Archive for Life - page 2

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day

July 4th, 1776: The Continental Congress adopts the text of the Declaration of Independence.



Though Congress had voted in favor of actually declaring independence from Great Britain on July 2nd, Thomas Jefferson was selected to draft the document and after 2 days of writing and editing, the text was ratified on July 4th.  This was not a trivial act – it was an act of treason.  Were the revolution to fail, it would mean a death sentence.

Listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence here.

Reflect for a moment today on what we have to be grateful for, because some men a few hundred years ago had the courage to draft and sign a document.

Cross posted at Men Out of Work Blog

Today is the 71st Anniversary of D-Day

Today is the 71st Anniversary of D-Day

Please tell me you know what D-Day is.  In case you don’t, go here.  Then stop whining about how tough we have it today.

Follow this link to the National WWII Museum website D-Day Timeline for an hour by hour account.  Here’s a sample:


Cross posted at Men Out of Work Blog

Music Friday – prequel (appetizer) edition

Music Friday – prequel (appetizer) edition

Welcome at long last to another Music Friday!

Today we’re going to drill down to the bedrock that the foundation of my musical tastes are built upon.  You may remember that over the last few months I have been trying to determine my “peak music year” by examining the BillBoard Hot 100 music charts and that based on those charts I had eliminated 1972, ’73 and ’74 as possibilities for consideration.  However, there was much music I liked that occured during those years that did not appear on the charts, much of it by artists like The Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald and of course Steely Dan.  There is something – or rather someone – that The Doobies and Steely Dan have in common:  Michael McDonald.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s the proof:

Steely Dan with Michael McDonald: Pretzel Logic live

The Doobie Brothers with Michael McDonald: Minute by Minute live (note – long intro skip ahead to 2:20)

OK, there’s the appetizer.  Main course right below – scroll down!

Music Friday – Deep In The Weeds (Entree) Edition

Music Friday – Deep In The Weeds (Entree) Edition

I said deep in the WEEDS, not deep in the weed.

Here is Donald Fagen, one of the founders of Steely Dan talking about the composition of one of their songs, Chain Lightning.  He goes way, way way into detail.  One of the reasons why Steely Dan is so popular among musicians is that there is really some craft that goes into their “meaningless” songs.  There is some “there” there if you know where to look for it – kind of like an inside joke.  Take a listen:

Now just the song without the lecture.

Oh yeah.  Don’t bother to understand…don’t question the little man…be part of the brotherhood.

Chain Lightnin’…Feels So Good.  How did you like your meat ‘n potatoes?  Dessert’s next.

Music Friday – Existential Question (dessert) Edition

Music Friday – Existential Question (dessert) Edition

How do the fools survive?  Who’s asking?  And just who are those fools?  Like any good dessert, a little sweet and a little tart.  And not too heavy.

“I hand them this life, to do what they will.  They got to make their way from here…”  

Indeed.  We got to make our way.

Oh…and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (who is apparently some kind of genius) on the gee-tar.

When a door opens, just say “yes” and figure it out later

When a door opens, just say “yes” and figure it out later

Over a I read a story of a guy who took a job with UPS because he heard they had good benefits.  He started out working the ramp at Louisville Inernational Airport where the shipping company had established it’s hub, and as years passed, this fellow worked his way up the food chain until one day he was tasked with figuring out how to ship two whale sharks from Taiwan to Atlanta and then later two Beluga whales from Mexico City to Atlanta.  His name is Bland Matthews and he is known as UPS’ logistical guru.  Oh…and the answer to those questions involves a Boeing 747 and a balancing act.

UPS 747

Click here to read the whole fascinating story.  While it is an intersting tale of how to get big jobs done, Mr. Matthews reveals a little secret about life in general:

On Christmas morning, he received a call. “They asked me to be a ‘cargo load master’ and I immediately said yes, not even knowing what that was,” says Matthews. “When a door opens, I don’t say ‘I can’t do it,’ — I just say yes, then figure it out later.”

cross posted at Men Out of Work Blog

Welcome New Readers

Welcome New Readers

If you are a new vistior here, welcome!

Let me give you a couple tips on how to get the maximum out of your time spent here.  Essentially this is my soap box, a forum to express my thoughts through writing.  My secondary goals are to entertain my readers, perhaps even to educate or inspire them as well.  For more background, click on “about” in the upper right hand corner.

The technical stuff:  the articles (or “posts”) are in chronological order – newest at the top and older below.  To the left of each title is the date the post was created.  The main page shows all the posts in all categories – if you want to narrow it down, click on a category in the list on the right and – voila!  Only posts in that category are displayed.  Also on the right hand sidebar are “recent posts” whaich are – you guessed it – the 5 most recent posts; and “popular posts” which are the posts that have received the most views in case you like to follow the crowd.  My recommendation?  Read everything.

