Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blooms for Alice

This is a special magnolia that survives the winters in Denver. The problem is, it blooms in our snowiest month of the year, March and more often than not, the buds freeze shrivel turn brown and drop to the ground. For 10 years my neighbor and friend Alice, has watched it with anxious anticipation and if it bloomed, she considered it a momentous event.

During a brief stay in the hospital, Alice unexpectedly died yesterday. Although we had spoken regularly and I had seen her Sunday, I never mentioned the magnolia blooming. But maybe it doesn't matter because I want to believe she is where the sun is shining brightly, the temperature is mild and the magnolias are always blooming and of course in the company of family and friends.

I already miss her and I will remember her and all our fond times together whether the magnolia blooms or not.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Colorado Recorder Orchestra has a new website, thanks to Jennifer Meyers, web designer, musician, ferris wheel enthusiast and mother extraordinaire. Here she is with her mom, Kathy LaForge. The other photo shows Kathy and I with our contrabass recorders. Both ladies were participants in the CRO's Japan Tour. Besides being committed musicians, they are exceptional travel companions. I was lucky enough to spend an entire" free" day with them while in Japan, shopping in the Ginza district, riding the ferris wheel in Yukohama and eating in China Town!


All the snow has melted in the city and with the spring bulbs emerging, I’m coming out of the winter doldrums.

I went to the new Benjamin Franklin exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and was amazed at how little I knew about the man. For instance, I was unaware that he was first to propose daylight savings time (something I have come to disdain over the years). He, also was an accomplished musician and played an assortment of instruments including the viola da gamba which I too, play.

Speaking of, I have a new viol that I received late last Fall. It is a copy of one on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art crafted by Jacob Stainer . I commissioned it over 2 and a half years ago .

Playing my new viol



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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Good Bye 2006

Good bye 2006. It's been great but it's time to bid a fond farewell. Helloooooo 2007.
I'm looking forward to the possibilities. How about you?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Japanese markets

I loved the markets at all the train stations in Japan. Nothing was recognizable of course but that was what made it so interesting. Usually I'm not much of a shopper (which my girlfriends view with suspicion and I attribute to a missing or damaged chromosome). But I could have spent a lot of time perusing the shops in Japan.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The CRO at Yamaha

This isn't a great picture but it is the best I have now. A couple of players are missing and there are a few spouses/partners in this shot. It was taken at the Yamaha factory and signs were at every entrance welcoming us. They also flew the Colorado State Flag in our honor. Our Music Director, Rose Terada is on the far right in a patterned jacket. I am on the far left. I must have been wandering out of the shot because I notice a hand on my shoulder reining me in so to speak.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Japanese Experience

I thought I might feel very different when I returned from Japan, not just from jet lag or sleep deprivation but from the entire experience. Afterall, it was a great adventure.
I left, feeling a little melancholy, all ready missing the country and the places I had just visited, from snow tipped Mt. Fuji, to the high rises of Yukohama and Toyko, and the temples and shrines in Kyoto, everything, the sights the sounds, the food, the people, I loved it all.

Of course it was time to leave; hauling around luggage and never staying in one place for very long got very tiresome. The unfamiliarities began to take their toll and some people started to long for what they knew regardless of whether it was better or worse, it was familiar. One friend admitted she missed not being able to read anything.
I, on the hand loved the mystery and sometimes the formidable challenge of understanding and being understood. I felt an unusual sense of comfort and ease in a country I neither knew the language or the customs. But I am thinking now that I was enchanted and that this was only one example of the many enchantments I experienced in Japan.

I enjoyed Toyko, especially at night, the Ginza District, Chinatown and the enormous ferris wheel in Yokohama. The City Center bustled in Kyoto full of young people, girls in mini skirts (or short shorts) and tall boots, men with spiked, bleached hair in loose unstructured jackets. And wow the train station!!! A geometric marvel of steel and glass, that spins you somewhere between a Cubist painting and the set of the Matrix movie .

I waded in the Sea of Japan which was surprisingly warm given it was November and I'm a little sorry I didn't go swimming. But it was late and I had over indulged. We had given a concert at Choyo Elementary School with 500 kids that afternoon and their enthusiastic reception was unforgetable. After the performance many children followed us out to our bus helping us with our luggage. It was great fun and I felt light-headed almost dizzy from all the attention. I think everyone did.
That evening I soaked in the Yunohama Hot Springs, before devouring an elaborate multi- course Japanese feast, complete with saki, Japanese beer and an excellent grape liquor. Walking along the beach, splashing in the water and dressed in a beautiful kimono ( kindly provided by the Japanese Inn we were staying at) was a wonderful way to end a magical day (even if I did seriously consider discarding the robe and diving into the waves. I guess I should be grateful I was accompanied by a new found friend, who unknowingly influenced my better judgement...)

I also climbed Mt. Hagura, all 2446 steps up to the Main Shrine passing in route an old 5 story pagota. The climb was in a dense forest with huge cedar trees and exotic birds I heard but never saw. It smelled good from the light rain, moss covered stones, and rich hummus ground and in this forest, on this mountain with all the old carved stone steps and the ancient temples, the presence of something much larger than oneself was undeniable. Perhaps it was a sense of history, an acute awareness of everyone before me and all those destined to come after me. But it was powerful stuff.

