Friday, June 24, 2016


The referendum has come and gone. The votes have been cast. Britain has decided to leave the European Union. The silly folk of England have chosen to make their own mistakes and successes - and not act at the whim of their erstwhile puppet masters in Belgium. As a yank I cannot, I suspect, understand all of the details pro/con but I can certainly appreciate the passion of those involved.

Immediate results from the vote? Financial markets are in free fall. Hmmm - may be a good time to buy that Jaguar you've always wanted. And to all of the Christians who claimed the European Union was a sign the end times are here - um - oops. Wrong again.

And all of this was done  peacefully at the ballot box. Make no mistake about it - the rancor between the two sides runs deep. Only time will tell for how long but now it is time foe the real work to begin.

We had a somewhat similar referendum here in the U.S.A. a number of years ago. It was called the Civil War - though there was nothing civil about it. More Americans died as a result of that conflagration - over 600,000 - than WWI, WWII, Korea and Viet Nam combined. Luckily BREXIT was verbally bloody but relatively bloodless otherwise.

I have friends - good friends - on  both sides of the BREXIT issue though admittedly more on the victorious leave side of the equation. I have no dog in the hunt and can actually see logic to both sides of the issue. That is irrelevant though as the votes have been  counted. Time to set in motion the wheels of  change. David Cameron is resigning and a new captain must be elected to steer the Brits Do ya think they now just might understand how we felt when we left their Empire to run our own lives and determine our own future? That turned out pretty well - one can only hope the Brits and their return to independence from the EU turns out well.

That slamming sound you hear is the doors slamming shut on immigration in England. The EU can no longer dump millions of  unwanted people on the island to disrupt all of the social services and programs for which Britain is known.  They are ahead of US on that one.

So now Britain won't send soldiers to fight in wars not of their own choosing or as dictated by the EU. Hmm - will they still ask how high? when we here in the US say jump? 

Now they can negotiate trade deals with the world on their own. Do they negotiate agreements with the EU or the individual member states? Are they in better shape negotiating deals with - say - China on their own or were they better off as part of the EU? Only time will tell.

Defense - can they better defend themselves alone? I have no idea how that will play out. 

The question seems to be this - in an increasingly global economy can Britain better compete alone or as part of a larger economic block. Britain has voted to not relinquish any of their sovereignty for the promise of dealing with the world in all matters as part of a group with allegedly shared purpose.

My friends I can only say "Be careful what you wish for - you just might get it." I know the Brits are not afraid of hard work and that is what this new world of theirs requires. Best of luck to you my friends. I wish you nothing but success.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

No, It Isn't Beethoven LBC 06/24

No, It Isn't Beethoven

No, It Isn't Beethoven

No, It Isn't Beethoven

No, It Isn't Beethoven

No, It Isn't Beethoven

This week's musical interlude is brought to you courtesy of Lin who suggested the topic. The result was total brain freeze that left me speechless and forced to resort to music.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Travel by swipe!!!

Ah retirement.  In checking my Amazon account I find I have  ordered 66 books for my Kindle so far  this year and have read 63 of them. Alas - other than the Jefferson Bible, most of my reading is what even I consider lightweight but what the  hell - retirement is like permanent  vacation so I read beach reads as it were. The last six have all  been Australian in origin by a guy named Peter Corris about his character Cliff Hardy - a PEA (Private Enquiry Agent) aka an Aussie private detective. Hardy is a bit of a bad ass - reminds me a bit of an all time fave of mine named Travis McGee.  They are a couple of generations apart so there is that generational difference - Hardy being more modern. A bit more. Both travel to the beat of their own drummer but I swear they both used session players and could have shared Hal Blaine, Bobby Graham or Clem Cattini.  I heartily recommend Hardy's adventures - as well as McGee's but McGee was authored in very different times and some may find his attitudes a bit archaic and most definitely politically incorrect although he was evolving right up to the death of his creator,  John D MacDonald.

More literary fun can be had with the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln  Child.  Pendergast is one of the most unique characters in contemporary mystery fiction and has been for years.  There are 15  titles, the first being Relic published in 1995. The most recent - Crimson Shore is from 2015. With so many twists, turns and changes over the course of the series this one should be read in order. There is simply too much back story that is critical to the later tales. I caught up and read the last 3 this year.

Being a male baby boomer it will come as no surprise I love cowboys and westerns. These days that mantle is proudly and excellently carried by Craig Johnson with his Longmire series. I've read 5 of those this year, am current with the book series and also a big fan of the television series now available on Netflix. Season 5 is about to wrap production and should hit the streaming airwaves in September.  My only complaint about the TV  series is that Lou Diamond Phillips - who is otherwise excellent as  Walt's best friend Henry Standing Bear is not 6'4 - LOL. Otherwise Aussie Robert Taylor and Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Galactica fame completely capture  the spirit of Johnson's characters and stories. Check out the books and the series.

Were I to be forced to pick a favorite character/author it would have to be Dana Stabenow and her Kate Shugak series set in Alaska. Stabenow is as fine a chronicler of the human condition as you are likely to find ever. Her characters are richly developed, as are her stories - typically set in a fictional park in Alaska. I am  current with the series and anxiously awaiting  the next entry. It's also about time for the next Harry Dresden tale - everyone's favorite wizard detective in Chicago - from Jim Butcher. I mention him here because Dana Stabenow suggested the series in an email years ago.

