Sunday, December 30, 2012

Remembering Film Folk Who Left Us in 2012: TCM

Not only do I like the video, but I love the soundtrack, as well.

Of course, this was made before the wonderful Jack Klugman passed this week. All these folks brought us joy and made life a little more exciting and meaningful over the years. We were blessed to experience their talent and brilliance.

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Courageous Caturday

Courage or stupidity? If you know cats it is a little of each.

And so it goes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hadrian's Roman Arts Center Discovered

You know I'm a sucker for stories like this one, and I am sure the authorities in Rome are not pleased, but this sort of thing happens in and around Rome all the time. Lavish homes with ornate murals and mosaic images for floors have been uncovered for years. Many have been lost and ruined as outside air entered the sealed sites after 2K years. The outside air eating away at statues and frescoes. Lots of links in this one, so check them out.
On Wednesday, archeologists revealed the remains of an ancient arts center underneath Rome dating back to 123 AD, according to the Guardian.
Emperor Hadrian is believed to have funded "the Athenaeum," as it was known at the time; it was a 900-seat complex created to promote arts and culture, CBS News reports. Archeologists discovered the arts center during excavations for a new subway line to run through the Italian capital.
"Hadrian's auditorium is the biggest find in Rome since the Forum was uncovered in the 1920s," said Rossella Rea, an archeologist working on the project.
Sections of "elegant grey and yellow marble flooring" can be seen 18 feet below the Piazza Venezia, the Guardian reports. The famous monument in the center of Rome is also where "Il Duce" delivered his fiery addresses to followers; the structure was recently restored and reopened. But who would have known what was below this iconic building if digging for the subway line never happened?
Rea believes the underground line won't harm the ancient arts complex, however. The archeologist told the Guardian: "We can run one of the exits from the station along the original corridor of the complex where Romans entered the halls."
In Rome, past and present can exist simultaneously, as seen through discoveries like this one.
In his classic "Roma" Fellini recreated such scenes using just such a find.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Books: An Observation

If you occasionally read these pages you already know that I own a Kindle Fire.  Not the HD, I've had it almost a year. I have downloaded many books from my past (most are free) and more than a few recently published works.  Most all have been fiction. Dickens, Pearl Buck, Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Conrad, Melville, Twain, and others.

All of the titles that go way back to my school and college days held up well and were a thrill to read now where I can appreciate them so much more.

I am not a writer (as you know already) but little things -like words, you know, those things that fill the pages!- the wrong, misspelled, improperly used kind distracts and sets me off. Many of the usual suspects pop up all the time.  Where, were, we're; they're there and their; you know what I mean. The new stuff is full of this, and as a whole, not very good reading. The topic descriptions sound interesting (which is why I downloaded them) but the writing is bad, the editing frustrating, and the proof-reading is extremely poor, if done at all.

The only new title that knocked my socks off is "Tempest at Dawn" by James D. Best, published in 2009.  There's more about it HERE.  I've finished it and plan to read it again, after a spell.  There is a lot there to absorb and enjoy.  I know I missed many things as I read it quickly - it's a compelling read - and the second time  I plan to read more slowly and savor each character, and there are many historic figures involved. I also began looking up his other works and maybe add a few of them to my collection.

My tiny apartment means that paper books are out of the question. No space for book shelves or storage. I gave most of the books to local libraries and thrift stores. There were more than 30 boxes in storage for over 3 years and I knew there would be no place for them here. There's plenty of room on the Kindle since I deleted all the disappointments as I finished (or didn't finish) them.  At times, I got so angry that I deleted them from the device. Yes, some were that awful. An insult, really.

My Christmas dinner is in the oven and a spiked Eggnog is in my immediate future.

Merry Ho-Ho to all.

And so it goes.

The "Twelve Days" Up, With a Twist.

The Twelve Days Of Christmas.


[Originally published December 23, 2009.]

Day 1
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree. Such a thoughtful gift, she knows how much I love fruit. She also knows my building’s pretty strict about pets so the bird threw me a little. But he is a cute little guy.

Day 2
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves. Wow, she’s really into the avian theme this year. Um, thank you? I guess I’ll just put them in the kitchen with the partridge and the pear tree, which suddenly seems a lot bigger than it did yesterday.

Days 3 & 4
On the third and fourth days of Christmas, she gave me three French hens and four calling birds. Funny, I don’t remember telling her my dream was to one day open a chapter of the Audubon Society. Jesus. You know what would have been nice? Some birdseed. I’m out of saltines and things are starting to get weird in here.

Day 5
On the fifth day of Christmas, she gave me five golden rings. See, now that’s a nice gift. A nice, practical gift. A little on the feminine side, but I’ll take it.

Day 6
Six geese a-laying. Hmm, that’s so weird because I was just telling someone that I could use some MORE FUCKING BIRDS. Do you have any idea how much shit six geese generate in a single day? Literally, pounds. Pounds of green, grassy turds. And in case you’re curious, all six of them have been a-laying since they got here. There are no less than seventy-five enormous eggs in my apartment right now. And as a side note, I just tried to make an omelet out of one of them and almost ralphed. Very gamy.

Day 7
Guess what I signed for this morning when the UPS guy rang my doorbell? Seven swans a-swimming. True story. So… no more baths for me, I guess. Thanks for that. These are terrible gifts! Terrible, confusing gifts. Do you know how big a fucking swan is? Or how mean those bastards are? Oh, and guess who swans don’t get along with? Geese, turtle doves, French hens, calling birds, and partridges. Glad you did your homework there. There’s more bird-on-bird violence going on right now than I care to mention.
Day 8
I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt on this one in case you ordered these eight maids a-milking online and there was some confusion, but just to clarify, there are eight middle-aged women wearing bonnets in my apartment right now. And they each brought a cow. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? They’re all here, in my STUDIO apartment, and judging by the size of their suitcases, they aren’t leaving anytime soon.

Day 9
Big day today. Not only did I receive the unexpected gift of nine ladies dancing, I also got a nice little note from my landlord. He covered all kinds of stuff, but in a nutshell it was about excessive dancing, illegal livestock, unnatural amounts of bird feces, and me not living here anymore. Big day.

Day 10
Ten lords a-fucking-leaping! Yes they are. Ten leotarded assholes are literally jumping around my apartment screaming “Wheeeeee!” every time their feet leave the goddamned ground! WHY?? Why are you doing this to me? You’re sick! I loved you so much and you destroyed it. You destroyed everything. Tensions in here are escalating faster than I could have imagined. The maids and dancers appear to have laid territorial claims in opposite corners of the apartment. They are not the same civilized ladies who arrived here a short time ago. They bear a darkness now. One of them stole my golden rings and I know just the one who did it. I’m waiting until nightfall and I will reclaim them through any means necessary. I’m beginning to fear something isn’t right with the birds, they’re watching me… conspiring… it’s just a matter of time.