So whether it was the land and people, the performances and relationships forged, the purposes and organization, it was a truly remarkable trip and I'm delighted to have been able to participate. Lucky me.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday just as I wrote about last year. Only this time I am home in Denver, neither on the road or visiting friends and family.
I spent most of the morning cooking and most of the afternoon eating (not to mention cleaning up). It has been a very quiet and very nice day.
I'm hoping yours has gone as well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Night Lights

This is the Toyko Train Station (and other buildings) viewed from my room on the 19th floor of the Hotel Pacific Toyko. Unable to sleep, I spent considerable time sitting in the bay window gazing upon the night lights. Though less concentrated than those in the Ginza District, the neon lights were spectacular.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Where we played in Yamagata City

Former Prefectural Assembly Hall

Garden beside Assembly Hall

Former Prefectural Office

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I'm having a wonderful time in Japan! Our concerts have been well received and the weather has been spectacular. No serious mishaps or crisis have occurred.
I was unprepared for the beauty of the countryside.
I have been unable to download pictures and am running out of time on this terminal....
more later

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bound for Japan

I'm leaving for Japan with the Colorado Recorder Orchestra early Monday morning (Nov. 6) and I am so excited I'm bouncing off walls. I'll be gone 13 days. We have 3 concerts scheduled, a couple of receptions and several rehearsals. Most of our time will be evenly split between Tokyo, Yamagata and Kyoto and we'll be riding the trains. I love trains and am especially interested in riding the very fast and efficient Bullit. But it will feel real good to get some exercise and fresh air. So I have researched self guided walking tours in Kyoto and Tokyo.
Sadly I will not be taking my laptop. I hope to visit some internet cafes. If I can figure it out, I will post some pictures and remarks.
Otherwise don't look for anything from me until I return after the 18th.
Sayonara. Ja, mata.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fall Festival

I'm off to the Early Music Fall Festival at Regis University today. The Colorado Recorder Orchestra which I participate in performs at 2:30. But I plan on attending many of the concerts scheduled for the day (and encouraging my fellow friends and enthusiasts).
Norbert Kunst a notable recorder player, teacher and orchestra conductor will be offering a workshop afterwards.
I'm taking my camera. So maybe I will have pictures as well as stories to share.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Don't do it! I "upgraded" to beta blogger and have had NOTHING but problems...lost my links, my comments and all my buttons. It takes me twice as long to sign in because I have to sign in 3 times,( blogger id, confirming blogger id, google id)and it doesn't matter how many times I check "remember me". Sometimes, I can't sign in PERIOD. All this because I was curious...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Congress Passes Law to Curb Online Gambling

My poker card playing friends are crazed. My financial associates are dazed and my fellow free market advocates are outraged! Why? Because of the Safe Port Act Congress passed Saturday night (Sept.30). Embedded in this 244 page bill is a measure to curb internet gambling (starting on page 213).

First of all, the card players I know do not consider themselves gamblers. They study probabilities and human behavior. Some have advanced degrees in mathematics and computer sciences and many are lawyers, doctors, dentists and successful business people. Most recoil at the notion that they partake in "games of chance". Card playing is a practiced sport (if not a profession) for them. So why is the federal government involved?

Secondly, online poker sites are hugely popular. People from all over the world play a variety of games nightly. As a result, these poker sites are extremely profitable but most reside outside the United States. So why do the Feds care? Stock prices for these foreign companies have plummeted even though 80% of online players live outside the U.S.

I object to the government legislating morality. It has always been a terrible failure. Prohibition and "The War on Drugs" only created black markets, underground economies run by gangsters and thugs, governed not by the rules of law but by violence and deceit. Abstinence, moderation, restraint and responsibility can only be learned not legislated.

But something even greater is at stake here. Although this legislation targets online gambling owners and financial institutions, it is a thinly veiled attempt to regulate and control access to the internet which for me is totally unacceptable.

Bloggers and people who like to read blogs should be very concerned. The internet can be a wild and wooly place full of the fantastic and the fanatical, the divine and the disgusting. It is a self censored self monitored marketplace offering not only goods and services but ideas.

I have written my U.S. senator Wayne Allard to express my disapproval of the Safe Port Act (specifically the buried ban on online gambling) and I encourage any reader to do the same.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

DPL Book sale

The Denver Public Library raised 35,000 dollars from their used book sale this year. Most hardcovers went for $2.oo and paperbacks sold for 50 cents. The annual event lasted 3 days and some say, if you are looking for something special, it's best to attend the first day. But it never matters to me because it always seems crowded, stuffed with people and books, an amazing assortment of trash and treasures.

I bought 2 books which I probably didn't absolutely need but where I discovered them made them irresistable. I found Statistical Problems And How To Solve Them by L.H. Longely-Cook on the table marked Literature & Poetry. I laughed out loud imagining what the author would say. I thought better there than the 10 tables or more labeled Fiction. Of course this is an election year...

I also found Blood Washes Blood by Frank Viviano. The author is related to a good friend of mine. Several years ago, I had searched this very library system to borrow the book but was unable to find it. The cover reads "a true story of love, murder, and redemption under the Sicilian sun". Wow! Who would have guessed it would surface in the Business and Geography section?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pursuing Grants

I have volunteered to pursue grant funding for the small community orchestra I play in. We need instruments specifically large low contrabasses and since we all play recorders our needs are unique. There is an entire family of recorders available and some very good reasonably priced plastic ones. But the big low instruments (none of which are made of plastic or are mass produced) start at 3,000 dollars.
This represents a significant investment to an amateur and may not be justified by an occasional consort player . But contrabasses are absolutely crucial in an orchestra.
I just received my contrabass from Bill Lazar. It is an odd looking thing but it sounds wonderful.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


According to the Rocky Mountain News/Denver Post (a combined single edition on the weekends), "Body Worlds 2 drew more than 680,000 people during its four month run, making it the third biggest exhibition ever at the museum."
Since I know of no other exhibits that were open for 24 hours with tickets sold out, my guess is that they have compared it to shows that were around longer.
The Museum has not disclosed how much money they keep from ticket sales but attendance resulted in double digit jumps in gift shop and concession revenue as well as a 20% spike in memberships.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Body Worlds 2:

