Archive for December, 2019

Greetings on what would appear another spring day – at the very end of December – it’s almost balmy in these parts. Hopefully you’re anticipating the New Year celebration. May you have both Hope and Positivity; resolve that these escort you through the coming year with health, peace, and courage. Face even difficulties with joy and a sense of invincibility.

The practically mild weather being horrible for the gang from Austin. They came equipped to go to our nearby Northern Slopes for a little skiing and snowboarding.

Now, since it’s still quiet in the place and the coffee is done, let’s continue:
There is a famous phrase, ‘Old is Gold,’ Just like that our family are gold for us; we can’t afford to lose them at any cost. So, always try to reconnect with family even we meet after a long time.

“Happiness is meeting an old friend after a long time and feeling that nothing has changed” ~ Cris Dar

What did change is the totally renewed fascination with our old vintage Speakeasy Pinball machine. Game after game, wherever in the condo we happened to be, the ‘flippers’ slapping and the bells dinging could be heard as points were scored. Since I kept loading fresh games on the machine I am accurate in saying that over 160 games have been played so far during this past week. This has never happened since we’ve owned the thing. It’s great!

Photos – Marcia prepared for the gatherings this week by surfacing boxes filled with old family photographs. Adrianne found a place with photo albums on sale and bought four. We all sat on the floor digging through the piles, with many a “Oh NO!”, or “who took this’, and “you weren’t that skinny were you?” Anyway, each family went home carrying their newly treasured album. And yes, we still have a more left than Marcia had hoped for. That’s how it goes.

White Elephant – If, at your end, you do not have a White Elephant gift exchange you should. At our end it’s the most requested thing and provides the happiest chatter.

Doing things – I’ll let the pictures say it all; walking the Purple People Bridge across the Ohio River into Kentucky. Time spent at the Newport Aquarium. Stopping by Dewey’s Pizza to embarrass Marin at his work (it’s next to the Aquarium). Enjoyable moments spent at our Zoo. And later, streetcar travel through town to the 21C Museum and Hotel and to the Contemporary Art Museum. Even Derek getting his hair cut at probably the town’s hippest Barber Shop.
The rest of the weekend appears to be just as busy. I do believe that tomorrow there is even a trip to Columbus on the schedule.

Fini – Tevita, safe and sound in Tonga, has managed to do ‘face-time’ with the kids. Considering the days Adrianne spent in Tonga just a few years ago and the difficulty we had communicating with her, things have changed even in that remote nation.

The kids are growing. Dinah is now recognized as the family’s Ramen Noodle specialist and makes a very ‘mean’ broth. Delicious!

As the video shows, Marin took over the kitchen last evening. Deftly doing some high-speed slicing and dicing he prepared an array of toppings and then proceeded to prepare the crust for several, fabulous, pizzas. He’s more than just a ‘pro’ at this, he’s become a magician. By the way, Marcia was aghast as flour ended up on counter, floor, and most everywhere (and this morning I noticed that it had all been magically cleaned up).

And for those wondering, I did just fine on the 2019 Egg Nog Jog coming in 12th place out of 71 in my age category.

Till next week, Happy New Year and stay safe!
Dirk


A truly special week
12 21st, 2019

Good morning to all on this momentous day. No, it’s nothing to do with coffee, we have plenty. Today happens to be the first day of winter thus it’s Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year.

Tomorrow it’ll be the start of the 8-day Festival of Lights, Hanukkah or Chanukah (when will a common spelling for the word come into play?).

Then, mid-week we’ll celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ.

Santa Claus accused of Quid Pro Quo for giving children gifts in exchange for Good Behavior ~ an angry Elf

Next Friday we’ll celebrate the Returning of the Gifts Day (not to be confused with the Running of the Bulls Day). The Brits manage the “returning of the gifts day” with a special preparatory day. The day after Christmas they celebrate something called ‘Boxing Day’. This to help better manage the long lines of restless, anxious, and aggressive people found on the Return the Gifts day – this ‘Boxing’ day is necessary as a follow-up to the cattle handling descriptor as detailed in the next ‘bit’.

Netgear – The fact that you’re reading these Ramblings today means that it worked. It? Yes, let me explain. The old Linksys Router proved to be the culprit that kept knocking us off the internet and then required a complete reset.

A week ago I swung by a store called Micro Center to search out a replacement. That’s where I got completely bogged down in their parking lot and peering inside the place it looked like I peered into a cattle feedlot. I left.

A few days later we were in Michigan for Jeanne’s birthday and our family gathering. This meant that Paul and I advanced ourselves to his garage (i.e. ‘man-cave’) for a cigar and talk – also for me to again admire his car collection. That’s when I mentioned my router tale of woe.

