Archive for the 'Family & Friends' Category

Tuba Skinny
02 6th, 2021

Happy Saturday on this week after the full ‘Wolf’ moon. February in these parts is the coldest and darkest time of the year. The news reported that for the first time this 2021, in every State people woke up to frost. This truly is the month of the ‘blahs’, of feeling funky. Hence these very special morning Ramblings.

“Music is a means of communication, of connection” ~ Simon Gronowski

This morning it’s not just to erase the ‘blahs’, but much, much, more. Later in the month it’s grandson Derek, our “Mr. Tuba”, who’s celebrating a ‘breakthrough’ birthday – this special Ramblings is for him. Follow that by a day and it will be mine, mine will be the year prior to one of those ‘blowout’ birthdays. Because of that, I want to introduce you to a gentleman who teaches us all how to age with grace and joy – this special Ramblings is for me.

If you’ve ever heard of Simon Gronowski it’s probably because of a New York Times article. The article talks about the fact that Gronowski, during the height of the Covid lockdown in Brussels (his home country is Belgium) Gronowski would throw open his front window and play his favorite music into the neighborhood –shortly this became a thing. Did I mention that he is a pianist and absolutely loves New Orleans style Jazz? 

Gronowski, a Holocaust survivor, mentioned in the NYT interview that it’s been his wish to someday sit in with the band Tuba Skinny. And quoting Shaye Cohn, the de facto leader of the band; “with a little help from some friends, including our technical advisor, Russell Welch, we were able to collaborate from afar”.

So, this morning’s Ramblings are written to give you a bunch of pleasure, happiness, and especially lots of Joy!

This special Ramblings is for you all.

Now, ease back, grab a hot mug of coffee, put your feet up and listen to this concert by Tuba Skinny, If you can, port it onto a Big Screen and possibly a sound bar – in any case pump up the sound. Also, do read the footnotes underneath.

A) Shaye Cohn, Cornet, and as the nominal lead she counts off the tunes and cues. Watch how cleverly she cues the solos for the remote musicians.

B) Erika Lewis, has been the outstanding vocals (and percussion) for the band. She moved to Nashville to prepare a solo album and there required Thyroid surgery (success!). She managed to link in. Since her songs from yesteryear are right in Gronowki’s ‘wheelhouse’ her rejoining the band was Huge!

C) Simon Gronowski was a youngster when he and his older sister Ita and mother, Chana Gronowski, were rounded up by the Nazis and herded aboard convoy train #20 for Auschwitz-Birkenhau. This train was special in that it halted shortly after departure by some resistance fighters. During the chaos a large number of deportees aboard managed to escape. In an act of love, as the train began to move again his mother urged young Simon to jump out and run. He escaped deportation that fateful day, April 19, 1944. His mother and sister stayed and didn’t make it. Gronowski became a Dr. of Law and a Jazz pianist. He taught himself to play piano to honor his sister who played piano.

D) Stay to the end of the concert and listen to the interview of Gronowski and his translator — his grandson.

E) Do yourself a favor and read the New York Times article mentioned earlier.

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

Dirk


Curmudgeon with Smile
01 30th, 2021

Happy Saturday morning and here the snows have melted (more on the way overnight). I’m sitting in the dark playing a bit with the coffee mug while waiting for a moment of it cooling. This reminds me; are our troops still guarding the fences around the capitol? They are our troops are they not? We’re sure this isn’t some foreign Trojan Horse Horde planning to take us over?

The two-inches of snow we got Thursday evening caused complete havoc. I’m serious; HAVOC I tell you! The city alone had over 40 wrecks including a couple of police cruisers. This doesn’t include any of our 23 ‘burbs’.

Seems like our whole fleet of ‘salt’ trucks was incapacitated. Actually the trucks were fine, their drivers were all Covid quarantined, self-quarantined, and binary quarantined (they’re politically correct). Hence the drivers were ‘recruited’ from behind their city desk jobs.

At one point a cops had a truck blow by them in their lane when they were outside of their vehicle – spraying salt. With lights on they followed, and now the truck driver really ‘made tracks’. At one point as the cruiser got near he lifted the truck bed and turned that sprayer on and covered the cruiser.

Pretty soon the ‘po-po’ had this driver in the pokey.

Turns out the driver had around 30 previous traffic citations and did not have a valid driver’s license. But hey, these are the days of Covid and you got to do what you got to do.

