Sunday, February 25, 2007

A WineTime..

The glass of wine pictured here is what it is, but it is also like a lifetime.

When you pick it up to take the first sip, the hope is that it will wash across your palate, leaving you with a perfectly pleasant experience, perhaps a warm glow. Take a few more sips just to savour the feeling.

So the glass is back on the table, and maybe only half of it still remains. Your heart and soul will know only the feeling, but your eyes will tell you that not all is well. The sudden awareness of the state 'only half left' is so finite.

Now is not the time to think about that because, when next you pick up the glass, the very last thing that you will want to do is to cry into it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

They Walk Among Us..

I walked into a Mickey D's with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for a sandwich. I handed it to the girl and she looked over at a little chalkboard that said "buy one-get one free". "They're already buy-one-get-one-free", she said, "so I guess they're both free" She handed me my free sandwiches and I walked out the door.

They Walk Among Us and Many Work Retail.

One day I was walking down the beach with some friends when one of them shouted, "Look at that dead bird!" Someone looked up at the sky and said, "Where?"

They Walk Among Us!

While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained, he didn't want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the north?" When my brother explained that the sun rises in the east, and has for some time, she shook her head and said, "Oh I don't keep up with that stuff."

They Walk Among Us!

I used to work in technical support for a 24/7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call center was open. I told him, "The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." He responded, "Is that Eastern or Pacific time?" Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, "Uh, Pacific."

They Walk Among Us!

My sister has a life-saving tool in her car designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the trunk.

They Walk Among Us!

My friends and I were on a beer run and noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.

They Walk Among Us!

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area, so I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. "Now," she asked me, has your plane arrived yet?"

They Walk Among Us!

While working at a pizza parlor I observed a man ordering a small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him if he would like it cut into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some time before responding. "Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces."

Yep, They Walk Among Us!

They Walk Among Us, AND they Reproduce, and Worst of All, They VOTE!

The Year of the Boar (Pig)..

People born in the Year of the Boar (Pig) tend to be honest, straightforward and patient.

Chinese New Year, the most important festival of the Chinese calendar, begins Feb. 18, 2007. The two-week celebration is a time for family unity and shared tradition. A great deal of preparation takes place to ensure the new year begins auspiciously.

  • According to the Chinese calendar, we are in year 4705, the Year of the Boar (or Pig). Based on a 12-year cycle, 12 animals make up the Chinese zodiac. The boar is the last animal in the cycle.
  • Famous people born in the Year of the Boar include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Letterman, Thomas Jefferson and Woody Allen.
  • Red is the color of this holiday. It symbolizes fire, which the Chinese believe can drive away bad luck. People wear red clothes at New Year celebrations and give children "lucky money" in red envelopes, called “lai see.”
  • The annual Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first lunar month. The festival is the culmination of the holiday season, and it coincides with the first full moon of the year. Dragons, symbols of luck, are popular parade costumes. Legend says the lanterns were once life savers.
  • Preparation for the New Year includes cleaning and sweeping, but if dirt is swept out the door, you could be sweeping your luck away. Traditionally, dirt gets swept toward the middle of the floor and then is carried outside.
  • Oranges and tangerines are symbols for abundant happiness. During the New Year's celebration, people bring bags of oranges and tangerines when visiting family or friends. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that relationships remain secure. Many families will get tangerine plants during the holiday and decorate them with small red envelopes and other good luck charms.
  • A dish of candy called a "Tray of Togetherness" is displayed and shared with guests. Each type of candy represents something positive for the new year:
    candied melon - growth and good health red melon seed - dyed red to symbolize joy, happiness, truth and sincerity lychee nut - strong family relationships cumquat - prosperity (gold) coconut – togetherness peanuts - long life longnan - many good sons lotus seed - many children
  • Although called "Chinese" New Year, other Asian countries celebrate the holiday as well. In Vietnam, the lunar new year is called Tet.

Here is a table of the order for the next 12 years..

One Day At The Time..

The greatest loss …... Loss of self respect

The most useless thing to do ...... Worry

The greatest joy in life ...... Giving

The most satisfying work ...... Helping others

The ugliest personality trait ...... Selfishness

The most effective sleeping pill ...... Peace of mind

The most powerful force in life ...... Love

The greatest problem to overcome ...... Fear

The most crippling failure disease ...... Excuses

The worst thing to be without ...... Hope

The greatest asset in life ...... Faith

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington..

