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)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mojave Desert Cattle

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago near Cima in the Mojave Preserve.  I don't know what kind of cattle breed this is and I don't know for certain if these are cows or bulls.  I researched cattle breeds on google but did not see this spotted forehard breed.  I also read that in some breeds the cows have horns as do the bulls.

I thought these animals looked very interesting.  When the Lovely Sharon saw the photos she told me that the animals did not look real.  I think she is right.  These animals were walking through the Joshua Trees.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day, a Time for Thanks

Today words are not necessary.

Thank You to my father and to all the men and women who have served our country. God bless you and God Bless the United States

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Desert Tortoise

In May of each year I drive to Palm Desert to bring a load of shoes, clothes and other items back to Salt Lake for the summer.  This year I left on a Thursday (two weeks ago) after work and drove to Mesquite, Nevada where I spent the night. The next morning I got up early to take the rest of the drive from Mesquite to Palm Desert.  This potion of the drive takes about about 5 1/2 hours.  As usual, I drove on I-15 through Las Vegas to the Nevada- California border.  At the border I either get off the Intersate on Nipton Road which is four or five miles from the border or I continue on I-15 to Cima Road which is about 20 miles from the border.  This trip I chose the Cima Road exit to head over the Mojave Desert to 29 Palms and from there to Palm Desert.

After driving 3 or 4 miles  down Cima Road towards Cima, I saw a sign I have seen dozens of times - "Watch  For Tortoises".  As I drove past the sign I was thinking "oh sure, I have seen the sign but never a tortoise and doubted I would see one that day."

Wrong, within a 60 seconds of the sign, a tortoise was stopped on the road in the other lane. I hit my brakes, stopped, did a u turn and drove back to the tortoise. I got out of my car with my trusty camera and approached the tortoise. Initially he put his head and legs into his shell. But I started talking to him, I just talked in regular English since I don't know tortoise speak, and his head and legs came back out.

Here is a photo of a similar sign that was on Nipton Road.  I did not take this photo.

I took a few photos of the tortoise that I thought came out pretty well.


I was very excited to see this tortoise.  After seeing the tortoise I did some online reading about tortoises.  Here is a link to one website that provides good information.

Keep your eyes open in life, you never know what you may see. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Random Thoughts

Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods are not friends.  When asked about Woods, Sergio responded with” I will have him over to dinner for fried chicken”.  Everyone knows this is a racial insult.  I have always thought Sergio was a baby, a whiner and a choker. Basically, I have always considered him a dick.  Now it appears he is a racist or is incredibly stupid or both. The European Professional Golfers Tour CEO, while trying to diffuse the issue and support Sergio stated that Sergio is not a racist he has lots of “colored” friends. Keep on talking boys.  Maybe say something about Asians, Native Americans and gays.

Wolf Blitzer of CNN was interviewing a female survivor of the Oklahoma tornado.  He said “I bet you thanked God for your survival.”  She hemmed and hawed before she said she was an atheist. Just because you live in Oklahoma and don’t have all of your own teeth, does not mean you are part of the religious right.

I just read a news article that stated that average IQ’s have declined in the last 100 years.  My guess for the reason of declining IQ's:   Fox News and reality TV shows.

Actor Brad Pitt said that he might have “face blindness” because he cannot remember people’s faces after meeting them.  According to the Lovely Sharon, I have a similar problem.  I have “dust” blindness and “clean the dirty toilet” blindness. I don’t seem to recognize that something needs that needs to be dusted or  toilets that need to be cleaned. I am trying to cure my malady by drinking red wine and watching TV.

Apparently in the most recent Star Wars movie, one of the female characters was walking around in her underwear for no good reason.  Apparently, she was in her skivvies for no reason related to the plot.  The producer of the movie has apologized for the gratuitous showing of female underwear.  I personally think all movies should be required to have a scene with at least one woman in her underwear.  For me the 1960’s classic war movie, The Longest Day would have been a much better movie if at least one woman in underwear was on Omaha Beach during the D Day landing.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Napa Grapes

Here are a few photos of grapes hanging on the vine in Napa I took a couple of years ago.


