Archive for December, 2020

It’s Boxing Day
12 26th, 2020

Happy Saturday morning as the Brits and Canadians flock to the stores on Boxing Day; I’m just here enjoying my coffee. Yesterday morning our ‘Real-Feel’ temperature was 3-degrees; and that shut me down for the day.

That “shut-down” on Christmas was actually a good thing. We’d had our family gathering and now it was a period of proper music, some choirs on the ‘Telly’ (staying with the British theme); and seeing Marcia bustle nearby wondering about dinner after she realized that the ‘protein’ centerpiece was absent. The resultant dinner was great anyway.

Mid-week we’d gathered as family as we’d always done and it was wonderful. My personal edict that I’d rather live life instead of cowering to live for life, stayed true. Just so you know; we all had a brilliant (another Brit expression) time. I believe that the tin-horn potentates we call Governors are in the game to affect obedience. As the late astrophysicist, Carl Sagan, once said; “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

Christmas – the season didn’t just rush in this time, it didn’t just blow in and then was gone. It was well paced and that whole time the weather helped and made it seem like late autumn. This year I was able to enjoy it to the utmost.

Last weekend I walked by a small garden plot and took this photo of some gorgeous ornamental cabbages in glorious color.

The next day I cut through the adjacent small community of St. Bernard where folk were busily preparing for an evening of ‘neighborhood’ and ‘community’ including the magic of Santa, luminary; as well as flags, a manger scene, and much hot chocolate. There is so much to say about small town America.

     

Marcia and I didn’t miss out either as we went on our evening neighborhood walking tour. We’d already eaten so skipped the food-trucks. But, we saw plenty of decorations. Marcia, after a hot-toddy brimming with Woodford Bourbon, even got to sit on a naughty Santa’s knee.

”Life and consciousness are the two great mysteries. Actually, their substrates are the inanimate. And how do you get from neurons shooting around in the brain to the thought that pops up in your head and mine? There’s something deeply mysterious about that. And if you’re not struck by the mystery, I think you haven’t thought about it.” — Charles Krauthammer

Last Evening — Last evening was as perfect a way to close out Christmas Day. Marcia had gone off to bed. Somehow I tuned in on a one-hour long radio interview with a Daniel Krauthammer son of the brilliant thinker and columnist, the late Dr. Charles Krauthammer.

The discussion centered on a memoir Daniel’s dad had been working on and which during his last weeks asked his son to finish and publish. He was specific on his desires and his son struggled to be true to his dad and still bring out points he felt important and pertinent. This was especially so when it came to religion. And so I sat mesmerized and my Sudoku game sat idle.

Charles Krauthammer was an observant orthodox (including strict observance of Shabbat) Jew. Yet, he celebrated much of Christmas, both the secular and the religious. And here, on Christmas night I heard discuss the age old struggle many of us find ourselves facing time and again; the story in its simplicity surviving in a world which continues to shove it deeper and deeper into a corner.

Nearing death, Charles Krauthammer the orthodox Jew told his son that he did not have an answer as to what was next. What he did know is that us, living on a rock floating somewhere in infinity somehow brimming with not just life, but life cognizant of that knowledge is not just happenstance. Krauthammer seemed ready for the next step.

To me the celebration of Christmas, sitting by myself in my dimly lit living room, at that moment became surrounded by a warm glow. Yes, I had a great Christmas.

A Great Christmas Gift – from brother Arty to his brothers. He sent all of us 10# gym weights. The plan being that we all Zoom twice a week for a (30) minutes workout session.

His daughter, my niece Taryn, is Director for a company which staffs corporate wellness centers nationwide. So, at least this is the plan, she’ll be asked to generate a ‘geriatric’ strength program for the four of us.

Actually, I am ‘pumped’!

Fini – recently noted; ‘Dammit I’m mad’ spelled backwards is still ‘Dammit I’m mad’.

