Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Magic Little Black Doggie

Once upon a time the was a little black doggie named Inu.

Although he was only 14 years old (2 years in muggle lives) he had already been through some really hard times.

He was super loving, and really just an absolutely lovely and loyal little doggie, but his evil first owner had rejected him. This horrible example of humanity had turned him in to the dog pound. The owner was originally from Mordor but was living in disguise near El Paso when he sent Inu to the gas chambers in Canutillo.

Fortunately for Inu a wonderful couple named Princess Monica and Crown Prince Bobbo happened by the dog pound in Canutillo. They fell in love with little Inu, and they took him home to their 2,800 square foot palace in the upper valley. There Inu had a green lawn, a solar heated swimming pool, and a hot tub.

Inu had several canine friends he lived with there. Inu has a gigantic heart. So even though his physical size is somewhat diminutive of course he was soon well established as King of the Palace of La Mirada.

Then one day a really strange thing happened.

A fat old man walked in to visit Prince Bobbo. He sort of looked like a tubby Gandalf, complete with the grey beard. Inu and the old man were both love stuck. Each was madly, head-over-heels in love at first sight.

After several visits by the old man to Palace La Mirada the Crown Prince Bobbo suggested that maybe Inu should go live with the fat, grey bearded old man for a couple of weeks. Sort of a trial marriage.

There has been no turning back from there. Inu and the bearded old man are now solidly connected as a team. They sleep together, they eat together, and they watch TV together. Every day they walk together at least two miles out in the magic desert wilderness. Inu chases magic white tailed rabbits and disappearing lizards.

You see, Inu is a magic doggie. He has hidden talents and skills.

Today they visited a big, wet, green grass park. It is so nice it almost seemed like a mirage out in the desert. Inu was so joyous that for a moment he forgot that he needed to hide his magic skills from the muggles driving by on Vista Del Sol in their SUVs. Inu was so happy that he simply took off flying, right in front of everyone. So the old man pulled out his magic wand and POOF! made everyone forget that they had seen the little black doggie who could fly.

Freedom Of The Press

How far does one legitimately take freedom of the press?

Here is America we tend to believe that we live in the most open and free society on the planet. But many times this is not true. We “self censor” enough stuff that honestly we get a rather one-sided viewpoint on lots of issues.

There is a tendency to view Poland as ex-Soviet bloc. So it must be really closed, and sort of dumb. Partially true, but the press there is not afraid to come right out and say what they think.

The prime minister of Germany currently is Angela Merkel, herself originally raised and educated in East Germany. She is involved in a rather open feud with England and Poland over how intrusive the European Union will be. Both the Brits and the Poles want more freedom and national sovereignty , and Germany (Merkel) wants more power and control for the big countries like Germany and France.

A newspaper in Poland has raised some eyebrows in Germany. They used a 21 year old model and Photoshop software to create a funny image of Angela Merkel breast feeding the Polish president and the prime minister.

Can you imagine the waves that would ensue if some nationwide publication in America published a tongue-in-cheek Photoshop picture of President Bush giving oral sex to Vice President Cheney?

Monday, June 25, 2007

GPS Satellite Navigation

I used to have an amazing collection of maps. They were real important to me. I can remember 20 years ago when I was transferred to Southern Louisiana feeling almost desperate and thinking, “Well at least I have dual gas tanks on this pickup truck and both are full. Surely I will run into a real highway before I run both tanks dry.”

When I accepted the job as General Manager of the European Division of our company I can remember quite well at first I was working 14 hours per day. One night on the way home in the dark I got lost and completely disoriented. I can remember just wanting to pull over and cry. Here I was totally lost in a foreign country where they did not speak English or Spanish. And I was only about a mile from the hotel where I was living.

Well, no more. I now own very few maps. I almost always carry my portable GPS with me, and I have GPSs in both cars and on my motorcycle. The GPS has stored in its non-volatile memory all the streets and roads in America, and it talks to me verbally telling me to turn left or right. It shows a moving map in color.

Over the last few years I have taken pictures of my GPSs in various locations.

To the right is a picture of the GPS I had permanently mounted in my Toyota Prius in Europe. Since it had a gyroscope built in and was connected to the car’s speedometer and backup lights it could continue to function quite well mile after mile when travelling underground in tunnels. It worked just fine in the Gottard tunnel going through the Swiss Alps and in the long tunnels that go under various parts of Brussels, Belgium and Dusseldorf, Germany. Both cities have turnoffs and exits in their tunnels, so it is important to know where you are even when your GPS cannot pick up the weak satellite signals.

