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)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Favorite Walks

Do you have a favorite walk? I am talking about walks not hikes. Is there one place or street that you really like to walk? I do. In fact I have a few. I think you always feel better about life after a nice walk in a favorite spot. Here are a few of my favorite walks.

City Creek Canyon, Salt Lake City. I like to walk up City Creek Canyon. The paved road is 5.75 miles long up to Rotary Park. The Canyon goes further than the park and there are hiking trails available for the adventurous soul. You start this walk by parking your car at the gate. Cars may only go up the canyon every other day. Even on car day you basically need a pass or reservation to drive up the canyon. Days that are not car day are bike days. You can walk the canyon on bike days and car days. Frankly, I prefer walking on car days because there is so little traffic where as there a zillion bikes on bike day. The walk up and down City Creek Canyon is terrific. The road is adjacent to the creek all the way up. There is a water treatment reservoir and a couple of small lake type reservoirs. After about a mile, you feel as though you are in the wilds, miles away from civilization when in fact you are only a couple of miles from downtown Salt Lake City. There is a distance marker about every half mile or so you know have far you have walked. There are deer and other critters up the canyon. I have walked around snakes on the road and one year there was a mountain lion up the canyon. If you live in the Salt Lake area you should take the time to walk City Creek Canyon.

Columbus Avenue, San Francisco. I like to start at the Transamerica Pyramid and walk down Columbus Avenue to the Cannery at Fisherman’s Wharf. You walk through the edge of China Town and through North Beach. There are numerous small restaurants and shops. I always like to stop in the City Lights Bookstore which has been around for more than 50 years and was a hangout for Allen Ginsberg and others of the 1950’s beat generation. Through much of the walk you can see Coit Tower high on a hill on your right as you are walking toward the Wharf. You pass Washington Square and the St Peter Paul Cathedral. More than a few times I have bought a Sunday newspaper and a cup of coffee and sat on a park bench in Washington Square reading and watching people do tai chi exercises on the lawn. Adjacent to Washington Square is Moose’s restaurant which I have eaten at a few times. It now has new owners and I have not been there since the ownership change. On Columbus Avenue the smell of coffee is everywhere and you find yourself stopping for a cup at one of the shops. I always stop at Biordi Art Imports to see their wonderful Italian pottery. I have bought a few pieces at Biordi’s over the years. As you walk down Columbusyou pass "The Stinking Restaurant" which is famous for garlic dishes. As you continue toward the Wharf, you pass bocce ball courts where you can see old men in caps and light jackets playing bocce ball. It has the feel of another country and another time.  Finally you get to the Cannery and the Aquatic Park where people are flying kites and sitting on benches and walls and waiting in line for the Hyde Street Cable Cars. It’s a great walk.

Ocean Avenue, Carmel, CA. I have walked Ocean Avenue 20 or 30 times over the years. I always start at the top of Avenue and walk down the right hand side almost to Carmel Beach. When I get a street or two from Carmel Beach, I cross the Avenue and head back up the other side. The Carmel Avenue stroll has to be taken with a lover. You need to window shop while holding hands. You need to walk into art galleries and together pick out paintings and sculptures you would buy if you only had the money. You need to put your heads together in bakery windows trying to decide which baked delicacy has the fewest calories although you both know the answer is “none”. The last time I walked Ocean Avenue was in June 2010 during the US Open Golf Tournament. The Lovely Sharon and I had just played golf at course a few miles away. We were not scheduled to attend the US Open until the next day so we headed over to Ocean Avenue. It was a sunny afternoon and the Lovely Sharon and I took our time on the Avenue looking at shops and looking at people. When we walked by the Portobello Café there was an open table in the sun next to the sidewalk. We sat down and had a glass of wine and lingered in the afternoon sun. We started a conversation with the fellow at the next table and we were pleased to learn that he was one of the owners of the Cafe. After we were fortified by the wine we left the pleasant surroundings and headed up Ocean Avenue. More window shopping and strolling into shops as we walked. I think we actually bought something but I cannot recall for certain. I must say it was a memorable day, perfect weather, accompanied by a beautiful woman and in no hurry to do anything.

El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA. El Paseo is not far from our place at Ironwood Country Club in Palm Desert. The street has shops, restaurants, galleries, shoe stores, coffee shops, jewelry stores, day spas, and palm trees. In the center island of the street are various sculptures that seem to be replaced with other sculptures from time to time. The main shopping street is about a mile long. I have written before about eating breakfast at Café Des Beaux Arts, my favorite place for breakfast. Last Friday night (or was it Saturday night) the Lovely Sharon and I had dinner at Mama Gina’s Italian Restaurant. My favorite gallery to visit is the Coda Gallery although I do like to go into most of the galleries. I bought a bronze sculpture some years ago of a young boy in a swimsuit. I bought because it reminded me of Son Alex who, at the time, was about the same age as the sculpture boy. To this day, when I look at the sculpture in my Ironwood place I think of Son Alex who is now in graduate school at the University of Utah.

