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)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pioneer Days in Goofy Utah

I don’t know how many states have a state holiday on which businesses are closed.  Utah does have such a holiday- it is on July 24th which was yesterday. Yesterday, the Lovely Sharon and I played in a golf tournament and enjoyed a nice afternoon with friends.   Our July 24th holiday is called Pioneer Day or the Days of 47 (that being 1847).  Pioneer Day is an official state holiday celebrated July 24th of every year under Utah law.  The day commemorates the Mormon pioneers’ arrival into the Salt Lake Valley through Emigration Canyon in 1847.  Brigham Young apparently climbed out of his wagon and said “This is the Place” or words to that effect.  He might have made the decision that “This Is the Place”, because his kids had asked him “Daddy are we there yet” for the previous 700 miles of pioneer trekking

I think the July 24th holiday is more important in Utah than the July 4th holiday.  We have rodeos, children’s parades, horse parades and our primary parade which is one of the biggest parades in the nation and all the men are allowed, under Utah law, to have a couple of more wives for the week.  We use these extra wives to set off illegal fireworks that we buy in Evanston, Wyoming.  After the holiday, the fireworks are gone and the extra wives go back to their normal lives.

For whatever reason, Salt Lake City and Utah became the landing spot for migrating Mormons. I for one am very happy about it.  Salt Lake City is a beautiful city and Utah is a beautiful state.  Plus, we have enough goofy things in Utah to complain about to keep us busy.  That is a positive for living here. I do realize that what is goofy to me might be considered normal or good to others.  However, I would think that if I think something is goofy and someone else does not thing it is goofy, that would make that person goofy in my mind.  Yes, I think that is correct.  So if you don’t think the following are goofy, you should consider yourself goofy.

                        Our State legislature is goofy. It has something like 3 Democrats, all the rest our Republicans, many if not most, are right wing Republicans.              They (“they” being our legislature) hate the federal government and claim they don’t want government interference in the life of our citizens.  However, if they don’t like what a Utah city does, they try to pass a state law over ruling the city.  If they don’t like what a school district does, they try to pass a law prohibiting such action. They don’t like government interference unless they are the ones doing the interfering.

                        They want to control who drinks what, who mixes drinks, who can see someone mix a drink and who sells the alcohol for a drink.   We have a thing in Utah called the Zion Curtain.  It is in some, but not all, of our establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. The theory of the Zion Curtain is that if a child actually sees a bartender mixing a vodka tonic for the child’s parents, the child will want to have a vodka tonic. Apparently, a child sitting at the table with his or her parents who are drinking vodka tonics will not make the child want to join mom and dad for a cocktail.  The evil is not the parents drinking in front of the kiddies; it is the bartender mixing the drink.  That bastard.

                        All colleges and university have books stores where they sell not only books, but tee shirts sweatshirts and other stuff with logos.  The University of Utah, my alma mater, has such a book store on campus.  A few years ago, the University of Utah opened a store, some 16 miles from campus where it sales logo clothing and other items with logos.  It’s a great store, close to my home and the Lovely Sharon and I have been in the store numerous times buying University of Utah or Running Utes clothing.   Our state legislature demands that the store be shut down because it competes with private enterprise.  So in a couple of years when the lease is up, the store will close.  We cannot have a University of Utah store off campus competing with private enterprise.  At the same time, all of our state owned liquor stores in Utah are the only place to buy a bottle of wine or a bottle of vodka.  A grocery store cannot sell wine.  Joe cannot open a wine or liquor store.  Only the State of Utah can sell demon rum in Utah.  In Utah you cannot join the wine of the month club from an out of state winery and receive a couple of bottles from UPS each month. Nope you have to go to the Utah State owned liquor store.  Our legislature is outraged to think that the University of Utah is selling a red U of U tee shirt off campus because that may destroy the free enterprise system, but the legislature prevents a grocery store, or anyone else for that matter, from selling a bottle of wine.  Seems goofy to me.

                        Our two previous attorney generals were just arrested for allegedly committing a variety of crimes.  They were arrested on the same day, booked into jail on the same day and released on their own recognizance minutes apart.  Our top law enforcers have been accused of violating the law for bribery, pay to play and other such matters. 

                        I think it is goofy that if you are a Democrat in Utah, you are treated as a left wing, anti –establishment, welfare loving, godless person.  I have a Utah friend who has run for the United States Senate twice in Utah, and who lost badly both times.  He did not even get a third of the vote.  This person had been a Mormon leader (he was in the Bishopric of his local ward) and he was an IBM executive.  Unfortunately, this good, competent, moderate person was a Democrat and he was painted by some fellow Utahns as a left wing nut, an evil doer because the Democratic donkey was next to his name on the ballot.

            Despite its goofyness, I love Utah, I love its history, I love the courage and sacrifice the Mormon pioneers made to settle the Salt Lake Valley, the State of Utah and much of the surrounding west.  Although I am not an active Mormon (I am married to a Catholic girl and I work at Utah’s Jewish law firm) I am proud of my Mormon heritage.

Happy Pioneer Day to all.  Next year I plan to dress as Brigham Young.

Pictures from the internet

Salt Lake City

The City-County Building

Cottonwood Canyon Lake Blanche near Salt Lake City

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Time - Redux

Repost 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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Wonder- Redux


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?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Beautiful July 4th

Summer has definitely arrived in Salt Lake City. On July 4th (one of my favorite holidays), I woke up early and made myself a cup of coffee while the Lovely Sharon was still fast asleep.  I put on a tee shirt and some golf shorts that needed to be washed but no one would see them on me this early morning but me. I walked barefoot to the driveway to pick up the newspaper - not a cloud in the sky.  The sun had not quite made it over the beautiful Wasatch Mountains which are right above our house.  The grounds keepers at Hidden Valley Country Club, which is directly across the street from our house were already mowing the green of the Valley 3 hole. I sat down on our front porch with my coffee and the paper and read the paper and enjoyed the morning solitude. It was just me and a humming bird that kept coming back to one of our garden feeders for breakfast.

After rummaging through the paper, I sipped my coffee and thought about the day.  Independence Day.  The United States of America. Our Constitution. Equal Protection for all.  The right to live where and with whom we want and to love whom we want.  The right not only to dissent but the right to publicly announce and demonstrate our dissent.  The right to go to whatever church we want or to no church at all.  We are white, brown and black. Ultimately, except for the Native Americans, we are all from immigrant backgrounds whether that be Europeans, Africans, Asians, South Americans or some Heinz 57 mixed.  I am from a mixed background of Swedish, English and Scotch-Irish. The Lovely Sharon's family roots are from Luxembourg and Czechoslovakia.   America is a mixed bag of folks but together we are Americans.

I thought about about the Lovely Sharon asleep in her bedroom thinking how lucky I am to be married to her and to have her boss me around. I need bossing.

The sun finally made it over the peaks of the Wasatch Mountains and the sunny morning almost took my breath away.  I went down to the Bud Cave and found my camera.  Our front yard looked like the definition of summer and it needed to be photographed in all of its glory.  Here are few photos of our front yard with Hidden Valley Country Club across the street on this beautiful July 4th morning.