Posts Tagged ‘Places’

There are too many books I haven’t read, too many places I haven’t seen, too many memories I haven’t kept long enough.
   —  Irwin Shaw
On This Day In:
2016 Not Yet, Anyway
2015 On Pornography
2014 Nudge, Nudge
2013 The Journey Will Be Joy
2012 Hopeful Flights
2011 Irrationally Predictable
Lawful Restraint

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As an adopted son of Liverpool, one is inevitably forced to take a side – to make a choice…  Because my wife made the mistake of buying me a book about growing up in Liverpool and the author stated Liverpool was home to the two greatest soccer teams in the world: Everton and Everton Reserves…  With my wife (and her father and brother) being committed Reds fans, you might say I was destined to be baptized a Blue…

Image of Everton F.C. jersey patch

The Everton F.C. kit jersey patch

Notice at the center of the patch is a round tower.  This is an image of the magistrate’s tower where the police held drunks and criminals for overnight stays.  I didn’t see the original tower for many years – even after I lived there (in Liverpool) for almost a decade.  Still, visiting the “Tower” remained on my bucket-list.  In my imagination, this is what I pictured…

Image of Glendalough Round Tower

Glendalough Round Tower


Image of a Round Tower in Northern Ireland

A Round Tower in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

The reality was not quite as impressive…

Image of Everton Lock Up Looking Up Hill

Everton Lock Up – Looking Up Hill


Image of Everton Lock Up Looking Down Hill

Everton Lock Up – Looking Down Hill

And here’s a historical image…  (The sheep “cutting” the grass just kill me.  LOL!)
Sometimes the reality of a bucket-list item just doesn’t quite live up to the spirit of the item.
On This Day In:
2014 Penalty Period
2013 Theft
2012 Cranky Old Man
2011 A Man’s Got To Know His Limitations

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Thomas Robert “Tom” Laughlin (August 10, 1931 – December 12, 2013)
Before Steven Seagal (all three word title movies), before John Rambo (“Rambo” series), before John McClane (“Die Hard” series), before Paul Kersey (“Death Wish” series), before Kwai Chang Caine (“Kung Fu” TV series) – there was Billy Jack in “Born Losers” (1967).  Tom Laughlin brought to the big screen the start of the modern vigilante movie genre with the character of Billy Jack.  It seems strange how a little martial arts on the big screen, mixed with some social awareness and righteous indignation can affect people’s lives.
As a twelve year old kid I remember thinking, “Wow, I’ve got to learn how to do that!”  What I was looking at was Hapkido – a Korean form of Karate (open hand fighting).  Ten years later, I found a Hapkido dojo in Germany and studied it for almost a year during my off hours (I was in the Army).  That was set aside once I returned to civilian life…  Until I found Judo, while I was in college.  I took that for a semester, too.  When I moved to England in the ’90’s, a friend from work (who was a black belt in judo) said he’d love to get me on a mat and asked if I was interested in going to a dojo to learn Aikido.  My friend (Dave) and I found a local dojo and began our lessons.  We continued on with that for about two years.  It was great having someone who was a lifelong martial artist as a co-student because he could explain things in much greater detail than I could ever have gotten (except in one-on-one personal lessons).  For his side, he got someone who was bigger and heavier who he could throw around for a couple of hours twice a week.  We both moved on and I stumbled on to a Philippine “combat” style of Aikido while I was in Saudi Arabia which I tried for another year.  And then finally, once back home in America, I was back to traditional Aikido at a local dojo for several years (until I developed AFib and went on blood thinners).
Practicing martial arts, of course, lead me to read about martial arts, which in turn lead to me reading about martial philosophy and then philosophy in general.
Did I ever “become” a martial artist?  No.  Did I ever learn how to do that?  Not hardly.  I never took it seriously enough to be more than what I was – a novice and a bit of a dojo sampler.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes, very much.  Did it affect me?  Yes!  And for at least some small part of that, I have to thank Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin).
Beyond the enjoyment of playing Aikido itself, I learned timing, balance, grace, philosophy, and I gained a certain amount of inner peace.  For all of which, I will always be extremely grateful.
R.I.P. Tom
KMAB (A Fan)
[Please also go check out the song lyrics to “One Tin Soldier – (The Legend of Billy Jack)” on my poems page.  —  KMAB]
On This Day In:
2012 All Aboard
2011 Sail On, Sailor