I rode the Thallys high speed train many times. If I got on the first train of the morning just before 8:00 am about 10 miles from my house I could get to Paris, France early. I would spend the whole day in Paris then return on the last train of the evening, and end up getting home at a reasonable time and sleeping in my own bed.

They claimed that this train ran at 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph). One time I turned on my GPS and by holding it right next to the train’s window I was finally able to log onto enough satellites for it to work. I should have expected that the train had an excellent cruise control, and that it ran at EXACTLY 300 km/hr.

Once in England I was near the Roman settlement of Vindolanda when I saw a very small shard of terrasigilata red pottery laying on the ground. So I took a picture of it with my GPS so as to remember the exact location.

In Germany we were in a farmer’s field one day and found some Roman roof tiles. The Roman Legion XV Primigenia was indeed stationed at this location from AD 43 to AD 69.

One of the pieces of roof tile even had the mark of Legion XV imprinted on it. I used my digital camera to take a picture of the GPS so I would be certain to remember the location.

When one travels to the UK it is possible to take one’s own car through the tunnel under the English Channel, but many times I flew over and rented a car there. Since they drive on the other side of the road than is normal in continental Europe and the USA, cars have the steering wheel on the right hand side.

This means that you are driving on the wrong side of the road, in a strange country, the gear shift lever is on the left side of you, you look up and to the left for the rear view mirror, etc. It can be very disorienting, especially if you are alone and you are trying to navigate by a road map.

But with a portable GPS the stress level goes way, way down. This is a picture I took up in the Scottish Highlands in a rent car, to show that the GPS is to the left of the driver.

I drove my Toyota Prius down to Italy.

This is a picture of my GPS when I was stopped on the Appian Way in Rome.

One of the nicest trips I ever took to the UK took me to Frazer’s Hush in the North of England. Where I wanted to go was way out in the country and one-lane paved roads.

Since I brought my own GPS with me it was really no problem to navigate that where I wanted to go.

For the last few years I have tended to gravitate to the Garmin brand of GPS. Installing their software is always a headache, but once you get over this hurdle they are excellent machines.

So now that I have moved back to America I have a very large Garmin GPS mounted in the Toyota Corolla. It is not connected to the car in any way (other than 12 vdc from the lighter plug) and does not have a gyro built in. But it works just great anyway.

I guess I have owned 7 or 8 Garmins. Even though the installation process of their software sucks big time, I am completely sold on them. One solution is just to buy a model that already comes loaded with all the roads in America in non-volatile memory. This makes their software almost unimportant.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Holocaust Museum El Paso, Texas


I've been to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany a couple of times. I've also been to the concentration camp and gas chambers at Dachau and several other Nazi WWII prisons. I visited the one in Cologne 4 or 5 times. I've been to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam several times.
I was raised as an Episcopalian, but I have tremendous sympathy and compassion for what happened to the Jews.
In today's newspaper I was delighted to read this little article saying that they have begun the move to their new location. I'm so excited. Leslie Novick and her crew really know how to put together a museum!


El Paso, Texas - New Museum of History

I really have no idea how many museums I have been to. But probably a thousand. Maybe more. Really.

Even though I grew up in El Paso, and graduated from Austin High and UTEP, I later lived in Europe for almost 20 years. One of my favourite forms of recreation was to go visit museums. I’ve been to the British Museum in London 5 or 6 times and the Louvre in Paris at least 10 times. The Vatican museums in Rome are among the finest anywhere in the world. I’ve been to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and some excellent museums in New York City.

I have been to Roman museums, museums of natural history, geology, pottery, art, science, photography, glass, Victorian era warfare, mining, cars, butterflies, airplanes, archaeology, Holocaust museums, oil lamps, telephones, WWII, Nazi prisons and concentration camps, the battle of the bulge, the Normandy invasion, religion, Verdun, Rene’ Magritte’s house in Brussels, Juan Miro’, Picasso, etc. I have walked most of Hadrian's wall in Northern England.
I have visited the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens and the Pantheon in Rome. The Egyptian museum in Cairo is great as are the great pyramids of Giza. I've dangled my bare feet in Lake Tiberius (the Sea of Galilee), heard fireworks in the Golan Heights, and swam in the Jordan River. I’ve even been to the UFO museum at Roswell.

I am a life member of the Columbus N.M. historical society and also a life member of the Concordia Heritage Association. The picture I'm trying to paint is that I like museums, and I like history. And I know a little bit about both.

Today I went to the just re-opened bigger and better El Paso Museum of History. El Paso has a very rich history. I am a third generation El Pasoan, and I love this city. I was really excited about visiting the new museum.

