Thursday, August 31, 2006

Of Cornhuskers and Fabuliners

"I love the mileage and the pick-up, but she just doesn't ride and have the class of the "Boxes'." Thus continually lamented my friend Steve about his pearl white 1996 Lincoln Town Car, aka "The Fabuliner". Steve should know, he is an expert on these machines, the Queens of the Ford Motor Company.

Ironic trivia note: both American luxury makes, the Lincoln and the Cadillac were the brainchild of the same man, Henry Martyn Leland. He started Cadillac which was later bought by GM and then after that started Lincoln, subsequently bought by Ford. Lovers of cushy road boats should bow in his honor.

Lincoln was redesigned and downsized (from Aircraft Carrier to Ocean Liner) in 1980. Totally boxy, they have a sleek elegance that is timeless. Although hailed at the time, the 1990 redesign was just not the same, although the updated mechanics made for a better handling, more economical auto.

Steve has driven Lincolns since I met him. First big 70's Carriers, then 80's and then his venture into the 90s. When he bought a '96 for a short time a few years ago, I said to a mutual friend "kind of new for him, isn't it??" His all white 89 Lincoln had some issues so he sold it and bought a '94 that drove him nuts. He got rid of it and got another '96.... it just wasn't right.

Every time he worked on my Queen Mary, (1988 Lincoln Town Car Signature, Cabernet over Cabernet, velour interior, 95,000 miles)I could see the seductive lines of the box catching his eye. It was a matter of time.

A failed road trip to Dallas with his partner Mark failed to procure a suitable box. Then I got a call... look on Ebay.... look at # 2020... whatever it was. There was a pristine looking 1989 Lincoln Town Car, suitably boxy, 48K miles, clean, runs and not too far in Omaha, NE. "Can you go up Wednesday and look at it with me, if I buy it, I'll need a driver."

Off to Omaha we went on a sunny and pleasant Wed PM. I snuck away from the towers early and we got a good start. The trip up was totally uneventful, since it was mostly through Missouri River bottom land and Iowa, it was not especially scenic. Steve pointed out a couple of waste water plants he used to service, for those in to that sort of thing.

Omaha is quite spread out and like most larger cities, has its major roads under construction. We finally found the place where the car was at; it was actually closer to Gretna, NE a small town just to the SW of Omaha.

Jack, the owner of the place, specializes in 60's low mileage cars, mostly Buicks and such. Quite a talker, with gas for blood and beer for nourishment; quite the "good ol' boy". Nice, but yap yap yap... and he is always right and knows everything. We did not let on that we bat for the other team. He wore on my nerves after a while. We had to tour the whole place, hear all the dirt and detailed specifications on all the cars, thus waiting over an hour to see the Lincoln Steve had come for.

The car was nice, but not the pristine show stopper it was described. Several flaws, some odd paint, some clear coat wearing off, in dire need of a tune up, and the typical corrosion in the coil and balky rear window. Steve had to admit it was a nice one for the most part and was clean. But not worth the price. But Jack had others wanting the car, so negotiation was out of the question.

Thus it came to pass that Steve came home with a new Fabuliner. But not without drama.

We were much later getting out of Omaha than planned, thanks to yap-o-matic Jack. A quick stop at a truck stop (fine dining) we headed out. It was smooth until we stopped for gas at Platte City, MO as my chase car (Mark's Kia) was needing gas. Steve topped off the new Fabuliner to see about his gas mileage (of course a Queen Mary/Fabuliner rarely passes any station) and the damn thing would not start. The rather corroded coil was not being co-operative. We got her going and were back on the road. Being almost midnight and on the edge of Kansas City, we could see home looming ahead.

All was fine until about 10 miles from Steve's, she died again while on the road.The load going up a hill was too much. This time it was not as easy. The coil was arcing and the car would not go. Luckily, Steve had some wires with clips and the corroded coil wire was bypassed enough to limp us home.

So, a new Fabuliner is in the garage at Steve's. I wonder how long he'll keep this one??

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Let's Perform a Piece of Music

You, dear blog readers, are going to perform a world famous piece of music in honor of the 54th anniversary of its first performance. Do not worry if you have little musical talent, it takes little of that but does take concentration and imagination. For an instrument, the composer indicated any and any number of instruments, the more the merrier. If you have none, your voice or a drum will do, even the kitchen sink is a possibility. The piece is short, around 4 minutes, so not much of your busy day will be taken.

