Saturday, December 22, 2012

Champagne Anyone?

Not that I am planning to do this any time soon but when I do have a drink those that know me know it will be a glass or two of the elixir of life - champagne!

I am reading a story about Dom Perignon and the creation of bubbly. Since it was first released in 1921 there have only been 37 releases of Dom. That means that the grapes were just not up to snuff according to the celler master. That is right, 54 years when they just said - nope the grapes are not good enough so we are not making champagne this year.

How do they do that? What do they do those years that they do not produce the bubbly brew? They have not had a release since 2003!

So on my 65th birthday I will try to find a bottle of 1996 (the year I stopped drinking) Rose Dom Perignon Vintage for a toast to me.

Hum, got a feeling I better start saving now

Friday, December 21, 2012

Crazy NRA

Are you kidding me?

The NRA's answer to stopping shootings like what happened in Newtown is to post armed guards at the door of every school??

Are they for real??

So there are how many schools in this country? And how many armed guards would there have to be? One at each door?

One at each classroom?

Should there also be one inside of every classroom, cause if you are going to arm the teachers you need to be ready in case one of then goes crazy?

There were guards in Columbine, that did not seem to stop those two fools.

I don't know the answer, but I do know more and more guns is not the answer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Honolulu thoughts

Things I have noticed on this trip to Honolulu:

No man should ever wear a speedo.

A little kid that wears a bathing suit that rides up their bum is cute. A woman not so much.

I admire women that run, however I do want to stop them and tell them to wear a better bra. The girls will thank you for it.

Sand does get everywhere.

The various guys that light the tiki torches here are NOT created equal.

Lots of Aussies vacation here.

I will go to another island next time.

Loud obnoxious people are everywhere.

Yoga on the beach looks really cool.

Things I have not figured out yet:

Where does the Starbucks food come from in Hawaii? Cause it look just like what I get locally?

Why do all my fingers swell but my toes do not?

Do babies suffer jet lag?

Why are people stupid everywhere?

Why don't some people take their garbage with them when they leave the beach?

Why doesn't every place offer military discounts for boogie boards?

Why do we still have daylight savings time?

Where did Joe propose to Dawn??

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Recall, but wait.

So, yesterday we get a notice from General Motors telling us that our 2008 Saturn is being recalled for a problem with the transmission shift.

OK, what does that mean?

According to the letter, it sounds quite serious.

"Your vehicle was either built or serviced with a transmission shift cable that has end fitting tabs that may fracture and separate. If the tabs were to separate the shift lever and the actual position of the transmission gear may not match. With the condition, you would be able to move the shifter to Park and remove the key, but the transmission gear may not be in park. You may not be able to restart the vehicle and the vehicle could roll away after you have exited the vehicle, resulting in a possible crash without prior warning."

What will GM do? They will fix it at no charge. Thanks for that.

What should we do? Contact your nearest dealer in January of 2013, to arrange a service appointment.

What? My car may not start. It could roll away and possibly crash without prior warning?

And we have to wait until January to make an appointment. So I don't have to worry about these things happening prior to January?

Well, now off to get into that car and go to work.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cousin love

Today I went back to one of my favorite Sunday morning past-times. Reading the obituaries.

The thing I was going to write about was the phrase "love of her/his life". There were six mentions in today's paper about this and it made me wonder if those are the words of the deceased or their children. Thoughts for another day.

Then I was going to write about Beverley who was a "hoot" and made up half of a handsome couple on the dance floor.

Then I was going to write about Stephen who "passed away peacefully, intentionally and without regret" and what that might do to life insurance, but again for another time.

I decided this week's winner is Patci who did not have to change her name when she married her "life long friend and cousin", yes that is right. Her cousin. One of the lines in the obit is "Mom set sail from this life as she lived it (on her own terms) with trust, strength, courage, grace, integrity and wisdom."

I do think Patci must have had some courage because we all are aware of of the crazy ideas about cousins marrying each other. I wonder if their family was for it or against it? I wonder how many people looked at this couple and thought how fucking weird. I wonder if anyone thought their cousin love would last 52 years. And yes, they had children and grandchildren and there is not one mention of mutants of any kind.

I will admit my first real kiss was with my first cousin. In a tent in my grandmothers back yard during my first and only summer trip to Georgia when I was about 12. Hmm maybe there was a reason it was my only trip?? Just thought of that now.

Now if things had gone in a different direction, well, many different directions, not only would I not have had to change my last name, my husband would have my brother's name. Now that is weird.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

For Sale - Ex Con

I don't usually blog from work, but I had to do this before I forgot.

I as going to bring lunch to a friend that had an accident last week - she fell visiting New Orleans.  No, from what I understand she was not drunk.

Anyway, I as on my way to her house and pulled up next to a parked car with a for sale sign on it.

It said

06 for sale ex con
low mileage
followed by a phone number.

Hmm, I thought.

For Sale Ex Con

Does this mean

For Sale owned by an ex-con so has low mileage cause said ex-con was in jail


Does it mean

For Sale excellent condition and we just did not drive it much?

For some strange reason, I really like the first thought better than the second.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vote - it matters

Today I worked a phone bank to re-elect President Obama. I was reminded that no matter what your beliefs in this election, there are some things that just cross this line.

I called a number in Henderson, Nevada and spoke to a woman named Elizabeth.

My job was to remind people that they could vote early. Elizabeth told me that she and her husband had already mailed in their ballots

I responded that I loved the mail in ballot, it just makes everything so much easier, doesn't it?

She told me that her husband had been in the hospital and that they wanted to make sure they voted.

I replied that I hoped everything worked out for her husband.

Elizabeth told me that her husband had come home today in the care of hospice

I know what that means - her husband is dying.

Dying!!!! And what was important to them?? That they got to vote.

These are people that appreciate the right we all have and only half of us exercise.

So vote. You never know when it might be your last act.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Christian Vikings??

Behind a car this evening with a license plate holder from Christian Academy - Viking Territory

Huh?? Color me crazy but I don't think Vikings were Christian

Pressurized guy

I read the grossest thing ever today. Some poor guy that works at the Bumble-Bee tuna factory or did work at the tuna factory. His job was to roll in racks of canned tuna into a huge pressure cooker. I think you know where this is going. He rolled the tuna in and somehow did not get out before the cooking started.

The thought about how a pressure cooker cooks scares the crap out of me in a regular kitchen can't even imagine a great big giant one.

I can't even imagine what must have been going thru his mind. Fuck me would have been my first thought and probably my last.

I will never look at another can of tuna in the same way again.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Abortion - not your decision!

So Paul Ryan says if he and Mitt Romney are elected the only way a woman could get an abortion was if she was raped, was knocked up by a relative or her life was at risk.

So who decides if she was raped. How does one prove that one is raped when trying to get an abortion. It is said that 54 percent of sexual assaults are not reported in this country. So a woman that is raped and afraid for whatever reason to report it now needs to prove it perhaps weeks after the fact.

