Sunday, August 6, 2017

Let there be Life.

Let there be Light. and there was the Sun
Let there be Rocks, and there was the Earth, with lots of Rocks.
Rocks cannot move or think or reproduce.
The next step up towards Life would be plants.
Plants cannot move or think, but they can reproduce. (Minimal movement?)
Can Rocks imagine Plants? I don't think so.
The next step towards Life would be animals.
Animals can move, and reproduce. (Minimal thought?)
Could Plants imagine Animals I don't think so.
The next step towards Life would be Man.
Man can move and think and reproduce.
Is there another step?
We have Rocks - they cannot imagine even the next step, Plants.
Then we have Plants - they cannot imagine the next step, Animals.
Then we have Animals - can they imagine the next step, ?? I don't think so. Rocks cannot imagine Plants, Plants cannot imagine Animals, Animals cannot imagine Man, so why should Man be able to imagine the next step? Or even what it is? It would be as hard for us to imagine the next step on the rung as it would be for Rocks to imagine Plants or Plants to imagine Animals or Animals to imagine Man or Man to imagine - WHAT? What would the next step be? Magic? Robots? Life without Form? Just Imagination? Stars and atoms as a Giant "Brain"?
Who knows? we are as a Rock "Thinking" about a Plant. Or a Plant "Thinking" about Animals . Or Animals  "Thinking" about Man. .  .   .    .     .
Rocks have no movement or thinking or reproduction.
A step up to plants brings still no thinking and minimal movement but they can reproduce.
A step up to Animals brings movement and little or no thought but they can reproduce.
A step up to Man brings movement, thought and reproduction and maybe a little of What?
Rocks = 0 abilities,
Plants = 1 ability.
Animals = 2 abilities.
Man = 3 abilities.
?what? = 4 abilities? Reproduce, move, think and - you tell me! Move thru Time? Life without form? a Brain the size of our Galaxy? The size of the Universe?
Is there another step with 5 abilities? Or 6, 7, 8, HUNDREDS?
Just saying.
Or asking..

Saturday, March 4, 2017

How I cured my Throat Cancer.

I woke at 4.00am with "Throat cancer" -again! (4.07am to be precise) I padded down to the kitchen and took a couple of  antacid pills - I usually take one, but this was a particularly bad attack of "Throat Cancer". Pretty soon my "Throat Cancer" was gone!
About 5 years ago when visiting my doctor I had told her that I thought I had throat cancer as I got this burning in my throat. Not all the time, just on occasion. She asked me a few questions and told me to take an antacid pill next time it happened. Apparently it was acid reflux!
When I woke during the night I was sleeping on my back, which I don't usually do. perhaps that caused the acid to get up into my throat? But what could have caused it? I had two strong beers, some sweet potato chips with avocado dip, pecans with sugar coating and apart from Chick Filet chicken a few hours earlier nothing.
Anyway "Throat Cancer" cured. Thank goodness.
Have a nice day.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Consider our Universe with its four dimensions - at least four dimensions!

P.S. I just Copyrighted this. J

Consider our Universe complete with its 4 dimensions – at least four!
Scientists tell us that all the atoms, worlds, stars and galaxies added together do not give enough mass to enable it to work the way that it does.
According to their calculations all the matter that they see is only 4% of the mass needed. So, they ask where is the other 96%?
Now these scientists are a lot smarter than I am, (My IQ when I had it tested at about age 26 was 134)
The scientists that are working on this problem are far and away more intelligent than I am. Stephen Hawking for example has an IQ in excess of 160. (As a matter of interest my mother had her IQ tested when I had mine tested and it was 160 – she would have been about 47 years old then!)
But let’s do some wandering, or should I say wondering?
We live in a 3 dimensional world. Or 4 dimensions if you count Time.
Now consider people living in a 2 dimensional world. That would be a flat world, on a flat surface, with two dimensions. How difficult do you think it would be for them to imagine a world with three dimensions? I would think pretty much impossible, wouldn’t you? I don’t know how if you lived in a 2 dimensional world – width and length only – you could conceive of three dimensions. That would of course be height. How could they imagine it? What reference point would they have?
Undoubtedly there would be some inhabitants of this world that were more intelligent than the others. Some would be very intelligent.
Say a 3 dimensional person passed through their world. As that person travelled down through their 2 dimensional space they would appear to the 2D people as a shadow on their world. First would appear the feet, then as the feet disappeared below their ‘horizon’, or through their flat world, the shadow of the legs would appear as two round objects. As the body continued down those two shadows would vary in shape and size until the body reached the hips, then the waist, the chest, the neck and finally the head.
Now would it be possible for one of the really intelligent 2D worlders to recreate or imagine the 3 dimensional shape of the thing that passed through their world? Possibly.  But that 3rd dimension would be how much more complicated to them than their two dimensions?  A hundred times a thousand times, a million times, a billion times? Who knows? Certainly it would be almost inconceivably difficult.
An ‘easier’ example might be if a ball passed through their flat world. First they would see a spot, the spot would be perfectly round and would increase steadily in size until it reached a maximum diameter and began to get smaller, eventually ending in a dot before it disappeared. Could they then recreate or imagine the shape of that object in a 3 dimensional world? They would also need the 4th dimension – time – to envision accurately the shape. If they got the speed wrong it could be stretched out into an absurdly long ellipse or it could look like an M&M – yum, yum, that would not be too bad if they could get the taste right.
That is the equivalent of the difficulty that we have in our 3 dimensional world, imagining the fourth dimensional. In fact I think that imagining a 4th dimension would be millions or even billions of times more difficult than imagining a 3rd dimension!.
We have no idea what time is. We can’t see it as we can see our 3 dimensions. We can’t move our heads or arms or legs in it as we can our three dimensions! It “Moves”, but only in one direction – ‘forwards’?  Well, we call it forwards, perhaps it is sideways or up or down, or perhaps all 3 or even 4, or more ways at the same ‘time’?
Why does it only go one way? Why not backwards as well? Why only at one speed? Or does it only go at one speed? Perhaps it goes at different speeds at different ‘times’ or it could be different for different people?  Certainly it is, or appears to be going at a different speed for me than it did when I was a child, when it went    V  e  r  y     S  l  o  w  l  y   !   Now it is going so fast that I don’t even know sometimes if it is winter or summer, or even which year!
What is time? If our 2D people would have difficulty imagining a 3D world – and I don’t know how they could, trapped as they are in 2 dimensions, what chance do we have of imagining a 4 dimensional world?  Surely it would be at least as hard, or maybe a million times harder? You tell me.
Back to today’s problem, the Universe only contains 4% of the matter needed to ‘work’.
I have tried, using my very limited intelligence, to figure out what has happened to the missing 96% of the matter in our Universe. My first thought is to blame the Black Holes. Well surely as they are beyond imagining in their own right, they could be the culprits! For Billions of years now – 13.8 billion if our scientists have got any kind of a basic handle on time – those darn Black Holes have been sucking our Universe in and sending it, where?
Where indeed? Perhaps the missing 96% is in the Black Holes. But what the heck does that mean? When our daughter Sarah was a teenager, her room was a sort of ‘Black Hole’, things went in and never came out! Our freezer is a sort of modern “Black Hole’, things go in and never come out!
But our Universe’s Black Holes are different to our private home-made Black Holes. Stuff is definitely going IN the black holes – I know I saw it happening in the Disney movie , “The Black Hole”. (Actually I am lying, I didn’t see the movie. I just said I did for the effect.) But then again, if I do see it one day when did I see it? If ‘time’ is as different as it must be, perhaps I saw it even before it was made? Had you thought of that? Or perhaps I saw it AND everything that I have done over the last 74 years all together, at the same ‘time”! Perhaps everything that has happened, and is happening and will happen is happening all at once! So there is no time? Sort of like the 2D world that is just” there”, perhaps ‘time is just “there”
Too far out? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Who knows, I don’t and I bet you don’t either.
Back to the Black Holes.  Are they really Black? Could they be Dark Purple, or even ALL colors together. Or how about NO color? Enough of that. So the stuff goes in. I have to say, in spite of the lessons learned from Sarah’s Black Hole, I for one do not believe that it goes in never to be seen again. Call me a pessimist if you will, and there are those among us who do just that, but I think that stuff does something.
Here is one thought, it goes in and comes out somewhere else – in the Fifth Dimension!! Has that ever occurred to you? It has? Oh s**t and I thought I was the first to think of that!
Of course, the Fifth Dimension. If there is a one, two, three, and four dimensions, why not a fifth? Or for that matter a 6th, 7th, 50th? Who knows, well it was just a thought!
So it goes into a fifth dimension. Now that we have established that, where do we go from here? Well first off if 96% of our Universe is already in there, presumably the other 4% will be following soon – well soon in Universal Time. Certainly after the Big Banks, and Wall Street have sucked in all of the world’s money. Hey, a similarity, do the Banks and Wall Street already have 96% of the money? They definitely have MORE than 96% of my money!
Enough already, don’t get me started on that. I am going to save that for another piece, which would be much more difficult to understand than a fifth dimension. I’m pretty sure there is no one alive today or in the past or the future who can explain why we let Banks and Wall Street rob us all with impunity.
Whew, back to the ‘easy’ question of a Fifth Dimension.  So it goes into The Black Holes – I imagine that there are Billions if not Trillions of Black Holes busily sucking away OUR universe – and comes out in the Fifth Dimension. That explains right there where the missing 96% is. Do we need to go further? No. But I will. You were afraid of that weren’t you? Come on admit it.
Immediately I have to ask myself what happens when the 5th dimension has ALL of our Universe, what then?  Nothing in this amazing Universe is ever stable. Is that when we have another BIG BANG and start all over again? No, too boring. I don’t think the same thing happens again and again. Something different happens. Something that we cannot imagine of course. We already have our 5th dimension which is a billion times more complicated than the 4th dimension, which in turn was a million times more complicated than the 3rd dimension . By the way, I did just pick these numbers out of thin air, they have not been established by ‘real’ scientists, just by little old me. I put that in for the few reading here who do not understand my theories.
Ready for another theory? I thought you might be. Stuff goes into the Black Holes, the forces in there are unimaginable, yeah, yeah, we already know that, we saw Disney’s movie too. No really, so unimaginable that it actually compresses the atoms down to almost nothing.  And you thought that I was going to say it tears them apart didn’t you. Come on admit it you did.  Didn’t you? Well it doesn’t. Well OK, it might. I’ll give you that. But what if it doesn’t, instead it compresses them.
Take a Hydrogen Atom, probably the most common thing in the Universe. In order for our limited brains to understand the scale of an atom - If the Nucleus of a Hydrogen Atom were the size of a golf ball its single electron would be a mile away from the nucleus! And more than 99.9% of the mass of the atom is contained in the nucleus. So you can see that most of an atom is space. Another analogy is to compare a penny to the size of the moon. An atom compared to a penny is about the same size as a penny compared to the moon. But don’t forget that virtually ALL of the space in the atom is space.  Some atoms could be compared to a ping pong ball as the nucleus and the electrons circulating at the surface of the Earth or even further out. Or compare a gold atom to the Sun. if both were one foot in diameter, Pluto would be 1.6 miles from the Sun. The outermost electron of the gold atom would be 3.3 miles out from the gold nucleus, twice as far as Pluto is from the Sun! So you can see that the space in an atom is virtually ALL of an atom. How do you compare the size of something a foot in diameter to something several miles in diameter that is all empty space? I’m not sure that I could do the calculation. My Dad could. He would immediately say the volume of a sphere is 4/3 pi R cubed. So the volume of 1 foot diameter ball is 4/3XpiXR cubed. = just over .5 of a cubic foot, I think. The volume of a ball 3 miles in diameter is equal to about 4 Trillion cubic feet. (If my calculation was right.) A trillion is a big number. If you stacked dollar bills 6 feet high they would cover 100 football fields. Wow 100 football fields covered 6 feet deep in 1 dollar bills! Or, just one football field 6 feet deep in $100 bills! Or 5 times the number of stars in the Milky Way – our Galaxy - which has 200 Billion stars. BUT, that is only ONE Trillion. The answer was 4 Trillion! So 400 football fields full 6 feet deep, or 20 times the number of stars in our Galaxy! See why I say that the area filled by the nucleus of an atom is so insignificant compared to the overall size of an atom? ½ a cubic foot compared to 4 Trillion cubic feet. (The electrons are so small that they effectively don’t add any size or mass to the nucleus.)
Where the heck was I going with this? See I have so much fun with numbers. J Oh yes, our Black Hole, well one of the Billions of Black Holes in our Universe, or Trillions of Black Holes? Or Trillions of Universes? Let’s not go THERE! Our atom goes into the Black Hole and gets compressed down to its component parts. Trillions of atoms are compressed down to the size of one atom. Now that would be Heavy! Could that be the missing 96%? All those atoms compressed down into all those Billions, (Trillions?) of Black Holes. All the 200 Billion stars from our Galaxy compressed down to the size of one star 1/20 the size of a star? Or if you prefer all the stars from 20 Galaxies compressed down to the size of one star? (Aren’t numbers fun?)
See, there is plenty of room for our imagination to roam. Why not lets yours wander? Come on have fun, ramble, stray, see what you can come up with. Who is there to say you are wrong? Stephen Hawking? He would not bother to answer our meanderings, he is too busy thinking his own thoughts. Maybe he is working on the Sixth Dimension?

