maybe he’s bionic or some shit.
so I look away…
 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“They say Los Angeles is like The Wizard of Oz. One minute it’s small-town monochrome neighborhoods and then boom— all of a sudden you’re in a sprawling Technicolor freak show, dense with midgets.”
Wong, David. John Dies at the End (p. 23). St. Martin’s Press.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CARTOON:
403833_452167268137623_53805153_n

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_2748

The Second Most Embarrassing Photograph Ever Taken of Me.

 

Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Capt. Coast 0006 (May 13, 2017)

Brigid O’Shaughnessy: I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.
Sam Spade: You know, that’s good because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we’d never get anywhere.
From “The Maltese Falcon.”

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. Teresa Petrillo, June 7, 1917 — May 8, 2017

On May 8, 2017, at about 4 PM my mom died. Her passing was relatively peaceful.

IMG_1928

My mom has led a life of great adversity from the moment she was born until the last few years or her life. She met every challenge with implacable determination and good humor never giving an inch to despair or defeat. Even the Grim Reaper was forced to sneak up on her while she slept.

Memories of her flood me with sadness now — never more new memories made — no more laughter together.
REST IN PEACE MOM, WE WILL MISS YOU A LOT.

The funeral will be held at St. Ann’s, 300 Lake St. San Francisco on May 18, beginning at 9:30 AM.

 

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

 

A week or so ago, I got the news from one of my doctors that according to my recent PET-scan, my throat cancer is in full remission. When one parses the fog of physician speak and happy talk what this means is that they can’t find the little buggers right now so we will wait five years to see if I am still alive. Nevertheless, I guess I should feel good about this, but then why do I still feel like road kill?

Any delight I may feel from this news has been tempered by sadness after learning about my mother’s passing and the sufferings of some of my dearest friends. Peter is gradually having joint after joint in his body replaced due to the ravages of arthritis (but he still weekly performs music with his several bands) and Naida is due for open heart surgery next week. It The suddenness with which our bodies descend from the satisfaction with being older (and if not wiser, at least a little smug) to the devastation of being aged is incomprehensible to me —
Pasted Graphic 1
Peter (2nd from left) and the Blind Lemon Pledge Blues Band.
(This photograph makes me happy. Just look at these old guys, even if they can no longer get it up, they still can lay down a few bars of the Blues.)

The winter rains seem to be over and the California sunshine now rules the days. In preparation for my travels this summer, I am trying to exercise more — walking and swimming for the most part. I dislike being indoors when I exercise which is why I enjoy the pool at my health club. It is outdoors and heated. My walks take me around the lakes in Town Center. I do this, mind you, not for the health benefits or to keep in shape but in order to prepare for my planned summer travels. I would rather not find myself nodding off in some god-forsaken sidewalk cafe in Bangkok or falling down the stairs that pass for streets in the Italian hill towns I plan to visit.
IMG_2040
A Lake at Town Center in El Dorado Hills

 

C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Outside Dick’s Home across the driveway from the front door there is a tall hedge growing. I assume, it was planted to shield the occasional pedestrians on the street from a view of our garbage cans. On one side of the hedge, barely visible from either the front door or the street is a large dark gap or hole in the foliage. From this gap, for as long as I have lived here, there issues several rivulets of water that tumble down the slope for about 30 feet or so before disappearing into a drain at the side of the garage. During the rainy season these rivulets grow quite large and at times flood the driveway.
IMG_2692

Not too long ago, while leaving the house, I noticed some kid standing by the garbage cans behind the hedge peeking out at the street. Curious, I shouted, “ Hey, what the fuck are you doing here?”

At the sound of my voice, he spun around and stared at me, a surprised look on his face. That’s when I realized he was not some kid, but a very short old man with a scraggly grey beard. Old, about my age with wrinkles on his face that stood out like scars. He was short, well under five feet I guessed and dressed oddly too. On his head he had on what looked like a black or dark blue felt fedora with its brim cut off. His coat, dark brown in color, had shiny buttons, yellow piping, and hung almost to he knees. Below the coat were wrinkled tan pants tucked into dirty white socks. On his feet, he had what looked like old hiking boots.

He hesitated a moment then turned, ran through the mud, up the slope and dove head first into the gap in the hedge. I noted that he was far more spry than I.

“Hey!” I shouted and ran across the driveway after him. Well, I actually didn’t run, that’s beyond me at this age — shuffled more likely. Also, I was wearing my imitation Crocs that I bought in Thailand for two dollars. There’s no running in them — waddling perhaps.

I crossed the driveway, then slipped and slid through the silt and the mud and turned toward the dark gap. “I’ve got you now you rat bastard,” I thought.