I am out of time but other walks I like are Madison Avenue in New York, Bond Street in London and the walk from Piazza Navona to the Spanish Steps in Rome. If you have a favorite wall leave a message.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winter Deer

I did not go into the office Friday, rather I worked on some documents here at my Salt Lake house.  At one point I stood and walked around to stretch my legs and clear my head and I looked at my backyard through my sliding door.  It was a beautiful sunny day, blue sky and white snow.  As I looked at the snow and the brown, leafless trees, some 10 deer walked into my back yard.  They spent about an hour in the yard and the creek bed at the back of the yard.  I hurriedly grabbed my camera and walked out to take a few photos.  They heard me moving around and they saw me but it did not seem to bother them in the least and they continued to stand, to eat and to walk around. No matter how often we have deer in our yard, it still is a thrilling sight for me.  Here are a few photos I took Friday.

I am going to hang out in the Bud Cave today, reading, browsing the internet and  watching the AT&T golf tournament at Pebble Beach.  Oh yeah I will keep my on my back yard to see if I have any more visitors.

Friday, February 11, 2011

King of the World

If I were King of the world there are many things I would do and require others to do. Here are some of them:

- I would require several of my Salt Lake buddies to get annual psych evaluations. These buddies include Gordon, Steveo, Doug B, Dennis and Mark who was referred to as Mugsy when I first met him some 43 years ago.

- I would have the United States leave Afghanistan and Iraq today. Not next year, not next month or not tomorrow. Today. We are spending some $2 billion per week on these wars. If we want to reduce the deficit, we need to get out of these unchangeable situations.

- I would put Glen Beck, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman in a Zoo. We could throw them bananas take their picture and laugh at their insane bellowing. We would applaud when they walked on their hind feet.

- I would get rid of the stroke and distance penalty for out of bound golf shots.

- I would require all American men to speak in a phony French accent for at least 15 minutes each week. In the alternative, a man could fulfill this requirement by singing “every little breeze seems to whisper Louise” or “thank heaven for little girls” like Maurice Chevalier.

- I would outlaw any waiter or waitress telling me his or her name. “Hi, my name is Ted and I will be your waiter tonight.” I mean how far can this go? “My name is Mohammed and I will be your cab driver tonight”. “Hello, my name is Chico and I will be your gardener today”. “Hello, my name is Bertha and I will be your third polygamist wife.” Hello, I am the Lovely Sharon and I will be telling you what to do in every aspect of your life.”

- I would get rid of the politically correct reference to African Americans. I would call them black guys just as I call white guys, white guys and not European Americans. Even black guys refer to black guys as black guys. Everyone in the real world makes references to white guys and black guys in normal conversation. Is a white guy who emigrated to the U.S.A. from South Africa an African American? No, he is a white guy. My forefathers came from Sweden, and England on my father’s side but I don’t refer to myself as a Swedish American.

- Lets not be stupid and say we shouldn’t profile people at the security stations at the airport. Profiling is exactly what we should be doing. If a dog does his business in your yard over and over, and you are trying to figure who the culprit is, you look at dogs, you don’t look at cats and you don’t look at fish. Your common sense tells you to profile and look at dogs.

- I would prohibit Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. No reference to any of these people would be allowed in any media at any time unless they come up with a cure for cancer.

- I would get rid of the one sided, right wing, nutty, politically outrageous Utah State republican legislature who believes that if you don’t agree with them not only are you wrong, you are evil. Get these people back to their real jobs as exterminators and real estate agents.

- I would get rid of Viagra ads and related product ads on television.

- I would outlaw assault weapons except for law enforcement personnel.

Here is something that I would deal with.  During the Superbowl and after I have seen a TV ad about taxes on soda pop and snack foods.The ad features a woman talking to the camera as she shops in a grocery store. It has been airing for several weeks in selected markets on cable channels such as CNN. The woman says

"Feeding a family is difficult enough in today's economy," the woman says. "Now, some politicians want the government telling me how I should do it. They want to put new taxes on a lot of groceries I buy, like soft drinks, juice drinks, sports drinks, even flavored waters, trying to control what we eat and drink with taxes. Give me a break. I can decide what to buy without government help. The government is just getting too involved in our personal lives."

