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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Last Trip

Last week I drove to Palm Desert for my final trip of the season. I drove down so that I could bring home the Lovely Sharon’s shoes, my golf clubs, some clothes and few other things. This year I estimate that I brought home 150 pairs of shoes (golf and non-golf shoes) belonging to the Lovely Sharon. If you read this blog in May of 2009, you may recall my description of her shoes pouring out of my car. This was more the same.

I did the drive to Palm Desert over 2 days leaving Salt Lake at 3:00 on Tuesday afternoon and arriving in Palm Desert late Wednesday morning. As normal, I left Interstate 15 just after Primm, Nevada to take the route through the Mojave Desert that I have previously blogged about. About 10 miles before I reached the Cima Post Office, I saw a dead critter up ahead on the road. I also noticed two large birds flying around on the left side of the road. They were very big. I could not tell what kind of birds they were, primarily because I am not a bird expert, but they were big and I wondered if they were bald eagles. As I drove closer to the dead critter, the big birds were flying closer to the road and were getting lower to the ground. I was only driving about 60 miles per hour and I thought the birds would stay clear of me. Wrong. As I got closer to the dead critter, the two birds flew over the road about 6 feet off the ground and then to my horror, one of the birds made a u turn from the right side of the road and landed on the road at the dead critter just as my car reached the same spot. Guess what? I hit the big bird with my right from bumper. Deader than a door nail. I was sick. I looked back in the rearview window and saw the big bird crushed on the ground. I did not know what to do or what kind of bird it was. I thought if it was a bald eagle have I killed a national endangered treasure? I can’t tell you how bad I felt.

I kept driving looking for a National Park Service vehicle. The National Park Service patrols the road through this area. Usually you see a couple of their vehicles between Cima and Amboy. I saw none through Cima but when I pulled into the Kelso Depot, there was a National Park service vehicle with a federal employee inside. I walked to his vehicle to turn myself in for endangered bird murder. I almost felt like I deserved capital punishment. Don’t put me in jail, just run over me with a Buick Enclave just as I had done to one of God’s creatures 40 miles down the road. As I walked to the truck, the bearded gentlemen looked up. He looked like someone who ought to be patrolling the Mojave Desert, wearing a light green Park Services shirt and dark green trousers. He had a straggly beard and windblown hair. His face was weathered as though he had spent many years in the desert. It looked like dry cracked ground on which water had evaporated, leaving only a mosaic of cracks.

It occurred to me that this fellow had probably dealt with more than one endangered bird killer before. So when I began to confess, my heart was pounding. He looked at me and in a voice textured by ten thousand unfiltered Camel cigarettes, he asked “May I help you.”

I responded with “I need to tell you about something I did.” After that statement, his look of boredom turned into one of curiosity. I proceeded to tell him what I did. I gave him my business card and I waited for him to speak. After he looked at my card, he looked at me directly in the eyes and started to speak. I thought, oh boy here it goes.

But he said “Don’t worry about it; I am certain it was a turkey vulture not an eagle.”

He then told me that it was not uncommon for a vehicle to hit a turkey vulture that landed on the road at the last minute. Although I was relieved, I still felt bad. I got in my car to drive the next 40 miles to Amboy, thought about the big bird, its life cut short by a “wrong place at the wrong time” interaction with me.

Located a couple of miles outside of Amboy is the famous shoe tree. This is a famous tree into which people have been throwing shoes for years. As you pass the shoe tree it appears surreal to be out in the middle of nowhere full of shoes. I always looked forward to seeing the shoe tree. This trip, as I passed the shoe tree, I was disappointed to see it toppled over, dead, still covered with shoes. I stopped at Roy’s gas station two miles down the road in Amboy for a bottle of water. I asked the clerk what happened to the shoe tree, I wondered if some miscreant had cut it down. He said no that the wind had toppled it a few months earlier.

First a dead bird, now the dead shoe tree. I got back in the Buick with a heavy heart.

I finally arrived in Palm Desert.

One Friday, I was in the condo and the Lovely Sharon  was on the patio.  She shouted for me to come.  I could tell by her voice, something was wrong.  When I reached the patio, she pointed out a dead red finch in one of the bird feeders.  This poor bird had climbed through the hole where the seeds pour into the tray and could not get out. He died.

The rest of an odd weekend was spent golfing and packing up for the trip home and watching birds (live birds). A mother Red Hawk had babies a few weeks ago in a nest on the Ironwood golf course and we have been watching them since they hatched. The nest is probably 25 or 30 feet off the ground. I took a number of pictures of the babies. If you look closely you can see the second baby’s beak on the side of the baby looking at the camera.




