Recently Read Books

  • A Delicate Truth- John Le Carre (fiction)
  • Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Fiction)
  • The Expats - Chris Pavone (Fiction)
  • An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankel (Fiction)
  • Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
  • The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
  • LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
  • Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman (non-fiction)
  • Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
  • Lawrence in Arabia (Non-Fiction)
  • In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helpren (Fiction)
  • Lesson in French - Hilary Reyl (fiction)
  • Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction)
  • Venice, A New History- Thomas Madden - (Non- Fiction)
  • Life is a Gift - Tony Bennett Autobiography
  • The First Counsell - Brad Meltzer (Fiction)
  • Destiny of the Republic - President James Garfield non-fiction by Candice Millard
  • The Last Lion (volume III)- William Manchester and Paul Reid (non-fiction, Winston Churchill)
  • Yellowstone Autumn -W.D. Wetherell (non-fiction about turning 55 and fishing in Yellowstone)
  • Everybody was Young- (non-fiction Paris in the 1920's)
  • Scorpion - (non fiction US Supreme Court)
  • Supreme Power - Jeff Shesol (non-fiction)
  • Zero day by David Baldacci ( I read all of Baldacci's Books)
  • Northwest Angle - William Kent Krueger (fiction - I have read 5 or 6 books by this author)
  • Camelot's Court-Insider the Kennedy Whitehouse- Robert Dallek
  • Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the News

I love the news. I watch news shows and I read many online news sources to see what is actually going on in the country and the world or to see what someone wants us to believe is going on. The problem with the news is that it is no always apparent what stories have at least some semblance of truth or accuracy and what stories are essentially totally bull pucky. I suppose I have come to the point as a news reader that it doesn’t really matter to me if a news story is accurate or a total fabrication and I have taken to reading the news purely for its entertainment value. I treat many news stories as fictional short stories and try to get some kind of “gee whiz” pleasure out of them. Here are a few recent items in the news that may be true, may not but who cares they are nice reads.

Yesterday it was announced that 84 year old Hugh Hefner is now engaged to a 24 year old woman. I am sure there are plenty of skeptics about the motivation of both Mr. Hefner and his lovely fiancée, Crystal Harris, for deciding to enter into an engagement and presumably marry in the near future. I for one have concluded they are a perfect match and have much in common. Crystal was born 24 years ago. Hef started collecting social security 24 years ago. Hef likes like women that look good in skimpy clothing. Crystal looks good in skimpy clothing. When Hef was born in 1926, Calvin Coolidge was president. When Crystal was born in 1986, Ronald Reagan was president. Both presidents were republicans. If Hef was an 84 year old man working part time at 7-11 rather than the fabulous wealthy founder of the Playboy empire he would still want to marry Crystal, a 24 year old sex goddess. If Hef was an 84 year old man working part time at 7-11 rather than the fabulous wealthy founder of the Playboy empire, Crystal would still want to marry – ok forget that comparison, it may not be the best example. Anyway if Hef wants to marry Crystal and Crystal wants to marry Hef, who cares. Congratulations to the both of them.

There have been a lot of news articles lately debating the issue of whether Oprah and her friend Gail are lesbians. Why is this news? Does anyone truly care whether Oprah is a lesbian? I don’t. I think Oprah is a self-made, successful person who has become an iconic cultural force. Her recommendations cause books to become best sellers. She interviews entertainers, politicians and ordinary folks who have had extra ordinary things (good or bad) happen in their life. She has produced movies and starred in movies. She has developed several television shows that have become successful. I think she seems like a decent person. Who cares if she is or isn’t a lesbian.

Here is a story I read on December 9, 2010 written by Buck Wolf:

“I had no idea Harry Potter was so... erotic. On the other hand, the name "Harry Potter" does have a certain porn-star quality to it. In any case, police in South Carolina say this man was caught in a theater touching his own magic wand during a showing of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which I'm going to have to see now. Police say they received a 911 call from the theater. When officers arrived, employees took them to the "projection booth" (doesn't that sound dirty, too?) where police say they were able to watch the man cast spells all over himself, according to Savannah Now. No idea how long they watched, but the man was ultimately charged with felony exposure."

I really don’t have anything to add to this story.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Spirit

Last night something happened. For the first time this season I got in the Christmas spirit. What triggered it ? Well I will tell you but you need to wait until you get to the end of this essay.

Monday morning I woke up around 4:00 am in Palm Desert to catch a 6:30 am flight from Palm Springs to Salt Lake City. Although I usually wake up early, it seems as though when I get up early to fly back to Salt Lake it seems too early. After a goodbye kiss from a sleepy Lovely Sharon, I drove through the dark desert morning to the airport. It was so early that when I arrived at the airport even the car rental companies were not yet open. I left my key in the Budget Car Rental key box and made my way to security. I made it through security relatively quickly and headed to gate 18. As I waited in the terminal, I looked at my fellow travelers. Everyone looked sleepy or otherwise subdued; no smiles, no laughter and really no conversation. People were reading papers, drinking coffee and listening to overhead boarding announcements. I finally got on the plane and sat in Seat 2C, an aisle seat on the Canadair Regional Jet. I tried to read but ultimately fell asleep for almost 45 minutes. We arrived in Salt Lake and I was at my desk by 10:00. My Monday work week had started.

During the week I had a number of client meetings phone conferences, contracts to draft and a court hearing in federal court. Monday and Tuesday were unusually warm in Salt Lake and snow from the previous storms had melted. The green grass again was visible. It didn’t feel like Christmas, it felt like March. My Salt Lake house does not look like Christmas either, no tree, no presents, no decorations and for that matter no people, just me. Coming home from work each late afternoon to cold and quiet house certainly did not feel Christmassy. Tuesday night I had dinner with 8 or 10 fellows from my Thursday golf group, each of them dear friends. It was a wonderful evening of friendship, laughter and man hugs. These fellows mean a lot to me but the evening did not trigger a Christmas feeling in me. I was happy but I did not yet have the feeling of Christmas joy in my heart. You know the feeling; it’s a different feeling than just happy. It’s a feeling of peace on earth good will to all. The feeling that Ebenezer Scrooge felt when he awoke on Christmas morning after a night of seeing Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future,

Wednesday morning I awoke to find that it had snowed heavily over night. The yard, driveway and walks were covered in snow. It was cold, it looked like winter but still I was not yet in that elusive Christmas spirit. It just felt like life as normal.

On Friday, I delivered blankets, clothes, diapers and other items to a giving program I have been involved with for the last 21 years. The recipients are the Rescue Mission, Women and Children in Jeopardy and a program that feeds the homeless under one of Salt Lake City’s viaducts. Some years making this delivery puts me in the Christmas spirit, but for some reason not this year. On my way to the place of delivery, the Utah State Bar Association building, I was on the cell phone talking to a client about a number of issues concerning his business. Almost absent mindedly, I dropped off the donations that were in my car. From there I drove to a craftsman who was blocking and cleaning six of my fedoras. I was sort of irritated because the hats were supposed to be ready the previous week but they weren’t and now only four were done. I need to go back again for a third time next week to picked the remaining two hats.

After the hat store, I stopped at an office supply store, a drug store and then home. Home was too quiet for a December, Friday afternoon. I walked from one room to another, but none seemed inviting, they just felt like rooms, even the Bud Cave. I decided to go to a movie. The theater was full of couples and groups of folks quietly talking waiting for the movie to start. I selected a seat on the far side, away from every one and watched the movie. It was very cold when I left the theatre to find my car. The house was still quiet when I arrived home. I microwaved some frozen food for dinner.

After eating dinner, I finally turned on the television and was surfing through the channels and came upon show called “Christmas in Washington”. This was a musical program from Washington D.C. that was attended my many, including the President, his wife and daughters. There were a number of performers and a large chorus. As I sat on my sofa, the sounds of Silent Night, O Holy Night, and Away in a Manager filled the Bud Cave.

It struck me how much I love Christmas music, particularly the old traditional songs, the ones that seem to stir your sole or give you chills when the volume is cranked up. I was humming with the songs coming from the TV. As the President sat in the audience, his arm was draped around the shoulder of his oldest daughter. The youngest daughter was leaning against the First Lady, holding hands, mother and daughter. Somehow listening to these beloved Christmas songs and watching the first family looking like any other American family at Christmas turned the light of Christmas spirit on inside of me. When the program finally ended, I felt at peace. I felt Christmas joy. I realized again that Christmas does mean something to me apart from gifts, from commercialization and from hoards of shoppers. For me it is a time to contemplate my actions of the last year. Was I helpful to others, did I show kindness and love enough to those around me? Did I help the unfortunate as much as I could have? Were my actions worthy of the spiritual gifts of Christmas that we have all received? Probably not. I need to do better.