Days 11 & 12
These final days have come and gone in a bewildering fog. I remember drummers. Pipers. Lots of them. I haven’t slept or washed my body in quite some time. Food is scarce… the fighting, fierce. I killed a lord today! Snatched him right out of the air and killed him with my bare hands. Now he doesn’t leap anymore. I used his leotard as a net to trap one of the swans. She was delicious. Didn’t even cook the old gal. Ha! I made everyone gather around and watch—that’s what you do when you want to send a message. A very important message! This is my castle! Do you all hear me? Do you see what I’ve done? What I am capable of!! No more eye contact with the king, do you understand? Or I will end you! I will end you all right here and now!! Now one of you fetch me a goddamned pear. The king needs something sweet.
 And you thought just being with your crazy family was bad!

I am preparing my Christmas Feast while listening to some holiday tunes, and will post more later, if I don't crash and burn from the food and wine.


Monday, December 24, 2012

All Smiles

Dressed for the occasion, of course.  Christmas Eve with my friend and co-worker (a Turkmenistan Muslim) Bahram. (taken with Bahram's iPhone.)

Busier than any of us thought, but it was all good.  Everyone was in a festive mood, even with the steady rain all afternoon. The restaurant closed at 4 and we all shared cocktails before heading off in all directions. The locosguys are dishing up the Christmas dinner for family, Bahram and his lady have reservations somewhere, and I will be preparing a roast for me, myself, and I.

Happy Holidays to all.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Drought Stricken Rivers Uncover History

 I do love these stories as each one sheds a little more light on our past.  I especially find the rock etched with a primitive map of what appears to be native American villages fascinating. Wish there was a photo of that in the piece. Alas, no.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — From sunken steamboats to a millennium-old map engraved in rock, the drought-drained rivers of the nation's midsection are offering a rare and fleeting glimpse into years gone by.
Lack of rain has left many rivers at low levels unseen for decades, creating problems for river commerce and recreation and raising concerns about water supplies and hydropower if the drought persists into next year, as many fear.
But for the curious, the receding water is offering an occasional treasure trove of history.
An old steamboat is now visible on the Missouri River near St. Charles, Mo., and other old boats nestled on river bottoms are showing up elsewhere. A World War II minesweeper, once moored along the Mississippi River as a museum at St. Louis before it was torn away by floodwaters two decades ago, has become visible — rusted but intact.
Perhaps most interesting, a rock containing what is believed to be an ancient map has emerged in the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri.
The rock contains etchings believed to be up to 1,200 years old. It was not in the river a millennium ago, but the changing course of the waterway now normally puts it under water — exposed only in periods of extreme drought. Experts are wary of giving a specific location out of fear that looters will take a chunk of the rock or scribble graffiti on it.
"It appears to be a map of prehistoric Indian villages," said Steve Dasovich, an anthropology professor at Lindenwood University in St. Charles. "What's really fascinating is that it shows village sites we don't yet know about."
Old boats are turning up in several locations, including sunken steamboats dating to the 19th century.
That's not surprising considering the volume of steamboat traffic that once traversed the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Dasovich said it wasn't uncommon in the 1800s to have hundreds of steamboats pass by St. Louis each day, given the fact that St. Louis was once among the world's busiest inland ports. The boats, sometimes lined up two miles deep and four boats wide in both directions, carried not only people from town to town but goods and supplies up and down the rivers.
Sinkings were common among the wooden vessels, which often were poorly constructed.
"The average lifespan of a steamboat on the Missouri River was five years," Dasovich said. "They were made quickly. If you could make one run from St. Louis to Fort Benton, Mont., and back, you've paid for your boat and probably made a profit. After that, it's almost like they didn't care what happened."
What often happened, at least on the Missouri River, was the boat would strike an underwater tree that had been uprooted and become lodged in the river bottom, tearing a hole that would sink the ship. Dasovich estimated that the remains of 500 to 700 steamboats sit at the bottom of the Missouri River, scattered from its mouth in Montana to its convergence with the Mississippi near St. Louis.
The number of sunken steamboats on the Mississippi River is likely about the same, Dasovich said. Steamboat traffic was far heavier on the Mississippi, but traffic there was and is less susceptible to river debris.
Boiler explosions, lightning strikes and accidents also sunk many a steamboat. One of the grander ones, the Montana, turned up this fall on the Missouri River near St. Charles. The elaborate steamer was as long as a football field with lavish touches aimed at pleasing its mostly wealthy clientele. It went to its watery grave after striking a tree below the surface in 1884.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers urge sightseers to stay away from any shipwreck sites. Sandbars leading to them can be unstable and dangerous, and the rusted hulks can pose dangers for those sifting through them.
Plus, taking anything from them is illegal. By law, sunken ships and their goods belong to the state where they went down.
While unusual, it's not unprecedented for low water levels to reveal historic artifacts.
Last year, an officer who patrols an East Texas lake discovered a piece of the space shuttle Columbia, which broke apart and burned on re-entry in 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard. And the remains of a wooden steamer built 125 years ago recently were uncovered in a Michigan waterway because of low levels in the Great Lakes.
 The rest is HERE.

I missed my calling, I guess.

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Curious Christmas Caturday

Been there, done that.  Many, many times.

And so it goes.

Friday, December 21, 2012

World's New Beginning & Small Change

Ah, good old media hype.

So, it wasn't really to be the "end of the world" but a tying up of loose ends important to the Mayans.  Well, excuse me. Maybe so, but it was a running gag throughout the day at work and elsewhere.

I must say that when the storms hit the area overnight, my doubts turned into half-belief.  Well, I was awakened from a deep sleep by the thunder rumbling, lightening flashes,  high winds and the rain beating on the skylights. The storms lasted for over 2 hours offering little peace and no sleep. The glassware in the cabinets shook and clinked because of the building's movement the entire time. Now you understand what I was dealing with? 

I stumbled into the shower at 5:30, then went back to bed for another half hour before making a coffee and light breakfast.

By sunrise - 7:15am - there were hints of blue in the dark gray sky and I was hopeful that a beautiful day lay ahead. It did, and it didn't. (Depending on the time of day.) Work was almost a breeze and the many folks indulging in the big party were an easy-going lot. 

By mid-afternoon the sky had turned omniously dark, the temperatures dropped 20' and it felt like snow was on the way.  A light rain began to fall as I made my way home. There is a definite chill in the air.

While there is no snow predicted in our area, this weather system may dump loads of the white stuff north and west of us and give the ski communites a good layer of powder for the holidays.  I wish them well. I can do without snow here.

And so it goes.

Jimmy, Mariah, & Roots: All I want for Christmas.

All played on instruments found in a nursery school.  Funny and fun.

Big luncheon party this afternoon 30+ so the joint will be jumpin' this day.

More later.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On the Boardwalk: Remembering Newtown

After running a few errands yesterday afternoon, I decided to enjoy some salt sea air and headed for the beach.  There was Santa's House. Santa was taking a lunch break at the time, but would be back shortly.

And just to the right, hung on the protective fence, there is a memorial of wreaths dedicated to the kids killed in Newtown, CT. Each child's name was printed on a small card below each wreath. There were few people around, but those who spotted the display couldn't help but be moved.  A few just shook their heads as they walked by.  I had a knot in my stomach as I walked back home.

Sad, that.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sam Donaldson Arrested For DUI

And he probably thought the first town in the first state wouldn't care about excessive alcohol consumption.  He was probably also speeding, which is how the local fuzz make most of the money for their municipalities. In many small towns in lower slower Delaware the speed limits change very quickly, and this is how the money is raked in.