Possibly the activity on our corner of Chaos and Mayhem is expanding outward.

‘Sempo’ – This week was International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27). Many of us know names of heroes whose actions saved many from transport to the Nazi extermination camps. Names such as Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler have entered our lexicon, but how many of us know of Chiune “Sempo” Sugihara? ‘Sempo’ was a Japanese Diplomat, fluent in Russian and stationed in Lithuania. Told not to, and disregarding orders, he spent evenings and weekends generating travel visas. These legal visas enabled the bearer to train through Russia to Siberia and to places from there. It’s been estimated that he enabled as many as up to 6,000 Jews to gain their freedom.

Any idea why Hollywood has never taken interest in ‘Sempo’ and his amazing life and the amazing good he accomplished?

“one should not do a good deed with the expectation that you will be rewarded, but for the good deed itself.” — Nathan Lewin (quoting his Rabbi)

Vendée Globe – Last week I noted that my twice a day Vendée Globe update is a constant fixture! Now you’re saying “lawdy, lawdy, he’s at it again!” Not so. This last piece is on aging.

The first ten boats are in and it’s one of my favorite boats, “Yes We Cam”, I want to mention. Then I’m completely done.

The oldest skipper in the fleet (Jean Le Cam, age 61), on one of the older boats (2007) “Yes We Cam !”, managed to cross the ‘kine’ in 8th place and came in 4th overall (from a starting fleet of 33 boats). This 4th place finish on a 25,000 mile, 80 days of nonstop sailing, “Everest of Yacht Racing” journey is amazing. Oh, and that was that after an 11-hour search he rescued another skipper from his life-raft bobbing in the middle of the Southern Indian Ocean,  whose boat had sunk.

The two sailed together on “Yes We Cam !” for a week before offloading his ‘passenger’ onto a French Navy vessel.

Now that he accomplished his remarkable finish, ending each little audio or video update with his signature staccato “clack clack clack” (loosely meaning, “go go go”) is what I’ll remember most. Le Cam is a French icon, their hero, and absolutely loved as “King Cam”. It was great seeing an oldie-but-goody do so well.

Lord Fauci – As the Wuhan-Flu rolls merrily along, Ohio is rolling out the vaccine in a most chaotic manner; it’s an ongoing pathetic attempt which would have bankrupted any private sector company had they done the same. Meanwhile, ‘Lord’ Fauci keeps on with one pronouncement after another. Couple that with the approval Ivermectin for early Covid treatment (allowed conveniently a few days after Trump exited). Now we’re hearing we might want to double up on masks. Triple anyone?

So rather than me getting on to a rant about it all, I’ll let Professor Saad provide some input.

Gad Saad is a Lebanese-Canadian evolutionary psychologist and professor in the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University – Montreal, and is a master expressing his thoughts; sarcasm at its best.

Well that didn’t last long – the honeymoon period with the new administration that is. I’m beginning to make note that the questions to Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, are becoming a bit more substantive.

And the answers are dutifully made note of by an eager Press Corps. Surprising that no one has gotten dizzy:

Fini – This week I was notified through “My Chart” to sign up for a Covid vaccine. This time, I went on-site within an hour after being notified. This message was displayed: “As vaccine shipments are received, additional timeslots will be added. We apologize if you are unable to make an appointment today due to limited supply.”

We were a major test site for the AstraZeneca vaccine and the way the rollout is going even their drug will be out and a brand new fourth well underway before we too get a turn to get ‘poked’.

This past week WWII Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel turned 100. Happy Birthday to a true hero.

A full week into the new administration and through ‘Executive Order’ Misogyny is alive and well:

This week I learned the word for Avocado comes from the Aztec word “ahuacacuahati” which is translated as testicle tree. Your week would not be complete without this ‘snippet’.

The reason for my Avocado interest is that a breakfast slice of toast with Avocado I am now sprinkling with something I picked up at Trader Joe’s. Thank you Kirstin!

These days I hear more about Sepsis as a quiet but deadly killer for all ages. I came across this “signs to watch for” poster and thought to park it here as a public service:

Now that we’re rejoining the “World Climate Change” money grabbing bunch, let me end with a quote from Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace:

“We do not know the long-term future of weather and climate, never mind the future state of politics or civilization.
Therefore in order to remain sane and not pessimistic and grumpy, it is best to emphasize hope over fear. Neither is certain, but the former is much more enjoyable.”