Today is a new day, Christmas is still week away and just like Ebenezer Scrooge awakening on Christmas morning with joy in his heart and relief that there was still time left to do right, there is time for me and time for you to do something for others. Something that means something.

Merry Christmas to each of you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Important Stuff I have Been Thinking About

I have been home alone quite a bit for the last 45 days or so and have had plenty of time to think about important things in life. Ideas that need to be explored. Questions that need to be answered. Maybe it will expand your horizons and bring a certain amount of enlightenment to you if I share some of these intellectual and, yes, somewhat mystical ideas, questions and comments with you. Maybe you should not read this essay unless you are relaxed and are enjoying a nice warm cup of herbal tea, or a glass of that special wine. For those of you in a contemplative mood consider the following:

Just how big is a “rounded teaspoon”? I cook fairly often and I find myself frequently making a recipe that calls for a rounded teaspoon of something. I struggle with the concept of exactly just how high above the top edge of the spoon do you go for a properly rounded teaspoon. If you think about it, the volume of spice, or flour or sugar that can be put in a teaspoon can vary tremendously depending on how high you pile it. Does the word “rounded” mean literally what it says “rounded”? I doubt it because if you attempted to make the volume of content exactly round it would fall out of the spoon. Does rounded mean a slight arc above the sides of the spoon? I really don’t know. What is the difference between a rounded teaspoon and a heaping teaspoon? I suppose these culinary mysteries will continue to challenge me.

I just read an article about a Russian Billionaire who bought an island just to house his art collection. I know how the fellow feels. If you have the art and you have the money what’s wrong with spending some of your personal wealth for the beautiful and important things you love. I am thinking about doing the same thing. In this economy my “wealth” has plummeted but I still have enough to buy some things. I have decided to buy a new toaster. My current one does not seem to be doing the trick for me. I don’t want to go crazy so I think I will buy a two slice toaster as opposed to the more expensive and luxurious four slice toaster.

I just read another article that reported that Walmart is going get involved in the war on terror. What does that mean? I imagine while in Walmart you will be hearing announcements like: “There is a blue light special in the diaper department, just go through the body scan and pat down on aisle 13 and grab a couple of bags of diapers made in Malaysia by workers making a dollar a day. If you see anyone that looks suspicious, please let a store employee know. If you see an unattended shopping cart, please notify security immediately”. I think we may be over reacting on everything.

I send a fair number of notes and cards to folks. I think a nice note received in the mail is a little more special than an email even if the email expresses the same sentiments as the written note. Don’t get me wrong, a thank you email or other nice sentiment sent to me by email is well appreciated but I do love to send and receive a note or card delivered by one of God’s own, a member of the US Postal Service. Because I send cards by mail, I buy a fair amount of stamps. The post office has a big variety of wonderful stamps. Stamps that are colorful or historical or whimsical. Stamps celebrating a particular season or holiday. Wonderful stamps are indeed available. A month or so ago I bought some special stamps in addition to the just regular first class stamps. I bought stamps that say “Love”. I bought a sheet of stamps with the black and white photo of old time singer Kate Smith. Finally I bought a sheet of stamps of famous sailors who are each depicted in a black and white photo. In retrospect these were not very good stamp choices.

The persons who in the group of appropriate addressees for the Love stamps is fairly small. I mean I may like someone or even really like someone but do I really want to express the sentiment of Love to such addressee by affixing a stamp that explicitly expresses the concept of Love on the envelope? Not really. So who do I send the Love stamps to? Certainly the Lovely Sharon in a proper candidate. But do I put a Love stamp on the thank you note I send to the yard guy for his good work for the last season? No, I don’t.

The other day I made my car payment and without thinking, I put a Love stamp on my payment to GMAC. I like GMAC, I appreciate their loan that allowed me to buy my Buick Enclave, but I cannot honestly say I love GMAC. Once I put the stamp on the envelope, I was locked in. I could not throw a properly addressed and stamped envelope away could I? So I mailed it. When GMAC gets my payment mailed in an envelope with the word Love on it what social obligations do they have to me? Are they obliged to send me a thank you note? Do they reduce my next payment? Do they invite me to the company picnic next summer? I mean the tax payers bailed out GM and its GMAC subsidiary with millions if not billions in loans and guarantees. As a tax payer I was one of those people helping with the bailouts, right? After I help with the GMAC bailout, I send them an envelope with Love written on the stamp. They must be wondering what I am after.

I have also had a conceptional problem with the Kate Smith stamps and the Naval hero’s stamps. What do I really do with them? They are too unusual to use on regular bills and who would you be sending a note to that upon receipt would think ”What a nice stamp with Kate Smith on it” or “ Wonderful,, Bud sent me a card with a stamp that has William S. Sims on it”. One of the Naval heroes stamp is a black guy whose first name is Doris. Really, a naval hero named Doris? Makes you wonder what is up with the “don’t ask don’t tell” controversy when we have already celebrated in our stamps a fellow named Doris.

The other thing I have been thinking about is the Tea Party leader who suggested that only property owners should be allowed to vote. According to this fellow, if you don’t own property, you should not be allowed to vote. You don’t have enough vested in things to be able to vote as an American citizen. Regardless of your political leanings, do you really want a political movement that wants to take away the right to vote? Remember in the beginning of our country’s history, women could not vote, blacks could not vote and for the most part only white property owners could vote. Is that what the Tea Party wants? Why does this kind of thinking not outrage all of us.? I think I am going to send this guy a letter telling him he is crazy and un-American. I think I will put a Kate Smith stamp on the envelope. Wait, maybe I should put a Love stamp on the envelope. The mixed message between the content of my letter and the Love stamp might drive him crazy.

Kate Smith and I send you holiday wishes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Loneliest Highway in America

After a wonderful Thanksgiving week in Palm Desert, I left early the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving to drive back to Salt Lake. My journey from Palm Desert to Las Vegas was my normal route through Twenty Nine Palms, Amboy, Kelso, Cima and then Primm, Nevada. I have described this ride through the Mojave Desert before in this blog (http://www.bheadman.com/2009/10/off-beaten-track.html). It’s a beautiful ride through a desolate but beautiful landscape. After leaving Las Vegas, I made a last minute decision to take a different route home. Rather than take I-15 all the way from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, I decided to take Highway 93 (the Great Basin Highway) north through the middle of Nevada. I was on this road when I was about 13 years old when my family drove home this way from a boating trip to Lake Meade. That was 45 or 46 years ago. I don’t remember actually taking the drive I just remember we that took it and it seemed to take forever. I have wanted to try this route again but I always seem to be in a hurry to get to Palm Desert from Salt Lake or get to Salt Lake from Palm Desert so I have always saved this ride for another day. Last week I finally took that ride.

About 15 miles on the east side of Las Vegas Highway 93 turns off of I-15 and heads north approximately 200 miles until it intersects with Highway 50. For the most part this 200 mile stretch of road essentially runs through a series of valleys with mountains or both the left side of the road (the Sheep Range Mountains) and the right side of the road (the Meadow Valley Mountains followed by the Delamar Mountains). This 200 mile stretch of road is frequently referred to as the loneliest road in America. There are no cities along the road and only a few small towns and hamlets.

Approximately 70 miles or so up Highway 93 is the hamlet of Alamo. About the only thing I saw there was a truck stop with a small store. The truck stop was packed with cars, pickups and a semi’s. It was the only place to stop for 50 miles or so in either direction. Alamo is near the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 90 miles north of Las Vegas in Lincoln County, Nevada, is located in the Pacific Flyway, and encompasses 5,380 acres. The name, Pahranagat, comes from the Pauite Indian word meaning valley of shining waters. Established to provide habitat for migratory birds, especially waterfowl, the refuge is a unit of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex. More than 230 different species of birds use refuge habitats.

The next town I came to was the town of Caliente. This town was founded as a railroad town. There is a beautiful train station in Caliente. The train station was built in 1923.