Good luck with that Steve.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A letter to my father.

Hi Dad, how does the lawn look? I just mowed it. Were you watching?
do you remember when we went fishing together for the first time on the pier at Shanklin on the I.O.W.? When we caught a fish you wouldn't let it flop about on the pier like some others were doing. You held the fish firmly by the tail and banged it's head on a steel post to kill it.
Do you miss me as much as I miss you?
Can you fix stuff there? It really would be heaven if there were lots of things to fix.
I just got laid off from my job so I should have time to write that book about you. I think I will call it, "Big Feet. Tough shoes to fill. My Father was a remarkable man."
Thanks for teaching me to swim, and to ride a bike, and to fix things, and to care.
I really miss our long phone conversations when we talked about fixing things. Things in your house, and my house, and other houses, and the world.
It rained really, really hard a few days ago and the lawn was almost floating, there was so much water on the ground. It reminded me of when we laid the lawn at 21 Chestnut Avenue. It must have been about 1954, was that when we moved in? You had ordered the Turf - we call it Sod over here - and it had rained almost every day. You worked of course so we pretty much had to do it on weekends. Well after about two weeks you were afraid that the grass would all die. It was in pieces that were about a foot wide and three feet long. Each piece was rolled up. So there were probably several hundred pieces. The weekend arrived and it was raining, hard. we decided to do the job anyway and went out in our raincoats. you laid down some planks of wood to roll the wheelbarrow on, so that it would not get bogged down. We floated the pieces into place! You brought them over in the wheelbarrow and I floated them into place. I think. you probably helped me with that part too. I must have been about 11 or 12 years old.
Anyway it had a good start. It could not have been better watered in! And it grew well although over the years the area in front of the house gradually turned into mostly moss. I think it was a mixture of being quite shady and being England, it rained fairly frequently. Plus there was a lot of clay in the area, which probably held the water.
Talking of clay do you remember that Mum's brother Clive took some of the clay and used it to make a pot?
I had a similar parent/child project with daughter Sarah. It was at our old house on Dock Road in Pasadena. She must have been about 10 years od. It was in the early 1980's. I had decided to put in a brick patio at the back of the house. I think it was about 20 feet by 30 feet. We ordered the bricks and sand and mortar, We raked the area flat, covered an area with sand mixed with dry mortar and laid the bricks. doing a section at a time. Sarah seemed to enjoy it. When it was finished, it took just one weekend, we swept playsand into all the cracks between the bricks. We did a good job apparently because it is still flat and in good shape some 35 years later! I think Sarah enjoyed it and hopefully she will remember the project with pride and pleasure.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Getting a permit in AA County.

Getting a permit to build a house in Anne Arundel County Maryland is difficult in the extreme. It took us three years and cost $60,000. That was just to get the permit, not including the house! And that was with a lot that already had a home on it, albeit a small home. The house was just 360 square feet. But it was there and had been there for the 30 years that I had owned the property and for years before that. The county had no problem acknowledging that it was there and collecting taxes on it. We decided to build a home there after Julia with the multiple injuries from her car accident years before and her Fibromialga was too ill to climb the stairs in our 1860's house. We decided that a small home on one floor would help her.
After three YEARS and three engineers we got the permit. The first Engineer, retired while it was proceeding. Well not really proceeding as he was pretty ineffective and had pretty much given up hope of us ever getting the permit. In fact he was very upset and told me that he was going to call the county when I told him - after he had retired - that the county had "agreed" to allow us to have a permit for a 1500 sq ft home. Well actually I think that I got them to agree to let us at least apply for a permit!
The next Engineer didn't have much more luck. He too went through the motions and once again it was up to me to sit in the offices of the permit offices and wait for them. I took in pizza's and donuts and made friends. I went to the print shops and had made, and paid for the 10 copies of the various plans that the County required.
After a while this Engineer committed suicide! Which should give you some idea of the stress that trying to get a permit from AA Co entails!
By now we were some two years into the process with still no end in sight. And running out of engineers?
The third Engineer certainly had experience on his side. He was well into his 70's perhaps even 80's! But he had been around and seemed to know what to do. It was during his "Reign" that we finally got the permit. I still had to trot down to Annapolis with my Donuts and Pizza and Candy. I still had to get and pay for the multiple copies of everything - God knows what they do with 10 copies of everything! I even had to go to court a couple of times. But we prevailed and were finally granted a permit to build a 1500 sq ft house. on our 1/2 acre lot.
We had fought for this and pointed out that there were several homes on our road with houses of 4 or 5 or 6,000 sq ft on smaller lots than ours! it had even occurred to me that perhaps I should be "greasing some palms", perhaps that is how it was done. But I decided not to risk that! If I approached the wrong person - that rare honest bureaucrat - I could be in even worse, deeper doo doo than I already was! Certainly I would have been willing to do it if a few thousand in the right place had saved us 2 or 3 years we could easily have saved some $50,000! Not peanuts in any ones life. But I had never done it and was afraid to risk it as I said.
Having the permit was only the start. The nightmare continued and even got worse. See my blog/letter entitled My Permit Nightmare. And my further letters detailing how the bank and the builder cheated us out of some $200,000. Ever tried taking on a bank? Don't bother. I went to the OCC - Office of the Controller of the Currency who supposedly Control the banks. Ha Ha Ha Ha. I can't stop laughing. Well I must say I didn't believe it right from the beginning. I said to the person at the OCC the first time I talked to them that I thought they would end up saying to me, "The bank says they did nothing wrong and there is nothing more that we can do for you" That is virtually EXACTLY what they said three years later!
Well enough of that I guess. Maybe I flourish on stress. Certainly I have had more than my fair share in this area.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The ACA and abortion.

Are Corporations people? Do they have religious beliefs that can be violated? Am I crazy? Well you would probably think so if I believed that!
More likely is that the "Beliefs" are simply political.
So the ACA provides contraceptives. Abortions are against some peoples and some corporations beliefs. But :  -
For one thing the use of contraceptives do not cause abortions, even in the way of causing a fertilized egg to be aborted, because contraceptives don't do that, they prevent the egg from being released in the first place! So there is no egg to be fertilized and "aborted". And if the egg has been released a contraceptive does not affect it at all. The purpose and the way that contraceptives work has been shown to be that they stop the egg being released. So there cannot possibly be any form of abortion.
This has been shown in Europe and even the Catholic Church is OK with it! No egg, no possibility of conception, no baby to be aborted - and in any case contraceptives don't cause abortions. As I said before they prevent the eggs release.
The next step for conservatives would be to declare that an abortion has occurred after the first or second or third date, even if sex did not happen!
Just saying.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tax cuts for the rich.

Tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich. Then they will make jobs. We keep hearing this cry Well we have cut taxes to the rich over and over and over again - where are the jobs?
If we look back in history we can see that tax cuts to the wealthy have never worked to produce jobs. Exactly the opposite. The only thing that has cut the unemployment rate has been increasing taxes on the rich!!! True. Look back in history and check it out.
The average American pays 30% of his income in taxes. But the top 2% pay just 16% on average, and the very rich like Mitt Romney for example, income last year $21 MILLION, paid just 12%.
Under President Eisenhower the top tax rate was 80% and we had full employment and no deficit and hardly any National Debt!
To clarify, an  80% tax rate does not mean that a rich person pays 80% of his/her income in tax. They pay the same rate as any person up to a certain income for example 10% up to an income of $25,000. Then income over that and up to say $50,000 is taxed at say 20%. This means the income ABOVE $25,000 is taxed at 20% NOT the first $25,000 which is taxed at the 10% rate. Then the next $50,000 is taxed at a higher rate but again ONLY the amount from $50,000 up to $100,000 NOT the amount under $50,000 For some reason most people don't seem to be able to understand this and insist that we should not take 80% of their money etc etc .This continues until we get to say $1 million at which point any money over $1 million is taxed at 80% - but not the amounts under that.
My step figures are not accurate, they are just for examples. It might be an income of $2 million or 3 or even 5 before people under President Eisenhower started to pay an 80% tax rate, but the point is that once individuals reach exorbitant amounts like this they are not Earning it. There is no way that anyone can earn millions. You and I work hard for 40 hours a week and earn perhaps $25,000 or $50,000 or even $100,000, how can someone like the CEO of my bank for example EARN $53 MILLION? But that is what he is paid! And there are more than 400 "Executives" in that one bank who "earn" more than 1 million EACH! Some make $5 or even $10 million each! So that is probably One Billion paid to the executives of that one bank! Why is it do you suppose that when I put my money into that bank they can only pay me .001% interest? Virtually ZERO! Because basically the "executives" are stealing the money from us. There was even some discussion, which never came through apparently, yet, to CHARGE us for keeping our money in their banks!!!
Yet Americans, especially poor ones, object to taxing the rich! The wealth gap keeps increasing with the poor and middle classes paying higher and higher tax rates while the rich, who are getting richer and richer, pay lower and lower tax rates! Why would we agree with this? It does not make sense, not to me anyway! If I were making $25,000 AN HOUR - that is what the CEO of my bank makes! I cannot imagine that I would object to paying a higher tax rate. $53 million a year works out to $25,000 AN HOUR if I work a 40 hour week! Can you even begin to imagine that? And still there are people who want these incredibly, ridiculously overpaid greed mongers to pay LESS TAX!!
Just saying.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


An ironing board sits in our utility room, actually there are two there. I am not sure why because I don't think we have ironed anything in at least 10 years. Certainly I have not, and I'm not sure that Julia ever has. Well not since that first week after we got back from our honeymoon when I walked into the room and she was ironing. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, "I am ironing". My immediate answer was "Well don't."
Since then, to my knowledge she hasn't ironed anything, with the possible exception of a special dress or two and maybe one or tow of my dress shirts. I credit myself with having added years to her life with that simple statement.
My sister still irons everything, as do a few of our friends. My sister irons the hankies, sheets, socks - everything. I can't imagine that it takes her less than 4 hours a week. So let's use that as a guide to how much time I added to Julia's life. Four hours times 52 weeks = 208 hours per year, times 50 - the years since we got married = 10,400 hours. Now divide that by 24 to give the number of extra days afforded her. And you get 433 days or 1 year 2 months and 8 days! BUT, if you break it down to 8 hours days which would be more realistic you get more than three and a half years! Even better divide the 10,400 hours saved by the 40 hours in the normal work week and you will find that I personally by my small, considerate, thoughtful, kindhearted act added a full 5 years to her life - thus far!
As another item of interest I don't know where our iron is, or for that matter if we even still have one!
Just saying.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I don't think that I am going to make it to the gym again today. That makes it ten years in a row!

Friday, November 8, 2013


It was very windy here last night. Not as bad as it was in the Philipines mind you where they had winds of 200 mph with gusts up to 235 mph and 50 foot waves. We on the other hand had some winds, the strength of which I have no idea, except that it did blow my boat into the water - from on land where it was sitting up on logs. Fortunately I had looped its line over one of the pier poles which stopped it from blowing across The Lake. Also very fortunately I had forgotten to remove the plugs. These I always remove, except this time, to allow any rain water to drain out. But I had forgotten, otherwise it would have promptly sunk, which would have made its retrieval extremely difficult! I have no idea how I would have been able to get it out of The Lake if it had filled with water! Certainly not on my own.
The wind also blew my crab traps into the water from the pier where they had been sitting after I pulled them out last week. Now please bear in mind that crab traps are basically made of chicken wire, so they are about 98% holes, maybe 99%, surrounded by thin wire! That does not give much area for the wind to work on. But there they are, in the water.

Commas can be lifesavers.

Let's eat Grandma.


Let's eat, Grandma.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Looking for companionship.

I like poetry, long walks on the beach and poking dead things with a stick.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Wife.

My wife says that I never listen to her.
At least I think that is what she said.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Engineers aren't boring. We just get excited about boring things. :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013


You can't scare me. I had a daughter!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Guns - again!

Yes here I am again with my "favorite" subject - guns.
What is happening with us? Yet another multiple gun killing yesterday. No I don't expect you to remember which one that is, after all there is one almost every day.
Here we are all up in arms and excited about Assad in Syria killing 1,400 people with Sarin Gas but not in the least bit concerned that here in the US we kill way more people than that with guns every month! 2,500 people dead in the US every single month! More than every other country in the entire world COMBINED. How crazy is that? And we are not in the least bit concerned. In fact I think we may be proud!
We vote against health care and against keeping guns out of the hands of idiots and crazy people. This makes the US, the richest country in the world, also the most dangerous country in the world. With the worst and most expensive health care in the world, (well not really health CARE, more like health BUSINESS) and the most likely place to be killed or maimed by a gun in the whole world.
Just saying.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Garden Harvest.

Finally here we are getting towards the end of June and the harvest is starting to come in. We leave for England early tomorrow morning. Julia made dinner and here is what we had from the garden - Beets, Cucumber, Peas, a pie made with Eggs, Spinach and Swiss Chard. So far everything was from our garden. Not from the garden, yet, were the Tomatoes and of course the Avocados. I also had a Home Made Beer.
This morning we had Raspberries from the garden and yesterday we had our first Squash of the year along with some Fish from The lake. Usually by this time of the year we would have been having Figs too.
Unfortunately we have had some "visitors" - I suspect Deer, who have decimated our Tomato plants, Beans, Lettuce, Beets tops, Potato tops and Sweet Potato tops. Maybe even more. Not a good thing.
There is a pear tree in the front garden with probably several hundred young pears on it. last year I went out there one day and ALL of the pears were GONE! Completely gone. At first I thought that the kids had got into them. But looking around I did not see any sign of pears. If the kids had picked and thrown them they would be laying around, plus they would not have picked every single one. The pears were well on their way, quite big, but still not ripe but apparently ripe enough to be eaten, almost certainly by deer.
Not sure what to do. Very frustrating.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An observation.

This is just a simple observation. Make of it what you will.
I think that the Republican Party is anti education because they know that once someone is educated they vote Democrat!
Doubtless if you are a Republican you will laugh at this and say that there are many educated Republicans. But, if you read any posts on line it is easy to tell the Republicans from the Democrats by the way they spell and the way that they express themselves. While it is not 100%, if the spelling is poor, the poster expresses themselves poorly, puts sentences together badly, it is almost always a Republican/Conservative.
I would say about three or four to one.
Does this explain why the Republicans want to make education difficult? Sure most Republicans can afford to put their children through college. And of course these children are firmly brought up in a Conservative environment and thoroughly brainwashed into the Republican way. They are told how bad the poor are. How being poor is their own fault. The poor are also criminals. No mention of some poor people being ill, disabled, mentally disturbed, and therefore unable to improve themselves, especially as they often have limited access to medical care.
It amazes me how the truly ignorant will vote Republican. To read some posts I really do wonder how some manage to support themselves, they are so paranoid, so hate filled and have so little idea of how anything works!
Many are completely removed from reality, thinking everything that they see on the Internet, on Fox news or hear on Rush et al is true!!
Just saying.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


How naive can Americans be? Twenty years ago a friend who worked at NSA told me about the programs they had to look for certain words in phone conversations, that every foreign embassy everywhere (including our own!) was bugged, that cell phone conversations as well as every other thing that you could imagine was being intercepted and "interpreted". I have assumed this to be the case ever since then. That was TWENTY YEARS AGO!!

And indeed before then! In 1967, soon after we came to the US - 1967 was 46 years ago - we had a telegram intercepted and sent to the Pentagon for examination, interpretation, or whatever. The telegram said Happy Wedding Anniversary, and was addressed to David & Julia Liddle. How did we find out about it's detour? When it was delivered, I commented to the post office man who delivered it that our wedding anniversary had been a day or two earlier and whoever had sent it either didn't know when it was, unlikely, or had forgotten. Then I noticed that it was dated and should have reached us a day or two earlier. It was at this time that the postal carrier told us that it had been sent to the Pentagon before it came on to us. he said that a lot of foreign mail and telegrams went there first.

If there is anyone out there that does not know this happens then I feel sorry for them. It should be obvious.

And, what POSSIBLE use could listening in to our phone conversations, looking at out our e-mails, or any other form of spying be to the US government except to look for terrorists? I cannot think of any reason, except looking for terrorists, spies or internet hackers trying to harm us that the US government would want to know if you were wishing Auntie Mabel a Happy Birthday, were saying "Wish you here" from vacation, Saying "Come on over, my husband just left.", calling to ask you to "Pick up Milk, bread and eggs on the way home." "Go to the library and pick up a DVD for tonight". Etc. Etc. Etc.

