I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3


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you’re super ( intendent )

John Deasy , ( former )  Los Angeles Unified Schools Superintendent , just resigned . He was ” under some pressure ” , as they say .  He says he now might work in the field of youth detention , or perhaps support superintendents , or maybe run for political office .

A columnist for the local paper says that although Deasy was autocratic and unresponsive to his bosses and overreaching in his goals and implemented policies without input and combative with teachers , and that some of his policies became disasters , he was just what LA schools needed . He pushes reform , she said . Although the interim superintendent is , and will have to be , a peacemaker , the columnist  said , she hopes that another troublemaker is ” waiting in the wings “. Yikes !

I used to listen to that kind of thinking when I was teaching . Change is good ! the administrators told us . They meant , of course , any of their changes .  They didn’t mean your changes .

When Ada got a new director at her workplace , the woman told all of the employees to read ” Who Moved My Cheese ” , a silly little book that tries to say , I think , that change is good , that change will happen so learn to accept it .  (Again , the Director’s changes , of course , not the employees’ changes . )

Things change , of course , and some change is for the better , of course . And some change is stupid and makes things worse .

Some change is well intended but not well implemented . The LAUSD is an expert at this kind of stuff . Deasy meant to put an I-pad in every student’s hand . Funds intended for school construction and maintenance were used to buy I-pads . From the start things ” went sideways ” , as they say . The school Board put language into Deasy’s  buyout paperwork to the effect that the Board didn’t think that he did anything illegal when buying the I-pads and software . A couple of the Board members  said that the ongoing investigation , however , would tell the tale in the end .

Meanwhile , at Jefferson High , the computer system that the school district bought for how many millions of dollars to program students  doesn’t work . The administration , subsequently , couldn’t figure out how to programs students into appropriate classes . Week after week they couldn’t do it . Students sat around waiting . The courts got involved and a judge ordered LAUSD to fix the problem immediately . Deasy cheered the judge’s ruling . Deasy , the Superintendent , was in charge , so shouldn’t he have fixed the problem  ? Instead , he went to Korea to visit Korean schools . He wanted one last trip on the taxpayers’ dime , I guess , before putting in his resignation .

Maybe Deasy was a great superintendent . It’s easy to criticize a guy trying his best . The fact that the teachers’ union president says that teacher morale is the lowest in years due to Deasy may be irrelevant . Maybe a guy who jumps in with both feet and stomps on those reform-resistant folks is just what is needed . I don’t think so , but I’m not always right .

Deasy says he might run for political office .  I have to roll that one around in my skull for awhile .  He thinks , maybe , that he’s just now getting out of a political office and so he’s got experience . But he should consider the fact that wasn’t elected . Supervising superintendents ? He should think that one over , too .  Maybe the youth detention plan would be best for him . At least he’d have a captive audience .Moving-from-Chicago-to-Los-Angeles-California-Move-to-Los-Angeles-California-IL-CA



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no doubt

I play  pool every Thursday.  I’ve lost track of the number of years that I’ve been playing pool every Thursday .

I got a call yesterday from one of the pool guys , another Dan . He’s attending a lecture this Thursday at a canyon place called Nature Friends. He was discussing the event with another one of the pool guys , Bill . Bill will attend the lecture , too . And Willie ? Well , they’ll ask Willie . I was apologized to first , and then invited to the lecture . The invitation was a consolation prize , because only the four of us play ( every Thursday ) and now the game is off .

The lecture topic is : Are We In A Drought ?  Two and a half hours of Are We In A Drought ? Refreshments will be served .

I declined . Well , I asked that my pool buddies give me a report after the lecture . Are we in a drought ? Please ,  no synopsis . Just give me a yes or a no answer . I’ll be satisfied with that . I’ll save some time that way .

I know the answer already . We all know the answer . No mystery . Maybe my pool buddies will get some stats to convince unbelievers that California is in a drought . Maybe the evening will break down into a guilt trip session with suggestions how to save water . That might  be informative , but a disappointment I would think .   Maybe they’ll talk about the disgrace of watering lawns instead of planting native grasses . Worst scenario: A salesman from an artificial lawn company shows up to speak about the advantages of fake grass . He’ll have samples .old car in desert

I was a teacher . I should admire education . I should admire the fact that a couple of my pool group buddies  want to learn whether or not we’re in a drought . I should .

But , unfortunately , I suspect that I’m a reformed educator in the same way some people are reformed smokers , or reformed drinkers . I’m glad I got out when I did ; glad I’m out of it ; don’t want to be involved in no more education if I can avoid it . I’m not education-free , but I’m working on it . It will be a lifelong struggle , I know , to avoid education . But I’m working on it .

I’m not putting my friends down for attending the lecture at Nature Friends . I will say , nevertheless , that there is a value to tradition , too , to  consistency and steadfastidy  . Pool should be played every Thursday ,  lecture or no lecture . There are , after all , priorities in life .