Crushing Grapes the old fashion way

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Barbie's Dreamhouse

Today “Barbie’s Dreamhouse” opens in Berlin, Germany.  Yes it’s that Barbie. Barbie doll Barbie made by Mattel since 1959.  The Barbie dolls your sisters and your mother’s played with. The Barbie your daughters and granddaughters, play with.  It is that Barbie whose boyfriend was Ken.   
The Berlin Dreamhouse is a 27,000 square foot portable mansion. 
Apparently left-wing feminists (mern and women) are going crazy over Barbie’s Dreamhouse, protesting its existence, The following information is from: 

 When Europe's first Barbie Dreamhouse Experience attraction opens in Berlin on Thursday, a number of young girls will probably be eager to get inside. But they'll have to get through the crowd of feminist protesters first.

Culminating weeks of criticism, feminist groups plan to demonstrate outside the giant pink mansion to call attention to what they say is a sexist role model that embodies the "pinkification" of childrens' toys. It certainly won't be the first time that the blonde, anatomically impossible doll has drawn the ire of gender rights activists, but something about the attempt to make the fantasy into an actual "experience," as the Barbie Dreamhouse organizers call it, seems to have hit a nerve.

Coverage of the attraction -- which features an "endless" closet, cupcake baking kitchen, fashion runway and pop-star karaoke stage -- have been decidedly less flattering than the Barbie outfits on display there. "Glitz, Glamour, Ghastliness," read a Wednesday headline in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, which went on to describe it as a "horror house" where the overwhelming prevalence of pink actually puts visitors in a foul mood. "It is exactly as the harshest critics predicted -- a pink-colored, sparkling world of beautiful illusion. A superficial nightmare in pastel," the paper said. The dollhouse for humans is a "Hell in Rose Pink," a headline in daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said last week.

 In a SPIEGEL ONLINE editorial over the weekend, author Silke Burmester accused Christoph Rahofer, the head of EMS, the Vienna-based marketing firm behind the Barbie world, of creating a place to educate young girls in the arts of superficiality. "Not many women have the possibility of creating such a life for themselves," she wrote. "All the better that you, Mr. Rahofer, have now given children the chance to taste the sweet nectar of life as a doll. When else will they find the incentive to focus all of their energy on appearances, working ceaselessly for perfection, if the foundations aren't laid in their childhood days?"

 Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse, a group set up in March by Michael Koschitzki, a member of the far-left Left Party's youth organization, has spearheaded the protest movement against the Dreamhouse, printing thousands of flyers and calling on fellow feminists to gather outside for speeches and protest outside the temporary attraction on Thursday. "We don't want young girls exposed to sexist propaganda already at an elementary school age." 
The group says its protests aren't targeted at parents who bring their children to the Dreamhouse, nor the children who enjoy playing with Barbie dolls, the group says. "Our protest is directed against the perception of women that is being propagated by the Barbie Dreamhouse in Berlin, and against the exhibition of the social conditions that it represents, namely that the role of a woman is to always look good, and to cook and clean."

 Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse, whose name is a nod to the anti-avarice Occupy Wall Street movement, will also be joined by the German chapter of Pinkstinks, a group that campaigns against products, advertising and marketing they claim contribute to the limitation and "pinkification" of gender roles. "Pink is a wonderful color," the group's founder Stevie Meriel Schmiedel told news agency DPA last week. "But the pinkification of toys stinks. This color stands only for being cute and sweet and outward."

The youth chapter of the environmentalist Green Party on Wednesday also encouraged anti-Barbie protesters to come out for the opening, releasing a statement that called for the doll to be banned, saying she not only undermines gender equality, but also "projects sexist roles and leads to eating disorders."
Located near Alexanderplatz, a main shopping hub in central Berlin, the 2,500-square-meter Barbie Dreamhouse Experience will charge €15 for adults and €12 for children ($19 and $15, respectively), and remain open until Aug. 25, when it will move on to other European cities. Dreamhouse creator Koschitzki, a father of two young girls, told SPIEGEL last month the attraction was "just about having fun," and called the protests "totally unnecessary."

