is always a hard one for me.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
is always a hard one for me.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Friday, October 01, 2010
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Thursday, June 03, 2010
British Petroleum's oil was 9 miles from Pensacola, Florida when I got up yesterday...
Last night it was in a wildlife refuge just a few miles outside New Orleans, 2/3 of the way through the wetlands lying between the city and the ocean.
When those wetlands die (and they will die from this poisoning) that means the next hurricane the sets her sights on the city that Katrina couldn't kill will have miles of a head start.
And like that iceberg that sunk the Titanic, what we can see is only an "nth" of what lies beneath...though British Petroleum would like to deny that their dispersant agents are causing the oil to "suspend" beneath the surface, the Jean-Michel Cousteau has posted footage of it and much more since.
Friday, May 21, 2010
I spent a lot of time when I had my first computer looking up people I had admired through the years; I still do as new information pops up all the time.
When my Dad and I first started playing with photography around 1967, we knew someone who was a member of a black and white "salon print" club, started attending meetings and then joined. Among the many names of the photographers they all admired I kept hearing of W. Eugene Smith. If you've seen WW2 photographs from "Life" magazine, you've most likely seen some of the work that made him famous.
In the early 70's he and his wife moved to Minimata, Japan as he worked on a photo essay about the effects of the Chisso Corporation's dumping of mercury in their wastewater from 1937-1968. The disease named for the city, first diagnosed in 1956, was the result of the mercury accumulation in the fish and shellfish that those surrounding the bay lived on. Though the deaths had gone on for more than 30 years the government nor the company did much to halt them.
The photo I'm going to include here is "Tomoko's Hand", from Wikipedia and credited to the Aileen Archive. Smith's widow Aileen has continued his fight to bring the attention to Minimata disease. His prints are yet again on display at a museum on the East Coast right now; his wife was just in Japan for a commemoration of the anniversary of the date the disease was tied to the mercury discharge from Chrisso's plant.
Chisso had paid small settlements even before WW2 began for other chemicals they had released into the fishery; as this began they deployed water treatment systems that didn't really treat the water; legal maneuvering; minimal financial settlements...their tactics seem to have been a blueprint for other companies all over the world, ones we've become all to familiar with.
They continue to this day; there are still lawsuits, still "spin" going on (one of the newest is referring to "Mad Hatter's Disease" instead of calling it "Minimata Disease" to disassociate themselves from it).
As I look out into the Gulf of Mexico and see all that is transpiring there; as I think of the $500,000 acoustic shut-off valve that would have shut the well down immediately when the "blow-out preventer" the company had "altered" from it's original design and left with dead batteries in it (the acoustic shut-off that is required elsewhere in the world but exempted for all wells in the Gulf by Mssr's Bush and Cheney); as I see the almost million gallons of a dispersant that's been illegal to use in Britain for 10 years because of it's toxicity; as I see those who had their hands on the throttle as the train left the tracks allowed to say what can and can't be done towards clean-up and mitigation...
I sometimes wonder if we ever truly learn from anything!
May the weekend be kind to each of you!
Monday, May 17, 2010
Not what I was planning for my next post, but when the link popped into my Twitter stream this morning, I had to share. Something I wasn't taught in high school and didn't learn of 'til I'd come home from serving in the Navy; something that led to a lot of examination of other aspects of "our" history (and others) that continues through today.
Something that convinces me that no matter how high we hold our "torch of freedom" it can be gone as quickly as "a candle in the wind"!
May the week be kind to each of you!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Cruise control didn't last long...I've just been ignoring it since it "kicked out"!
Mowed for the first time last weekend; after the terrace and the side-hill next to the driveway, on top of clearing gutters (lots of trips up and down the ladder and a fall when I missed a rung at one point) my knee was unhappy enough I had to ask Dottie to mow the "flat" parts of the lawn for the first time since she had her hip and knee replaced. Perhaps I'll be splitting all that into 2 days the next time it needs done, at least for a while! Perhaps next time I'll remember the sunscreen on my bald head as well; though it was only about 3 hours outside, I'm peeling...
That was after two days of wrestling with a clothes dryer; I'd never worked on one, didn't have a book, and though I managed to replace the belt and get it running again for just over $20, I spent a lot of time vacuuming lint out of places I'd never thought I'd find it, along with push pins, paper clips and other things the shouldn't be running around loose where I found them. I've cleaned french fries out of defroster ducts in cars before, and crayons out of seat belt reels, but didn't expect that!