Can you?

In case you did not know, there are thousands of nuclear weapons out in the world owned by at least a dozen nations - lets see, The US, The UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, Iran, Russia - several States of Russia, China, and maybe some others that I have forgotten or we don't know about?! And there are dozens? Hundreds? of Terrorist groups that would love to have one or several nuclear weapons. And doubtless are trying to get them. And equally doubtless would use it/them as soon as they got them. There are almost unlimited targets, including Washington DC, New York, London, and numerous other soft targets as well as targets that you and I could not even think of but the terrorists will. When that first one goes off, probably within the next ten years, the questions THEN will be, "Why didn't we know?" "Why did we do nothing to stop it?" And so on.

Well folks THAT is what we are trying to do now - stop it. BUT Of course the false indignation about "Our Rights" etc is going to prevent us finding out who, what and where. The news organizations and the Politicians from "The other side" care nothing about anything except getting that scoop or getting them selves into power.

Why do you care about having your conversations listened to or read? Unless you are doing something that you shouldn't be doing. I certainly have nothing to hide. Do you? Is it important enough to stop us looking for nuclear terrorism?

Think about it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The River Danube.

We took a Danube River Cruise in about 2009. It was in June. It rained every day! We never got to go up onto the top deck where they had chairs to sit and watch the passing scenery, although I did go up there once briefly to have a look. Even though it didn't rain 24/7 the chairs were wet and therefore not usable. The river was very high and the boat barely made it under several of the bridges.
But it definitely was nowhere near as bad as things are there today!
They have record high flood waters. People are losing everything. We thought the water was high when we were there, there was a lot of debris in the water including trees and tree limbs and the water was right up to the top of the banks. But nothing like this.
There are bad floods here in the US as well. Don't know what is happening. What is causing it?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day 2013 with Children at The Lake.

After a long cool spring, Memorial Day - Monday May 27th 2013 - was forecast to be fine, sunny and 70 degrees. Bradley had called and asked if he could bring Caitlin and Andrew, two children that he babysits, over to use the kayaks and the pedal boats. We of course said yes.
When he arrived he also had with him his brother Zachary and his girlfriend Kelly. Kelly had come in her own car as she had to go to work in a couple of hours, so she was not able to go out on the boats for fear of getting wet but she did help to get a fire going in the fire pit for hot dogs and smores.
After Kelly left, the boys and Caitlin launched the two kayaks and the two seat pedal boat and all four of them alternated the use of each while pedaling and paddling, frantically at times, around The Lake. Their frenzied paddling/pedaling was in their frantic attempts to escape being splashed by each other as first one and then another joined forces to "attack" their "foes". Finally when all were thoroughly soaked, they made their way back to shore and engaged in more leisurely activities.
I think that it was Zachary that first discovered the presence of clams in the sand and began collecting them. Soon Andrew, Caitlin and Zachary were digging for clams. I explained to Bradley and Zachary that their mother had also found clams there when she had been digging in the sand some 30 years earlier! Fortunately they were all wearing some form of shoes or flip flops because other things began to appear apart from clams. Things like glass bottles, some whole and some broken. There were also plastic bottles, soda cans, a foam cushion, various pieces of plastic and a lot of bricks.
Meanwhile Bradley was busy cleaning up the beach, removing pieces of driftwood etc. He also sawed off and removed some bushes that were covering a large piece of beach, exposing it for the first time in years. He dragged a long straight pole out at right angles to the beach and lifted one end onto a concrete block. This he announced would be the limiting area for his two charges to stay within when he brought them over again.
As the three clam diggers collected clams and trash and Bradley raked the sand under the water the pile of junk built up until we had the best part of a 5 gallon bucket full of rubbish.
When it was time to leave there were 30 large clams as well as a big pile of brush and driftwood and about 15 bricks!
It was decided that it was too late to cook the clams for consumption then, so we put them into a bucket with holes in. Unfortunately the bottom of the bucket fell out, so the clams were transferred to the minnow bucket and put into the water. Hopefully we will be able to cook them up on Bradley's next trip.
A good time was had by all.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Horses head.

While digging in The Lake - I don't know, for clams or to get a rock out or something - we found this really weird bone! It turned out to be a big jaw bone, probably of a horse. Neat, cool.
I imagined that a long time ago before we came here (we have owned the property since about 1976) someones horse died and they dumped it in The lake. Or maybe the horse fell in and drowned. Anyway, at least its jaw ended up just off of our pier. Or maybe the whole skeleton is down there!
I cleaned up the bone and put it proudly on my workbench but after a few days when it dried out it just fell apart. Apparently when you take something out of the water after a long time it does that.
I should have known that because we saw The Mary Rose, Henry the Eight's warship that sank in the Solent and was raised some 400 years later. They keep it in a special room where water is sprayed on it 24 hours a day.
We also saw the Vasa in Sweden, a Viking ship that was pulled out of the harbor and is on display, with water sprayed over it all the time.
Funny story about the Vasa. They found this book on it. Wow they thought, a book more than a thousand years old. After carefully preserving and restoring was started, it turned out to be a modern Oslo telephone book!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cormorants and Osprey

Once again The Lake is loaded with Cormorants and Osprey. At times there are so many Cormorants that they look like floating islands out there. The Osprey don't exactly blot out the sun, but there are several roaming the skies above The Lake.

I have said before that "The birds are stealing all MY fish. There will be none left for me." But I wonder if perhaps it doesn't mean something else? Namely that there must be a lot of fish out there to attract so many birds to fish here!

Lets hope that is the case because I do love my fish dinner. It will soon be time for me to head out there and bring home the bacon - I mean the fish! It has been too cold lately for me to stand out there for long, but soon, very soon, Winter will be a memory and Spring will have sprung, along with the Season of the Fish.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Minimum wages.

The minimum wage in the UK is around $10 an hour. In Norway it is around $20 and hour. In the US, the richest country in the world, it is just over $7 an hour! And yet the average bank CEO in the US makes at least $7,000 an hour! No kidding! Even if he works 40 hours a week, which is doubtful, that is $7,000 X 40 = $280,000 per week X 52 weeks = $14,560,000. The CEO of my bank makes almost four times that much! And the more than 400 "executives" at my bank all make over $1,000,000, most make several million. Yet they can't afford to pay me any interest on money deposited there. I think the going rate right now is .1% or less. So if I had $10,000 in the bank I would receive just $10 per year in interest. I have even seen where some banks are looking into the possibility of charging their customers for keeping their money in the bank!
The greed in this country is unbelievable.
And the Republicans want to cut taxes even more, especially to the very richest among us, even though our taxes are the lowest that they have been in more than 60 years, we are the lowest taxed country in the world, and we only collect enough in taxes to pay for a little more than half of our expenses.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Discrimination in schools.

We have all heard of NCLB - No Child Left Behind - a commendable effort to improve the education of children who are not as "bright" as others. The discrimination that I am concerned about is to the "bright" students. I have a grandson who is extremely intelligent. He has a very high IQ, but he has to be held back to learn at the rate of the child with the lowest IQ.
I was educated in England in the UK. We had levels in our school. For example the 4th grade would have a 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D. The way it worked was this - the smartest most intelligent were in the A stream, and so on. At the end of each year there were exams. The 10% of students who tested highest moved up to the next grade and the 10% of students who tested lowest went down. For example if you were in 4C and were in the top 10% you went into 5B. If you were in the lowest 10% you moved down to 5D. And so on. This way you were always with students with approximately the same intelligence. So you didn't have to wait until the guy with an IQ of 80 understood. He would be in the D stream and be taught with other students of the same intelligence. makes sense to me.
My grandson has to sit around doing nothing while the teacher spends all his/her time on the students with the lowest IQ's. He could, and should, be pushed to achieve. Perhaps he would be able to do something to find out why some people are of lower IQ's than others. Perhaps he would be able to develop ways to teach these students. We will never know, because he has to be held back, "To be fair to the others with a low IQ." How dumb can we be?

The Invasion of the Cormorants.

We have seen the odd Cormorant or two on The Lake over the last 2 or 3 weeks, but when I looked out today I was amazed to see a large group of birds swimming way out on The Lake. A quick look with the binoculars confirmed them to be Cormorants - about 40 of them!
Oh no, they are going to eat all MY fish!
Boy is it windy here today. A big snowstorm was forecast but so far all we have seen is a lot of rain and wind. It is extremely windy, absolutely roaring, with huge waves out on the Bay. The waves are rolling in and if I were a surfer I might be out there enjoying them if it weren't so cold and rainy and windy.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I cannot remember any time that sanctions have worked. Think about it, if someone said to you, "I will not xxx unless you don't xxx" What would you, or anyone do? Give in? Almost certainly not.
On the other hand if that same person said to you, "Can I help you xxx".

Just saying.


We are still paying subsidies to the oil and gas industries. In 2011 they made PROFITS of $137 BILLION - more than 1 1/2 times the cuts that we have to make to our teachers, our government employees, our schools, and hundreds or thousands of programs affecting millions of people.

So we can cut help to our poorest, hurt our workers, but we cannot touch huge subsidies to huge companies that make BILLlONS in profits.

We cannot touch people who make obscene amounts of money, but we can cut 20% off of the paychecks of people who work to keep the country afloat and those who manage the workings of the country. That is fine, but do not touch the three million people who make more than a million dollars a year - and pay tax at a rate of half or less than half of what the average American pays!

And you can be sure that Congress will not be losing 20% of their income.

One percent of Americans are millionaires, but 44% of congressmen are millionaires.