I recently received an email announcing new expanded hours for the current Body Worlds 2 Exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It is the most successful exhibition the museum has ever hosted hugely surpassing all other previous attendance records and is now open daily from 8:00 a.m. to midnight through July 20, and then continuously starting at 8:00 a.m. July 21 through midnight on Sunday, July 23.
Can you believe that?
Denver 's response is not exceptional. San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles have also experienced record attendances.
So what makes this exhibit appeal to so many? ( Body Works 3 is already showing in Houston.)
I enjoyed the display despite the crowds and was interested in the unique quasi embalming process referred to as Plastination. However I doubt if I would go back to see Body Works 3.
The human body without skin seemed stunningly familiar to me. It must have been all those surprisingly accurate illustrations I used to see in gyms before they turned into health clubs and in the basements of every guy I ever knew with a set of free weights.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Rainy days

It has rained for two whole days and I can’t remember the last time that happened in Denver.  Rain is usually a very good thing here since we get so little of it and most people welcome it as reprieve from the hot dry days of summer.
I celebrated Saturday and treated the day like a “snow day” in essence a free day where ordinary plans and responsibilities are renounced. Whatever I choose to do, I always feel like I’m getting away with something, not quite cheating but definitely being naughty.
This is pretty funny since my guilty pleasures are not much more than reading, working puzzles, watching movies and blog crawling.
I haven’t been blog crawling in a long time. In fact I haven’t been on the computer much these past weeks. Isn’t that obvious with so few posts? Anyway, I’ve missed visiting my favorite sites and friends and cruising around the web.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Speaking of crazy: Car Cents vs Car Sense

So my care and commitment to the aged and aging has expanded to the inanimate. Why? Because I just spent a couple of grand on an old car, an amount almost equal to it's Kelly Blue Book value. Now who is showing signs of poor judgment and confusion? You think dementia is contagious?

Let me try to be clear. This car is not and never will be a collectors item. It is not a special edition or a first year model. The only thing remarkable about it is that it has been a very reliable, yet fun vehicle to drive. I purchased it 8 years ago and now at 13 years old with just under 90,000 miles on it, it is in excellent condition showing little road wear. (If only it's owner could make the same boast.)

For everything that it is, a 1993 Audi 90 CS 5 speed, 6 cylinder 172 HP engine; it is not a convertible which I have been coveting for some time now. The problem is I have not found the "right" convertible. I want a manual transmission, not a "multitronic", "Steptronic" or any hybrid automatic and I need a back seat, not for people but for cargo. My bass viol cannot fit into any convertible's trunk.

I drove the new Mustang V8 a couple of months ago, smitten by it's good looks and power but disappointed in it's fit and finish, not to mention the sway of the back end when taking curves (too?) fast. I'm spoiled. My 13 year old Audi has less rattles and squeaks and a considerably more luxurious interior than a brand new Ford. Granted the Mustang GT has quicker acceleration, an impressive 5.2 second 0 -60 mph and a 300 HP 4.6 liter engine (even the 6 cylinder, 4.o liter engine delivers 210 HP). But Mustangs have always been "straight away cars", never built to take the curves so to speak and I like curves especially when traffic and road conditions allow me to really accelerate into them.

I have also considered the BMW 3 Series, specifically the 330 Ci. The size and weight is darn near identical to my car but being a convertible, it has less cargo space. It offers a few more horses 225 reportedly, and remains a rear wheel drive vehicle which always brings up the question of whether it is better to be pushed around the curves or pulled. All my car friends seem to be divided regarding this inquiry. Irregardless, even a used 330 is a substantial investment and makes my recent repair bill look very modest. At around 30,000 dollars, I cannot accept that it would be significantly better than the car I am currently driving.

So there you have it, the real reason why I am driving what some may almost consider a "beater". Long live the Beaters! I think I will splurge and get it completely detailed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I brought my friend home from the hospital today. It was a beautiful warm sunny day. But I doubt if she noticed. I cleaned out her refrigerator, restocked her pantry and had her prescriptions filled. She takes an antidepressant, an antipsychotic, 2 drugs to "improve her memory" (for her just recently diagnosed Alzheimer's disease) and a blood thinner. I am in excellent health but just thinking of this cornucopia of medications and plethora of possible side effects sours my stomach not to mention my disposition. Of course the symptoms of advanced Alzheimer's is hardly cheering. So I want to believe some of the literature published that these drugs "have helped millions" and that my friend will be one of them.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back in May

Tsk. Tsk. Not one post made in April, not even an unfinished draft. I should be ashamed of myself. Too bad I'm not. Still, I have a great amount of respect and appreciation for those who do manage to post with dogged regularity. Often they provide the fuel for my procrastination because it has been my experience that if I wait long enough on a certain topic, I will find an article somewhere that expresses my views and often it is better written than anything I produce.

When I began blogging a bit over a year ago, the numbers of bloggers were estimated between 8 & 9 million. I wonder by how much that number has increased?

Of course there are those who have quit blogging altogether (and perhaps I have even been considered as one at times) or left on "hiatus" for an undetermined amount of time. It seems I've known a lot of those and if their websites are still up and open to comments, I find myself typing "where are you?" or "I miss hearing from you" and visiting old posts with a sense of loss and melancholy. It is pathetic I know, like ANY of these cyber folks are duty bound to enlighten me...

Worse yet are the ones that are on line one day and the next a message states "the requested URL was not found on this server", no address change or link to be redirected. Everything said or posted prior has suddenly disappeared as if it never existed in the first place. So what happened? Does the host remove the URL if there has been no activity for a while?
You may have noticed, I have several "dead links". It's as if I can't quite admit they are gone and maybe one day as suddenly as they left they may reappear.