A crazy week of sports in the ‘Nati. This from our favorite local pundit, Willie Cunningham: “I must be living in a Star Trek time warp. Buffalo Bills win the AFC East. Cleveland Browns are 10 and 4 heading into the playoffs. Xavier hits a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win as the UC Bearcats whip Tulsa. Now.. Bengals are beating up the Steelers on MNF.. Am I dreaming???”

This week in 1808 Ludwig von Beethoven conducted and performed in concert at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, with a premiere of his Fifth Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto (performed by Beethoven himself) and Choral Fantasy (with Beethoven himself playing the piano). This must have been as much of an event as watching the Beetles during the ‘60s or the Rolling Stones for the past century.

I am still watching the Vendee Globe sailing race, now about halfway through the 24,000-nm event. I believe their motto is; “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails”. That statement can apply to all sorts of scenarios,

A wit who put out a meme regarding the proposed fiscal bill; “Instead of sending Pakistan $10-million for Gender Programs…why not send them a million liberals with Gender Studies degrees?”

More wit; “this is that magical time of year when Walmart opens up their 3rd checkout lane of the 87 they never use.”

Yesterday on this day in 1977 Charlie Chaplin died. He’s quoted saying; “I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.”

Make it great week, keep the peace, be happy, stay safe, and be healthy!

NEXT WEEK – POSSIBLY A POST LATE SUNDAY. In TX on Saturday and traveling Sunday morning

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Dirk


MERRY CHRISTMAS
12 19th, 2020

Happy Saturday morning. Just climbed into my chair and sipped my first coffee – waiting for my mind to snap into gear. While that is happening, with our curfew still in place, I’m noting that it’s deadly quiet outside, no traffic at all. I wonder how many cars are now sitting in their driveway idling, waiting patiently for the 5:00AM end of curfew to then race out. Something like that must be happening.

Ponder this; often the way we see things in the here and now turn radically different down the road. Example; years ago a Dr. Felix Rey was the Doctor who treated Vincent Van Gogh’s ear. In 1889 Van Gogh painted Rey’s portrait. Rey thoroughly disliked the final product. As a result the dear Doctor’s mother then ended up using that painting to patch a hole in their chicken coop (early example of recycling).

Salvaged and now at the Pushkin Museum its value has been placed to be in excess of $50 million. Can you think of any current example which might, down history’s road, be similarly viewed?

Possibly, the reverse of the above can also be true. Here is an early photo of my dad and his brother ‘stepping’ out around 1936. Next to it I placed one of a male model proudly wearing the best of today’s fashion offering. Take your pick.

     

Covid-19 —

My daughter just told me she licks her friends at nursery. Exactly what you want to hear during a global pandemic” — Helen Carr (the kid’s mom)

Our friends Barb and Bulent in Canada, they too are at wits end with the whole Covid lockdown bit. Barb, I think in desperation, is now reading a 10 billion-page book on the history of Europe; lots of minutiae. This caused a mail asking me if I knew who the first Count of Holland was without diving into Google. I had no idea. The next day she sent me a picture of Count Dirk I. I pasted a recent photo of moi next to the one she sent thinking there was some resemblance. Agree? Note the Caspian style hat that I’m wearing, thinking that Count Dirk the First might have come from a place such as modern day Kazahkstan. Who knows?

   

Operation Warp Speed was ridiculed early on when first President Trump introduced it as being just a pipe dream. Starting earlier this week the first vaccinations were being poked into people. Truly AMAZING.

I found a calculator (in the LA Times) where you could click on State and County, click on age, any conditions, and up pops exactly where you are in the long line of people waiting for the vaccine; I did that. So here is the result; In our county, I am in group B1 and have 76,474 people in front of me – spacing 6’ apart that’s quite the line.

This is especially for those of you living in extremely restricted States; those with over-the-top lockdowns, ill-conceived closures, etc. Remember that if you allow the government to break the law or just create an edict and pretend it’s a law, during an emergency, it will create emergencies to further break the law.