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The Marine Corps War Memorial

The Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

Around the base is inscribed:
In honor and memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since 10 November 1775
Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue
To a Marine, the sky coloring was unusual – a light blue, thin and distant.  The scene was Arlington National Cemetery.
On a single pedestal before me stood the memory of five men; the glory of one nation; the pride of one corp.
They fought for peace, justice, and freedom in a war plagued, strife wrought time.
They stand bronzed, still, silent.  Reassuring, uniting, proclaiming.
Above them, what they and their friends fought for, lived for, died for; a piece of cloth; a dream of man’s; a fraction of history.
Their bravery is America’s life.  Their willingness is America’s pride.  Their strength is America’s glory.
[The text above was written on Nov. 18, 1969, before I had ever actually visited the statue or cemetery.  Based on the pictures I’d seen, I didn’t realize there were six Marines in the statue.  —  KMAB]


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Well, if there was much doubt about my review the other day about “The King’s Speech“, it was laid to rest tonight when the movie won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay at the 83rd Academy Awards.  Bravo Colin Firth!  Well done, lad!
I must admit, “Inception” did not do as well as I thought it was going to when I first saw it.  I felt it was a brilliant movie and would have a long term impact on the industry and society – much like “Matrix” did.  But it (“Inception“) never has.  It also won several awards tonight, but they were technical awards mostly about sound.
Friday night, I re-watched “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen“.  I must admit it was much better on the smaller screen and I was able to follow the fight action much better with the limited view of having everything directly in front of me instead of having to shift my eyes or head as I would have to do at a theater.   I’m going to watch T:I and T:II again before T:III comes out later this year.  I think, so far, the first was better than the sequel because the first had more (and better) humor, but T:II had some pretty good moments too.  I particularly like the action shot of the carrier being destroyed by the Transformer bad-guy “meteors”.  That was a very well done action sequence.
Last night (Saturday), I re-watched “The Guardian” with Kevin Cosner and Ashton Kutcher.  It’s a cross between “An Officer And A Gentleman” and “The Karate Kid“, but it really works for me.  They both worked individually (for me) so there is no reason to think a combo wouldn’t.  The movie is about the US Coast Guard elite jump-swimmers (they jump from helicopters) who save lives at sea.  Of the two, I’d rate Guardian over T:II if only because it was less comic bookish.  All in all, a good weekend for watching movies and relaxing.
Non-Movie Notes:
Friday I got a permanent crown put in.  I got the temp a couple of weeks ago.
Yesterday, Hil and I went out for another meal with Donnie (my son’s god father).  He’s going away on vacation for a couple of months, so it was kind of a farewell dinner.
Hil and I went for an afternoon walk around Lafayette Reservoir this afternoon, after church.  It was beautiful – sunny but with a nice cool breeze.  It felt good to spend some time out with Hil – just walking and enjoying the air, view and each other’s company.


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Well, it was getting down to the wire, but it looks like I’ve got a place to stay when I get to Baltimore next Monday.  I’ll be staying at the Camden Court Apartments.   I’m leased for all four months.  I guess the clock tower (in the left of the picture) has some significance.  I’ll blog about it when I know more…

Camden Court Apartments

My home away from home…

The apartments are about two blocks from Orioles Park at Camden Yard, so I should be able to take in a couple of baseball games when the season starts.  If nothing else, the baseball park will give me a nice, well lit place to jog around.  It looks like it’s about 800-900 meters around the park.  The web site says it (the apartment complex) has a fitness center, so I should be able to use the tread mills there until the weather improves.
Work was busy again.  Lots of explaining to my backup and I gave a class on a data store query I run for a different team.  The team will be given access to the query and data so they’ll be able to run the query themselves in my absence.
I had my third consecutive jog tonight.  I was tired after work and didn’t really want to go, but I sucked it up and got out there.  The night was cold and the going was slow, but I finished the 4 miles.  I tried to add in a little interval training, but my Achilles both flared almost immediately, so I went back to long and slow.  Getting better, but not healed.  The sky was clear after all the rain and there were a million stars out.  Still, cold, clear air.  It doesn’t get much better than that when you’re out for a jog.


