Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sam's Birthday

happy Birthday Mr. Clemons. I'm still wraslin with the Autobiography.


Dem Bones?

Do you read Will Boehlke's A Suitable Wardrobe? I read it much as I do Town and Country, more aspirational than anything, but it is a great daily read.

Last week, Will had a piece on boning shoes. Once upon a time, the outer portion of men's shoes were polished suede, meticulously rubbed with deer bones to give the perfect finish. Today riding boots are about the sole application for boning.

The post got me wondering just where would one pick up a supply of bones for shoe polishing. I asked my friends at Cobblestone, the local Alden source, and got one of those looks. It dawned on me that perhaps if you had to ask...

Where I went wrong was asking people.

Place your order with a 10 pound Shih Tzu and she'll return with the goods.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Sometimes things never change

I'm becoming my father.

I realized much too late that my father was a car guy. He just had an odd way of showing it. From the early 1960's through the mid 80's, every 3 years he ordered a Chevy Impala. Convertible, coupe, sedan, hot rod, he had them all. Six in a row in fact (1961-1984).

In reaction to a lifetime of the same, I have never purchased the same car twice. My bride on the other hand likes what she likes, and doesn't much care for change. To Mrs. T a car is an appliance. (I wrote about it lovingly here.) It better work. It had better be big enough to carry all the grandkids, their stuff, our stuff and any other stuff.

Her last two cars have been trouble free Mercury Grand Marquis's. Imagine a police cruiser. It looks like that.

Since I broadcast that I was looking for a car, Mrs. T and her land yacht have been in a serious accident. Early in the week, her yacht was laid to rest by the insurance adjuster. My car search went on hold, while we replaced "the family car".

Unthinkingly male, I foolishly said "that deep down, I really couldn't do 3 Merc's in a row. We've done it, time to move on," That was met with "it just saved my life, it's reliable", and other sensible girl rationalizations along with a rasher of hot tongue and cold shoulder. Mrs. T eventually did consent to an open minded look see. Like the trooper she is, she went.

Armed with your suggestions we looked, we narrowed, we drove, we reached a compromise. Then we got home.

On top of the mail was an advert from a local dealer. The ad read,"We have a boatload of pre owned 2010 Grand Marquis's. Each has 10,000 miles and is priced at 55% of the original sticker." So what if Mercury is an orphan brand, so am I.

The car Mrs. T WANTED all along, in the right color, right trim, and thousands less than our compromise choice? It's a done deal.

It looks exactly like this.

The New York Times had a wonderful obit for the GM on Sunday. Mrs T's comes home tomorrow.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Nancy Mitford

Happy Birthday Nancy!!!!!

If you are unfamiliar with her writing, try her 2 semi-autobiographical novels, "The Pursuit of Love" and "Love in a Cold Climate". Perfect holiday escape literature.

If you've a fan of 20th century Brit Lit on your holiday shopping list, you could do far worse than the Penguin re-release boxed set "Love From Nancy" which includes "Love in a Cold Climate", "The Pursuit of Love", "Don't Tell Alfred", "The Blessings" and "Wigs on the Green"

Francophiles on your gift list will appreciate receiving a copy of her biographies of Voltaire, The Sun King and Madame De Pompadour.

Give her a try. She knew everyone worth knowing,was funny, sarcastic, a great tease and a wonderful writer. All may be found at her war time employer, Heywood Hill


Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Price of Poker just went up

Tempted by the holiday ads for the "Star Registry"?

If you're unfamiliar, the program works like this. Tonight take a look outside. If the night is clear, you're likely to notice lots of stars. Peek through a spy glass and you're likely to see even more. Click on the Hubble telescope site and there are more stars than even you can count, on both hands even.

For a nominal fee, the Star Registry, and their ilk (there are lots of sites to chose from) offer exclusive naming rights (some offer ownership) of the star of your choosing. To hell with a star on the Walk of Fame, when you're a celestial owner.

Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? It was until...

Senora Angeles Duran, from Salvaterra do Mino, Galicia, Spain reported Friday that she bought the Sun (sol, soleil, sole...). The same one you see many mornings and afternoons.

Sra. Duran's certificate of ownership,"issued by the notary public declares Duran to be the "owner of the Sun, a star of spectral type G2, located in the centre of the solar system, located at an average distance from Earth of about 149,600,000 kilometres".

In a move which may put the kibosh to many solar energy projects, Angeles is planning a use tax. The Sun is now on a pay to play plan. Use the sun, pony up. This may put a crimp in Alice's Hermes budget.

We night owls have little to fear.


Friday, November 26, 2010

The Game is Afoot

Let the holiday shopping commence, just without me please.

I mentioned in the past that there is little in the phrase "Black Friday" which motivates me to reach for me wallet, and for that I blame retailers.

From the bottom of my heart I understand how important the holiday season is to many stores. I get it, I truly do. My cynicism stems from how holiday shopping is marketed.

Once upon a time, Christmas season in the US began the day after Thanksgiving, today. Now holiday creep has set in and the day after Halloween is leaning towards opening day. Once upon a time, merchants provided true incentive to be at their stores at 4 AM. Now, bargains and supply are better next week.

On-line shopping hasn't killed brick and mortar yet, but it has certainly made shopping easier, provided you know what you want.

My advice. Sleep in today, have a nice breakfast, get a few chores out of the way, and if you must, go shopping. By the time you are washing up from breakfast,the amateurs will be out of your way.

Enjoy your day. Mrs. T and I will be out, buying a car, Black Friday or no.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

While you prepare for your traditional Thanksgiving celebration, its good to remember a bit of American History.

Americans tend to believe the first European settlers to hit what is now the continental US were those dastardly, witch baiting Pilgrims who arrived near Plymouth Rock, Mass. Not true. Tidewater Virginians duel over less slanderous allegations.

Englishmen hit Jamestown settlement, in what is now Virginia in May, 1607, a good 13 years before Pilgrims came to our shores. In one of the great coincidences in history, the Jamestown settlers were met by English speaking natives. The native locals learned English during the earlier, lost Roanoke settlement. One of their first questions was "Did you bring beer?" True story.

Those in the west take a longer view of history than those in the east. Plymouth Rock and all their shenanigans is a long way from the Pacific. Westerners have a completely different dynamic than Virginians or Mass Bay colonists.

Those west of Denver know the Spanish arrived first. Spanish explorers came to America 40 years ahead of the English. So successful were their explorations that Sante Fe,New Mexico had a large, thriving population when in 1607, several months prior to the Jamestown landing, it was named capital of the Spanish New Mexico territory,

Easterners have a truly tough time wrapping that idea around their brains.

Had the Spanish a bit more luck and better PR, we might all be enjoying tacos and dramas about Coronado instead of turkey, mini marshmallows and Pilgrims.

Enjoy your day, count your blessings and come back safely.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday travel

While hanging in line at the airport, waiting to visit the family, have your laundry done, and be asked 10 thousand times how your love life is, keep this in mind. It will make you glad you came.

funny graphs - Like Jail Cells and Visitation Rooms
see more Funny Graphs

Last graph for a while, I promise.

On a bright note, the Apple 1 computer sold for (US)$210,000.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the US. A day which commemorates the first harvest feast celebrated by the earliest British Puritan settlers after their arrival in the North America. The history of the event is steeped in American iconography and mythology.

Most histories tell something of the gratitude of the British settlers towards the Native Americans, who taught the new kids what grew where, introduced them to new foods,(Calvin Trillin has written that Spaghetti Carbonara was an revered gift from the Native peoples to the Brits)and generally helped them survive their first winters in America.