ABC News' Sam Donaldson was arrested for a DUI earlier in December, TMZ reported Wednesday.
Police said that Donaldson failed a sobriety test after they pulled him over in Lewes, Delaware. He was brought to a local police station where he was booked and eventually released.
Law enforcement noted that he was very cooperative throughout the experience. Donaldson will have to appear in court in Delaware to address the charges. 
Yes, a lot of those DC critters are often seen in these parts.  Some even own homes here - but nobody knows where those homes are.

I need a life.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Need a Little Christmas (spirit)

Christmas is a week away and I just ain't got no Merry Ho-Ho in me. I even found a channel on Sirius XM playing the golden oldies of holiday music, called Holiday Traditions and thought it might help. It didn't.  The customers love it while the multicultural staff are singing the lyrics.  I am, too, but only out of nostalgia for selfish reasons.  Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Armstrong, Crosby, Clooney, Torme, Garland, and others are the holiday soundtrack of my life.

Of course, the Newtown, CT massacre did nothing to lift anyone's spirits

Aside from a little cooking, and doing household chores, it's been a relaxing day off.  Gray and foggy outdoors made for an easy decision not to venture forth into the crazy. The errands can wait until tomorrow when the sun is to make an appearance.

Linda, our wee Irish lass GM, left for Ireland last evening, but beforehand, she dropped off a wee gift that waited on the porch until I got home.  A nice gesture and lovely surprise.  A bottle of Jameson's Irish Whiskey, no less.  Now that's good sippin' whiskey and no doubt about it. 

I was able to reach her before boarding her flight and thanked her. She said, "enjoy, don't be so hard on yourself. I'll see you on the 28th." I am fortunate to call her a friend, as well as boss.

Without the space - or accurate oven - I will not be doing any holiday baking again this year. There will be eggnog however, with a bit of rum or whiskey mixed in for some seasonal cheer. I will spend Christmas day at home alone. Don't want to be the wet blanket (or crazy quilt) on anyone's festivities.

Oh, I am fine and happy at work, and even spent money on a new Santa hat this year to wear this weekend and Christmas Eve. I'll be sincerely happy to see happy faces of kids and families dining with us. That always makes my day.

There are 13 days before the new year, and I find that hard to believe, but there it is.

And so it goes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Moods 2

Judy at her beautiful best.
There are 3 Christmas parties scheduled at the restaurant today. All local businesses and many regular customers in the mix.  Should be a good day.

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012


Connecticut, children, death, and dismay. All day there has been much rage, wringing of hands, great sadness, and stunning stupidity voiced by the usual suspects.

The President's words were a comfort, but I've thought of only this song all day as the drama unfolded. Sweet Honey in the Rock:
I have no words of my own.

And so it goes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

White Christmas: "SNOW"

Here's Bing, Rosemary, Danny & Vera doing their best to bring some holiday cheer

Looks like it may snow here, any minute.  Not cold enough, but the air smells like snow.  If you get my drift.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Line Dancing is All The Rage.

Last evening's Christmas party at the restaurant went on without me. Couldn't muster the energy or spirit.  I didn't eat much all day and was in bed by 8 PM - slept til 6 AM. Still not much of an appetite, so I ran a few errands that needed attention.

Today I learned to do the line dance - again.  It's been a long time, I was a little rusty, but quickly got into the groove (line) with the downbeat. The Holiday Line Dance

I had completely forgotten what Christmas shopping mania was like first hand. Seriously! There were lines EVERYWHERE!!!  It's not like I was hunting down the newest must-have electronics or the hot toy du jour, no...mixed nuts (in shells, not easy to find anymore), a special wine and infused rum for a couple of co-workers. Hell, even the grocery store (on a Wednesday?)

A mass of stressed out humanity shouting into cell phones to someone on the other end their most desperate needs and fears would have put me on edge if I didn't find their complaints inane and funny.  In Staple's, I overheard more 4-letter-words from shoppers with kids in tow than at the local VFW hall.  (OK, don't ask)

The lines moved quickly, but the frustration etched on the faces in those lines was anything but Christmas/Christian like. No wonder I can't find my Merry-ho-ho this year.

Example, the last stop was the post office to post a few cards and a package. When I arrived I was 14th in line. Probably 10 people stuck their heads in then left immediately. What they didn't see was that all service windows were open and the line moved along at a rapid rate; I was on the way home in 6 or 7 minutes.

As the holiday pace quickens, those lines will become longer, more frustrating, and the folks who didn't give a few minutes of their time today, will be stuck in even longer lines before they finally get the items sent.

This was my final sojourn into the tinsel-tension, aside from one more trek to the market, so I'm home free until the holidays are over. And grateful beyond all measure.

And so it goes.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Old Friends - Like Bookends

There is no holiday spirit, and certainly no Christmas spirit in me this year.

Daily visuals of the elderly in our midst draw me in as never before and I wonder what will become of me when/if I reach that dottering stage.  I watch as these people walk, hardly able to put one foot ahead of the other and wonder if that is to be my fate, as well. The Simon & Garfunkel song, "Old Friends" from their "Bookends" album, touches me more deeply these days.

Old friends, old friends sat on their parkbench like bookends
A newspaper blowin' through the grass
Falls on the round toes of the high shoes of the old friends

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy

Old friends, memory brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears.

Time it was and what a time it was, it was A time of innocence, a time of confidences Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph. Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you.

I'd prefer this scenario from Merrily We Roll Along by Mr. Sondheim:

Old Friends
Hey, old friends,
How do we stay old friends?
Who is to say, old friends,
How an old friendship survives?
One day chums
Having a laugh a minute,
One day comes
And they're a part of your lives.

New friends pour
Through the revolving door-
Maybe there's one that's more.
If you find one, that'll do.
But us, old friends,
What's to discuss, old friends?
Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Two old friends,
Fewer won't do, old friends-
Gotta have two old friends
Helping you balance along:
One upbraids you
For your faults and fancies,
One persuades you
That the other one's wrong.

Most friends fade
Or they don't make the grade.
New ones are quickly made,
Perfect as long as they're new.
But us, old friends,
What's to discuss, old friends?
Here's to us!
Who's like us?
Damn few!
No photographs. No family will be around to care for, or about me. And no "old friends" left to share the "new" or that park bench. The restaurant staff holiday party is tomorrow evening. I wonder if I will have the energy to attend.

And so it goes.

Carol of the Bells - Pentatonix

I can't seem to get my "Merry Ho-Ho" on this year. 

The Christmas Party at the restaurant is coming up on Tuesday and I just don't feel - - - well, anything.

Maybe I'll snap out of this blue funk.

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"It's a Wonderful Life" George Bailey Tribute

As a die-hard Frank Capra fan, this is probably my fave holiday movie of all time.  The fact that I love Capra's stable of contract players is only icing on the cake.  With Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the lead and Barrymore as the nastiest villain in the world, I cannot resist.  BTW, I prefer the original black & white version over the Turner "colorized" offering.
 This for me is better than Miracle of 34th Street, although I do love little Natalie Wood.

And so it goes.

It's Caturday!

Maybe so, but one can't help but wonder...