As I approached the hole and tried to reach in to grab the little jerk, I slipped and slid feet first into the gap. I fell thinking I was going to land hard on my ass. Instead, I kept falling down and down and down. As I slid down, one of my faux Crocs slipped off my foot. For some reason, I believed it essential I save the thing and so I did by grabbing it and clutching it to my breast. It felt like I was dropping down the chute at a water park. I tried to turn my body so I could apply some friction to slow or stop my fall. I got part way around when I popped out of the tube, flew about five feet through the air and with a loud “oomf,” landed face down onto what felt like soft moss. I was sopping wet and in pain all over. I was still grasping the phony Croc like it had saved my life. Eventually, I moved my head a bit and glimpsed a small pond a few feet away from where I lay. I could hear the plopping sound of water dribbling into the pond. I appeared to be lying in a small clearing a forest. I spied the little guy standing at the edge of the clearing. When he saw me looking at him, he ran off into the woods and disappeared. “You rat bastard,” I croaked after him.

Slowly and agonizingly, I worked my way onto my back, looked up into the clear blue sky, and shouted “I am not Alice.”

Four days later, I returned home. Neither Hayden nor Dick seemed aware that I had been gone. What was even more strange was that they also seemed not to notice my appearance. I was almost naked wearing only a few rags and of course the phony Crocs. My beard was long and braided. On my chest I sported a tattoo of a naked mole rat standing fully erect and above it in large red bank gothic the words “Fuck Trump.” A stud, shaped like a human thigh bone, pierced my left earlobe.

Disappointed at their lack of reaction, I stomped off the bathroom, showered, shaved, removed the thigh bone stud and put myself to bed. The next morning Dick woke me up to drive Hayden to school.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

IRWIN’S TALE – I

Sometimes poetry can bubble up from the depths of despair. This tale was sent to me seven years ago by Irwin. I include it here in memory of a fine man and a good friend who passed away shortly thereafter:

“Friday I came out of the bank. There was a man who came into the lobby and then went outside. I don’t know how to describe him except to say he looked scruffily dressed and reminded me of a former city councilperson who was one of the last white faces in Santa Ana government; outside of the long-time city manager who lives in Coto de Caza as does the former mayor who now is the right hand man at the Irvine Company. I got the distinct feeling this fellow was either going to rob Citibank or was waiting for me so when I got into the oyonemobile I locked the doors started the car and drove away.

Yesterday morning, I went to the market and was waiting at the fish counter (Dover sole $9.99 a pound) when the guy came in and peered into the red meat display. When he left, I breathed a sigh of relief. When I checked out of the market and got to my car I could see him at the end of the parking lot next to the small free-standing building which houses “drs. r us.” Who is this guy and am I really seeing him again and again? I quickly drove away.

Today I thought about it a lot. I was thinking that maybe it was “death” following me around and checking me out. What I had to keep death away I don’t know but I suspect it was those adolescent tendencies of mine that when confronted I have just a few choices, to whine, freeze and/or make it to the closest door. What kept death at arms reach? Surely death could appreciate and have a real taste for a coward. Did he just decide that it wasn’t my time or that I was the wrong person?

At 2:30 am, I couldn’t sleep so I checked my email. I received an email from a former county CEO. In it he explained that he didn’t know what day or time it was; that his three-year old romance ended when the woman died in their bed at the age of 37. I guess Mr. Death found somebody; hopefully it wasn’t in place of me by mistake. I have enough bad karma on my conscience.”

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

The True Story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Pasted Graphic 1_1

The fairy tale is based on the tragic life of Margarete von Waldeck, a 16th century Bavarian noblewoman. Margarete grew up in Bad Wildungen, where her brother used small children to work his copper mine. Severely deformed because of the physical labor mining required, they were despairingly referred to as dwarfs. The poison apple is also rooted in fact; an old man would offer tainted fruits to the workers, and other children he believed stole from him.

Margarete’s stepmother, despising her, sent the beauty, to the Brussels court to get rid of her. There Prince Philip II of Spain became her steamy lover. His father, the king of Spain, opposing the romance, dispatched Spanish agents to murder Margarete. They surreptitiously poisoned her.
Pasted Graphic
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-ogden/fairy-tale-true-story_b_6102602.html

I would like to see Disney make a movie out of this version of the tale.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“When we were young with our peers about us, we dreamed and hoped for that which we had not yet experienced. Now in our old age we dream and hope for one last chance at that which we will soon no longer have.
Symmetry is a beautiful thing.”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“What’s true? What’s false? In case you haven’t noticed, the world has pretty much given up on the old Enlightenment idea of piecing together the truth based on observed data. Reality is too complicated and scary for that. Instead, it’s way easier to ignore all data that doesn’t fit your preconceptions and believe all data that does. I believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe, and we’ll agree to disagree. It’s liberal tolerance meets dark ages denialism. It’s very hip right now.”
Hill, Nathan. The Nix: A novel (p. 601). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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While the time line on this chart is too brief to demonstrate a trend, is does show something that has been occurring in the American economy for over a decade. Manufacturing continues to decline while the highly unproductive finance and insurance sector massively increases.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_2361
Clouds over Pattaya, Thailand

Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    13 Capt. Coast 0006 (May 2, 2017)

 

“Time erodes events into stories, stories into recollections, recollections into impressions, impressions into vague sensations that eventually dim altogether.”
Pike, J. Zachary. Orconomics: A Satire (The Dark Profit Saga Book 1) (p. 76). Gnomish Press LLC.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The sun is out today. Dick and HRM have left for a few days in San Diego. Dick, who is a graduate of the University of San Diego and worked with its administration on several projects over the years, will introduce HRM to some of his friends in the university administration and tour the campus. They also will spend some time with the people developing drone technology there. It sounds like a great trip.