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Today, Hil and I drove down to Merced, CA to watch our youngest daughter (Sarah) participate in her final Concord High School Marching Band competition.  They still have two more performances in December, but those will not be “judged” competitions. 

Sarah plays the flute in the Marching Band and Cymbals in the Percussion Line. 

This is Sarah’s fourth and final year in Band and the following photos are just a few from this trip and from the Santa Cruz Band Review (back in Oct. 2010).  Also included are a couple of photos showing the Band Moms helping to get the students ready for the competition.  The dedication of some of the Band Moms to their kids and to the Band / Music program is really something to watch (and experience.)

Enjoy…  (And please support Music and the Arts in your schools!!!)

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Victory in the World Series got the best of me and I decided to take the day off of work to attend the Giants victory parade in San Francisco.  Being the conscientious parent that I am, I brought along my daughter Sarah. She, in turn, invited along some of her friends.  Before I knew it the whole thing had gotten out of hand and I was surrounded by about 800,000 of my closest friends.
I asked for leave at work and called in sick for Sarah – and off we went…
The following are some of the photos.  All of the good shots were taken by Sarah.  All of the bad/fuzzy ones were by me.  In fairness, she was using a real camera.  I was using my phone.
The photos start off with our 45 minute (!!) wait at the BART station in North Concord / Martinez to get tickets.  I’ve then added some shots from the train showing how the train went from empty to packed in only 4 stations – North Concord, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek.
I’ve then added some crowd shots from where I was at the Powell & Market Cable Car turn-around / BART Station.
Then come Sarah’s photos from the Civic Center – where the parade ended, in front of San Francisco City Hall.
Finally, there’s a photo from a Mr. Luis C., a friend of mine who is one of the most devoted Giants fans I’ve known for some time.  He sent me a picture of his “shrine”, which was set up when the Giants clinched the title by beating the San Diego Padres.
Sound delicious?  Enjoy…