I can't really find much information on how many women request abortions due to incest, so I'm not sure how to speak at that.

Then the third reason - her life is at risk. Hmm, again who decides that?

I think the only ones that can make a decision about an abortion are the people involved. I have very strong opinions about this. It is no one else's business. No ones!! Certainly not my government. If you do not believe in abortion don't get one. It is that simple. Really it is.

I want someone to ask pro life people what should happen to all those pregnancies that they want women to bring to term?? Once those children are born what happens to them then??

Does anyone really think that most of them will be born into homes where they will magically be loved and wanted?? Will they all be adopted by loving families??

I do not. I think they will either be born into abuse or forgotten in a foster system that is already overwhelmed. Some might get lucky. We can hope.

Perhaps they can all be left on pro life proponents doorsteps??

How about if you want there to be less abortions teach family planning. Fund Planned Parenthood so they can offer contraception to people to avoid those unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Again if you do not want to use contraception don't.

Does this country really want to force women to go back to back alley quacks and coat hangers?? That is what will happen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Since I was going to a concert last night I did not want to be burdened by my pocketbook. Now I don't carry a big old bag anymore. I carry a pretty streamlined bag, it has room for my wallet, glasses, my keys and of course my kindle

So I decided to leave it in my desk at work. I took my license, debit card , office key and my car key. Well I really did not think the whole thing through

I kind of forgot that I would not be in the office today. So I was without my bag.

It was kind of liberating. Ok, so I had to carry my car keys in my pocket and change takes up a lot of space in your pocket and I missed my kindle, but all in a rather freeing experience.

Ticketless but lucky

Last night my beloved, her sister and another friend went to a fund raising concert for President Barack Obama.

We met in San Francisco following the directions provided to us by the creators of this event. There was only one way in and there were five lines to stand in that all lead to the same opening. We stood and we stood and we stood. For about two hours before the line started moving.

They would let a few people at a time through the gate and across the street where you stood again in another line so that you could go through security and get inside where we would stand for another four hours

Yea, this was a lot of standing and waiting in line. We finally got up to the front of the line when a woman pushed her way up to the front of the line. She was a street person I have seen around the city for years. She is usually high or drunk and can be quite confrontational. She had a bunch of flags in her hands and was chanting "I want to see the president"

One woman handling the crowd was saying that she needed a ticket. The woman got a little louder and tried to get beyond the barrier. The volunteer got a look on her face like "shit - what do I do"

Another woman came over, she had been standing inside the barricades and looked like she might be in charge. She whipped a ticket out of her bag and gave it to the woman telling her she would need to calm down to get inside.

I am not sure how I felt about this. On one hand we had been standing for hours at this point waiting patiently to get inside. We had paid a bunch of money to get in to this concert. We had followed all the rules and I felt as if none of that mattered. Why do things the way your are supposed to when you can push your way up to the front of the line cause a ruckus and get into something that you are not even supposed to get anywhere near without a ticket?

On the other hand. This was a woman that had no chance to ever get into a function like this? Someone that lives on the fringes of our lives. Someone that we all say we care about and is not as lucky as the rest of us in this line.

The woman that gave her the ticket was asked if she had any more tickets in that bag to give out. She smiled and said no. She just happened to have one extra ticket and what was she going to do with it? Keep it as a souvenir?

The recipient of the ticket was overwhelmed with the gesture. Most of us that witnessed it were conflicted about the gesture.

I would like to think I would have done the same thing, but I can't say for sure

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pixie woods or pixies in the woods?

I go through Stockton on my way to Sacramento. There is a sign on the highway for a place called Pixie Woods

I have often wondered about what this must be. I have thought about going to check it out but I am afraid I would be disappointed if I went and there were no pixies

Friday, October 5, 2012

Six little peeps

Driving down the highway today I came up behind a van with some of those family stickers on the back window. My first thought was man that is a lot of little stickers on that van

I got a little closer and was able to count the little people. Two parents and six kids.

Seems like a lot doesn't it. Seemed that way to me as well until I realized that that was the number of little people stickers my mother would have had on the back window of the station wagon she drove.

It started me wondering about how she did it. Six kids. Seems she always wanted six and she got just what she wanted. For the most part I think it worked out. Was not always easy. I realize that now, I did not then.

My parents did a pretty good job and most of us turned out ok.

Speaking my mind?

An old co worker found me on Facebook this week. She sent me an email saying "hey there, do you remember me?". My response was Holy Shit!! Yes.

Her response was "you have not changed. Always saying just what you think".

I have been thinking about that for a couple days. It is so not true. Like most of us I think I go through my day with a pretty good filter on what comes out of my mouth

I am sure there are times when my filter fails me, but for the most part I do not say what I am really thinking to most people.

There are moments when people say stuff to me that I want to look at them and scream WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING? ARE YOU EVEN THINKING?? ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID.

However I don't say those things. I usually smile and say nothing because I am pretty convinced that I might end up in the looney bin or jail if I let loose on some fucking stupid idiots.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Man up, asshole

Four Americans that were trying to help Libya become a new nation are dead.

One of the reasons is an independent movie created by a man who identifies as an Israeli. The movie is about Mohammad and from what I understand is full of hate.

So an idiot creates a movie spewing hate and lies and it adds fuel to a tenuous relationship all over the world

The result? Four people - good people - that hoped they were doing some good are dead and the man, and I use that term loosely has gone into hiding.

Man up asshole and show your face. If you believe in the filth you are putting out in the world be public about it. Stop letting innocent people die for your hateful outlook on the world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget

Today is a somber day. I remember where I was and what I was doing and what I did.

My beloved was working in San Francisco and I drove from Emeryville into the City to get her since public transportation was shut down.

I will never forget the weird feeling of being just about the only car on the Bay Bridge.

I will never forget the sadness I felt that day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Extreme view? Let's hope so.

I am worried.  I am worried what will happen if Mitt Romney is elected President of this country.

I believe that this country was established with a dividing line between the government and religion.  I believe that this line has been crossed in recent years and I do not believe that is a good thing.

I posted on Facebook about the book The Handmaiden's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

This is the story of a woman name Offred.  She is a Handmaiden.  She is only valued for her ability to bear children, that will not be hers.  She is not allowed to read.  She is not allowed to write.  She is not allowed to go outside without permission.  She has no control over her own body or what is done to it.  She is no longer free.

I have been called an extremist by someone I love because I fear this could happen in this country.  Would it happen tomorrow, no.  Would it happen in the next 4 years?  Probably not, but it could happen in the future.  Am I afraid for myself, of course.  But let's face it, my baby making days are way over, but what about my nieces?  What about that beautiful baby girl born to a friend last week?  Where will they be in 20 years?  I fear for them.