                              


Some 25 miles or so from Caliente is the mining town of Pinoche.  This town may be called ghost town by some but there are an estimate 800 people living there.  Here is some information from the town's website:

In 1864, William Hamblin, a Latter Day Saint missionary, was led to silver deposits in the vicinity of Pioche by a Native American Paiute. In 1868, San Francisco financier Francois L.A. Pioche purchased claims and constructed a smelter in the area, forming the Meadow Valley Mining Company. The mining camp was called "Pioche's City" and later became known as Pioche. The town rapidly became the largest mining town in southeastern Nevada in the early 1870's. Population estimates showed 10,000 people by 1871.  One of the worst fires in the West took place in Pioche in 1871. It began in a restaurant during a celebration commemorating Mexican independence and quickly spread. When it reached the Felsenthal Store, a stone fireproof structure where 300 barrels of blasting powder were stored, the subsequent explosion shot nearly 400 feet into the air, blowing a 1,000-pound door clear out of town and showering the town with flaming debris. The explosion of debris killed thirteen and injured forty-seven, and the accompanying fire left virtually the entire population homeless.  he fortunes of Pioche diminished in the 1880's due to the shutdown of the principle mines in 1876. During World War II, an economic boom occured when Pioche was the second largest lead and zinc producer in the nation. Present day Pioche has little mining activity, and in being the county seat, the main focus is now government.



After my escursion through Pinoche. I got back on Highway 93 and continued on some 90 miles through the desolate Lake Valley where I finally reached Highway 50.  If you turn left onto Highway 50, it is 30 miles to Ely. Nevada.  If you turn right, which I did, you head toward Great Basin National Park, the Nevada-Utah border and Delta, Utah.  This was truly a beautiful, lonely highway. It was about 30 miles to the Utah-Nevada border. There is nothing at the border but what appears to be dozens of miles of unoccupied land in all directions.  This land must look like it looked 150 years ago when the pioneers were heading to California.

When I reached Delta it was dark and cold.  I stopped for gas and a burger.  From there I drove on in the dark to Nephi, Utah which I reached during the town's Christmas parade.  It took about 15 munutes to get around the parade and get on Interstate 15 which took me home.

The trip was at least 2 and 1/2 hours longer than my regular trip but it was truly a memorable drive through a part of the west that is still unsettled. Beautiful mountains and valleys, antelope grazing and hawks flying overhead.  I probably won't get back to the road again, but maybe I can talk the Lovely Sharon into sharing this adventure with me sometime.

Expand your horizons and get off the beaten path sometime.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in Palm Desert

The Lovely Sharon and I had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday together in Palm Desert. I had not seen her for some three weeks, so it was nice to spend time together again. I arrived in Palm Desert on Friday night and Sharon went to Nebraska on Friday to spend the 80th birthday with her father. She got back to Palm Desert on Monday night. We spent the rest of the week playing golf, going to movies and going shopping. I had not been in Palm Desert for more than five months so it was nice to see old friends again. Several times during the week as I was sweeping the patio and walks or doing something else outside, several friends drove by in cars or golf carts or walked by in the morning sun and stopped to greet me and welcome me back to the desert. It was so nice to see Palm Desert friends after months apart. The Lovely Sharon and I are indeed lucky to have two groups of friends, our Utah friends and our Palm Desert friends. There were smiles, hugs and laughs with old friends throughout the week.

On Saturday morning I ate breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, Café des Beaux Arts on El Paseo. I always have the same waitress, a French lady who always greets me with “Bon Jour”. I feel continental just by sitting at the open window, eating Eggs Benedict and reading the paper in the morning sun.

On Wednesday, the Lovely Sharon was a very luck lady, as she played golf with me, David and Ryan. All three men are lawyers. This had to be a dream come true for Sharon to spend four hours with three lawyers. Not everyone gets that opportunity. At least that is what we told her. However, I am not certain she bought into that concept.

On Thanksgiving we played golf with friends and then enjoyed a wonderful dinner at our friend Linda’s house. It was a wonderful evening. Our dinner companions were a diverse group of folks, three same sex couples, a couple of widows, a divorced lady and me and the Lovely Sharon. The diversity of this group made me think about how similar we all are despite our differences in where we come from, in our marital status, in our ages, in our religion, in our politics and in our sexual preferences. Despite these obvious differences, our similarities were more important than our differences. We were all Americans, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness. We love our families, our friends and our companions. We were gathered together to give thanks and to celebrate the blessings we each have. We all loved the turkey, the stuffing and the sweet potatoes, just as millions of folks across America do.

Being part of this interesting and diverse group of folks made me wonder why there is so much anger and hatred in this great country between groups with varying interests and leanings. Too often people have the attitude that if you don’t believe like us, not only are you wrong, you are evil. Sadly this is true for many in connection with political beliefs, religious beliefs and social and cultural beliefs. It makes me wonder why is that we have such a difficult time in allowing people to believe differently than us without hating them or without thinking they are evil. Each of us wants to love our family and our friends. Most of us want a partner with whom we can share our joy, share our sorrows and share our life. Many of us want to worship a deity in a manner that we believe is best for us but too often we criticize those who worship differently or who don’t worship at all. I am going to rededicate myself to being a better person, being more patient and more accepting of the differences of those around me.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Book Stuff

During the last month with the Lovely Sharon in Palm Desert and Nebraska and me in Utah I have had a considerable amount of free time. During this time I have read a number of books, some very good, some just ok.  Here are my recent reads in case you want to check them out:

Jack Higgins - (real name Harry Patterson) has written more than 60 suspense- thrillers.  I am sure you have either read some of his books or at least seen them in bookstores. During the last month I read (i) Rough Justice; (ii) The Killing Ground; (iii) The Whitehouse Connection; (iv) Bad Company; and (v) Edge of Danger.  These books have continuing characters and general similarities of plots but I enjoyed them none, the less.

Biography of Sonia Sotomayer by Antonia Felix.  Sotomayer is the most recently appointed US Supreme Court Justice.  This book was ok but was more like an appetizer that a main course.

Biography of Robert Boothy - A Portrait of Churchill's Ally by Robert Rhodes James.  Boothy was born in Scotland in 1900 and was a Member of Parliment for many years.  He was instrumental in Churchill's appointment as Prime Minister in 1940.  This is a very interesting book if you like World War II history and British 20th Century History.  I bought this book used so it may be hard to get.  If you are interested, check it at on Amazon.

Art of Deception by Laurie King.  This was a terrific mystery based around a Sherlock Holmes group in modern day San Francsico.  It has a book within a book. Ms.  King's website is http://www.laurierking.com/

Dante's Numbers by David Hewson. I loved this murder mystery set in Rome and San Francisco. The Italian cops in this book are continuing characters from previous Hewson books.  I plan to read other books written by Mr. Hewson. Mr. Hewson's website is http://davidhewson.com/.

I recently bought the following non-fiction books that I hope to get to soon:  (i) Warren Buffet and the Interpretation of Financial Statements by Mary Buffet and David Clark; (ii) Don't Count On It by John C. Bogle (investment matters); and (iii) 1453 by Roger Crowley (the Holy War for Constantinople).

If you have any suggestions for books we should read, let me and the other readers of this blog know by leaving a comment. It seems that my friends Norm and Ryan always have some interesting suggestions for books to read.  Hopefully they will leave a suggestion or two for us.

Happy Reading.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Wonder

Well the Lovely Sharon has gone to Palm Desert for the season. I am on my own for a good part of the next seven months. During that time I will probably come up with brilliant ideas and thoughts to blog about. Important stuff like a discussion about juggling midgets or how many calories in a dachshund.  Do ever wonder if  flying fish build their nests in trees? That is the kind of stuff people want to contemplate.

What kind of stuff do you wonder about? As for me, there are a zillion things that I wonder about. For instance this week I ordered a meal from a restaurant that included “natural chicken”. Sounds normal until you really think about it and when you really think about it you wonder what the heck does that mean. What is “natural chicken”. The menu did not refer to free range chicken, I know what that is. Free range chickens are chickens running around on the “home on the range”. Although I don’t think I have ever seen gigantic herds of chickens migrating across the prairies of America like buffalos of years past. What is a natural chicken? If there is such a thing as a natural chicken, then there must be an “unnatural chicken”. What is an unnatural chicken? Is it a chicken with wing implants? Is it a chicken that had dark feathers but dyed its feathers blonde? Is it a chicken that has had its beak whitened? Who would ever order an “unnatural chicken”? Can you imagine going to a restaurant and order mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet peas and an unnatural chicken breast. Or when ordering dinner would you tell the waiter to make certain that chicken breast is natural chicken? I don’t think so. I think the term natural chicken is a scam. I am not just certain how.