Thanks to a bond issue passed by the voters, it is housed is an absolutely stunningly beautiful building right next to the El Paso Museum of Art. This is a link to their web site: http://www.ci.el-paso.tx.us/history/

Here is how Webster’s dictionary defines the word Museum:
mu.se.um \myu.-'ze--*m, ': an institution devoted to the procurement, care, and display of objects of lasting interest or value; also : a place where objects are exhibited.

In other words one normally goes to museums to see objects, i.e. things. Normally old things. Virtually all of the museums I have ever been to also provide a certain amount of education, but at least 75% to 80% of a good museum experience lies in seeing old objects.

I’m afraid that the El Paso Museum of History sadly fails as a museum.

There is an old wagon, but it is only identified as one of the same type as was used back in the olden days. There are a couple of cabinets of old rifles, but they are not identified. There is a grinding stone, but the display does not in any way indicate that this particular grinding stone was one of the ones actually used at Hart’s mill.

In fact after looking at all the exhibits on both floors I walked away shaking my head in wonder and sort of in disgust. A lot of the tax payer’s money was spent on this place. El Paso is one of the poorest cities in the nation, and we don’t have a lot of spare money to waste. This is not silicon valley.

This building has some nicely done educational displays that are certainly of some value. But there is no way that this two story building qualifies as a museum, much less as a history museum. It is more a classic example of how governments are quite good at certain things. Mostly those things that qualify as natural monopolies (building roads, sewers, and schools), but worldwide governments are absolutely terrible at other things.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Open Letter to Yahoo!


Your profit is down compared to Google. I can tell you why. For free. You don’t even have to pay me high consulting fees.

With Google I tie up an unbelievable amount of their hard disc space with my blogs - FOR FREE. And I have an e-mail account with them which is free. The only thing I pay them for is a little bit of an upgrade to Google Earth whereby it will interface with my handheld GPS.

I have been a loyal customer of Yahoo. I actually pay you guys. Just to have my own URL I pay you every year. And recently you changed my e-mail to where I had unlimited storage. Well, I was only using 2% of the free storage I already had so ho-hum.

But now out of the blue you bastards are eliminating Yahoo Pictures. Do you have any idea how many dead internet links this is going to create? You didn’t even offer me the option of continuing it, just on a paying basis. Nope. Like as bunch of arrogant jerks you just ended it! Essentially you are telling your customers to go get screwed.

At Yahoo you are not listening enough to the customer. My advice to you: Treat your customers nicely because in this day and age they have lots of options. If you get a little bit arrogant with them they will just flip you off and go to someone else who is more friendly.
I'm still going to zillions of internet links that go dead end, but today I got amost 5,000 photos uploaded to Flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_garland/sets/

Spanish Language Media

Let me start this entry by stating that I guess I am probably 97% fluent in Spanish. I speak it well, I have a pretty good accent, and in fact I’m good enough that late at night I watch the programs on the TV stations from Mexico.

Governor Schwarzenegger of California has caused absolute outrage among the Mexican-American community by stating what is obvious and the absolute truth. He stated that the sooner that immigrants learn to be fully functional in the English language, the sooner they will stop being poor and an under class. This clearly is not the politically correct thing to say at the moment.

I have had staff working for me from all over the world. When I was working in El Paso, Texas USA probably 85% of the workers were originally from Mexico, or their parents were. I ran a factory in South Louisiana where most of the workers were either of African descent or Vietnamese. And for the last 15 years I was General Manager of the European division of a multi-national food company. Well over 98% of the people who worked for me were not American, and probably over half were immigrants. For almost 20 years of my life I have lived abroad.

Some of the nicest people I have ever known were immigrants: From Tunisia, Northern Iraq, Morocco, or Mexico. Some were descended from ex-slaves in the Southern United States. There is no question that these parts of the world are just as capable of making fine, decent people as America is.

But it is also clear that the California Guv is 100% correct. The people who become very well functional in the primary language of a country are the ones who prosper. I agree with the Mayor of El Paso, Texas USA that we should welcome immigrants with open arms. But when we institutionalize systems which discourage them from becoming quickly and fully functional in the English language we are encouraging them to stay in the very lowest class.
Danny Olivas and Bill Richardson are sure 100% functional in the English language. And they also do speak Spanish, just like me. And no doubt they admire much about the Mexican heritage and culture.
I was listening to an FM radio station yesterday which broadcasts out of Mexico. They ran an advertisement for the Spanish language TV station in El Paso, Texas USA. This ad claimed that the Spanish language station had more viewers during the evening news than all 3 of the English language stations combined. Probably so. But sad. Really sad. These Mexicans are fine people, and by letting them continue to function in Spanish we are essentially enslaving them.