"It is heartbreaking to see the way these terrorists treat ... women," said Jan, 68. "In their eyes, a women is an object that they can control. They are scared that when these girls get an education, they will become aware of their rights as women and as a human being."

In this quote the terrorists are the Taliban and this quote is from last month.  Replace Taliban with right wing Christian nut job and you may understand my fear.  When religion takes such a major role in the government bad things happen and usually to women and the "other" people that do not have the same beliefs as the people in charge.

Extreme view?  Fuck I hope so.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Love George Stephanopoulos

I Love George Stephanopoulos!!  This morning he was interviewing that fucking idiot Akin.

It seems the "liberal" media is trying to start a movement to get him to drop out of the Missouri congressional race.

George - and I am paraphrasing here:  the RNC has uninvited him to their convention, Rush Limbaugh is saying you should step down, Mitt Romney - how is that the liberal media.

Akin - well I am pro-life.  I have voted against Obama care 30 times,

George - you have said by mis using one word you should not be dropping out of the race.  So are you saying that if you removed the word legitimate from your statement the rest of if would be true?

Akin - I realize that rape is a terrible thing (no shit - my comment) and that a person never gets over it (you think - my commnet again) and I do know that a woman can get pregnant from a rape - but I am pro life and I won't apologize for that.  I voted against Obama care 30 times and my opponent is pro abortion.

George - it is a proven fact that the majority of women that are raped are so traumatized and ashamed that they never report it.  Are you saying that abortion is being used by raped women to rid themselves of unwanted pregancies?

Akin - yes, it happens all the time.

George - Really.  You really believe that?

Akin - I am pro life and I voted against Obama care 30 times.

Keep on him George!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Run or RUN

I have been walking every morning since I arrived in Honolulu.  There is a park across the street, while full of the homeless it is also full of so much more.

Not only are the views just crazy beautiful, but the things I see ....

A walker parked at the end of paved path.  It sat there where the person using it could no longer push it across sand.  I wondered where did this person go and if they needed a walker on a paved surface how did they walk on sand?

A bunch of people taking showers at the public bathroom.  Not just rinsing off from an early morning swim in the ocean, but a full on shower.  Soap, shampoo and conditioner.  Lather rinse repeat.  They did not seem to be a part of the above homeless population and I wondered about them.

Bootcamp in the morning.  Oh how we try to keep our girlish figures.  I got a hunch that most of us are never going to look like the leader of this group.  Buff, tan and so full of pep even I wanted to swat here.  Could not imagine listening to her for any length of time so early in the morning.

From bootcamp to yogo on the beach, nice.

And then there were the RUNNERS.  So there are runners and then there are RUNNERS.  Most of the people in the park this morning were runners, but then there was this couple that were RUNNERS!  You know the difference, runners just kind of run.  For the most part they look pretty serious, they mom pushing a stroller, the woman with the neon crop top, the guy that should keep his shirt on.

They all seem to be running.  They are sweaty and look tired.

Then there was the RUNNING couple.  Woman and a man they ran towards me the first time (yes the first time) at a full out RUN.  Not the a little jog, not something that gives you a little glow of sweat, a full out RUN that causes the people watching to wonder why.  She was in front and he was following her and neither of them was sweating.  They carried no water, they had no ipods, just the clothes on their backs and what I assume were really good running shoes.

Then I continued on, stopped and wondered about some the stuff from above, took a couple of pictures and looked up and damn if they were not coming at me again.  There seemed to be a little more sweat this time around at least on him, she was just like a machine.

I promised if they came at me again I would tell them hated them.  But in reality I would love to be them.  In my head I could be a long distance runner, I could do a marathon, I could - right.

Homeless in Hawaii

Homeless in Honolulu.  One would think it would be a pretty sweet place to be homeless.  After being here for a few days it seems there are lots of homeless here.  Lots.  At last count - January 2012 they estimate that there are nearly 6000 homeless here in Honolulu.

Seems to me that that is a lot of competition for whatever services are available here for the homeless.

They are every where, sleeping on the streets.  Sleeping in the back of trucks.  Pushing all their worldly goods in shopping carts or big black garbage bags.

I wonder what their reasons are.  Is it a choice for some people?  Have they couch surfed thru everyone they know?  Where are their families?   Are they too proud to take the help offered?  Do they enjoy this life?

I saw one couple this morning that slept in the back of their truck last night.  I wondered about why they were there, cause if they just wanted to sleep under the stars last night, I am sure there are a lot of prettier places on this island than Ala Moana Park.   They were in a nice truck, they looked well kept.

As beautiful as Honolulu is, there is a dark side here and the homeless I see every where I go seem to be only the tip of the iceburg.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Road to Enlightenment

Yesterday I had to go to Sacramento for work, the drive takes a little over an hour and parts of it are quite boring, thankfully I have XM radio!

Well I just have to say this about my ride yesterday:

I don't care how many Buddhist monks you have in your Mercedes, use your damn blinker to change lanes and do not drive 40 in the high speed lane.

I do not care what level of enlightenment you have attained it is not going to save you when someone plows into you!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

London - yuck

Today I realized I have posted to my blog in quite a while. So I thought I would just say hello to all my thousands of readers. Today is the first day of the Olympics and they are taking place in London. I hate London. I don't know why. I really thought I would like it, but both times I have been there, I have hated it. It is ugly and dirty. Yes, lots of cities are ugly and dirty, but they have some redeeming qualities. London, not so much. I enjoyed the Tower. I enjoyed Westminster Abby, when I finally got to see it. Long story short, it was closed the first time I tried to see it. Go figure. I found the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace the most boring thing on the face of the planet, not to mention they need to redo their uniforms. There were the crown jewels - very cool. The countryside was beautiful, but London not so much. Anyway may the force be with the atheletes. May everyone stay safe and do their best.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Birthday Girl

Today is my birthday. It is a day that I face with both happiness and sadness. Happiness because after all it is MY birthday. The day is all about me, me, me. Sadness because I feel a loss of those I have lost that no longer are here to celebrate their birthdays. I miss them. I wonder why they are gone and I am here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Finally - Justice for Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton!!!   After all these years the courts and most people in Austrailia finally believe that little Azaria was carried off by a dingo and probably eaten.

The Dingo Ate my BAAAAAAAAby

Saturday, June 9, 2012

30 kids and no $$

I can't find the article right now - why do they remove articles from the web?  A question for another day.

But, it was about a man who has fathered 30 children - yes 30 children.  I am assuming with different women although I can't be sure, since I can't find the article.

He wants a judge to give him a break from child support payments.  Seems he does not make a whole lot of money and needs some breathing room.

From what I remember, he had been in court a couple of years ago regarding the non-payment of child support and at that time had about 20 kids and promised not to make anymore.  Surprise a bunch of kids later he is back in court!

