Saturday, November 8, 2014

but there's a severe drought in California

To tell the truth, if it weren't for Jerry and Tom and Jon and my house being here, I'd probably move out of Minnesota.  I mean, Minnesota isn't so bad, except for the weather and bad sports teams and phony smiles, but I've done it and now it's just repetition.

I'm going to buy a new laptop (any suggestions?) and finally try to do some serious writing.  You see, I'm going to start working a lot less, eventually phasing out, so I'll have some free time to write.  What I'm not sure of is if I'll have inspiration here. Do surroundings provide inspiration?

When we were traveling the Northern California Coast this past summer, I could picture myself being inspired there to write.  But, if I'm going to fantasize, why not a year in Paris?  Or Hamburg, Germany?

Ah yes, Europe inspires me.  But life's choices are limited, especially when you reach a certain age.

Snow is in the forecast.  And the Timberwolves lost another game last night, and Ricky Rubio got hurt.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

the personality of a urologist, part 2

When I wrote the first "personality of a urologist" post (21 June 2011), I was in the hospital, lamenting the fact that all of the prior urologists I had been to had been personality duds but feeling optimistic about my new one, the doctor who had just operated on me.  It turned out that he, Dr. Kern, became my favorite doctor of any kind of my whole life.  He had a way of making me feel comfortable and confident and taken care of.  As I would go for my annual checkup after that, I liked him more all the time.  He was the opposite of the stereotypically cold, personality-less urologist.

Two days ago, I received a letter from the clinic reminding me that it's time for my annual checkup and informing me, to my shock, that Dr. Kern had died suddenly and unexpectedly last December, which would have been not long after my last visit.  I had no idea that he was dead, and I'm still upset that I didn't know.  What a great doctor he was.  I'll miss having him there for me, and I'll miss him as a person.  I bet I won't ever find another one that I'll trust as much.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

hell to the chief

Today, the 4th of November, is the mid-term elections, and we are expecting bad results -- meaning, more Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate and House.  President Obama has become unpopular, and the Republicans have learned to blame Obama for any possible worldwide woe, and somehow that works.

So expect even more gridlock in Washington.  And why does anybody ever want to be President of the United States?

Monday, November 3, 2014

mid-autumn sports update

Basketball:  The NBA season started last week, and Tom and I took in two Minnesota Timberwolves games (We have tickets for all 41 home games).  The Wolves won the first, beating the Detroit Pistons, and lost the second one to the Chicago Bulls by one point with .2 second left to play.  It was traumatic to be that close to a win, only to lose on a last-second foul to my least-favorite NBA team, the Bulls.  And why do I dislike the Bulls?  It has nothing to do with the team itself:  it's their fans that show up at that once-a-year Bulls-Wolves match here on our home court.  They have to be the most obnoxious fans anywhere, and how nice it would have been to shut down those loudmouths with a win.  So I'm still traumatized, and I wonder why I ever watch sports at all if it leads to heartbreak.

Baseball:   The slowest (?) of all sports finally ended its season last week with the San Francisco Giants beating the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.  Most people seemed to be rooting for the Royals, since its been eons since they've been in the Series and the Giants have won 3 of the last 5.  It went down to the wire, the 7th game, in Kansas City, and the Giants pulled out a win.  Royals fans are traumatized too, when they should be happy that they even made it that far -- way farther than my favorite teams, the Phillies and the Twins.

Football:  It's been a weird season so far.  No team seems to be very consistent.  There are upsets and there are blowouts.  It could end up anywhere.  At least, my team, the Philadelphia Eagles are 6-2.

Hockey:  All I know is that the Minnesota Wild are doing pretty well.  Local Wild fans seems happy but cautious.  Go, Wild!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

sweating it out in old san juan

Jerry lived in Puerto Rico for about a year back in the '80s sometime, and he goes back there once in a while to visit his friend Jose, and that's where he is now.  He is Facebooking his friends and texting me about how hot it is there right now -- for instance, this morning he texted "Jesus it's been HOT!!  yesterday it was hotter and more humid than I can ever remember!" -- and getting very little sympathy from those of us left back in a chilly Minnesota.

Old San Juan, January 2014
The last time I was there, back in January, San Juan being one of the cruise stops on that Caribbean cruise, and the weather was quite perfect then.  Here's a pic that I took back then.  After taking the photo, I spent some time in that little coffee shop off there to the right (because it had Wifi).  Old San Juan can be quite charming.  Or not.  Pay attention to the time of year, I guess.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

the time, it is a-changing

That reminds me.  Bob Dylan will be here in town for two concerts this week.  I wonder why I didn't buy tickets.

October came and went.   Unbloggable stuff is going on me -- professional not personal -- but it's coming to a head and a satisfying (I hope) resolution, so I should be sleeping better before long and getting back to the things I like.

October worldwide was pretty annoying:  the mid-term election campaigns, the ebola over-reaction, ISIS (a disaster that we brought on ourselves), etc.

And November starts with an extra hour of sleep tonight, the consolation for early-afternoon darkness from now until Spring.  Together, let's find ways to be cheerful.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

howling wolves and suicidal moths

During the week that I took off from blogging, I spent a long weekend with Jerry and Tom up in the Minnesota north woods, four hours north of the Twin Cities, in a lake cabin belonging to a friend of Jerry's, and had a marvelous time.  It's good to occasionally get away from the city, out there in a sort of wilderness, hearing the soothing sounds of loons (it's sort of an On Golden Pond kind of lake) and the intimidating howling of wolves.

Sunday was unseasonably warm, especially considering that this cabin is in the far northeast corner of the state -- almost to Canada --, and we spent a great five hours or so out on a pontoon, giving me a rare late-September sunburn but enjoying the relaxation and peacefulness,  When the weather cooled, we built a fire in the fireplace and played cards and watched the Vikings game (they won!) and ate well.  I was disturbed when a crazy moth kamikazed into my glass of scotch (what a way to go!), but otherwise the weekend was drama-free and perfect.  Remind me to do it again sometime!

on Caribou Lake

view from the kitchen table

view from the pontoon

Monday, September 22, 2014

it's the first day of spring somewhere

.... but here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's the first day of fall, and I look wistfully at my back yard, still a beautiful green but soon to be brown and then white...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

yo, Adrian, part 2!

Admittedly, I spent more time watching football today than I should have (the Vikings look a bit anemic without Adrian Peterson) and then I just read a TIME  magazine cover story about "Is football worth it?" and then an NBCNEWS story about how 12 players suiting up today have at some point been arrested for domestic assault, so the National Football League (NFL) is on my mind more than usual... Hence, this blog post...

