Saturday, June 30, 2012

A theory

Last night was date night Friday, a weekly double date with a pair of dear friends. Over cocktails, the guys developed a theory based upon nothing but our own observations, and the insights created by the first flavored vodka. See if you agree.

People are living longer than they once did. Our favorite people passed much too early, but there is no shortage of very active 80+ yo's out and about. We credit that to 2 causes, air conditioning and better dentistry, everything else is a distant third.

Air conditioning:
In the not too distant pass, with no escape from the summer heat, the phrase "worked himself to death" had real meaning. A laborer could and often did die of heat related causes. It still happens, mostly among the old, infirm and/or the poor but heat is a far less common killer than it once was. An escape into air conditioning, during the day or at least at home, provides an escape or at least a chance to rest. Heat related deaths among those of working age are rare and becoming more so.

Better dentistry:
In my childhood, old people, those over 50 wore dentures. I've legions of aunts and uncles who slept with their teeth in a water glass, now I know very few people with dentures. Advances in dentistry during my lifetime have done much to keep teeth where they belong.

It follows that those with their own teeth will have a better diet than those without. Dr. George Washington Carver invented peanut butter as a source of dietary protein for bald mouths. That cheap, simple food enriched the lives of thousands of school children and malnourished old folks.

It follows that those with a more complete diet will be healthier and live longer than those without.


Thursday, June 28, 2012


Silently I've been crabbing about the heat, attempting to console myself with Mrs. T's refrain "It's summer, it is supposed to be hot" but 108 (42)? I took solace knowing it hotter elsewhere, then I remembered the Colorado fires.

I shall not bore you with the weather, but do ask you to take a minute to consider those in and around the wildfires which are burning with abandon throughout much of the US. Losing or the worry of losing your home to fire trumps everything else. No ifs ands or buts.

My youngest son worked as a federal forest fire fighter for too long. I sleep better knowing he is home safe, but still keep in my prayers the brave men and women (and their parents) who put their lives on the line daily attempting to save us from ourselves. Many thanks to them.

Be safe.


On this date 1914 and 1919

1914 dateline Sarajevo

The presumptive heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Hungary and his wife were assassinated by Serbian nationalists while visiting Sarajevo. Ferdinand's death led to Hungary declaring war on Serbia. Mutual defense pacts between Serbia and its allies and Austria-Hungary and its allies escalated into World War I.

The Archduke and his wife were murdered within minutes of this photo being taken.

1919 dateline Paris

George Clemenceau of France, Woodrow Wilson of the US and David Lloyd-George of Great Britain shown leaving Trianon Palace after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, ending WWI. Negotiations over acceptable settlement terms took 6 months to finalize. France wanted to avenge German aggression, Britain wanted German cash to pay down Britain's war debt and the US wanted the League of Nations. Be careful what you wish for.

Germany made their final WWI reparation payment in October 2011, 92 years and 1 World War after the Treaty to end the war to end all wars.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cat people?

I have had a cat, but I have 4 dogs. Does that make me anti-cat? I hope not, despite the violent cat allergies that some around here have, we like them. That said:

Unlike yours, my reader stops at sites I have no business visiting. I defend my visits by calling them research. Often I'm inspired by a group of young Tumlbr's with exquisite taste and strong points of view. On a dull day one great story justifies my visit.

I found this story at Laffyourassoff and shared it with my cat loving grand daughter, who said she enjoyed it. It's what passes as humor in our house. May it brighten your cat loving day.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mrs. T Day

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I adore my bride. Paraphrasing Auden (180 degrees out of context) she is my North, my South, my East, my West. I cherish our life together, and cannot imagine any other life which would be any more worth living. Today is the anniversary of Mrs. T's birth, for which I am especially grateful.

As with most husbands, I'm the burr under her saddle. We are opposites in every thing that doesn't matter, and joined at the hip at those that do. Together, we are indomitable. She's taught me to take the long view, I've taught her not to take things so seriously. They have been gifts from the heart, each to the other.

Mrs. T is not my best friend, she doesn't complete me, her life would be full and satisfactory without me. I, on the other hand, would be hopelessly lost without her. She's my reason, she's my why. I cherish her. Because of her I want to live forever. I'll need at least that long to convincingly convey to her how lucky I am, how happy I am being married to her, how I treasure her love and each moment we are together. I love her mostest.

Happy Birthday my adored.

Monday, June 25, 2012

bespoke leather goods

My wallet

Once upon a time I wrote about men and their wallets. I feel that men come in two categories. The first carry everything they own in their hip pocket wallet, while the other are minimalists who travel lightly carrying little in their wallets. Whatever category a man falls into, his wallet of choice is unchangeable. I fall into the minimalist camp. My wallet is not much larger than an index card. Always was, always will be. That is why I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from frequent commentor Doug Addington (Ldaddington at gmail) aka Old Polo asking if he could make a wallet for me.