I just don't get it, you got to take a test to drive but you can make a kid with anyone at any time?  I also don't get the women involved.  Do they not know that he is a serial impregnator?  I also wonder if any of them have multiple children with him.  Do they all get together for holidays?

How does he do this?  How do you bring 30 children into the world?  What is his line?

Perhaps he ought to look into an X-acto knife?  Or maybe the women should....

New use for X-acto knife

Alrighty then.  A young man (20ish) decides to remove his penis with an X-acto knife.

Do you know what an X-acto knife is?  It is a small bladed knife and it must have taken him quite sometime to use to cut his own penis off.

They were able to recover the penis and the man was taken to the hospital where they were going to re-attach it.

My question is:  What if he does not want it re-attached?  I mean he cut it off with an X-acto knife, I'm kind of thinking this was not an accident.  You know the way somebody accidentally cuts off their thumb with a chop saw while cutting crown molding.  I'm kinda thinking he meant to do this, so maybe somebody ought to take that into consideration before sewing it back on?

I can only imagine the horror - he finally decides he has had enough of his penis, for whatever reason and cuts it off with an X-acto knife (I keep mentioning that part because I can't believe with all the other larger knives he would use that, but perhaps he was going for accuracy?).  Then the guy wakes up in the hospital and they have sewn it back on - shit... now what?

The police said they did not think he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he he will likely face a psychological evaluation.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Would Jesus Do?

I read an article that actually made me ask this question out loud.

What would Jesus do?  

Pastor Charles Worley on Sunday in front of Providence Road Baptist Church just outside Maiden, N.C. said in a sermon recently that lesbian's should be rounded up and interned behind an electric fence, gay men in another camp.  We should be kept there until we died out because we could not reproduce, so eventually we would all be dead.

I think I have read about this, I think this world has seen this before.  The names of those camps were Auschwitz, Dachau, Ravensbrueck among too many others.  Lets not mince words, these were not work camps, they were not concentration camps, they were EXTERMINATION camps built to get rid of communists, socialists, Jews, gypsies, liberals and homosexuals, among others.

Pastor Martin Niemoller said of the apathy of people during the second world war:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Add yourself to this list:  gay, lesbian, trans, left handed, glasses wearing, brown eyed, green eyed, too short, too tall, etc.  Eventually who will be left?  Not me and not just about every one I know.

Then there was the more recent Khmer Rouge, they did not even bother with camps, they just killed everyone that did not fit into their plan.  They killed almost fifty percent of their population in less than ten years!  

Has this world learned nothing from the past?  

The population of the United States is about 313 million, so if Paster Worley and his merry band of assholes just killed us outright, how long would it take? Why bother with a fence or an airdrop of food?  Bullets would be much cheaper.  

It is estimated that 10% of the population is gay which is about 31 million of us, so might take awhile, but I'm sure if they tried hard enough they could get us all.  Or perhaps when they discover they are going to have to shoot their Auntie M, or the guy that sells them their tires, the doctor that delivered their children, the woman that teaches their daughter to sing, or their dentist would they begin to wonder why they are really so afraid of us?

Which leads me back to my question:  What Would Jesus Do?

I have to believe that the Jesus that I was taught about at St. Matthew's Parish in Jamestown, Rhode Island would not say "go and round um up, put them behind that fence and forget about them."

I have to believe that the Jesus I heard about would say something like "love them as you would  love yourself".

I'm sure he might put it a little better than I can, but I don't think he would preaching that we should all die.

How did we all hear such a different Jesus.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Mare

Today is Chief-Matron-Mare-sons 60th birthday.  I personally can't believe it - it just does not seem possible.  We met nearly 20 years ago thru an ex-girlfriend.  Notice I say ex, because she is long gone, but Mare is still here, I got her in the divorce.

I often wonder why people come into your life.  Why some don't last very long.  Why some stay.  Why you just click or not.  What is it?

I am lucky to have clicked with a quite a few people, I am blessed.

Happy Birthday my friend, may we celebrate many more.

The Journey

Today's journey to and from work stuff:

On the way to work I saw a Smart car with the following license plate - T PANTS.

Think about it.

On the way home from work I saw another person on a bike with a weird helmet - full head, with some kind of vent on the top and a big bubble like piece that came down over his face.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Safety First

I am all for safety.  The right tool for the right job and all that.

When you are riding a bike you should wear a helmet, right.

Sure, but wear a bicycle helmet, not a baseball helmet.

Be safe.  Be fashionable.  Get the right helmet.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Me, defend a Romney?

I never thought I would ever defend a Romney, but come on!

Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life? Hilary Rosen, I would suggest you call your mother and ask her if she ever worked a day in her life?

Ann Romney was in a privileged position of not having to work outside the home.

I was in a privileged position in that my mother did not have to work outside the home while I was growing up.

Nobody can tell me that my mother did not work.

Maybe she did not leave home to work, but she was up at the crack of dawn and was the last one in bed at night.

She handled a budget (probably pretty tight), she kept us clean and fed. Made sure we went to school, tried to form us into good human beings, taught us right from wrong, did the laundry, cooked our meals, shopped for our food, etc.

Does the fact that she did not work outside the home mean that she paid no attention to the world outside of it? Or that she was just not smart enough to understand it?

And yes, Ms. Rosen you are working outside your home and raising children which has to be difficult. But really, thinking a woman that can make that choice to stay home and raise her family as her full time job does not know anything about what happens outside her home is just stupid.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photo questions.

I have been looking for a photograph. It is old and I know I have it - somewhere.

Some days I hate technology, but I look at the number of photographs that are taken now. From our phones, camera's, computer's, whatever.

We take photos everyday everywhere we go.

I do wonder where will we look in twenty, thirty, forty years for those old photos?

I keep my old photos now in a box and I guess other places that I don't remember. I keep my digital photos on my computer and up on Shutterfly. Will they always be viewable?

When I am gone to wherever I end up will any body be looking at my pictures?

Jolie Love

May we laugh like this again someday!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mattress Mania

Anyone that has read this blog knows I have a thing about mattresses on cars or trucks on the road. I believe not very smart people put them on their roofs not realizing they are murder weapons. Whenever I see one I do everything possible to get away from it before it goes flying off the roof or out of the back of the truck potentially killing me.

So imagine my horror at this story.

I went to the doctor on Thursday and was waiting at the window to sign it. There are two windows and only one had someone at it. That person looked up to me and said somebody will be right with you.

Another woman comes up and sits down, she looks at her co-worker and says "I was just looking at the pictures of Sue's car accident. I am surprised they did not get hurt."

The other woman says "car accident, I thought it was a car fire"

First woman replies "well, it was a fire but it was caused by.... A MATTRESS COMING OFF THE ROOF OF THE CAR IN FRONT OF THEM!!!!!!!!! Emphasis added by me.

Seems that the mattress flew off the car in front of them, hit the ground and they swerved to avoid it as did another car. The second car hit the mattress and it went spinning across the road to end up under their car where it caught fire!