More later.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Richard III Dig: Discuss Cities Claim to Bones

Richard III, causing trouble after 500 years!  And it isn't even his fault.  Then again...From the BBC:
A parliamentary debate has been held on where a skeleton that could be that of Richard III should be interred.
The bones were found in September by archaeologists digging beneath a car park in Leicester.
MPs from Leicester, Nottinghamshire and York discussed a permanent grave but officials said precedent meant Leicester cathedral was favourite.
DNA results on the bones are being compared to that of living descendants of the king, who was killed in 1485.
Richard died at the hands of forces of Henry Tudor near Market Bosworth, Leicestershire.

"To argue on the floor of [parliament] over these mortal remains is more like medieval cathedrals fighting over saints' relics” Hugh Bayley York Central MP
His grave, in the church of Greyfriars in Leicester, was lost during centuries of redevelopment.
However, the archaeologists from Leicester university have found a skeleton, which is consistent with the known details of his appearance and death.
Campaigners from both York and Leicester have said the remains, should they prove to be the king, ought to come to them.
In the debate, Labour MP John Mann, from Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire offered Worksop as a halfway point between the two.
But Labour's Jon Ashworth, who represents Leicester South, said: "Given it was the Greyfriars who took the body of Richard and buried him at what was then the Greyfriars' church, a site which is today just a stone's throw from Leicester Cathedral, and he has been in Leicester for 500 years, it would be most appropriate that he is finally laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral."

'Nearest cathedral' York Central MP, Hugh Bayley, also from Labour said: "He is still very well-regarded in York. We have a museum to Richard III, we respect him enormously.
"But to argue on the floor of this place over his mortal remains is more like medieval cathedrals fighting over saints' relics.
"I don't think it's appropriate."
Tory MP Tony Baldry, answering questions for the Church Commissioners, admitted: "There is quite a lot of competition for this.
"If there is conclusive evidence that these are the remains of Richard III, the tradition is that they would be buried and reinterred at the nearest Christian cathedral, which happens to be Leicester Cathedral.
"In those circumstances, I would hope to arrange a meeting with the Dean of Leicester to see how that could happen."
But he emphasised no final decision had been taken.
 This news coming shortly after viewing the history of Britain, Scotland & Ireland is quite an interesting turn of events, I must say. Fascinated and Appalled at the same time.

And so it goes.

Game On: Marriage Equality in the South

Great video.  Comin' at you in January 2013.  Make it happen.

We're not going back. The world only spins forward.  This is the future.  Deal with it.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Moods 1: Eartha & Friends

Thought I'd try to jump-start my holiday with a little music video or two. So, turn up the volume for this ultra-camp classic.

Yes, those are drag queans in the cutaways. Eartha always loved her fabulous gay fans.

And so it goes.

A Very Spo Meme

Spo, (the dear) offered up the following meme and since for some reason, I cannot leave a comment at his site - something about my password being incorrect - I thought I'd post my answers here, instead.  Here goes:

An evening with friends …… is jolly good fun !  (fill in the blank)
Tea, wine, or champagne?  - All three, plus a good Gin.
How left handed are you? - so much so that I have trouble securing cufflink to the left sleeve.
The loudest item of clothing I have …………. my very own Spo shirt.  Butterflies!
The Best Friend: who is s/he? - No one anymore.
I’d rather eat rats in Tewkesbury than…… Lima Beans or Okra in New Orleans

How many of these have you done?:

1. Been to an opera - Yes. A few times at the NY Met.

2. Read a novel by Dickens - Yes, quite a few.

3. Drank Bourbon - Yes. Maker's Mark & Wild Turkey. No rubbish!

4. Been to Key West - No, but would love to visit someday.

5. Visited The Stratford Festival of Canada - No.

6. Spiders give you the heebie-jeebies. - Yes.  And many insects, too.

7. Been to Michigan - Yes.  Once. Many years ago.

8. Rolled down a grass hill. - Yes. Well, not a hill exactly, it was a levee on the Mississippi River. Again, many years ago.

9. Ate Synder Pretzels - Yes. They're the Best!

10. Used the word ‘rubbish” in the past 30 days. - Yes.  I use "rubbish" in polite company in place of "bullsh*t" which is my fave.

11. Worn a bow tie - Yes.  Only with my tuxedo, though.

12. Have a set of Viking horns - No.  Sadly, no.

Well, there you have it. Now you know more trivial bullsh*t about me.

And so it goes.

Monday, December 3, 2012

6 Million Pounds Of Explosive Material Found

What the Hell do they mean "FOUND"? How could 6M tons not be hiding in plain sight?  It boggles the mind.  From the AP:
DOYLINE, La. (AP) — Weather could complicate the transfer of roughly 6 million pounds of explosives that were haphazardly stored at an industrial site in northwestern Louisiana and led to the evacuation of a small town, a state police spokeswoman said Monday.
If lightning is spotted within five miles of the site, authorities will suspend efforts that began on Saturday to move the artillery propellant, Lt. Julie Lewis said.
Light rain fell at midday in the vicinity of the site near the town of Doyline. No lightning was expected Monday, but thunderstorms were forecast for Tuesday.
Officials estimate that more than half of Doyline's 800 residents heeded police advice to evacuate in advance of the cleanup at the Explo Systems Inc. site. Col. Mike Edmondson, commander of Louisiana State Police, said the material is stable and would need an ignition source to explode. The precautions were taken because officials fear that any spark could set off a huge explosion of the material, which they said was stored improperly in a relatively small area.
One of several residents who relocated to a nearby state park expressed exasperation at the sheer volume of explosive material, which is more than authorities initially estimated.
"We got outside the evacuation area when they said there was a million pounds. Now it's six million," said Frank Peetz, 71, who was staying with his wife in a camper. "Maybe we ought to be up in Arkansas somewhere."
Edmondson was hesitant to estimate when it would be safe for Doyline residents to return home. He also said state police weren't sure how much damage an explosion of the material could cause, even after consulting with Department of Defense officials.
At least they eventually evacuated the town.  The rest is here

Northwestern Louisiana is not a hotbed of intelligence, to say the least. They voted for Willard last month.

And so it goes.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's Always Something...

Ain't that the truth, huh!

A long and tiring day yesterday, so I pretty much slipped out of the work drag and into a martini hoping the headache that came on about an hour before my shift ended, would take a hike and leave me in peace.  It was not to be.

Had another stellar dinner of left-overs, washed down with another martini, and sat down to peruse email and check out a few blogs. My eyes wouldn't stay open, so I turned everything off and went to bed.

After brushing teeth and making a coffee this morning, I turned on the PC and - - - no image on the monitor. The light was on, but the screen was dead. Following the usual procedures (dance of the seven veils) I concluded the poor old thing had bought the farm.

So, before work I scurried up to Staples to see what was on their new weekly flyer and what might be in stock.  Raced back to work to check out the holiday offerings and which would be good for a prime customer this week.  Many of the new monitor descriptions left me befuddled, so I asked a few tech-geeks at work to help me out - and they did.

Anyway, after work I shot up to Staples once again and purchased a 22" LED monitor; a special purchase, the ad said, and brought it home. The cost was $89.00.  The image above is a shot of the monitor I purchased.  Click to embiggen.