We have a large crew of humming birds on our patio.  We call all the males Tony and all the females Bella. They are used to us and fly within a foot or two of us as we are on the patio.


I left early Sunday morning to drive back to Utah. The drive was uneventful as I didn’t run over anything. I did see a white face Mime waiving a pizza sign near a gas station in Las Vegas and I thought about running over him, but ultimately had a change of heart. I arrived back in Salt Lake around 8:00 in the evening and then spent an hour unloading the car. It was kind of sad to realize no more trips to the desert until Thanksgiving, no more encounters with Palm Desert friends. But all in all, I am looking forward to the Lovely Sharon coming back to Utah in a week or so and listening to her point out all the dust in the house and wondering why I have so many books on the Bud Cave floor.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Graduate

Hallelujah, it happened, he did it. Yesterday Son Alex graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in History. The path to his degree was circuitous, with stops and starts and turns, several hair colors including blue, red and yellow and a few piercings. But he stuck with it and because of a professor’s encouragement a couple of years ago, he was motivated to jump back in academia. When he graduated yesterday, he had on a white shirt and a black tie and a nice pair of black ear studs. His hair was his natural color. That he kept at it and earned his degree, made me proud.

The commencement ceremony, followed by the College of Humanities Convocation, provided for a wonderful day. Everywhere in and around the Huntsman Center on the University of Utah campus were excited graduates, happy families and more smiles than you have ever seen in one place. Black gowns and mortar board hats with various colored tassels were everywhere. It was a thrilling place to be to participate in an event that caused such feelings of accomplishment and feelings of relief for graduates and families alike. But just as exciting for me was the feeling deep down inside that Son Alex, and each of these graduates, will venture out into life and accomplish good and wonderful things. We live in a life of contention where our own politcal leaders try to impede each other for personal political gain rather than attempt to advance us as a country or solve our problems. .  The goals of our leaders and talk radio and cable tv  performers appear to be that of  I want you to fail, I want whatever you don't want.  I don't want what you do want.  The recent oil spill in the Gulf is a good example.  Right wingers claiming President Obama wanted the spill to occur to stop future offshore drilling.  No matter what you believe about offshore drilling, to accuse the President or anyone of being happy about such a devastating enviromental and financial disaster is just plain wrong, ignorant and evidence of politics of division and destruction.

As a student of politics and history for most of my 57 years I must say I have never been so disappointed in our so called leaders.  I have never seen the horizon look so bleak as we as Americans seem to look for things that keep us apart and divide us rather than things that bring us together.  Throughout our history as a country we have had differnces on goals and directions, but in times of need we have joined together.  Not now. It seems to be the goal to destroy the opposition rather than solve the problems.

But yesterday as I listened to the commencement speakers I was inspired. It struck me that I need to do more in life. I need to help the community, I need to help mankind; I need to take action that makes the world a better place. I think I been trapped in a feeling  of malaise  believing its not worth the effort to try to make life better for more than just me.  I work, I read, I play golf, I have a life with friends and family, but it occurred to me yesterday that I don’t give enough of myself to projects and causes that I believe in; to issues that are important to me.  I need to inspire myself and those around me to take personal action to do right rather than just sit and allow those nay sayers around us to control our life. Each of us has projects, causes, or ideas that stir our soul but are we each doing something about them? I have been guilty of not doing my share, I hope to do better.

The keynote speaker yesterday was U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr., a former governor of Utah, a republican who was appointed by President Obama to what possibly be the most important diplomatic post we have. His speech was down to earth, inspiring as he told the graduates that there would be hurdles along the way of life that would make them stronger, that they should never give up their dreams and that all things desired could be accomplished.  I am simplifying his theme and I know these admonitions sound like the typical graduation speech but I must say, I found inspiration in them and a renewed energy to be better, and to do better.

So while it was Son Alex’s day to shine, his day to receive words of praise and words of congratulation, it was also a good day, no it was a very good day, for me. To see my beloved son achieve something of value, something requiring hard work, something that will affect him positively for the rest of his life quickened my heart. Thoughts of his success brought a few tears to my eyes. It was also a day of inspiring words which hopefully will remain with me more than a few days; which will prompt me to be more productive in the big picture of life. I hope to be more positive about the future. 