At that point, a narrator says, "Government needs to trim its budget fat and leave our grocery budgets alone."

The ad is sponsored by "American Against Food Taxes."  Guess who makes up that group?  The group is spearheaded by the American Beverage Association, which represents the makers of sodas and other drinks. According to Advertising Age, the American Beverage Association decided to form the coalition in June 2009, when the idea of taxing sodas and other sweet beverages was being considered as a way to fund the Democratic health care bill. The coalition includes dozens of members, including 7-Eleven, Inc., Burger King Corp., Domino’s Pizza, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, McDonalds, the National Association of Convenience Stores, Snack Food Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Wendy’s/Arby’s Group, Inc..

I have no problem with a trade group running ads which are in their commercial best interests, but they should disclose who they are.  The ad should not appear to be the work of a couple of housewives from Des Moines. We know if they truthfully disclose who is behind the ad, the credibility of the ad would likely suffer.  Thats the point; tell the truth and let the ad stand on the truth.  The same things goes for political ads.. Say whatever you want just tell the truth about who you are.  I don't want taxes on soda pop I just don't like this deceptive commercial advertising.

If I were king I would do a lot of stuff. I imaging each of you would have your own list if you were KIng.  Feel free to leave you directives on this blog.

I must now go and adjust my tiara.

Breakfast at Keedy's

I was in Palm Desert last weekend. The weather was beautiful and it was nice to see the Lovely Sharon who I had not seen for almost two weeks.  On  Friday,  after I got ready for the day, I grabbed the newspaper and headed out to breakfast. My favorite place for breakfast in Palm Desert is Café Des Beaux Arts but that day I decided to go to Keedy’s Fountain Grill, the famous long time greasy spoon in Palm Desert.  I left the Lovely Sharon to get herself ready for her 9:30 tee time with the ladies. I had a 12:30 tee time with the guys and so I went to breakfast on my own. Keedy’s opened for business in 1957 and has been a fixture of Palm Desert ever since. I first went to Keedy’s in 1996. I have been there  many times with buddies, with the Lovely Sharon and on my own. I imagine the place looks like it did in 1957. As you walk into Keedy's your eyes focus on old worn out Formica counter tops and tables and old fashion soda fountains for malts shakes and sodas. You can imagine Keedy’s being used as a movie set for American Graffiti or Happy Days.

I walked in the door on the Highway 111 side of the building rather than the other door which is on the parking lot side of the building. I chose the first small table for two against the west wall. I had just opened my newspaper when my waitress asked me if I wanted coffee. Instead of coffee I requested orange juice and a glass of ice water. My waitress who had what might be kindly called a Rubenesque figure, was a friendly Hispanic lady of maybe 50 years of age. When she brought my orange juice, I ordered two eggs scrambled, hash browns, link sausage and whole wheat toast. A diet, heart healthy breakfast that is served up just right at Keedy’s.

As I waited for my breakfast, which took very little time, I surveyed the scene. The fountain bar was full, every stool taken. Seated at the bar were mostly elderly folks but one little boy of maybe six was seated next to a woman who might have been his grandmother. He asked her many questions and she seemed to give patient answers. The waitresses, waiters and bus boys, all wearing Keedy’s tee shirts, were in constant motion cleaning, taking orders and bringing coffee and breakfasts to the many customers sitting around me. My waitress seemed to know, and was known, by many of the customers. Sitting at the table next to me was an elderly couple. The woman’s back was to me while her husband faced me. As my waitress walked to their table, she bent over and kissed the top of the head of the woman, who looked up and gave the waitress a warm hug. At the next table, where another couple was having breakfast, the old gentlemen remarked to the waitress that her new haircut looked very nice.

In addition to the several elderly couples sitting around me, there were several groups of golfers having breakfast prior to their golf rounds, a couple of men sitting by themselves reading papers and a few younger couples. I tried to eavesdrop on several of the conversations around me and enjoyed listening to comments about local news, the warming weather and heroic golf shots. At one table they were solving the crisis in Egypt.

I finished my breakfast, paid my fare at the cash register and handed my waitress her tip. She thanked me with a friendly smile and told me to come back soon. I told her I would and you know what, I will. I don’t go to breakfast often in Utah but in Palm Desert, I often go out to breakfast. Since I arise a couple of hours before the Lovely Sharon, most of the time I head out for breakfast on my own why she gets ready for the day. It is nice to have a quiet breakfast, read the news and observe the folks around me. If you are in Palm Desert or get to Palm Desert try Keedy’s for the first time or for the tenth time. Take your newspaper but look around at the other customers and the workers and listen to their conversations. It starts the day out on an interesting note.