Just saying.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Hard as it may be to believe, horsemeat may actually be better for you to eat than beef! In America anyway. That is because meat in America is so contaminated by various chemicals and pathogens that 15% of Americans get sick from food carried pathogens. Compare that to Europe where less than .1% get sick from food borne illness - that is less than one tenth of one percent. To put it another way for every person who gets sick from food in Europe 1,000 get sick in the US! That is in spite of the recent scare about horsemeat contamination in burgers etc. In fact the food and safety checks in Europe are so far ahead of those in the US that it might as well be in a different country - oh it is! Or in a different century. In fact there is so little checking in the US that the horsemeat contamination would probably never have been picked up. It is to Europe's credit that it was discovered. But here in the US there might as well not be any checking. There is hardly any anyway, and the US Congress - the worlds most corrupt Congress - is constantly taking bribes to make less and less checks on food and to ignore any problems that are found.
For example, there have been videos made of animals being abused so horribly that most people would stop eating meat immediately. I have seen movies where cows who were so sick that they could not walk to the slaughter house and were pushed there with fork lifts - and not even gently. They could hardly walk, and in fact kept falling down, they were so sick. And not only from being sick, imagine trying to walk when you are standing in your own feces halfway up your legs!! True. And then we get to eat them, including the sick animals and the feces on them, although there is a halfhearted attempt to wash some of it off.
In Europe there is a law about the ethical treatment of animals. Here there is the treatment of animals, or anything else, for PROFIT. Virtually no consideration for anything other than PROFIT. They don't care how the animals are treated as long as they get more PROFIT. And that includes us - humans - we are fed sick animals, animals that eat anti-biotics, animals that are genetically engineered, animals that never see the light of day, that live in cages and pens that don't allow them to move. All in the name of PROFIT. Otherwise known as GREED.
Don't get me wrong, profit is good, but not to the exclusion of all else. To me humanity is important. But to Big Business it seems that humanity and the ethical treatment of animals comes right at the bottom of the list, with profit firmly at the top, above all else.
Just as Bankers put profit above all else including its customers and even the good of the country that has made them rich. You may have heard the story of the goose that laid golden eggs. Well that could be the story of the US Banking Industry, they would destroy the country that gives them such riches just to make even more money for a short time!
Just saying.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is it possible?

Is it possible that Spring is almost here? The love of my life - Julia, to those who don't know me - said yesterday from her sick bed, she has a very nasty cold, that the maple trees in our back yard are looking very red as their buds are bursting open. And yes it is true. Today they are even more red and bursting, just one day and they are visibly advanced. My window thermometer tells me that the lowest temperature last night was a balmy 44 degrees! Tomorrow it will be March, so yes I really think that Spring is on the way. But I don't think that I will put away the snow blower, the snow shovel and the buckets of salt and sand that I keep on the porch in case of snow or ice. Not just yet anyway.
But soon, very soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

In Praise of Chickens.

I just took a bag of salad that had gone off and shook it out into our chicken run. You would have thought that it was a bag of Caviar! They looked the way that I think I would look eating a Big Mac after not eating for three days!

What a delight it is to watch them eat. They don't care if it is a half eaten sandwich, left over fried chicken, carrot tops and peelings, uneaten cat food, weeds, a dried out bread roll, the remains of a crab feast, the parts of a cooked fish that you couldn't eat, you name it, if you can eat it or even if you can't, they can, and will!

No sir, there is no waste in this household. And they thank us with nice fresh eggs. (And they even eat the eggshells!)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Can there be any doubt?

Can there be any doubt that the Republican Party's strategy is strictly one of obstructionism?

When President Obama proposes tax cuts, the Republicans vote against it!! When the President proposes spending cuts, the Republicans vote against it!!

In spite of this lack of co-operation he has managed somehow to push tax cuts on both the private sector and business through Congress, to the point that we now have the LOWEST tax rate in more than 60 years! But still FOX, Rush, Beck, Hanity, O'Reilly and the Tea Party in general keep telling everyone that President Obama is raising taxes! A blatant lie.

Now The President, in yet another bipartisan move, proposes drafting a Republican to his Cabinet. How much more bipartisan can you get than that?! And the Republicans are even against him!

No there is no doubt in my mind at all that the Republicans have nothing else in mind except voting against ANYTHING that the President proposes. Even when it is in the best interest of the country - or even the Republican Party itself!

There are no moderates left in the Republican Party. Even the slightest sign of a Congressperson saying anything bipartisan, indicating that they would want to co-operate in any way or even doing anything except voting along strict party lines and they are immediately ostrazised and targeted for replacement.

How can you run a government of the people and for the people in this way? Obviously you can't. Politics is so polarized now that it is almost impossible to govern the country.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Darwinism explained.

OK, Darwinism for Dummies. Just lately we have had a lot of little black fruit flies in our kitchen. Especially in the morning when I go in, there are a lot flying around or just sitting.
So I get a small towel and flick them out of existence. Or as many as I can. But there are always more.
A large area of our kitchen is white - the door frames, refrigerator and cabinet doors. So the little black flies are easy to see and to dispatch, if they land in those areas. But, some of them, maybe even the majority, I really don't know, land on other surfaces and are more difficult to locate.
So my thought is this, if I am successful in killing the flies that land on white surfaces, but not those that land on other areas, will we end up eventually only with flies that land on dark surfaces?
It makes sense. A male fly that for some reason only lands on dark surfaces will be more likely to survive, and will meet a female who also only lands on dark surfaces. As after several generations these will be the majority, at least in my home. Their offspring will be more likely, just more likely, not completely, to have baby flies that will be more likely to land on dark surfaces.
After some time - a hundred generations? A thousand? Who knows. But at some point we will have "bred" flies that only land on dark surfaces.
And that my children is how Darwinism works.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thoughts on 1967

I was listening to George Wallace on the radio today and his speech of 1963 in which he said "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever" or some such. It made me think of 1967 when my wife and I first came to America. I went to work in a workshop at Koppers company as a machinist. I guess I had heard of the segregation thing, but it was not anything that I was familiar with really. I was 26 years old, we had black people in England of course but I had not really noticed them! Believe it or not I don't think I really noticed that they were a different color (Colour in England!) I guess I must have but I definitely don't remember it being anything that I took any notice of. They were just people like everyone else.
So when I started work at Koppers and one of the guys in the workshop was black i just talked to him the same as all the other guys.
It was a while before I realized that I was, "Doing something wrong", the other guys in the shop who were all white were sort of ignoring me.
I guess it sank in after a while. I used to eat lunch with John - the black guy - and we got on quite well I remember. I think we were talking about a trip to the beach once and it occurred to me to ask him about sunbathing! There didn't seem to be much point in it for him! And it was strange that I would want to go darker - by now I had realized that the others in the shop didn't like black people! Anyway he told me that if he lay in the sun he would go darker, and yes he would burn if he stayed out in it too long.
One day when I was talking to one of the white men I mentioned that I had heard that when a black man met a white man on a sidewalk the black man used to have to step off the kerb. I said it sort of like it was funny or a joke and was surprised when he replied visciously "Yes, and that is the way that it should still be."
John left soon after, I think it may have been difficult for him. I think I may have been the only person who talked to him.
Things are undoubtably different now. But those thoughts came to me about my first real interaction with a black man and the treatment that he received and the way that the white men treated him.
Back in 1967.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

30 days since Sandy Hook.

It has now been 30 days since the Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut school shooting on Dec 13 2012. Since then there have been more than 1,000 murders with guns in the US - more than in the next 100 countries COMBINED.

There are over 11,000 murders with guns a year in the US (39 in the UK last year.) Including accidents and suicides, that number rises to over 25,000 a year.

As we all know, the rights of a Nutcase to own an assault gun with a 100 round magazine beats the rights of an 8 year old girl to attend school without being shot and killed so that she does not get to grow up, have birthday parties, boyfriends, trips, get married, have children of her own and generally have the chance at a happy life during which she has the chance to add something to help the US and the World.

Yes, we know that the gun is much more important than the thousands of children that are killed by them every year in the US. The right of the Drunken Alcoholic, The Drug Addict, The Criminal and The wife-Beater to own a deadly assault gun whose only purpose to exist is to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible.

In fact we MUST defend their right to own these killing machines with our own lives if necessary.

Oh, by the way 85% of all children killed by guns in the world are killed in the US.

But defending our nutcases rights is of course MUCH more important than defending our children's lives.

Yes the words of a few men spoken almost 250 years ago in a different age in different circumstances must be defended over the lives of our children. So that men and women with inferiority complexes can own big sticks that make them feel big and strong. Sticks that make loud bangs and enable them to kill people who confront them and call them names or who have different opinions to theirs. And of course as a last resort if people still won't listen to them and they get really pissed off they can go to a Church or a Movie Theater, or a Mall or a School and kill as many of those people as possible.

Yes, we MUST defend that right.


Sunday, January 6, 2013


Wanting sensible gun laws doesn't make me anti-gun any more than wanting sensible traffic laws makes me anti-car.

We don't want drunks driving around in cars why should we want drunks roaming around with guns?

We want speed limits, why not limits on the size of guns and their magazines?

The NRA lobbied - successfully - to Congress to vote down a law to spend money to teach gun safety!

There are more guns in the US than any other country in the world and you are more likely to be shot in the US than in any other country in the world. But apparently there is no connection!

Just saying.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Lake or Bay?

Which is "Best" the Bay or our Lake? Well as lovely as it is to have a view of The Chesapeake Bay I have to go for The Lake as my favorite view (Except for Julia).
When you live on the Bay you do indeed have a wide expanse of water in front of you. And yes you can often see the Eastern Shore, even if it is rather a long way away. Of course there are the boats, big and small, which add interest. The birds are also fun to watch.

But, The Lake holds a bigger place in my heart as well as in my vision. Yes the Bay has lots of water, but just how much water do you really need? The Lake has about 40 acres of water and lots of trees too - which is something usually missing from the Bay view.

I think you could compare Bay and Lake views to a large crowd of people at a big party or a small group of friends and a more intimate party. Which do you prefer? Apparently I like the smaller gathering.

