Jul 30

StraussWalzesStrauss (Family) Waltzes, Polkas and Marches, performed by Wiener Philharmoniker, Willi Boskovsky ★★★★
I love the Viennese music of the Strauss family. These pieces are very uplifting, and all have a strong march or dance beat. Willi Boskovsky and the Wiener Philharmoniker does a superlative job of recreating these pieces, and the recordings are flawless.
That having been said, I listened to these pieces straight through, a full 6 CDs, 7 hours and 24 minutes. I became convinced that it would be a torture worse than anything the Chinese ever had invented  to lock somebody in a room and play them this music continuously. In 24 hours, they would be totally insane. Three quarters time music endlessly heard with the same stylistic phrase and piece endings drives one crazy. The Strausses thankfully had the ability to invent wonderful tunes. Who could not become addicted to An der Schönen Blauen Donau, Frühlingsstimmen, Wiener Bonbons, etc., etc. Yet, creativity has its bad side, with orchestral imitations that are cheap, such as bird song, explosions, thunder and lightning, and the like, which are more annoying than beautiful. Viennese Strauss music is best heard with lots of champagne or beer on board, and works as well with the accordion polka band as with the full orchestra. We will leave the Strauss family to the occasional listening circuit.
This set is a beautiful compendium of the Viennese Strauss family music. There are larger sets, but I fear listening to such a set would drive the insanity to much deeper levels. Stick with this set and you won’t go wrong.
 

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Jul 27

1. Adventure #1 – cycling with Aaron in the Willamette Valley 12-13JUL2013
Oddly, I didn’t get any cycling photos, as I didn’t want to carry a heavy camera along, and I was riding my new Gran Feuchto, which doesn’t have any racks.  You can see the course of the rides for each of the two days here…
a) Saturday
b) Sunday 
Here of some photos that were taken while NOT riding…

Aaron and I relaxing on the back porch

Aaron and I relaxing on the back porch


Aaron reading in the backyard Hammock

Aaron reading in the backyard Hammock


Anita in the garden. They have raised gardens.

Anita shows her green thumb in the garden. They have raised gardens.


The backyard greenhouse

The backyard greenhouse


Aaron built a shed in the backyard with an extension to hold a hammock. A MOST brilliant idea!

Aaron built a shed in the backyard with an extension to hold a hammock. A MOST brilliant idea!


2. Adventure #2 – Backpacking with the Flanagan Grandchildren to Summit Lake 19-20JULY2013.
I had promised Patrick and Sammy a backpacking trip this year, but wasn’t feeling in tiptop shape so decided on a shorter hike, 2.5 miles but mostly straight up. We decided that since the hike was short, we would also take Ethan. The kids were a total joy to have along, watching them discover the delights of getting out into the wild and discovering the unknown.
Summit Lake. The hill in the background is what we were standing on in the next photo.

Summit Lake. The hill in the background is what we were standing on in the next photo.


A wonderful view of Mt. Rainier from Summit Hill

A wonderful view of Mt. Rainier from Summit Hill


 
The loop around the lake without our packs on

The loop around the lake without our packs on


 
Patrick in great style. The kids were frequently preoccupied with the snow.

Patrick in great style. The kids were frequently preoccupied with the snow.


 
Massive fields of glacier lilies were noted. They grow only in a small region of the NW.

Massive fields of glacier lilies were noted. They grow only in a small region of the NW.


Tired children reluctant to wake up the next morning.

Tired children reluctant to wake up the next morning.


Three happy children and one happy dad at the end of the trip.

Three happy children and one happy dad at the end of the trip.


This was the first trip in which I was able to utilize my new camera, an EOS M. It is a mirrorless camera, with the same resolution and controls as most of the EOS rebel line, 18 MPixel, APC format, but with interchangeable lenses. Its action in focusing and taking photos is a little slow, which okay for mostly scenic and landscape photos. There is no flash, but I have a very small flash designed to work with the camera. One can also put a gps apparatus on the camera.
Canon EOS M.