So I'm starting to sense that we are entering an era where it's going to become politically correct to be anti-football and especially anti-NFL..... I bet we will hear that even more loudly  here in Minnesota, where a billion-dollar stadium is being built -- still a touchy subject locally.

I can't get into the issue of traumatic brain injuries, the topic of the TIME article, but I have some more thoughts on the domestic violence issue.

When it comes to big-name celebrities here in the U.S., we've been in a guilt-by-accusation mindset for a while now.  We love to bring them down after we've built them up.  Right now any wife or lover can accuse a professional ball player of abuse, and the accusation will make a headline and maybe end a career, so the NFL has to walk the tightrope of neither under-reacting or over-reacting until the truth is known.  An arrest is not a conviction, and it's possible that an accusation is an act of revenge.

There are 32 NFL teams with 53 players on each, so that's 1696 suited-up individuals.  12 of those players have somewhere sometime been arrested.  That's 7/10ths of 1 percent.  I wonder what the domestic-violence arrest percentage is for the male population at large?  And could any of the 12 been victims of extortion?  All of the 1696 players are making lot of money, and money -- and the hangers-on it attracts -- are new to most of these guys.  They can make really bad mistakes.  The mistake the public can make is to typecast a whole profession.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

every day brings dead leaves

It's a beautiful, perfect sunny day until late afternoon and then suddenly the storm clouds take over... I leave the patio (where the music is wafting over the hostas), hunker down, things are feeling eerie.... autumn casts a shadow... I reach for a book...

suddenly, i remember that I have bookshelves...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

sláinte, Scotland!

By the time you read this, if you pay any attention to the news at all, you'll probably already know whether Scotland voted YES or NO today on whether the secede from the United Kingdom and be its own country.

the flag of Scotland
Scotland has been on my short list to visit ever since I became a scotch aficionado last year.  We want to do the distillery tours there -- plus Scotland just seems like a cool place to go.  Maybe we'll go next year, if I can rack up enough frequent-flyer points in the meantime.

But seceding from the UK?  I understand the national pride issue and the fact that the Scots want to distance themselves from the British Conservative Party, but seceding will cause more problems than it will solve -- so I say stay with the English and let them take care of the big things.  Look at the U.S.A. -- we left in 1776 and it's been downhill for us ever since! ...  Well, maybe not.  :-)

Plus, on a more personal level, I was reading that if Scotland secedes, scotch might become scarcer and more expensive.  Right now, I have about 15 different brands of scotch stashed away, but that won't last forever, will it?

Macallan 12 on the rocks

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

yo, Adrian!

As a Minnesota Vikings fan (unless they're playing the Philadelphia Eagles), it's easy to be conflicted about Adrian ("is he a child abuser?") Peterson.  We all want him back playing on the football field, but that would mean either ignoring the photos of the welts on the legs of his 4-year-old kid or saying that it's the result of normal discipline that went too far.

For somebody of my generation, it's a little harder to know where that line is.  A lot of us, back in the '40s and '50s, were used to corporal punishment.  My dad certainly used a tree switch to whip me more than once.  Sometimes it was a belt or a yardstick.  Jerry still has a scar on his leg from being whipped as a kid.  And we now would both say that we had wonderful dads who were not child abusers.

But this is 2014, and the word should have somehow gotten to Adrian Peterson that times have changed.  If kids get whipped now, they call the cops, and child abusers go to jail, but, again, where is that line?  My dad wasn't a child abuser.  Jerry's dad wasn't a child abuser.  Sometimes they would say, "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you!"  It all depends on what was going on in Adrian's mind when he inflicted those lashes.  If it was rage, then he is a child abuser.  If, in his head, it was reasonable discipline gone haywire, then he is mostly ignorant.

So he is scheduled to be back on the playing field Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, who are known for their brutality.  He can be brutal right back.  At least he will be picking on somebody his own size.

Added the next morning:   Never mind. The Vikings announced this morning that they've changed their minds and that Adrian has been de-activated again until the court thing is resolved.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I have all the basic Apple electronics -- iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV -- and they still baffle me sometimes, so when the new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, appeared on my iTunes playlist, I naturally assumed that I had pushed a wrong button somewhere and would be charged for music that I hadn't wanted.

But, no, my sister Joan clued me in that all of the iTunes customers -- all 500 million of us -- had received the album free of charge.

It turns out that I like the album, even thought I've always been just lukewarm about U2, but apparently there aren't 500 million other U2 fans out there, so people are complaining, so Apple just came out with a fix to dump it if you want to.

Free music sounds good to me.  It just scares me what the next one might be.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

the 6

What?  We've pre-ordered iPhone6's -- and they are free to us through Verizon?  I've never been this cutting-edge before!

Friday, September 12, 2014

you're overmatched, woman

Yesterday I totally went off on a client who totally deserved it.

I would have just taken her nasty insinuations if I were a nice Minnesota boy.

But I'm not a nice Minnesota boy.  I'm Jersey.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

'hello! my name is elder howard'

"And I would like to share with you the most amazing musical..."

OK, I'm loosely borrowing from the opening song ("Hello!") of the musical The Book of Mormon, which opened on Broadway in 2011 and which I finally saw in a touring production here in Minneapolis last night.  What a funny, totally irreverent show, over-the-top but right-on.  Not only does it make fun of Mormonism, it in effect skewers all religion by showing that it takes a bunch of shenanigans sometimes to get followers.  Highly recommended.  I'd see it again.

You might get a kick out of reading the lyrics to one of the better songs from Book of Mormon, "I Believe."  Click here for the lyrics to "I Believe"

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

moments that change everything

Right about now, 46 years ago.... a day of celebration.

I was the reluctant Army draftee, had just been through a sweaty four months of basic infantry training at Fort Bragg, NC, and then at Fort Polk, LA -- and being trained at Fort Polk, which was nicknamed "Little Vietnam" because of it's intense jungle training, meant that you could just assume that your next stop was Vietnam, and the Vietnam War was at its height then.  It was kind of a despondent time for me.  They already had us on malaria pills.

But my unexpected rescue from that fate of dying in a Vietnamese swamp came from an unexpected place -- the Russians! -- still the USSR back then -- who in August of 1968 did me the personal favor of invading Czechoslovakia to suppress some anti-Communist resistance, which made the U.S. military guys nervous that we needed to beef up the troops in Western Europe.  So our whole graduating week there in Fort Polk were sent off to Germany -- still known as West Germany at the time.  The thought of newly trained jungle fighters scared the hell out of the Russians, I'm sure, and they backed off the Czechs for a while.