You are about to perform 4'33" by John Cage. Cage was an American composer (1912-1992) who revolutionized how we think about and even hear music. Cage composed "chance music", music where some elements are left to be decided by chance. For example in one piece he instructs the performer to toss the loose manuscript in the air and play the pages as they are picked up. He is also well known for his non-traditional use of musical instruments, most famously the "prepared piano" a standard grand that has nuts, bolts, strips of paper and wood attached to the strings, creating unusual percussive effects. His works were always controversial, but he is generally regarded as one of the most important composers of our time.

Ready to start?

Pick up your instrument, sit at the piano, or whatever is necessary to play your instrument. The piece is in 3 separate movements and there is a brief pause between them. It is suggested you get a stop watch or watch the clock closely as the timing must be exactly 4'33", the tempo should not vary discernably from that. If you are playing the piece for a paying audience, please be fully aware that in doing so, you are obligated to pay the publisher any royalties due. I recommend a private performance.

If you are playing an instrument, touch it but do not make a sound. The first movement is short around 1'20". Pause briefly between the movements, and then begin the longer second movement, around 2'5". Again a very brief pause before the last movement of around 1'8".

4 minutes, 33 seconds of silence. A performer(s) not playing a single note, nor making a deliberate sound. The music of silence, of chance sound, the rhythm of street noise, the pulse of a mechanical object perhaps, people stirring, hearing the blood flow in your ear. Wind...rain...nothing.

You have made music, you have changed your perception of music and sound. John Cage would have been proud of you.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Katrina: One Year On

As we approach the anniversary of the Katrina disaster and the equally disasterous response by the cold, arrogant Bush administration, let's not forget that the Emperor was eating cake while New Orleans sank:

And many still face this:

Why Bush and his incompetence was not punished is beyond me. I guess that is what happens when Democracy is overthrown.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Yeah Right George



Saturday, August 26, 2006

An Evening with Ferde Grofé

Ferdinand Rudolph von Grofé(1892-1972)was an American composer, pianist and arranger. Better known as Ferde Grofé, every school kid has been introduced to at least a portion of his most famous composition "The Grand Canyon Suite". The "On The Trail" movement with its clip clop coconut shell horse hooves is almost a cliché. That does little to diminish the fact that Ferde Grofé was a master at orchestration and a purveyor of lovely, whistleable tunes.

Grofé became famous overnight as the orchestrator of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue as performed by the Paul Whiteman band in 1924. It seemed that the 26 yr old Gershwin did not have sufficient knowledge of orchestration to complete the work. Grofé, as Whiteman's arranger was given the task. After the premiere, Grofé took the score and made new orchestration in 1926 and 1942, each time for larger orchestra. The latter is the commonly heard arrangement for full orchestra.

As Grofé's career took off, he began his series of descriptive suites, drenched in big band and Hollywood style orchestrations. Sweeping, weeping strings, brassy trumpets, chattering winds, amusing percussion effects. Straight out of 1930-40's Hollywood.

Grofé, while mentioned to school kids and such in textbooks, fell out of favor in the world of concert music. Too Hollywoodish (Indeed he composed a Hollywood Suite, reeking with the ghosts of Garbo or Cooper), too light and inconsequential.

But damn the critics, it is fun music, full of color and atmosphere, and sounds uniquely American and even uniquely Grofé. One can see his influence in Gershwin when he began to orchestrate his own works like American in Paris and the Piano Concerto. The wonderful Naxos record label has two discs of his suites.

The Hollywood Suite ends delightfully with a thrilling "Production Number", shades of Busby Berkeley. The Hudson River Suite includes authentic dog barks in "Rip Van Winkle", never failing to arouse Her Majesty's attention, and concludes with a raucous portrait of New York City. The Death Valley Suite features a vivid portrait of a wagon train, you can hear the whip crack and the huge wooden wheels groan and creak, and like the more famous Grand Canyon Suite ends with a vivid storm in this case a sandstorm.

The second album contains the famous Grand Canyon Suite and two lesser known the Mississippi Suite and the Niagara Falls Suite. The Niagara suite evokes the power and majesty of the falls and even one of the huge hydroelectric power plants. Neat stuff!

Grofé does not aspire to expressive depth or complex layers of sound and rhythm but he knew how to orchestrate better than anyone and could effortlessly write a memorable tune. He popularized symphonic jazz, leading the way for Gershwin, Gould and Bernstein among others. His works once panned as shallow and glittery are now seen as charming period pieces from the jazz era.

Great Saturday evening entertainment and worth the bargain Naxos price.