I, on the other hand, remain back in EDH on fish feeding duty. The fish in question, an extremely large goldfish named Sharky, requires special handling and becomes upset when absent human companionship for more than one day.

When not attending to my duties as fish feeder-in-chief and if it is sunny, I wander around EDH town center and sit on the benches overlooking the lake. I look and feel a lot like some old homeless person. Come to think of it, maybe that is exactly what I am.

A couple of weeks have gone by since I wrote the above. The sun is out the weather is warm and I am for the most part feeling better. I have turned my attention to summer plans. I originally intended to drive south of Rome to Puglia and stay in a Trulli house. Then on to Matera and to Sicily to spend a few days at Antonio’s. However, for the first time in my life, I felt that traveling that long alone was beyond me. So, I probably will terminate my Italy portion of the trip at Rome and Sabina. That is unless someone wants to join me and share the costs and the driving.

Pasted Graphic 1

In the meantime, I have continued reading book after book waiting for my body to recover from the medical assault on it. I rarely read a book more than once. Most of what I read is not worth it — trash is trash — no need for second helpings. Nevertheless, I decided to reread Stephen King’s magnum opus (It is obviously an opus, but I doubt it is magnum unless that word simply means long.) a seven-volume novel called The Dark Tower (soon to be a major motion picture starring Matt McConaughey and Idris Elba). I decided to read it again because I had first read the 5000-page novel about 10 years ago and was tired of what I had been reading these last few months. Not that it was any less trash than I had been reading, even King who appears as himself in the novel admits that as a writer he is a hack — a very successful hack but a hack none the less. I heard he had penned a new edition so, since I had now and then thought about the novel over the years, I wanted to see what was new.

The most surprising thing was how little of the new edition I recalled from my reading of it so long ago. In fact, it had little in it that I remembered. Either he completely revised it or I did in my imagination.

My mom is rapidly approaching the end of her life. She mostly sleeps now only now and then waking briefly. Still, she remains feisty, fighting off the orderlies when they try to feed her and still trying to get out of bed and get a job. She will be 100 years old in June if she lives that long. My sister disagrees with me about her age. Maryann insists she will be only 99.

TO YOU ALL, LONG DAYS AND PLEASANT NIGHTS.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

I was going to continue my favorite eras of history with something about the present. How you may ask, can the present be history? Well, since we humans, at least, are post hoc rationalizing creatures, everything is in the past when we perceive it. Quantum theory suggests that it may not even exist until we perceive it. But, science and philosophy aside, the present has become too bizarre and distasteful for me so I will leave it to lie and fester and jump directly into the far future — but not today, that is for another post.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

I wrote the following about 5 years ago. Since then my obsession has diminished but not my admiration.

Rumination on an Ashkenazi Theme

Everyone should know a little Yiddish:

Now, why you might ask would it be important for we goyim to learn a few words of Yiddish? Well, besides the fact that many of these words are already common and well-integrated into English, there is another reason as well. You see, some languages have many words that essentially describe what a non-speaker would imagine being the same thing. For example, 200 words or so for snow or a hundred and fifty words for a camel’s hoof. Yiddish enriches English because it contains hundreds of words to describe human foibles. Even when it ostensibly refers to a thing like a knickknack, the Yiddish word “tchotchke” seems to say more about the observer and the owner than about the object itself.

Many people have the mistaken notion that Yiddish is a Jewish language like Hebrew. True it was spoken primarily by Jews. However unlike Hebrew which until the establishment of the state of Israel served as the “religious” or “intellectual” language of most Jews; much like Latin was used in western Europe until the last century, Yiddish generally was spoken by only one of the major branches of the Jewish Diaspora. That branch, known as the Ashkenazi were those Jews who lived primarily in eastern Europe and originally included Northern France until various pogroms forced them further east. Like the Kurds of today, they were a nation without a land of their own. Until the 19th century, most Jews spoke a pastiche of Aramaic, Hebrew and the indigenous language of the place they were living at the time. The roots of Yiddish are primarily German with Aramaic and Hebrew influences. It also includes words and expressions from several Slavic languages in varying degrees depending upon where the speakers lived. There are several different “Yiddish dialects” including that spoken as the official language in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Russian far east near Vladivostok. Its capital is Birobidzhan. The First Birobidzhan International Summer Program for Yiddish Language and Culture was launched in 2007.

Ashkenazi Dreams:

Yiddish developed among the Ashkenazi, one of the three main branches of Judaism. The other two being the Sephardim (primarily originating on the Iberian peninsula) and the Mizrahim comprising most of the others. The Sephardim and the Mizraim, if they spoke it at all, did not speak Yiddish as their mother tongue as did many of the Ashkenazi before emigrating to the US.