But what a party we had there in Fort Polk when we found out that we weren't going to Vietnam!  It was a life-altering moment, and I'll never forget the feeling of relief and joy.

Life-altering moments.  I wonder when the next one will be.  They come unexpectedly.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tom and pizza and football

Today was the first Sunday of the NFL football season.  My son Tom was here and we watched the Vikings win, ordered a pizza, had laughs.  He's so much fun to watch football with.  That's what enjoying football is about:  sharing it -- all the ups and downs -- with people you care about.  If your team wins, that's icing on the cake.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

some days inspire you

When a perfect-weather day happens in Minnesota, it can inspire.

Had breakfast at Papa's Cafe with Jerry, then spent the middle of the day in downtown Minneapolis just hanging out.  Bought tickets for tonight's Twins baseball game (perfect baseball weather, if there is such a thing).  Bought tickets for Tuesday night to see The Book of Mormon.  Sitting here on the patio at the Bird having a gin and tonic.

But the inspiration had nothing to do with the above.  It has to do with the dilemma that has been tormenting me lately.  I just need to take charge of it, rather than letting crap just happen.  There might be a great answer.

I hope tomorrow is as beautiful as today.

Friday, September 5, 2014

joan rivers, 1933 to 2014

Very sad to report the passing yesterday of Joan Rivers, a very funny lady who I've been a fan of for several decades.  Saw her most recently in 2009 at the Mall of America --  here is a link to my post that day. .  I wish I could think of a funny Joan Rivers joke to mark this occasion.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

raising the trust standards

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

Jon and Tom tell me that one of my major flaws is that I like everybody, which to them means that I have no standards.  Well, it's true that I like just about everybody, even strangers on the street, but, truth me told, there may be five or ten people that I don't like.

Trust, however, is a different story.  Trust goes much deeper, and I'm finding that as I get older -- and especially at this moment in my life -- the group of people that I trust would all fit into a very small circle.  People let you down and, when they do, they make you distrust even the people that have no intentions of ever doing you wrong.

And I feel that I do wrong to none, but I bet there are people who don't trust me either, and they should.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

today's 'golden girls' wisdom

Blanche:  "Oh, girls, I have writer's block!  It's the worst feeling in the world!"

Dorothy:  "Blanche, you have to have written to have writer's block.  Otherwise, we all have it!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

as we were chowing down on quarter pounders

Jon and I were discussing the calorie-counter diets vs. low-carb diets and came to the conclusion that they had the same basic effect.  He is just finishing up a low-carb diet as I start my probably-futile low calorie diet.  I hope I can be as diligent as he was, except for this one McDonald's misstep.

We and Tom were at McDonald's only because it is a tradition we have, to go to McDonald's for dinner on the first day of school even though neither Jon nor Tom have been in school in quite a few years.  Some traditions may be silly but die hard, especially when McDonald's fries, a guilty pleasure, are in any way involved.

Monday, September 1, 2014

it feels like fall

So the summer ends -- but not really.  It's Labor Day 2014, and it is probably only in the U.S. that everybody thinks of Labor Day -- the first Monday in September -- as the end of summer while the calendar tries to convince us that summer goes on for another three weeks.  Yeah right.  Try to convince the kids going back to school tomorrow that it's still summer.

Friday, August 29, 2014

'wasted on the way'

Look around me
I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way it used to be

I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did

And there's so much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

-- lyrics by Graham Nash of Crosby Stills & Nash.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

'----!', part 2

I've developed a thing for pistachio muffins at Dunn Brothers Coffee, which is just a hop-skip-and-jump from my office, and this is not a good thing to develop as I'm just about to start a new calorie-counting diet.  And then there's the strawberry-cheesequake blizzards at Dairy Queen, which I'm hoping will seem less appealing as cooler weather hits us.  I used to be better at self-control than I am now, and actually self-control was never my strong suit anyway.

Uh-oh. I just checked.  A strawberry-cheesequake blizzard has 530 calories and 21 grams of fat.  And that's for the small size (and who ever orders a small blizzard?)!

Even worse: The pistachio muffin at Dunn Bros. has 600 calories and 30 grams of fat.  Life just isn't at all fair.  This diet is gonna be tough.

Monday, August 25, 2014

giving up

This is a photo that I took this past spring, facing west across the street from our house.  I took that picture because I've been enamored with that tree you see in the center of the neighbor's yard -- in my opinion, the best tree anywhere in the neighborhood -- such a beautiful display of branches.  You should have seen it at sunset or even during the winter after a snowstorm.  Visitors would notice it and remark about how perfect it seemed.

Fast-forward to yesterday.  We were arriving home from up north at the cabin, and there on the street in front of us was that lovely tree, blocking traffic in its final act of being noticed.  It had fallen just a few minutes before.  We asked neighbors, what happened?  was there a storm?  a hard wind?  No, they said.  It had just fallen.  Given up.  Maybe it just couldn't face another Minnesota winter.  Maybe it wanted to go while it was still looking good, before it would ever look old and scraggly.  I'm just sad that, of all the many trees in the neighborhood, this was the one that went.  Life is like that sometimes.

the chainsaws take over

Sunday, August 24, 2014

from the cabin

At our friends' cabin on Mille Lacs Lake, the 2nd largest of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes, a lake so large you feel you are looking UP at the lake.  Can't see the other side, just a mountain of water.  An awesome getaway from the city.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

to the cabin

Ask a Twin Cities person during the summer what they'll be doing the next weekend and there's a good chance they will answer, "Oh, we're going up to the cabin."  Seems like everybody has a family cabin up North.  We don't and never will -- taking care of one house is enough -- but it's nice to have a friend who occasionally invites you up to their lake cabin for a weekend.  That's where we are headed today -- to our friends Howie and Doug's cabin up on Mille Lacs Lake.  Looking forward to getting out of the city and seeing their place.

Friday, August 22, 2014

instead of blogging,

I went with Tom and Ruthie to Dairy Queen and had a banana split.  Hey, it's summer and not for much longer.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

password madness

It seems like every week I have to come up with a new password for something and they tell you not to keep using the same password on all the sites that require passwords and not to make them too simple -- a mix of lower-case, upper-case, numbers, punctuation.... and you come up with amazingly beautiful and complex passwords and forget where you wrote them down and then you get a message that either the user name or password is incorrect -- so which one is it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

thugs, self-promoters, etc.