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I have today off to recover from driving Rebecca back to UCLA for her senior year.  She’s living in an apartment this time, instead of in the dorms like last year.  The place is reasonably large and looks comfortable enough.  I’m sure Bec and her roommate will enjoy the year.
The drive was surprisingly easy.  We left early (5:30) and there was very little traffic.  We stopped for a quick brecky at Mickey-D’s and were unpacking by 12 noon.  I was back on the road by 12:30 and back home by 6:30.  The drive back was fairly boring with no one to talk to, but I cranked the music up and sang along with some favorites – The Everly Brothers, The Commodore’s and Jimmy Buffett.  I’m going to have lots of lyrics to add to my site!!
Speaking of which, I’ve added two more of my own poems (for a total of 9, now), and six more song lyrics.  The lyrics are a mixture of old and VERY old, with one exception (a patriotic song).  Anyway, here’s the brief intro to each:
Mine: For Those That Might  –  There is a saying in Japan that it is the raised nail which meets the hammer.  This is true universally, but until the hammering actually starts, the other nails don’t know there is a raised nail.  The interesting thing about nailing is, once your start, you frequently have to hammer the nails around the raised one as well.  The transfer of energy by the wood “raises” the neighboring nails, so the good carpenter has to give them all a quick tap as well.  Of course, this has a rippling effect to the nails around them, too.  Is there any doubt that a small group of dedicated individuals can change history…  They are the only ones who ever have!!
What’s A Woman Worth?  The physical beauty of youth fades with time like the glory of kings and civilizations.  But true, inner beauty – deepens and grows until, finally, it replaces the illusion of youth and strength.  Making beds, washing clothes, holding hands on long walks, quiet conversations between the lights going off and the arrival of sleep – these are some of the millions of “little” things that mean love.  This poem came out of two ideas – smelling a fragrance in a pillow and life being like the pages of a book.  The rest just flowed from that…
Lyrics: Signs – (Written by Les Emmerson and performed by The Five Man Electrical Band) is one of the great “Who died and made you Ayatollah?” songs of all time.  Not really a “protest” song as much as a rant of the young against the established.  (If you don’t recognize my “Ayatollah” reference, you weren’t around in the early ’80s.)  …And yes, I’ve dropped the same message into the collection basket (on more than one occasion).  I’m not sure the person opening the envelope “gets” the reference, but it brings a smile to my ironic heart to think God’s getting my missive (and thanks!)
Just An Old Hippie – (Written by Howard Bellamy, performed by The Bellamy Brothers) is one of those great, country story songs.  I’m not sure how younger folks relate to it because there are a lot of historical references, but for me – it’s damn near 100% accurate.
The Greatest Love Of All  – (Written by Linda Creed; Performed by George Benson) is probably more frequently associated with Whitney Houston, but I always think of it by George Benson.  Sadly, (for me,) this wasn’t one of the songs he played at the recent concert I attended.  As selfish (Ayn Rand-ish) as this may sound, I’m not at all sure you can truly love someone else unless you do love yourself.  This is the philosophical “true” love I’m referring to.  Of course, you can “truly” love someone else (and devote your life to them) and still not like yourself (low self-esteem issues), but I don’t rate this as equally “true” love.  “I love myself AND I love and sacrifice for you, too!” is for me a purer form of love.
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ –  (Written by Barry Mann, Phil Spector and Cynthia Weil; performed by The Righteous Brothers; Bobby Hatfield has passed away, Bill Medley has his own site now) is one of the greatest songs of all time.  Is there any greater expression of lost love than a person not closing their eyes when you kiss them or no tenderness in their fingertips – or eyes, when you reach for them?  The funny thing about this song is Wikipedia reports the song almost never came to market because it was considered too slow and almost a full minute longer than what was the standard playing time (for back then on the radio).  How fine is the line between never reaching air and becoming the most played song in American radio history…
Treat Her Like A Lady – (Written by Ali-Ollie Woodson and Otis Williams; performed by The Temptations) is one of those up-tempo songs the Temptations are famous for.  There are not enough songs about being a gentleman and this is definitely one of the best.  If you look this up on YouTube, be aware there is more than one version, and the version which seems to pop up the most does not match with my lyrics.  The explanation is lyrics are sometimes changed to match a venue or occasion.  I briefly considered using the alternate version, but decided against it, because it’s not the way I remember the song – and because the alternate really doesn’t make any sense.  The main difference is the substitution of the word “celebration” for “liberation”.  Liberation makes sense; celebration does not.
An American Soldier – (Written by Chuck Cannon and Toby Keith; performed by Toby Keith) is the patriotic lyrics I alluded to earlier.  I’ve heard this song many times and it’s always struck me, but I listened to it intently on the trip with Rebecca and it made me tear up.  It’s hard to communicate to someone who’s so young, that the message in this song is EXACTLY why we should NEVER be fighting for oil – in any part of the world…  Because our bravest WILL go if asked.  They will go and they will try and some may die – but not for freedom – for OIL!!  Having been a volunteer soldier in a time of peace, I cherish the lives of those who serve – particularly those who serve in times of real battle.  God Bless You!! All who serve – God Bless You and keep you safe to come back to us soon.
As usual, read the lyrics then go listen to the music…

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I grew up in San Francisco, CA.
Everyone from San Francisco has a favorite song about “The City”…
For some it’s “We Built This City”.  For some it’s “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay”.  For a lot it’s Tony Bennett and “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”.
For me, there are actually two songs – one from early childhood and black and white movies.  It’s Jeanette McDonald singing “San Francisco“.  The other is from much later in my life.  It’s a song about growing up and how things change from what you hoped for or expected.  It’s called “Taxi” by Harry Chapin.
As usual, read my version of the lyrics and then go find the songs on-line somewhere…  [Note: the lyrics for “San Francisco” are actually Judy Garland’s version, because Jeanett’s was mostly background singing during the movie and although it’s Jeanette’s voice I hear when I remember the song, it’s Judy’s version.  I know, a trick of memory, but still true…  KMAB]
Oh, and here’s the link to the City’s web site.