A wonderful day was followed by a celebratory dinner at my Salt Lake golf club. Son Alex, his lady Sara, Alex’s mother, her husband Alan and me for an evening of toasts and stories. The five of us joined together to celebrate Alex. As friends entered the dining room for their own dinners, they greeted us and I, like proud fathers everywhere, announced that we were celebrating Alex’s graduation. My friends expressed words of congratulations to Alex making me even more proud.

Alex is going to travel a little this summer and his next path of life is graduate school where he plans to get his masters degree in Natural Environmental/Physical Geography with a focus on paleo environments. Don’t ask me what that is. I really don’t know. The best I can figure out is that he will be looking for live dinosaurs.

Go forth and do good.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Things a Man Should Not Do

There are certain things that a man should just not do, actions he should not take, behavior he should not engage in.  Some of us in fact do some of these prohibited things but we shouldn’t. There may be prohibited actions on this list that the men readers think are acceptable to do.  But face it, this is my list  and if you don’t agree, start your own blog.  (Although you are invited to leave comments of any sort).  Consider my list of things a man should not do:

A man should never wear capri pants. Let me repeat that: Never, ever, under any circumstances should any man wear Capri pants. If you have to go out in your boxer shorts, do it, but do not wear capri pants.

A man should never refer to the attire his is wearing, or the attire any other man is wearing, as an “outfit". Men wear clothes, pants, shirts, not outfits. For a man, an outfit was his platoon in the army.

A man should never buy or use luggage that is pink, yellow, pastel or flowered. When you and your ten year old granddaughter both have flowered suit cases at the airport you should turn in your man card.

A man should never put a yarn ribbon on his suitcase so he can spot it at the luggage carousel. If you need help in spotting your suitcase, put a USGA tag, a colored piece of plastic or a pork chop on your suitcase. But for heaven’s sake, don’t tie a yellow yarn ribbon around the handle of your suitcase.

A man should never order a salad with the dressing on the side. Many men do this but they shouldn’t. It is fundamentally wrong.   If you are worried about the salad dressing, order a steak. If you order a salad with dressing on the side when you are dining with a woman, the first topic of conversation will no doubt be about track lighting or getting your nails done. Can you imagine Indiana Jones ordering a salad with dressing on the side? Of course not.  Can you imagine Michael Jackson or former presidential candidate John Edwards ordering a salad with the dressing on the side? You bet you can.  What does that tell you?

Unless you are on a tropical island, a man should not order a drink with a little umbrella in it (I must confess I have done this more than once). 

A man should never tell another man to turn around so he can check out his pants. This is just  plain spooky.

A man should never yell at his wife. She is your wife be nice to her

A man should never yell at any woman. Enough said

A man should never be mean to an animal.

A man should never be abusive to a woman or a child. Its just plain evil.

A man should never cheat at golf. Why play golf if you cheat?

If you are older than 18, you should never wear your hat backwards.   If you are older than 18 remember that you are not a member of the Spanky and Our Gang boys.  Put your hat on correctly.   I would hope that at some point in life people will stop wearing their hats backward.  As I reported in a previous bog, not long ago, I accidentally put my boxer shorts on backwards but thankfully the Lovely Sharon spotted it before I put my pants on.

A man should not wear a golf hat in the clubhouse.  In Scotland this is a big deal.  When you were a boy, I bet your mother did not let you wear a hat in the house.  Take your damn hat off when you enter the golf clubhouse.

A man should not confess to watching women’s curling in the winter Olympics. You can watch (I did), but just don’t tell anyone you did (I told) -  hey just because these are my rules doesn't mean I follow them all of the time.

A man should never lose interest in looking at women. Until the day they die, men should enjoy looking at the fairer sex. You can be true blue to your own lady without giving up appreciating others from afar. Just because you live on Earth does not mean you cannot enjoy looking at Venus.

A man should never use a straw when drinking from a carton of milk or orange juice. If you are in the hospital you are allowed to do this. Otherwise, it is forbidden.

A man should not enjoy watching Lifetime Channel TV Movies (again, I must confess to doing this)

A man should not own more shoes than his wife. This is one rule that will be impossible for me to break.  I am married to the Lovely Sharon.  If she had to choose between going to Paris with me and just three pairs of shoes, or by herself and 8 or 10 pairs of shoes, she would be in Paris with her shoes and I would be mowing the lawn by myself in Salt Lake City.

Ladies and Gentlemen feel free to leave comments telling me how correct I am (or how incorrect I am) or what other prohibited actions should be on the list.

Bye