Well, I'm off to practice, string quartets in Longmont and then to the Psyche Ward at Humana. No, I'm not checking in, only visiting a friend. More about that later.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Graphene, a new form of graphite

Who would have guessed that graphite, you know the stuff that pencil leads and lubricants are made from, would challenge the fundamental laws of physics? Actually it is the newly discovered form of graphite called graphene that has scientists and engineers a buzz. No, I'm not talking about other forms of carbon called buckyballs and buckytubes which in essence are zero and one dimensional forms of graphite. I'm referring to graphene, the two dimensional counterpart of these. It turns out, that graphene is an amazingly good conductor of electricity. Electrons travel through it so fast that their behavior is governed by the theory of relativity rather than classical physics. Combine that with how it fails to react with gases and moisture present in the air at room temperature and you get smart people thinking about connections inside computer chips, chips smaller and faster than anything yet seen. Yes! This means real, viable commercial applications!
But that isn't all. Graphene exhibits effects that were previously thought to occur only in plasma around neutron stars. These effects can now be studied in desk top experiments. But the intrigue continues; graphene contains quasi particles and a unique type known as massive chiral fermions. Particle physics predicts that any particle that has chirality cannot have mass. So a massive chiral fermion is a (massive) contradiction.
This is the stuff that rocks the physics world and you don't have to be a scientist to appreciate the implications especially in the computing world. So why have I only read about this (and borrowed heavily from) in a small article in The Economist, called Smooth operator in the March 18th-24th 2006 edition?
For further reference and some amusing commentary visit Jennifer Quellette's blog Cocktail Party Dreams .

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Norma's Post: Gay Adoption

Norma, an erudite experienced blogger (and enthusiastic supporter of new and would be bloggers) at Collecting my Thoughts has an interesting post on Gay Adoption. Better yet is her response to a long winded presumptuous commenter who behind a thin veil of civility reveals their contempt for Norma's well founded skepticism of "experts" and their sometimes astonishing declarations.

As informative and entertaining as some posts may be, I often find the comments and corresponding responses even more enlightening and provocative. Clearly, Norma hit a nerve evoking Spicey Cauldron's comment and resulting diatribe.

During my relatively short time blogging (nearly 14 mos). and the approximately 6 mos. previously spent reading blogs, I have noticed a commonality in comments regardless of the writer's politics and preferences. No matter how reasonable and rational a discussion may begin, it often deteriorates into name calling, with references made to others as moonbats, fascists, bigots, nutwings and at the very least as ignorant. As fitting (and sometimes amusing) as these names may be, it usually indicates the end of well thought out if not intelligent dialogue.

So when did the art of debate end and thoughtful discussion turn into personal accusation?

For the record, I am highly distrustful of "experts" particularly those in the social sciences where there are so many variables. As important as education and experience is (aka credentials), personal bias and myopia exists even in the supposedly objective scientific community. But whatever the "experts"are espousing at this moment in time, I do not oppose gay couples adopting children.

First of all my impression is that the adoption process is long and somewhat arduous. I believe you have to really want these children and you must plan for them. This is based on knowing friends who have adopted children from Russia, Korea and Romania to name just a few. Most of these folks were not "rich" by American standards but all of them were resourceful ( intelligent and presevering). Although this does not guarantee good parenting, it indicates in my mind a very promising beginning.

Regarding my gay friends who have adopted, frankly, I am unaware of all the details but I cannot imagine it was quick or easy . Irregardless, their children seem happy, healthy and secure unable to be distinguished from most other children. They know they are loved, protected, nurtured and appreciated. Sadly, this is more than many other children ever receive even in conventional families.

Monday, March 20, 2006

President Bush in Cleveland

Nice speech President Bush.

Normally I wouldn't have listened to it all, especially the questions and answers that follow. But it is a "snow day" in Denver and my regular routine has been disrupted.

The City Club in Cleveland provided a friendly forum and Mr. Bush demonstrated a comfort and ease, I rarely see. Everything he said seemed very reasonable and I found myself agreeing with him on many things.

He believes in Democracy and the virtures and rewards of self government. He takes the actions and threats of terrorism very seriously and remains stalwartly opposed to the values demonstrated by suicide bombers, and all those who murder, maim ,and threaten innocent civilians (especially children) in the name of religion and salvation.

It will be interesting to hear and read the media's spin.

I see my liberal friends rolling their eyes, if not laughing at my naivete. The "Evil Bush" may not have been exposed but that doesn't mean he has been exorcised.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Music Musings

March is Play the Recorder month and I have been performing with friends and colleagues all along the Front Range. It is the 13th year The American Recorder Society has encouraged its members to play in public forums and show the recorders full musical range and versatility. Over the years we've played at schools, churches, libraries , museums, and coffee shops, almost anyplace that will have us.

Sunday, I participated in a Recorder Faire at Tamarac Square, a small shopping mall in south Denver. There were singers, and players and kids of all ages, big groups, small groups, mixed consorts and even a crumhorn band. I was part of a quartet, with a 15 minute program. We played pieces by Palestrina, Guami, Praetorius, Soderini and Bach, all of it wonderfully pleasing, especially if you like Renaissance and Baroque music.

The previous night, I played with The Colorado Recorder Orchestra. It is a group of 20 musicians, mostly amateurs, but we have some teachers and music majors. Despite the name, I play the recorder (bass) for only one piece. Mostly I play the viola da gamba and I'm the only gambist but there is a lady who plays the sackbut occasionally.

We've only given 3 concerts since my participation but each performance has been well received. In fact, our little group has been invited to tour Japan this November. I was excited and flattered but I also had major reservations. The thought of hauling around a bass viol (the size of a cello) in a small congested, busy country (as well as my personal luggage) has no appeal. I'm not talking rock star or diva status here. I won't have sherpas or handlers. But, I am willing to try so I've decided to go. Rehearsals begin in April.

Besides, the orchestra and my recorder quartet, I play in a viols group once a week and another strings group once a month. A beautiful, small harpsichord that a friend and fellow musician leaves at my house provides lovely basso continuo for trio sonatas. Include my bass viol, a couple of recorders, flutes or violins, and we can make heavenly music (not that we always achieve that lofty goal).