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

Dirk


Pondering Pills
01 23rd, 2021

Saturday morning and it’s a meager 18 degrees. Coffee is piping hot though. Last Thursday I did a two-hour walk in shorts and a (very) light windbreaker; it was sunny and pushing 50-degrees. What a difference a day makes.

It’s a new era and I want you to make note of this for reference in a year or so from now:

Stock market is above $30K
The USA is energy independent
Gasoline is right around $2.00 per gallon
No new wars during the past four years.

“When that trial ends senators will have to decide if they believe Donald John – Donald John Trump incited the erection – insurrection – against the US.” — Senator Chuck-Schumer (as quoted by the Dailymail, UK news article-9177191)

I suspect that the Senate will have to think long and hard on such weighty matters.

Joke of the Day – North Korea this week reviewed Australia’s rights record at the U.N.

“DPRK is concerned about rights in Australia. We recommend to Australia. 1) End racism, 2) Cease inhuman treatment in detention centers. 3) Ensure the right of all to participate in elections.”

And we continue to pay (our Chinese borrowed) dollars to fund this clown-show?

OK, no more on political matters, there is more to life. I just want to give my condolences to our girls as a new ‘glass ceiling’ was just placed over them. This, as our new President unilaterally eviscerated women’s sports, and women’s privacy. If we’re on this ‘equality’ kick why not do several things, such as getting rid of weight classes in boxing – wouldn’t it be fun to see a heavy weight whale away at some feather weight?

I can tell already, we’re in for a wild ride.

Quatman’s Café in Norwood was our dinner place this week. They’re known for their cheeseburgers, and yes, Marcia and I each had one along with a side of onion rings. However, the item that draws me the most is their homemade Mock Turtle Soup, love that stuff. And again, I wasn’t disappointed.

In the story of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrol created a character called Mock Turtle, who notably said, “Once I was a real turtle.” Carrol even ‘concocted’ a song where Mock Turtle sings;

Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!

Lockdown Insights – Marcia made note that yours truly had never bothered with taking pills, but with the lockdown that all has changed. It’s changed to the point that I am now the proud owner of pill-organizer. Without realizing I have started to buy a new type of pill during each pharmacy visit; slowly going through the Element Chart (aka – the periodic table of elements). Pills with contents such as Zink, Potassium, and Magnesium now find their way into my organizer. It’s a whole new hobby!

Vendée Globe My dear wife flat-out states that I am totally-over-the-top absorbed by this once in four years, 25,000 mile around the world, non-stop, solo with no assistance, sailing race. The fleet of 33, 60-foot IMOCA class, boats left Les Sables d’Olonne, France last November 8th. It appears that the first will return to les Sables d’Olonne this coming Thursday. So far one boat sank in the Indian Ocean (boat broke in half, skipper was safely rescued after being in a life-raft for 11 hours) and 7 more have retired. Not bad considering that they have fought gales of 45 knots and wave heights approaching 50 feet in the Southern Ocean and rounding the three major Capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn).

What is now a lifetime ago I raced in sailing for a number of years (thanks Mike and Pat) where I handled the jib and the spinnaker. Most of my sailing was done on the Highlander Class sailboat. In comparison to the IMOCA think of me sailing on the equivalent of a Stearman biplane trainer and then these boats akin to a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. However, I remember the thrills and excitement as if it was yesterday. The photo is not our boat but it was taken on Lake Norman, NC where I took part in the nationals.

The one-minute video below was taken by the French Navy which was patrolling the area near the Kerguelen Islands to prevent illegal fishing in those territorial waters during the 2016/17 race.

This one-minute video below was made by French-German skipper Isabelle Joschke. A petite woman, Isabelle, was doing amazingly well. However, as she rounded Cape Horn the hydraulics on her Keel gave out and she had to retire – is now sailing slowly for a port in Brazil.

Since the Vendée Globe is comprised of professionals and those participating for various charity causes, it sports the latest in boat designs as well as 20-year old sailboats. This means that the boats are spread out over 5,000 miles; the final one coming home in about a month. Now the excitement is building as six boats have opportunity to climb the podium in that they are less than 150 miles apart. And, most importantly, each ship returning – first to last – is given a hero’s welcome by many thousands (maybe with Covid not this year); after all, fewer than 100 have completed this adventure.

My twice a day Vendée Globe update is a constant fixture!

Marcia, just to let you know, starting Friday I’ll be watching the America’s Cup race (aka; the Auld Mug).