Death Valley Suite; Hudson River Suite; Hollywood Suite
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
William Stromberg
Naxos- 8559017

Grand Canyon Suite; Mississippi Suite; Niagara Falls Suite
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
William Stromberg
Naxos- 8559007

Friday, August 25, 2006

Some Fun with Terror Alerts

The British have reacted to the recent terrorism alerts by raising their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross."

Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940, when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been recategorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What Kind of English do you Speak?

Your Linguistic Profile:
45% General American English
20% Dixie
20% Yankee
5% Midwestern
5% Upper Midwestern

Thanks to Steve for the link!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Beating One's Head Against the Wall

Yes, Pato has been copping out and doing easy posts for the last few days. I have been busy on a project for one of the denizens of the towers. I am sitting in front of Mr Dell here,typing invoices and lists of furniture and fabric for one of his clients all afternoon. Thus when it comes time to post, I am not in the mood to write a long tome. So enjoy this for a few more days and then look for more Pato rants and raves! ~ Pato

A CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time. So she went to check it out.She went to the Western Wall and there he was walking slowly up to the holy site. She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, he turned to leave using a cane walking slow and carefully. She approached him for an interview.

"I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"

"For about 60 years."

"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the hatred to stop and I pray for all our children to grow up in safety and friendship."

"How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

"Like I'm talking to a fucking wall."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Airfare Roulette and a Cartoon

I don't understand airline fares. I am wanting to go to Nicaragua over Thanksgiving. Well, my friend Greg got a fare going the same time on Delta for $921. So. off to the computer to see what I could get. I checked the same flights and it was $971. That pissed me off having to pay more for the same damn flight. So I looked into other fares, found cheaper on American but would not be able to get to San Juan del Sur on Fri, would have to overnight in Managua, thus adding cost. What to do?

Well this AM, Delta had a $887 fare, but when I sat down to book it, it was gone... now is $907. So.... do I wait to see if it goes up or down? Like playing the stock market.

Just for a bit of humor, I am sharing this:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Butt Music

I thought this was interesting. Making music with your behind; just sit down and play some Beethoven. The music created may be the butt of many jokes I am sure. I'll end there. Good grief it goes on... end...get it!

Sit down and Play

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cheeses Loves Me

Puggles, my Pug, wanted to go to church this morning. She must have been doing some clandestine web surfing while I was sleeping last night.

Pug: "I wants to gos to churches! Get the Limo ready and take mes" (she has issues with plurals)
Pato: "why..... yaaaaaaawn"
Pug: "I hears they worship Cheeses, I wuvs cheeses."
Pato: "cheeses?"
Pug: "Yeah yeah yeah...snooooooooort cheeses. How Cheeses saves, and Cheeses talks to you and walks with you and Cheeses loves you. I loves Cheeses too, swiss is my favorites."
Pato: "That is Jesus not Cheeses dear."
Pug: "I don't know why they nails Cheeses to a cross, maybe so birdses can eats it or keeps it from Cats. That's silly. Our Cheeses is in the kitchens. BRINGS ME SOME..."
Pato: "You had cheese this morning" (hidden in it was your morning benedryl for your skin alergy but we don't talk about that)
Pug: "I'll sings for cheeses:

What a friend we have in cheeses,
Mozzarella, Cheddar, Swiss!
Bleu and Limberger's sweet breezes
Lingering like a lover's kiss.
Humble milk's apotheosis,
Muenster, Provolone, Brie
Damn cholesterol's thrombosis
Cheese is Gouda 'nuff for me!"

It is going to be a long day...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Half-dozen Random Saturday Thoughts over Pancakes

Just about every Saturday AM I make pancakes (Aunt Jemima Complete, I never have eggs for milk around) for breakfast. As I enjoyed them, my wacky mind was chewing on these thoughts:

1) Let's keep Pluto as a planet, even if that means we expand our solar system from the traditional 9 to 100 or more. I am no scientist, but reading some of the articles on the issue, taking away Pluto and thus narrowing the definition of a planet makes less sense than realizing that there may truely be 100s of celestial bodies orbiting the sun. Besides, Pluto has a great name, was discovered by a Kansas Farm boy and has been around for a while now. Leave Pluto in peace!

2) I am befuzzled by the Jon Benet Ramsey confession. I am even more befuzzled that this is more news than the continuing crimes of George Bush.