I am anxiously waiting for the completion of a bass viol I commissioned over 2 years ago. The process has taken too long and my excitement and anticipation has been overtaken by frustration and disappointment. I feel I have been penalized for being a reasonable person, that my patience and kindness has been unduly tested. I'm hoping my increasing resentment will not influence my overall appraisal and acceptance of the instrument when it finally arrives. The maker has assured me that I am not obligated to accept the instrument unless I am 100% satisfied. Of course he also estimated a delivery date of 1 year, hmmm over 2 years ago.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Old News

Investors.Com writes Saddam had WMD .
Interesting commentary from a primarily financial publication.

Different coverage of the "impending" civil war in Iraq

Thanks to Dr. Sanity who provided this link showing not all is what is seems (especially if you rely on "major" news sources).

Gateway Pundit: Unity Protests Break Out in Basra, Mosul, Hillah, Al Kut, Karbala...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Some craziness explained

Maybe there is a reason why so many people are crazy; parasites called Toxoplasma gondii infecting half the world's population could be responsible.

Oxford scientists have discovered this parasite alters the brain (and behavior) of infected rats and links have been observed between Toxoplasma and schizophrenia in humans.

"Toxoplasma infection is associated with damage to astrocytes, glial cells which surround and support neurons.

Schizophrenia is also associated with damage to astrocytes.

Human cells raised in petri dishes, and infected with Toxoplasma, will respond to drugs like haloperidol; the growth of the parasite stops.

Haloperidol is an antipsychotic, used to treat schizophrenia. "

Really. You can read more about this here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Regarding Mr. Cheney's unfortunate hunting accident, Tony Blankley sums it up nicely at realclearpolitics.

I was especially fond of this paragraph referring to his take on current reporting practices:

" Instead, as the shooting party incident exemplified, we have in the White House at the most elite level of American journalism, self-absorbed, self-important men and women who stand on their prerogatives even over marginal and inconsequential matters. "

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More income redistribution

553.9 million dollars in damage (200 million as punitive) was awarded to plaintiffs living downwind of the now defunct Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant. Rockwell and Dow companies were the defendants but since they were working for the Federal Energy Dept, it will be the taxpayers who actually pay the bill. Congratulations plaintiffs who have spent 16 years in litigation so that every American must pay for your hardship including an additional 58 million dollars in legal fees.
The reason? Reduced property values and the PROBABILITY of higher health risks. Not much was mentioned about the plants expenditure of 7 billion dollars towards cleanup.
Isn't America great?
More information is available from The Denver Post here.

Good news for Colorado

So life is pretty good back in Denver. The weather is unseasonably warm and it has been very dry in the city. However the mountains have received record breaking snow. The skiing is great. The resorts are booming and the dry front range can safely expect enough water (from snowmelt) come summer. State unemployment is below the national average at 4.6% and jobs expanded by 46,000 from Dec. 2004 to Dec. 2005. According to a survey from Robert Half, the Mountain States are the hottest tech markets in the United States. Even though I read The Dow broke 11,000 today, you would be hard pressed to find much positive economic news in the press. I relied on a paper called Colorado Labor Force Developments for December 2005 here    

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Not quite back from vacation

It's only February and I am already feeling behind in correspondence, reading, blogging. Unbelievable.

I'm in the middle of a lot of books, apparently too unfocused to finish any of them and it seems like I have multiple works in progress. I usually do finish things but I don't always believe it is imperative. So I don't know why I feel the way I do.

Maybe my trip to Maui has something to do with this. I think the island has a unique rhythm, an ebb and flow very different from the mainland. Perhaps it is the lack of distinguishable seasons and the relatively small change in annual temperatures. Maybe it's the easy manner of those who live there. But time definitely moves differently there.

I'm wondering if all fair weather places feel the same and I'm recalling past trips to Kenya and Aruba, Cancun and Hawaii. Is it the place and people or really just an attitude shared by people "on vacation" that is more relaxed, spontaneous and open?

It's been a week since I've returned and I'm just now starting to decompress.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

South Shore Maui

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Last day in Maui

I'm back in a coffee shop on Maui, sending emails and checking my blog. This is our last day on the island and I'm already a bit remorseful.

My sister and I have spent a lot of time walking along the spectacular beaches and driving around the island. We never managed to get organized for the bicycle ride down into the volcano, or a boat trip to see the whales frolic. But we did take a helicopter ride that encompassed the entire island. Since so many areas on the island have little or no access, we found it fun and educational.

Even though the big island Hawaii and Oahu has had a lot of rain. It has been warm (80's F) and dry in Kihei. The incessant tradewinds keep it pleasant.

I bought 2 books on Hawaiian history, a background on the general settlement and development of the islands and a history of the rise and fall of the local sugar plantations, both written by local authors. I'm looking forward to reading both in the next few days.

There are so many interesting and wonderful places to visit, I don't know if I will ever return, but it has been a very enjoyable and relaxing trip. We have had the good fortune of speaking with many local folks (as well as many fellow travelers) and have found everyone to be in good humor.

My guess is the fine weather and gentle dispositions of most the people who live here directly impacts the nature of ones goals and ambitions and it's easy to understand how a year could easily morph into 20.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Kihei sunset

Beach at Kihei

Friday, January 13, 2006

California Dreaming

I'm sitting in a Borders bookstore in Sand City (between Monterey and Castroville, Calif.) checking email. My sister and I have been visiting family and will be leaving for Maui Monday.
So far the trip has been great. We met at the San Francisco Airport Weds. (1-11), rented a car and drove to Castroville. We had dinner at a wonderful Basque restaurant in San Juan Bautista and got into Castroville around 7:30pm.
We have been "catching up" with family and friends and are delighted with how well things are going with everyone.
I hope to post pictures and more later.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Media misinfo update

Today as the mainstream media scrambles to explain and justify the false information widely publicized yesterday, it is of course all the coal company's fault. The Mine Rescue Command Center (obviously company stooges) misunderstood the rescue teams messages (brave people but only in it for the money and glory).