Americans have always been a totally courageous people. Yet today there seems to be a prevailing attitude. Our society today seems to be filled with fear, fear of illness, fear of our ever changing climate changing, fear of the people around us, fear of variety in thought and speech, and we can’t forget the fear of dying from the R’ona

What’s happened in the last half century? When did we ever climb into little cocoons to isolate ourselves, to isolate our towns? When last did we kill our commerce, kill our businesses, and kill the education of our kids?

Sailing sailing, over the bounding main – I might as well admit it, Marcia thinks that my following (obsession for?) this year’s Vendée Globe race is idiotic. The Vendée Globe race is held every four years. Little known in the USA it begins in Les Sables-d’Olonne, France. Thirty three Imoca Class boats (60’ open cockpit virtually unsinkable monohull yachts) set sail to eventually return to Les Sables-d’Olonne after two and a half months and circumnavigation the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn).

This year it’s 27 men and six women skippers who will cover the 24,000 Nautical Miles. Sailed single handed, nonstop, it’s really several races in one considering that older Imoca boats sail alongside the latest generation of carbon fiber foiler equipped entries.

Now, about 15,000 miles into it, six boats have abandoned the race (one broke in half and the skipper floated in a life raft for 11-hours before being rescued) and are spread out over about 4,000 miles.

Skippers will send in short videos and the race committee itself airs two updates each day. These updates try to convey weather issues, how individuals deal with the loneliness, sleep deprivation, breakdowns and needed repairs, sights (mostly sunrises/sunsets, Dolphins and Albatrosses), food and food preparations, and so forth.

The short video below is of Sam Davis and her boat; Initiatives-Cœur – a charity operation providing heart surgery for kids in the developing world. Sam had to abandon the race when her boat’s keel got damaged after hitting something at dinnertime (she broke a couple of ribs when the impact tossed her about). Sailing on, Initiatives-Cœur was repaired in Cape Town South Africa and, although no longer in the race, she is continuing, all in an effort to keep promoting the charity.

Anytime I do try to tell Marcia about some Vendée bit she starts up with a; “la la la la la, can’t hear you, la la la la la” sing song. It’s not her thing. However I am totally hooked.

Fini – Last week I mentioned the Abraham Accords; the normalization between Bahrain, Morocco, United Arab Emirates and Israeli. I mentioned that these Accords were truly a historic diplomatic breakthrough. Well, I forgot to mention that The Sudan was also part of these Accords and feel I need to correct that bit.

Since soon a lot of information the media casually forgot to mention, which will soon be buried even deeper, causes me to remind you that President Trump, some months ago, granted a full pardon to Susan B. Anthony, who was convicted of illegally voting in 1872. I know the coverage of this event was missed due to the fact that the media was busily describing Trump’s hatred for women and other matters.

Thought you’d want to see the list of SHAME – Those countries in the U.N. General Assembly which voted NO regarding the Human Rights abuses by Iran. Here’s the list:

A little piece of detail from The Beatles. Paul McCartney recently mentioned that; “we were writing songs that were memorable. We weren’t writing them to BE memorable, but so that we could remember them!” As James Woods once said; “amazing how self-effacing the Beatles were”.

Keep your eyes and ears open on further news on more brilliant business strategies staged by one Hunter Biden. Could be fascinating!

MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone. It’ll be a little different this year as far as the celebrations go, but the spirit and the meaning will be the same and especially now, be more important than ever. Again, a MERRY CHRISTMAS to each and everyone of you.

Make it great week, keep the peace, be happy, stay safe, and be healthy!

Dirk


No More ‘P’
12 12th, 2020

Happy Saturday morning, only two days before Green Monday. With that in mind, no green coffee – green tea is about as close to that color in something I’m supposed to swallow as I get.