Canon EOS M.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Jul 27

Dean-1Dean Kenneth Crum, born 09JULY2013 to Doug and Diane Crum. Yet another grandchild, making it 8. He’s a real cutie, and well behaved. May he always grow in wisdom and strength and love for the Lord. Opa will need to take him on his first backpack trip, and help him enjoy his first cigar and beer.

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Jul 27

Napolitano3in1Three in One (Constitutional Chaos, The Constitution in Exile, and A Nation of Sheep), by Andrew Napolitano ★★★★
Napolitano can be a quite depressing writer to read. These three books, while published separately between 2003 and 2007, deal with similar issues, and have a very similar writing style, making them completely appropriate to publish together.  Napolitano, in these three books, gives the reader a barrage of documented court cases which show how the courts have ignored the constitution in their deliberations. Constitutional Chaos deals with how the government is the largest lawbreaker of them all. Free speech is gagged, respect for private property is not held, government will commit crimes in order to supposedly catch criminals, and often will force somebody into a crime in order to convict them. Worse, the government will bribe witnesses, intimidate witnesses to force convictions, and will deny a person habeas corpus, all while pretending to be operating in good faith with the constitution. Napolitano describes his journey away from being a die-hard Republican into thinking both parties are accomplices in destroying the constitution The Constitution in Exile continues the theme, this time providing a broader history of court cases from history, starting with Marbury vs. Madison, showing how the courts have engaged in judicial review, an activity not permitted by the constitution. Napolitano ends with a discussion of the PATRIOT act, showing how it has essentially removed any sense of right to privacy, all in the name of security. A Nation of Sheep extends the privacy issue, and argues with bewilderment as to why the US public would let the US government get away with what they do. The public doesn’t seem to understand that a small amount of security is coming at the cost of all of our freedom, the reason a revolutionary war was fought. The picture of the United States taking liberty to defy international law (often of which was written by the USA), in engaging in torture, subterfuge, absence of habeas corpus (no trial) paints a messy picture of the US being a rogue state of which we would easily condemn if it wasn’t ourselves. These books are a very depressing but realistic wake-up call, worth reading if you consider yourself concerned about the USA.
 

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Jul 27

Theodore&Woodrow
 
Theodore and Woodrow, by Andrew Napolitano ★★★★★
This book was read on my iPad using the Kindle interface. I gave the book five stars even though it has it’s problems. The title is a little bit deceptive, in that not much is discussed about Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. My first impression was that this book would provide a history of these two presidents followed by descriptions on the damage they did to the US constitution. Instead, Napolitano organized the book as each chapter revolving around a particular freedom that was lost, spending a few paragraphs showing what Teddy or Woody did to “start the ball rolling”, with explanations of where we are today. Sixteen chapters range from the rise of the state controlling education, regulating us to death, creating racism, issues with labor laws, international politics, etc. etc. are all discussed and shown perhaps not to have started by Teddy or Woody, but to have brought into the mainstream of governmental influence by these two characters.  Napolitano doesn’t blame everything on Teddy and Woody, as  destruction to our constitutional freedoms began soon after the constitution was ratified among the various states. This is a quite educational book to explain how we possibly got into the mess that we’re in, worth reading by anybody interested in politics of the USA.

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Jul 27

HelveticaHelvetica, directed by Gary Hustwit ★★★★
This is a film that those in the typesetting and graphic arts industry will find most interesting. When I started my career in typesetting in 1970, Helvetica was just becoming popular as a typeface. It had a sense of presence that none of the other sans serif typefaces manifested, and useful in almost any circumstance as a headline type. This movie documents its creation in a small type foundry in Switzerland and eventually landing as the most popular, and perhaps most controversial typeface ever created. In the 1990’s it was considered to represent big corporations and capitalism, as well as the cause for the VietNam and Iraq war. Really. After the 1990’s, Helvetica sustained a rescue from the avant garde graphic designers who preferred to use type not to communicate but to express feelings. This movement led to “grunge” typefaces, handwritten type, and type set in a fashion that did not make language communication a top priority. All of that is gone, and Helvetica lives on. The movie had interviews with many top graphic designers and type designers, all reflecting on their experience with Helvetica, and all realizing the Helvetica typeface as a an unusually unique, if not perfect typeface for communication. It’s quite worth a watch if you’re into graphic arts.
 