Another thing I wonder about is when you go to the cleaners and drop off your shirts and slacks and suits to be cleaned. Most dry cleaners have a little sign on the premises that represents this is a “Professional Dry Cleaner”. Duh, of course they are professional; they make you pay for the cleaning services, therefore , by definition they are professional. Would you take your clothes to an amateur dry cleaner? I think not. In some endeavors there may be room for professionals and amateurs. You see that in athletics, there are professional golfers and there are amateur golfers. But you don’t see that in the dry cleaning business or the medical business. I mean do you ever see an amateur gynecologist? OK we all know a few

I wonder who was the guy who came up with the idea to eat cow tongue.  After watching a cow lick its own nose with its huge tongue  did the guy think "Wow, that looks tasty, I ought to rip that tongue out that cow’s head, fry it, add some onions and serve it to my family; they would love it”?

I  wonder how do I get the fur off of my tongue after I give my cat a bath?

I wonder why we spend money and firemen's valuable time in getting cats out of trees.  Have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree?

I wonder about people who send email that states at the bottom, “if you did not receive this email, please contact us”. I am mean really, if I did not receive the email, how would I know that I did not receive the email?

I wonder about the bottles of water you buy in the store. Check out the bottles, they have an expiration date. Does water really expire? Water has been around for tens of thousands of years in underground springs. Do you really think the water in this particular 16 ounce bottle expires on March 31, 2012? I don’t think so and I think I will risk it and drink the damn stuff on April 5th.

I just saw on the news that the guy that hacked in Sarah Palin’s email was sentenced to more than one year in prison. How does that work when our banks,  Google,  Amazon and dozens, if not thousands, of businesses sell our personal and private information to other companies. Our private information is sold everywhere. Do you think anyone in those information selling companies is going to jail for selling our personal information? Hell no, they get pay raises, they get bonuses, they get promoted. I am pretty sure that the most of Palin’s email’s ended with “Forward this to 20 other persons and you will have good luck”.  So whats the big deal?

I wonder why some people want to cut social security payments to our elderly, cut payments to those who have paid into the system for 40 years, cut payments to those who have built America, but these people don’t want to reduce American expenditures by getting out of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. The total real cost of the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war is trillions. Why are we not outraged that we paying these costs? Does anyone really believe that when we leave these countries, if we ever leave, that the attitudes of the Muslim populations will be different than before these wars? Will they love Americans? Will Shia Muslims love Suni Muslims? Will the radicals in Saudi Arabia (where we are not at war) stop their terrorist activities? I don’t think so. In these days where government expenditures for the poor and even the middle class are questioned, why don’t we turn out the lights on these two wars and bring our military personnel home immediately. Things will never, ever, ever, change in those countries. Do you remember when Bush took us to Iraq? He said the war would be paid for by Iraq oil. Right, that really happened. Afghanistan is Obama’s righteous war. Right. Lets go home, lets bring our men and women soldiers home. Ten years is enough.

I wonder why so many people are frightened by the thought of gays in the military or at least knowing they are in the military. I would think if you are pro gay, or at least not anti gay, you would be ok with gays in the military. I would think if you were anti-gay, you would want a gay to be in the military to take the place of some nice straight boy. Put the gay guy in harm’s way. Let the straight guy come home and work for Ace Hardware. So it seems to me if you really think about it, it makes sense for everyone, regardless of sexual preference or gender, who wants to serve in the military to be able to openly serve in the miltary.  We let Muslims serve in the Miltary, we let illegal aliens serve in the miltary, we let criminals serve in the milatary, what is the big deal if a guy with a boyfriend or a girl with a girlfriend wants to serve America.  Lets figure this out. This is not a big deal.  For those of you who don't like Congressman Barney Frank, wouldn't you rather the Barnmeister be in a foxhole in Iraq rather than making fiscal policy in the Congress?

If you have things that make you wonder. Leave a comment.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween

Today Halloween is celebrated in Utah.  I don’t know about you heathens in other states, but in Utah, there is no way that we will let our kids dress up as ghouls, monsters and Lady Gaga on a Sunday.  There is no Utah law requiring trick or treating to be on Saturday when October 31st falls on a Sunday, but I can tell you that most of us here in Utah have received a vision or other inspiration causing each of us to just know that trick or treating is not a Sunday activity.  There is an unstated Scripture.  “Thou shall not beg for candy in monster costumes on Sunday”.  We have a similar prohibition when July 4th falls on a Sunday.  When that happens we celebrate Independence Day either two weeks before or two weeks after July 4th.  Hey this is Utah, I love it but there is a lot of goofy stuff and goofy people in Utah, including me. In Utah we can have 4 or 5 wives but you can’t watch fireworks on Sunday. Go figure.

Tonight all the kids will be knocking on doors and ringing doorbells and the musical cries of “Treat or Trick” will fill the darkened skies.  When the little kids come to the door it is cute and sweet, but you also get a lot of 17 year old hoodlums.  I think they want cash or tires and not candy.  A guy comes to the door dressed as a gang member with chains in his hand and teardrop tattoos on his face. The blood on his shirt is real blood not fake blood. Do you really think that guy wants a Snicker’s bar?  He wants your wife’s necklace.  He wants 10% of your weekly income.

I have never been a big Halloween fan.  Never once in 33 years of practicing law have I ever dressed up on Halloween for work.  Usually I go to work dressed as a casually attired lawyer.  Do you remember when your children were young and they dressed as princesses or lions or something really cute? Do you also remember when they got older and started dressing like hookers?  That was when you realized life had changed.  When there were young, you held their little hand and walked them to a few houses on your street.  When they hit Junior High School, they left early for a candy run and told you they would be home by 11:00 pm.

Have you ever notice how many workers at banks and grocery stores go all out for Halloween?  It’s crazy.  You go into the bank to cash a check and the teller has an axe in her head.  I mean if she is a little slow in getting your money to you, are you really gonna complain to a woman with an axe in her head with blood dripping down her face?  (A side note - Do you ever wonder if it is “AXE or AX”?  Well I googled it – There is no difference; they are simply variant spellings for a heavy tool or instrument used for chopping and cleaving. Ax is the preferred form in modern American English. The word(s) derive from Latin ascia and Greek axine. The plural is axes. I like Axe better so don’t email me and tell me I made a mistake.  The word is also used in urban areas in connection with a question, such as “let me axe you this”.)  

Ok back to Halloween.  You go to the grocery store and the butcher has blood all over his apron.  Makes you wonder if he just chopped up a cow or if he is in costume. Either way it kind a makes you want to eat veggie.

The worst part of tonight’s Halloween is that the University of Utah football game is on at 5:30.  They play the Air Force Academy.  Air Force is always a tough game for the U of U.  So I am going to be affixed to my chair tonight watching the game.  No door answering for me.  I don’t know if the Lovely Sharon realizes it but tonight I will pass her the candy handout baton.  It will be her job tonight to handle the cute little kids and the hoodlums.  If she has a problem, she can call 911.  I need to full concentrate on the football game.
Tomorrow is Sunday October 31st, the real Halloween.  I might go to church tomorrow.  I have not been for a while.  Maybe I will go down to St John the Baptist dressed up for Halloween.  I am not certain what I will wear. Maybe I will go dressed as a man whose wife is mad at him for not handing out candy on Halloween.  The axe in my head may be real. 


Monday, October 25, 2010

Two Hats

Most of my time at home is spent in the Bud Cave.  The Bud Cave is a suite of a bedroom, a bathroom, an office/den and a coffee room where I make coffee every morning.  The coffee room also serves as a storage room. There are a number of shelves in the coffee room that hold mesne supplies, books, financial records and other things. Lately, when I have ventured into the coffee room, my eyes have focused on two hats stored on these shelves.  Each of these hats means something to me; a special meaning.  To see these hats sitting on a shelf, triggers memories, makes me think back to earlier years, and makes me contemplate life. To look at these two hats they don’t appear to be anything unusual or special but they are, they are worth more than money.  Do you wonder how two hats could have special meaning to me? Well here is their story.   