3) The Queen Mary, my 1988 Lincoln, is now whole again. Her AC went out a few weeks ago. Foolishly, she got the wire leading to the power for the AC clutch caught in her clutch belt and tore the wire. The resulting trauma took out a couple of relays and the switch in the evaporator. It was necessary to replace the wire, whereupon we found the relay to be an issue. The new (junk yard vintage) relay was apparently bad, so that was fixed and then the switch would not hold. Also repaired was her balky front window. So now, everything works..... this week.

4) Only 884 days to go until GW is out of the White House. Can hardly wait, but unfortunately the damage has been done.

5) Speaking of sleezy Republicans, seems the mayor of St Peters Mo, an up and coming young Republican, got caught taking bribes. Shades of Adam Taff here in KC and probably our own Boy Gov, who just has not been caught yet. Another one down.

6) If I were made absolute ruler of the world, I would ban all religion as I think it is the most negative force in the planet today. Thus, past fighting over fantasy and silly ideas of eternal life and 10,000 virgins at your disposal after you are dead, we could make some progress in fixing this damaged orb... and not end up like Pluto.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Someone is Watching

650,000 AOL users search entries were collected and recently released on the net, supposedly as a research tool. Among those surfing the web for tidbits of information ranging from "numb fingers" to "60 single men" to "dog that urinates on everything" was No. 4417749

Drilling down and searching click by click, the identity of AOL user No. 4417749 became known. The trail or searches led to Thelma Arnold of Lilburn, Ga. "“Those are my searches," she said, after a reporter read part of the list to her. It was surprisingly easy.

People like Thelma and many others think that the Internet and how they use it is a private matter. We are searching the net for answers to questions we dare not ask even our most trusted family or friends. Someone questioning their sexuality or feel they have to remain closeted will turn to the net for answers or even to establish a community. Someone feeling down and sad all the time may look for information on Depression and mental illness. One net surfer came under suspicion after it was learned he was searching information on "how to murder someone", "undetectable poisons", "spousal murder", etc. Poor schlep was an aspiring writer and wanted to write their first murder mystery. He had some 'splaining to do. For god sake do not search for Al'Qa*** (I won't even type it), George will think you are a "turrerist".

Of course our paranoid government thinks otherwise and feels the net and our activity on it is public domain. This administration has made it clear we have little right to any privacy, so what makes you think the net is an exception. Earlier this year Google fought the Justice Department over a subpoena for some of its search data. The company successfully fended off the agencyÂ’s demand in court, but several other search companies, including AOL, complied. The Justice Department sought the information to help it defend a challenge to a law that is meant to shield children from sexually explicit material. They were fishing in my opinion.

I got this idea listening to NPR Science Friday on the radio this PM. They talked about some software that masks your searches and information. i am going to check out this software. TOR EFF. The damn Government has no need to see what I do on the net.

Z: I know you will comment!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nicaraguan Tourism: the Reality

Greg just got back from another dental trip/vacation in Nicaragua. I didn't go this time as I was just too busy and do not like to go to Nicaragua to work without going to my beloved little Mulukuku, the village in central Nicaragua that has been our base of operations and support for years now. Greg took the students to San Juan del Sur, the most gringofied part of Nicaragua and worked on the employees of the Pelican Eyes resort and some students supported by the Jean Brugger Foundation.

Greg stayed a bit for a vacation and reported that all is in full swing in SJDS. New investors, new buildings, full hotel, new shops, restaurants, etc. All for the rich gringos and Nica Ricos that can afford the escalating prices. Tourism is in full swing.

Tourism in Nica is still a bargain for some, and is growing exponentially. The country is seeing that tourism could be the key to success, much like Costa Rica has enjoyed. But to become the Costa Rica of the 21st Century, Nicaragua has to overcome some major obstacles.

1) Infrastructrure. Nicaragua is poor, one of the poorest countries on earth in many ways and the poorest in the Americas. Most survive on little, and even the working may make $100 a month, if they are very lucky. Therefore there is little to spend on public services. Unfortunately, much that is collected in taxes and fees and international aid is swallowed up by corruption and greed.

Tourists, paying good money for a vacation, are not going to put up with unreliable electricity, lack of water, dangerous roads, inadequate sanitary systems (The look I get when I tell first timers to not put toilet paper in the toilet, but instead deposit it in the waste basket is priceless. The old pipes can not handle it and get clogged regularly.)and poor telephone and communication services. For me, I expect it; for the tourist who just paid a bundle, they are not as forgiving. Currently, the power system is mired in corruption and scandal, having been privatized. Electricty is frightfully expensive, thus the prices charged to customers for hotels, food and entertainment rises.