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Jul 27

VerdiCompleteWorksVerdi The Complete Works – Various Performers ★★★★
Verdi was a most prolific Italian opera composer, writing 30 operas, of which this set has their performances. He also wrote minor works, including a string quartet, some ballet material, and some songs, which are also included in this set. The performances and recordings are superb. Verdi is a somewhat monolithic composer. While his compositions show some advancement over the years, it is far less than one sees in a Mozart, Beethoven or a Wagner. While he is a master of melody, much of his technique repeats from opera to opera. Thus, when listening straight through, unless one is intimate with all of his operas, it will sound like one very long opera. Fortunately, his last few operas show some stylistic and creative variations to make them interesting. I’m not saying that Verdi is a bad composer, and it is difficult to not enjoy all of his operas. Yet, my desire to fill in my collection with the operas of Verdi that were yet missing had too high of expectations as I wasn’t missing much. This is a marvelous set for the music collector. For the slightly interested opera listener, select among his 5 or so most popular operas and you’ll hear enough Verdi to know what he’s all about.
 

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Jul 11

waffen-1Yesterday I picked up my new bicycle. It is a BMC Gran Fondo GF01. It has Shamal Campy wheels, Super Record Campy components (compact chainring, 12-29 cassette), Look pedals, Continental 4-season 700 x 28 tires.

I had extreme hesitation taking the bike out, since I really felt washed out on the last ride (see my last post), and hadn’t ridden at all otherwise since my right shoulder dislocated (again, see my last post). I also had not ridden hard in over a month, from before Jonny and I went to Germany.  I had visions of my wheels slipping out, and re-crashing. The memory of the e-bike incident stuck hard in my head with numerous flashbacks. So, I approached the ride with extreme caution. My highest speed was 64 km/hr. I purposely attacked a series of hills having 18-20% grade. I went a little over 68 km. The ride can been seen on my Garmin page

Assessment. . .

1. It’s the most comfortable bike I’ve ever ridden on. Many of the roads were in terrible shape, and the bicycle handled bumps quite nicely. The frame has enough give to give a smooth ride.

2. The handlebars were several centimeters closer to me than I’m used to. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

3. Shifting is awesome.

4. I bicycle is very comfortable on hills. It has a slight tendency on the steepest hills to want to do a “wheely”, but the bicycle is also the most comfortable I’ve ever ridden while peddling in the standing position.

5. The bicycle has incredible response to pedaling. This was a most favorable feeling; when you kicked up speed, the bicycle was not sluggish in accelerating.

6. Downhill handling was comfortable. Though I could have gone faster, never did I feel the bicycle wobble or give a sense of instability.

So, I think it was a worthy purchase. I still love my Steelman, and will use both bicycles.