The Straw Hat.  One of the hats is is a light colored straw hat with a tan hat band.  Its brand is a Dorfman Pacific.  I don’t know for certain how old this hat is.  I know it is at least 8 or 10 years old, maybe older.  I doubt it was very expensive. It is a functional straw hat that you might see on the golf course.  I know that because that is where I first saw this hat, on the golf course.  This hat belonged to my friend Don Wingeleth.  I am not certain that I ever saw him on the golf course without this hat on his head.  I would suppose that if you saw Don on the course without this simple straw hat you might not have recognized him. Don passed away a few years back.  He was married to our sweet, dear friend Sallie.  They were sweethearts from the time they first met to the time he was gone.  Don and Sallie.  Those three words almost seemed like a single word. One word to describe two people, two people that almost seemed like just one person.  I met Don and Sallie more than dozen years ago standing in line waiting for a Diana Krall concert at the Salt Lake Hilton Hotel.  We were standing in line hoping to get good general admission seats and as we passed the time we started a conversation. We were pleasantly surprised that each of us was a member of Hidden Valley Country Club.  We talked for close to an hour before the concert started.  That was the beginning of my friendship with Don and Sallie. From this chance meeting, we became part of each others’ lives.  I met their children, all of whom were grown and married. We played golf together in Palm Desert and Salt Lake. We dined together and we attended parties together.  When the Lovely Sharon and I married on the 14th hole at Ironwood Country Club on March 21, 2004, Don and Sallie played in the pre -wedding ceremony golf round, watched us get married in our golf clothes and golf shoes and joined us for a celebratory dinner.  Don and Sallie were special friends to Sharon and me.  Three or four years ago, Don got sick, very sick.  Don and Sallie and their family fought his illness for a year in Utah and Texas.  Finally the fight was over and Don was gone.  Sallie asked me to be an honorary pall bearer at Don’s funeral.  What an honor for me to share one last event with Don.  After it was all over, Don’s sweetheart Sallie told me she had something to give me. I wondered what it could be.  You probably guessed, it was the straw hat. When I took the hat into my hands I had tears in my eyes. What a gift for me from Sal. To give me a part of Don’s life, of their life together.  From time to time while my coffee is brewing, I look at the straw hat.  Occasionally, I reach for it and hold it and think about friends, life and death. To some it’s just a hat to me, it’s more, much more.




The Stetson

The Other hat is a tan felt Stetson.  My grandfather, Everett Headman wore this hat and others like it for as long as I can remember. He was born in 1902 and passed away in 1978.  He had an active life and served as a Justice of the Peace in Salt Lake County for many years.  He was a lifelong Democrat and I blame my Democratic tendencies on him.  As a boy and young man he hunted and fished.  He was a well known baseball player.  As he got older he played golf.  He loved flowers and was frequently working on the mums with my Grandmother.  Everett had an outgoing personality and everyone seemed to like him. He was fun to be around.  More often than not he had a smile on his face.  When I was a boy he told me stories about political events he organized well before I was born.  He showed me dozens of colorful campaign badges.  He told me tales of conventions, meetings and parties.  He told me of one party where everyone got drunk and tried to ride a donkey.  Apparently most of them were bucked off.  He told me that in the 1920’s he hit a home run at a ball park in the Butler Hill area and the ball rolled down Butler Hill into a barn.  According to his story, the barn was torn down some thirty years later and the ball was found.  He told me he had new car in his garage when my father was a boy and my father somehow set the garage on fire and the new car burned up. According to granddad, the neighbors came over to watch the car and garage burn down. Apparently it was an interesting neighborhood event.   I used to spend a lot of time with my grandparents as they lived next door when I grew up.  After my grandfather died I was given his hat.  I don’t remember who gave me the hat; it was either my grandmother or my father.  But I have had the hat for 32 years.  It is stored in the same hatbox it came in when he bought it.  Maybe once a year I take the hatbox off the top shelf of the coffee room and look at the hat. I hold it in my hands feeling the still soft felt.   It makes me think of playing in my grandfather’s yard, jumping in piles of leaves cutting his law for 50 cents.   It makes me think of sitting on his front porch with my big sister swinging in his front porch swing.
It makes me think of driving in his truck with him.  It makes me think of the day he had some big trees in his back yard cut down.  One of the tree cutters got drunk at lunch and after lunch he went back to work on granddad’s tree.  The worker had a rope tied around his ankle as a protective device.  The next thing I saw was the tree cutter hanging upside down from the tree with the rope around his ankle.  He had fallen out of the tree and the rope saved him from hitting the ground.  I remember laughing but I don’t remember how they got the fellow down from the tree.  I know they got him down because the tree is gone.  That had to be in 1958 or so when I was about six years old. Like Don Wingeleth’s hat, my grandfather’s hat is more than a hat.  It is something than conjures up memories from a period of time when I was 4 or 5 years hold to my grandfather’s death in 1978.




So that is the story of my two hats.  It’s a good story for me, a story of warmth, of friends and of family. It’s a story that is a little bitter sweet as it makes me realize there is more of my life behind me than there is ahead of me.  You may have a hat story but your story may be about a quilt, a set of dishes, a photo album or a piece of furniture. It is about some object that is not inherently valuable but an object that causes a flood of memories for you, taking you back to a happy time.

Take the time celebrate your hat stories.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thirty Years Later

I turned 58 years old today. I cannot believe it, I am 58 years old. My back feels 58 years old, but my mind, my personality, my excitement for life, and my curiosity are about 22 years old. It is hard to believe that I was 28 years old 30 years ago, in 1980. Lately I have been thinking about things that are different for me, for life and for the world since 1980 and the things that are the same.

Things that are different. These things are not meant to be funny, nor negative nor positive. They are just things are different (or that I perceive to be different) since my 28th birthday.

I had no son 30 years ago. Now I have a fine 27 year old son, “Son Alex” and two fine stepsons. I also have a beautiful daughter-in-law and grand daughter.

I did not play golf in 1980, I now play golf.

In 1980 I did not google anything, I did not email, I did not text anyone. I did not use the internet. Today I actively do all of these things.

In 1980 I did not have a cell phone. I have since had 10 or 12 different cell phones.

In 1980 University of Utah football team was not very good. They lost five games, they won five games and they tied one game. They lost to Boise state 28-7, they lost to Nebraska 55-9, they lost to Wyoming 24-21, they lost to BYU 56-6 and they lost to San Diego State 21-20. This year Utah is currently undefeated.

In 1980 my father was 54 and my mother was 52. My father is now 84 and my mother is 82.

In 1980 I did not care that much for the Palm Springs area. I now love the Palm Springs area.

Not only was I not leery of Muslims in 1980, I did not think much about them one way or another. Wrongly or rightly, I am now leery about Muslims. I now know much more about the Mid East, Islam and Muslims.

In 1980,I never thought about a black person being President of the United States. Now, the fact that a person is black, Hispanic, or Asian would have no bearing on my view of their qualifications to be President.

In 1980 Utah’s Governor was a Democrat (Scott Mattheson). Utah had Democratic Governors from 1924 to 1944 and from 1964 to 1984. All Utah governors since January 1985 have been Republicans.

In 1980, I thought the Republican Party was dumb. Not individual Republicans, just the leaders, elected and otherwise. Now I think the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are dumb.

I never thought about gay marriage in 1980. Now I think about it and frankly have no objection to it.

As of 1980, I had never been to Europe. I have now been to Europe 7 or 8 times.

I did not expect live TV coverage of all news events 1980. I now expect live coverage of any news events: wars, earthquakes, crime, trials, people growing giant pumpkins etc.

I love my friends. I don’t think I knew very many of my current friends 30 years ago.

In 1980, reality TV was the news or sports on TV. Now reality TV is all kinds of everyday life action. 1n 1980 did you ever think you could watch the following on TV (or for that matter that you would want to?)

            New Jersey Housewives fighting, swearing, and crying
            Overweight people getting weighed in front of cameras
            Football players or other athletes dancing
           Watching people clean and  throw junk away that had been stored in their house and garage (the “Hoarder Shows”)
            Watching someone paint their rumpus room green (or any color) on a home makeover show
            Watching big trucks drive the ice road to Alaska

Things That are the Same

I still love reading, books, libraries, and books stores.

I still love going to the movies.