They all more or less can trace their patrimonial heritage through the male Y chromosome to a single individual living somewhere in the middle east about 5000 years ago, about the time when Abraham was reputed to have lived. A recent study of the Cohen, the traditional priestly class descended from Aaron, Moses’ brother, using DNA from males with that surname worldwide, indicates that most of them are descended from a middle eastern male alive about 3000 years ago; about the time the Bible indicates that Moses and Aaron lived. Given that several hundred years of the most intensive archeological investigation in the world, while turning up scads of evidence of the other Peoples and nations mentioned in the Bible, failed to turn up much evidence at all of Jewish history older than somewhere between 200 and 600 BC, it is remarkable that modern genetics has been able to confirm at least this part of the story. (Not that it proves that Abraham, Moses, and Arron actually existed, but it does confirm that during those times there was in all likelihood some horny goat-herd in the Near East busy shtupping a shikse or two thereby giving birth not only to the great Jewish nation but, in all likelihood, a significant portion of the population of the entire Mediterranean basin. I guess it could fairly be observed that Arron wielded a mighty rod.)
The Ashkenazi male line descends primarily through southern Italian and Sicilian Jews who migrated into Northern Europe about 400-600 AD to escape persecution by the newly dominant Christians. Genetically Southern Italians and Sicilians and the Ashkenazi appear to be closer related to each other than to most of the rest of trans-mountain Europe. Unlike the other branches of Judaism, the Ashkenazi seem to have picked up a small but strong Central-Asian component primarily from the Caucuses and the area around the Caspian Sea, the ancestral home of the Khazar’s, the almost legendary medieval Jewish empire.

On the matrilineal side DNA testing shows that although there is strong evidence of middle eastern origins among the women, there is significantly more evidence of non-middle eastern origins than among the men (Again with the shikses.)

Among the Ashkenazi, there is a high incidence of Tay-Sachs an inherited and inevitably fatal disease. The Sephardim and the Mizrahim seem to have no greater incidence of the disease than the general population, an indication that the effects of natural selection and genetic drift happen quite rapidly and do not require the eons that mutations take to be reflected in a population. The Tay-Sachs’ discovery may have revealed another startling fact, that the genes causing Tay-Sachs may be related to those controlling for intelligence. * Based on standard IQ testing as much as 20% of the Ashkenazi score 120 or higher, scoring higher in verbal and mathematical elements and lower in spatial than the general population (in other words, great scientists, and writers but lousy athletes). In the general population, the average is about 4-5% including for the Sephardim and Mizrahim. It is not so hard to guess why that is the case. The Christian pogroms and prohibitions against land owning for the Jews and against charging interest for the Christians coupled with high literate demands of the rabbinate made those excelling in abstract thought high-quality breeders so to speak.

On the other hand, among the Christian West, strangely enough, those who were most literate were prohibited from breeding. From the fall or the Roman empire until the success of the Protestant revolt, for the most part, the most literate of the Western Christians were forced into the clergy where, unless they were Popes or Cardinals, they were strongly discouraged from breeding.

Instead, we placed our genetic basket on the shoulders of homicidal maniacs whose claim to fame was their preternatural ability to take someone else’s technology and turn it into a more highly efficient means of slaughter.

As luck would have it, due to the plague almost wiping us out, and our short-term tendency to compensate by breeding like rabbits, coupled with our forced procreation of prescient psychopaths equipped with proficient killing machines and a resistance to disease, we in the West were able to conquer the world. Hooray for us.

*Note: Contrary evidence for the genetic connection between Tay-Sachs and a certain type of intelligence is provided by the fact that the Irish appear also to be prone to the disease. On the other hand, perhaps the Hibernians were one of the lost tribes of Israel like the American Indians and just about everyone else, except for the Mormons, who never get lost.

So what’s it to me?

Some of you have inquired about my fascination with Judaism given that I am goyim and all that. Actually is in not Judaism that fascinates me but the Ashkenazi. The Ashkenazi used to be a sizable stateless nation in eastern Europe that barely escaped annihilation. It now has a state of its own in the Near East that exists under the extreme stress of annihilation. Many of the surviving descendants of the original Ashkenazi not living in the Near East now live in the US.

I used to think that my fascination was because my great great grandmother was Jewish (and given mathematics of human generation, whose wasn’t somewhere along the line). Her family (named Tau) was from somewhere in Austria. In the early 1800s, they left Austria, probably under the pressure of one pogrom or another and could not afford the ticket to the US, and settled in a tiny Italian hill town named Roccantica in the then Papal States. Go figure.

More recently, however, as I read about the newest advances in genetic analysis of population migration over time, I was fascinated to learn that the modern Ashkenazi, at least on the male side, were primarily descended from Sicilian and Southern Italian Jews who migrated to Northern Europe to escape the emerging dominance of Christianity during the latter stages of the Roman Empire.