The guard takes 21 steps during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary. He hesitates for 21 seconds after his about face to begin his return walk. His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder. Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10" and 6' 2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30." Other requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way.

After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, the US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

God Bless and keep them.

Managerial DoubleTalk..

It is said that video conferencing will render people remote from contact with others, that it will have an adverse effect. In commerce today, video conferencing is becoming the way to conduct business. Well, I say 'bring it on', and I am not alone. Anybody who has had to sit through a morning of 'key note speeches' or corporate 'back patting' sessions will feel the same way.

Video conferencing allows us to turn it OFF. Now we can go de-weed the yard and the pompous idiot of a speaker will not notice. We can munch through a family bag of potato chips and consume a six pack of beer without offending the company 'yes' person who would have been sitting next to us.

Just think, no more crap like the statements below. Never again will we have our day spoiled by having to endure this kind of stuff first thing. Video conferencing rules, OK?

(Please feel free to comment on any of the statements below. I am awaiting enlightenment.)

‘Policy is a mechanism for the translation of the priorities and values of the organisation into programs and practices to deliver outcomes.'


'This is a support role that provides change leadership cross-functionally within a project management context. It leads the development and provision of tools, advice, support, methodologies and frameworks for change professionals across the Department of Housing. It operates in a context of consistent change either from a policy, practice or support tool perspective. This change is generated by business need to meet the strategic directions that the business has undertaken. The change may be generated corporately or from a divisional perspective.'


'We're being informed by the process.'


'Convergence is one of the key trends influencing business today. Likewise, Convergent Document Technology is transforming processes and knowledge management within the modern office.'


'This is part of the development of an audience-centred information architecture ... The information architecture itself was the result of extensive consultation with stakeholders...'

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Popular French Dish.. Boeuf Miroton

The ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. cold cooked beef (eye round, rump roast for instance)
  • 4 thinly sliced onions
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 cups brown sauce
  • 1 cup Madeira wine (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato sauce or juice
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 cups of beef stock (any instant bouillon works fine)
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato juice

Preparation and cooking:

  1. Cut the beef into thin slices, set aside..
  2. Cut the onions into thin slices and sauté in the butter until golden and soft
  3. Make a brown sauce.
  4. Take a large casserole and layer the onions and beef in it, starting with the onions.
  5. Pour the brown sauce over it, make sure it is sufficiently covering the meat.
  6. Bake in a 350ºF until very hot and bubbly

The dish improves greatly when prepared the day before. Serve with potato puré and French bread and a salad. Serves easily 4 and leftovers are even better.


For the rest of the setting, you will require two single candles and candlesticks, an antique lamp, some dried flowers, a vase, and a panache for still life settings. Our thanks to the chef and photographer for making food look so good..

Monday, February 12, 2007

The most visited..

This is the 7300 ton, 18038 piece, most recognized and visited landmark in the world. It is, of course, La Tour Eiffel, Paris, France, except that it was so very nearly not Paris. Eiffel, the designer, had plans to construct it as part of the 'Universal Exposition' held in Barcelona, Spain in 1888. It was refused by the Spanish, so it was decided to construct it as part of the Centennial celebrations of the French revolution, 1889.

Regarded by many at the time as an eyesore, it had a permit to stand for only 20 years, but this was extended for one reason after another, and as a result is still with us today. It would be difficult to imagine Paris without it.

Question: How does one follow an act like this for the bi-centennial celebration of 1989. Try a 71 foot high steel and glass pyramid in front of the world's most visited art gallery.

It is now an integral part of the entrance to la Louvre, and there are no plans to demolish it. Not surprizingly, it was regarded as an eyesore by many Parisiens and others, and even though it is a very different style to the majestic building in front of which it stands, one has to admire the City of Paris for once again pushing the boundaries of good taste beyond the sensible, and still getting away with producing yet another of the worlds most visited structures.

So, what was the City of Paris 'Arcane Structures Department' doing in the interim? In 1971, construction was begun on the Centre Georges Pompidou. It was to become the home of the Bibliothèque publique d'information, a vast public library, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne. Some 6 years later, it was declared finished.