The people in the car were able to pull over and get out of the car before it burst into flames and was a total loss.

I stood there listening to this story and when done I looked at the woman and said "you have just described my worst nightmare!"

I think they thought I was a little unbalanced and perhaps I am, but I think my fear of mattresses on the road is a very healthy fear. I think there should be laws about getting rid of old mattresses like their are for toxic waste.

For pete's sake pay to have that mattress delivered or spend a few more bucks and buy it someplace where they deliver for free. If you are moving, rent an enclosed truck to move those mattresses.

I think people that insist that they can safely transport their mattresses are sadly mistaken and need to stick around when the things go flying. I don't think they do as proven by the number of mattresses I see just waiting to be picked up on the side of the roads.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

LA stuff

I am in Los Angeles for work and we have moved our office to downtown LA. Big buildings, movies being filmed and believe it or not a pretty large population that lives here. And I mean actually live downtown. There seems to be lots of new lofts and apartments for sale and for rent. There are 24 hour drug stores, a 24 hour I-Hop, subway sandwich shop, a grocery store, etc. It seems like a very vibrant area. Interesting.

Now what is also interesting is a story I overhead at lunch. Well, overheard? A guy sat down next to us with a friend to have lunch and this is what I heard:

OK, I'm going to tell you something and I don't want you to judge me or tell me I'm stupid.

Now you tell me who would not listen when a conversation starts with that?

The friend says - OK.

Well, I went out on Friday night and met a guy. We went back to his place. I was driving and I needed to stop at the ATM, so I pulled over and gave him my card and pin.

OK, at this point I had a hard time not judging him.

So he gives me my money and we go to his place. I finally get home about 4 in the morning and realize I do not have my ATM card. So I checked my account and realized that $600 was gone. I cancelled my card right away. (good call)

The friend just looked at him and did not say a word. That is a true friend.

I kind of think that the friend was going home and call up everyone they know and tell them this story, but he did not judge.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chile - The Final Day

Today is our last day in Chile our flight does not leave until 8:55 tonight so the first thing to do is to arrange for a late check out from our hotel. We have been told that we need to be at the airport about three hours before flight time so we need to check out about 5:00 and hope the hotel can do that. So we go to the front desk and ask about late check out we are told that we can check out as late as 6:00 pm. Yea, so we can go out and about for a little while today before returning to the hotel to shower and change for our long flight back to the states.

So we go over to the subway station (the close one) and grab a train to the Plaza des Arms. Which is the main plaza in Santiago. There is a beautiful church

the court house, shops, cafes, street performers and lots of people. There is also the Cafe Copacabana – who knew Copacabana is Chips favorite song?

We also went by a few stores that sold baby clothes. Not weird in itself, but the fact that they seem to stuff the baby clothes in the windows gave me the creeps.

I think we were all pretty tired and we walked around and then had lunch and went back to the hotel to shower and dress for the trip.

We get all showered and dressed and go down and check out and get in the cab for the ride to the airport. We get about three minutes away from the hotel when the drivers phone rings and he says something about papers and we have to go back to the hotel. So we go back and the desk clerk meets me at the door and asks for my passport and exit papers so they can make a copy. I think they have a copy already why couldn't they use that? Oh well he makes a copy and I get back in the cab and off we go again.

We get to the airport and stand in line. We get to the front of the line to be told that our flight leaves at 9:55, not 8:55. Something about the time change. Damn that time change is still messing with us. Oh well lets go visit Dunkin Donuts – yes they have Dunkin Donuts here – so we stop at a shop, go thru security, find our gate and wait and wait and wait.

At some point Chip gets up to go ask a question about her flight. We are all together until Dallas and then we go our separate ways – Chip to San Diego and us to SFO. So Chip goes up to the desk and the agent tells her – hey that flight to LA (cause she is going thru LA to get to San Diego) has been cancelled, but he can route her directly from Dallas to San Diego. That is a good thing, yes. However they might not be able to catch her luggage, they will call out her name and let her know.

So after a little while we hear her name called and her luggage has been found and reticketed to San Diego, all is well.

So we wait some more and finally it is time to board our flight. It is one of those planes with the 2-3-2 configuration of seats and we have the three. We get all settled in and the flight attendant tells Chip that the flight is not full and she can move if she would like. So she ditches us for 2 seats all to herself and we stretch out. Well I stretch out and my beloved becomes my pillow.

We have dinner and watch a movie and I pop a muscle relaxer and an ambian and I am thrilled when it seems 20 minutes later we touch down in Dallas. It is raining like crazy in Dallas and our 9:00 am flight is delayed until noon. Who cares we are on our way home. Then delayed until 1:15, again we don't really care.

Chip goes off to catch her flight and we part ways for now.

Finally we board the last flight of this trip and head for home. We arrive in SFO and Chief Matron Mare calls to see if we have landed and she volunteers to come pick us up! Yeah, thanks. So we head for baggage claim to claim our very wet bags. It seems that our bags sat outside the entire time we were in Dallas or at least that is what it seems like. We head outside and along comes our ride and we are home in no time. Where we open our bags and find out that they were not just wet on the outside everything in them is wet. So much for separating the clean from the dirty. Oh well.

Now off to start planning the next trip.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chile Day Twelve

Our first day in Santiago began with lots of sunscreen and a really good breakfast. We decided to go to an artisian village that was listed in a book in the hotel and said to be right at the subway stop and then over to the Bell Vista neighborhood. We had been told to use the subway here, it is good and it is cheap.

I look at the little map that the hotel provides to check out the subway stops nearby. It stopped at the Military School stop, but the map in the guide book showed more stops on the red number 1 line. It seemed like there should be a stop closer than the one on the hotel map. I asked down in the lobby and was directed to the Military stop, so out we go. Left out of the hotel, left at the next major road and down a very long road and then left again. It was a long walk.

Then in to buy BIP cards. They are a prepaid card that deducts the correct amount each time you use them. The subway charges different amounts at different times, sort of like bridge tolls in the bay area. So we each purchase one – not knowing that we could have all used the same one. You can just pass it back and forth. Oh well, live and learn.

So we get on the train – it is very easy to follow and very clean.

Each line has a stop at each end that define the direction, so you just follow the signs to the direction you want to go. So we knew which stop we wanted, the last one on the red 1 line. It was only two stops and we get out and no craft market at the entrance. Hmm...

My beloved asked a woman nearby and she directed us a market. Yes, where you can buy groceries. So we buy a little water and look around. Up the hill a little bit was what looked like a old spanish building, so we go towards it and find the market up there. There were quite a few little shops selling knit stuff, leather goods and of course jewlery. Lapis is a big thing here, they make everything with it. There were chess pieces, penquins, letter openers, bowls and jewelery. Oh I already mentioned that? Yes, I got a ring. A very nice ring and it could double as a murder weapon.