I got an invitation, too ,  a couple of days ago to an important  lecture . Something about how to make a fortune at real estate and  put no money down . A real estate agent invited me . Or was it a lawyer ? It’s a beautiful printed invitation and the agent, or the lawyer ,  seems to really want me to attend . I’ll be sorry if I miss it , she says .

I didn’t check whether or not the real estate lecture , my key to future success ,  will be held on a Thursday or not .  If I had any intention of considering going , the first thing I’d do is check whether or not it’s on  a Thursday . If it’s a Thursday , then no way . I might make millions as a result of the lecture , but , on the other hand , I’d miss pool night . Couldn’t do that . There are , after all , priorities in life .las tunas drive,arcadia 1930
Besides ,  I’m trying to avoid learning anything new . If I don’t know whatever it is  by now , I guess that I haven’t been paying attention .  How about that ?  How does that grab you ? I’ll consider all of my opinions and prejudices as facts . When I listen to others parrot what I already believe , I’ll consider that to be an education about whatever it is . That way I’ll fit right in to  modern America .airlplane wing stars






















all this


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World’s largest single-masted yacht in San Diego!

Originally posted on Cool San Diego Sights!:

Mirabella V is the largest single-masted yacht in the world! It's gigantic!

Mirabella V is the largest single-masted yacht in the world! It’s gigantic!

I had to blink my eyes a couple times during my walk today. I was behind the San Diego Convention Center, where lots of visiting super yachts are docked, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!

That huge ship in front of me looked like the largest sailboat on planet Earth!

As it turned out, my first impression wasn’t far from the truth!

A little searching on the internet proved that I had spotted the Mirabella V, a sloop-rigged super yacht launched in 2003. Registered in the Isle of Man, it’s the largest single-masted yacht ever built! It’s 290 feet high! That’s almost the height of a 30-story skyscraper! It’s so tall, it won’t fit under any bridge accessible from the ocean! Not even the Golden Gate Bridge!

It’s hard to appreciate the mind-boggling immensity of this…

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dick turpin

ENGLAND sept 2014 240Dick Turpin was a highwayman . ( note: not a member of The Highwaymen )

Highwaymen , somehow , sometimes , become heroes of a sort in popular myth .

Robinhood ? What about Robinhood ? Was Robinhood a highwayman ?  He’s got an airport in England named after him .  Robbed from the rich ………………….ENGLAND sept 2014 275I wrote some time ago about the California highwayman known as Black Bart .  They say Black Bart never loaded the weapon he used to rob people .

ENGLAND sept 2014 241

Heaven forbid you should leave dog poop on the grounds of the burial ground  ! I’ll go out on a limb here and say that no popular myth heroism will go to dog poop leavers . Some things go way beyond tolerance .  People get worked up these days about those who leave dog poop around town . Let’s discuss that subject another time .

From what I’ve read , Dick Turpin was a petty thief from an early age . He was involved with a gang of robbers and deer poachers . He was not above a little torture such as putting people on hot coals in order to get them to tell where their money was hidden so that he could steal it . He evidently killed a man named Morris , at one point , and later he got into horse stealing . Horse stealing was a capital offense in England ( maybe I should say “offence” ) and Dick Turpin  found this out the hard way . What do they say in old westerns ? ……they had a necktie party .

He had been living in Yorkshire , having relocated from the London area , and was living under an alias , John Palmer . Despite the fake name , Dick Turpin seemed to have been unable to mask his suspiciously disreputable character . Neighbors mentioned him to the authorities , who were curious as to his source of income . He was found with horses that had been stolen from other people .


ENGLAND sept 2014 238

Dick Turpin was hanged in 1739 .  Crime does not pay . Crime does not pay ? Well , that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms best left for another time , too .

Ada and I flew from Poznan, Poland , to Robin Hood Airport in Dorcaster /Sheffield . We took a train north and one day visited York . Someone walking on the street asked us directions , where was the school ? , as if we knew . ” There’s the churchyard , ” he said , ” but where’s the school ? Well , it’s been fifty years since I’ve been here . ”  He had been, he informed us ,  a student there . The school had probably been gone for decades I think  , replaced by blocks of flats .

He , the old schoolboy ,  mentioned Dick Turpin’s grave to us .  The stone marker was one of his childhood memories . Dick Turpin . Dick Turpin the highwayman . The school was gone but Dick Turpin was still there . Dick Turpin poster


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I will offer an update on my post that pondered the fate of my garden plants during the long hot summer while I was away .

Everything did well , was well cared for , and survived , except the fig tree that my neighbor Don gave me a few months back .

Even the little Asian apple tree in the piggy barn survived , fruitless but feisty . Plants in yard sept 2014 001

Plants in yard sept 2014 003

Plants in yard sept 2014 006

Plants in yard sept 2014 015

Plants in yard sept 2014 008(The last photo is the Asian apple .)