My aunt was a German. She grew up in Germany, went to medical school, and then after WWII married my uncle. She was a really good person. And a deny-er. Denial, denial. She “didn’t know what the Nazis were doing to the jews.” Yea, right. The Nazi soldiers were clearly doing the politically correct thing when they just FOLLOWED ORDERS. But they were PC.

I applaud Arnold Schwarzenegger for having the strength of character to say what is clearly in the best interests of these immigrants.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Four Wheel Drive Cars

Yesterday I was up in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico USA looking at a couple of plots of land. I am still trying to find a nice little isolated place high enough up in the mountains that it is cool even when it is over 100F (40C) here in El Paso, Texas.

We were at an altitude of roughly 8,100 ft MSL (2.500 meters). The coordinates are N32.974074, W-105.652488. It was nice and cool, just a little bit foggy, and the terrain was heavily forested. There were tall pine trees, wild roses and strawberries, and alpine meadows. In other words BEAUTIFUL.

I was driving my Toyota 4 wheel drive car in low transfer, and my partner was driving his Pontiac Aztec All Wheel Drive car.

At one point I had to get out the tow chain and tow him a little ways up the mountain.

To look at Eagle Crest Block 2, Lot 2 the road was so steep and rugged that my friend and his dog rode in our car with Inu and myself in the Toyota. I was really driving very carefully and slow, which is the only sensible way to drive on a very steep and rocky mountain dirt road like Eagle Crest Road. I could sense that my friend was distinctly nervous and somewhat apprehensive.

Apparently he has not had a lifetime of experience driving in off road conditions. Afterwards one frequently thinks, “I should have said this, or that.”

I made light of the situation to my friend. This was wrong. I should have reassured him. I really have had a great deal of experience driving in 4 wheel drive in very rugged conditions.

Among my environmentalist friends SUVs and 4 wheel drive cars are really looked down upon. And in fact they can do a great deal of damage to the land. They are a tool that one should use lightly and carefully. One can easily damage the desert with them where 1,000 years from now the damage you caused and your tracks will be readily visible.

While I was living in Europe I owned five different 4 wheel drive cars. On many weekends we would pull the two-horse trailer to dressage events. And normally we would park on grassy fields along with the hundreds of other horse trailers. Since it rains a lot in northern Europe, one frequently did need to use 4 wheel drive to pull a horse trailer containing two large Dutch Warmbloods out of the mud. The option which people without 4 wheel drive used was to wait for the farmer’s tractor, which was always standing by ready to be of service.

I’m sure that overall I have driven thousands of miles in off-road conditions. From here in West Texas to the highlands of Scotland and the moors of England to following 2,000 year old Roman roads through the wilder parts of Belgium and Germany.

One of the 4 wheel drive cars I owned in Europe was a Mercedes G500. This is the Mercedes very top of the line, killer, ass kicker 4 wheel drive car. Fuel inected V8 with 2 spark plugs per cylinder, 5 speed automatic, lockable differentials in front, back, and in the middle. Really an amazing car. Macy Grey has one, so does Bill Cosby. Arnold Schwartzenager has two of them. The infamous Ken Lay of Enron had one. http://www.forbes.com/2002/02/25/0225test.html

I was a member of the British Gelandewagen club, and I would occasionally drive over to England (via the tunnel under the English channel) to go drive it in extreme conditions with these other crazy old farts in their Mercedes off road cars. I called it playing in the mud. My wife hated the idea of me taking this very expensive car and abusing the hell out of it by driving in extreme off road conditions. Like most other things, she was probably right about this too.

One time we were part of a 4-wheel drive car show and rally in the New Forest portion of England. Down South, kind of West of London. I guess it probably is in Dorset. Where the Queen has her very own forest. Horses run free there. Honest. And they have the right of way legally. They have Velcro mounted cloth reflectors on these wild horses to try and prevent night time road deaths.

My car was displayed in the car show, and I also entered it in the off-road rally.

I was out there in the country near Beaulieu (pronounced BuuLee) where they had the off road course set up, practicing going around and around the course when I met some British guys in their wild, not even remotely road legal high performance 4 wheel drive cars. One of the guys was the chief instructor for the British Land Rover club. They were surprised when they found out that I was a Texan driving this fine car with Dutch license plates.

To describe it politely, this guy was rather in lust with and was drooling all over my car. So I asked him if he would like to drive it around the course. He declined to drive my car on this off road course, but he did ride with me once around the off-road course. We shot the breeze, and he gave me some free off-road driving instruction and tips.