Mattel, the US toymaker that has been producing Barbie dolls since 1959 and issued a license for the project in Berlin, has likely become accustomed to criticism of what the doll is perceived to represent. Indeed, "Barbie has again become a tool for some to advance their own agenda," a spokesperson for the company's German unit told news agency AFP.

My Take On Barbie Dreamhouse Protesters

So we have protesters who don’t like the Barbie lifestyle. We have protesters who don’t want a pinkifcation of toys since its stands only for being cute and sweet and who could possibility be in favor of sweet and cute.  Ruthless and ugly would be so much better don’t you think.  We also have the Green Party claiming Barbie and the Barbie Dreamhouse "projects sexist roles and leads to eating disorders."

These protesters could protest the oppression of Muslim women prevented from getting educated or stoned to death for some transgression.  Or they could protest the recent rapes of young women in India.  They could protest female genital mutilation which is practiced mainly in 28 countries in western, eastern, and north-eastern Africa, particularly Egypt and Ethiopia, and in parts of Asia and the Middle East.  They could protest the plainting of land mines. They could protest hundreds of issues but they have dedicated themselves to protesting Barbie’s Dreamhouse. 
 I am not certain this is a cause I would donate to or take time off work for.  Although,  I have blogged before about women protesting something by going topless, see

I encourage all women protesting the Barbie Dreamhouse to remove their blouses and bras and protest topless. If they agree to this, I will be right there with them on the front line of the protest.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Great Gatsby

The Lovely Sharon and I went to the the movies yesterday.  We saw The Great Gatsby. I have always liked the story.  I have read F.Scott Fitzgerald's novel a couple of times but not for more than 30 years, maybe even longer.  I bought a new copy of the book a week or so ago but I have not yet started reading it.  The movie was ok but not great.  It had a entirely different feel than the Robert Redford version of The Great Gatsby which was also not great.

The movie had great visual effects and bold coloring but it did not seem particularly believable

The reviews have not been positive but over the first weekend of its release, the movie made a lot of money.

I am not certain I am glad I saw the movie but it was a hot day and the theater offered a cool respite from the heat.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Ocean

A couple of days ago, the Lovely Sharon and I spent the day in Newport Beach.  I had not been to the ocean for at least a year, maybe two.  We parked our car and went to the beach.  We took our shoes off and walked through the water along the shore.  Initially, the water felt cold but as I continued to walk it didn‘t feel as cold, merely cool.  The Lovely Sharon was cold and she walked on the warm sun as I walked in the water. There were a lot of people sunbathing on the sand and a lot of kids running into the water from the beach.  It is invigorating to walk in the wet sand with the tide running up to the beach.  The temperature was in the mid 60’s and the breeze across the water into our faces felt cool and refreshing.

I don’t get to the ocean often but there is something about the sea that draws me. I like the smell of the salt air and the sea breeze. There is something soothing about walking through the water with your toes digging into the wet sand.  I like it when the water comes in faster and higher than you anticipated and your pants get wet.

One of my favorite things to do is to climb over the rocks and though the tide pools on the 17 Mile Drive in Carmel, California. I have explored these tide pools a number of times over the years but my two favorite times was when my Son Alex was 11 years old or so. The time when Son Alex and I explored the tide pools he and I had taken a trip together to San Francisco and Carmel. We had a terrific time, just father and son on an adventure together. 

Another time I explored the tide pools of Carmel I was with the Lovely Sharon. I was courting her and this was our first trip together.  We shared a bottle of wine and ate some cheese and crackers while sitting on a log watching the waves crashing over the rocks. It was a sunny day and the sky was blue and the ocean was blue with white crashing waves.  Then we explored the tide pools together. After this trip I was totally smitten by this beautiful woman. I think of that trip together often. It was the beginning of us being a couple.

One of these days I want to sail on the ocean in a sail boat.  I have never done that and I hope to do that  before its too late.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Shift of the Universe Redux

A Repost from Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shift of Universe

It is that time of year, the Universe has shifted. The Lovely Sharon has arrived back in Utah after seven months in Palm Desert. For me the next several weeks will be filled with cleaning the house (including the Bud Cave), getting the patio furniture out, putting the patios in order and getting the yard ready for summer. Since I have not posted on this blog for a couple of weeks, this entry is your basic report of unrelated events and mostly unconnected events since the last posting.