At The Lake I can look out and see most of The Lake all in one sweeping glance. Even the trees on the far side are easy to see. There is a bigger variety of birds. Sometimes I can even see fish! Yes there are Carp in The Lake that are 4 or 5 feet long, I have seen them!

The Osprey often snatch a fish out of the water and fly off with it in their talons! Can you imagine being that fish? Swimming quietly along, looking for a tasty bug or other snack, when suddenly WHAM! you are out of the water and several feet above The Lake in a world that you didn't even know existed! If you get lucky you will be dropped back into your world and live to tell the tale. What a story to tell at the next fish cocktail party!

And it happens, more often than you would think. Some other bird comes along and tries to take you away from "Your" bird. Maybe another Osprey or even an Eagle. There are at least two pairs of Bald Eagles that I have seen here. Also Buzzards, Hawks and of course Ducks, Crows and Seagulls.

Across the road is the Bay. In the mornings the sun rises above The Bay, beautiful I am sure, but here on The Lake we also get to see the beauty of the Sunrise. As the Sun rises I am often sitting in my armchair with my first coffee of the day watching the sky turn from darkness to a variety of colors, usually pink, but it can vary depending on the time of year and the kind of clouds, or even no clouds. Every morning, like every snowflake, is different. As the sun climbs higher and gets above the rooftops it first begins to hit the trees on the far shore of The Lake. This can be breathtaking, especially in the fall when it literally looks as though the trees are on fire. The "Fire" spreads quickly as the sun's light reaches further and higher until soon the whole forest is "ablaze". Even before that happens The Lake itself begins to "Burn". Just as the conflagration is about to reach a flash-point the light softens and morning arrives. At this time The Lake, which had been up to now a mirror, starts to move. Tiny ripples disturb its smooth surface. They grow as the breeze increases and life returns to The Lake. Fish start breaking, birds start diving into the water. A Great Blue Heron lands on my pier and another appears in the water wading along with its eyes fixed on something. Suddenly, there is the "something", struggling briefly in the Heron's bill before it is swiftly swallowed in one smooth movement. Almost without a break the Heron snatches up another fish and yet another.

Meanwhile the first Osprey of the day has arrived for his (her?) breakfast.

And so it goes. Never a dull moment on The lake.

Soon, sometimes all too soon, the sun starts to go down. We have lived here for 4 years now, 4 years and 5 months or about 1600 sunsets! No two the same. As you can imagine we have not seen all of them, but I have seen a lot of them. When we take a trip, sunsets on The Lake are one of the losses that I have to take into consideration when I make the decision on whether or not to go! You have to see a Sunset on The Lake to understand this.

I could probably go on for hours talking about The Lake. Obviously this is impossible. For one thing you'd be bored out of your teeth, but more importantly, I would not be able to watch The lake!!

But I will take a few minutes to list some of the other things that make The Lake better than The Bay.

We have a beautiful pair of White Swans here. There are all kinds of Ducks, including of course Mallards and the little Diving Ducks, as well as numerous other Ducks that I don't even know the names of. Then there are the Cormorants. Sometimes there are just a few Cormorants. But one year there were literally hundreds! There are even land based birds, mostly what we call LBJ birds (Little Brown Jobs) I have of course already mentioned the Eagles, Buzzards, Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Seagulls, Crows and Ducks. But there are others that we did identify using our Birds of North America book. These include, Bittern, Night Heron, Egret, Great White Heron, Tern, Woodpecker, Dove, Owl, Kingfisher, Swift, Hummingbird, Hawk, Falcon, Canada Goose, then of course there are all the LBJ's, not to mention others that we were unable to identify. Of course many of those that we did identify had several different types in the same species.

Other than birds? Yes, fish - Carp, White Perch, Yellow Perch, Shad, Herring, Sunfish, Minnows, Eel, Catfish, Pike, Shrimp, Turtles, Frog, Snake, Crab, Clam, and I'm sure that I missed some.

More? How about animals? Deer yes but rarely, Possum, Raccoon, Fox, Mice. Trees? Lots of beautiful trees including of course Maple, Various Oaks, Holly with many red berries, Locust, Poplar, Cherry, Willow and many more.

Yes The Lake wins hands down.


Those who know me know that I like numbers.

I just heard that Chicago passed 500 gun deaths for the year. I tried to check those figures, but it is hard. I think that is just murders by gun, but I am not sure. But I am sure that if we add in accidents and suicides it would be well over 500. That is like 20 Newtowns - in just ONE American City! Can you imagine that? More than 20 Newtowns!! in just ONE city. To put it another way 30,000 gun deaths a year in the US or well over 1,000 Newtowns!!

These figures are just unbelievable. ONE HUNDRED TIMES HIGHER than many other civilized countries! And still we say "Guns don't kill people"! The murder rate by gun in just ONE American city is higher than the murder rate, or death rate, in countries AT WAR!! You would be safer in Iraq, or Afghanistan than in Chicago!!

And we defend our right to own guns! We would KILL to allow Criminals to own guns, Alcoholics to own guns, Wife beaters to own guns, Mental patients to own guns, ANYONE to own guns!

We want anyone to be able to legally own a gun without a thorough background check, without even being registered or being fingerprinted. Yet to own a dog you need to have it registered and get a license. But not a gun!

Want to drive? You have to take a written test, and a driving test, and get a license, and your car has to be registered. For a gun? Nothing! Nada. You can walk in to a "Gun Show" and buy a gun without any record of the transaction at all! You don't even have to know how to fire it! In many states the laws are the same as a gun show - anyone can get any weapon for any, or no, reason. Including assault weapons with 100 round magazines, or hand grenades, or machine guns, mortars, maybe even missiles? Just to defend yourself against a mugger!

You can even buy assault guns at Department stores - like Walmart! What next? At Safeway? At 7-11? Who knows, anything is possible in this crazy country.

If this isn't ABSOLUTELY CRAZY then I don't know what is.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fog - again.

Those little cat feet are all over the place again this morning. In fact they have been there almost every morning for the last couple of weeks. But today it is thicker than usual, and more persistent.

Strangely enough we cannot hear any fog horns. At our last home - Brent House Farm - which was on the water, but at the head of a creek and at least a mile from the Bay proper, we often heard them. Now that we are literally right across the road from the Bay, which we can see from the kitchen window, we can't hear them!

I wonder why that is? Do they not use fog horns any more, or is the fog much thicker than it used to be and blankets the sound completely? No, I don't think so either.

Are we just older and our hearing has gone? Or is the part of the Bay that we are close to devoid of fog horns? Are the foghorns that we used to hear on ships or on buoys or lighthouses? Maybe that is the answer, we used to be close to an automatic foghorn, now we are not. That must be it.

If you know the answer to this mystery perhaps you can tell me?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Disability Rights Treaty anyone?

Can you say Disability Rights? Surely a non-controversial subject wouldn't you think? So would I. A no-brainer? But no, the usual applies, if President Obama is in favor of it, we MUST vote it down!

The treaty requires countries to recognize the rights of disabled people. The US of course already has laws that do this. The hope is that it will encourage other countries to develop laws to help the disabled.

But the paranoid members of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party voted it down! Even Rick Santorum and Marco Rubio who both have disabled members of their families voted against the treaty! Marco suggested that the US could promote disability rights. I wonder why both the US and the United Nations can't promote disability rights?

Most countries in the world have signed on to it. It is not controversial anywhere, even in America, except for the extremists of one political party
Where is reason in the minds of these people? Why is it in such short supply there? And why do the rest of the Republicans bow down to these extremists?

On another subject, but with the same lack of reasoning, why is it so hard to get on board with what would seem to be such a simple solution to our lack of funds. One party wants to tax 2% of the population who have more than 50% of the country's wealth and yet pay a lower tax rate than the average American. The other party wants to tax 98% of the population who already pay a higher rate than the 2%. Surely this too is a no-brainer. But apparently not, because once again the Party of No, the Republicans, are interested in one thing and one thing only, voting against ANYTHING that President Obama is in favor of.

They are in favor of cutting taxes, but even more than that, they are in favor of voting against any proposal of President Obama's. Even to the point of voting down tax cuts proposed by the President for citizens and businesses! And voting down spending cuts proposed by him!

I had this idea, why doesn't the President propose a tax cut for the wealthy? Lets say anyone making over $250,000 a year only pays 10% tax? That's what many of them pay anyway! It is what the Republicans want, but they would be FORCED to vote against it, because President Obama proposed it!!!!

He could even put forward a proposal that the rich pay NO tax. And let the Republicans vote that down! Ha Ha Ha Ho Ho Ho ! (There are at least 3,000 people in the US who make more than $3 Million a year who pay NO tax at all!! Does that make them a part of the "47%" ? It sure does! And that doesn't even count the businesses making Billions in PROFITS who pay ZERO tax! Companies like Verizon who made a PROFIT of $33 Billion last year and paid NO tax - in fact they received a 'refund' check from the government of about $1 Billion.)

Well there is a precedent. There is a tax that all Americans pay that the rich don't pay. You don't know about that? Let's say there was a tax that ALL Americans had to pay, except the rich. Well there is! As you know in most countries of the world, except the USA, the more you earn the higher the tax rate you pay. Here in the US of course the more you earn the LOWER your tax rate goes!

Well, here in the US once you reach a certain point, in this case $110,000 - which believe it or not is pretty rich in my book. I have never earned even half of that much in a year. But once you reach that, you stop paying that tax!! I pay it, and all Americans pay it, 100% of us, on ALL of our earnings - up to $110,000. When you reach that figure, which I call rich, or close to, certainly I would love to earn that much, you STOP paying the tax. So right away the rich start paying 6.2% LESS than the poor and middle class, just on that one tax. Yep from then on they pay ZERO on that tax, even tho' the rest of us pay it on ALL of our income.