In the middle of the place they had a cage with birds in it. Peacocks, chickens and a strange little duck with a pom pom on its head.

We spent a couple of hours wandering around, bought a couple of things and had a natural juice and then headed off to the Bella Vista.

So back on the 1 line, transfer to the 5 line and up back into the sunshine.

As we were walking across the street and we noticed these dancers at the corner.

All over La Serena and Santiago at any stop light there were people that try and wash your windows or sell you fruit or in this case dance for you. Of course, they want you to pay them and sometimes they are worth it.

Then we went to a place for lunch called Plaza Bella Vista. It was mostly places to eat, I wish we had waited and gone to one of the neighborhood places we found a little later. There were also shops and bathrooms. Always good things.

Then we wandered the neighborhood. It was full of tree lined streets and little pink houses. No really, not just pink, but blue and green and orange. It was very colorful.

Cafes on every corner and the ever present guys that wash your car. You drive up, I think they are in certain areas, and they wave you in. You leave your car and when you come back it is clean. They get water from the fire hydrants. Not sure how much they make, but there are a lot of them and Chilean cars are very clean.

We walked a long time and we were very tired and made our way back to the subway. We looked at the map and decided to go one stop beyong the Military stop where we got on.

We did see this lovely young woman in uniform.

So we stop at Military and when we kept going and going Chip and I exchanged looks like hmm... maybe this was a mistake.

So we get off and go upstairs and try to get where we are. The map was not a lot of help. We asked a couple of people who pointed in different directions. We asked a guy who looked like like a bicycle cop and he pointed us in the right direction. We went about two blocks and took a left and went about three blocks and we were at our hotel. About half the distance as our trek to the subway station.

Dinner that night was just at the hotel. We ate and went to sleep.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chile Day Eleven

We arrived in Santiago and got a cab at the airport, just like I was told. There is a kiosk in the baggage claim area, go there and arrange for a cab to take you to the hotel. I go the kiosk and order the cab, give them the address and pay for it.

I thought the woman said 90,000 peso's. I think WOW!!! So I pull out my credit card and I am pleasantly surprised when it is 19,000 peso's.

We wait for our luggage and when we have it, we head out of exit 2. There is a guy standing there who takes my reciept and takes our luggage cart and puts us in a cab.

We drive for a while and end up at a really nice hotel right across the street from an Irish bar? Yes, an Irish bar and it is St. Paddy's day. The asian girls in short skirts with green top hats and mustaches might have given us a clue. So we go in to check in only to find out we have been taken to the wrong hotel. There are two Anottol hotels in town and we are at the other one. Crap. Back into a cab and off to our real hotel. Not across the street from an Irish bar, but it is fine.

We go out to find a place for dinner. We are given directions to a mall. There is an American woman at the check in desk who tells us to go thru the mall, out the other side to the Boulevard for a place to eat. So we do just what she says – we go thru a really big mall. The is and Espirt store, aren't they out of business back home?

We have to ask a couple of times for directions and finally find the Boulevard. It is an outdoor area full of places to eat and drink. There is music. There are lots of people. It is a beautiful night. We settle on a Peruvian place. Chip decides that she needs a burger, someone at the next table was having one and they looked pretty darn good. My beloved and I both had pasta – also good. Then we split a couple of desserts. Hey, we are on vacation.

Then it was back to the hotel. We did get turned around a little bit, but we made it back safe and sound for a little sleep.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chile Day Ten

Today we went out past the La Serena Airport to visit Patricia and Lyn, they are a couple of women from England that moved to Chile about six years ago. Chile Sister and Star Gazer met them thru their English/Spanish group I think. The have recently completed construction on their second home in Chile, it has been a long road to this location and this lovely house. It seems their first contractor built a very sub-standard house that was falling about around their heads.

It seems that in Chile people threaten to sue, but don't usually follow thru. Well, Patricia and Lyn were serious about following thru and eventually the guys lawyer convinced him that they were serious and he settled up with them and they were able to leave him behind and build this:

Now they came from England where the climate is a little bit different than their current location. Lyn is a big gardener and is going to make this blank slate into a fantastic garden. We have been invited back in five years to see it again. You can follow their progress on their blog Green Chile Gardens.

You sit on the terrace of their house and look out across the valley and realize what a special place this is. You see mountains, fields, cows, horses and cowboys practicing with their horses.

You also see building going on and earth being moved from place to place.

And then there was Boy. Boy is a cute little dog that has been adopted along with Lady by Patricia and Lyn. There is a big stray dog problem in Chile. It seems that people get cute little puppies and when they grow up into not so little dogs they put them out. They roam the streets looking for hand outs and I am sure just hoping that someone like Patricia and Lyn take them in.

Boy and Lady are very lucky little dogs, that is for sure. They, Patricia & Lyn, not Boy and Lady have a friend that tries to help get stray dogs spayed. I remarked that that sounds like a losing battle, but was told that for every female dog that is spayed there is the potential for 200 unwanted dogs not being born.

After hearing about the journey Patricia and Lyn have had to build a dream home and their nice life in Chile we took our leave and headed to the beach for lunch.

We sat on a deck overlooking the water on a beautiful day sharing our last meal with Chile Sister and Star Gazer.

I miss my sister. It is a strange feeling, I know we will always be close and I think we get closer despite the distance. Since she was in her teens we have lived far apart, she in Florida and me in Rhode Island. She in Maryland and me in California. And now her in Chile and me still in California – 5700+ miles. Perhaps someday we will live closer to each other, perhaps not but we will always be sisters.

Star Gazer & Chile Sister
My beloved and Chip:And then we were off to the airport for a couple of days in Santiago.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chile Day Nine - Part 2

We drove down from Gemini and into the Elqui Valley, we were headed for El Galpon hotel right outside a town called Pisco Elqui. Now Pisco Elqui used to be called La Union until 1936 when the government changed its name to prevent Peru from laying claim to the word Pisco.

For those of you that don't know, pisco is an alcholic beverage made from grapes. Hmm, sounds like wine you say. Well I guess you could say they are related. Pisco is made from muscat grapes and is fermented in much the same way, but after the fermentation it is distilled. There is a bit of a war going on with Peru about the origins of Pisco and who has the right to grow and call their product Pisco, so I am only talking about Chilean Pisco here.

By far the most popular drink made with this beverage is the pisco sour. The sour is made from lemon juice, sugar and pisco, shaken with ice and server in a tall thin glass. Chip and My beloved sampled a few of these. There is also the mango sour, the calefate sour (there is also a beer made from this berry that was sampled and approved), there is the piscola (piso and cola) and something made with ginger ale. All were given the stamp of approval. More on pisco in a few.