Little is written about how whitey showed his gratitude, repaying his debt primarily with the wrong end of a blunderbust, and systematic genocide, but we moderns prefer to overlook these inconvenient truths, at least this week.

Each family has there own Thanksgiving dinner tradition.

Bless her bones, my mother was not a good cook. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, and factor in how a lifetime of 3 squares/day, 4 picky eaters, a traveling husband, and general lack of interest will take its toll on anyone. It didn't keep her from facing the kitchen every day though. Thanksgiving was her day to shine.

If you have never done it, Thanksgiving dinner is not a hard meal to prepare. A bit of prior planning helps, as does a thorough knowledge of what is expected by your family. If everyone is expecting turkey, and you serve pork, regardless of how great dinner was you have set yourself up for failure.

This post kicked off in a battle of comments last week. Most T-day foods are cliches, kicked off by the makers of mini marshmallows, canned onion ring bits, or cream of soup. Real food need hardly apply.

So what family foods will show up on your table this week, and does anyone really like or eat it, or has it just always been there?


Monday, November 22, 2010

We're number 1

This news item is likely to attract local spin, fabrication, lies, urgent calls for reform and calls for heads to roll. You won't hear many local talking heads using this opportunity get the city's name out, an unlikely example of all publicity being good publicity. So incredibly sad.
TRENTON, N.J. (Nov. 21) -- A national study finds St. Louis overtook Camden, N.J., as the nation's most dangerous city in 2009.

The study released Sunday by CQ Press found St. Louis had 2,070.1 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, compared with a national average of 429.4. That helped St. Louis beat out Camden, which topped last year's list and was the most dangerous city for 2003 and 2004.

Detroit, Flint, Mich., and Oakland, Calif., rounded out the top five.

For the second straight year, the safest city with more than 75,000 residents was Colonie, N.Y.

The annual rankings are based on population figures and crime data compiled by the FBI. Some criminologists question the findings, saying the methodology is unfair.

When you hear a city is dying, your first, second...tenth thought isn't that the locals are killing themselves off, is it?


Katy Day

You may be anticipating Thanksgiving, but in our house the greater celebration is Katy Day.

Today is my first born's birthday, she was born on Thanksgiving Day, yet is no turkey.

I'm incredibly proud of her, and so very happy to be able to bask in her radiance, albeit distantly.

We love you dahlink, celebrate well, I wish we were there to celebrate with you.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

To buy or not to buy

Speaking of the Beatles, it appears that Yoko has relented and the various owners of the Beatles music catalog have agreed that Beatles tunes may now be sold on ITunes, although I doubt John or George much care. If you're pondering a personal spending decision, or perhaps a little holiday shopping based upon this opportunity, let the following concept map from graphjam be your guide.

funny graphs - Verdict: Let It Be
see more Funny Graphs


Others do it too!

I've written previously about pre-aging new clothes, but I haven't done this...yet.

I was unsuccessfully attempting to identify a tartan recently. One thing led to another ,and as is the way of the internet, an hour later I was reading a forum dedicated to things Scottish when I came across one man's description of his efforts to resize his new Balmoral hat. Photos from the forum.

Toss it in a stream...

Hang it on a branch in the sun.


It's a story I know well, having done the same countless times with other items of clothing. What caught me up short was a comment from a South Carolina boy on the forum. I present it here.

>The 50 Mission Crush...

In my experience., almost anything that looks new when it is has been made to look old by someone. I read on a blog (Maxminimus:http://maxminimus.blogspot.com/ ) where the author was trying to "Get the Jos. Bank" out of his sportcoat, presumably, meaning he wanted it to look less off-the-rack and more "his". I have heard of all manner of aging processes applied to boat shoes, jeans ( before you paid $300 for someone else to do this) US Navy chambray shirts, etc. A fighter pilot taught me the phrase in the title. He also said the quickest way to achieve it was to remove the stiffener.