Fini – This week the broader Pastoor family expanded by the birth of Bryn Corinne Thrall-Pastoor. Mom and Bryn are both healthy (dad Conner too). Bryn at 8lbs 13oz and 20.5 inches sure is a cute little chunk.

Happy belated birthday to Joel. Sunday it’ll be Cathy’s turn for the same, and then followed by Kirstin on Wednesday. Whew, what a couple of weeks.

See How the Vaccine Rollout Is Going in Your State by clicking on this New York Times link – this from January 22, 2021

President Trump joined with former Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Polk, and FDR as having accomplished the most during their term. Both Lincoln and Trump did so while fighting constant opposition and a biased media. Trump also did so while fending off flagrant abusive impeachment charges and a pandemic.

January 23, 1957 and for the first time ever tossing a Frisbee became a pastime (eventually morphing into Frisbee golf).

And, also on this date in 1984 many young boys’ donned bandannas as Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Sheik to win the first WWF title; he escaped from the Sheik’s “camel clutch”. It was and amazing event to see; to all of us watching on our little Sony Trinitron TVs.

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

Dirk


Exercising and finds
01 16th, 2021

Saturday morning and we’re told snow-showers are on the way; am still not sure what exactly is meant by that. In the meantime, the coffee is nice and hot. This reminds me to say that I miss the daily 2:00PM Espresso break I enjoyed at Kirstin’s. That was so much easier since she has a Nespresso machine (instant results), while ours requires much set-up. Spoiled aren’t I?

“ Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” — Milton Friedman

And it would appear that we’re on a quick path to get a few of them.

Vaccine – Seemingly our State’s plan to distribute the COVID vaccine is to not have a plan. The start is with 80-year olds. These dears, beginning now, are to man their phones and start calling numbers to see if they can get inoculated. There is a trick though. They have to first go onto a web site (not yet complete) and do a twenty-question like test to find places and numbers to call.

The scheme is akin to giving monkeys a typewriter and hope that (at least one) will actually write the book.There a song from the old (1946) movie Gilda with Rita Hayworth, called; Put the Blame On Mame:

They once had a shootin’ up in the Klondike
When they got Dan McGrew
Folks were putting the blame on
The lady known as Lou
That’s the story that went around
But here’s the real low-down
Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame
Mame did a dance called the hoochy-coo
That’s the thing that slew McGrew
So you can put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame

Anyone qualified enough to create another stanza? One where the boys put the blame on ‘Mame’ only this is where the city blames the county, the county blames the State, and, the State blames the Feds? See where this could go?

Lockdown desperation – has reached extremes. Marcia is at a point where I can hardly talk her out of the house. Me, I too find myself doing things I normally don’t. The latest is contemplating on how many different model Citroën’s have shown up in the Adventures of Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy (by the Belgian cartoonist; Hergé). This would include the lovely Citroën model DS, the Traction Avant, and best of all, our delightful Deux Chevaux.

                              

Art’s Gift – this Christmas has to be one of the most thoughtful ever. Art had shipped to each of the brothers a pair of 10-pound weights. Yesterday these were used for the first time as he organized the four of us to get together on Zoom for an organized exercise program.

Art and Jolene’s daughter, Taryn, was asked to generate a ‘geriatric’ strength program and so we started. Aside of the physical benefits it’s also a twice-a-week opportunity for the four of us to just socialize a bit.

Yesterday, with Art in California, Pieter in Portland, George in Naples, and me in Ohio it came off without a hitch. Cool stuff. THANKS Art!

Fini – This past week was Marcia’s Aunt Doris’ Birthday. She’s a strong 97.

Nearby is an old Fire station, now unused it’s been made useful again as a museum and meeting place. Love how they’ve spruced it up.

Also from a walk this week, I came across this sign which does really reflect the historical roots of our town.

Just in case you only think of Pyramids and Egypt, other cultures also built similar structures. This picture is of Pyramids from the ancient Nubian kingdom of Kush (now Sudan). These almost 5,000 year old pyramids have substantially steeper slopes than those found in Egypt. BTW, years ago I did get to visit the Egyptian pyramids and was awestruck!

With 25,000 troops in DC this week I think all should be quiet. Not to worry, the photo below is not current; it’s only from the previous inauguration when a little rioting was a minor concern.

By default this week seems to contain an inordinate amount of Car ‘stuff’, so I might make it a theme. Mid-week while walking past the VW dealership I spotted this beauty.