Of course I said yes. We traded emails regarding my preferences, and what I carry in my pocket. I asked few questions in return not wanting to ruin the surprise.

Old Polo explained that be began leatherworking while repairing tack during his polo playing days. Now he designs and crafts all manner of leather goods for clients far and wide, and is available for bespoke commissions.

Three wallets arrived last week. I have a favorite but I have changed wallets every day since in order to select the "right one".

Each is oiled leather, much like a baseball glove.

My initial favorite

Same as the first only laced

I love them all, but someday, probably not soon, I'll have to settle upon a favorite. Old Polo's leather goods have my seal of approval, and I suggest that for something special you get in contact with him.

When I called to thank him for my prizes Doug told me of growing up in the Black Hills. Today is also the anniversary of the the Battle of Little Big Horn/ Custer's Last Stand (1876). That took place in the Black Hills as well.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

What I've Learned

For the past ten days we've had family members coming and going around here. Now it is eerily quiet. Everyone has gone home yet Mrs. T and I remain, wondering what to do with ourselves. How will we ever trump the "Broadway's Best" recital on the last afternoon of acting camp?

Now with one more week of full time repair and clean work facing me I thought I'd pass along some of what I've learned this month in the hope it saves you time and effort some day.

Anyone who tops a window seat with drywall is not your friend.

It is preferable to hire trained pros than to learn never to be used again outdoor skills.

Tree cutters cut deals after Halloween.

Water in on or around your house is your home's worst enemy. Clean your gutters regularly and extend downspouts to drain water away quickly. In Mayberry new gutters cost $5 a foot (installed) to replace. Cleaning them is easier and cheaper than replacing. Benign neglect is still neglect. Check Craigslist if you are unwilling to clean the gutters yourself.

Ours are being replaced next week.

Moss on siding is ugly. A number of products exist which will remove it, but few things work better and are as cheap as household bleach. Wear old clothes,find an old bucket or aluminum turkey pan and pour a cup or two of bleach in. Then take a paint roller (use an extender pole if needed) dipped in bleach and roll on. Wash off with a hose. Be generous with the water if there are plants in the drip zone.

I'm back to work.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

If I were younger...

It's near 95 degrees in Mayberry (35C) which is to be expected at this time of year. Humid too for good measure. Recess is over and I'm still piddling around the manse, painting, repairing and pitching, but I'm pacing myself. We've 10 more days to go.

Were I younger, I'd be ashamed of myself as I dodge in and out of the air conditioning while a crew of hard working younger guys work their butts off rebuilding a retaining wall.

Occasionally, I'll mosey over to watch them work, feigning interest in their progress, offering encouragement, water and ice to prod them along.

But my heart really isn't into it. Granddaughter Liz and her family are here and the pool beckons. I'm old. The kids working to beautify our home are professionals. They'd rather I shamelessly kept away.

Welcome Summer.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Whole Fam Damily

My entire gang, gathered together for the first time in 6 years, and the first time together for Father's Day in 15. I am as excited as a puppy with a new bone.


Monday, June 18, 2012

8th grade graduation party

I found a box of old photos that I believed I had lost many years ago. I've spent too many hours since reviving old memories, trying to remember places and names from once upon a time. Some have gone and some remain. Many I've scanned for my kids, which some day they will wonder who the hell was that, especially since I have provided no background info. They'll have to make up their own stories and fight amongst themselves over who's right.

The photo above is one I never expected to see again. My first girl friend at our 8th grade graduation party, taken on this date in 1966. She moved a month later, and I haven't seen, spoken to or hardly thought of her in 45 years until I saw this photo. I remember her fondly, and hope she's well. Should you recognize her, tell her I said hi.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raspberry Pi has arrived

Computer geeks may be amused to learn my $35 fully featured computer arrived midst the chaos of our home yesterday. It's a bit smaller than a pack of Chesterfield Regulars. The details may be found here.

With luck, I can steal a bit of time Sunday to make it work.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Half Time Break

I've been granted a very temporary reprieve from the daily grind of paint repair or pitch. My 3 children along with their spouses and children are spending the weekend with us. It's the first time in 6 years my entire family will be together. I am over the moon excited.

The first arrives today, 2 arrive tomorrow and 5,including thespian granddaughter Liz, show up Friday. It will be like summer Festivus.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Would you pay to move it?

We are approaching the half way point of our month long paint, repair and pitch it campaign and are making great strides. I am motivated by the projects that present instant results, hence hardly a day goes by without a paint brush in my hand.