I still love most types of music.

I still love to take photos.

I still like to look at a beautiful woman.

I still believe life tomorrow can be better than life today.

I still like sports.

I still believe in being kind, nice, and honest.

I still think it is important to help people.

I still am not that interested in going to church regularly. I go more often than I did in 1980, but now it’s the Catholic Church not the Mormon Church.

Orrin Hatch is still a US Senator from Utah. When he ran in 1976, his biggest campaign issue was that Utah Senator Frank Moss had been a Senator for 18 years and that was just too long. Hatch has been a senator now for 34 years and will undoubtedly run for reelection in 2012.

I still appreciate my parents.

I still have doubts about self worth.

I still get excited about beautiful things, the National Anthem, the autumn leaves.

Autumn is still my favorite time of year.

I still think neither figure skating or synchronized swimming is a sport. I still don’t like watching either activity.

Arnold Palmer is still an icon.

I still like living in Salt Lake City

As life moves on, some things remain the same, some things change.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Home of the Brave

My friend Sherm sent me this hyperlink.  It is the National Anthem sung by the miltary academies.  It will give you the chills.  Check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ETrr-XHBjE

Vampires

What is up with our continued fascination with vampires? Have you notice how many books, movies and TV shows are about vampires? When I was a kid there were a few Bela Lugosi movies that scared me to death, but now the movies, TV shows and books about the living dead are everywhere. In the old days, Bela, as Count Dracula, would fly around as a bat and upon landing would turn into a human like creature. He could hold his black velvet cape out, jump off a balcony and soar like a vulture. He slept all day in his coffin as the daylight caused him great discomfort. You killed him with a wooden stake driven through his heart with a wooden mallet. It was all pretty simple for the non vampire citizens and the movie goers. You were safe during the day, you went to work but you left work early to get your laundry done, cut the lawn and look for the vampire’s hidden coffin that had been shipped to the United States by some royal person in Europe. You had to be back home by dusk because that is when Count Dracula awoke to begin his nightly search for a blood dinner. The Count always had one or two non-vampire stooges who worked for him.  They ran errands for the Count during daylight hours; you know, go to the grocery store, get video’s, get Brylcreem for the Count’s hair (you gotta be old to remember Brylcreem) and do the other day to-day stuff that a vampire needs done. Every old-time vampire needed a non-vampire stooge. These stooges either were deaf mutes or spoke with an English accent. You never really saw a non-vampire stooge speak with a southern accent. The old time vampires always seem to have lots of money or at least lived like they did with big mansions, expensive chandeliers, big screen TV’s and stuff like that. They always had stretch limos with curtains covering the windows. Kind of like Brittany Spears today.

Sometimes the Count would break into a blood bank for a snack. This was always scary because he always seemed to let a little bit of blood drip of his fangs.

The Count ultimately selected a wife. Once she was turned into a vampire she too slept through the day in a velvet lined coffin wearing  a cream colored satin dress with her hair fixed up in a nice beehive style. In the old days you never really saw a woman vampire with a pixie haircut, wearing a tee shirt and jeans. They were always dressed like there were going to the opera.

Today its different. Some of today’s vampires have daily jobs and they seem to be able to co-exist nicely with the non-vampires in the daylight hours. They work at the car wash, in restaurants or in the United States Congress- oh wait that is a different kind of blood sucker, my bad. Today’s vampires don’t want to bite the neck of everyone; mostly they just bite women with big boobs. It makes you wonder why they just bite the neck of these victims.

Some of today’s vampires are in love with non-vampires and the non-vampires are in love with them. These are mixed marriages. I don’t mean marriages between white people and black people or between Mormons and Catholics, I mean the traditional mixed marriage of the undead wife who exists by drinking the blood of the living and her spouse who is one of the living but who eats TV dinners and regular non-human blood cuisine. The vampire wife does not want to turn the non-vampire husband into a vampire so she does not suck his blood. This is the basic difference between a marriage between a vampire wife who does not suck the blood of her non-vampire husband and the non-vampire wife who sucks the non-vampire husband’s blood dry, particularly in a divorce. (I am pretty certain that that last statement won’t seem to be as funny to my women friends as it will to my men friends.)

There are so many movies, TV shows and books about vampires today, you could think it is a real part of life on earth and who am I to say its not. Frequently you read a news story about the discovery of a new species. Just think about it, a new species never before seen. A new jelly fish from the ocean’s depths in Indonesia, or a blue frog in the Amazon jungle or a Democrat in Utah.

Maybe there are real vampires walking around us. Heck, in today’s political correct world I suppose it would be inappropriate to drive a stake through the heart of a vampire. This would be discriminatory. Instead we would probably have an affirmative action program where vampires could get into schools (probably night schools would be best for them) or there would be parking spots at the mall reserved for the undead while those of us who are human drive aimlessly through the parking lot looking for a spot to park. If a vampire today were in a security line at the airport wearing his cape with blood dripping off his fangs, it would probably be illegal for the security folks to profile him with an extra pat down. He would no doubt be rushed through security with minimum delay while the old geezer with no teeth would be questioned for a half hour.

I will start looking around to see if any of my law partners or golfing buddies are part of the undead. My law partner Vern looks awfully pale and I never see him in the morning. Furthermore he is a bankruptcy litigator and I know for certain that some debtors have accused him of sucking the last drops of blood out of them.

Last Weekend

I haven’t posted any essays lately and surprisingly I have had a number of friends ask me when I am going to post again. So here I am back at it. Last week the Lovely Sharon made a run to the Palm Desert to take down a carload of shoes for the winter. She did have other things in her car but the most important part of the cargo was the shoes. She was gone about six days and she spent time cleaning things up and getting our desert place ready for winter. She returned to Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon. She will head back to Palm Desert for the season in less than two weeks. It astonishes me that it is already that time of year. It seems like she just arrived home in Salt Lake for the summer season a few weeks ago. Even though she was only gone for a week, it was a little lonely without her. However, the weekend was great autumn weather, great fun and some good football games.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Autumn in Salt Lake is particularly beautiful time of year. Most of the days are sunny with blue skies that seem to be a different color of blue than the summer blue sky. Maybe it’s the angle of the sun, or the shorter days, I am not certain but the sky does seem a little different. The mornings are cool and the days are perfect, around 68 degrees. The trees on the mountain side have all turned to oranges, reds and yellows. Some of the trees in my yard have started to change colors but for the most part they are still mostly green. During the last several days, a number of leaves have fallen. Not many but a few. Our back yard is surrounded by trees and the time for raking will soon be upon me.

My dear friends Steve and Cathy invited me to dinner last Friday night. We had a nice dinner, good wine and lively conversation. They have a couple of dogs who seem to like me. Dogs and kids generally seem to like me. Its adult humans who don’t.

Saturday night Sharon and I attended a wine pairings dinner at Hidden Valley Country Club. What a terrific evening with our Salt Lake friends. After a dinner, a whole crowd of us migrated to the soft couches and chairs of the HVCC public room. We sat around talking and laughing about the dinner, public events, golf, friends and other matters. As I sat there amongst these dear friends I considered how important friends are, how much they enrich my life and what a void there would be without them. Some friends I see often, others less often but they all add to the fabric of life. I think it was nearly 11:00 p.m. when we all started to wander out of the club to the darkened parking lot to find our cars and head to our homes. Our friend Terry attended the party without her husband Jim who was out of town. So Sharon and I followed her home to make certain she got in safely.

Sunday the Lovely Sharon and I played golf at the Salt Lake Country Club at the invitation of friends Don and Annette. I am embarrassed to tell you that as I was looking for Annette’s ball which appeared to have trickled into the creek on the 11th hole, I slipped down a muddy slope and hurt my ankle. Two days later it is still painful to walk. To make matters worse, the ball I thought was hers was just an old broken golf ball that had no doubt been sitting there for months. That was not a good hole for me. I hit my ball in the creek, I damaged my club on a rock and I hurt my ankle looking for Annette’s ball. After golf we had dinner together. Despite the happenings on the 11th hole it was a lovely day.

As I sat at work today, the Lovely Sharon called me to inform me that I left the garage door up when I left for work this morning. Luckily no one stole our golf clubs or bikes. I wonder if I close the garage door tomorrow morning if Sharon will call me to tell me I closed the door. Somehow, I don’t think this will happen.