A warm glow enveloped me as I gave thought to our 1971 VW Westfalia Campervan. Bought new ($4,000 including tax & an AM radio) it served Marcia and I well as our little family took shape.

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

Dirk


It’s Saturday morning and I am pretty well settled in after returning from visiting with Kirstin, Derek, and Kellen. Anything new happen while I was gone from these Ramblings during the past couple of weeks?

Kirstin had a to-do jobs list (much shorter than I expected).

This left us time for much tea, much chatting, and much binge watching – two shows, Escape to the Chateau and towards the end of my stay, Alone.

Both got me into the thick of the occurrences, happenings, and adventures. So, couple all of that with a massive (should have called it; ultimate) Mediterranean Party Appetizer Platter from Costco which Kirstin kept sitting around her kitchen island; made for some seriously fine times. Then, can’t forget our daily 2:00PM Espresso break.

And, just so that won’t think we were just a pair of ‘couch-potatoes’, we (most days) managed to trek about her neighborhood to the tune of 5 to 6 miles each day.

Last Saturday our whole gang (minus Piper the dog) did one of the Austin area nature trails; lots of crossing of creeks. At one point it was going over a small dam. As a joke I pretended that I had to crawl across the dam and sent the picture to Marcia. Her immediate response was that; “some people never get beyond age 40”. So much for that!

   

“Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.”

“They blame those who remain silent, they blame those who speak much, they blame those who speak in moderation. There is none in the world who is not blamed.” — Buddha

at Chùa Linh-So’n Temple

   

Covid-19 gifts – Actually two gifts. On Thursday I received a note from my nearby YMCA branch along with a heartwarming drawing.

Yesterday, I got a postcard from the State, letting me know that they understand just how ‘crappy’ I feel (I don’t, however I’d feel even better living my life without notes regarding my possible ‘crappyness’, i.e. Anxiety, Stress, & Isolation). Just to let me know how deeply personal this card was it was addressed to: Dirk Pastoor Jr. or Current Resident.

   

Which card would you appreciate most?

Also, on the State’s postcard, anyone even know what that partially shown yellow piece of equipment is? Asking for a friend.

Birthdays – A week ago Marcia had her birthday (with a great celebration at Adrianne’s home with the whole ‘Nati gang there). Next month it’ll be my turn. This places the two of us ‘square-dab’ in the mature range. Hence I thought it appropriate to share this YouTube:

Fini –A-woman and Amen” this was the manner in which the opening prayer concluded during the first session of the new 117th Congress. I recently spotted this truth; “If you say A-woman then Amen, you’re A-moron”. Unreal and way beyond any satire I could muster.

Walking the aisles of Kirstin’s nearby H-E-B grocery store I spotted this employee removing the 6’-spacing and directional floor stickers. I do believe I spotted the beginnings of a return to normalcy.

Two Sundays ago in the year 1496, Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tested his concept of a flying machine. Then in 1793 Jean Pierre Blanchard made the first balloon flight in North America. Then also around this date, but now in 2020, I flew nonstop to Austin in a plane loaded with about 180 people. Thought you’d want to know.

The iconic iPhone was unveiled by Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs on this day in 2007. Doesn’t it seem like it’s been around forever?

Then, in the wonderful world of Social Media, Marcia’s account got blocked for a couple of weeks. Her crime? She posted “WOW” in response to some point made. The original point was deemed politically correct, her “wow” comment was therefore offensive. I do believe this was Marcia’s first run-in with the new First Amendment interpretation popular these days.

After this week I think it appropriate to end with the lyrics of Loudon Wainwright III’s song; “Dead Skunk”

“Dead Skunk
Crossin’ the highway late last night
He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
He didn’t see the station wagon car
The skunk got squashed and there you are

You got your
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road…..” ~ Loudon Wainwright III

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

Dirk


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


It’s Magical
11 28th, 2020

Turkeyed out yet on this Saturday morning? All of our Cincinnati gang managed to get together – LIVE and IN PERSON no less; pretty wonderful. Plus we Zoomed with Kirstin. Wednesday was an all-day heavy rain-slosh. So, merely some ‘evil’ boding cloud cover was welcome on Thanksgiving Day; we even enjoyed desert outdoors on the deck (was too late in the eve for coffee).