We made our way to El Galpon a small hotel outside of Pisco Elqui that has eleven or so small cottages for rent, a great pool and a restaurant. It was off season so I think we were the only ones there. It is run by a man named Anthony. Anthony is Chilean, but had left his home country and spent 20 years living in the US (Pasadena, Beverly Hills, LA, San Fransisco and finally Napa) before the call of his home country called him back in the early 90's. He bought this place and now caters to tourists. The place is planted with lots of fruit trees, we had an avacado tree right outside our door. Is avacado a fruit? We were surrounded by vineyards.

The vineyards here to up the mountain sides and since the wind can be quite intense, they are surrounded by big curtains, I guess they act as wind breaks. But everywhere you look there are vines. There were some around the pool area and the beautiful dark purple grapes hanging from them where just too much of a temptation for this girl. I pulled a bunch off and stuck one in my mouth. I did share them, because I can be nice for short periods of time, and they were good.

We left Star Gazer to a conference call and the rest of us headed down into the town proper. Pisco Elqui is a destination for a lot of people, in the summer they have a festival that fills every hotel and guest house. From what I read, the drunk tourists outnumber the sober people and it can get quite intense and some locals are not happy with the festival. Our group was one of just a few tourists that day.

There are some weird things here in Chile. Like native Chileans with names like O'Higgins – it seems that Bernardo O'Higgins was a hero here. Lot's of Europeans came here and left there names everywhere. And a store front with Buddha on it in a remote Chilean town. Can someone explain that?

We walked around a little bit and decided to get some lunch. Chile Sister picked out a cute little place on the corner, it had no windows just empty spaces where you would think windows would go, totally open to the weather, which I guess is not a big deal here. There was a big fireplace that they light in the cold weather, there was no need for it this day, it was hot. There was a big copper vine that covered the ceiling and at the end of each tendril was a light fixture, it was quite impressive. The floor was gravel. They had big wooden tables with heavy wooden chairs and also booths that were made of plaster that looked like something out of the Flintstones.

We all ordered a natural fruit drink (they can juice just about anything) and water either sin (without) or con (with) gas and then ordered food. Pizza seems to be a very big thing in Chile and this place had a couple that looked good. My beloved had one with pesto and tomato. I had a salad with something else that is very popular here, hearts of palm. I forget what Chip and Chile Sister ordered. But we got a dish to share that was fantastic. It was sundried tomatoes soaked in a local honey with grilled goat cheese. It was so good, I would have thrown my salad to the floor and eaten every piece of it and licked the plate it came on. I only refrained because my salad was so awesome. Sometimes it is weird to me how you can find these little out of the way (I mean we are in the fucking Andes Mountains in Chile for Christs sake) and get food that is so fantastic that it puts well known places to shame. We ate and we were happy.

We wrapped up what was left to bring back to the hardworking Star Gazer and walked around the town a little bit. We when to a little local crafts market and picked up a couple of t-shirts and Chip bought a tennis scort. She was warm and had not brought any shorts – well none of us did – we were at over 4000 feet and who thought it would be hotter than hot in March, which is the fall in Chile? Not us and not the locals who were talking about the weather and how odd it was.

Now our Chip is a tall girl and Chile is a nation of relitively short people. This lead to some issues for her. Tall girl, short doorways. Low hanging roof lines, tall girl. The issues? Head into doorways. Head into roof lines. Head needed a helmet. We did not have one, but I think Chip should invest in one. She did say ouch a little too often, I am thinking she may have a permanent dent in her head at this point.

We go back to the hotel and wait for Star Gazer to finish up her conference call. While waiting we took a little hike up the hill and looked out over the valley. The view was great. It was very green and I did wonder about that nearly empty lake we passed on the way here.

After a while Star Gazer was finally able to finish up her call (I felt bad for her) and we decided to go back into to town and walk around and look for a place for dinner. Pisco Elqui has a great old church, lots of little shops, a tarot card reader and a buddist place of some kind. Was not really sure what that was about, but the painting on the building was very cool.

We took some pictures and wandered and wouldn't you know it, we ended up at the same place for dinner that we had lunched at. Luckily the wait staff had changed, so maybe they did not think we were pigs. I tought about getting just the sun dried tomato goat cheese dish for dinner, but I really was trying to keep my cheese intake down to one meal a day. So another salad called my name and it was just as good as the first. I think there was a pizza or two, maybe a steak? Don't recall, but it was all yummy. Our waiter was just very cute, long hair and he moved thru the dinning room singing. Gotta love that. When it came to closing time, they just went over and closed the doors. I wondered what they did about the open windows area's. Maybe that was the reason the tables and chairs were either extremely heavy or part of the building.

We headed back to the hotel again and when we got out of the car we all just stared up at the sky. I have never seen so many stars. I want you to imagine the most stars you have every seen and then multiply that by thousands. It was amazing. We could actually see the Milky Way. And over there was the Southern Cross. Magellanic Clouds, we could see Magellanic Clouds. I know what you are thinking what are magellanic clouds? Cause that was what I said. What are those fuzzy cloud like things. Star Gazer said those are Magellanic Clouds, there is a small one and a big one. They are fucking irregular dwarf galaxies. Wait a minute I can see another galaxy with my bare eye. Yup. But only in the southern hemisphere. Toilets that flush counterclockwise (go flush your toilet and see which direction it goes) and Magellanic Clouds. Wow!!

We all slept like rocks and there was some issues during the night about finding the bathroom, I seem to recall turning right a little too soon and coming in contact with a wall with my forehead.

Next morning we all get up and dressed, some of us taking showers. Others (me) to impatient to wait for the hot water and thinking we had none. Wondering where we went for breakfast, Star Gazer says they are bringing it to us and sure enough a couple of minutes later a little Chilean lady shows up at the door with a big tray. Fresh rolls, butter, cheese, ham, scrambled eggs and the Bill Cosby breakfast, cake. There was also coffee and tea and my beloveds new favorite leche caliente (hot milk) for your coffee. Yum!!!

I gotta say the bread in Chile is pretty good. The eggs, good. The butter, good. The coffee, not so good. The cake kind of tasteless. I was surprised to find out that in general, Chileans do not like spicey foods, in fact you rarely see pepper on a table anywhere. Salt yes, pepper no.

Anyway after breaking our fast we headed further into the valley to a local crafts village. Once more paved road turned into dirt road, bumpy dirt road. I think because we were off season there was not a lot going on. There were a couple of shops open and lots of things hanging from the buildings, but not a lot of people. It seems like someone might have called some of the artists because after a little bit more of them started showing up. We did not purchase anything and Star Gazer and Chile Sister talked about coming back during the season next year.

We got back into the car and on the bumpy road, the car in front of us was flying down the road. We commented that he must know where all the smooth spots were. Hopefully... I pictured his head bouncing off the ceiling of his car.

We started back the way we came and found the pisco distillery that we were going to visit. Fundo Los Nichos. There were the copper stills with old mercury thermometers,

concrete pits in the ground where they put the grapes prior to fermentation. The entire place was old, the process and machinery did not look like they had been changed in 100 years. I thought of the wineries in California and how the board of health would be running screaming for the hills.