In other words, it wasn't the media's fault. Their sources were wrong. I have yet to hear or read one apology from the folks who propagated the incorrect story.

What a wonderful profession "journalism" has become, report what you wish, when you wish, regardless of the consequences and then deny any responsibilitity, because afterall your "sources" were wrong.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More MSM Misrepresentation

"The mine's owner...did not immediately confirm that the 12 other men were alive." Immediately confirm? How about never confirmed? So Allen G. Breed from the Associated Press got the story wrong and almost every paper in the country printed it. " Miracles happen", They're alive" were some of the headlines in Denver.

I wanted to believe the miner's were alive and I wanted to believe the source. Afterall the same story was everywhere, television, radio and print. I guess everyone wanted to believe it but that didn't make it true.

The whole thing is so sad. I'm sorry for the fallen workers and for all their families and friends. I'm sorry for the elevated expectations and the dashed hopes. And I'm sorry for the inevitable blame game that will surely follow.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Was 2005 a good year for you? Do you hold high hopes for 2006?

Regardless of the events of the past year, I am usually hopeful that the coming year will bring good things. No matter what my future plans and commitments may be, a new calendar and all its blank uncluttered days presents to me an array of possibilities and promises, where even the unimaginable can happen. This is, of course, short lived. The hours and the days fill up with the mandatory and mundane, appointments, errands and various obligations.

The allure of what could be is eclipsed by the reality of what is. I think a lot of people are cheered and comforted by things written down on calendars, or at least what it represents; that is knowing where they will be and what they will be doing as well as when they will be doing it.

I realize that without any plans no one could accomplish much and I wonder if I planned more and made more commitments that I might actually accomplish more. On the other hand, I like the idea of allowing and accomodating various possibilities, a little like expecting the unexpected.

So whether you prefer a year jammed pack with activities and events or something less calculated and determined, I hope 2006 brings you all much health and happiness, chock full of promise and possibilities.
I'm beginning to think it may for me.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day; their old familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet the word repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Media Myths

Finally an article confirming what I have been thinking for months...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

One step forward, Two steps back

I was playing around with templates the other day and lost all my links, including my comments and all my "add-ons". Reconstructing everything has been frustrating and time consuming. The foolish thing is, from all my efforts, I have barely achieved what I had before, not that that was ever exceptional. You might think that this was a perfect opportunity to "start over", a chance to significantly change and improve the original. But oh no. I want what I had only better. Now how many times has that been muttered I wonder. Anyway, I have made significant progress.

The only thing I have failed to retrieve is the code for TTLB ecosystem. Apparently I still exist within their system but I can't get my rankings to appear on my site. Not that I should care, since they have slipped from a (once almost stellar ) Slithering Reptile to the banal but justifiable classification of Multicellular Microorganism. Despite this giddy rise and fall in The Truth Laid Bears traffic tracking universe, I am still captivated by their designations and even wrote a post about being an Insignificant Microbe. Regardless of my own ranking, I find all the classifications to be amusing and surprisingly appropriate.

My posts have been erratic and mostly esoteric. A kind reader once commented on my "eclectic mix ." Hmmm. I don't think he has ever been back. Of course if I was really interested in increasing my readership I could post more often, mention Brittany Spears occasionally and even sex it up a bit. But that is highly unlikely.

Meanwhile, I will attempt to control my slippery fingers, learn more about html, use my time more constructively and hopefully become a better blogger.

Did I mention I spent 2 days connecting another laptop to my home network? It is now fully operational. But my more reasonable, dare I say, rational friends paid 80 dollars to have comparable work done in less than an hour. It's a good thing I don't make my living doing this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pastel pleasure

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

No news can be good news

While visiting family and friends, I excused myself from most of the news. I did not watch television except for the weather reports and I did not read the newspapers or surf the net. I can't say I'm any worse for it. But I did miss my favorite bloggers who are thankfully more diligent in their posting than I am and whose fecundity I continue to admire.

Thanksgiving was fun. I generally enjoy being with my family even if we don’t see each other very often and rarely agree on anything. We are a diverse but interesting group and mostly forgiving of each others transgressions.

In addition to the usual holiday festivities of eating well and playing cards, I celebrated my 49th birthday. I vacillate between feelings of disbelief and marvel.
Birthdays have never been a big deal for me, so I’m surprised by my feelings of both shock and awe.

The niners have always been interesting. Apparently, I have always looked older than my years and/or demonstrated a compelling need to deceive because I have been asked on several occasions just how many times have I turned 29, 39 or 49? I laugh and insist this is the first and last time, like no one can believe anyone could actually be that age?

Anyway, I have a new digital camera which means I can finally update my photo and post more pictures.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Wow! Things have gotten away from me (again?). I'm headed back to Mich. and Ill. to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends. I'll be away for 8 days but I am hoping to find some time post.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I am excited to spend it with people I don't see very much.
It doesn't matter who you are, what you believe or where you are in your life, everyone has some reason to be grateful. Certainly I am no exception.
Wikipedia has a good article about the holiday. I had forgotten President Lincoln made it a national holiday and the speech he gave is included. I was totally unfamiliar with the text but found it especially moving and powerful since he gave it in the midst of the Civil War (with his popularity at an all time low).
It seems I take a lot for granted these days. But I'm hoping to change that this year. When I return from my trip I will be a whole year older (and oh so much wiser). That by itself is worth some gratefulness.
I hope you all can think of something to be thankful for and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Blogger Blips

Anyone else experiencing problems with Blogger? My posts are being published in my index but not my front page! I have tried editing and republishing to no avail. I'm using this post not only as a plea for help, but as a test and an excuse to whine.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Trolley off the tracks...