Thus far the exterior has been painted, the pool house mechanical room which had major water damage has been drywalled and re-insulated, and most of the interior light fixtures have been replaced and parts of the second floor repainted and windows washed.

Tomorrow the siding guy comes to replace the gutters and the tree chipper comes Friday.

My mantra has become, "would you pay to move it?" If not pitch it. While we have no plans to move anytime soon, in a house with lots of storage it's too easy to accumulate stuff. It's been cathartic to purge the detritus found in closets and garages, swiftly and ruthlessly. Goodwill, the Salvation Army and the Habitat shop are as grateful to have it, as I am to be rid of it.

I've also found many things that I never knew I had, especially boxes of old family photos I believed were lost forever. Going through those photo boxes cost most of an afternoon and night, reliving the memories, trying to remember names of people long forgotten and places and spaces of long ago- priceless. Time not misspent.

Later in the week I'll share a special photo.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Sir Jackie Stewart - cool guy

from The Gentleman's Slipper by Fiona Dreesmann

Celebrating his 73rd today is 3 time World Champion Formula One racer Jackie Stewart, The Flying Scotsman. Jackie record of most wins in Formula One (27) stood for 14 years, and his record of most wins by a British driver stood for 19 years. He was a boyhood hero of mine.

During his racing career, the likelihood of a driver who raced in F1 for 5 years being killed racing were two out of three. In a horrific crash in the Belgium Grand Prix of 1966, Stewart was trapped in his car for 25 minutes with leaking fuel over him. He was extricated by other drivers with tools borrowed from spectators. Having no doctors or medical crew at the track, a truck drove him to an ambulance, which then got lost on its way to the hospital. Fortunately he wasn't badly hurt, but the accident changed his life and view of racing. He became racing's most outspoken advocate for safety at the track, and in the cars.

Stewart had earned a reputation as a skilled yet prudent driver. He was popular with racing fans and readily available to the press to clearly articulate his message. His growing victory total proved he was fearless and no one doubted his bravery when he called for greater driver protections (mandatory seat belts and full face helmets) and led successful driver boycotts of race tracks which did not have adequate safety, fire and medical resources available. To quote Jackie "I would have been a much more popular World Champion if I had always said what people wanted to hear. I might have been dead, but definitely more popular." His legacy as a safety advocate is as great as his racing legend.

Throughout it all he has had one great woman by his side, his childhood sweetheart. They'll celebrate their 50th anniversary this year.

Happy Birthday Sir Jackie, thanks for the memories.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cool Guy- Prince Phillip

Who has the world's most thankless job? My guess it's today's birthday boy, Prince Phillip, consort to Queen Elizabeth. Today is his 91st. natal day. In the US we only get the highly polished, heavily edited version of HRH. Around the Empire and Foreign Office he is better known for his not so politically correct mutterings. Here thanks to ListServe are some of his more famous observations.

1. China State Visit, 1986

If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.

2. To a blind women with a guide

“Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?”

3. To an Aborigine in Australia

“Do you still throw spears at each other?”

4. To his wife, the Queen, after her coronation

“Where did you get the hat?”

5. When asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union

“The bastards murdered half my family”

6. To a Briton in Budapest

“You can’t have been here that long – you haven’t got a pot belly.”

7. To a driving instructor in Scotland

“How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”

8. To a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea

“You managed not to get eaten, then?”

9. To Elton John after hearing Elton had sold his Gold Aston Martin

“Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car – we often see it when driving to Windsor Castle.”

10. On the London Traffic Debate

“The problem with London is the tourists. They cause the congestion. If we could just stop tourism, we could stop the congestion.”

11. To the President of Nigeria, dressed in traditional robes

“You look like you’re ready for bed!”

12. Unknown

“If you see a man opening a car door for a woman, it means one of two things: it’s either a new woman or a new car!”

13. On key problems facing Brazil

“Brazilians live there”

14. To the matron of a hospital in the Caribbean

“You have mosquitos. I have the Press”

15. ‘If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.’ To a meeting of the World Wildlife Fund in 1986.

Happy Birthday sir, may you live forever and continue to share your opinions with the rable.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

bjorn borg--cool guy

The years have been good to today's birthday boy. Certainly the greatest tennis player of his generation, he may perhaps be the greatest all round player ever.

His straight set battles with Jimmy Conners, at Wimbledon (won) and the The US Open (lost) are the stuff of legends. The Borg/Conners/McEnroe matches helped to elevate tennis's popularity at a time when big money via television was beginning to change professional sports.

The scrawny kid grew into a not too bad looking guy.

Happy Birthday Mr. Borg, and thanks for the memories


Monday, June 4, 2012

Hello Volkswagen

In 1998 the company which built Rolls Royce and Bentley motor cars was on the brink of extinction. It's owner, Vickers, needed to sell quickly, preferably to BMW which built the engines for the latest models. Believing they had a done deal, BMW submitted a low ball bid for the company, but were outbid by Volkswagen.