They had a room in the distillery where women were no allowed until the 40's I think. Men came into the celler and drank, women could come to the window and get pisco to take home. The tour was in Spanish, very fast Spanish. Not that it really mattered to me if it was fast or slow. The guide would give her speel in Spanish and look at Star Gazer. Star Gazer would translate for us. Well, I think she made some of it up based on her wine making knowledge and I think she copped to this later on. We could follow the tour because we had all been on wine tours and distillery tours and the process is basically the same.

After the tour was the tasting. Most participated and Star Gazer and Chile Sister bought six bottles. Six? They were not buying only for themselves. They have a friend that produces a pitcher of pisco sours whenever they come over so they bought her a couple of bottles.

We headed out and stopped again in Pisco Elqui at Mistral Distillery – not for more pisco – but for lunch. They had a great outdoor place to have lunch. I think there may have been a pisco sour or two, I could be wrong. It was good, but not as good as across the street.

Mistral was a poet that got the Nobel Prize two years before she died. I have never read her poetry but I understand it is dark. It kind of makes sense after reading her bio, a lover that committed suicide, parents that died while she was young, a sister that died leaving Mistral her son to raise, who also committed suicide at a young age. I wonder if it will be the same in English?

After lunch we headed by to La Serena and the puppies we have left behind.

Sorry about the text in some of this. I could not get it right. M.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chile Day Nine - Part 1

Oh so sorry for the break in posting. But I guess we were having just too much fun or something. Then there was the travel. So here we go - day nine.

Today we headed out of La Serena to the mountains. Yes, the Andes Mountains. Holy crap, did I really just write that? We are on our way up to the Gemini South Telescope. For those of you that want to know, there is a Gemini North – it is in Hawaii. Gemini – Twins – two telescopes – cool.

After packing up the car we headed for a gas station. Yes, they sell gas by the liter here and it is way more expensive than we pay. But, they have full service stations. Think about it, can you remember the last time you did not have to pump your own gas?

So off we go thru the country side of Chile. We passed a dam and those that have traveled with me know I just can't pass up a dam or stop using the word endlessly. This dam created a giant lake to provide water and power. They flooded a valley that included two towns, vineyards, orchards, stone walls. One town agreed early to move and buildings were moved , the church was moved, houses rebuilt and the people moved. The other town held out for more money until the last minute and then they had to move quickly. They ended up with a town not so well built and not very pretty. Now looking at this picture, I really hope somebody is concerned with the lack of water in the lake.

It took about an hour to get to the turn off for the telescope. There are actually three telescopes in these mountains and a fourth is being planned. The turn off is a dirt road, a very well maintained dirt road, it is someone's job to keep it neat and tidy and they are very good at their job.

The dirt road is very windy and narrow, they cut the road into the side of the mountain. We finally come to a “Y” in the road and to the left is TOLOLO a big telescope and to the right SOAR and Star Gazer's GEMINI. We stop at this point, there is an overlook where you can look up at SOAR and GEMINI and the proposed fouth telescope. You can see across a valley and you really do feel as if you are on the moon. There is nothing else in sight.

We go right and travel quite a bit more and after nearly an hour and 50 kilometers later (30 miles for us American's) we are at GEMINI. It is huge and just like you have seen in movies. A big metal dome with a part that slides open to let them look at the sky. Notice I did not say stars, because sometimes they are not looking at stars. Hmm..

So we get to go inside, first we check out the bathroom – hey it was a long ride. Then we go into the control room. There are banks of computer screens set up in groups. On one side of the room are six screens where the astronomer sits, on the other side of the room another bank of six monitors where the person that controls the movement of the telescope sits.

Yeah, I know what you are thinking. Hey, I always thought that there was just some person sitting on a high chair looking thru a little eye thingy and that person controlled a big wheel that moved the telescope around to where they wanted to look. Right? Wrong.

The astronomer writes a program that is fed to the telescope and the controller moves the telescope to the right place and the program captures the information the astronomer is looking for. Then the astronomer takes that data and reads it and figures out what has been found or seen.

I also found out that astronomers sleep during the day. I guess I really never thought about that, but it makes sense. There is also an entire crew of people there during the day. Fixing things, tweaking stuff, making sure things are running properly.

They are also doing something with lasers, they shine them up to the sky and get a point that they can then measure and use that to remove the distortion from other things they are looking at. Who thought of this stuff??

We met a very nice man name Gustovo, who gave a report to Star Gazer that the laser tests the night before had been great. No problems. He also talked to us about how the laser gets turned off and on so that they don't shoot the laser beam thru any airplanes that might be flying over or hit any satellites that are up there. He said listening over the loud speakers to the people controlling the laser and spotting the planes is like listening to a sci-fyi movie.

Then we got in an elevator, a very quite, very slow, very steady elevator. Did I mention big? It took us up to the upper level where the actual telescope lives. GEMINI sites on a floor that rotates under a roof that opens, it can explore any area of the sky. She, I'm thinking GEMINI is a she, nobody said this I just felt it, so she can tilt 90 degrees side to side, her mirror (she has no lens) is 8 meter's wide.

Side story here, there is a tunnel on the way to GEMINI, on the regular road. They had to make sure when the Chileans built the tunnel that it would be big enough to bring not just the mirror, but all the other huge equipment. OK, back to story.

8 meters! Think about that, it is big. She has another mirror, smaller up above, she has all kinds of equipment hanging off of her, she gets a bath with soap and water every once in a while. She has a cover over her to protect her from all kinds of things when she is not being used.

The mirror gets re-silvered about once every five years. They unhook all the stuff attached to her and use a 50 ton crane to carefully lift her up and onto a special cart, then they put her onto a special place on the floor that is really a gigantic elevator and bring her down to the basement. They put her into a vacuum machine where they strip off the old coating and recoat her with about a nickel's worth of silver. Pretty damn thin coating. Then she gets a few more coats ending with a protective coating. Then it is back on the cart, up the elevator and back to work.

GEMINI has all kinds of boxes hanging off her. They do all kinds of things, they measure all kinds of stuff, they filter out certain types of light. There is a lot going on and Star Gazer was full of information and it was exciting to see and hear her excitement. She loves her work and it certainly shows. Me, all I could ask was how do you get those pretty pictures. She smiled and explained that to me.

We were there a little over an hour and it was one of the most exciting times of my life. I can remember going to the Boston Museum of Science when I was a kid, I think I was just as excited today. Thank you Star Gazer for a fantastic experience that not everyone gets. If you are ever in the area ask for a tour before hand, they do do them for the general public. They also have dignitaries, like the Crown Princess of Thailand! You just never know who might be on that tour bus.

Then back down the mountain and finally to paved surface. Next time part two of this great day.