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Jul 07

Michigan2013-18

Adventures in up-state Michigan, with Dr. Peter T.
Peter and I had been planning this trip for many moons now, down to minor details. Actually, most of the planning was actually done by Peter, and he did a most masterful job of it, even with the foibles that will be noted below. I had arranged with AirCaddy.com and shipbikes.com to get my Randonee touring bicycle back to Michigan. I didn’t want to take my better bicycle, the CoMotion for fear of anything happening to it untoward. The bicycle arrived in Harbor Springs in mint condition.
I arrived in Harbor Springs in far less than mint condition. Two weeks before I was to fly out to Detroit to meet Peter, I was in a bicycle accident. I went for a bicycle ride along the Orting Trail with Betsy, she riding her new Stromer e-bicycle, and me on another bicycle. She was experiencing some discomfort in her buttocks, as is usual when one climbs on a bicycle and rides for 15+ miles, and so decided to call it quits. I ran ahead to get the car. After coming back to where she was waiting for me, I decided to ride the e-bike home and let her drive the car home. Without thinking, I jumped on the bicycle and started pedaling before I was situated on the bicycle. The bicycle power assist kicked in unexpectedly and threw me quite violently down onto the pavement. I noticed some shoulder pain and pain in the side, but didn’t think much of it. I soon realized that I was a touch more injured that I thought. After a quick shower, Betsy took me to the hospital ER, where they found my shoulder in a subluxed (partially dislocated) posterior position. It was the same shoulder that I had anterior dislocated several times while rock climbing, and subsequently had a Bristow repair. It worked at preventing an anterior dislocation, but did nothing to stop a posterior dislocation, which can be a bit more serious. The ER doc got my shoulder back in, and during the next week, I discovered massive bruising over my entire right side, especially over my thigh and leg. I could barely walk. The ER doc told be to leave my shoulder in a sling, something which actually increased my pain, and so I removed it. When I arrived in Detroit, I was on Oxycodone and in serious enough pain that I was only sleeping 3-4 hours/night. Peter didn’t realize that he was taking a total train wreck on an adventure.
Peter was waiting for me at the airport, and our first stop that evening while driving up to Harbor Springs was at Frankenmuth. Frankenmuth is a little vacation village north of Detroit with a distinctly German theme. We stopped for German food, which was given to us in excess, but fitted the bill of being delectable. Quite late that night we arrived at Summerview, Peter’s vacation home in up-state Michigan. My bicycle arrived intact via FedEx (see shipbikes above) and was easily reassembled.
29JUN – trial run – we rode our bicycles from Harbor Springs to Petosky, and had lunch in Petosky before riding back. The weather was cool, but with very few clouds. The week before was quite rainy. Final preparations were made for our adventure. We did a short paddle kayak ride on the bay to help warm up our feet.

Peter in Petoskey

Peter in Petoskey


Summerview

Summerview


Summerview Inside

Summerview Inside


30JUN – Day #1, Harbor Springs to Beaver Island
The ride initially paralleled our ride yesterday to Petoskey, after which we headed south. After rounding several large lakes and crossing a small ferry, we arrived in Charlevoix in order to catch the ferry to Beaver Island which left at 14:30. Beaver Island by ferry took over 2.5 hours.
Boyne City, on Lake Charlevoix

Boyne City, on Lake Charlevoix


Peter in Boyne City

Peter in Boyne City


Ferry ride #1 of 5

Ferry ride #1 of 5


The Beaver Islander ferry

The Beaver Islander ferry


01JUL – Day #2, Beaver Island to Indian River
Because the ferry didn’t leave the island until until 11:20, Peter and I had some time to explore part of the island by bicycle. Most of the roads on the island are dirt roads, and not very stable, with a lot of loose sand and gravel. Once the ferry  brought us back to Charlevoix, the ride was at first the most beautiful of all along the lower lip of Little Traverse Bay en route to Petoskey. Past Petoskey, it was another story. Pickerel Lake Road was a bit hilly for my traumatized corpse, but then we hit some gravel road, which was truly not nice. Gravel can be fun to ride on, but this wasn’t. It was loose scree and quite unstable, while the last thing I needed was another fall. We finally made it to Indian River, and not having had lunch, had hoped for a restaurant or store close to our reserved cabin. The cabin ended up being five miles out of Indian River. We arrived there about 6 pm, and everything was closed. It was a resort with cabins beside a lake. It looked great on the website, and was quite adequate for us, but not exactly what the webpage pictured it as. Everything was closed, and dinner would have meant a 5 mile ride back into town. So, dinner became a whiskey sour, gummy bears, and a good cigar. We survived.
King Doug's place on Beaver Island

King Doug’s place on Beaver Island


The cycle route to Petoskey

The cycle route to Petoskey


 
Little Traverse Bikepath was well marked

Little Traverse Bikepath was well marked


02JUL – Day #3, Indian River to St. Ignace via Mackinac Island
The ride to Mackinaw City was quite pleasant, being either quiet country roads or well-graveled rails-to-trails paths. Cheboygan was our first stop for breakfast at Bob’s Big Boy. We then stayed on the highway to Mackinaw City, caught the ferry to Mackinac Island, and did the obligatory loop of the island by bicycle. Mackinac Island does not permit automobiles or motorized vehicles, and so there were many bicycles and horse-drawn carraiges on the island. It was a beautiful tourist trap par excellence, but that did not lessen the delights of beer and ice cream on the island. From the island, the ferry took us to St. Ignace, where we stayed at an old historic hotel, the Boardwalk, right across from the ferry terminal.
Breakfast with Bob