I don't understand the looting thing in Ferguson, Missouri.  I understand people being pissed if a white cop, unprovoked, shot an unarmed black kid to death.  That deserves protests.  But what does smashing storefronts and stealing Nikes and microwaves have to do with it?  If you want to attack something, go trash the police station!  No guts?  Just greed?

Totally unrelated -- how sick are we of ice bucket challenges, which, truth be told, has very little to do with ALS and everything to do with grabbing some cheap attention?

Ok, that's it -- there is no "etc." today after all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

they're on the north shore

Jerry's long-time friend Tomoko is visiting us from Seattle for a few days.  Tomoko has been going through some hard times physically, and she and Jerry wanted to spend a few days hanging out.  She's always fun to have around and do things with.  And she brought me two Verdi opera CDs, Otello and Macbeth -- much appreciated.  She and her husband Norm are opera enthusiasts -- they take tour groups to opera events around the country.

So Tomoko and Jerry have spent the past couple days in Northern Minnesota, along the North Shore of Lake Superior, which is two or three hours north of us.  Tomoko hadn't been anywhere in Minnesota outside the Twin Cities, and it sounds like they're having a great time.  Tonight they are in Grand Marais, one of my favorite Minnesota towns, right on the lake.  If you haven't been up that way, give it a try, it's beautiful.  And that's it for my promotion of Minnesota tourism!

Monday, August 18, 2014

cats in space


My son Tom, at 32 already going through some rough stuff, on this Monday morning on his way to work fell on his front step and, fed up, texted me that he wanted to chuck it all and just go flying aimlessly into outer space, like Mini-Me did at the end of the movie Austin Powers 2.  He wants to take his cat along.  I asked if I could  come too.  No answer on that yet.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

we are stardust, we are golden, part 2


Well I came across a child of God, he was walking along the road
And I asked him tell where are you going, this he told me:
Well, I'm going down to Yasgur's farm, going to join in a rock and roll band.
Got to get back to the land, set my soul free.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Well, then can I walk beside you? I have come to lose the smog.
And I feel like I'm a cog in something turning.
And maybe it's the time of year, yes, and maybe it's the time of man.
And I don't know who I am but life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong,
And everywhere there was song and celebration.
And I dreamed I saw the bombers jet planes riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies above our nation.

We are stardust, we are golden, caught in the devil's bargain,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

--  Lyrics by Joni Mitchell, who was not at Woodstock (although she was invited), but her boyfriend at the time was Graham Nash, of Crosby Stills & Nash, who did perform at Woodstock, which was happening 45 years ago this weekend.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

we are stardust, we are golden

It was August 1969, and, no, I wasn't at Woodstock.  I was wearing olive-drab Army fatigues in Germany, just wishing I had been at Woodstock -- in retrospect, of course, since I didn't know about it until it was over and done with.

There was a big spread about Woodstock in Life magazine the week after, and I remember reading about it and seeing the photos and thinking, How great.  That gathering was a defining moment for my generation.

In my office where I was a Company Clerk, the battalion First Sergeant -- a hard, crusty guy with an almost-shaved head -- was visiting one day and looking through the Life article and saying something to the effect of he wished he had been at Woodstock with a machine gun to shoot down all those dirty, long-haired hippies.  I can't bad-mouth the guy too much since he did me a major favor a couple months later, but I just sat there in awe that a guy could hate these young people for just having a good time and enjoying life and having a lot more hair than he did.  It was 1969, though, and the Generation Gap was in full swing.

But, sitting here exactly 45 years after that Woodstock weekend, a crusty guy myself now, I'm thinking about the things I would have hated about being about Woodstock:  the mud, the 400,000 people (some of whom had to be really annoying), the lack of food, the long lines at the port-a-potties, the massive traffic jams even getting there...   But -- to have seen Hendrix, Joplin, Cocker, etc., etc..... Ah yes, worth it all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

back before i avoided the name 'trump'

I get sentimental over weird things, but I'm really bummed about the financial downturn in Atlantic City, on the Jersey shore, just 30 miles west of my home town of Millville.

Atlantic City became a casino town in the late '70s, back when the only casino competition was several thousand miles away in Nevada, so Atlantic City had the whole East Coast to itself.  Now that there is so much gambling competition everywhere, the casinos in Atlantic City are dropping like flies.Out of twelve casino hotels, one has closed and three will close next month, including my former favorite, Trump Plaza.

Back in the mid-'80s, Trump Plaza was new and already in its prime, and that was where I introduced my mom, a very religious lady, to slot machines.  Despite her initial nervousness ("What if I win a jackpot and my picture is in the paper?!"), she was hooked immediately, which scandalized my dad (who feared that she would spend her all social security check there) and my brother Ron, who was a pretty conservative pastor at the time and gambling, of course, was a "sin".  Every time I was back in New Jersey, I'd take her and my sister Joan down to Trump Plaza, where we played (only a little) and then would walk across the boardwalk to Ocean One for a cheesesteak.  We had such fun, I still value those days in my memories as some of my best ever.

The last time I ever talked to my mom on the phone, April 4, 1987, the first word out of her mouth was "Showboat!"  There was a new casino hotel named Showboat in Atlantic City, and she was going there on one of those day bus trips on the 14th and was very excited.  It was destined, though, not to happen.  She died suddenly five days later, on the 9th, age 66, and the 14th turned out to be the day of her funeral.

Trump Plaza and Showboat both are closing next month.  Sad.  I'm sorry to see them go. But for me, I guess they were never quite the same after April 1987 anyway.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

another reason to live in a big city

The Economist came up with an interesting list of the 66 U.S. cities with populations of more than 250,000 people and ranked them from "most conservative" to "most liberal", and how did the Twin Cities do?  Not bad!  Minneapolis came in as 6th most liberal, with St. Paul not too far behind at #13 --  San Francisco #1 most liberal, with Mesa, Arizona most conservative, but even Mesa isn't nearly conservative as San Francisco is liberal.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

might be on the edge of optimism, finally

“What day is it?"
"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.”
A.A. Milne

“It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately.”
A.A. Milne

“You'll never find a rainbow if you're looking down”
Charles Chaplin

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”
Dalai Lama XIV

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

robin williams, 1951 to 2014

The whole U.S.A. is sad today for the loss of a guy we thought we knew and yet didn't really know at all.  The guy on the screen was just acting. Suicide isn't painless after all.  In this case, the pain is widespread.

Monday, August 11, 2014

no news is good news

I was reading that 30% of adults now get their news from Facebook, which is really scary considering that most Facebook postings masked as news are garbage.

