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, March 30, 2014

Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni - Bellagio Lake Como

A few years ago, the Lovely Sharon and visited Italy. We had a wonderful holiday together including a stay at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in the town of Bellagio on Lake Como.  I have stayed in many wonderful hotels over the years but the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is one of my favorites. Our Salt Lake friends Bill and Martha told us about the hotel.  The Lovely Sharon and I had been in Venice and then decided to visit Lake Como and Bellagio. As we drove the winding narrow road along Lake Como to Bellagio, the Lovely Sharon talked about the hotel and suggested just take a look at it inasmuch as we had no reservation.   I took her statements as code meaning "please get us a room for the night".  So we arrived at the hotel with no reservation. She went to the ladies room and I went to the hotel desk.  I asked if a room was available, I was told there was in fact an available room.  I asked the cost and was told what the cost was.  When I picked myself up after collapsing from the room cost information, I told the desk clerk I would take the room.  We checked in  and were taken to our room.  It was fantastic as was the entire hotel and its grounds.

 The following text is from the Hotel's website:

For the past 100 years or more, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni has been one of the most well-known and prestigious hotels in the world. Set in the splendid surroundings of Lake Como, where the blue waters meet the green mountains which soar above the lake, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni enjoys a breathtaking position on the promontory which juts halfway out into the lake, separating the two branches. The luxurious vegetation of its Italian-style gardens, abounding in Mediterranean and subtropical plants, flourishes in the pleasant microclimate around the lake: sunshine almost all year round, accompanied by mild temperatures in every season.

Owing to its delightful setting, Bellagio, an oasis of peace on the shores of the lake, has been a holiday destination for centuries and it was here that, in around 1850, construction work started on a luxurious holiday villa on the banks of the lake for an aristocratic family from Milan.

In 1872 the villa, which is in pure neo-classical style, was sold and since then it has formed the central nucleus of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni which was opened in 1873. Its interior reflects the good taste loved by the wealthy nobility of the time: its walls and ceilings are adorned with frescoes and paintings of mythological scenes, gilded frames, festoons, temples, putti, flamingos, and Pompeian reds. The coffer ceilings are often frescoed with floral patterns in grey and pink tones. The guests are fascinated by the period wall coverings in French style, the antique Persian carpets, the crystal chandeliers from Murano, the Imperial furniture, and the neo-classical and Art Nouveau style; not to mention the marble staircases, the stucco work columns, and the splendid trompe l'oeil.

Here are a few photos I took of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and views from the hotel:

Here are some photos from the Hotel's website.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, you should do it.  We had such a wonderful, romantic two days in Bellagio and were reluctant to check out of the hotel.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tenth Wedding Anniversary

Last Friday, March 21st, was the 10th Anniversary of the marriage the Lovely Sharon and I.  Ten years, unbelievable.  Its seems like  it has only been a couple of years.  As many of our friends are aware, we were married near the 14th hole at Ironwood Country Club's South Course in Palm Desert , California. Before the ceremony we played 18 holes of golf and were married ion our golf clothes and golf shoes.  When we were saying the "I do's", coyotes were howling from the surrounding mountains. 

This year we celebrated as normal.  We had breakfast at my favorite breakfast spot in Palm Desert- CafĂ© des Beaux-Arts on El Paseo.  I had my usual, eggs benedict and the Lovely Sharon had an omelet.

After breakfast we played 18 holes of golf at Ironwood. The weather was beautiful, the course was beautiful and the Lovely Sharon was beautiful.

After golf we went back home for an hour or two and then we headed back to the spot where we were married.  We took a bottle of Champagne and an Ipod with Tony Bennett's "The Way You Look Tonight". 

We toasted each other and danced in the late afternoon sun to Tony.  Finally, we headed to the Club House for Dinner.  A magnificent day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Breathing by Bicyclists Causes Proollution - Redux

Here is a Repost from

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Breathing by Bicyclists Causes Pollution

 I love politicians don't you?  I read an article this morning in the Huffington Post.  See:

Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt (R–Kalama), a ranking member of the State Transportation Committee, argues that bicycling is bad for the environment and says bike riders should have to pay a tax to help maintain the state's roads. Orcutt made his comments in an email, which was posted by the Cascade bicycle club blog on Saturday.

In the message, Orcutt states bike riders pollute the environment because they produce more carbon dioxide than car drivers.  

The email from the lawmaker, which was written to bike shop owner Dale Carson, goes on to say that because bike riders have an "increased heart rate and respiration," the act of riding a bike "results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider." 

 "Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride," Orcutt wrote in the message, which Carson provided to The Huffington Post on Monday.

Carson had originally written Orcutt an email arguing against a proposed 5 percent bicycle tax on bikes that cost more than $500. He said biking is good for the environment as part of his argument for why bicycle riders save taxpayers money.
If the argument for a bike tax is that the bicyclists use the road and should share in its upkeep, I have no problem with the argument.  I might disagree with the policy of such a tax but I cannot say the argument is crazy.  If you are trying to raise money for the government to fix roads it is an argument attempting to justify a bike tax.  I for one am glad a republican made the argument. They don't want to tax the oil companies but lets tax the five year old's first tricycle.

However, if the argument is that "breathing causes pollution, bicyclists breathe, therefore bicyclists cause pollution and they should be taxed", then I think of all of the wonderful expansions of such an argument.  Look at all the people doing things that involve breathing, which causes pollution and which therefore should be taxed:

Mom's jogging while pushing a baby buggy
Kids running and swinging in the park
Families hiking in the mountains
Old folks exerting themselves walking with walkers or riding wheel chairs.

I say tax em all.  I knew there was something wrong and suspicious with all these old folks using walkers.  Now I know what it is.  They are eco-terrorists. Tax them before it is too late.

Now when I see bicyclists on the road, I will not appreciate their environmental efforts.  I will see the enemy, users, bastards. 

Look at these photos.  Don't these bikes just scream out for taxation?

A pretty outfit will not reduce your carbon footprint sir

 Public Enemy No. 1

These fellows are creating pollution in two directions

This guy is worse than a diesel truck

This is for the lazy polluter

 I probably would exempt this rider from tax, she is obviously providing a public service

Watch out for the bike riders, the true cause of climate change.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

L'Isle sur la Sorgue

I have blogged about the town of L' Isle sur la Sorgue before but it is one of my favorite towns anywhere.  Its located in Provence, France some 25 miles from Avignon.  The Sorgue River surrounds the town and canals cut through the town.  It is an antique center, it has a beautiful Cathedral and it has a wonderful and colorful market.  Apparently there are two market days each week.  I think the Lovely Sharon and I were at the market on a Thursday.  Here are some photos I took of food offered at the market:

Here is a photo of one of the Canals

This is one of my favorite photos I have ever taken:

I am ready to take the Lovely Sharon go back to L' Isle sur la Sorgue, to see the colors, smell the aromas and watch the people