June 29, 2007


I always wanted to sail a sleek craft propelled only by the wind and my knowlege of seamanship dreaming deep thoughts, but alas like all dreams they are only that. I probably could realize the dream except it costs a lot of money to own a craft like that. Oh and probably I would have to, or at least should like to be on the water; I don't, it causes me unease. And the part about being alone, that's a lie also, I really don't like being alone for too long. So all in all I guess I will just keep this as a reverie when I feel a little yearning for the deep blue and stay ashore where I belong.

I was taken aback while watching the video documentary FOG OF WAR, a film about Robert McNammara, defense secretary under Kennedy and Johnson, when he was recounting the Cuban missile crisis, and later after a meeting with Fidel Castro, he made a gesture with his thumb and forefinger very close together as he said several times, "We came this close", to bringing the temple down on our heads. I was not unaware of how close we came to blowing ourselves up as all of America was, but it brought a chill to me as if it was a new revelation. This little video of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, in the later years of his life feeling the weight of what he had wrought. But I suppose if he hadn't done the deed someone else certainly would have.

June 27, 2007

I saw this and thought immediately of my poor suffering wife (editor). Whenever I write an essay or any other blurb I tend to run on and on and on and on, you get it; and she always comes behind me and tries to clean it up. She usually starts by eliminating several hundred adjectives. To my wife the editor I tip my hat if I had one.

Magritte's Art Comes To Life - For more funny videos, click here

June 26, 2007

Being a baseball fan, no strike that, being a Cleveland Indian fan is not a good thing for the faint of heart. Tonight, as they have been doing now for about a month, they can't seem to buy a hit. The guys that should slam the ball aren't. Well tonight the same thing was happening. Oakland, a team that is not as good as the Indians, got ahead by a run and it might as well have been ten. Hafner the Indians big magilla was hitting major league fly balls right to the outfielder, so when Oakland got another run and were leading by two going into the bottom of the ninth, I lost all hope and switched to Law and Order rerun number 17000.

Before I jump into bed to read my customary two or three pages before the book falls out of my hands and I enter slumberland, I thought I would check my mail. You never know what might show up there. I did that, then the masochist in me decided to check the final score. You guessed it, the tribe came back in the bottom of the ninth and won the darn game after I had sat through eight and a half innings of ulcer causing non excitement. And then to boot, the leader in our division, the Detroit Tigers, lost. Oh the joy in mudville tonight. I think that ties us for the lead in the division. Tomorrow I'll be in front of the television at 7:05 hopefully to watch another Indian victory and hopefully to see the beloved (for the moment) tribe start to hit the ball like they can and will have to if they like being at or close to first place.

Speaking of big baseball hitters, I am reminded of Ted Williams and his son putting him in the deep freezer instead of burying him or even cremating him. What was he thinking?
Oh My! How many times have I felt like emulating the old gal. Except in my case my computer is in the rear of the house right in front of a window. My imagining is seeing the computer flying out that window. I never really get that angry, maybe just leaning in that direction once in a while. In my younger years I had a temper, but as you get older you mellow out a bit and figure that's just life and you had better bend with it or you'll stroke out. Oh indeed no, not over a computer.

Boca Computer Repair

June 25, 2007

June 23, 2007

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Hiroshima, a jazz group my son introduced me to some years ago. They don't record often enough but enjoy the video.

June 22, 2007

You Tube isn't all bad. There is great stuff being put on there everyday. This video, of this gentleman relating his experiences on entering the service reminds me greatly of interviews by Studs Terkel. Studs would stick a microphone in front of a guy or gal and let them talk, and what came out was illuminating and wonderful. This gentleman had two other videos, but it was requested they not be embedded, so you will have to find them yourself on youtube.

June 18, 2007

A stray thought ran through my head a few days ago. I was sitting on my porch gazing at the new arrivals in my wife's flower garden enjoying the sights and the warm lazy sunlight when to paraphrase the Lone Rangers radio introduction, out of the blue came the thought, It'll be nice when winter returns and the air is brisk and cool breezes blow. Now where in the devil did that thought come from? I think after careful and laborious research I decided it must be an age related thing. In a way it is I think, it certainly has a lot to do with retirement. When you're retired you can decide when you want to leave your house and venture out into the weather elements of the moment. Remember when you were working and you would look out the window to see if the weather had gotten better, and it hadn't. What you would have given if only you could have taken off your tie and poured yourself another cup of coffee and forgotten about venturing out today, maybe tomorrow.

Well in retirement that little piece of wishfulness works. You can pick your day or time to venture out. Thus winters no longer hold dread for me. If it's too bad I stay in. That is why winters have become a season not to cringe thinking about, but a season to enjoy whenever you want.

June 15, 2007

Two poems this week from Garrison Keillor's writers almanac caught my eye.