This week has been spent filling out more job apps, getting things ready for a family birthday barbecue this weekend and finally, for the first time in ages, experimenting a bit in the kitchen. I hadn't really felt like it for a long time, but finally got out some of the books I'd bought before I retired and tried stuffing chicken breasts and grilling them on the George Foreman. The original recipe called for asparagus, tomato and fontina cheese, but not having fresh asparagus on hand, or the fontina, I subtituted Colby Jack and it turned out nicely!
The birthday barbecue mentioned above is the annual we usually hold for both sons; the younger, John, is 31 today. Last year it was so hard to get the family together that my sister had my nephew's birthday party late at the same time; this year, with him in college, he'll be sharing again.
This will be the first time our older son, Bill has missed his birthday. At 32 I know we're lucky it's taken this long; I wasn't home for my 18th. Still, it won't quite be the same without him, though I understand that he can't slip home from DC for all the family events. So far his Mom isn't saying much, but I know it's weighing on her.
May the weekend be kind to each of you; may some unexpected joy find you along with a smile or two!
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
As I watch Texas try and excise the history it doesn't like from textbooks, it has brought to the fore a longheld belief that they aren't the only ones who have been doing so.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I was lucky enough 36 years ago to meet an old gentleman in San Diego who was supplementing his retirement by selling basket case motorcycles he had spent his lifetime acquiring. He had been a machinist, a tool and die man in the aircraft industry; he used to say he never married because his job was so critical he wasn't allowed to enlist during WW2. He was the lead inspector at Rohr Aircraft; they were building engine nacelles and other things related to the war effort. He said that during the war all the girls wanted a hero; right after the war they wanted a returning one and then, suddenly, he was too old for anyone to want.
He was the first "Anglophile" I ever knew; his mechanical loves in this world were Triumph and Ariel motorcycles & British motorcars. Born in 1910, he had attended machinist school at Ryan in San Diego the year after they built the "Spirit of St. Louis".
In 1936 he bought his first motorcycle, a Royal Enfield. It had it's share of mechanical deficiencies and in '37 he sold it and bought a new Triumph Speed Twin. He was still riding that Speed Twin when I knew him, though he had pulled the original girder front end ("two sheets of paper with an axle bolted between them" was his description) in favor of a later set of hydraulic forks, and bolted a sidecar on it. He used it as his parts chaser and it was ridden almost daily, up until the day he died.
During the war he acquired an Ariel "one-lunger", a 500cc single cylinder bike for the economy during rationing. They became his second love and he had 3 different models of the singles while I knew him, along with two of the "Square Fours" that have gone by in the photos thus far. I was lucky enough, having worked for him a bit to earn parts, to have him let me ride his '56 Square Four to a show for him one day when he was taking the Speed Twin. It was a treat I've not forgotten!
After the war as everyone traded their "rigid" Triumphs for swingarm ones, he bought them; as the "non-unit" bikes were traded for "unit" construction ones, he bought them as well. He did machine work "on the side" and did some race tuning along with a lot of riding, including some with a group of "desert rats" that included Keenan Wynn and Steve McQueen back when you rode the same bikes off road you rode on the street. I have an accessory "oil bath" he made that was intended to keep sand from getting into the motors; apparently he made a good little fortune selling them. Later, after he retired he also was doing Smiths speedo and tach work and rebuilding magnetos and generators, as well as assembling engines and transmissions.
Though he really didn't approve, a lot of the knowledge I acquired from him was applied to BSA's and a few Norton's I ran across through the years. He had no use for Harleys at all- "tractor engine in a cultivator frame" was his description of them.
I bought three basket case Triumphs from him. Mine was a stocker, a 1958 TR-6 4-speed. The one I bought to put together for my wife was also a '58 and looked stock, but had later model 750 internals and a 5-speed (some of that machine work he was so good at was involved in relieving the engine and transmission cases). The 3rd was a '47 500 rigid. To this day I regret parting with them during a long lay-off from GM when my boys were small...
So with all the fond memories the Ariel above brought me, for me the Crown Jewels of that display were:
(a World War Two flathead Triumph messenger bike)
(a 1952 Trophy model racer)
We had always talked of buying a bike again once the kids were grown and gone (and every now and then I can't help but go price a new Triumph) but the reality is that with her hip and knee replacements she'll never dare get on one again and so I can't really bring myself to be selfish enough to ride when she can't...
After we had moved here, in the early 80's I got a phone call from someone I had introduced to my friend as they were looking for Triumph parts. During one of those awful Santa Ana days his emphysema had finally gotten the better of him and someone found him in his shop.
I was told his nephew was going to sell the parts off along with the machinery and keep the technical stuff for those he knew to use as an open library. I hope he did; there was far too much knowledge there for it to end up in a landfill somewhere!