It's almost as bad as surveys that show that folks who depend on Fox News for information know less about what is really going on in the world than people who watch no news at all. Read here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

quotes i found after a few unfair days

“Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all.”
William Goodman

“To expect life to treat you good is foolish as hoping a bull won't hit you because you are a vegetarian.”

"Do you truly believe that life is fair, Senor de la Vega?
-No, maestro, but I plan to do everything in my power to make it so.”
Isabel Allende

Saturday, August 9, 2014

hi-tech numbness on a saturday afternoon

what's next, anyway?

The only time to love Wifi is when it's working and working fast and not just endlessly spinning to the point where you just want to take your computer and smash it against the wall.  What the heck is Wifi anyway?  What sort of signals are flying through our air, and why do those invisible signals work sometimes and sometimes cause near-madness?

Friday, August 8, 2014

the militant in the mirror

I was having lunch, and the TVs in the restaurant were fixed on CNN, where monotonal Wolf Blitzer was droning on and the "Breaking news" caption at the bottom of the screen was something to the effect of "U.S. Dropping Bombs on Militants in Iraq".

We're doing airstrikes against the awful ISIS rebels, and nobody here will shed many tears for them (unless we are dropping bombs on innocents like Israel is doing in Gaza), but the word I get hung up on is "militants", which is now arbitrarily used as a synonym for "terrorists" or "the bad guys".

Definition of "militant": combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods.

So here is my question:  When the United States in 2003 invaded Iraq -- a country that had not provoked war but which had a nasty dictator who annoyed us -- were we the militants?

Incidentally, as it happened, that invasion and occupation made things even worse for the Iraqis and led directly to the formation of this ISIS mess.  Violence leads to more violence, does it not?
Tomorrow marks the 69th anniversary of the day that the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing 60,000-80,000 people, three days after dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, an act that had probably already ended  World War II, making the Nagasaki bombing punitive -- and thus terroristic or just overly militant?

My pacifist thoughts for the day.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

mid-summer sports update

The dog days of August are here, and we're all too sweaty to think about sports to any serious degree, but let's give it a swing.

Baseball:   It's the only major sport going on right now, and it's hard for me to work up a lot of interest since, first of all:  It's baseball, and second:  The only two teams that I have any interest in (the Philadelphia Phillies and the Minnesota Twins) are in last place in their respective divisions.  BUT, on the plus side, fellow Millville (NJ) guy, Mike Trout, with the Los Angeles Angels, is having another maybe-Most Valuable Player year, in addition to being voted the Most Valuable Player in last month's All Star Game, which was held here in Minneapolis.  Today is Mike's 23rd birthday, so, if he happens to stumble on my blog today (very likely, I'm sure), Happy Birthday, Mike!

Football:  Jean, a Facebook friend of mine, who happens to be a Minnesota Vikings fanatic, posted this morning:  "Only 2 days until preseason!" and I say "NOOOO!!"  because, as much as I love football, once football starts, suddenly it's Christmas, and I can't handle thinking about winter!  :-(

Soccer (the "other" football):  FIFA is long over, but the talk here is how to get a Major Soccer League expansion team here in Minnesota.

Basketball:  The season doesn't start until November, but it looks pretty definite that my beloved Minnesota Timberwolves will be losing Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Sad.

Spell-check:  Okay, spell-check isn't a sport, but I'm starting to notice which words spell-check doesn't recognize (at least on  In the above blurb, these words override spell-check:  Phillies, Millville, Los Angeles, NOOOO, FIFA, and Timberwolves.  Seriously?  Not even Los Angeles?  I think that spell-check needs some serious expansion!  My book is going to have way too many overrides.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

this is when i become old, part 3

You spend a few days in the north woods of California, and shaving just doesn't seem like the thing to do while you're there. Even though I've been home for almost a week, the morning shaving ritual still hasn't kicked in again yet, so I have this raggedy facial hair sprouting wildly, amazingly gray.  Every morning is a coin toss whether to give in and shave it off, but the idea of keeping it for a while is sort of growing on me.  I'm even embracing the gray, so maybe I am finally getting to the point of acknowledging the reality of my age.  Nancy H. here in the office says the appearance gives me the distinguished look of either a college professor or a writer.  Chris R. at the Legion says that I look like Eric Clapton.  I'll accept any of those choices.  I just can't let it get anywhere near ZZ Top or Duck Dynasty extremes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

there is an attorney in downtown st. paul

There is fairness and there is the law, and the two concepts are not required to overlap.

There are people who believe that Midwesterners can be trusted to be honest and loyal, and on the other side there I am, believing otherwise.

There are vindictive people and there are non-vindictive people, and each trait has exceptions.

I thought it was common knowledge that you don't mess with a Jersey guy.  Apparently the word hasn't trickled down to the bottom of the cesspool.

Monday, August 4, 2014

just lilies today

outside the front door.  wish they lasted longer than they do.

some more lilies

OK OK, some zinnias too.  Here's to summer!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

getting too serious, clint!

We finally saw the movie version of Jersey Boys last night.  Still pondering.  I liked the Broadway stage version better.  It was more fun.  The movie was kind of dark, felt too much like a Goodfellas kind of movie, maybe, but it was directed by Clint Eastwood, a doddering old non-Jersey guy who talks to chairs, so maybe it was a reach for him.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

i should be writing about gaza

I try to keep this blog fairly light, but sometimes there are things on my mind that are far from light and it's hard to know how to balance.  Once in a while, I need to say how disgusted with the world I am -- in particular right now:  both sides in the fighting in Gaza;  the U.S. House of Representatives; the "stand your ground" gun nuts; and the people in the supposed name of "Christianity" who hate Obama and want him dead.  You can fill in the blanks:  you know where I stand on each of those issues.

Friday, August 1, 2014

what a person will do to avoid going to the laundromat

So we get home after 10 days on the road with all this dirty laundry, and our almost brand-new washing machine goes on the fritz and needs a part that, of course, the repair guy won't have til next Tuesday.

Neither of us has been in a laundromat since we were in our 20s and the prospect seems unappealing, so we're considering beating our clothes on a rock and hanging them on the clothesline.  Hey, we have the rocks (down by the creek) and we have the so far-unused clothesline, so why not?

Otherwise, it's cool to be home.

Added later:  We took the easy way out and bought enough new underwear to last until Tuesday.  :-)

Thursday, July 31, 2014


It's been a while since I took this long of a vacation, but it went fast.  This morning we fly out of Reno, have a layover in Salt Lake City, Utah, then arrive back home to some sort of reality, where tomorrow it will be August already.