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This is a continuation of the series of blogs I was writing about the drive I took with my wife (Hil) and our youngest daughter (Sarah) back at the end of July.  The main point of the trip was to see Crater Lake.  Along the way, I wanted to see some redwoods, some light houses, some waterfalls and some covered bridges…
The day two drive seemed the longest.  We had to go from Crescent City – in northern California – half-way up the coast of Oregon to spend the night at Florence, Oregon.  We were going to Florence because a friend at work had  told me it had an “old town” with lots of little shops my wife would love.  I thought it would be the high light of the trip for her so I planned for us to stay in a hotel right in the old town area.
We did.  We stayed at the Old Town Inn which was directly off the bridge entering town and around the corner from the old town area.  The hotel was clean and friendly (if a bit musty smelling), but it was ideal for price and location.  There is a free “lite” continental breakfast and pretty good parking.  We also recommend it.  The particulars are:
Old Town Inn
Florence, Oregon
Just north of the Siuslaw River Bridge at 170 Highway 101
The AAA guide says you have to book for two nights – but you don’t.  I would recommend calling ahead for reservations as the hotel is so close to the sand skiing areas, it can get full earlier than you’d expect.
For dinner we went to “Mo’s” restaurant.  It was scenic if you can get a window table overlooking the Siuslaw River and we got a sundown view of the bridge.  The price was reasonable and the service was good, but the food was only average-to-good.
To be honest, we were disappointed with the shops in the Old Town.  I had browsed the web and got the impression it was a neighborhood.  In fact, it was more of a three-block strip.  It was kind of a miniature Fisherman’s Wharf tourist area with T-shirt shops and a few local restaurants and bars.

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The objective today was to see some lighthouses, redwoods, beaches, and anything else we could find between Crescent City, CA and Florence, OR – where we planned to spend the evening/night.
We started off with a trip to the local lighthouse, paid a visit to the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, and found our first covered bridge.
For those of you interested in additional information on lighthouses, check out this site: LightHouse Heritage
The lighthouse (referred to in the “Lighthouse Inn”) was literally right outside our window that night and though it looked to be far out at sea, it was actually on an island only about 150 yards off the mainland and we could walk to it during low tide.  It’s name is the Battery Point Lighthouse.
The best thing about the Lighthouse Inn was the convenience – right on 101, across the street from the restaurant and pier, blocks from the lighthouse and only a few miles from the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
While in the park we stopped at Stout Grove  and on the way out we saw our first covered bridge (Jedediah Smith covered bridge).
Many of the parks and their paths are described at: Redwood Hikes

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The first evening we ate at the Fisherman’s Restaurant & Lounge, located at 700 US Highway 101 S, Crescent City, CA 95531.  I had calamari, Hil had fish & chips and Sarah had a burger.  Maybe it was the long drive or the sea air, but we all really enjoyed it.  I personally thought it was some of the tenderest calamari I’ve ever eaten in my life!  We highly recommend the restaurant.  

After dinner, we took a stroll around the pier and then went back to the hotel: Lighthouse Inn, at 681 Highway 101 South, Crescent City, CA 95531.  

It was very clean and friendly and had these cool little miniature houses around the reception area.  They also offered the best of the “free” continental breakfasts we had on the trip.   


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The general plan was to wander our way up to Crescent City by the end of the day.  We were to try to see as many trees and shorelines as possible.
Our main stop this day was to see the drive-thru Redwood named: Chandelier Tree, located in Leggett, CA.  The Chandelier Tree is one of only three remaining “drive-thru” trees still standing.
Now there are two interesting things here…  The first is the feeling you get when you actually drive thru a tree.  As much as I consider myself to be “environmentally aware” – it’s SO COOL!!  It really does just blow you away.
The second thing is, of course, this is a living thing which has been violated.  Imagine if you had a large section of your stomach carved thru so folks could see your innards.  And the tree is at least 2,400 years old!  For a little perspective, that’s about halfway between the founding of Rome (752 BCE) and the transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire (27 BCE).  And, of course, 400 years before the birth of Christ!
Next, evening one…

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Ok.  A little background first…

Our youngest (Sarah) did a report on a volcano named Mount Mazama about six years ago.  As it turns out, the volcano blew up and became what is today called Crater Lake.  Sarah is a Harry Potter fan and as you would have it, Crater Lake has an island – called Wizard Island – in it.  So, Sarah has always wanted to visit the lake.

Not knowing this, James and I went out for a cruise last year and ended up at Crater Lake.  This was my way to smooth the ruffled feathers…

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