Usually, I like to read Peggy Noonan's work. She writes with an uncommonly quiet, calm voice and regardless of what she says, I often look forward to her reserved perspective.
However I think she was having a bad day when she wrote the article A Separate Peace and said

"...I believe there's a general and amorphous sense that things are broken and tough history is coming." and "...I have wondered if it hasn't all gotten too big, too complicated, too crucial, too many-fronted, too . . . impossible. "
She fears " That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon."

She was referring to the American political climate and I wonder how many times similar sentiments have been expressed. I think about the people I've known who pine away for the “good old days”, strangely never quite as good to me as what they seem to remember them to be. I think of all the folks that resist and fear change for whatever ends.

Does every generation having reached their pinnacle of power, usually middle aged and older, express concern, worry, dismay or alarm by the future they perceive? Is there an age where the comfort of the past no matter how dire trumps the uncertainities of the future? So are these concerns more reflective of a time in life than a true sense of the times?

The world has changed dramatically in the last 50 years not to mention the last 100 years. But are these times really any more uncertain or dangerous and out of control than the many generations prior? I doubt it.

Perhaps Ms. Noonan has been reading and listening to too many of her colleagues, the doomsayers in the popular press, the alarmists who prey on peoples fears and manipulate with perceptions rather than facts.

I'm tired of the the sensationalists and I'm not surprised by their decreasing readership and viewers. I resent their lack of responsibility especially regarding their own roles. They have sadly become the news instead of reporting it.

Maybe, the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley is off the track but it's not just about the politics and practices, the system and the strategies, it's more about how it's all reported and who and what do we believe. Frankly I'm looking forward to some changes. Meanwhile thank god for bloggers.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Early Music Diversion

Last Saturday I attended a recorder workshop and concert with Eva Legene. Eva is a recorder virtuosa and professor of music at Indiana University. The event was sponsored by The Boulder Chapter ARS and Early Music Colorado and was held at St. Ambrose Church in Boulder.
There had been some concern from the organizers that not enough Denver folks had signed up to attend the event but as it turned out, that didn't matter much. The house was filled so to speak and it was a gracious and comfortable venue.
Churches host a variety of musical productions in the area and I am always grateful for their generosity.

Ref. C & D : Increasing state spending and borrowing

When Colorado voters go to the polls Nov. 1, ( a week earlier than the rest of the country), they will be asked in Referendums C & D to repeal the spending restraints imposed by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights aka TaBOR passed in 1992. Advocates insist it is not a tax increase, that the money due to be rebated back to taxpayers in the next 5 years will only be suspended ( and therefore spent). The State will not collect more taxes , they simply will return less.

They claim state health care, public education, transportation and the police and fire workers pensions will be at risk if it doesn't pass. But they don't mention how the money will be spent or how the state's revenues increased 6% from last year and will continue to increase regardless of whether referendums C & D pass.

Did you get a 6% raise? Apparently this doesn't matter. Proponents have spent 4 times more than their opposition scaring the voters with unsubstantiated claims. Teachers, health care workers and public employee unions have been huge contributors. Even The Denver Post published an editorial advocating its support on its FRONT PAGE!

Personally, I believe editorials should be reserved for the Editorial Page. But I have been especially annoyed at the lack of facts discussed like what the present budget is opposed to the "projected" budget and the explanation/justification of the difference. Instead taxpayers are just expected to believe the politicians when they predict a budget "crisis".

Even though TaBOR was widely praised in the late 1990's for its effectiveness in controlling government growth and providing tax relief, it is now blamed for the current budget "crisis", not the national recession, especially impacting Colorado's tech sector, or a severe drought effecting agriculture and tourism, or a mis- guided educational spending mandate that forced government to spend more money than it collected, Amendment 23.

Based on the "big money" support for referendums C&D, I think they will pass but, sadly they will not solve the pending budget crisis. Government will always want more money regardless of the revenues collected . It will always claim some "crisis" and be unwilling or incapable of providing accurate cost/ benefit analysis.

What is really required is strong leadership. If individuals have to "bite the bullet" in hard economic times, so should government. TaBOR forced government to spend "within its means" and it's repeal will allow it to expand without accountability. This is the time to save for the future and not spend recklessly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Modern poetry in modern America

This post poetry-you-know-and-poetry-you-don't over at neo-neocon has got me thinking about modern poetry. She challenges readers to "recall a single line from a poem written in the last fifty years that has become commonly known".

Easy, I thought, as I dredged up various phrases from Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost, lines from many poems that I remembered but unfortunately were all written before 1955.

So then I thought of Rod Mckuen , not exactly a critics' darling and probably a better respected songwriter than poet but definitely well known to some (since over 45 million copies of his poetry books are in print). Even though I have never been a big fan and cannot recall a single poem of his, he is credited for the slogan Make Love Not War. But as "commonly known" as that has become, it doesn't qualify as a line from a poem.

I believe I know a lot of beautiful, provoking, amusing and inspiring modern poetry. However I cannot attest to any of them being "commonly known".
Just what does that mean any way?

Scholars and critics have always had a disdain for huge success'. Too much (and too sudden) popularity has been regarded as lowly, too common in it's appeal and somehow unworthy in elevated circles. According to many critics, the writer, poet, artist, (whomever) "sells out" when they attain commercial success, as if that is always the result of greed, corruption or the very least personal weakness.

David, a commenter at neo-neocon writes that the absence of memorable poetry (in the last 50 years) may be the result of an elitist "distribution channel", which I liken to the old game of "experts" telling everyone what they should or should not value and making available only what they regard as good. Although learning more about something may heighten my appreciation for it, I have never liked something because I was told I should.

Another commenter, HG Wells acknowledges "the lavish attractions of TV, film, popular song and the internet..." and Alex consults a friend who studied modern poetry in college and presently teaches high school. He says simply "People don't read poetry anymore". Yet another writer John Moulder says "A lot of things stopped in the 60's - art, resolve, confidence, faith innocence..."