Dwight Dean, it was an honor to know you and to call you friend!
I hope you and Lou Kaiser and Jimmy Phillips and Wynn and McQueen are all out somewhere having a helluva good time!
May the week be kind to each of you (especially if you made it all the way down here)!
(a click on each photo will enlarge it. They have pretty good detail for handheld 1/8th and 1/15th exposures at 200 ASA setting...wanted to go back the next day with a tripod, but there wasn't time!)
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
He showed me the MRI slices; the bone bruise on the upper legbone that is still healing, the partially healed extent it started out at; the swelling around the partially damaged MCL ligament that "gave" and started this all; the fluid around the rest of the joint.
He also told me there is arthritis under the kneecap that was aggravated by all of this, but it's not something that needs surgery until much further down the road.
He told me not to start the therapy his assistant had written me the scrip for 12 days ago (was kind of avoiding that 'til I had the MRI results). He said I can go downstairs and start walking on my treadmill when I feel like; if it aches to get off it and let it rest.
They faxed me in a 90 day prescription for the anti-inflammatory, Meloxicam, they started me on the other week.
So that's the health update...time for some late lunch and maybe a nap!
May the week be kind to each of you!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Last night, partway into "The Berlin Stories" I've had another such moment. Christopher Isherwood bringing up the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria with the ensuing murder, rape and pillage as he was writing in Germany during the Weimar Republic just before Hitler's rise to power. (In doing a bit of reading this morning, I just ran across a Time Magazine article from 1932 about a small part of that invasion and the "accidental" beating of an American ambassador by Japanese troops.)
I realize that nothing on Earth ever occurs in a vacuum; that there is always some news "out there" for those willing to look for it.
I also realize, having lived through the time of the Balkans and Rwanda and Darfur, that seldom are things like this ever halted before the wreckage of lifetimes is scattered. The toothless "League of Nations" of that day; the inadequately funded and under-empowered United Nations of this one aren't so very far apart in their abilities.
That so many generations have passed since Mary Shelley called attention to the plight of the Native American and yet 200 years later they are not given their due, or given apology, but have to fight in court against the government that has robbed them at every turn...
That so many years after our "War Between the States" to have a Senator stand up and say that had the "Dixiecrats" elected Strom Thurmond president in 1948 we'd all be so much better off now...
That so many years after "The War to End All Wars" the bullets and shells still fly...
That at this point that should be the pinnacle of human existence there are those who feel that they can vote away the rights of anyone they disagree with; they may imprison them in law as surely unjust as any prison camp...
That they may be executed or imprisoned for life if some of the "new laws" under consideration in some places aren't stopped!
Will we ever realize that every life is just as precious as our own?
May the week be kind to each of you!
Monday, January 11, 2010
Lines from old songs haunt me; like the headers on a page, they set the tone or summarize; they cajole or commiserate.
I was playing music from "Cabaret" 40 years ago, in band at school and along with Armstrong albums; I knew a bit of the mythology of the story. It was many years before I would see the movie; even more before I read of "The Berlin Stories" that first the stage play "I Am a Camera" then the musical "Cabaret" were sourced from. On my "bucket list" of reading material ever since, I finally caught up with Mr. Isherwood last night and am delighted.
So now I'm having a hard time convincing me to go out and chip the icicles off the facias and such and do some of the other things I'd been putting off while gimping around this last month. T'would be so much easier to escape to the Berlin of Sally Bowles and Lulu, Peter Lorre and Marlene Dietrich...
"Life is a cabaret, old chum..."
May the week be kind to each of you!
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
I hobbled through the holidays; everyone else's were great! The grandkids, the boys and their wives; my sister and her family. Bill and Laura made it home to D.C. yesterday after a detour through North Carolina for a rockslide the wiped out the Interstate highway they were on as they trekked east. After an afternoon's rest in Charlotte, they got home about 1:30 Tuesday morning.
I've not been sleeping well, so falling asleep sitting in my chair reading, trying to watch TV, sitting here at the keyboard, playing a video game; they've all become new experiences for me. Part of my excuse for not blogging...waking up as you rock forward in the chair because your knee is saying "don't do that, dummy"! isn't fun!
May the rest of the week and may this month and this New Year be especially kind to each of you!
Postscript: Thursday afternoon...
X-rays inconclusive; they don't show anything wrong, only the things that should be there...MRI tomorrow.
At least I know now it's not cancer! Not everyone's first thought, but my favorite jazz saxophone player went in 15 years ago for some knee pain, found out he had bone cancer and was gone in 6 weeks...as much as my family has been decimated by so many different kinds of it, it wouldn't have surprised me!