In the early '70's Rolls Royce split itself into 2 companies; RR Limited which builds aircraft engines and RR Motors which builds RR and Bentley cars. Oddly, the aircraft company owned all rights to the name Rolls Royce, the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, and the trademarked grill design, and leased them to the automobile maker. The car company owned the car factory, parts business and all the assets of Bentley Motors.

BMW didn't take losing to Volkswagen well, and got their evens. When the sale of Rolls Royce and Bentley to Volkswagen was announced, on this date in 1998, BMW approached their aircraft partner, RR LTD. with an offer to purchase the Rolls Royce name, logos, and trademarks, which was accepted, leaving Volkswagen with Bentley, an opportunity for selling parts for older RR cars and an old factory.

BMW won the name but not the heritage.

Today RR's are built by BMW at a new factory in England, Bentley's are built by Volkswagen at the site of the old RR plant in Crewe. Both are each doing very well thank you.


In praise of Husqvarna

Three summers ago I replaced our dying lawn mower with a less used Husqvarna, known forever in these parts as The Iron Horse. Living in the woods I cut grass 3 or 4 times a season. It gets its greatest workout in the fall, mulching leaves.

The Horse is often rode hard and put away wet, and each winter I swear I'll tend to its foibles in the off season. I'm not that virtuous, so it needs fixing every summer. This year it was a steering part that needed replacement.

Once upon a time, boys learned how to tinker with mechanical things by working on their cars, especially if their car was British. Modern cars don't offer kids the same opportunity to learn out of necessity, it is their loss.

My first car, was a Triumph Spitfire circa 1963, purchased in 1970. I wanted to magnetize the bumpers to help catch the parts that rattled off every time I drove it. It's only saving grace was that the bonnet (hood) tilted forward so you could sit on the front tires while you worked.

It has been my experience from owning Triumph's, Jaguars, Lotus and Bentley's that Brit cars are gorgeous, poorly designed rolling money pits, but they are all fun to drive.

My First

The Iron Horse on the other hand isn't as much fun to drive, but it's a joy to work on. It's cleverly designed, logically engineered, well built and easy to work on. Best of all, any repair can be completed using only 2 tools. The perfect vehicle to teach rudimentary mechanical skills to an interested kid.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

God save the Queen

While Britain celebrates their Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend may I offer several Queenly items you may not have been aware of? I thank Time Magazine for the complete list.

Her real birthday is April 21.

Were you aware the Queen is fluent in French?

Since 1952 the Queen has confered over 404,000 honors and awards. She has personally held 610 investitures.

Elizabeth is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror.

In 2002 Elizabeth at 76 was the oldest monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The youngest was James I aged 51.

She has been served by 12 British Prime Ministers. Tony Blair was the first PM born while she was Queen. 12 US Presidents have held office during her reign as have 6 Catholic Popes and 6 Archbishop's of Canterbury.

In the past 60 years she has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 state visits to 116 countries.

Elizabeth is the first British Monarch to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary.

In a typical year she hosts 50,000 people at dinner, banquets, luncheons, etc at Buckingham Palace.

She has sat for 129 official portraits.

She has owned at least 30 Corgi's, has introduced a new breed a Dorgi (dachshund/corgi), and since 1911 the monarch has also maintained a line of black Labs-the Sandringham line as well as Cocker Spaniels.

Elizabeth is patron to at least 600 charities and foundations.

She is one busy gal.
God save the Queen.


Friday, June 1, 2012

The Bed Sitting Room

Are you familiar with the movie that almost single handedly destroyed Richard Lester's film career The Bed-Sitting Room? Having spent the early 60's successfully making Beatles movies Richard turned his hand at satire. It wasn't a success. It took him 5 years to get approval to film for money again.

Released on this date in 1969, The Bed Sitting Room tells of the aftermath of WWIII, the shortest war in living memory. The war took 2 minutes 28 seconds from the beginning of hostilities till the signing of the peace accord, sadly the population of Britain was reduced from 58 million people to 20 as a result of a nuclear explosion.

The Bed Sitting Room tells how those 20 strive to preserve the British way of life. It's funny, it's sad and it's just plain odd. Not a great movie (most likely it was a bit too ahead of its time) it has aged well. Perfect for fans of British humour. Included in the cast are Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Marty Feldman in his first screen role, and Ralph Richardson. The credits list the actors by height.

Released 4 months prior to the first Monty Python broadcast, careful viewers may observe the influence of The Bed Sitting Room on Monty Python skits and John Lennon's lyrics as dialog. Perhaps it is available on Netflix. If not, you'll have to wait for TCM.