Well, wonder of wonders. Paul had connectivity issues and had a specialty team in to manage it. They put their own replacement gear where it was needed thus making a replacement router he had purchased (still in the box) useless.

I brought it home and spent some time reviewing the literature. It let me to believe that replacing my old Linksys with his new Netgear Router would be a simple ‘plug-and-play’; and it WAS! A whole week of perfect connectivity, Amazing!

Amahl and the Night Visitors – for those unfamiliar it’s a one act Opera (made specifically for television in 1951) and composed by Gian Carlo Menotti. In a nutshell, it’s the story of a night in Judea, when a disabled shepherd boy-turned-beggar and his mother are visited by three strangers – three kings who are on their way to Bethlehem to see the Christ child.

Neighborhood friends have a set of puppets hand-made decades ago by the great grandfather of the youngest generation. And every so often they’ll set up their complete puppet theater and invite neighbors and friends for a showing.

For many families seeing a DVD of the original showing of Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” is a family tradition. Seeing it performed as a puppet theater presentation was extra special. Vili was mesmerized. And, to make it even better for him was that afterwards he could see close up how the puppets were operated and the behind-the-curtain details.

Especially this season hearing Menotti’s majestic score bring life to the contrast between poverty and majesty is very powerful. Watching the influence of a boy (Amahl) classified as handicapped sharing love and honor while at the same time a mother too grows and gains makes this play special.

Appreciation – Yesterday I enjoyed stopping by our local Police and Fire stations and on behalf of our neighborhood Association two of us dropped off a healthy supply of bagels, toppings, juices, and hot coffee. There were lots of smiles from the heroes who are part of the “Thin Blue Line” and the Fire crews who’ll turn to assist no matter what. Thanks them whenever you can.

Orchestra – We missed seeing Derek and Kellen perform when the middle school and high schools combined for their performance in Austin. However, we did catch Vai sing in the choir and play her Clarinet in her school’s orchestra. How the conductor manages to organize this primary-grades group is beyond me. Especially considering that many of them only first picked up their instrument last September.

Fini – Tevita has not celebrated Christmas with his mother since he came to the USA. This is the year and he has arrived safe and sound in Tonga (won’t reach his island till Monday). I dropped him off at the airport before seven AM on Thursday, he arrived at Nukualofa, Tonga yesterday morning. It’s a long trip.

Monday I’ll pick up Kirstin and the boys when they fly in for a week’s stay. We’re all totally excited.

In two hours I’ll be part of a 5K going over and down the hills of nearby Mt. Adams. Did this same 5K last year in pouring cold rain, this year it’s sunshine and upper forties. I’m eager to see exactly how we’re routed.

Till next week, be certain to make it a Bright and Merry one.
Dirk


Good morning to all. Haven’t had my first coffee yet, but sure can smell it brewing – and even the smell of it is helping to wake me up.

Last evening friend Rosalie called to state that she had just come home from the hospital, needed to talk, and more importantly needed fresh air. I thought that both could happen simultaneously. And so, shortly, in the dark and in a light rain, we walked the Rose Hill ~ Beechwood circle.

After many years living in the neighborhood I know a bunch about the area. Rosalie knows more. When two talkers walk together there is a lot of talk! We had a lovely walk as a number of the homes were lit up in all their glory.

Tomorrow even it’ll get even better since its Luminary night complete with fire pits, horse drawn carriage hot chocolate and cider. Marcia and I will miss that because, by then, we’ll be in Michigan. I still need to pack.

General Michael Flynn – is a 33-year military veteran. With the sham proceedings of this past week an amazing amount of nefarious (think totally illegal) behavior by the FBI has surfaced. This includes the fact that paperwork accusing General Flynn had been ‘doctored’ and was known by the FBI to be exculpatory.

Over the years I have always marveled at the straightforward and brutally honest insights Sidney Powell offers when being interviewed. Powell is General Flynn’s attorney and he can’t have better. This week she dropped a ‘bombshell’ filing and is requesting Flynn’s Case Dismissal. From The Federalist; “…her filings are exposing the depth of the deep state and the evidence that does (or should) exist that has yet to reach the public”.

Aside from an Impeachment event being nothing more than partisan nonsense, too many honest folk have gotten caught up in the web. Aside from anything else relating to these histrionics the other big loser is the FBI and with this we should all be worried as we see just how easy any one could get caught in a web with virtually no escape.

“This task could rival separating fly-shit from pepper.” ~ Sidney Powell, author and civil liberties attorney

The Bank – Ask yourself just how often you actually set foot into a Bank these days. For me it’d been months. Yesterday I did have to actually enter the place and I opted to do this on my daily neighborhood sojourn (walk). A light misty rain and some chill weren’t going to stop me. However, it did mandate that I dress appropriately for the occasion. It was Marcia who questioned my wisdom and made me change outfits.