I enjoyed my first visit ever to Reno.  It's a smaller much-downscaled version of Las Vegas and like Atlantic City out there on the East Coast it's best days as a casino town are in its past.  But downscale feels good to me sometimes.  I'm an unpretentious guy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

he hit on the wrong guy

Outside the CVS store in Lake Tahoe, a panhandler, wearing a t-shirt with an American flag on it, came up to me wanting money.

Him:  "Hey man, I'm a Christian and I'm in need."
Me:  "Then maybe you should consider being something ELSE!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

off the road again

We put a bunch of miles on that dusty Prius -- 15 hundred maybe? -- and have come to the last stop on our road trip -- Reno, Nevada -- from where we will fly home after a couple days of recovery.

What a trip, though.  I'm especially surprised how much I liked Northern California.  If I ever decide to "drop out" of my life back home, that might be where you'll find me, being a hermit and growing a beard and drinking some Scotch and writing my book.

Monday, July 28, 2014

scoobert moves back east

I'm feeling sad this week for Ruthie, my niece and one of my faithful blog followers.  She and her family, due to circumstances, just moved into a home that has a policy of No Dogs Allowed, which meant that she needed to, for a time at least, give up her beloved dog Scoobert.  She has had Scoobert for, I'm not sure, 12 years maybe?, and Scoobert has been there with her through thick and thin, including the big move a few years ago from New Jersey to Minnesota.

So what Ruthie did was, with many tears, ship Scoob off to her mom, Vickie, in North Carolina,  where he will be in good hands, being pampered by his "grandma" and learning to bark with a Southern accent.  Hugs to you, Ruthie -- and Scoobert too.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

haydn and the giants

Jerry under the Redwoods
My friend Elke in Germany send me a CD of a chorale concert that she was recently a part of -- "The Creation", an oratorio by Franz Joseph Haydn -- and we listened to this excellent recording as we drove today through the Avenue of the Giants -- the magnificent giant redwood trees of Northern California.

Today's drive was a couple hundred miles of up and down mountains of narrow roads and hairpin curves, and we were glad to arrive at our hotel tonight.

More driving tomorrow but less beautiful and less treacherous.

So far Jerry just has one speeding ticket.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

just north of Mendocino

Highlights of my California trip day today --

--  Lunch in Berkeley, near the University.  It made me remember Mario Salvo, who I bet most of you don't...
--  Not having road rage while sitting in massive traffic jams...
--  The drive on Highway 128 north of San Francisco between Cloverdale and Mendocino...

Tomorrow, the giant redwoods.  Bear with me, this trip won't last forever.

Friday, July 25, 2014

feeling like a wild goose

Jerry was still sleeping and I was feeling antsy, so I hopped in the Prius -- a brand I will never own, by the way -- and am currently having an early-morning Kona coffee and chocolate macaroon at a place called the Wild Goose Cafe in downtown Carmel Valley Village, CA, which is very close to the great cabin where we spent the past two nights.  It's a beautiful morning and feels like every morning should feel and hardly ever does.

Today we explore the Monterrey Peninsula a little more -- Jerry has his eye on doing the Monterrey Aquarium and I would sort of like to stop in at the Steinbeck museum in Salinas -- and then we head north, where there is no way that the scenery can be as nice as it is here.

I'm doing my best to not make this a travelogue blog and am failing miserably.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

California is many things

Have you ever noticed that the coolest people are the people who have no idea how cool they are?  Some people will never be cool, yet they try so hard!

Ah yes, cool, California.

Lots of beautiful scenery the past couple days --  desert, mountains, crops of produce as far as you can see.

The one place on this trip I requested that we see:  Big Sur and the Pacific Coast north and south of it, not just for the scenic beauty of it but for the artistic history associated with the area:  Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, etc.  Today was Big Sur day.  I tried to take pictures of it all, but I can't do any of it justice:  It's just too big.

One more check off my Bucket List.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2 bad passengers in a Prius

Volkswagen used to have an advertising slogan that went something like this:  "On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers.  Drivers wanted."

I admit to being the world's worst passenger, and Jerry isn't much better, and we both enjoy driving (And being in control?).  It doesn't help my nerves that he is a super-aggressive, tail-gating driver, and it seems to annoy him that as a driver I'm way more cautious and, let's face it, practically perfect.

So the next six days on the road through California in a rental Toyota Prius should be interesting.

Today we face about 8 hours of taking turns driving, ending up at the Pacific Ocean, staying somewhere near Carmel.

In a few minutes, we once again check out of Las Vegas.  Three nights here is plenty, but then before long I'm anxious to get back.  Some people have their lake cabins or boats or other vacation homes as their escape.  I have Vegas, that symbol of capitalistic excess that politically I might find obnoxious but in my heart of hearts I love.  I guess that I'm more American than I like to admit.

California, here we come!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

let's give thanks for the pill

Back in the mid-60s, I heard Bob Jones III (one of the Bob Jones University's Bob Joneses) giving a sermon in which he lamented the invention of penicillin and the birth control pill because they took away two of the weapons fundamentalists had historically used to scare followers into not having sex:  certain venereal diseases and unplanned pregnancies.

For some reason, his stupid comments keep coming back to my memory as I hear the current discussions about birth control following the Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" decision.  Certain religious figures still think of unwanted pregnancies as punishment for having sex that doesn't have procreation intent.  I wonder what percentage of their pew-dwellers think that it's all a crock while nodding in solemn agreement.

the border kids

I've been thinking a lot about the kids in detention along the Mexican border in Texas that have been smuggled from Central America after escaping unimaginable violence and other dangers and are apparently going to be sent back... And trying to understand the anger at these kids from the American political right-wing, whose compassion, real or pretended, apparently goes no further than inconvenient fetal tissue.  The attitude seems to be, once babies are out of the womb, then the hell with them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Hey, we're going on a California road trip, after a flight to Vegas and three of those free nights at the Bellagio that I have a hard time resisting.

For some time now, Jerry has been wanting to do a leisurely drive through parts of California that I personally haven't been to and that he has only seen parts of.  The plan is that we will drive from Las Vegas (Nevada, of course) across California to the Central California Coast -- Monterrey, Big Sur, etc., and then up past San Francisco to the giant redwoods and whatever else is up that way.  He has it all planned day by day, and we'll be gone about ten days altogether.  It's an unusual kind of vacation for us -- except for the Vegas part, of course.