2) Transportation. As I mentioned above the roads are horrible at best. You do not want to drive at night as the roads are full of roaming animals, people and lightless vehicles. Land transportation is cheap and plentiful, if you want to ride a chicken bus..100 people and a few farm animals crammed in a 60 passenger former school bus from Scranton.

The only airport of note is in Managua and has been radcally improved in the last 5 years. Unfortunately, lack of competition has kept airfares high. Forever only Continental and American flew once a day each to Managua. Delta joined them recently and there is a Taca flight from Miami. But the fares are high, almost $1000 roundtrip. Kansas City to San Jose Costa Rica offers Northwest, Delta, USAirways, and American with about 9 flights at about $800 roundtrip. Less for all the package deals through travel companies.

Greg and I want to go to Nicaragua in November and the fare is about $992 right now. Greg went late July for $700. If you have to spend more to get there, the lower cost of hotels and all the attractions is negated. Air fares are up everywhere, but without much competition, there is no incentive to lower them to Managua. So for the time being, it is going to be inconvenient and expensive to get there.

3)Security and Stability. Nicaragua is statistically safer than Costa Rica and violent crimes are few. Most crimes involve theft as the poor locals feel you have everything imaginable (and you do) and they have little or nothing. Just like in New York, Rome or Bangkok, don't flash cash, keep valuables safe or locked up and watch your surroundings. The violent past of the country, with revolution and civil war in the last 30 years, dogs the country's reputation. Cities have strict gun laws and you rarely see them. Police are plentiful but corrupt (about like here). There are some raucus demonstrations whenever the government does something unpopular, but they are mostly harmless. Keep your distance.

The government is beyond corrupt. The current president tried to get a grip on corruption and found himself stripped of authority. The possibility of Daniel Ortega becoming President has spooked a lot of Nicas and North Americans as well. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out.

I'd love to see more people discover the wonder of Nicaragua, the pristine beaches, the incredible wildlife, the warm, gentle people. It is going to take some work, but it can be done. I hope to be there to show you around.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Flying a Kite at Night in a Storm

I am not a big book reader, especially fiction. I do read a lot of magazines and newspapers, but the big book is a rarity on my bedside table. When a book comes my way, I have found that biographies, true stories and history are more interesting and more fantastic than any fiction book. For example, I had a period a few years ago when I read the biographies of every English monarch back to George III. New biographies of composer Igor Stravinsky were the last books that grabbed my attention.

Occasionally I am encouraged to read a fiction book through a recommendation. My friend Drake mentioned a book he read and found "fun, a good book to read while lounging in the sun" was his summation. Thus I went to my locally owned bookstore and ordered "Flying a Kite at Night During A Storm" by St Louis based author Thomas Long.

Strange title (descriptive of the situations in which the characters find themselves) but an interesting story well told. Taking a chance and learning to love, live and be human, letting go and recovering after a staggering personal loss. Set in St Louis, with enough local color to be interesting and make the book familiar and comforting to those of us who live in or know St Louis. The story revolves around a central character whose partner is murdered outside their home in a senseless mugging and how this and other events in their circle change them forever.

Many straight persons reading the book would wonder about all the drama that seems to follow the characters. But the gay community can create drama over anything and many of us live with lots of baggage and ghosts. Therefore, I found the characters real and sympathetic. To me the test of a good fiction novel is if you give a damn about the characters. These I did and read the book in just a couple of evenings. Naming the two lesbians Tina and Louise was a great touch. I giggled every time they were mentioned. Those who remember "Gilligan's Island" will get the joke.

A good interesting read; funny at times, thought provoking at others. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wide screen

When one has a bit of cash on hand, we just have to keep the economy going right?? So I now am the proud owner of a new 19in wide screen flat, LCD monitor for my newly upgraded Dell computer. Damn! I can see everything, so can all my neighbors. Bright as a supernova, it lights the surrounding darkness, I need not use a lamp. I felt now that Mr Dell here has a new hard drive and memory, I needed a big bright screen to view the web in style. It may take a bit to get used to and some time to tweak the colors and the sharpness to how I like it. My eyeglasses have now become useless as I do not need them to see the screen. Pics are big, and I can see the whole show with out scrolling over and back.

Technology comes late to me, I do not embrace it immediately. I wait to the price comes down. I am keeping the old faithful cathode ray tube monitor around in case I feel that this thing is just too much of a leap into the future.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lifestyles of the Rich and Cruel

This story, emailed to me by a friend in New Jersey just sent me in to orbit. Un-fucking-believable what people are capable of.~ Pato

Last night I took Lisa and some of her friends to a local music and arts festival about an hour away...It was fun hanging out with them, until Lisa and her friend Anna approached me on the side to talk after I dropped the other two friends off.