So a week that was more than a little quiet turned into a wonderful weekend of parties, golf, the Lovely Sharon and friends. What more could a fellow ask for.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Things I Like

There are a number of things I like. I mean I just like em; sometimes for good reason sometimes for no good reason. In previous postings on this blog I have mentioned some things I like, here are some more. If there are things you like, I would love to hear about them, you can leave a comment on this blog and share them with the other readers or just send me an email.

Kids Laughing. Last Saturday, while we were golfing at Wasatch State Park, there were several groups of kids playing near the pond on the corner of the property. They were playing, screaming and laughing around the lake in the midday sun. Their laughter was like music. When I heard it, I stopped playing golf and looked over to where they were playing. The sounds made me smile, made me feel good and certainly made me glad I heard them. Pure, sincere, uninhibited laughter of a group of children is something special.

Buttered Popcorn at the Movies. Diet or no diet, its darn hard to go to a movie and not order a big container of heavily butter and salted popcorn. I am pretty sure this is good for your health.

Aerial Photos of Lake Powell. From satellites or low flying airplanes, photos of Lake Powell from above are very cool.

The Inauguration of an American President. I don’t care if the new president is a Democrat or a Republican or whether I voted for or against him. I am always thrilled to watch a new President get sworn into office. The pageantry, the music, the flag fluttering in the wind on a January day. The simple act of placing a hand on the Bible and repeating an oath to serve and defend. This represents the fundamental greatness of America. We change our President by a vote of the people. We don’t assassinate or drive into exile the previous President. We have a civil and deferential turnover of power to a new President. This ceremony always chokes me up and makes me proud to be an American. I feel this way even if I don’t care for the new President.

The American Flag. This is somewhat the same concept as the previous item. Picture an American flag fluttering against a blue sky. How does it make you feel. What does it make you think about. It makes me feel respectful. It makes me feel blessed. It makes me feel that I have the right to disagree with you or with the government about issues of the day. I am patriotic toward America but I think that is a different thing that being supportive of a government position or being a puppet for a particular party or a particular leader. One of my favorite sayings is “Dissent does not equal disloyalty”. You can criticize Obama, or Bush or Reagan or Clinton during each of their presidencies, you can dislike them, but that does not make you disloyal to America. When US first went to war in Iraq after 9/11, I opposed it and I still opposed the war. The Iraqi’s were not the architects or actors in 9/11, by and large it was the Saudi’s. We didn’t invade Saudi Arabia. During the first few years of this the longest war in American history, more than a few of my friends questioned my loyalty because I spoke out against the invasion. These days after thousands of deaths of American military personnel, tens of thousands maimed for life and billions of dollars of costs, fewer people criticize me than previously but there still are some. I criticize the government under Obama for still having us in Iraq just as I criticized George W for getting us there in the first place. The Flag is a symbol of my right to criticize the government just as it is a symbol of your right to criticize me. I believe each of us has the responsibility to speak up when we disagree. It is sometimes difficult to speak your opinion, especially in a group situation, but I think it is important in all things to stand up and be counted for what you think is right. When I see the Flag, it reminds me of this right and this obligation.

Dawn. I love dawn and the early morning. The time before of the sun comes up when it is just barely light. I love the feel of that time of day. It is generally quiet and cool. It is a time when I have hope of a good day ahead, a mini new beginning of life. Do better today, be nicer today, help someone today.

Pictures of the Lovely Sharon. I can’t get enough of them. They make me feel good.

Ocean Avenue in Carmel, CA. I have been to Carmel, California forty or fifty times. I was there in June of this year for the U.S. Open. I love to walk down Ocean Avenue on the right side of the avenue as you face toward the Ocean and then walk back up on the other side. We look in all the shop windows and walk in and browse in many of them. You can smell coffee and baked goods, the air is usually comfortably cool. If its late afternoon, maybe we stopped for a glass of wine.

Art Galleries. I have no training in art. I have limited knowledge about art and artists. But I love and appreciate art. I love paintings and photographs. I love pottery and glassware. I love sculptures. I love to walk into art galleries in Palm Desert, San Francisco, New York and Carmel.

Things my Parents Taught Me. Just like a statement from the Bible, I was born of goodly parents. I think often about the lessons they taught me. Be kind to all, work hard, don’t be envious, be genuinely happy at the successes of your friends and neighbors. Be honest. Help the less fortunate. Help your neighbors, family and even strangers without having to be asked. Get the job done and do it right. Respect everyone regardless of position, wealth, education, job status, religious preference or sexual preference. I have always tried to live by these principles. I have not always been successful, but I have tried. Can you imagine if the Democrats and Republicans threw away their political platforms, and just tried to do those things my parents taught me as a boy? Our society would be better for it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meat Dresses, Ice Cream Cones and Witches

Here are some things I have been thinking and reading about. There is no order, no connection, its just random stuff that you probably won’t think is all that interesting, but if you have a goof brain like I do, you might.

Meat Dress. Lady Gaga wore a dress constructed of raw meat at the 2010 VMAs. The dress was actually made from thin slices of raw meat stitched together. The designer of the dress obtained the meat from his family’s butcher. Various cuts of beef were chosen to be part of the dress and her handbag. She even had a slice of beef draped across her head. There are many photos and a lot of discussion about it on the internet.

When asked about why she wore that outfit, she cited concerns about the controversial military law called “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” which was signed into law via an executive order by Bill Clinton in 1993. So let me get this right. Lady Gaga (who I never heard of before about three months ago) wore a dress made out of meat because of the military policy on gays? If she was opposed to the Arizona laws on illegal aliens what would she wear, chiles rellenos? If she opposed the nuclear policy of North Korea, would she wear a dog?

You have got be very careful where you take out a woman who is wearing a dress made out of slabs of meat. You cannot take her to a vegetarian restaurant; the other patrons would be on you like white on rice. Try taking her to a dog show or even to a park and you would have to run for your life from packs of dogs looking for dinner. You can’t spend time with her in the hot sun or the dress will start cooking. You wouldn’t want to put your arm around her at the movies; it would be like sleeping on a spam mattress without a sheet.

I think she is a nut and her dress designer is a nut. This was a very bad and sickening idea. I would prefer to see a sexy woman covered in biscuits or maybe pancakes. The Lovely Sharon dressed in croissants? Now that would be cool.

Christine O’Donnell. This woman just won the Republican primary in Delaware for US Senate. She is a Tea Party devotee. She has acknowledged she previously dabbled in witchcraft. She once said

“I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do. One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar and I didn't know it. I mean, there was a little blood there and stuff like that. We went to a movie and then had a little picnic on a satanic altar.”

After this information came out, the head of some witch organization criticized O’Donnell by claiming witches do not have satanic altars. The witch lady said O’Donnell blew it and this could have been a good teaching opportunity about witches. Yeah I think we need more teaching opportunities about witches. Maybe it should be a required class in elementary school.

If O’Donnell is elected senator, maybe she could use “Bewitched” type powers to straighten up the economy.

Real Quotes from Politicians.

''His mom lived in Long Island for ten years or so. God rest her soul. And- although, she's- wait- your mom's still- your mom's still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul.''
Joe Biden, on the mother of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who is very much alive, Washington, D.C., March 17, 2010

''We had no domestic attacks under Bush; we've had one under Obama.''
Rudy Giuliani, Mr. 9/11, forgetting 9/11, Jan. 8, 2010

'I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.''
Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, in an interview with 'Esquire' magazine

''I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion shakedown ... I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize. I do not want to live in a county where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.''
--Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) member of the Tea Party Caucus, during a congressional hearing with BP CEO Tony Hayward, referring to a $20 billion fund for damages that President Obama pressured BP to set up to pay for the Gulf oil spill. Barton, the biggest recipient of oil and gas industry campaign contributions in the House of Representatives, was forced by Republican leaders to apologize for his BP apology.