Garrison Keillors Writer's Almanac

Poem: "Knoxville, Tennessee" by Nikki Giovanni.
Knoxville, Tennessee

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy's garden
and okra
and greens
and cabbage
and lots of
and buttermilk and homemade ice-cream
at the church picnic
and listen to
gospel music
at the church
and go to the mountains with
your grandmother
and go barefooted
and be warm
all the time
not only when you go to bed
and sleep

Poem: "Baby Girl Found" by Francette Cerulli, from The Spirits Need To Eat.

Baby Girl Found

He found her wrapped in a brown towel
Beside the highway department dumpster.
She was so cold she was blue, so new
her umbilical stump still drooped softly
from her belly like the limp stem
of some fantastic fruit.

He picked her up in his huge gloved
highway department hands and
carried her to his truck. Inside the cab
he turned on the light, peeled the damp towel
from her body and held her
under the blast of the truck heater.

Giant midwife bent over her in the frozen morning,
He watched for the smallest sign.
It was her second birth.

June 13, 2007

This subject of television and it's dismal lack of programming, programming worth wasting the electricity on, irks me more and more. Does it really mean that the 'golden days of television' are behind us, left somewhere in the fifties or sixties? I don't want to believe it, but the evidence keeps piling up.

I deride television for it's lack of content, and quality. That's a no-brainer, as we say. Even we non-Harvard, un-elitist, ordinary joes can recognize junk when we see it. As the Supremes (court) described pornography to a country agog with their way with words, paraphrased, we know it when we smell it.

But every now and then, in the vast wasteland (Newton Minnow) something pops up that while you watch and sometimes after the fact, you feel like you have spent some of your discretionary time wisely. That happened to me this morning as I watched BOOK TV on the CSPAN network. The subject was Dan Walker, an Illinois ex-govenor, who has written an extremely candid book, it sounded like to me, of his quest for political office and his mis-deeds and subsequent days in the slammer.

I found Mr. Walker forthcoming and refreshing in his views, and even though politicians are not, usually, found on my short list of heroes, his presentation effected me. More importantly it used the valuable time allocated by CSPAN to hustle a plug (of course) for his book, but also to fill the time with insight and perhaps a little knowledge.

Time well spent. There is still some good stuff out there. You just have to look a little harder, or get lucky and fall into it occasionally.

June 11, 2007

BEAR WITH ME as I try to puzzle out why my sidebar content is a little out of sync. It is about 15 seconds or so behind the main section.

PLEASE TRY MY BRAND NEW blog. I am adding new content a couple times a day, the possibilities are endless. I hope you will like it. It's called the 19 forties. It's a decade I am enthralled with so it is a joy for me to locate and post content. I hope you enjoy it. THE 19 FORTIES

June 10, 2007

There is something wrong and I am trying to run it down. Please ignore this post.

June 5, 2007

One of the great things about working and living in our nations capital in the fifties and sixties were the myriads of free activities available. Some of us didn't make large money and subsequently didn't have an entertainment fund, so we looked around for the free stuff, There was, and is plenty of freebies to fill in those hours that belong to you. In addition to visiting the memorials for Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and a few dozen generals from the past interspersed here and there were the free concerts given by the National Symphony orchestra. What was especially appealing about them was no need to dress up; it was in the open air; it was free; well let me provide this column I found on the net from the Washington Post a few years ago by John Kelly in his Answer Man column. Someone else remembered the experience and wrote in asking a question about it, and John Kelly responded thusly:

Answer Man: A Gate to Summers Past
By John Kelly Monday, December 13, 2004; Page C11

The Watergate is probably one of the most recognized names for an office complex in the country, if not the world. I was wondering if the complex took its name from the floating bandstand that was once anchored on the Potomac. I remember going to concerts there in the 1950s and sitting on the steps, which doubled as seats and are still there today.
Steve Berto, Annandale

When most of us think of Watergate today, we think of a bungled break-in, a crooked president, Woodward and Bernstein, Deep Throat, and Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in neckties as wide as tablecloths.

But if you'd asked a Washingtonian in 1936 about Watergate, he would have said, "Don't you mean Water Gate, bub?"

And you would have said, "Who you calling 'bub'?"

And it would have gone downhill from there.
Here's the story: When construction began on Arlington Memorial Bridge in 1926, plans included a curved set of steps leading down to the Potomac on the Washington side. This was envisioned as a ceremonial entrance to the city, where VIPs could arrive by barge. It would also, The Post reported at the time, "afford a landing place for small boats."

Answer Man supposes that VIPs could have arrived there by barge, but the spot's real virtue was recognized in 1935, two years after bridge construction was completed. As the sun was setting on July 14 of that year, the road that hugged the river was closed to traffic. People found seats on the 40 stone steps that marched up toward the Lincoln Memorial or took their places on folding chairs that had been set up in the roadway. Opposite the audience, on a barge that had been rented from the Navy Department, the musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Hans Kindler, tuned their instruments.

The program opened with Wagner and closed with Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."
These "Sunset Symphonies" caught on in a big way. The National Park Service, sponsor of the concerts, estimated that by 1946, 2 million people had attended performances at what became known as the Water Gate. The NSO was a fixture. So were Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Army Air Forces bands. Frank Sinatra and Paul Robeson appeared there.