Lisa is just fine....this was about her friend Anna, who completely burst into tears and fell apart before she could even get a word out to tell me what the problem was. I was amazed when I found out, and it just goes to show that you can never really tell what goes on in people's homes behind closed doors.

Anna is a really sweet kid...she's bright, gentle, no drugs/alcohol use. When I first met her shortly after moving here, she lived in a big house on the river with both her parents. Her folks divorced about a year ago, with the father, who had an affair, moving to Rome and leaving Anna and her mother in this big huge house. The father is/was a fund manager and apparently amazingly rich.

All seemed fine to me, as far as I or anyone else could tell...For the past month or so, Anna has been spending a lot of time here and instead of rotating on whose house they meet up at as it used to be, Anna has been opting not to meet at her house. It's been either here or at the homes of the other two friends. I didn't think anything of it, and not even Lisa knew until a few days ago...

Anna's mother left on July 5th.

She didn't die or anything, she just left...Packed a bag, left a bank book with $105,000 in a bank account in Anna's name, woke Anna up on the morning of July 5th and said she was going to live in London with her "boyfriend"...She gave her a phone number, in London, where she could be reached when she needs more money.

This kid is 16 years old, and has been living alone for the past month with absolutely no idea what to do. Unbelievable.

You'd think this whole thing might be some tall tale from a 16 year old in dire need of attention, but it's not! I knew right off the bat Anna was telling the truth...poor kid just fell apart.

But wait, it gets worse!

Anna spent the night with us (she's still here) and today, I called her father in freaking Rome...Anna had already done this, and told me the father wasn't going to do anything. I couldn't imagine how this could possibly be, so I took his phone number from Anna and called him....Know what he said to me? He told me Anna was "dead in his eyes" and that indeed, he wasn't coming back to the states. He has a new life he told me, and a new baby, and life is good for him now.

Renee (my friend's wife) called Anna's mother, who promptly told Renee that Anna was the reason she and her husband divorced and that she "can't stand the sight of the child"...She's "available for financial support, but not parental support" and "won't be coming back to America".

Anna has both sets of grandparents still alive...The mother's folks who are living, guess London. I spoke to the grandfather, and he said they are in poor health and too old to take care of Anna.

Renee tried to call the father's parents, but their answering machine said they were away for the summer, until after Labor Day. They live in California...Anna doesn't even know where exactly, she hasn't seen or had any contact with them in 6 years.

How on earth can people do this to their child? What kind of people are these? I've been shaking my head all day...I can barely comprehend any of this.

So we've got a houseguest right now...and we have no idea what to do with her.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I have just had a nice computer upgrade and Miss Dell here is running so much better now! I got this machine around March or April 2001 after I wrecked my Compaq during a virus attack. I am convinced I did more damage trying to repair the virus than the virus itself. The old Compaq never ran right again, as in a flurry of activity (and my total ignorance of virus attacks) I think I deleted some important files while the virus corrupted the rest. I used it at my sister's for an internet back-up but it was so screwed up it was a pain to use. I gave it away and I am sure someone gutted it and made it nice again.

But I had not the skills and time to do that, so armed with a new job and thus some cash, I bought this Dell Dimension 8100. Got the best I could afford and have been pleased as punch for the last 5 years. Only the cruddy Windows ME that was installed was crap. But the hard drive had seen a lot of use, and was small compared to the newer ones. Only 40 mega or giga (never sure which is which) bites, it was running out of room. So now I have a new 80 and kept the old 40. Programs are on the old drive and moving data to the new one. Someday, I'll reverse that and have the programs on the new one and the data on the old. We also added some memory so I now have 256 instead of 128 whosiewatches of memory.

The old gal runs a lot better now and doesn't take an hour deciding what to do. I have more space to store junk, but at the same time I am cleaning out a lot of duplicates and old back-up files and stuff. She will hopefully be good to go for a while.

I did have about 24 hours away from the computer and realized I have a serious addiction! Even watched some TV, it was dull.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Future Travel toothpaste, lipstick, shaving cream, ointment, liquids, drinks etc. are banned from carry on, along with everything else. How will I get rum back from Nicaragua now??? If the damn airlines would be careful with checked baggage, I would be less concerned. I carry on things as I do not trust them to toss, sit on or leave my bags in rain or snow for hours on end.