After walking into the house having been gone for seven months, the Lovely Sharon’s first comment was to ask if there had been an earthquake. When I said no there had not been an earthquake and why was she asking, she responded with,

“Oh, since the cookbook shelves looked so disorderly, I just figured that there must have been an earthquake”.

I know she was taking a shot at me but my response was:

“Oh, please, the books were on the shelf and arranged in that kind of intentionally disorderly manner that is so quaint in country homes in the South of France”.

She didn’t buy it and by the next morning she had reorganized the cook books.

When I have previously blogged that the Lovely Sharon had 120 pairs of golf shoes, she objected and said that was not true. I must confess, she was right and I was wrong. We counted her golf shoes and she indeed does not have 120 pairs; she has 136 pairs of golf shoes. Saturday we built two cabinets for the garage to hold her golf shoes.

Saturday and Monday I played in Hidden Valley Country Club’s Men’s Member –Member tournament with my friend Steve. After trying to provide expert advice to Steve for several holes on Monday, he told me to shut the hell up. So I shut up as requested and he made three pars in a row. Obviously, my prior advice had clicked in for him. Steve and I had 8 bets of $15 per man for the two day tournament and we lost $30.00 each. Not too bad but maybe I should have started giving him golf advice earlier in the tournament.

On Saturday we played against Doug and Dave, I wish I could report on our conversation but I better not. However, on one par five, it took Doug three shots to get from the men’s tees to the ladies tees. He had to pull his pants down twice before his fourth shot. Steve and I won that hole.

On Monday, we played against Eddie and Scotty. After four holes Eddie was one over par having made three pars in four holes. However, on the par 3 second hole over the lake, disaster hit for Eddie and Scotty. On a day when both players’ balls counted for the tournament score, Eddie took a 12. His tee ball went in the lake and he dropped a ball in front of the lake. Here was the conversation between Eddie and Scotty which took place when Steve and I were waiting on the green:

Scotty: "OK Eddie you are hitting 3, you can still save a 4 or 5."

Eddie: Total silence, no response

The second ball goes into lake

Scotty: "OK Eddie you are hitting 5, you can still save a 6 or 7."

Eddie: Total silence, no response.

The third ball goes in the lake.

Scotty: "OK Eddie you are hitting 7, you can still save an 8 or 9."

Eddie: Makes some moaning, gurgling sounds but words are unintelligible.

The fourth ball goes into the lake.

Scotty "Ok Eddie you are hitting 9" (there was no mention about saving anything.)

Eddie: Looks up toward the heavens, seems to be asking for help but Steve and I cannot hear him from the green.

Eddie finally puts the ball on the green and is laying nine. After three putting, he took 12 on the hole and his mind immediately shifted from golf to thoughts about the oil spill in the gulf, the financial crisis and women’s fashions. For the rest of the day, his eyes were glazed over and he appeared to be in some sort of Buddha trance.

In this same tournament a few years ago I took an 11 on the par 3 seventh hole on a day when both partners’ balls counted for the total score so I know how Eddie felt.

The problem with playing with a fellow who just took an 11 or 12 on a par 3 in a tournament is that for next several holes you walk on eggs shells around him and you have to be nice to him. With my friends, we are never nice to each other on the golf course; it is non-stop harassment of each other. So when a 12 is taken you have to say nice stuff to the unfortunate sod who now wants to slit his wrists.

“Hey Eddie, you can make it up”.
“Nice shirt Eddie, where did you get it”.
“Want a Life Saver candy treat”.
"What is your favorite movie?"

and so on.

After about three holes, our nice period was over and we started making fun of Eddie's misfortune. Which I must say, he took it in good spirits.

On Sunday the Lovely Sharon and I played Sunday Couples golf with Jim and Terry. It was great to spend time with this couple after seven months apart. Jim had a 36 on the back nine and Terry hit the ball terrifically. Sunday night we went to a party.