News out of California these days:  A severe drought in most of the state -- all kinds of water restrictions.  Not fun.  Also, there is a sort of a movement in that state and a referendum that will be on the 2016 ballots to divide California into six different states.  That's a bizarre concept, and even if it wins the vote, it still would have to be approved by the U.S. Congress, which is probably a major obstacle.  How many other states would want to split up if this happens?  California often leads the way and not always in a good way.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

unlikely comrades

Something odd has happened.

One of my main concerns when we bought this suburban home, even though it's just barely in the 'burbs, was that suburbs are cold and have no soul.  Where, for instance, do Golden Valley-ites gather, where do they meet each other, where do they socialize as a city?  This particular city didn't even seem to have a neighborhood bar, a watering hole, a place where everybody knows your name?

One evening back in January, though, on a whim, we stopped in at the local American Legion club because we knew they had a bar, so we skeptically thought, Why not?  My image of an American Legion was a place full of right-wing old soldiers exchanging war stories.  I mean, I served my time in the Army after being a reluctant draftee, followed by all these years of being a pacifist veteran, but the last thing I wanted to ever do was be reminded of those two years of mine.

My fatigue jacket.
This particular American Legion turned out to be the friendliest place I have ever walked into and over the past six months has become our go-to hang-out.  Jerry tells me that in all the years that he has known me, he has never seen me as comfortable in a social setting as I am there.  We have made good friends and had fun.  Occasionally somebody tells a war story.  Maybe I have made peace with my own story.

Friday, July 18, 2014

which ones are the murderers?

What a brutal week in the news.... Civilians on all sides being killed in the Middle East, which leads to revenge murders, which leads to more killings.....  A passenger plane being shot down over Ukraine for no reason except intimidation.... It's not going to get any better, is it?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

just you wait, 'enry 'iggins!

We could have danced all night, but instead we spent a wonderful evening sitting in theater chairs watching the Guthrie's new production of My Fair Lady.

My Fair Lady, is, of course, a classic and probably the best-written Broadway musical ever created.  It premiered on Broadway in 1956 with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews -- hard acts to follow -- as Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle.  For me, an admittedly sentimental and nostalgic guy, it's a favorite, so last night I treated 15 friends (mostly co-workers and their significant others) to tickets.  Some had never seen a show at the Guthrie Theater before and just seeing the Guthrie is a treat in itself.  Some others had never seen My Fair Lady staged before or had never seen it in any form.  The show was a hit with all.  The Guthrie, as expected, did a phenomenal job.  All of the performances were top-notch, but one stand-out was Tyler Michaels. Even though in a relatively small role, he perhaps stole the show with his rendition of "On The Street Where You Live" and his portrayal of the goofy character Freddy Eynsford-Hill.  Amazing sets, loverly costumes, all the stuff you expect from the Guthrie.  If you're local, it's there at the Guthrie until the end of August.  Lots of sell-outs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'forever' keeps getting shorter

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

"Forever Young"
-- Bob Dylan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trout's in Minneapolis

Major League Baseball's annual All-Star Game is tonight, and, guess what, it's right here at Target Field, just a few blocks from where I'm sitting in my office.

I'm not going to the game, but it's fun having all this excitement downtown.  This afternoon, there is a "red carpet" parade featuring each of the All Stars and a bunch of other hoopla.  I'll walk over there for that, hoping to get a chance to wave to Mike Trout, arguably the best overall player in baseball.  Mike Trout and I, you see, are from the same hometown, Millville, New Jersey, and how often is there another Millville guy here in downtown Minneapolis?  Besides being the best player, he also has the reputation of being the nicest guy in baseball.   He has made Millville proud.

So, I'm wearing my Trout/Millville t-shirt today, a throwback to when he was on the Millville High School Thunderbolts team, and people say, "Where the heck is Millville?"  So I tell them.  Jersey pride, you know.

Check out this link to an article in USA Today about the Mike Trout/Millville connection:

USA Today story from May 2014

ADDED LATER:   Way to go!  Not only did Mike Trout play in the All Star Game, but he won the Most Valuable Player of the Game Award!

Monday, July 14, 2014

another 14 juillet!

Todd just came in my office to wish me a Happy Bastille Day (He knows that I have an irrational thing for Bastille Day).   So Germany had its day of celebration yesterday, France today.

Happy Bastille Day, all you Francophiles!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

congrats to Germany for winning the 2014 World Cup

And I bet this is the last time I blog anything about soccer for 4 years! (If blogs still exist in 4 years!)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

the 'rach 3' rocks downtown minneapolis

The Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall
I have several versions of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #3 on vinyl and CD, but there is nothing like witnessing an exceptional performance of it in person.  The concerto, also affectionately known as the "Rach 3", perhaps my favorite musical piece of them all, is known for its extreme difficulty, and it is only the rarest of concert pianists who can play it the way it's meant to be played.  I had seen the Rach 3 once before, several years ago, and last night I got to see it again, and maybe it will be my last opportunity to ever see it, but it was memorable.

The Minnesota Orchestra, one of our country's finest symphony orchestras, did an excellent job at their home at Orchestra Hall with the 45-minute concerto, led by an amazing guest pianist, Natasha Paremski, 26 years old.  As an lazy amateur pianist, I sit there amazed that anybody has the physical and mental dexterity to handle this thing.  Kudos to all involved.

Friday, July 11, 2014

oh what a great show

Sometimes you have a hard week and you just want to be a couch potato and let your TV do your thinking for you.  My couch-potatoizing the past couple days has been re-visiting episodes from Seasons 5 and 6 of The Big Bang Theory, one of the best TV comedies ever.  Thanks, Jon, for giving me all the seasons' DVDs. They come in handy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

today's Shakespeare quote

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

--  Henry VI, Part II, Act IV, Scene II, Line 73, spoken by Dick the Butcher.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

if i were brazilian

I was just reading that on this day Brazil is the most collectively depressed country of all time.

I can't believe that I am blogging again about soccer, in this case the World Cup, but I am sort of fascinated by the agony being felt in Brazil.  You see, in case you don't already know this, they are hosting the every-four-years World Cup right now and have won more World Cups than anyone else and were expecting to win this one on their home turf.  Instead, in the semi-finals, they lost yesterday to Germany.  And they didn't just lose the match -- they were humiliated, 7 goals to 1, in a World Cup where most of the final scores have been 1 to 0.