“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.” —Victor Borge; “Stop by their house, eat some cookies and milk, give out presents, and leave on a magical sleigh. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

And on this, the year of the ‘Rona’ mess and all the accompanying nonsensical edicts, even these once a year trips are cancelled.

I say “nonsensical” because it is. We are under a 10:00PM – 5:00AM curfew; “except for those leaving a sporting event” is the latest proclamation. Huh?

It proves just how supple “The Science” is.

2020 The Year – Friends Ron and Barb started their annual epistle this way: “Be careful what you wish for, especially at Christmastime. Last year we were craving a slower, more slothful season and next thing we know, we’re spending 295 consecutive days at home. It’s like George Bailey [of the Movie; It’s a Wonderful Life] wishing he’d never been born and then Bam! Pottersville.”
(Hey Ron and Barb, run out of colored ink? I took note that this year your letter is printed on simple Office Depot stock embellished with a tiny little sticker. You’re right; it proves that it’s been a tough year; I say with a smile)

The other oddity is not year specific. It references those items that only emerge this time of the year. Our local sage, Earl Pitts ‘Uhmerican’, describes it most succinctly:

Driving home from WVa last weekend – Passing through Adams County on our approach to Cincinnati, we passed the shuttered Killen Generating Station. The smoke stack had been visible for a while. Rolling past the complex I noted that the front façade of the 14-story main building was already gone.

I mentioned to Marcia that maybe I should turn around and take a photo. We agreed that it’d be best to just continue on home.

Wednesday news broke that that same massive structure at Killen had collapsed. A company was on site placing dynamite for the implosion when it collapsed. Five workers got caught. Three ended up in nearby hospitals and the search for the two remaining guys is still ongoing. Keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Walking – I am back in my groove. After missing for most of the previous week (weather and small one-lane roads carrying two-way traffic) it’s back to normal. And it also meant that I took a fresh look at things. For example, our town sits on a bend in the Ohio River. This means that the city streets don’t form a grid, but often are laid out like spokes on a wheel. This makes for some wonderful architecture.

At one point, looking up I spotted this street named as an honorific to Bootsy Collins, probably Funk music’s most notable Bassist and a local icon. It reminded me he was scheduled to do a live-stream event yesterday. This morning I remembered that I forgot all about it. My bad, as another generation would say.

   

Without realizing it, I plowed on by this place. As I looked through the fence I thought of the Jim Croce song; “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and the lines:
“And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog”
As luck would have it these two ‘beasts’ were about a calm as could be.

Politics – The election is finally behind us. I’ve told Marcia and other family members that I am through jabbering about politics. Whatever comes will come. However, as I exit that path, I cannot help but comment on the over-the-top Time magazine Person of the Year issue; it’s completely disgusting.

Suggestions:
A) How about showing the Abraham Accords? The normalization between Bahrain, Morocco, United Arab Emirates and Israeli. These Accords were truly a “historic diplomatic breakthrough.” Isn’t it stunning that finally and without battlefronts we are seeing in the Middle East an exchange of embassies and ambassadors, and a plan to “sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment…and other areas of mutual benefit.”
B) How about showing Dr. Li Wenliang (1986 – 2020) who sounded the Covid-19 alarm in Wuhan China. He was routed from his home for middle-of-the-night interrogations by the Chinese Communist Party. He died last February 7.


C) If not Dr. Wenliang, how about a cover showing the thousands of Front Line workers, the Nurses, Doctors, Nursing Home Workers, Cashiers, Ambulance Drivers, Truck Drivers, Food Plant workers.

Time Magazine, you folks are a joke!

Fini – This week it’s a very Happy, Happy Birthday to sis-in-law Jeanne Z.

This past week (Monday December 7) we lost “America’s greatest aviator’, Chuck Yeager at age 97. He was the first pilot to break the sound barrier. It also shows just how quickly life is changing. Here within a single lifespan we’ve seen Yeager’s feat, man landing on the moon, and now rocketry which lands itself on a ship upon return to earth.