There was no paper instruction manual in the box - it is all on the accompanying CD - which I could not view since the old monitor was dead.

I did what I thought was right to get connected, hoped the existing video card was capable of handling the new screen, plugged everything in and turned on the PC.  It booted and the monitor worked OK, if a bit contrasty.  I inserted the CD and magical things began happening.  I opened the PDF file of the owner's manual and figured out how to change the contrast and luminescence.  So far all is well.

Although the monitor is equipped for HD using a DVI cable, my current PC has no DVI input, so the analog will have to do.  The image quality is incredible. The old 8-year-old monitor can't hold a candle to this baby.  Of course, when I bought that one, it was state of the art, too.

Now however, having crawled around unplugging and plugging all the cables my back is in bad shape. I am ready for a few olives and a bite to eat now.

Shower and bed are next on the list as tomorrow is another day...fiddle-de-dee.

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

World AIDS Day: Never Forget

So many friends.
And so it goes.

Catechism Caturday

I think I'll skip this lesson.  It's been a very hectic week, but I'll post later today, if I can.

And so it goes.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An Immersion of Historic Proportions

Putting it mildly...

Always a lover of history, I've been enthralled by watching the many BBC documentary series', including "A History of Britain" - "A History of Scotland" - and well, can't you guess, "A History of Ireland". These are all available at You Tube in their entirety. Of course, religion played a big part in all the wars, intrigues, manipulations, and fear-mongering.  So, what else is new?

At the suggestion of my wee Irish GM, I've also watched another BBC series titled "The Coast" presented by archaeologist, Neil Oliver. Breathtaking images of the coast of the British Isles with powerful snippets of history thrown in at various points along the journey.  Great fun to watch.

During all this time I have been captivated by "Tempest at Dawn" by James Best; a novel of the probable events leading to the American Constitutional Convention.  The book brings our founders to life with great writing, historic accuracy and amazing wit. What has amazed me most is how entangled these varied histories are on many levels. Yes, including America.
An overview of Tempest at Dawn:
The United States is on the brink of total collapse. The military has been reduced to near extinction, economic turmoil saps hope, and anarchy threatens as world powers hover like vultures, eager to devour the remains. In a desperate move, a few powerful men call a secret meeting to plot the overthrow of the government. Fifty-five men came to Philadelphia in May of 1787 with a congressional charter to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead they founded the longest lasting republic in world history. "Tempest at Dawn" tells their story.
Here is a bit of a review of Tempest at Dawn:
Author James Best tackled a massive project when he undertook the writing of this book, which took 5 years to complete.  Tempest at Dawn is a novel about the events surrounding the Constitutional Convention.  While there is no particular mystery, sex, violence, or suspense, the book has plenty of tension.  Best takes characters that textbooks render as flat or one dimensional, and makes them multifaceted human beings.  The fictional vignettes in his story are wrapped around actual compromises and the horse trading that was constant between the delegates. He does not distort history and his surmises about the roles of the participants are entirely plausible and in fact likely.

Readers will find that Tempest at Dawn “matures” as it progresses, and so does the caliber of the writing. Within the first 50 pages the dialog becomes more and more sophisticated. The reader is alternately smiling, laughing or saddened by the poignancy that Best introduces into the telling.  He is especially successful in his portrayal of a realistic and very believable Washington who, Best contends, was the behind-the- scenes puppet master at the Convention.

Best is subtle about including facts throughout the story, successfully weaving in actual quotes, first hand accounts and observations of those who lived through this period. The author has done his research and any reader of history will appreciate these nice touches.  In one scene, Washington is attending a play and leaves his box to get refreshments. The stage manager waits until Washington returns to his seat before resuming the play, a courtesy not extended to just anyone. This vignette provides an example of how the patronage of this hero of the Revolution was sought.  Washington fans will also appreciate a horse race scene in which Washington triumphs, and another in which he visits a carriage maker.  All of these episodes provide insight into Washington’s character.  Best knows his history, but he doesn’t bludgeon the reader with a clumsy display of erudition.

Even though Washington is a key figure in the Convention and the book, he is sparingly used in Best’s tale.  Madison, however, is a pivotal character both in the actual Constitutional Convention and in Best’s story.  The reader gets a sense of a man driven by patriotism to build a “perfect” republic based on the leadership of an enlightened elite.  As the story progresses, he is forced by the stolid Roger Sherman to compromise some of his rigid beliefs and finally comes to realize the validity of the opposition’s argument. As the convention nears its conclusion, former combatants work together to bring their constituents into the fold with a series of machinations that would make Machiavelli proud.
The events of recent years in American Politics and the recent elections bring to mind that "everything old is new again" - "been there, done that, have all the tee-shirts", and then some.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beyond Sea Witch, Sandy, and...I forget

We're at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday, and I just realized that I forgot to post photos from Sea Witch/Halloween weekend. In fact, I don't think I would have remembered Sea Witch at all if not for a customer today, asking about our costumes this year.

OK, that weekend and the weeks following were distracting thanks to Hurricane Sandy (remember Sandy?) followed a week later by a nasty nor'easter that battered our shore far worse than Sandy.  Then suddenly we were gearing up for Turkey weekend and all but out of breath.

Needless to say Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and today were big winners at the restaurant. Records were broken all three days and it isn't over yet. Of course, we're all pretty tired, but it's been great fun for our regular customers, as well as ourselves. After tomorrow, we're looking forward to a brief 10-day lull where we collectively catch our breath as we prepare for Chanukah, Christmas, and the New Year.

All that said, the images will be downloaded from the camera and posted within a few days.

Meanwhile, I smell olives.  Yes, there are priorities!

And so it goes.

Cyber-Shopping Caturday

Sure beats the Black Friday hordes!  Plus FREE Shipping!!!

And so it goes.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks and Thanksgiving.

The week has been a blur. At times I felt like Ray Milland in Lost Weekend - without the booze. Though I didn't leave the apartment for two days, I worked my widdow fingas to da bone.

Beaucoup loads of laundry, kitchen floor mopped, bathroom cleaned and floor mopped, prepped and ironed shirts & trousers for the work week, listened to music, and cooked up a storm. (I paid dearly for all the exertion.  My back and hands were in spasms for 2 days.) Never mind that.  Marinated pork loin was followed by a new recipe for beef pot roast I found for the crock pot.  Both were delicious.

The landlord sent over a workman on Wednesday to re-seal the inner wall of the bath enclosure and replace the old, broken toilet seat with one that I purchased earlier this month.  I felt guilty for not going out and about, but looking around the place - and all that was accomplished - it was a good investment of my time.  I sort of made up for that by taking a walk on the boardwalk this morning before work. Sort of, but not quite. Guilt dies hard.

Today (Thanksgiving day here in the US) was a busy, delightful, day at the restaurant. There was a special Thanksgiving Menu (turkey, stuffing, many vegetables, and a variety of desserts) for $14.00, plus the regular full menu was available for those not interested in turkey with all the trimmings.

This has been going on for 5 years now and it just seems to grow year after year.  Everyone chills out and relaxes while enjoying the company of their own group and those around them. After so many years, most already know one another, so it's almost like family - without the dysfunctionality.  By 4 pm today we had served over 200 diners and there were reservations for the rest of the evening, too.

