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)

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, CafĂ© 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.