Soon, it will be necessary to travel naked, shackled to the seats in an airliner. You know, I know some people who may like that.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Jolie Wins

State Senate - District 10 - Dem Primary
Missouri 89 of 89 Precincts Reporting - 100.00%
Name Party Votes Pct
Justus, Jolie Dem 5,669 33.02
Klumb, Jason Dem 5,188 30.22
Flaherty, Mike Dem 4,173 24.31
Burnett, Ingrid Dem 2,139 12.46

It was great! A good, 1000% liberal candidate won a seat in the MO senate. I had the fortune of meeting Jolie several times as she campaigned through out the district, once at a funraiser, once at Bistro 303 and another time at Cafe Trio. She was tireless, spent 1/4 of what Mr Klumb spent and truely runs to represent this diverse district. The MO 10th district has everything from crushing poverty to sprawling mansions, Gay, Lesbian, Black, Latino, Urban core to suburban. That a liberal lesbian, with no prior legislative experience can beat a former State Rep and insider is remarkable. Many thought Klumb was a shoe-in with his past experience and endorsements from the insiders. But Jolie won by walking, talking, meeting and being herself. Since this district has never elected a Republican anything, the Democratic primary winner is sure of a victory in November. But not guaranteed. We must continue to support her if we want to be absolutely sure she gets to Jefferson City.

CONGRATS Jolie Justus!!!!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fragments, Sublime and Ridiculous

A few short pieces:

Music to my ear:

I am thrilled to see the British record label Lyrita back on the market. Lyrita in the 60s through the '80s recorded some of the most important modern British classical music with many performers and conductors that were at the peak of their creative years. David Atherton, Vernon Handley, Sir Charles Groves, Bryden Tomson, Sir Colin Davis,Norman Del Mar, Sir Adrian Boult were featured as conductors. Singers included Felicity Palmer, Stuart Burrows, and Benjamin Luxon just to name a few. Especially welcome are the composer conducts series with William Alwyn, Sir Malcom Arnold and Sir Lennox Berkeley. Rarely heard gems from Havergal Brian, Alun Hoddinot, Grace Williams and William Wordsworth.

The first of the series has been released. The Lyrita website (or less expensive at MDT) have the discs in stock. I have ordered the Hoddinot Symphonies, the Grace Williams disc and the Wordsworth symphonies.

Worthless creatures:

Someone said once that the best evidence against an intelligent being creating life was the june bug. I second that and add the locust. They are everywhere this summer. Buzzzzzing and acting as nature's morons.

A locust was laying still on its back at the bottom of the stairs leading to the parking lot at the Towers. I swept him up and immediately he started buzzing and spinning on his back, flopped over and banged repeatedly into the wall. He managed to head up the stairs, whereupon he flew behind the propped open door and buzzed and banged in there. I opened the door, he flew back into the wall, back down the stairs, flopped on his back, spun and buzzed some more and after banging the windows, finally managed to find the opening whereupon he landed on his back on the ground and buzzed a bit until he was silent. He is still out there, dead or alive I am not sure but I have no time for a further show. If he did fly, I am sure he'd head directly to the web Charlotte is building in the corner.

Cops and Donuts:

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) -- A stolen truck full of doughnuts? Better believe Tri-Cities police were on that in a hurry. Moments after the theft of the Viera's Bakery van was reported early Friday in Kennewick, police issued an all-points bulletin.

A Benton County sheriff's deputy quickly spotted the truck. After a chase at 30 to 35 mph, Richland police got it to stop and arrested the driver, Steve Swoboda, 19, for investigation of auto theft and felony escape.

Still intact was the entire load of glazed, sugar and cream doughnuts, as well as apple fritters, bear claws.

Just like in KC, if it involved donuts, the KCPD would be right on it. Drugs, prostitution, loitering, vandalism...not a priority.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Idiots Rule

I was not going to post tonight, but when I read this article, I had to comment. More than 50% of the US population believe the lies of Bush, Rush, and the rest of the Coup leaders and accept the fantasy that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. These are of course the same intellgunt desine (sic) supporters and those who feel that keeping gays and lesbians from marrying will protect children and that marriage is for those who pro-create. Then are marriages of those who can't have kids, or beyond menopause, sterile or just plain do not want to raise a family illegal?

Note one of the biggest reasons for this amazing fact; US citizens get their news from the biased info-tainment shows on FOX and on talk radio. If Rush, or one of the FOX idiots (I refuse to watch them so I do not even know their names) says it is true, and Bush says it is true in his own fantasy war game world fought with real people (shades of the Roman Gladiators), the the gullible US population will accept it, hook line and sinker.