The Corner – A stone’s throw from our place and on the other side of the intersection is a smallish multi-unit (8 apartments) place owned by an absentee landlord from somewhere on the East Coast. For at least four years our neighborhood association and I have been on their case to clean the place up. All that’s happened is that the place got sold to a new East Coast entity; but zero improvement.

This week we entered a new phase, one which had me texting and on the phone for hours. Next week it’ll be some face-to-face time resulting (hopefully) in bringing legal involvement on board. The new ‘phase’ had its origins when I spotted a couple of Police cruisers roll up to the place. Twenty minutes or so later a Coroner’s SUV rolled up.

The Pedestal – The corner of our Condo’s property has had for years a large trellis with the script “Rose Crest Condominiums” name-plate, sitting on a little mound. Vines had overgrown the thing and according to the ladies in our building it exuded that “Golden Girls” look. Marcia was instrumental in the design of a brand new look. The trellis was pulled, the mound cleaned up, and a brick pedestal with a nameplate done in glorious gold-leaf now sits proudly in its place.

    

It was me, on one of my walks, who captures the one downside of a stone pedestal. It would appear that these things are a car magnet.

Orchestra – Marching Band season has come and gone. Now orchestral music is how the music departments further their piece of the educational process. Derek and his Sousaphone is part of that changeover. This year for their first school concert it was decided to bring the High-school and the Middle-school bands together. Hence, this is how Kellen and his Saxophone ended up playing together with his brother; very neat, don’t you think?

Fini – tomorrow morning Marcia and I will grab our breakfast fixture as we climb onto the on-ramp to head north for Michigan and Paul & Dia’s place. Our fixture breakfast food? Nothing is better than a White Castle breakfast sandwich made with fresh egg and their diner-style coffee.

Happy Birthday to Jeanne. Monday evening we’ll celebrate with her and we’re excited.

Anyone know the history of the practice where and outgoing President or Governor will/can pardon convicts? This past week the outgoing Governor of Kentucky released over 400 of the worst of the worst criminals – killers, child rapists, and so forth. It’s INSANITY! To top it off, he gave ZERO warning to the families, prosecutors, or judges of any of the affected communities. The whole event seems to have been nothing more than an act of spite since he, Matt Bevin (R), lost his re-election. Years ago we had a governor, Gilligan (D), pull a similar stunt just fewer; so it crosses party lines.

And yes, Santa’s Helpers are very busy these days.

And here it is, nearly the end of another decade. Marcia is still complaining that I can never find what I’m looking for in the refrigerator.

Till next week, make it a great one.
Dirk


AI
12 7th, 2019

Good morning to all. I just poured a first and very hot mug of coffee. I need the stuff after reading (last evening) heartbreaking news of the immediate shutting down of the Apostrophe Protection Society. The Society was started by retired journalist John Richards, 96, in 2001 to make sure the “much-abused” punctuation mark was being used correctly.

He finally gave up on his quest because: “we, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won.”

Before it disappears into the ‘fogs’ of time, here are the three simple rules for using this “much abused” punctuation mark, the apostrophe:

“They are used to denote a missing letter or letters, they are used to denote possession and apostrophes are never ever used to denote plurals.” ~ John Richards

The Corner – It’s surprising how often I get queried about our ‘Chaos and Mayhem’ spot on the planet. This week it was a quiet one; other than a couple of nearby EMT runs (one was accompanied by a couple of Police cruisers).

What was of interest was last Monday. We were informed we’d be out of water from 9:00 till 5:00. By 10:00pm we could see a massive amount of Halogen light and tracked vehicles churning away; but, still no water. At 2:00am Marcia got up. Further up the street all was now dark and yes, we had water.

What made the event a bit more interesting were the two, wheeled, automated traffic lights which were towed in. No more ‘flaggers’, just a pair of fully automatic lights each with an arm which raised and lowered as it cycled between Red and Amber, thus allowing traffic from each direction to move appropriately. Very slick.

This does leave our most interesting ‘bit’, this one a block away in front of the 11-story Belvedere building. Our neighborhood is one of three remaining in the city still using gas lights for our street lighting. The one directly in front of the building caught on fire, bringing on a cadre of firefighters. Now “isn’t that special” as the SNL Church Lady would say?

In case you’re wondering, they do nothing. A valve was shut and the flame allowed to extinguish by itself.

AI – I should point out that wearing wide-brimmed hats on sunny days should be mandatory. This week I was off to the Dermatologist and sure enough a small spot on my temple had to be frozen. But that’s not what this ‘bit’ is about. It’s about AI – Artificial Intelligence.