Of course, I was rooting for Germany (but cheering for the Netherlands overall, a team that might lose to Argentina a few hours from now), but the despair and shock on the faces of the Brazil fans is kind of heartbreaking.  If I were Brazilian, I bet I'd be shedding tears too -- because I would instinctively have some idea why their beloved "futebol" is such a big deal.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

something is eating our hastas (or hostas)

The deer are the obvious suspects.  We have deer roaming the neighborhood, and deer love hastas, or so I'm told.  But we didn't see them chewing on anything, so is it fair to blame them?

It's weird to talk yard-and-garden talk.

The radishes are good.  That's what great about radishes.  They are ready to eat way before anything else.  It's almost like instant gratification.  Peppers, beans, maybe tomatoes will be ready before too long.

What's on my mind isn't the garden at all, nothing nearly that cheery or optimistic.  Let's discuss over drinks.

Monday, July 7, 2014


The flight is at 9 a.m., so we were up at 4:45 packing our one suitcase before heading off to breakfast.  Stepping out of the car at Waffle House, our glasses steamed up immediately, and I started noticing all of the mosquito bites on my arms.  Now we are sitting at the tiny Tunica airport, waiting to board the charter plane, suffering through Fox News blaring on the TVs.  It's a very Mississippi July morning, by far the most humid of our days here.

We were commenting on the drive to the airport that we never once saw a bicycle or a jogger while in this area.  Considering that Mississippi has the highest obesity rates of all the fifty states, are we surprised?

Ready to move on but not ready to go home.  It's going to be a difficult week, but I can't tell you why.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

your memphis to-do list

This is my third trip to Memphis, and it now feels familiar and cool to me.  I mean, you wouldn't want to live here.  For one thing, it's in the politically screwed-up state of Tennessee.  And it's a friendly place, lots of Southern charm, but you might be afraid to go out by yourself after dark.  The weather here this particular weekend is perfect, but summer heat and humidity can often by oppressive (Did you used to read the John Grisham books that took place in Memphis?)

BUT, as a place to visit, I highly recommend Memphis.  Some unique places to see:

1). Graceland, Elvis Presley's home, and don't say to me, "But I'm not an Elvis fan!", because you'd like it anyway.  It's a hoot.
2). The Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was assassinated.  It's of course not a motel anymore but is the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.
3). The Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located in the building that used to house Stax Records.  If you were a fan of '60s soul music like I was, you'll find this place fascinating.
4). Beale Street, the home of American Blues music.
5). The Peabody Ducks.  I know this sounds weird, but these ducks live on the roof of this elegant old downtown Peabody Hotel and take the elevator down to stroll through the lobby a couple times a day, then they get back on the elevator and go back upstairs.  They draw quite a crowd.
6). The Rendezvous restaurant, which you'll find in an alley a couple blocks from Beale Street.  Best ribs I have ever found.  Festive, fun atmosphere.
7). The Memphis Zoo, which is apparently one of the top zoos in the U.S.  Okay, I haven't been there yet.  Maybe next visit.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

while surrounded by southern accents

Jerry, to me, as we ate fried green tomatoes, black eyed peas and candied yams for lunch:  "Don't you think it's kind of weird that we ever go to Mississippi?"

I couldn't disagree, of course.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Happy 4th!
Somebody, in an apparent burst of unbridled patriotism, placed a flag out in our front yard on the curb, and, when I looked, every house down our street had a little curbside American flag.  It feels like it might be the 4th of July!

It's a beautiful 4th morning here on our creek.  We are having breakfast with my sons Jon and Tom, after which Jerry and I are hopping on a plane heading to the Deep South.  It's one of those free flight/hotel gambling junkets to Tunica, Mississippi.  We've done this before, so we know that there is nothing in Tunica except for several casino hotels plopped down in the middle of cotton fields -- not exciting! -- BUT just a half hour north of Tunica is Memphis, Tennessee, a city that we like a lot.  So it's gonna be a Memphis weekend of good Southern food and Beale Street.  Back Monday.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

sweating it out the day before liberation

The Liberty Bell
Tomorrow marks the 238th birthday of this country, created in Philadelphia by slave-owning Founding Fathers in the name of liberty, a term the definition of which is still being disputed in a fractured nation.

It was very hot that particular summer of 1776, and, if you have ever been in Philly in July with no air-conditioning, you have to wonder how those guys functioned in those wigs and layers of clothing without killing each other, let alone finding the wherewithal  to create a Declaration of Independence.  Fortunately they finally got it signed on the 4th.  Another few days and heat stroke might have set in.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

no belgian waffles for breakfast

Well, the U.S. is out of the World Cup, and there are 8 teams left (if I'm understanding this right), and I have paid more attention to soccer (a/k/a "football") in the past couple weeks than I ever have before, and there are a few reasons for that.  The U.S. had a better team than usual, for one thing.  I have a new friend, Kevin, a former high-school soccer coach, explaining some of it all to me and inspiring some interest.  And Todd, my old friend, is down there in Brazil seeing some matches and taking in the atmosphere, and he sends me an occasional email.

The cool thing about the World Cup is that it brings some common ground to the whole earth -- more so everywhere else than in the U.S., but it's growing here too -- although hopefully not ever inspiring the same extreme passion that has other country's fans sometimes beheading referees or murdering players that lose a crucial match.

While we here were watching the game yesterday where the U.S. lost to Belgium, my friend Elke was simultaneously watching in Germany and my friends Heike and Joerg were watching in the Netherlands, seven or eight time zones away, and it's just kinda cool that we were all sharing the experience.  Their country's teams are still among the final eight, as is Argentina, where my friend Norbie is from originally, so I'm rooting for one of those three countries to win the Cup.  Cheers!  The whole world is watching!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

the difficulty of finding an airport in Nunavut

It's the First of July -- Happy Canada Day!

A couple years ago, after I completed my goal of visiting all 50 states, I briefly thought that next I should try to set foot in all the Canadian provinces.  There are only 13 of them, but have you ever looked at a map of the Canadian provinces?

OK, I've done Ontario and Quebec, and I can set my sights on British Columbia (Vancouver) and Manitoba (Winnipeg), but look at those northern provinces!  Northwest Territories would certainly be a challenge, but, even more so, how the heck would a person ever do Nunavut?

Did you even know there was a province of Nunavut?  Well, here's your educational moment for the day:  Nunavut until 1999 was part of the Northwest Territories and was split off then into a separate province.  It's roughly the size of Western Europe in area but only has 32,000 people!  So, if you could find a way to get to Nunavut, what the heck do you do once you're there?  Could I even find a bottle of Scotch?

Well, anyway, have a great Canada Day, even you Nunavutians!