So our Universe is back in Utah for the next five months. Cook outs, family, friends, golf and yard work. Sounds wonderful.

PS. Have fun this summer, the days start getting shorter in 20 days.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Summer Time Redux

A Post from Saturday, July 25, 2009


I love summertime. As a school boy, in a time before year round school, it seemed that summer would never arrive and starting in April, I would count down the days until school was out. Back then, summer did not start at the summer solstice, it started on the last day of school. Now, despite the calendar or the weather, my summer starts on June first and is gone on September first. Ninety days is all we have of this wonderful time of year.

Our life and our world seem to dramatically change on a faster and more frantic basis than ever before. Look at how we communicate. During my life we have gone from conversations in a living room or over the back yard fence and hand written letters to fax, to email, to texting, to twittering and face booking. Today we are dumbfounded if someone does not have email. We communicate with others more than ever but we seem to have less intimacy with those around us. I still like to send a handwritten note on a nice piece of paper and I still like to receive one.

Despite this ever and quickly changing world and life we live, it is somewhat reassuring that the rhythms, sounds and smells of summer have seemed constant since our childhood. Things seem to move a little slower in the summer. Work schedules are adjusted around vacation schedules and things don’t get done as fast as they do the rest of the year and that seems to be ok.

Summer’s smells are those of cut grass, chicken on a backyard grill, flowers in the yard and fireworks on the 4th of July. These smells do not change over time; they have been the same from my boyhood to now, more than 50 years later.

Sit on your patio some time and close your eyes. What do you hear? What do you think about? For me, summer’s sounds are those of lawn mowers, dogs barking, and children riding bikes, laughing and playing games in the neighborhood. I love to sit on my back deck at dusk and hear the sweet symphony of birds, bugs and squirrels welcoming nighttime to cool down the heat of a summer day. The faint sound of the fluttering of a hummingbird’s wings at a nearby feeder still brings me pleasure. From time to time I can still hear the shouts of “No bears are out tonight” from some unseen child in a nearby yard.

More than any other season, summer is a time to celebrate and enjoy our friends. People seem to hibernate in the winter and limit their social interactions to a few close friends. In the summer, I see a large number of friends regularly at the golf course and at a stream of outdoor suppers, yard parties and barbeques that summer brings. It seems as though more people are staying close to home this summer, likely because of the economy, and as a result, the number of gatherings of friends seems to be greater than in previous years. Almost every weekend we have joined friends for a summer dinner. We have sat together on back yard decks and on lawns talking and laughing with our dear friends. Next week a group of us are going to a minor league baseball game. I look forward to the sounds of the crowd and the crack of the bat, eating a hotdog and dripping mustard on my shirt (some things never change). What a treasure it is to build memories with, and share the lives of, our friends.

The days have been getting shorter for more than a month. Nighttime comes earlier by a minute or so each day as summertime is slipping away like grains of sand in an hour glass. Just as you can see sand fall several grains at a time, you can see the season move on its journey toward autumn. It is not too late to invite friends over, or to drive up the canyon to see wild flowers, or to sit on the patio and listen to birds.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cactus Flower

I took this photo of a cactus flower a couple of weeks ago in Palm Desert

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Favorite Smile

Here is a photo from a dinner on our Salt Lake patio a couple of years ago. Norm, the Lovely Sharon and Greg. I think the Lovely Sharon has the best smile on the planet.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Ordinary Grace

I just finished reading one of the best novels I have read in awhile.  It was Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. Here is an overview from Amazon:

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

The story is about the family of a Methodist minister, two boys, 13 and 11, and an 18 year old sister.  The events of the book in a small town in Minnesota are written in such a way that you can feel the small town in each word on the page.  You can clearly imagine the railroad track that is an important character of its own in the book.  Its not a mystery or a suspense novel but is the story of  the frailities and shortcomings of people, of boys growing up over the course of the summer, and tragic loss. Its epilogue is looking back 40 years after the summer of 1961.

I have read several books written by William Kent Kreuger but this one was particularly poignent and worth the read.

That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”