Kim Kardashian. For the life of me and I cannot understand the fascination with Kim Kardashian and for that matter, her family. She is not an actress, singer, author, inventor, business leader, athlete or humanitarian. She has large boobs and a large butt. OK so that’s nice. Maybe that is all that is needed to be in the news. In the last three or four days on The Huffingpost.com online news, there was an article that announced Kim Kardashian had eaten ice cream cones in Paris and Capris. There was even a picture of her lapping the cone in Capris. This is news? This is of such import to the rest of us pathetic slobs whose lives are some boring, so unimportant, that we want to read about some woman with no talent, no skills or to my knowledge, no contribution to mankind, eating an ice cream cone in Capris? Please I would rather watch the Lovely Sharon eat an ice cream cone or for that matter, a bowl of cold cereal. What happens if Kardashian eats a steak in Oslo, do we give her the Nobel Prize? Two days after the ice cream cone article, there was an article that informed us that Kardashian had purchased a $30,000 purse in Milan. A single purse for $30,000, are you kidding me? You can buy two $15,000 purses for $30,000.

I gotta quit reading the news, it drives me crazy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Autumn In Midway, UT

It started with a short phone call on Sunday evening, September 12, 2010. The Lovely Sharon and I had just arrived home from a trip to McCall, Idaho. When I picked up the phone, I was pleased to hear the voice of friend Barry. He told me that he and Nanette had organized a 27 hole golf outing for the next Saturday at Wasatch State Park in Midway, UT. He got about 30 seconds of a description of the planned event out and I broke in (it is not unusual for me to break in- bad habit) and told him to count us in. Barry responded by asking me if I needed to consult with the Lovely Sharon (Barry, like many of our friends, have come to refer to Sharon as the Lovely Sharon). I told him that no, we would play. A brave decision on my part but I was certain Sharon woud be up for an autumn golf outing in Midway. The plan was to meet for breakfast at the golf course, with all six couples who were scheduled to play in the event. Then there would be a 27 hole golf event, followed by dinner in Park City. Who in their right mind would say no to such a plan?

So yesterday morning I awoke around 4:00 am to start my day. Had some coffee, read the online news and packed my camera and a few other things in a large canvas tote bag. My plan was to leave the house around 7:00 am for the hour drive to Midway. For those of you who may not be familiar with Utah, Midway is in the beautiful Heber Valley about 12 miles from Park City. At 6:10 I woke Sharon up in a very romantic and sensitive way. I pulled the covers off of her, squeezed her derriere and told her she needed to drag her butt out of bed. Hey, it seemed romantic at the time. She moaned, opened her eyes for about 2 seconds and said it was still dark outside and no right thinking person would be getting up that early for golf. I encouraged, prodded, threatened and cajoled and she finally promised to get up. After filling up the car with fuel, and getting her coffee at the bagel shop, we headed out.

The morning was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. As we entered the Heber Valley it was about 8:00. The surrounding hills were aglow with the warm colors of autumn. Reds, oranges and yellows were abundant on the hills and mountains but the dominant color was reddish –orange that was absolutely spectacular. As we drove into the Heber valley, we saw a solitary fisherman wading the Provo River, with thigh high fishing boots, a brimmed hat and a fly rod in hand. It looked like painting of some Americana scene of the West. We turned off Highway 40 to head to the golf course. We passed by cows and horses grazing in fields of yellow in the early morning. As we drove toward the golf course, I was overwhelmed at the beauty of the morning. We were driving west; the entire mountain side was awash in color, beyond the color was the majesty of the rocky cliffs of the backside of Mt Timpanogos. The radio was playing John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” and I was feeling just like John’s words, “you fill up my senses” as the sounds and the sights were lifting my soul. About a mile from the golf course I pulled over got out of the car where I stood taking in the scene and breathing the autumn weather. I took a picture of the mountains in the background and in the foreground steam was rising off a pond in the morning light. After a few minutes I got back into the car and we drove to the golf course. When we arrived at the golf course, I told the Lovely Sharon how I was feeling. She told me that indeed it was beautiful, but that she never really liked “Annie’s Song”. Oh well, back to reality.


It was a pleasure to eat breakfast with friends, looking out the window at the surrounding mountains and the green golf course. We talked of golf, and weather and things friends talk about. There was Barry and Nanette, Don and Sandy, Mike and Jane, Bruce and Rhonda and Sharon and me. Robyn and Paul met us after breakfast. Finally, it was time to play golf. The 27 hole event was divided into three separate nine hole games, (i) point par with both balls of each couple counting for the score, (ii) better ball with one ball per couple counting for the score and (iii) a scramble of the couple’s best shot on each hole. We played with a different couple for each of the nine hole matches. It was a glorious day where the sky was as blue as could be and the temperature was perfect. The colors were so beautiful it was almost distracting. We saw deer, wild turkeys, geese, and scampering squirrels. The Lovely Sharon and I hit some good shots and plenty of bad shots. At the end of the competition we were not surprised to learn that we took last place in each event. Friends Robyn and Paul played terrific and took first place in each event.





After golf we hurried to Park City for dinner. We were joined at dinner by Mary and Rich and so we had two tables for the 14 of us. We laughed and ate and watched football on the big screen. Barry announced the winners and in as nice as manner as possible informed me that me and the Lovely Sharon were DFL in each event. Around 8:30 we all hugged, kissed cheeks and expressed affection for each other and proclaimed that it had been the most special of days, a day that would be long remembered. . Then we each walked into the night to our separate cars to drive home.

After we arrived home we unpacked the car. When I was finally in my bed for the evening, lying in the dark, I thought of the day, the sights, the companionship and the Lovely Sharon. I must tell you, I was still overwhelmed by it all. I still had a glow inside me and just between you and me, in my mind I was humming and thinking of the lyrics of Annie’s Song.

Monday, September 13, 2010

McCall, Idaho

The Lovely Sharon and I arrived home last night from our annual trip to McCall, Idaho to play in the Payette Cup at the Whitetail Country Club. This is the sixth year of the tournament and we have played all six years. This is one of my favorite things to do each year. Last week we drove to Boise on Tuesday and checked into the Cambria Inn. We had a lovely dinner in downtown Boise at the Bardenay Restaurant. On Wednesday we drove to McCall to play golf. Wednesday was a rainy day so we only played nine holes. After golf we checked into the Shore Lodge. The Shore Lodge was built in 1948 and sits on the edge of the beautiful Payette Lake. I love the hotel and I love the lake.




Wednesday night we stayed in our room watching the US Open tennis championships, ordered room service and shared a bottle of wine. It was kind of nice to have a low key evening just crashing on the couches and watching tennis.



Thursday was the practice round of the tournament. It was a cold day but we only had rain on one or two of the holes. Out of all six of the years we have been going to the tournament, this was undoubtedly the coldest day, but I must say I have played golf in a lot worse weather than we played in on Thursday. We had a cart cover and kept pretty warm in the cart. Thursday night was the annual cocktail party at the Whitetail Swim and Fish Club. This is a great facility which is a different building than the golf club house. Even though it is referred to as a cocktail party, there is a buffet so it is basically a dinner. The food was great, the tee prizes were handed out and we had a wonderful couple of hours, eating drinking and joking with our fellow competitors.

Friday was the first round of the tournament. It was cool but no rain. Sharon and I played absolutely terrible. Our playing companions were great fun so we still enjoyed the day. Friday night we attended a cocktail party at Kevin and Cathy’s house. Kevin and Cathy are full time residents of McCall and we have been friends with them since we first met them six years ago. Their cocktail party was great fun and the view from their house on a mountain top is stunning with its panoramic views of Payette Lake and the Whitetail Golf course. From their patio I was overwhelmed by the blue sky, blue lake, green golf course and pine trees as far as you could see.



The final tournament round was Saturday. Saturday was spectacular, not a cloud in the sky, with an afternoon high around 72 degrees. A number of players played in shorts and were comfortable. I played a little better than the previous day and the Lovely Sharon played a lot better. After the tournament all the players were talking and laughing and just enjoying a beautiful autumn day together. Hidden Valley friends Bruce and Grace took first place net in the tournament and Hidden Valley friends Dave and Sue took second gross. On Friday, Sue shot a 74; wow, what a great round for Sue.



Saturday night was the award banquet at the Shore Lodge Pavilion Room which overlooks the lake. As we stood by the open floor to ceiling windows before dinner, we watched sail boats, water skiers and motor boats enjoying the late afternoon early evening sun.



We meandered our way home driving through Stanley, stopping at Redfish Lake and enjoying a quiet lunch in Sun Valley

The Payette Cup tournament is one of the best things we do each year. It is great golf, great parties, wonderful new and old friends and wonderful scenery. Its a romantic get away with the Lovely Sharon.  If you can arrange to go some time, you should do so. I hope I am able to make to the seventh annual Payette Cup next year.