A more elaborate barge, built at a cost of $75,000, was unveiled for the 1948 season. It was a gleaming white structure, rectilinear, like a square hatbox. In fact, it looked a bit like the Kennedy Center.

All in all, a lovely way to spend a summer evening in Washington.

But is it how the famed Watergate office-hotel-condo complex got its name? There are a few other theories. Rock Creek spills into the Potomac just upriver from the present Watergate buildings. Not too far away are the remains of the first lock that raised and lowered boats on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. (Or the last lock, depending on the direction you were coming from.) A lock is, quite literally, a water gate.

But Answer Man is skeptical that the imposing Watergate complex, designed by Luigi Moretti, was named after the shattered remains of a failed canal.
Nor does he think it was named after a restaurant called the Water Gate Inn, which stood on the banks of the Potomac at the extreme western end of F Street. Owned by Marjory Hendricks, who also ran the Normandy Farm Inn in Potomac, the Water Gate Inn was a popular establishment that served Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. It opened in 1942 in an old riding academy and was demolished in 1966 to make way for construction of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Answer Man believes that both the restaurant and the office complex (which, incidentally, was originally going to be called "Watergate Towne") took their names from the 40 steps that were the site of annual concerts.

The concerts ended in 1965, when jet planes screaming down the river to land at National Airport made it hard to hear the music. The barge was towed away while members of the service bands played taps on their trumpets.

It must have been nice while it lasted, though. As one writer soliloquized during World War II: "At the water's edge, hearing the tiny waves rippling at the bank in pauses of the music, looking toward the misty blue of the Virginia shore, feeling the relief of a breeze, relaxing taut nerves with music, the people found the strength to meet another humid, crowded day."

(I wish I could have found a photo of the barge, but I couldn't locate one.)

June 4, 2007

Today is the anniversary of the battle for Midway, June 4, 1942, sixty-five years ago. It was a miraculous victory by the Americans, made possible primarily because the U.S. had broken the Japanese code and pretty much knew what their next move would be. In today's issue of the online American Heritage blog they have one of the most succinct yet comprehensive account of the battle and the reasons for it, written by John Steele Gordon. I recommend it.

June 2, 2007


There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.


June 1, 2007


Per our last email. It has been over fifty years since we have last laid eyes on one another, yet our words transcend time. We can with a few remembered words travel back to our youth and it can be so real that I can remember the aromas of the chow hall on a weekend morning. Because the food was so memorable? No, I don't really think so. It's God's wonderful mechanism he stuck on the top of our body, our brain, our memory bank if you will. We're given the ability to encapsulate our entire life, its sounds, its sights, its smells, in recallable bytes.

When you give your locator free rein, the strangest pictures sometimes appear. I remember just now a compatriot of ours named Dougherty or close to that, a guy from Brooklyn I think, who was learning Ju-jitsu from a Japanese national and I, in a moment of complete insanity, decided to question him on its effectiveness. All I remember for the next minutes was me getting up off the floor many times until I, in a moment of life saving clarity, admitted that perhaps his new skill was quite effective. Thank goodness he was a gentle practitioner of his new skill and I was able to make a less than gracious retreat to a less physical practice we all took part in, the game of Whist. If we weren't interested in games that involved money such as poker, we never had much, money that is, Whist was the game.

I could go on with personal moments you and I remember my friend, but the thought that is intriguing me is the immensity of the ability of our brain to catalog and recall moments of a lifetime upon request. If you would allow a thought, we are really never really alone unless we wish to be. If the roster would be read, you might find compatriots from our youth, the kid we played baseball with; the guy who gave you a black eye; your father who taught you to ride a bicycle. The roster of your lifes encounters, they're all there.

One of the benefits of our new electronic age is the ability to email. Do we realize how great and life changing email is? Families by necessity are spread all over the world now days, but the ability to keep in touch through email cuts those miles down to manageable size. Sending email is easier and quicker than old-fashioned pen and paper communication, though somehow not as personal. Amassing email addresses as we go through life is somehow an easier task and people are used to being asked for their address so it has no sinister connotation attached to it.

Keeping in touch though is up to each of us. I encourage everyone of its importance. The time will fly by and soon you will have fifty years since you have seen some of your co-respondents, but the memories you accumulated will blossom fresh with each retelling.

The sad part is that regardless of our diligence in keeping our memories alive and vibrant, they will for some of us, dim and start to leave us if and when our body malfunctions, and empties our memory banks of all of its precious cargo. This is perhaps the most cruel of those things that can befall us. But to be optimistic, the scientists are working diligently, searching for a magic pill to rid us of this most cruel disease that steals our past.

To you Argus Stilley I say thank you for your diligence in your correspondence and get those eyes repaired. Perhaps we might have ten to fifteen years left to rehash the old days, and philosophize about everything changing and our attempts to change with them.

My sincere gratitude for remembering,