That boy do get around.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Le Car-Le Mon

A bit over a year ago, I gave my car to #2 son. I haven't replaced it. I neither miss not having it, nor am I terribly inconvenienced by its loss, but I have this sinking feeling that I need to begin giving some thought to getting another.

So once again I come hat in hand, soliciting opinions. What should I buy?

My requirements are simple. I need to be able to haul 4 adults in comfort, periodically I may need to carry something a bit more cumbersome than groceries, but not often, and certainly not far. have I mentioned I am unwilling to pay a great deal?

From what I've noticed my choice is either a car, or something that looks like a truck. I've always had cars, and have never fancied trucks, but something is drawing me towards a crossover. A Chevy Equinox, or Hyundai Elantra Touring perhaps? Do I like front wheel drive, rear wheel, AWD? The motoring world is almost unrecognizable to someone who last had a 20 year old car.

So what's in your garage? What do you like, or perhaps more importantly what do you hate? Which motoring decision do you regret? All ideas and opinions gratefully received. Please, help steer me to the right decision.


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Lennon's

This is a once in a lifetime occurance. Sean, Yoko, Cynthia and Julian Lennon posing as one big happy family, together at the September 16,2010 opening of Julian's photography show at New York's Morrison Hotel Gallery. Photo by Bob Gruen.

For reasons known only to themselves, next week is John Lennon week on PBS. Sunday night on Masterpiece Contemporary is "Lennon Naked" a dramatization of the last days of the Beatles, John and Yoko's marriage, and John's search for his father. Monday on American Masters, is "Lennon NYC". I was near certain that however much John loved being in the US, he was British. Shows what little I know.

The Mr. Mort photo of Sean Lennon and girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl is a segue to an NPR podcast series Tiny Desk Concerts. Earlier this week NPR released a podcast of the duo recorded at the NPR offices in Washington. Not only is Charlotte inoffensive to look at, she also plays accordion. That's high on my list. Their concert may be seen and heard here.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beaujolais Day II

One of the world's great marketing scams was perpetuated this morning, when at 12:01 AM Paris time the 2010 vintage Le Beaujolais Nouveau, the first wine of the new harvest, was released to an undeserving public. In the days of the Concorde trendy New York restaurants would have it available for luncheon. Now it may take until dinner, and certainly by Saturday it will appear in your local grocery.

If you have trendy or sophisticated friends you may be invited to a Beaujolais Nouveau party this weekend. I beg you to think this through, or to at least to take proper precautions.

Nouveau Beaujolais is plonk. Before your first sip remember that these grapes were on the vine in September. The less fastidious amongst us have grape juice in the fridge older than this. More experienced readers will recall that vintage Boone's Farm aged longer, as it was aged in transit, by truck from far away.

Still if you can't refuse a good party, I suggest the following. Ladies bring a large purse carrying a bottle of a decent red and substitute liberally. You'll thank yourself in the morning, as NB has an aftertaste not easily dissolved. Gentlemen, this would be a great opportunity to bring a flask, feign illness, and call whatever is inside medicine.

You have been warned, and well advised.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Virtual Shoe Museum

I wish there was some way to say that I found this sight by dint of hard work and research. Alas, I didn't.

Each of us, for our own individual reasons have blogs in our readers we have no business reading. One of mine is Godammit I'm Mad. I'll not explain why. Sister Wolf the blog's creator recently had a post on the Virtual Shoe Museum, the largest collection of (women's) tribal and ethnographic shoes in the world.

The extensive, easy to use database allows travelers to search for shoes by color, material,designer etc etc etc. Some, like those in the first photo are scary, some will make you scratch your head, many are beautiful.

Be certain to check out the bookstore.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who polishes?

In the division of labor that takes place at our house, I have the honor of polishing silver. My involvement stems either from Mrs T's reaction to the god awful smell of TarnX or the nasty fingernail polish removing properties of some products we've tried.