Wondering what’s going on at the ‘Corner of Chaos & Mayhem’? Returning from West Virginia this greeted us. It seems that a driver careened through our drive, through the neighbor’s fence, across the side street, and through another fence. We missed it all.

Today, in the year 2000, the US Supreme Court announces its decision in Bush v. Gore, effectively ending legal changes to the results of that year’s Presidential election.

Finally, Marcia got censored for her response to a messenger item by her one-word response,  the word; “Wow”. She was not happy to say the least. What are we about these days?

Make it great week, keep the peace, be happy, stay safe, and be healthy!

Dirk


After a fine night in my own bed I wish everyone a good Sunday morning. We left our B&B yesterday morning and decided to take a more scenic way home. It was the expressway to Huntington, WV; then crossing over near Ironton, OH and followed Route 52 to town.

Now, Marcia is still sleeping and I am sitting here with a hot coffee in front of me.

As an added bonus, I have no idea what to write about!

The week was filled with a flurry of images, days of rain beginning with a day of snow (eventually 5” to 7” of the stuff). Decent enough temperatures and evenings filled with a nightly movie (we brought a stack of them). The movie fare was made more interesting due to the nightly shot of 100-proof we’d pour (locally made stuff which triggered a fit of coughing on my first sip).

     

We had no WiFi and to connect for texting meant that I had to sit on the right side of the couch, hold the phone up high and in front of the window blinds; then, which on attempt two or three it would be successful.

I did bring our little XM Radio and after a bit of ‘jiggling’ and ‘rigging’ it performed flawlessly. We had a window into the world!

 

Half off our week of adventure was trying to find places:

me; “which way to Harmony (name of town)”. Local; “Y’all jist head yonder and you’ll be there direckly”. This left Marcia and me ‘apondering’ since it would probably mean another hours’ worth of driving through one ‘holler’ after another.

We loved it!

Except for that one time when we were given directions and our road (actually a narrow single lane with a proper county marker) switch backed down one steep mile long hill after another. In near tears she ‘ordered’ me to turn around and head back to civilization. OK, no problem, other than the fact that there was no place to turn around.

 

At the end of the road we were on was a ‘highway’, turn left and a quarter mile turn left into Sissonville – seems like about twenty houses and a barbeque joint. We drove this road except we got caught up by a road crew removing trees fallen by a land slide (they seemed to do a lot of that in West Virginia). Once through (after a mile or so) we had to turn around feeling like idiots since we had to wait and pass the same crew.

If you like West Virginia trucking in a Semi this guy is your guide; some mouthpiece:

Where we stayed – was as close as we could get to a season at our Northern Comfort. Yup, we got our knotty-pine fix,

 

Lunch in New Richmond, OH – almost home

 

President U. S. Grant – Point Pleasant, OH – Immediately adjacent to the highway is the birth-home of our former President. I’ve read his memoirs and taken a class on his background. What I didn’t realize is that one of his ancestors, Jean De Lannoy (1570-1604) was a Huguenot.

The plaque referencing this at Grant’s home sort of jumped out at me since it was my father who, as a High school graduation gift gave me a small, golden, Huguenot Cross (Huguenots chose the Maltese Cross to represent them rather than the more common Roman Cross)

Fini – Today, in 1865 the 13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery.

Then, in 1922, Benito Mussolini threatens Italian newspapers with censorship if they keep reporting “false” information. Anything familiar, or is the reverse true today?

Then, it’s amazing how history is often seen through ‘rose colored’ glasses. 1969 was considered to be part of the ‘Summer of Love’; yet on this day some Hells Angels, hired to provide security at a Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway in California, beat to death concert-goer Meredith Hunter.

Then, this coming week it’s Happy Birthday to Donn

Make it great week, keep the peace, be happy, stay safe, and be healthy!

Dirk