Breakfast with Bob


Ferry #4 to Mackinac Island

Ferry #4 to Mackinac Island


 
Mackinac Island street scene

Mackinac Island street scene


Mackinac Island horse carraiges

Mackinac Island horse carraiges


 
Ferry #5 - a fast ferry

Ferry #5 – a fast ferry


03JUL – Day #4, St. Ignace to Harbor Springs
We had breakfast at the hotel and headed off. They do not allow bicycles on the bridge, and so we had to identify an obscure point where one caught the shuttle. The Garmin map shows us doing a few loops in search of a wooded footpath that took us to the toll gate at the north end of the Mackinac Bridge. Back in Mackinaw City, we headed west along upper Lake Michigan to Cross Village. On the way, we encountered some beautiful sand dunes where we stopped for a rest. From Cross Village, the road went inland and hilly, but never steep. It was typical forest and meadow as is seen in upper Michigan.
Awaiting the shuttle to take us across the Mackinac Bridge

Awaiting the shuttle to take us across the Mackinac Bridge


04JUL – rest day, not doing much. I re-packaged my bicycle, as Peter went to pick up Tina. We went into town to watch fireworks. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode, a thing of the past, with lots of American flags, and red, white, and blue banners decorating the homes. There were many families out for the evening, eating ice cream cones and walking the streets.
05JUL – sailing. Peter decided to get out the sail boat and go for a ride. Tina and I haplessly accompanied Peter on an adventure across the lake, having no clue as to how to sail a sailboat. Fortunately, Peter knew what to do, and we had a marvelous as well as very sunny time on Little Traverse Bay. It’s amazing how peaceful it is on a sailboat.
The boat

The boat


Admiral Peter takes the helm

Admiral Peter takes the helm with Tina watching


Full sail into the bay

Full sail into the bay


First mate Ken

First mate Ken


 
06JUL – it’s never easy to say goodby when one has had a great time. I was feeling better, and the bicycle ride actually removed most of my aches. The Detroit area had many boarded up homes, and the airport was rather empty. It was nice to see Betsy again as I hit down at SeaTac Airport.
Total Ride Statistics
Day #1  69.56 km, time 4:38, 467 meters elevation gain, 2265 cal, 15 km/hr average speed
Day #2 85.29 km, time 4:57, 665 meters elevation gain, 2658 cal, 17.3 km/hr average speed
Day #3 74.07 km, time 4:00, 345 meters elevation gain, 2086 cal, 18.8 km/hr average speed
Day #4 69.83 km, time 3:37, 569 meters elevation gain, 2353 cal, 19.9 km/hr average speed
Total 298.75 km  (186 miles), time 17 hours and 12 minutes, 2046 meters climbed (6713 feet), 9362 calories burned up just from riding.
It is interesting that it appeared that our performance seemed to improve day by day, and since I was slowing down Peter, probably suggested that I was recovering from the trauma several weeks ago.
 

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Jul 07

HobbitThe Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien ★★★★★
I believe this is my third time through the Hobbit, this time read entirely on my iPad via Kindle. It is a great book to read when engaging in an adventure, and this time it was a bicycle ride with an old friend in upper Michigan. Bilbo Baggins was a Hobbit, called on by the wizard Gandalf to assist the dwarves in freeing their native homeland from the dragon Smaug. Tolkien skillfully combines the excitement of an adventure, with its many obstactles and dangers, as well as the excitement of the discovery of new lands and new friends, to induce one to leave ones’ comfortable habitat and journey to unknown lands. Tolkien skillfully mixes an exciting story with profound moral lessons to teach the necessity of doing what it right, even if it is costly. This, along with the Lord of the Rings, will remain one of my favorite books of all time.
The new Hobbit movie (which will be a trilogy, and only the first portion so far offered to the public) takes many liberties but remains reasonably faithful to the text of the story.
 

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