I recall looking at a photograph of my maternal Sicilian grandparents. In the photograph, both my grandfather and grandmother were photographed separately. He, with his tightly curled blond hair, long narrow nose and wispy blond mustache, appeared to be one of those Sicilians descended from either the Normans or later French settlers who bequeathed their blond hair and surnames to their descendants (Cigna and Gallo common Sicilian surnames and my mother’s name Corsello appear to be examples). However, my grandmother, a DeFalco, was different. Her photograph always fascinated me. Dark where my grandfather was pale, long black hair and eyes coal black, not haunted nor haunting but quietly alive as though they saw more and deeper than the rest of us. DeFalco seems to be an old Sicilian name. Several Castelo Falconaras, that may or may not relate to them, dot the Sicilian landscape. Could they be the remnants of that gene line left somehow behind when the rest of them set off for El Norte and became Ashkenazi? Who the hell knows.

When I was a little kid my first playmate other than cousins, was a boy named Ian who lived down the block. I would now and then have what passed for a play date then with him. I liked going over his house. He had a sand box in his back yard. I did not. I only had a grape arbor. We would play and after a while, if he got frustrated, he would punch me. I did not know why he did that.

At the other end of the block, beyond the large black rock that jutted onto the sidewalk, lived an older boy. He was about seven (I was only four or five years old). I was afraid of him because he was big and he would punch me also. Nevertheless, it was always an adventure to walk down the block all the way to the flat rock and sit there. I would not go further because I then could no longer see my house.

At that time we lived on the one street in the lower part of Tuckahoe where no other Italians (or for that matter any blacks) lived. My grandfather built the house when he had gotten rich from his construction company. Unfortunately, he lost it all in the depression, so we divided up the house among the family and still lived there. My father, mother, baby brother and I lived upstairs. The floor had been converted to an apartment. My Grandparents lived in an apartment on the ground floor and my Aunt had a room made out of the old sun deck. We all shared the living room. The rest of the neighborhood was mostly peopled by what became referred to as WASPs, but I knew them then as Americans. There were three Jewish families that I was aware of on Dante Avenue as the block was named, two of them belonged to the boys who would punch me.

Even though I was afraid of him, I soon found out that all the bigger boy wanted was just someone to talk to. I did not understand that at the time. In any event, we would sit on the rock and talk about those things of interest to little boys, like pirates and the like. I later learned that they were both being bullied horribly by the older boys, in part because they were Jewish.

I never understood bullying. I learned to live with the name calling, but when it moved beyond that I always had to step in. I was able to get away with it, not because I was strong or brave, but because I realized that the object of bullying was to take advantage of the ease of dominating someone weaker than you. However, when someone interposes himself then the object of the exercise becomes muddled. To pass through someone who puts up even slight resistance to get at the weak is simply not worth the effort. Besides, most bullies were that way because someone else was bullying them. It was always a risk for them when someone fought back. I would find myself stepping in to stop bullying about once a week. No one ever decided to fight with me about it even though I was small and weak at the time. That puzzled me for a while because I otherwise fought almost every day with someone who I thought was trying to bully me. I wondered why. Eventually, I came up with a theory. But that is for another time.

I did not know what Jewish, or Christian, or Italian, African-American and so on meant then. They were simply words to me. Of course, sometimes those words indicated a difference I could see, for example, “colored” kids as we called African-Americans back then, were often, but not always, darker than Italian kids and American kids were pinker with blue veins. I couldn’t see much difference in most of the others. Later I learned what people meant when they used those words to describe themselves or other people. Most of the time when they were not describing themselves, they used those words because they were a little afraid of the others.

The woman many considered my second mother, was a member of the third Jewish family. They lived next door. I called her Anna Banana, probably because I could not pronounce her last name. She was married and childless. She had a narrow face and freckles. She also had carrot-colored hair that seemed to be all wiry and would fly about her head at odd angles whenever she moved around, which she did a lot. I spent almost every day all day with her at her house. She never seemed to mind. She taught me how to pick and eat scallions and play the piano. Nights, I would spend sitting on my grandmother’s lap before the fireplace that my grandfather built with big rocks that he had carried himself from somewhere. I would repeat from memory all the nursery rhymes I had learned from my mom and Anna Banana, sing songs and recite poems in English and Italian that my grandmother taught me. I felt very and happy with Anna Banana and my grandmother.

Then my father decided to sell the only asset we had, the house, in order to open up a business, a bar, and restaurant. Six months later we were homeless and living on the streets. But that is another story.

 

 

 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

On the Role of Civil Society:

Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income, and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?

 

B. Today’s Poem:

Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
His word was still ‘Fie, foh, and fum
I smell the blood of a British man.
Shakespeare— King Lear, Act 3, scene 4

(In the play, Gloucester’s son, Edgar, disguised as Tom o’ Bedlam speaks these words and others in an effort to mislead Lear. Later Browning used the first line in his epic poem “Childe Roland.”)