I enjoyed a Grande (26 oz.) Margarita after my shift, then the boss sent me packing laden down with a huge package of food for my supper. Turkey, red-skin garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, stuffing, a baked sweet potato, corn, brussel sprouts, and a huge chunk of apple pie. The package weighed at least 5 pounds! I couldn't eat even a tenth of that.

I had my fill and packaged the rest for later use. I counted my blessings and while there are fewer than last year, I chose to focus on those that I have, anyway.

Tomorrow is "Black Friday" (dun-tu-du-dun!) and previous years tell us that we'll be up to our eyeballs in  shopping bags, frustrated shoppers unsuccessful in their attempts to snag the door-buster deals they wanted.  The margaritas will flow, they'll tell their tales of woe, and laugh at the whole stupid experience.  They will also vow NOT to do it next year...but they will.

And the Sun will rise and the Moon will set, and you learn how to settle for what you get.  It'll all go on if we're here or not.  So who cares, so what? So, who cares, so what?

And so it goes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tis the Season to Get Trampled...

...Or not!
This is sad and depressing. Stay home.  You could get killed, or worse.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Barack Obama and McKayla Maroney: not impressed

Absolutely Priceless.  I love this.
From the Guardian:
President imitates gymnast's much-mimicked 'not impressed' look during US Olympic team's visit to the White House.
A comment on the progress of vital fiscal cliff talks in Washington? His verdict of Donald Trump's latest Twitter rant against him? A reaction to Mitt Romney's accusations that he won the presidential election by handing out gifts to minorities and the young?
Whatever the reason, Barack Obama clearly isn't impressed if the latest photo handout from the White House is to be taken at face value.
Captured when the 2012 US Olympics gymnastic team stopped by at the White House earlier this week, Obama took time out to recreate one of the enduring images of the Games – McKayla Maroney's impression of someone sucking a lemon while simultaneously chewing a wasp after she missed out on gold in the vault.
The "not-impressed" look has been much mimicked since, but Obama's mug-pulling in the White House – accompanied by Maroney – has given the meme new life.
I love the playfulness of this picture and the humor behind the shot. I love my president.  He is far from perfect, but he's on the right track.  Keep it goin' Mr. President.

And so it goes.

Common Quote Caturday

I use this quote more often than most. My host station is at the front of the restaurant whose windows are full size - ceiling to floor - and can slide open in good weather to give the al fresco feeling to diners.  This  also provides a view of everyone on the street; what they're wearing (or not wearing), how they behave and other activities I won't even try to explain.  Just be grateful I don't take photos.

More later.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Revealed Secrets

A few days ago I posted a Rumi quote that can be found HERE. A comment was left by Dr. Spo (the dear) asking "what have you learned?"

I have always been a morning person. I've enjoyed watching the sun rise as far back as I can remember.

As a kid living one block from Lake Pontchartrain many a morning found me sitting on the seawall watching the sun come up over the eastern shore.  The morning air was fresh and helped to clear my mind of too many thoughts and worries. No, I won't go into the sordid story that was my childhood. Let's just say, I had to grow up damned quick - and leave it at that.

In NYC, I would ride my bike to the Battery, or East river when I needed my fix of fresh air, sunlight and a clear head.

Now, I live near the Atlantic Ocean, and whenever I have a troubling night or this new life offers particularly disturbing challenges, financial or otherwise, I make my way to the boardwalk in the dark, sit on a bench facing the ocean and await the sunrise.

Mostly it's relaxing, but at times my head clears enough that I find solutions (sometimes difficult ones) to a challenge or situation. I walk back to the apartment with a lighter heart, take a shower, play some music, and get ready for the work day. Refreshed.

When I get to work, a different person is on display. One that hasn't a care in the world, laughs and jokes constantly.  Enjoying the interaction with co-workers and those I serve and entertain.  That person happens to be me, too, so it's all good. The environment lifts my spirits and they remain high for the rest of the day/night.  I never drag my personal business to the work place. My personal life is never discussed.  It's easier that way.

There is no one to confide in, to share intimate thoughts, I'm on my own. The last 6 years have been a roller coaster ride of health issues, and financial woes and it isn't always easy to pull out of a deep funk.  Those quiet moments at dawn really help.

Yes, I know.  I really, really need a holiday.

And so it goes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

$4.5 B Settlement: BP Employees Charged with Manslaughter

This comes on the heels of yesterday's post and it's quite a shocker.  No really, I thought they would walk away with paying some fines and go back to business as usual.  This is substantial.
BP, the British oil giant, pleaded guilty on Thursday to 14 felony counts related to the 2010 explosion and subsequent oil spill at the site of its Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The plea agreement with federal prosecutors includes 11 charges of manslaughter for the deaths of workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and one felony count for obstruction of justice for false statements made to Congress about the amount of oil leaking from the out-of-control well.
The company will pay $4.5 billion to settle the charges, the largest corporate criminal penalty in U.S. history.
Three former BP employees also face separate felony charges related to the spill, the Justice Department announced. Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza, BP drilling managers who oversaw operations on the Deepwater Horizon rig, were charged with 22 counts of negligent manslaughter for the deaths of the 11 rig workers. David Rainey, a former BP vice president in charge of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, was charged with felony obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to Congress and federal law enforcement officials about the amount of oil leaking from the well.
Attorneys for all three men have vowed to fight the charges. Reid H. Weingarten and Brian M. Heberlig, attorneys for Rainey, slammed BP for acquiescing to the government's charges. "We are profoundly disappointed that the Department of Justice is attempting to turn a tragic accident and its tumultuous aftermath into criminal activity," the attorneys said in an emailed statement. "We are even more disappointed that BP has succumbed to the pressure and agreed to this extortionate settlement. Mr. Rainey did not commit the crimes charged in the indictment, period. We intend to vigorously defend him at trial and are confident he will be exonerated of these baseless charges."
BP's plea agreement, which still requires approval by a U.S. federal court, would free the company from further federal criminal charges and penalties, but it does not obviate a full complement of potential civil claims that could reach well into the tens of billions. 
Of course BP will kick, scream, and fight all civil claims, and G*d knows what else. This will not change the damage to the gulf, wildlife, or the livelihood lost by gulf water-men. That's done and cannot be undone. BP  pleaded guilty, at last, and that's what's important.