Poetry has changed (as has American culture).
Most of what has been made available has been annointed by academia ( elitist by definition).
Many people do not read poetry.
It has a relatively quiet voice.

But this is only part of the story. Poetry has to be heard. When is the last time you heard it? Do we hear it on TV, the radio, cd's, streaming audio? Even though I have attended many poetry readings, I have yet to read one review . Have you?
As a result, most people get their "poetry" from music and movies. Afterall, that is what we hear.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"Youth is like spring, an over-praised season more remarkable
for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower
season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."
- Samuel Butler

I don't know about Autumn being the "mellower season" especially here in Denver where temperatures change so dramatically within only hours and I don't think anyone considers hurricane season as very mellow. But, I liked the "over praised" bit of of spring (and youth).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Indian Summer in Denver

The snow has completely melted in Denver. The sky is blue and the temperatures are mild. As Northeasterners are deluged with rain, we are experiencing Indian Summer. It almost makes me feel guilty.

The city and the neighborhood in which I reside was exceptionally lucky. The heavy wet snow was less damaging than in the past. But the southern and southeastern suburbs didn't fare as well. I have friends who lost 80% of their trees. The thunderous sounds of branches bending, breaking and crashing onto the ground is unforgettable and will continue to echo within their heads for some time I imagine.

To my knowledge, only one fatality was reported. A woman shoveling snow was killed instantly (mercifully) from a large 8" diameter fallen branch and 20,000 people were out of power. Things could and have been considerably worse.

Nevertheless, I have been consumed with cleaning up, my excuse for not blogging, and not an entirely unpleasant task during this beautiful time of year. Despite the snow and 40 degree change in temperature within 24 hours, broken branches and crushed folliage, some flowers have survived and the trees continue with their spectacular display of color change. I have a pin oak just outside the backdoor that is nearly radiant with crimson, chartreuse and ocher leaves, colors so intense, it almost appears unnatural.

I am constantly amazed at the ferocious destruction and devastation that the natural world imposes as well as its miraculous resilience and capacity for recovery. As horrible as the recent catastrophic events have been my respect, awe and appreciation for the powerful forces of nature has deepened.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Banned Book Week

I received an email today from one of my favorite book sources Alibris alerting me to banned books they have available. Thinking that this list was from the 1950's and earlier, I was surprised to learn how current some of these books and authors were, as well as how many I have read being totally unaware of their "banned or challenged" status.

In fact one of my favorite books The Martian Chronicles is on the list in addition to all of the Harry Potter series . I faintly remembered William Faulkners' novel As I Lay Dying and John Steinbecks' Of Mice and Men making the list and I was slightly amused by Stephen Kings' and Maya Angelous' "offensive" designation.
In the past, Lady Chatterleys' Lover and Catcher in the Rye were banned, which of course just made them that more delicious and desirable when I was growing up and I can still hear my mothers rants (expressing strong disapproval) over the seizure of James Joyces' Ulysses by the US Postal Authorities in 1918 and 1930.

So who decides whether a certain book or author is objectionable and how does a book become "banned" or more often "challenged"?

According to the American Librarian Association, parents challenge materials more often than any other group and the top 3 reasons in order are that the material is considered to be “sexually explicit” contains “offensive language,” and is “unsuited to the age group.”

Personally, I believe these are all legitimate concerns and I applaud parents who are actively engaged in the guidance and education of their children. However their opinions should not be imposed on me or my children. I get to decide what I (and my children) read, listen and watch, not someone else, regardless of their intentions.

No one is entirely immune to the seduction of suppression and censorship and commonly it is practiced for benevelent, humane reasons. From Banned Books on line, a number of democratic countries, including Austria, France, Germany, and Canada, have criminalized various forms of "hate speech", including books judged to disparage minority groups. In the 1980s, Ernst Zündel was convicted twice under Canada's "false news" laws for publishing Did Six Million Really Die?, a 1974 book denying the Holocaust. On appeal, the Canadian Supreme Court found the "false news" law unconstitutional in 1992, but Zündel was sucessfully prosecuted under Canada's "Human Rights Act" for publishing this book and other material on his Zundelsite.

I do not agree with the beliefs (and actions) of many people and I am often offended if not repulsed by them. But a law forbidding behavior that exposes a person to hatred or contempt seems highly subjective to me. If this was supported in America, wouldn't all the Bush critics , war protesters, anti- capitalists, and media mavens who make no attempts to hide their own hatred and contempt be prosecuted?

Most of the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the perponderance of sensationalism, editorializing and political posturing that ensued was contemptible in my opinion. But I will reserve those comments for another more appropriate time. So discovering that this week (Sept. 24 - Oct.1) was Banned Book Week seems especially serendiptious.

More erudite and accomplished people have said it more eloquently than I will ever manage, but the message is always the same. Free people read freely.

Keep in mind these words of Noam Chomsky ( probably the only opinion we share),
"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
Now if only he and his like minded colleagues acted as if they believed their own words...

So read a banned book. Visit a banned book website. Blog your approval and/or disapproval. Celebrate your own freedom of speech and expression. Don't let all the muckrakers have all the fun.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

contemplation Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Powerful solar flare erupts

When Katrina was dominating the news last week and most of the media was focused on victims and who and what was to blame, I missed this story.
"One of the largest solar flares on record was recorded by NOAA Space Center in Boulder, CO at 1:40pm EDT on Sept. 7. Forecasters are predicting significant solar disruptions over the next few days".
Now I wonder how this could be politicized? Do you think George Bush creates solar flares? Do you think Homeland Security fails in allowing them to occur? Do you think this is just another example of how the impoverished are further victimized and how uncaring, selfish and negligent the current administration is?
If you want to learn more about sunspots and solar flares (without the political spin and dead body counts) go here.