My ‘Derma’ guy is located in a medical center, a three story building, housing about two-dozen specialties. Now, I’ve used a kiosk to get my boarding pass, even to order a Big Mack at McDonalds, but never kiosks which took away a whole reception signing in procedure to a medical appointment. And, it was fast, smooth, and slick.

Using a touch-screen I entered my name and the day of birth. Instantly my profile and photograph was displayed. I was prompted to edit/update any changes to my profile. Next I scanned my medical card and my appointment details were loaded. Prompted to swipe a credit card for my co-pay and a receipt popped out. I walked to the waiting area and before I could grab a magazine was escorted into an examining room.

Leaving, we settled on the date/time of a future appointment. This was entered into “My Chart”. Back home I went onto “My Chart” and with a couple of clicks the appointment details for December 2020 had been loaded into my calendar.

No longer seen was the cadre of front-desk personnel looking up ‘stuff’ and running to some copier or writing on cards. The future, while not yet fully here, has taken a giant leap. Whether the ‘leap’ is forward or backward becomes your call. But, it’s happening.

It’s hard to hold back – watching the sham impeachment circus take place. The path Congress has embarked on would have impeached most (if not all) past Presidents. This past week’s hearings had the most temperate and sensible comments coming from Professor Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor and not a supporter of President Trump, who warned House lawmakers against impeaching a President without merit. Mr. Turley said that to impeach Trump based on the current evidence “would be to expose every future president to the same type of inchoate impeachment.”

The compiling of supposed ‘evidence’ began the very day Trump walked into the White House and the vitriolic calls of “Resist” and “Impeach” started up. In my years I have seen anything like it. This is an impeachment still looking for a crime.

Shamefully, while this furor is all that Congress is occupied with, this is the one-year anniversary of the USMCA trade agreement still NOT brought to the floor of the house by harridan Speaker Pelosi.

Barely reported is what HAS been accomplished by this President while he’s been under constant siege:

• Last month 266,000 new jobs (Jim Cramer host of CNBC’s Mad Money and a co-founder of TheStreet.com, and not a fan of Trump, ‘crowed’ that these were numbers he hadn’t seen in fifty years!) including 54-thousand in manufacturing. Couple these to the 7.2-million new jobs since he was elected.
• A strong 3.1% wage growth
• Unemployment at 3.5% — also the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years,
• Consumer sentiment at a 7-month high according to the University of Michigan. The three-year average at the highest sustained level since the Clinton years.
• Judicial appointments made now at a historic milestone; approximately 170 to date.
• NATO nations have begun to increase their financial obligations to previously agreed to levels
• Prison reform
• $100-Billion for Opportunity Zones which will especially aid inner cities
• Black unemployment at an all-time low with 1,277,000 more jobs and an accompanying huge reduction in food stamps
• $10,000 deduction for School Choice savings accounts also aiding urban centers where horrid public education persists.
• Totally unreported, Trump quietly cancelled the Obama era deal where Communist China gained control by running the container port of Long Beach. Long Beach in southern California is the premier U.S. gateway for trans-Pacific trade

And I could go on. And meanwhile, what has Congress been doing aside from running slip-shod over our first amendment by dragging in armloads of AT&T metadata phone records subpoenaed without cause? “Impeach”, “impeach”; it’s a sad state! It’s disgusting!

But, as the great Russian author, Dostoyevsky, wrote to his brother:

“I’m not despondent and I haven’t lost heart. Life is everywhere, life is in us ourselves, not outside. There will be people by my side, and to be a human being among people and to remain one forever, no matter in what circumstances, not to grow despondent and not to lose heart — that’s what life is all about, that’s its task.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, author, 1821-1881, in the West most noted for his works, Crime and Punishment, and especially The Brothers Karamazov.

Fini – My friends at Fitbit cheerfully notified me that I had earned their Africa Badge. Apparently their counters show that I had just finished walking the length of Africa – 5,000 miles. I am surprised I’m not more tired.

Happy Birthday to Donn. He still hasn’t caught up to me in the aging department.

Last Sunday we gathered for our Thanksgiving meal. As the photo shows, table games have formed a huge part of the gathering. So much fun!

This is the final weekend for guns in the Deer hunting world (for Ohio). Last season, between Bow and Gun 172,049 Deer were harvested in the state. I was reading that the tick that caries Lyme disease in Ohio continues to be active throughout the winter and poses a risk to hunters.

I did spend a little quality time with Vili and helped him set up the old electric train in his bedroom. Yup, the Season has kicked in. He’s old enough to now deal with an occasional derailment without getting totally frustrated.

Till next week, make it a great one.
Dirk