I don't mind though. Like painting or cutting the grass, I love the instant gratification. Turning a nasty looking piece of metal into something we're proud to have in our home is good for the ego.

I have discovered a product which makes the process not only easy but fast.

This is an unpaid, unsolicited testimonial. If you have neglected the good stuff all year, and dread the thought of having to clean and polish one more thing for the holidays, give this stuff a try. I think you will like it. I can't speak for what it may do to your fingernail polish though.

On a completely different front, you know how every house has a stash of curtain rods, hooks, hangers and assorted hardware somewhere? Where do we keep ours? I can't seem to be able to locate it.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Aladdin's Cave

Our home has 3 bedrooms which are each used perhaps 5 nights per year. The smallest, or kids room, collects everything that doesn't have a home. So I re purposed it.

A four wall, 2 window box in the northwest corner of the house. Furnished only with a trundle bed, bakers rack, child's desk and an old rocker.

I missed having my stuff strewn about. So I moved the bed and bakers rack, took an old oriental from the basement, built a drop down tabletop desk, and hung some favorite photos.

As it becomes more cluttered, it's beginning to feel more cozy.

That's Charlie on the pillow under the desk. Ted prefers the wood floor on the other side.

I'm waiting for a rainy day to paint a 4 foot by 4 foot panel on the right wall with blackboard paint. I've been warned that this room still needs to be used as a bedroom, so a complete paint redo is out of the question, but I can get away with some kind of kid fun.

My next adventure will be making curtains. I collect fabric and while searching through my box of treasures I've come up with 3 candidates. The walls are a whitish yellow.

A gun check cotton.

An old silk sari.

Or a cotton plaid.

I'm leaning towards the sari.

Still missing is a comfy reading chair, and decent lighting. One thing at a time right?


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Prince Charles - Birthday Boy

Talk about a tough job. A truly bifurcated life. Before mom dies, after mom dies. It would make anyone schizophrenic. Today's birthday boy is perhaps the most misunderstood man in the world, a dreamer, or the village idiot, and those that know which aren't telling.

Father, husband, sportsman, car guy, businessman he has done it all, every step of the way in the public eye, receiving a daily deluge of controversy for every utterance, idea and articulated thought he may have. For the most part, he has borne his responsibilities well, marching to his own drummer.

I like the guy, mostly for speaking his mind, forcefully when necessary. Anyone who is a thorn in side of greed heads and land rapers gets my vote. Hell of a dresser too.

Happy Birthday, Charles


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Maybe-Maybe Not

Timely updates, fun facts, ponderings and amusements.

1. Student Debt: According to a recent news report issued by the Hartford Courant , for the first time ever, the total amount owed for school loans in the US exceeded that of credit card debt. Is your degree worth it?

2. Gossip Girl notwithstanding, did you see the NY magazine story highlighting how a group of Columbia University RA's are paying hard, cold, cash to students willing to actually speak to other students?

3. The Turducken of Desserts? Thanksgiving is on its way, and several of your offspring will risk life and limb attempting to deep fry their bird. To make certain they do it at their house, not yours, bribe them by promising to bring dessert.

To stay in the true spirit of the feast offer to bring Cherpumple, the turducken of desserts. Cherumple is a 3 layer cake (yellow, spice, white) with a pie baked in each layer (cherry, pumpkin, apple). Recipes are plentiful, look around, I won't help.

4. Apple 1 for sale: Wondering what to get the tech geek in your life for the holidays? A true believer would be interested in the Apple 1 heading to auction at Christies London, November 23. Estimates are north of the 100,000 GBP range.

5. Could this happen where you live? In the south west Chinese city of Changsha, workers constructed a 15 story hotel, built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake in 6 days. The story here. No word on the quality of the drywall.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Advice for my fourteen year old self

My favorite Scots/Canadian and frequent visitor here, The Suburban Princess has finally published "Advice For My Fourteen Year Old Self " based upon her wisdom and experiences, expanding upon a series of her blog posts from this past summer.