This country continues to slide into a hell of its own making. Sad.....

Half of US believes Iraq had WMD

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Tropical Heat Wave

One hot summer day, an acquaintance asked "can you believe this weather"? "Yes", I replied, "It is summer in the Midwest, it is usually hot."

Well, can you believe this weather??? This is beyond summer hot, it is roasting. I think it was close to 100 again today and the same for tomorrow and the remainder of the week. Rain has been scarce, trees are starting to look stressed, as are the people. I have felt lethargic all week and I pin it on the heat.

I went out this PM and promptly got too warm. I spent most of the afternoon dozing. I love the warm and understand that is it hot in the Midwest in the summer, but really now, can we have a break??

Friday, August 04, 2006

In Memoriam Louise and Elizabeth

Two grand ladies, who in their separate and unique ways made this world a bit brighter, have passed.

Louisie,The Pug from Anchorage, Alaska was 13 years & 7 months old when she passed on Wednesday. The cancer she had bravely faced had spread to her liver. She stopped playing over the weekend and stopped eating on Tuesday. She was telling everyone that it was time.

Her adoring Mary Jo posted on PugVillage: "Louisie was my soulmate and my heart dog. Not only will she missed forever by me, but she will be missed by many, many web-friends too. Her full sister, Thelma, will be looking for her." Condolences came from all over the world, testifying to Louise'’s power over people. Such as the characters in the movie, Louise was never far from her sister Thelma.

Louise will be at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for Thelma with Dino, Butchie and Muffin. What a grand time they will have.

Legendary soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf who won global acclaim for her performances of Mozart, Mahler and Strauss, died Thursday in Austria at the age of 90.

Schwarzkopf, who along with Maria Callas are considered the leading sopranos of our time, retired in 1975 and had captivated audiences and critics alike during her four decade career Her leading roles, ranging from Elvira in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" to the Marschallin in Richard Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier," were immortalized on records and CDs. She created the role of Anne Truelove in Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress" and was in Guido Cantelli's immortal "“Cosi Fan Tutte" in La Scala. Her Mahler 4th solo is beyond description as is her Strauss "Four Last Songs"”.

Without Elizabeth and Louise, the world is a bit darker today.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Neatness Counts

There may be dirty dishes in the sink, dog hair on the floor and the living room carpet and certainly the glass on the shower door needs a good scrubbing. BUT! My bed is made. I have this thing about making a bed. I could be 34 hours late to something but I would stop to make my bed. I simply refuse to come home and see my bed a storm tossed pile of pillows and disheveled sheets.

I am not a compulsive neat freak, but I do have to have a certain modicum of neatness and order. My little apt here at the Towers is neat, livable and could be spotless in about 20 minutes if I put some effort into a little straightening and vacuuming. What I can not understand is how people can live in clutter and dirt. I have friends that have maybe one or two places to sit despite having rooms full of furniture; everything is full of magazines, papers, mail, boxes, you name it. Then there was Chuck whose house was so cluttered there was one path through from the back door, past the bathroom to his bed (never made).

As we clamor for more! MORE! MORE! and buy everything under the sun, our living spaces are becoming more like glorified storage units. Witness the madness of having a garage full of junk and leaving your $20,000 or more car out in the elements. I know people who eat dinner sitting on the couch balancing a plate as there are no tables cleared, they are full of "stuff". There are residents here at the towers who have huge condos full of lovely things, all covered in dust, never used. Despite having 2,800 Sq Ft of living space, they use 1 room and a bath. Crazy.

I used to have places full of things, but my decent into a long period of underemployment has allowed me to shed things and have just what I need. Oh, I still have some junk I need to get rid of, stuff no one wanted or mementos I want to hang on to. But I feel freer and less encumbered by junk.

That (and a made bed) can make you a healthier person for sure!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Heat Wave

Hot enough to boil a monkey's bum here in Kansas City today. Right now it is 97 and it is almost 8PM. For the last three days it has been over 100. We have not broken any daily records in this latest heat wave, but it is the first time in years that we have had as many consecutive days over 100.

Needless to say, Puggles has been a scarce commodity outside as have I. The Queen Mary's AC is not up to speed, so I have been using the Maestro's SAAB. Although faster, it is no more economical, takes premium unleaded and has some issues starting occasionally. Note that the Queen Mary betters it in all those categories and has softer seats for my fat behind.

Tomorrow is another hot one and then a cool down for a couple of days.

I wish I had a Gatoraide concession!