Take Mitt Romney for example. You pay 6.2% on all of your income. So if you made $110,000 last year you paid $6,820 in Soc Sec tax, or 6.2% of your income. Mitt Romney, who made $21 Million last year, on the other hand paid .03%. So you, and I pay 6.2% Soc Sec tax and Mitt Romney pays .03% ! You and I pay at a rate that is 206 times more than Mitt Romney pays! Now he could well afford to pay this tax, much more so than you or I. But he doesn't have to. I wonder why that is? I suspect that the rich and wealthy are able to nicely ask their politicians for them to be exempted. Maybe some help to their own personal politicians in some area. A nice trip in a private jet to a private island for a nice break. Or some repairs to their house. Or maybe just some help with the bills. Things that you and I can't do for our elected representatives, but the very rich can. Which is why they get richer and richer, at our expense.

How does this sound for an idea? Tax everyone equally for the Soc Sec tax, don't even raise it higher as you earn more, just keep it at 6.2%, but for ALL of everyone's earnings, not just all of my earnings and your earnings. There would then be no problem with SS payments. No fear of SS funds running out in 30 years, or whenever it is supposed to happen. In fact it would probably be possible to LOWER the Soc Sec deduction!! Say to 5%. So those less able to afford it would even get a break, while those who CAN afford it would be paying as well. After all if you can make a million, or 5 million, or 10 million, or even 50 or 100 million and more in the USA you SHOULD be HAPPY to give back to the country that enabled you to get rich. Shouldn't you?

Just saying.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Seventy Two Degrees?

Yes that is what it was outside today! It was 70 in Chicago yesterday! It is supposed to be in the 20's in Chicago at this time of the year I think.

Yesterday and today one of the big stories was about a New York policeman who bought a pair of shoes for a shoeless, homeless man. I thought I would tell you about my Grandfather.

In fact if you go back about 7 or 8 posts and read one entitled a visit to the dentist or something, you will see a bit about my grandfather. By coincidence I had posted this story about boots.

Anyway, my Grandfather - Thomas Howard Nethercott - was in the First World War. He was in the mudddy trenches and fields of France, and in the blazing hot deserts of North Africa, and on the demon beaches of Gallipoi, in Turkey. And doubtless in other horrific, nightmare places too.

In France he was up to his knees in mud and snow, he had his appendix removed, "With a Rusty Bayonet", as he once told me. I'm sure an exaggeration. I think. He was gassed with mustard gas and lost his sense of smell and taste. Definitely not an exaggeration.

In North Africa he told me about the heat, and the smell, and the sand in everything and everywhere. And the flies. He said that when he had a jam sandwich it would immediately be covered in flies. He said you had to hold the sandwich in one hand and pass your other hand across the sandwich knocking off as many flies as possible and then quickly put the sandwich into your mouth. You always got some flies with the sandwich. The trick apparently was to get as few flies as possible. It was not possible to get none.

In Gallipoli. Well you have to read about Gallipoli for yourself, it would be useless for me to try to tell you about it. You definitely would not believe me. This story was told to me by his son after he, my Grandfather, had died. He carried a spare pair of boots with him. I don't know where he got them. He once told me that his boots rotted off of his feet in the trenches of France and the only way to get another pair was to kill a German and take his. "I had to kill 10 Germans." he said, "Before I found a pair that fit me." Another exaggeration, at least, I am sure. So, I did not know where he got his spare boots. Probably from a dead mate or soemething. I'm sure a spare pair of boots were a necessity - walking around in mud filled trenches, rough, hot, stony deserts and running out of the sea and up the machine gun raked beaches of Gallipoli. He probably needed a lot of spare underpants too I would think! Anyway after they took Gallipoli they had a lot of prisoners. One of the prisoners had no shoes. My grandfather gave him his spare pair of boots.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

More Poetry Anyone?

I was thinking about poetry after writing my last Blog, about poetry.

And I thought I would do another little piece. That's the way this old mind works nowadays, in little pieces.

Nice to meet you,
I am Sarah Leigh,

Now you could continue in this fashion, like I did last time, just putting down stuff as it comes to you, or copying someone else's format, or making up your own format, use your own foibles, errors, successes, failures, wins, losses. Put them all down. Use your own shape or arrangement or the conventional ones whereby every other line, or every third line or every fourth line rhymes. Or how is this for an idea - put a rhyming word at the end of every line? You don't see that very often. Probably a reason for that? Maybe it would be boring? Or hard to do? Hey there's an advantage right there - it might have to be a short poem!

Let's see how many words rhyme with Sarah Leigh?
Well we might have to start the poem differently, instead of Nice to meet you, I am Sarah Leigh, how about Nice to meet ME, I am Sarah Leigh.? There are other words that rhyme - like see, sea, Bradley, Zachary, gee, lea, hee hee, honey hey there are lots!! So it shouldn't be too hard to write at least a short poem with a rhyming word at the end of each line. But would it be worth reading? Who cares? As long as you like it! It's yours, your poem. No one else has to like it, or even read it. No one reads my Blog, except me, so you can just do stuff for yourself.

Have fun,
Think of Mum,
Chew some gum,
Load your gun,
And shoot a bun,

See, hey don't be glum, have some fun, eat a plum, wipe your ***

Well enough of that!

Enjoy life kids, I did, friends are one of the most important things for a great life.

Love you.

David. (Grandy)


What is it about poetry? Do we all like poetry, or just some us? If we like, are we different from those who don't like? Can we really not like poetry? Surely there must be some poetry for everyone. Poetry doesn't have to rhyme. It can just be words that sound nice, or nasty, or loving, or tell a story, or are just poetic. Whatever that is.

If you "Don't like Poetry", write your own. Just dig into your mind and find something. Dig deep, into the hidden corners, or the wide open spaces, some minds have lots of space! Some are cramped and closed. Some are full to bursting, but all have lots of stuff, pull some of that stuff out and put it into some words. Use your favorite words. Use words about people and things that you love, or hate.

If you "Are Not Creative." Read. Yes, read poetry. But also read stories. Stories that you like, but also ones that you don't like. And do things. Things that you like, and also things that you don't like. Go places, see places, experience things,

Then write about those stories and those experiences. Write about what you have seen and done, places you have been and things that you have experienced. The more you see and do, the more you are.

Then write about what you are.

Like : -

Nice to meet you,
I am David Arthur,
I like cats and dogs and words,
I am a fan of beautiful women and golden sunsets,
Coffee and newspapers and friends,
I have one daughter,
She surprises me every time I think of her,
Which is often,
She has four boys,
They like me to write on their arms, and their legs,
And their faces,
Mum always says - "He Was Fine When He Left Me!"

As you get older, you get more in there, in that mind, let some of it spill out. Tell the world about You. And about Them. That is Poetry. Who can not like some kind of poetry?


Today was fog. It came in on little cat feet. It crawled into my mind like you. You crawled in on June 15th 1962 when I saw you dancing on the deck. You've beeen there ever since. With all the other stuff. With the fishing, and the sunsets, and the politics, and the family, friends, grandsons, and the pain, and the pleasue, and the fun. But everything else is transitory. I don't care if they are there or not, they can come and go. It is of little interest. As long as you stay inside my mind, inside my head, by my side. with me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Amazing Human Body.

Or more specifically, My Amazing Human Body.

When I was about 8 years old builders started to build some homes next to our home. I lived in England at the time. Houses in England are built with bricks. Trucks (Lorries in England.) delivered the bricks and the men stacked them in piles that seemed to us to be about 10 feet high 20 feet long and 8 feet wide. However we were 8 years old so the piles were probably more like 5 or 6 feet high by 8 to 10 feet long and 4 feet wide. Being small boys and being told to stay away from them, we naturally climbed onto the piles.

Once on top we removed the bricks from the middle and stacked them around the edges working our way down until we had a nice "cave" where we could sit out of the view of the adults. This den made an ideal place to sit and drink "firewater" - which was water, and supplied by me - and lemonade which was supplied by my rich friend Charles. Well his parents were "Rich". It was also an ideal place to smoke, something else that was forbidden, so we had to do.

In the 1940's in England everyone smoked, well almost everyone did. My father did, but my mother never did, and dad quit when he was in his 30's. There were a lot of brands of cigarettes available. I remember Weights, Woodbines, Players, Craven "A", Senior Service, Gold Leaf and there were others, including a French? brand called Galouses? But the only ones for us kids were Woodbines because they were not only the cheapest but you could buy a pack of five cigarettes!

I don't know if it was illegal to sell to kids then, but we never seemed to have any problem buying them. Maybe we just said, "They are for my dad." Not that we bought cigarettes very often anyway. For one thing it didn't matter how cheap they were when you didn't have any money - - -. And they tasted bloody horrible! We had to smoke because we weren't allowed to, but I can honestly say that we hated it. Well I did anyway.

Now where was I going with this? Oh yes the pile of bricks. Well I fell off and hurt my shoulder. Years later an X-Ray for something else found that I had broken my collar bone. But I didn't know that then, only that it hurt and I was not going to tell my mum and dad because I had been told not to play on the bricks. I don't know why I didn't tell them because I can never remember them punishing us. Although dad did slap me on the leg once when I said something rude to an aunt.

Anyway, apparently the bone healed itself.

I'm sure there were other cuts and scrapes. Like the time I came off off my home made go-cart onto some gravel as I negotiated a curve at high speed. A lot of blood that time, but mostly they were mild injuries.

The next major injury was a broken heart at age 19. That hurt bad. But again my Amazing Body healed itself.

Then at age 26 I was body surfing at Cape Cod in Massachusetts when a particularly large wave picked me up and tossed me unceremoniously onto the hard packed sand on my right shoulder. It hurt. Well it would wouldn't it? Hard packed wet sand has about the same consistency as hard concrete. Julia suggested that I lay in the warm sun and "Keep moving it."

We were sleeping in the back of our Oldsmobile Station Wagon and in the early hours of the next morning, when the pain became unbearable, we drove to the Hartford Hospital where an X-Ray revealed that I had broken the ball of the ball and socket joint in my right shoulder very neatly in half. The doctor wanted to put me into a half body cast or something. But it was summer and very hot and we had to get back to Baltimore and I was a guy. So he strapped the arm securely to my body, put it in a sling and told me to see my doctor when we got home. He also said "Whatever you do don't move it." (Please note Julia's advice at the end of the last paragraph.)