It's written in the style of "things I wished an older cousin had told me". The 14 year old bit may be a bit misleading as I believe the best recipient would be that young woman, graduating high school, or early in college.

A perfect stocking stuffer for the young woman on your list, and her mother.

You may find it here. For a special dedication or signed copy get in touch with the author at the address on her blog.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank a Veteran

The bucolic meadows of Flanders had long been graced by brilliant red poppies each spring and summer, but during the Great War, the poppies disappeared. The constant trampling and bombing of the battlefields stopped the famous bloom for four full seasons. When the war was over, and the poppies were able to bloom again, the display was spectacular.

The post-war, blood red bloom from the fields of battle had a huge impact on all who saw or heard about it. Surely the most lasting memorial is the famous poem by Canadian battle surgeon/poet, John McCrae. This poem was written as he gazed at the fresh graves of his friends and comrades, with poppies “blowing” in the wind.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
Written in Flanders on May 3, 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

My generation has been blessed, in that few were called to military service. To those that have served, have children or family members serving, THANK YOU.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veterans Day

During the past week I've commandeered a spare bedroom and re-purposed it as my play room/office/toy emporium. I haven't had an office for years, and have missed having my toys scattered about.

After a couple of trips hauling treasures from the basement I spent a blissful afternoon hanging pictures, polishing toys, reliving the memories which caused me to save most to this junk in the first place, when I came across one of my most favored treasures. A treasure box made for me by #2 son for Christmas 1983. It has been stored for too long a time.

The timing must have been kismet.

Inside the box is the usual collection of cards, letters, ticket stubs, remembrances of things past. At the top of the heap was packet of photos, I'd forgotten about long ago.

The photo above is of my father, taken at his parents home not long after D Day. His destroyer escort was sunk during the invasion, killing all but 20 officers and men on board. The photo was taken as my dad was in route to his new station, an air craft carrier in the Pacific. It was during this leave he proposed to my future mother.

Thank a vet.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If Maxminimus had a son

Work with me here a minute.

If you don't you should, but I suspect that each of you reads the worthy jottings of eminent grise Maxminumus regarding those items which amuse him, those things he values and his daughter whom he cherishes. It is a must read.

Since you are familiar with the ways of his lovely daughter LFG, imagine what Maxminimus' son would look like. How would he dress?

The Sartorialist has provided the answer, take a gander at this lad. Band collar shirt, just enough shirt cuff showing, braces in place, hand firmly around his wallet, over the calf sox and suede monks to die for. This kid is the bees knees.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I can't find my phone

An advantage to not having a cell phone is I never lose it. Mrs T has one, and more than once (a week) I'm asked to ring up her phone so the light on the keypad will illuminate and she will be able to locate it in her purse. But suppose you are by yourself, in a strange city, hotel room, or office then what do you do?

Someone at I can't find my phone thought this would be a really great idea. I don't get it myself, Google Phone is another way to accomplish the same thing, but......

Also, while you were sleeping someone stole Daylight Savings Time. It is now Standard Time. Don't be late for church. We have elected to fall forward at our house this season. We'd rather have it light later into the evening. I suggest you go with whatever works best for you.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Moore's Law- in your lifetime

Intel co-founder Gordon prophesized in 1965 that the number of transistors placed on an integrated circuit would double approximately every two years. Time has proven him right. Computer processor speed, memory, pixel capability all are strongly linked to Moore's Law.

When this ad was run, the wrist radio, now cell phone, was the provenance of Dick Tracy cartoons, now along with cell phones we all have the ubiquitous digital toys few imagined not many years ago.

The hard drive ad photo from Uneasy Silence made me smile. It's not a joke, I sold lots of these drives in my day. Not 20 minutes before reading the post, I purchased a 4 gigabyte thumb drive for around $5, a savings of almost $1,359,195 over circa 1977 pricing.