“I want so little: another leather bound
Book, a gimlet with a lavender gin, bread
So good when I taste it I can tell you
How it’s made. I’d like us to rethink
What it is to be a nation. I’m in a mood about America
Today.”
~ Jericho Brown, The Tradition

Illusions – We’ve all seen them. Secretly we’ve probably had a sliver of that feeling of discovery when found. I remember the first time that I ‘saw’ the Arrow embedded in the FedEx logo on one of their trucks. Now it’s almost the first thing I see whenever I spot the FedEx name.

Our new walking trail has a 300’ long mural painted on a Duke Energy building. Since its completion late summer I must have walked by it at least twenty times. This week I did a double take. I spotted the embedded image; the illusion became plain to see.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra – virtually – was one I attended live streaming last Sunday. Louis Langrée was the conductor and the CSO presented Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony – mesmerizing.

Love percussion? Listen to Julia Perry’s Homunculus C.F. (Perry b-1924 in Kentucky and lived mostly in Ohio) and you won’t be disappointed.

Soloist Anthony McGill introduced his You Have the Right to Remain Silent. Then with the opening notes of America the Beautiful, playing on the Contrabass Saxophone alongside the electronic cadence of a Kurtzweil, the music gave his insights into the happenings of this past summer – stunningly done. Music is Magic!

The YouTube viewing of the concert is on-line till December 12. Assuming a cold rainy afternoon, it’s worthwhile to ease back and  listen to Langrée’s  introduction and the concert.

Virtual (non) learning – While watching one of our local children choirs on TV, Marcia and I were talking about these tyrannical, obscene, and nonsensical lockdowns and what these have wrought; the damage this has done to your children and our grandchildren. Our kids have totally lost a year’s worth of learning; and almost impossible to recover. The Science says that they should be in school. The Science says they should be socializing. The Science says that their lost year will find recovery near impossible. The Science says that an array of mental issues will follow.

In 1773 the Sons of Liberty revolted in Boston with what’s now known as The Boston Tea Party (Revolt). Enough is enough was their mantra. What’s ours as our petty little dictator bureaucrats, potentates, and Governors keep heaping on with edict after edict. When are we going to stiffen our spines and revolt? Listen to this YouTube from less than two years ago and ask why in the H*ll this level of pride, spirit, excitement, exuberance and happiness shouldn’t part of our kid’s lives today. Deep down you know it should be; and remember that the ‘Rona’ has nothing to do with it.

Are we living merely for Life
Or is our life for making the most of our Living

Truly Magical – Truly a Master Magician – I fess up, doing a compilation it was The Federalist where I picked these ‘bits’. Want detail normally found in footnotes? Click here on The Federalist for the whole piece and all their well-researched entities.
In a nutshell, these are some amazing numbers:
Of the 19 Counties which have predicted the president perfectly over the past 40 years, Trump won 18 of them by an average of 16 points. Biden won one by 3 points.
Of the top 58 bellweathers since 2000, Trump won 51 by an average of 15 points, Biden won 7 by an average of 4 points.

Seeing what’s been presented as the final outcome for the election I can only say; the man is truly ‘magical’.

Fini – Monday morning Marcia and I will be heading for somewhere nowhere, deep in a ‘hollow’ in West Virginia (no Rocky-Top for us). It’s being touted to me as an opportunity to; “get outa Dodge”. As an assist, George & Sandy sent us this single use, self-contained, charcoal grill. Marcia is packing a pair of steaks. Thanks guys.

On the positive side, Deaths per Day for 2020 is backing lower to where it’s now almost the same as the average for 2014 – 2019. On the other side, Deaths due to Alzheimer’s Dementia related causes in America are 20,000 more than past averages. Wonder why?

On a walk, I spotted this a town over. To pour 4 new steps leading to a porch, bring in a truck almost larger than the house itself. Nice going guys.

Thanksgiving morning on our nearby walkway I happened on these lovely people sharing the spirit of Thanksgiving. Thanks ladies.

Otto von Bismarck can be quoted with this gem; “what we learn from History is that no one learns from History.” I’m thinking of his wisdom as it looks like Kerry will be resurrected in a new administration. Don’t remember him? Kerry was a principal character in the Iran nuclear deal that was signed in 2013 when they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash; “Iran’s hostilities substantially increased” after this foolishness. Aside from a legacy of lies he’s also a clown.

Stay sane! We will, especially with a week of no internet. A post next Saturday is a bit ‘iffy’.

Make it great week, keep the peace, be happy, stay safe, and be healthy! And pay no attention to the picture above — that’s important.

Dirk