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8 Simple Rules at the Bar

Originally posted on No Facilities:

clip_image002When I am traveling alone, I normally look for a restaurant where I can eat at the bar. Sitting, eating and drinking at a bar isn’t rocket-science, but there are certain expectations and a person who disregards one of these, stands out very quickly. I added one to my list last night and I realized that I have 8. Since this is the second time I’m posting a list of 8-Things, I should give credit to John Mancini for the concept; thanks John!

Respect what you don’t appreciate – I think the first time I started taking note of these violations was in Boston, while eating dinner at Jacob Wirth’s. I like Sam Adams, and Jacob Wirth’s has a variety of Sam brews along with about 40 other great beers on tap. While I was sitting at the bar, this guy and his girlfriend squeeze in next to…

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plans B

I follow a thought-provoking blog called No Facilities . I was provoked again today.  The suggestion was made that a person’s life is defined by what happens when the need for a plan B arises . Well , I don’t know about defining of people’s lives . I know about plan B .

When I’m driving , for example , I try to always have a plan B ready . I try to remain aware of options if everything suddenly goes wrong . I think part of that approach comes from the old days of driving less-than-reliable old clunkers. Something could go wrong at any time : flat tires , broken transmission linkage ( oh ,  yeah ! ) , overheating , dead battery , sudden loss of power steering ( yeah , that , too !) , etc.  And those , of course , are just a partial list of possible problems with my vehicle . Multiply that by the number of other vehicles on the road . Then add the potential for balls rolling into the street followed closely by running  children , bicyclists suddenly veering into traffic lanes , loose boulders rolling onto the road , dogs , cats , coyotes, deer , etc. wandering onto the pavement .   Well , you get the idea . Be ready .

I always have a plan B ready while driving . If a truck suddenly swerves into my lane I know where I can pull my car , left or right , to escape . I try to stay aware of soft shoulders , blind curves , the vehicle behind me  , etc. I calculate whether or not that driver behind me is likely to respond safely in an emergency . I do , really .

There was an incident in Mexico , once , when I was driving my friend’s pickup on a rural road full of eighteen-wheelers . Someone coming toward me decided to pass the truck in front of him . Trouble was the line of eighteen-wheelers closed ranks and there was no place for this guy to go ; not ahead of the truck in front of him and not behind . We were speeding toward one another, this dangerous  driver and I ,  head on , at about seventy mph . He was trapped  in my lane ; and apparently he had  no plan B .mexicans tampico

I’m not going to tell you what happened . I’ll let you wonder . Did they all die ? Maybe Dan had an escape plan . I can tell you that my friend , the owner of the pickup truck I was driving , he who was sitting next to me , I’m quite certain saw his entire life flash before his eyes during those  seconds of terror .

When travelling , I try to have a plan B . Things go wrong .  Often the plan B is devised on the spot . When the Mount Wilson Observatory road was closed , for example , after we spent the last hour climbing the mountain to get there , we needed another  plan .  We could just sit there in the car ( yes , we were climbing in a car ) and cry .That could have been the plan B , to cry .  But I decided that we should go further up Angeles Crest Highway to a picnic area and have a picnic .

Unfortunately , there were two problems with that plan . First , the wind was whipping furious and cold up there , colder than we’d expected . Second , our daughter-in-law in the back seat was carsick , and the thought of going further up the mountain nauseated her .

Sometimes you will need a plan C .  I don’t even want to speculate how a person’s life might be defined by their readiness to implement plans C .

I think , sometimes  , that my entire life is a plan B .  I’m not a plan  A personality . If I were , I would have a fancier house , a classier car . I’d wear designer suits , perhaps ,  and I’d be tweeting my every thought and action . Actually , my valet would be doing my  tweeting , and tens  of thousands of people around the world would be following my every tweet . Or something .  As it is , I don’t even know how Twitter works . I wouldn’t know a tweet if one knocked on my front door and introduced itself . ” I’ve been in the neighborhood for years ! ” it would say , and I’d just stare .

If I were a Plan A personality , I would’ve fixed on a career path early on and ambitiously climbed high up the career ladder, married the right girl the first time , had the right number of children , that sort of thing . Plan A could’ve been a sweet ride , I guess .

I’m not one to suffer from depression . But , if I were , I’d be depressed that so much has passed me by in my life , so many missed opportunities , so many plan A achievements that might have been . On the other hand , everybody must face the failure of their plans A either sometimes or often . Right ? Maybe a life is indeed  defined by a person’s responses when a plan B is needed  .art man statue

Maybe some people are able , either intentionally or unintentionally , to make a plan B look like a plan A . (  The theme of this post , even , seems to have taken that route  .)    In that case I won’t be depressed. .


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