Boromir meme

Within each post you will notice some text in red.  These are links to additional information.  Click on the red text and a new tab will open taking you to an article, a wikipedia page, a song or something that supports or relates to the material I am writing about.  Try it – click on this link and see where it takes you.

Most pictures within posts can be enlarged by clicking on them.

And – the blog is interactive.  That’s right!  You can participate by leaving a comment or comments on each post by clicking the “comments” button on the left under the date.  All comments are moderated (that means I have to approve them before they are published) so I will see your comment.  And so will the rest of the world if I approve it.

So – happy reading!  And enjoy!

Meet An Old Friend Of Mine…

Meet An Old Friend Of Mine…

It turns out that one of the major geographical features of California is not all that well understood.  The feature?  The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  Here is an article at ArsTechnica entitled Growing Mystery – Getting To The Bottom of The Highest Peak In The Lower 48 that outlines the study of the origins of the range.   Reading this was for me a little like reading the biography of a favorite person about whom you just want to know more.  Someone you feel that you already know well, but are always willing to learn more about.

sierra nevadas

The snow covered Sierra Nevada Mountains run roughly along the eastern edge of California

The range runs some 400 miles roughly northwest to southeast, almost all within the borders of California.  Some features that are known worldwide are Lake Tahoe (largest alpine lake in North America), Yosemite National Park, and Mount Whitney (at 14,400 feet highest peak in the lower 48 states).  Interestingly enough, juxtaposed only 85 miles or so southeast of Mount Whitney is Badwater Basin, the lowest point not just in the U.S., but in the entire continent of North America at 282 feet below sea level.

I live in California today because of the fact that my father fell in love with California when the Air Force sent him here in 1959. And one of the reasons he fell in love with California was the mountains.  I have camped, hiked and hunted in the Sierras since I was a child.   Because the Sierras have been a part of my life since my childhood, I feel that they are indeed a part of me.

And they are one of the reasons – if not the reason – that I will never leave California.

Half Dome from Glacier Point

I experience a certain serenity in the higher elevations where the air is thin, cool and dry.   Looking upon massive formations, ridgelines and watersheds, I see magnificently functioning ecosystems created only by the hand of God.

The beauty of the Sierras begins in the lower elevations as they they rise from the eastern edge of the central valley, where the dense foothill woodlands are teeming with wildlife both great and small.  Penetrating deeper into these environs, a person becomes aware of their diminishing superiority over their surroundings.  A feeling arises that caution should be exercised as absolute safety is not a given, and that there may be creatures lurking about that now rank higher on the food chain than you do.  Climbing now in elevation,  enter the diverse montane forests of massive pines, fir, cedars and giant sequoias.  If you travel  higher still into the subalpine zones and you will see sparse white pines, lodgepole pines, aspens and beautiful wildflowers in the spring.

Silver Lake from Hwy 88 April 2015

And finally, if not on foot, find one of the handfull of high passes accessible by car and experience the alpine zones at the crest where you may behold the spectacular granite desolation above the tree line, where both the flora and fauna are small if present at all.

Yosemite granite lake


There are a few places on earth that make a person feel that they are only part of a larger wonderful creation rather than outside it looking in.  The Sierras are one of those places for me.  They are something I am part of – somewhere I belong.


PS – all photos except the satellite shot are mine.  You may click on the picture to see a large version



Here’s 8 Minutes of Cats Being Jerks

Here’s 8 Minutes of Cats Being Jerks

Warning!: contains some cat-induced profanity

You’re Welcome.

BarBots: Robots, or Vending Machines?

BarBots: Robots, or Vending Machines?

I do not regard the advances in robotic bartender technology with the same skepticism as I view the advances in development of artificial intelligence.  Nor do I see these advances as heralding the coming Robot Revolution.  Just because, that’s why.  Anyway, the current crop of BarBots are really more akin to drink dispensers or vending machines judging from the photo gallery that accompanies this piece at EnGadget:

Bots and Booze: the Automated Bar of the ‘Future’.  

The difference today is that the so called robots are less boxy and slicker looking than those of yesteryear.

Oh… and women don’t wear their hair “up” so much anymore.

Look, if you’re going to call it a BarBot then it has to have some characteristics of both a robot and a bartender.  Otherwise it’s just a damn coke machine.  And if there was going to be a revolution of the coke machines I’m sure that would have already happened by now.


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