So that is my reading experience so far this year. Since I  cannot afford to hit the road for real, I travel through books. As such I have spent considerable time so far this year in the US Southwest and its Navajo and Apache nations, Alaska, Sidney Australia, New York, New England and New Orleans. And summer has only just begun. Next stop  London for the turn of the twentieth  century. Almost time to board the wayback machine.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Down the Garden Path LBC 06/17/2016

Down the Garden Path - this week's topic comes from Lin.

Trust me. I'll get that  money I owe you soon.

You'll love this. The view is spectacular. 

Try it. It will be good for you. 

Connection to a veiled bride?  Can it be that in the very old days villages married off their unattractive brides by hiding them behind a veil thereby deceiving the poor schmuck of a groom? Would people really do that?

I there a chance  a garden is so spectacular that it distracts someone and allows him/her to be easily deceived? 

Psycholinguists have adopted the term 'garden path sentence' for a sentence that fools the reader by being grammatically correct whilst beginning in such a way that their most likely first interpretation of it will be wrong. For example: "He told the boy the dog bit Bob would look."

The first known published occurrence of 'lead you up the garden' is in Ethel Mannin's 'Sounding Brass' (1926) where it refers to women leading me. Heck - that might make gardens even more popular. 

Trust me - I am not making this up. The Northern Cobblestone Blog did. 

There are  couple of interesting examples going on right now. Try following the rhetoric regarding England's upcoming referendum regarding leaving the EU. Or follow the presidential election rhetoric right here in the good old USA.

Real origins? Is it not ironic that God led Adam and Eve  into the Garden of Eden knowing it was a veritable minefield of issues  that his/her admittedly imperfect creations could stumble and fall over since he also gave them free will.  Do anything you choose! But if you don't do just what I say, you  are gonna get a whippin! Yep - God has a sense of humor for sure. So I submit that may have been the first use of the term up/down the garden path.
More examples of  God's sense of humor -

Ever see a duck-billed platypus?

And if God only gives you what you can handle clearly I am a bad-ass in his/her eyes.

So the garden path has been with us a long, long time. Don't be fooled by the salesman - in whatever the circumstance you find yourself on that path. Gardens may not always be what they seem.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Peace of Mind LBC 06/10/16

This weeks topic comes from Ramana.  Peace of  mind.  That elusive state we all seek. It's something akin to knowing you've given your all in any given task. You left it all on the field of play/battle and you gave your best possible effort. What will be will be.

For some of us it comes from a spiritual rebirth or awakening. Have you ever  simply stared in awe at one of the may wonders in the world?

Of course there is also Piece of  Mind -not to be compared with this weeks topic. But what the heck - lets live  dangerously. This piece of mind is reserved for those who irritate the bejeebers out of us to the point we simply cannot maintain our silence and we fire away. The piece of mind we give up is typically not pleasant though it certainly can be in civil discourse. You remember that don't you? I know it is election season but think back to those thrilling days of yesteryear.

I confess - my peace of mind is about to flee the coop as I am about to be set upon by my daughter and her family once again, Suffice it to say I shall need to refill my BP prescription. I am - though - looking forward to being around my 6-year old grandson again. Amazing how restorative that can be to peace of mind. 

That's my take on Ramana's topic - I am curious how he will handle it. Synchronicity not withstanding, he has an eastern mindset whereas I am decidedly western. Brothers from different mothers as it were although we have shown to be in sync on many things. And Lin is never predictable. 
See ya next week - 

Friday, June 3, 2016

When I Was Young LBC 06/03

This weeks topic was my suggestion. What was I thinking?   Simple actually -

My friend Ron Ryan has told me stories of his youth and his memories of WWII, London and the Blitz. Since he shared those stories with me that song has always made me think of Ron.

When I was young the world was in turmoil. Has it not ever been thus?? While the Viet Nam war raged and the US reinstated the lottery, one night my friends Dave Hitchcock, Dave Wegenka and I were at a drive in movie. It was an important night - lottery numbers for every birthday were about to be announced. Mine was in the low thirties. In other words, I was going to be drafted. At the time I was in college playing football. People from my high school class that I knew had already been killed in Viet Nam.  I figured that was how fate would deal with me. But, it seems there was no place in the military for 6'2 285-lb defensive linemen. I failed the physical. Too big t o be a soldier. I was both ashamed and relieved.  I corresponded regularly with several friends in the military during their tours in Viet Nam and their letters increased both my shame and relief over the years. To be honest I am not sure I ever got over those feelings.

When I was a senior in HS playing football there was a sophomore that made the varsity football team. Dave Langdon is his name. He served in Viet Nam and became a police officer in our town - Hayward - and served both with honor, courage and dignity. Dave is the type of man who helped make the good old USA the good old USA. He is a man I have admired for years. This song is for him

I met my wife Lynn at a New Years Eve party in 1968. That apparently sealed my fate as we were together pretty much from that night until her death in 2014 as a result of Huntington's disease. That event and the 10 years spent watching her struggle and die pretty much convinced me the so-called loving God was a sham. I could not be a God-fearing man again. Ever again. What happened to Lynn could NOT be the work of a kind, loving God.  If you choose to have faith in him, that is your choice.

So now here we are -I am no longer young. As my friend Audrey says, I am circling the drain. My family is mostly dysfunctional - although my son shows signs of figuring things out. Me?  You know his one

Unfortunately time seems to be running out. 

TMI? Too personal? Sorry  about that but it has been a long week. As Popeye (who I never liked) said, I am what I am. To that I add take it (me) or leave it (me). Now it 's time to see what Rummy and Lin have to say about this topic.