Back in Baltimore I went to the company doctor - we had just come to the US and didn't have a regular doctor. Plus I expect the company doctor was free. He told me to keep the straps and sling on for, I think it was 4 or 6 weeks, without moving it. The company gave me a job of taking messages, drawings etc around the offices, which was rather good of them. As it was my right shoulder I couldn't even write!

After 6 weeks the doctor took off the sling and told me to move the arm. He repeated the order when I didn't comply! I couldn't move it! Try strapping your arm to your body and not moving it for 6 weeks and see what happens! He grabbed it and moved it. I screamed, well grunted anyway. Once he got it moving he gave me some exercises to do, one of which was to "walk" my fingers up the wall. A little higher each day. This I did, along with other exercises. I did this compulsively because the doctor told me that I would never get full use back in my arm. But I did, and have had for 45 years now. It has only been in the last few months that I have been having pains in that shoulder and even then only at night and not during the day. At night if I sleep on my right shoulder, the bad one, it can be uncomfortable, but if I sleep on the left side the right shoulder is very painful. Go figure. Any ideas why? Anyone? So I now sleep on my back and that works. Not easy after sleeping on my side for most of my 71 years!

Still not a bad result for an arm that I, "Would not regain full use of." as the doctor said. My Amazing Body.

Next. After being laid off from the newspaper business, The News American, on Christmas Day 1979 - the newspaper business is definitely not sentimental - I started a Chimney Sweeping business.

In July of 1989 after almost 10 years of uneventful work, with only the occasional scrape or bruise, I fell off of a roof. My leg was Hyper Extended at the knee (The knee joint bent the wrong way!) The knee swelled up something awful. It looked about the size of a small soccer ball. The doctor looked at it and said, "It could be blood or it could be fluid." I said, "It's fluid." He said "It could be blood." After several repetions. He said, "We have to find out." and I said, "How?" The answer was simple, "We take a needle and draw a sample and look at it." Well that didn't sound too bad so I said OK. Doc went accross the room to a cabinet. When he returned I almost passed out. He was holding a syringe about the size of a litre bottle of soda with a needle the size of a pencil! But it wasn't as bad as I thought. The needle went in easily and when he drew back on the plunger a dark black fuid filled the syringe. Obviously blood, a pint or two of it!

It seemed that bending the knee the wrong way had torn the tendons causing them to bleed. They wanted to operate. I said no thank you. So a knee brace was fitted and set to move about 15 degrees, which made walking awkward and climbing a ladder impossible. After a cuople of days I reset the brace to allow about a 30 degree movement, which made walking easier and also made it possible to climb a ladder. Which I did. I know, stupid. But that is guys for you! I was back to normal in a few weeks. Not even missing any work. And no operation!

My daughter was living in one of our apartments and when it needed some landscaping, I was there for it. The faithful station wagon was ideal for picking up 6 railroad ties at a time. Hey I was only in my 50's. I loaded and unloaded several loads of railroad ties. alone. Then dug out the area to be made beautiful and laid the ties in place. When I had laid about 10 or 12 in place my 50 something year old back decided it had enough. I fell to the ground screaming. The ambulance rushed me to hospital where the doctor pronounced that I had popped a disc and would need an operation. I said no thank you very much. And instead went to see a physical therapist at the Sports Therapy place in Annapolis. My physical therapist's name was Kayla as I remember and she put me on a special table where I did exercises. Within a few weeks I was as good as new. Maybe better. And no operation!

Building, lining, repairing and cleaning chimneys is hard physical work. In October of 2000 after some 21 years of hard physical labor I was lifting a very heavy stove with another man when I discovered that I had osteoporosis. There was a loud bang from the region of my back, followed by a loud scream from the region of my mouth and I fell to the ground in what I can only describe as agony.

An ambulance took me to Annapolis hospital where a nuclear scan revealed severe osteoporosis and two collapsed vertebrae.

Unbeliveably I returned to work a couple of weeks later, mostly just doing desk work.

Three months later, when an employee didn't show up and I went to do his work, I collapsed another vertebrae while lifting a ladder. That was pretty much the end of my working career and I thought, my life as I knew it. In a matter of minutes I had lost 2 inches in height, lost my business - which I, along with my partner Bob, had spent 20 years building to be probably the biggest Chimney Company in Maryland - and a lost a life free of pain. I also lost my freedom to do anything that I wanted to do, including working 12 hours a day.

Life changed. And I changed. I was taking pain pills daily, in fact several times a day, just to be able to function. My business had been wrenched away from me. I thought my life was over. I "Sold" my busines to my partner. Gave it really. The fight had been knocked out of me and I had pretty much given up.

But that Amazing Body rallied and I managed to pull it back together. I applied for and received Social Security Disability which gave me the freedom to be able to work towards rehabilitating my body. This took several years and I was just starting to think that I might be able to find something that my recovering body could handle when - -

WHAM, at the end of March 2005 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. On the 22nd of March I saw my family Doctor, Dr Shantz. He sent me to see Dr Alkaitis on the 23rd. On the same day Dr Alkaitis sent me to see Dr Soloman who called Johns Hopkins hospital while I was there in his office and spoke to and made an appointment for me to see Dr Weingart the next week. He, Dr Soloman, said, "If I were having this operation Dr Weingart is the doctor that I would want to do it."

I went to see Dr Weingart. I remember that he washed his hands when he came in to examine me and I said, "That's what I like to see." He looked at me puzzled and said "What do you mean?" and I said, "Someone who washes his hands when he is going to be putting them inside of my head." There was no reaction. He may have been a good doctor, and I'm not sure about that either, but he certainly had no sense of humor! And that was proven more than once during our association.

He operated the following week, after which began another long ordeal for my Amazing Body.

Suffice to say that I could write a full length novel about my experiences over the next few years. I would argue with the finding that Johns Hopkins Hospital is "The number one hospital in the world." In fact if they are, I certainly cannot imagine how bad the others are!

For one thing they lost my bridge. And that was the least of my problems!

On my way home from the hospital a week or two later Julia had to pull over so that I could get out of the car and lean on it while my body was wracked by a series of pains that were like severe electric shocks. Over the next few years I suffered these severe convulsions or shocks sometimes several times a day and sometimes so severe that they literally threw me to the ground. The doctor said that he had done many similar operations and never heard of any such symptoms. In spite of repeated calls to him I was never able to get an answer to what was happening and almost never able to get him to call me back.

Over time the frequency and severity of the attacks gradually reduced until after about 5 years they only occured once every month or two and were usually little more than a slight inconvenience. Now, 2012, I still get the occasional pain, but they usually only last a few minutes and are little more than a shadow of they what they once were. About two or three times a year I get a longer more severe occurence of The Pain, but again nothing like what they were in the first few years. Then they were so severe that the only thing that I could do was lay flat on my back and remain absolutely still. It would usually go away within minutes, but if I got up it would come roaring back. I found that I had to stay absolutely still and flat for at least one to two hours before it was gone and I could get up without it returning immediately. Bear in mind that at first this sometimes happened several times a day! And my doctor refused to believe that it was happening!

But I recovered. I return to hospital (The University of Maryland Hospital now.) every year, usually in January or February, for an MRI of my brain. The tumor remains, they were unable to remove it, it is right in the middle, but it has not grown appreciably. My Amazing Body. What was next for it?

Well it's next test came in June of 2012.

My parents still live in England and Julia and I went over to visit them in June of 2012. I was now once again in "peak of health". Really, I was feeling great. No signs of any of the past traumas. Then I was walking down the hall one day and my left knee started to bother me. Nothing big, just discomfort at first. After a few days I was limping, but still able to walk a couple of miles without too much problem. Gradually it got worse and worse untill I was using a cane. Then one night at about 2AM it was so bad that I had to wake Julia and call my brother-in-law to ask him to pick us up and take us to the local hospital. I was afraid that it was a case of delayed DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) from the flight. But they did an X-Ray and some blood tests and said no. So I took Ibuprophin and Tylenol until we got back to the US where I had more X-Rays, a CAT scan and an MRI, after which they determined that I had a cracked femur. No, I have no idea how it happened. Also I had two tears in the meniscus of the left knee - that is the cartilege. The doctor gave me a pair of crutches and told me to stay off of it as much as possible. Extra strong Tylenol and Codeine enabled me to continue with my hectic lifestyle - just kidding. He also gave me an injection into the knee, which did nothing at all to help. I returned to him in a couple of weeks expecting him to do "keyhole surgery" and go in to repair the torn cartilege. But he said no he wanted to wait and see what was happening with the cracked femur. He had examined the CAT scan and MRI carefully and seemed concerned about what he described to me as "Fluid inside of the bone". My question of what does that mean, elicted a worrying reply (To me) of "I really don't know, come back in 4 weeks and we'll see how it is". Four weeks later I was back with my usual question now of, "When are you going to do the keyhole thing and fix the cartilege? Oh, and by the way the knee is much better now." He said no to the keyhole surgery because he was still concerned about the water, or fluid, in the bone. He told me to come back in a couple of weeks. Fast forward 3 weeks. By this time the pain had gone completely, I was no longer limping, not using the crutches and felt almost normal! He asked me to walk around, felt the knee pushing hard on the two places where the torn cartilege was - had been? - and said, "Well, whatever it is you are doing, keep on doing it. Come back and see me if it starts hurting again."

And that was it. I have had no pain whatsoever since then and if I didn't remember which knee it was I would not know! That's how completely 'healed' it is!

I'd kind of like him to do another CAT scan and/or MRI to see what has happened. My understanding is that cartilege does not repair itself after you reach your early 20's. So it can't be healed, so what has happened? And what is the deal with the cracked femur? Did it heal? Did I imagine the whole thing? No, I don't think so either.

So I guess I just wait now to see what is next!