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Pasted Graphic

Fornax by Beth Moon

 

Categories: April through June 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Capt. Coast 0006 (April 15,2017)

“Trying to demand the reason for existence from an all-knowing omniscient supreme being takes negotiating to a whole new level.”
Fforde, Jasper. The Woman Who Died a Lot: A Thursday Next Novel (pp. 86-87). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

Happy Easter and Passover

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

During the last few days of March, I felt well enough to travel to Mendocino to visit my sister Maryann and her husband George.

Now that the winter rains are ended, the hills and valleys I passed along the way are covered in green. It is quite attractive. I would rank the California green landscape of the foothills as picturesque as anywhere in the world. Alas, it is only temporary and in a few weeks, it will be all gone. This is California after all, the land of the ephemeral.

It took me a long time to drive there. I took it slow and stopped often to rest. I stopped in Ukiah to meet up with my sister and George. She was showing a movie about entrepreneurship at the local college. After the show and a panel discussion, I began to feel sick again. George drove me in my car over the coast range to their home where I went directly to bed.

My sister’s children Brendan and Katie arrived the next day with their respective fiancés. Brendan and Ashley plan to marry in the near future and were looking at locations for the wedding and reception.

One day, we visited Pacific Star Winery and its owner, the ever vivacious Sally, where we had a picnic overlooking the ocean and we bought some wine.

I returned to EDH on Sunday.

IMG_2657
My Sister Maryann and Her Children Brendan and Katie with their Significant Others.
B. BACK IN EDH:

For the next two weeks, I remained under the weather. The doctors were puzzled about my lingering and new maladies. One recommended an enema. I felt as though I had traveled back to experience the medicine of the 1950s. My biggest worry has been that I will continue to linger into the summer and forgo my travel plans. On top of it all, it has rained most of the time since my return.

Regarding my travel plans this summer, I hope to spend some time in India in addition to my usual sojourn in Italy and Thailand.

HRM is on spring vacation. He is at that age where he has begun spending most of his time out with his peers. It is that wonderful time in one’s life where one can revel in the joy of newfound independence before it comes crashing down with the insecurities, shadows, and angst of teenager-hood.

Yesterday, I found myself in the Hospital Emergency room again. I was having difficulty peeing and feared that the urinary tract infection that ran me in and out of the hospital last summer had returned. A day or so previously, I decided to self-medicate myself with some of the medicines left over from that previous episode. Alas, a side effect of the drugs was dizziness and possible fainting. Having abnormally low blood pressure since my radiation therapy, the first night I took the medicines I passed out. The next day, I went to see my doctor. He told me he thought I may be dehydrated but that he could not treat me in his office and I would have to go to the emergency room. So off I went. Because my veins had shrunk since my cancer treatment and from my current dehydration, they could not insert the needles necessary for either the analysis or the hydration (although they tried ten painful times). Finally, after six hours of boredom and frustration they told me that there was nothing they could do except notify the DMV that I had some sort of reportable incident (the fainting) and I would be prohibited from driving my car until my doctor, the one who sent me to the emergency room in the first place, certified I was fit to drive again. After promising them that I would wait for someone to drive me home, I dressed, walked out, got in my car and drove myself home.

It is raining again and is expected to do so for another two weeks or so.

My doctor now has opined that I am malnourished and dehydrated. So, I now try to stuff the tasteless food down my gullet until I almost retch and drink so much water I almost can hear it sloshing around my belly. I feel better. O happy days!

Ah, after a few days of rain surprisingly the sun has come out again. O, happy days again!

And to whoever has read this far, I wish you “Long days and happy nights.”

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

A. HERE COMES THE DRAGON

An excerpt from my unfinished and never to be published draft mystery novel Here Comes the Dragon. It is about a San Francisco attorney, Mark Dragoni, who mysteriously quits his big law firm life and becomes an itinerant and mostly unsuccessful private detective saddled with the burden of training the young nephew of his main (and for a while only) client a Vietnamese dope smuggler and dealer. Dragon, as Mark prefers to be called, and Joe Vu, the nephew, are at times accompanied in their adventures by Dragon’s girlfriend, an irrepressible tattoo artist named Mavis. This chapter I call Lessons from “The Big Sleep.”

I was awakened by the screeching doorbell. I had hoped it was Mavis bringing me café latte, donuts and some after breakfast sweets. It was not. It was Joe Vu.

“Hiya Boss. You’re gonna be late. You look like hell. Nice place you got here,” he added as he walked by me into the loft.

“Did you bring the coffee and donuts? I can do without the sweets.”

“Huh”

“Never mind.”

Joe puttered around the house while I showered and dressed. We left and got into the car. It was a big black Lincoln.

“We’re downscale today,” I commented.

“Martin is using the Lexus.”

“How many cars does he have?”

“Lots, he collects them. I saw the movie,” he added as we drove away from the curb.

“Movie?”

“Yeah, the one you told me to watch to learn about being a detective, The Big Sleep, with Bogart and Bacall. I don’t know about that Bacall, skinny bitch, no tits or ass.”

“They liked them like that then,” I responded. “Skinny meant rich and elegant. Today we still do skinny, but we add the tits and the butts, often fake ones, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Zaftig is out in the modern world.”