There is more HERE.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Oil Sheen at BP Site: Here We Go Again

This will not end in my lifetime.  Sadly.
An overflight inspection of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster site 40 miles south of Grand Isle this weekend found a new, mile-long oil sheen, which has prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to again require BP to inspect the wellhead and debris area on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico with a remotely operated vehicle for the source of the oil.
The flight was piloted by Bonny Schumaker, founder of the California-based non-profit On Wings of Care, which has conducted surveillance flights in the Gulf in the two years since the spill.
Schumaker reported that during her several flights over the wellhead during the past few days, she was able to direct the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Research Vessel Falkor to the sheen site, where it conducted an inspection of the wellhead with an ROV and found no indication that the oil was coming from the wellhead or the debris field.
"A plan was submitted for an additional remotely operated vehicle to inspect the underwater site of the Deepwater Horizon incident, to determine the source of a surface sheen," said Coast Guard spokesman Ensign Glenn Sanchez. The new inspection will again focus on the wellhead, cofferdam and the riser pipe that once connected the wellhead to the surface.
A BP spokesman said the company continues to work closely with the Coast Guard to investigate possible sources of the sheen.
"After recently confirming for a third time with ROV video inspection that the Macondo well and its associated relief wells are secure, we've capped and plugged an abandoned piece of subsea equipment known as a cofferdam that was identified as a potential source of sheen," said spokesman Craig Savage. "A further investigation is planned to inspect the Deepwater Horizon rig. If it's identified as a potential source of sheen, we'll work with the Coast Guard and rig-owner Transocean to address the matter."
In a Sunday post on her weblog, Schumaker quoted Florida State University marine biologist Ian MacDonald, who is the ship’s chief scientist, as saying the most likely source for the new sheen is one or more natural seeps of oil to the east of the well that are associated with a salt dome beneath the gulf bottom. Oil deposits often are found along the edges of the underground salt formations.
“The bottom near the wellhead is totally transformed by drill cuttings and debris,” MacDonald told Schumaker. “It was unlike any deepsea benthos I have ever seen.”
Benthos is the scientific term for the sediment layer on an ocean’s floor, and for the organisms that live in the sediment.
The rest is here.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coffee: From Senseo to Tassimo, Maybe.

Haven't had time for a post of my own; I worked 9 days in a row (including Election day) with today my first of 2 days off.  Yea!

Today is windy, rainy and dismal so I went shopping for a few things to stock the pantry and was disappointed to find no coffee pods for my Senseo.  Wal-mart was supposed to be under contract to Melitta to carry their coffee pods, but today I was told that the k-cups are too popular and the space was know, supply and demand, and like that. One less reason to visit Wal-mart.

I came home and searched for other single-serve machines and came up with a few options:  Flavia, Keurig, Tassimo, and a new entry by Starbucks - Verismo.  After a few hours of investigating the various options, reviews, pros & cons of each, I wanted to see what was available locally.

So I dropped in at the local gourmet/kitchen supply store (Kitchen & Company) to see what they had to offer.  Their Keurig display of machines and coffees took up a whole aisle that stretched the depth of the store, front to back. And that was it. Keurig.  Period. They had never heard of the other machines or even cared. So much for buying locally.

OK so, I've ruled out Keurig; basically a drip coffee maker, too big and heavy.   They look like something out of the original War of the Worlds movie, and their coffees are overpriced. 

Flavia is out, too. Very complicated and inconvenient for a one-cup machine. The Verismo is compact and interesting, but expensive, and accepts only Starbucks brand of limited products for the machine.

I am leaning toward the Tassimo machines offering a vast array of coffee products, tea, hot chocolate by various well known coffee companies. They're also lighter and more compact to fit into my small space. Called "Brew Bots" the unique feature of these machines is that they use T-discs that contain a bar code which tells the machine what disc is being used, how much pressure to use and how much water at what temperature will be necessary to make the requested cuppa-joe.

There are 4 Tassimo machines available and some are on sale at various outlets.  They are more versatile, brewing not only coffee, but cappuccino, latte, espresso, and tea.

I want a good cup of coffee with a nice crema and rich flavour to kick start my heart in the morning. Is that too much to ask? The Senseo has served me well for about 10 years and it will be a radical adjustment, but I think the Tassimo will be my best option - if a little more expensive for the pods.

I've got Senseo coffee pods left, so I have time to refine my search.  Nothing will have to be decided until around the new year.

I smell olives.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I've Known This Since Childhood

"the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. don’t go back to sleep"  — ~Rumi

And so it goes.

Post-Election Caturday

If the shoe fits, wear it.

And so it goes.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bookshop Saves Out-of-Print Sci-Fi 1 e-Book at a Time

I just stumbled upon this article and being both a Sci-Fi and Kindle lover I thought it a great idea.  Talk about dedication.  I had no idea that this kind of publishing (Sci-Fi) would be so complicated, but it is.
With its dramatic cover art and fantastical story plots, science fiction dared readers to dream of amazing possible futures filled with aliens, robots, and all sorts of gadgetry. Now, ironically, some of the earliest books of the genre find themselves precariously near extinction, never to make it to the future they describe. Until Singularity & Co came onto the scene, that is.
Lawyer Ash Kalb, musician-anthropologist Cici James, stylist-writer Jamil V Moen, and former Gawker media community manager Kaila Hale-Stern are the intrepid crew behind the Brooklyn-based bookshop. Each month, Singularity & Co—with the help of its community—chooses one great out-of-print or obscure science fiction novel, tracks down the copyright holders and makes that work available in DRM-free PDF, Epub, and Mobi format for subscribers.
Founded in April, after a massively successful Kickstarter campaign that earned them 350 percent of their $15,000 (£9,500) goal and kudos from authors like Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow and Ken McLeod, Singularity & Co hasn't always had the easiest time unraveling vintage sci-fi's copyright issues. "We knew it would be difficult to track down the legal status of the books, but it's simply much harder than we thought it would be," said James.
Books get lost along the way for a variety of reasons. There could be no perceived demand for it, publication rights become muddled, or the books are simply forgotten. Sometimes, things get political. "It's really sad because a lot of really great books get lost not because nobody wants them but because people with lots of money who claim they have the rights are stopping people who have the rights from actually doing things. We hope to help these people down the road," said Kalb, the lawyer of the group, who takes charge of helping authors and author estates untangle the copyright mess.
Since April, Singularity & Co moved into a high-ceilinged space that doubles as the team's work area for their respective personal pursuits in Brooklyn's Dumbo (down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass) neighborhood. "We call it the bookshop at the end of the Universe because we're on the edge of Dumbo, where it becomes Vinegar Hill," said Kalb, "We're surrounded by scenery that wouldn't work for anybody else, but it's perfect for us." Views of power grids greet visitors alongside shelves of sci-fi books arranged chronologically, instead of alphabetically.
It has also published two books: A Plunge Into Space by Robert Cromie and The Torch by Jack Bechdolt, both with fresh cover art re-imagined by artists today (in the future, Singularity & Co's plans to find original cover artists and secure rights for reprinting their illustrations). For its soon-to-be-released third book, Mr Stranger's Sealed Packet by Hugh MacColl, the team tracked down the lone copy out of university archives and went on a thousand-mile drive just to scan it.
Despite being out of copyright, none of the universities who owned a copy of Mr. Stranger's Sealed Packet permitted scanning. "If you're part of that university or that consortium then you have access to that book. If you don't then you don't," said James.
"Which is sad," added Kalb, "the default position of the organization seems to be, 'I don't know if this is valuable but, just in case it is, I want to make sure nobody else gets their hands on it.'"
As expected, authors and author estates are quite happy to get the call from Singularity & Co—not only because it means revived readership, but also, surprisingly, a better business deal. "We negotiated our first couple of deals based on what we thought was fair as opposed to what was normally done in the publishing industry," said Kalb, "As a result—especially for backlist stuff—we're offering just a much better deal. That's because we know we can do things efficiently and make enough to keep going that way. We also want to make sure that we're fair to everyone that we work with."
It's that benevolent business spirit that has earned Singularity & Co praise from the community. "This project is about what it appears to be about," said Kalb, "We're not in this business to make a ton of money. It'd be great if we can bring some value to the people that own this stuff and also bring the books back to the world." The bookshop works with a socially responsible enterprise framework—one that doesn't aim for astronomical profits, but simply wants to keep the lights on and the scanner running.
Flush with success, Singularity & Co's looking to extend its service by carrying new sci-fi books in its Brooklyn shop; opening an e-store that offers sci-fi cover art-inspired merchandise; and further along in the future, launching another imprint in charge of reviving books from another genre. Could world domination be next?
Learn more about Singularity & Co here, and you can subscribe to their service here.
And so it goes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Country Wins

Last week Bill Maher said, "if Obama wins, the country wins - if Romney wins, comedy wins" so, guess what?  Uh-huh. Alright Lady Liberty, you can come out now;

OK, time for all the wingnuts to climb back inside the clown car and follow the Republican Circus Crazy Train into the sunset.