Oh, mais non! Where are the outside walls? Some Parisiens were not exactly enthused by the fact that the 'plumbing' and metal structuring was left exposed. Not only were they exposed, they were also painted in bright colors that differentiated water, electricity, air conditioning, elevators, and ventilation shafts. The effect, however, produced a totally uncluttered interior, and is a classic case of the means justifying the end.

It has been accepted now, and is yet one more Parisien landmark that attracts huge numbers of visitors yearly. La Place Georges Pompidou, the area seen in front of the building, is the stage for street performers such as mime artistes and jugglers.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Don't you wish that you had said it first..

Nobody goes there anymore because it is too crowded..

If you come to a fork in the road, take it..

It’s like déjà vu all over again..

If the people don’t want to come out to the park, nobody’s going to stop them..

You can observe a lot by watching him..

If you can’t imitate, you can’t copy him..

A nickel ain’t worth a dime any more..

Quotes courtesy of Yogi Berra

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Price of Life..

A NASA astronaut, a profession where one would imagine psychological screening is pretty tough, has been found to be wanting to abduct, scare, do harm, possibly end the life of another astronaut's life partner. I doubt very much that the occupants of the International Space Station will feel too much at ease knowing that there could be an irate, possibly homicidal maniac at the controls of the Space Shuttle.

It has been found out recently that hospitals in Los Angeles have been dumping homeless people on Skid Row, ostensibly to Skid Row services who will take in homeless people. Unfortunately, a hospital van was seen to dump a homeless person, wearing only a hospital gown and a broken colostomy bag, directly onto the street. This is NOT a one off incident.

Funds required for the 'War on Terror' will now start to cut into funds that should be allocated to health care for the people of America, we have been told. How comforting is that? More brave soldiers will be sent to Skid Row, Iraq in a last ditch attempt to save the pride of one man, and there may not be the funds available to fix them when they return home broken. This is NOT the example that the most powerful country should be demonstrating to the rest of the world. This is sheer lunacy, and will attract the lunatic element. I say 'will attract'. It already has.

If the world's population was to be compressed into a village of 100 people, keeping the balance of types in proportion, this is the breakdown.

  • 60 Asians
  • 12 Europeans
  • 5 US Americans/Canadians
  • 8 Latin Americans
  • 14 Africans

Forty nine would be female, and 51 would be male.

Mr America, look closely at the numbers here. Next time you approach a lectern for a press conference, think about what you or your script writers have written into your speech. Threats and slurs aimed at all non-Americans may not be such a good idea. Denigrating Europeans for not wanting to join in a war that they could see would go nowhere, and that is exactly what it has done, is not cool. Treating Latin Americans like dogs, almost a national sport, will not work in your best interests either. Africans will do whatever Africans do, being essentially at the mercy of all others, unless really riled of course. And then there are the Asians, everybody east of the former Iron Curtain countries. Are these people really such a threat to freedom, or are they just trying to defend themselves against an evermore autocratic USA?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

At Peace..

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.

John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

Monday, February 05, 2007

A message to the Rest of the World..

The English and French fought for centuries. It was a point of pride with both nations, bold French Knights pitted against scruffy yet highly effective English (Welsh) archers. Where the French went, the English were sure to follow, if only to upstage the French, proving that they were more ruthless.

Then one day they sat down together and produced this. It all seemed so heady in the concept and early design stages. Sometimes, the TV news would show huge pieces of airplane being carted around the English and French countryside. All of the parts arrived in Britain for assembly at Filton.

We watched Brian Trubshaw, BAC test pilot extraordinaire take her up for the first flight. Absolutely magnificent. For 30 years, aviation enthusiasts were enthralled by this white supersonic arrow. It left the most distinctive vapor trail of any passenger airliner, and you knew it was Concorde because no other passenger jet ever crossed the sky so fast.

Of course the noise of its four Bristol Siddeley Olympus jet engines were not so welcome, especially if you lived under the flight path near any of the airports that it graced, but you can't take away the achievement. Regardless of what follows Concorde in the future, this bird will always have been the very first.

This diagram shows the breakdown of who made what. A tribute indeed to two nations that had the longest tradition of war against each other. It is amazing what can be done when people and nations choose collaboration over killing.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Smiling is contagious; you catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.
I went around the corner where someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized, I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about my smile, then realized its worth.
A single smile like mine, could travel ‘round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start and epidemic and get the world infected……