“I couldn’t figure anything out. Who killed the chauffeur and Rogan? And why was everything so dark? I liked the car though.”

“Yeah, it was a sweet Plymouth. Nobody knows who killed the chauffeur or Rogan, not the guy that wrote the story, not the director of the movie and certainly not the actors. Life is like that and so is the private investigation business. Sometimes, hell most times, you simply do not know what happened and never will. And, just like in the movie, it probably doesn’t matter.”

“As for the dark and the shadows,” I continued. “In films and books that’s called noir. It’s French for dark. Dark shadows, dark thoughts and dark deeds. It’s not like real life at all. Everyone likes light in their life. If it gets too dark they go to sleep. Even bad things are usually done in the light, behind closed doors and in secret perhaps, but the lights are usually on — except for sex. For some reason, a lot of people seem to like doing it in the dark.”

“So, I guess it was like the last movie you had me watch. There’s nothing in the movie to learn about being a private eye?”

“No, in this one there is a lot to learn and remember. For example, you’re never hired by people who have to choose between food and you. It’s always someone who has some spare cash around. They can spend it on you or a new piece of matched luggage. It’s all the same to them. So make sure you get paid. Up front, if you can.

The movie also tells you, don’t work at night. It’s dangerous. Sometimes you have to work at night. Like when you’re sitting in your car with your camera watching, hoping to catch client’s husband disappearing into the motel. Still, in the world of private detecting or in life itself, nooners are safer or right after work. Late night trysts interfere with your sleep and should be avoided. Always try to charge more for night work.

Also, if your client has a good-looking daughter, sleeping with her makes the job more interesting. And if he has two, and you have to choose, choose the skinny one.

And finally, never, ever have dealings with someone named Eddie Mars.”

“You’re very sick, boss. Why the skinny one?”

“I don’t know. It is one of life’s great mysteries.”

 

B. MEMORIES OF THE NAKED MOLE RAT

A few years ago, I attempted to write some stories about the beloved naked mole rat. I did not succeed. I was pleased, however, recently to come across this strange computer graphic featuring the cuddly little beast.

z24the_naked_mole_rat_by_maidith
The Naked Mole Rat by Maidith.

 

C. FINALLY, AN ANSWER TO WHATEVER HAPPENED TO “ONE PUNCH” SAMMY SANTORO.

About two years ago, here in T&T and in my blog Papa Joe’s Tales (https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/what-ever-became-of-one-punch-sammy-santoro/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true), I wondered what had become of old “One Punch” the terror of my neighborhood during my adventures as a teenager. I was convinced that Sammy (along with Pat Buchanan an acquaintance of my college years) would undoubtedly end up in the electric chair. A year or so ago, a reader of the blog notified me that Sammy, in fact, ended up in prison. “Where else would he be?” he added waggishly. This past week, another reader sent me the following:

“SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, APPELLATE DIVISION, SECOND DEPARTMENT 1979.NY.41511 <http://www.versuslaw.com&gt;; 414 N.Y.S.2d 583; 68 A.D.2d 939 March 26, 1979, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, RESPONDENT,v.SAMUEL SANTORO, APPELLANT Damiani, J. P., O’Connor, Lazer and Gulotta, JJ., concur.”

“Damiani, J. P., O’Connor, Lazer and Gulotta, JJ., concur.
Appeal by defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Westchester County, rendered April 19, 1978, convicting him of murder under former subdivision 2 of section 125.25 of the Penal Law, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence. Judgment affirmed. Defendant was indicted and convicted of the “depraved mind” murder of Anthony Aiello, the three-year-old son of his paramour. The victim’s mother, Sadie Aiello, was the principal witness for the prosecution. She testified that defendant had moved in with her in January 1970, and had taken charge of the feeding and “discipline” of Anthony. The “discipline” included frequent beatings which resulted in serious injuries and the infant’s hospitalization on two occasions. In February 1971 she moved out with her children because of her concern about Anthony’s well-being. However, she returned with the children to live with defendant on March 1, 1971. On March 11th Anthony died after being beaten and strangled by the defendant. Defendant and Sadie Aiello initially told the police that Anthony’s death was caused by his fall down a flight of stairs. Six years later she appeared at the District Attorney’s office and reported the truth about the events of March 11, 1971. In our opinion, the trial court correctly charged the jurors that they were to decide, as a matter of fact, whether Sadie Aiello was an accomplice whose testimony required corroboration (see CPL 60.22). We cannot agree with defendant that Sadie Aiello was an accomplice as a matter of law. Neither her decision to return to live with defendant nor her conduct in concealing from the police the true facts concerning her son’s death constituted participation in the offense charged or an offense based upon the same or some of the same facts or conduct which constitute the offense charged (see CPL 60.22; People v Le Grand, 61 A.D.2d 815). Since the evidence did not conclusively establish that Sadie Aiello was guilty of such an offense by virtue of her conduct on March 11, 1971, the issue of her complicity was properly submitted to the jury (see People v Basch, 36 N.Y.2d 154). We agree with defendant that the court’s charge on the definition of “recklessly” was misleading. However, since no exception to the charge was taken, the question was not preserved. Moreover, the court, in a response to an inquiry from a juror subsequently correctly charged the definition of “recklessly” and thus cured any ambiguity. The trial court properly admitted evidence of defendant’s prior assaults on the victim to negative the defense of “accident” (see People v Henson, 33 N.Y.2d 63). Defendant’s remaining contention is without merit.”