The only winner from the national wingnut brigade, crazy-eyes Michelle Bachmann, will continue representing her state.  I suppose her constituency is as coo-coo as she is - and that's saying something.

It was a good day for the country overall.
  • Elizabeth Warren beat up out tea-party pretty boy, Scott Brown in the Massachusetts senate race.
  • Open lesbian, Tammy Baldwin is heading for the Senate to represent Wisconsin.  Unfortunately, Paul Ryan (Romney's VP choice) will return to his seat in the House also representing WI.  He hedged his bets. Too bad that, but can't win' 'em all.
  • Another gift, Alan Grayson took back his Florida seat after losing the last time round.  Outspoken and always ready to educate the rightwing stoopid, he will be another refreshing change in Congress.
  • Marriage equality succeeded in 4 states, NOM and DOMA suffered severe losses across the board, and the loons opposed to abortion (and knew more about women's bodies than women did) went down in flames.
Shenanigans & dirty tricks:
  • Targeting democrats and minorities with mailers giving the wrong polling place and date which, when discovered, were promptly corrected by local media, word of mouth, and phone calls.
  • Creating bottlenecks for voters (you know who they are!) by limiting voting machines in areas of high progressive/Democratic turnout. Think Florida & Ohio. Word got out early and some waited on long lines for 4 hours or more to cast their ballot. But they would not be denied, they eventually voted, and that's what counts.
  • Rigging or tweaking voting machines so if the voter didn't push the correct button in the proper sequence, their vote was voided, or in some cases switched to the other party.  That one was caught early on election day. No details yet. There is a YT video, however.
  • Photo ID was demanded in states that do not have voter ID laws. While some voters complied, others refused and demanded to cast their ballot.  To avoid mass publicity the poll workers allowed those who refused, to vote anyway.
The majority of schemes the Republicans concocted to fool or deny voters access to the polls, in the end were all for naught and showed them to be the whining, childish cowards they are.

While the media insisted that Obama's base of young people, minorities, and elderly had eroded, it was these very people who discovered and warned about the tricks listed above. 

I was always told as a child that 'cheaters never win and are usually found out'.  Maybe it's Karma.

Results of many local races, (including my state of Delaware where most progressive candidates won easily) show that things are changing in the US. Religious bigotry and overt disdain for those who disagree with the ultra-conservative agenda lost in almost every instance.

There is a dangerous Nor'easter, already named Athena,  heading our way - New Jersey and New York are in its path, too (prayers ascend for everyone in harms way) - but I'm feeling pretty good today.

And so it goes.

Some World Reaction to the Re-election

This is from the AP via HuffPo:
President Barack Obama's re-election in the United States elicited strong feelings — from optimism to skepticism — around the world. A sampling of global reaction:
"One of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis (in Syria). Above all, congratulations to Barack. I've enjoyed working with him, I think he's a very successful U.S. president and I look forward to working with him in the future."— British Prime Minister David Cameron, on a visit to Syrian refugees on the Jordanian border.
"Your re-election is a clear choice in favor of an America that is open, unified, completely engaged in the international scene and conscious of the challenges facing our planet: peace, the economy and the environment." — French President Francois Hollande.
Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to Obama expressing hope that "ideals of liberty and justice, which guided the founders of the U.S.A., may continue to shine on the road ahead for the nation." — Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi.
"When you were elected in 2008, you inspired the world with a call to take responsibility for the problems we face as global citizens. Since then, you have made earnest efforts to live up to that great hope and trust placed in you by the American public. I believe you have been re-elected now in recognition of that effort." — the Dalai Lama.
"The bond between Europe and North America, based upon the shared values on which our alliance was founded over 60 years ago, remains as strong, and as important to the preservation of Euro-Atlantic peace and security, as ever. President Obama has demonstrated outstanding leadership in maintaining this vital bond." — NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
"I will continue to work with President Obama to preserve the strategic interests of Israel's citizens." — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had a strained relationship with the American president over Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"During the last four years when Obama was U.S. president, no breakthrough happened in relations between Iran and the US. At the beginning of his first term the situation was a bit better, but as he went on the relations got much worse, with the sanctions being imposed. So I think the outcome of the elections that was just held will not make any difference for Iran." — Amir Karimi, a resident of the Iranian capital, Tehran.
"As a mother and as a grandmother who raises boy children, I think that the symbolism of having a black man occupy the highest office is something that can make my children very aspirational to know that this is possible, you know, in their lifetime" — Zindzi Mandela, daughter of former South African President Nelson Mandela.
"If both parties try to overcome the accumulated distrust and turn over a new leaf, if America comes to realize that it needs to work with Vladimir Putin instead of thinking that it doesn't like the Russia that we live in, then we could achieve results." — Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Russian Duma's foreign affairs committee, calling for a new start to U.S.-Russia relations.
"Sandy was a climate change warning. Obama must now take the stage and fulfill the promise of hope the world needs." — Kumi Naidoo, international executive director of Greenpeace.
The trust that the American people wanted to renew in you will allow the international community, Europe and Italy to benefit from your leadership without interruptions. ... With your confirmation at the White House, Italy knows it can count on a strong and united America." — Italian Premier Mario Monti.
"I think Obama is a man eminently capable of building bridges between the Democrats and Republicans. And if you look at the challenges ahead for America — bringing down unemployment, getting the economy going again, strengthening the political and trade relationships with Europe and Asia — there are plenty of reasons to do so." — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
 Interesting and mostly positive comments; a far cry from what was forecast in 2004 when Dubya went back to the White House.

I am pleased with the election results from around the country and maybe I'll share some thoughts on other races that surprised and made me even happier.  History was made again last night.

And so it goes.

It's Over. Now, Back to Work!

This appeared in my inbox yesterday morning and I was praying that I would be able to display it today. Yes!  We can.
Congratulations, Mr. President.

More later, after coffee and breakfast.  I have to catch up on the other races and I am off today.  Thanks to the Nor'easter coming at us, I will be indoors much of the day.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


If you don't exercise your right to vote, you will lose your right to complain later.

I'm out the door shortly to vote, then cross the street to the restaurant to work the lunch shift today. I have been told that Election day is a very big day at the restaurant. I wasn't working there in 2008, so I'll have nothing to compare to this experience.

More later.
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