Alas, Sammy escaped the death penalty as it had previously been declared unconstitutional by the NY Court of Appeals. I do not know if he remains in prison or if he is even still alive. Pat Buchanan, on the other hand, unfortunately, remains free.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

The Quanta of Existence

There are only finite options (Life is not made up of infinite possibilities). The future cannot be predicted (It happens when and if it happens). It only exists in relation to other things (It does not depend on you alone.)
B. Today’s Poem:

Sarabande On Attaining the Age of Seventy-Seven

The harbingers are come. See, see their mark;
White is their colour; and behold my head.
—George Herbert

Long gone the smoke-and-pepper childhood smell
Of the smoldering immolation of the year,
Leaf-strewn in scattered grandeur where it fell,
Golden and poxed with frost, tarnished and sere.

And I myself have whitened in the weathers
Of heaped-up Januaries as they bequeath
The annual rings and wrongs that wring my withers,
Sober my thoughts, and undermine my teeth.

The dramatis personae of our lives
Dwindle and wizen; familiar boyhood shames,
The tribulations one somehow survives,
Rise smokily from propitiatory flames

Of our forgetfulness until we find
It becomes strangely easy to forgive
Even ourselves with this clouding of the mind,
This cinereous blur and smudge in which we live.

A turn, a glide, a quarter turn and bow,
The stately dance advances; these are airs
Bone-deep and numbing as I should know by now,
Diminishing the cast, like musical chairs.
Anthony Hecht

I myself have also experienced seventy-seven heaped-up Januaries and have begun to find the dance less stately than bone deep and numbing.

 

TODAY’S EXCERPT:

“The recent smitings undertaken around the globe have caught many theological analysts by surprise, as this level of apparent interest in mankind’s affairs by the Almighty has not been seen since biblical times. The reason and purpose for the sudden reversion to Old Testamentism have spawned a thousand debates on late-night chat The recent smitings undertaken around the globe have caught many theological analysts by surprise, as this level of apparent interest in mankind’s affairs by the Almighty has not been seen since biblical times. The reason and purpose for the sudden reversion to Old Testamentism have spawned a thousand debates on late-night chat shows, none of which have so far provided a coherent answer. Traditionalists state that it was simply vengeance for sinful behavior, but of the eight confirmed smitings around the planet, only two locations could be described as “sinful,” leading scholars to muse on what being sinful might actually mean in the twenty-first century.”
Eugene Plugg, God, the New Interventionist”
Fforde, Jasper. The Woman Who Died a Lot: A Thursday Next Novel (p. 19). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

The Inappropriate Use of Antimicrobials

This chart is very frightening. For someone like me, whose childhood saw the vanquishing of those plagues that have hounded humankind throughout history and that could kill more in a few decades than all the wars of history, finds it heartbreaking that now at the end of that life those plagues, now resistant to all our antimicrobials may soon hound the people of the earth again. Only last year, the last effective antimicrobial was proven impotent against a mutated resistant organism it was designed to kill. Somewhere in the world today there exists mutated organisms resistant to one or another antimicrobial successfully used to halt plagues of the past. They are awaiting only the appropriate conditions to spread death and anguish across the globe

There are some still fighting to protect humanity from this threat. (The US Department of Defense considers the potential spread of drug-resistant organisms to be a national security issue) They should be honored by us all. Alas, like first responders, and other selfless people like them, there are few if any parades in their honor, nor many Facebook and similar remembrances. It saddens me that we publicly honor those trained to kill to protect us from real or imagined enemies but rarely those who daily put their lives on the line or dedicate themselves to protect their fellow humans from disease, injury or death.

Estimated proportion of inappropriate antimicrobial use by type of health care service
Inappropriate use of antimicrobials
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The inappropriate use of antimicrobials is perhaps one of the most threatening forms of wasteful clinical care because it encourages the development of antimicrobial resistance. Inappropriate use represents about 50% of all antimicrobial consumption by humans, but may be as high as 90% in general practice.
More rational antimicrobial consumption can be achieved with behavioral change interventions, notably antimicrobial stewardship programs which combine multidisciplinary activities to steer both prescribers and the public towards appropriate use of antimicrobials. Mandating the use of rapid diagnostic testing can help clinicians target their antibiotic use. Economic incentives for providers and care seekers can also encourage appropriate antimicrobial consumption.
Note: Numbers in brackets indicate the number of studies used to determine the range of inappropriate use. Source: OECD analysis of available evidence published in the literature.
Source: Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health, OECD, January 2017.

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Ara by Beth Moon

 

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