What I should have told my friend yesterday up in the Rocky Mountains is that a good off-road car can go up or down a rather incredibly steep slope if one is driving perpendicular to the horizon/slope. Just put it in 4 wheel drive, low transfer, first gear, and go real slow. Don’t make too many strange and excessive moves.

There normally is no big danger if the road is not wet or slippery. The real dangerous thing is when you are driving along the side of a hill and the car is leaning over to the side. Here you need to steer into the hill, but be careful. You can turn the car over if the slope is very steep.

One can easily drive straight up or down a hill that you can’t possibly drive along the side of.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Glastonbury, England is southwest of Stonehenge. I've been there several times.
It is a famous place for the church ruins, the King Arthur myth, the local artists, and also for one of the best rock festivals in Europe. In looking at the web site of the rock festival today I came across this very neat picture.
One time I spent the night there in the very old inn. I slept in the same bed that David Bowie had.


Longest Day Of The Year

The longest day of the year is coming up later in the week.
Sorry to discriminate against my friends down under, but the vast majority of the land and the people are located in the northern hemisphere of this little planet. Just go to China or India.
Here in El Paso, Texas USA at about 31 degrees North latitude it is not really any big deal. The last 15 years I lived in The Netherlands at about 51 degrees North latitude. There the days get really long this time of year.
And before I built my sauna in my house in Holland I took my wife and we went up to Finland to research saunas. In Helsinki we were at 60 degrees North latitude.
We drove up north following our Finnish friends in their PT Loser. They have a place out in the forest, complete with a laplander tee-pee type tent. We had a wonderful time, and I can remember driving back late that night at 11:30 thinking, "You know, if I had to I could drive without my headlights."


Religion in the 21st Century

Polite people don’t talk about sex, politics, or religion. Well, this is my diary (modern word is blog) so I can talk about anything I want. If you don’t like reading it, just click on the X at the top right hand corner of your screen.

Just like most healthy people I like sex a lot. My academic degree from University is in political science. And lots of people are being killed each day because of religion.

In Europe the conservatives (both Christian and secular) are becoming worried about what they see as the Islamization of Europe. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,489257,00.html

In America everything has changed since 911.

The radical fundamentalist adherents of the Muslim religion clearly want to destroy western civilization and return things to the way they think they were in the past. Maybe 500 to 800 years ago.

And the moderate Muslims are either happy to go along, or apathetic, or afraid of the radicals. Because you sure don’t hear much from them.

When you look at these Muslims, what went on in Jonestown, the conflict in Northern Ireland, and the continuing decrease in rates of church attendance in both North America and Europe it makes one begin to question whether these two modern religions are in fact more of a negative influence on society than anything constructive.

From a historical perspective one could argue that the current conflict is only a continuation of the Crusades. A continuation of the attempt to get under control the more negative influences of the Muslim faith.

Pope Benedict has brought out a new 10 commandments for drivers, which I think is pretty good. At least he is trying to focus on the current era rather than trying to take us back to a mythical period hundreds of years ago.
None of the above suggests that I think that God does not exist. But organized religions are looking more and more like heavily negative influences on society. Just look at those countries (like Turkey) where there is open debate between the secular people and the true believer religionists.


Chihuahuan Desert Rabbits

Every day I see lots of rabbits out in the Chihuahuan desert of West Texas near my house.

There is the true hare which is locally called a Jack Rabbit. Officially it is an antelope jack rabbit (Lepus alleni). This guy is a strict vegetarian, and does not live in holes in the ground. The babies are born live with fur and their eyes open.

The other bunny I see every day is what is called locally the Cotton Tail Rabbit. It does build an underground nest, typically here in the sand hills. The desert cottontail is officially a Sylvilagus audubonii and closely resembles in appearance the European rabbit.
Wikipedia says that “Like most lagomorphs, the cottontail is coprophagic , reingesting and chewing its own feces; this allows more nutrition to be extracted.” My Daddy used to call rabbit scat Smart Pills. Well Golly, if these cute little cottontails are reingesting their own smart pills, they must be really intelligent.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Sixth Sense


I just got finished watching the DVD called The Sixth Sense. It has Bruce Willis in it.
This is really one of the all time great movies.


Period. Full stop.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Who Is Aiding The Enemy?

The biggest problem right now is that we are junkies. We are addicted and need our fix. Bad.
We are addicted to oil. So we are sending all of our wealth over to the middle east to the Muslims who would like to destroy us. But we have got to get our fix. No matter that gasoline costs $3- per gallon. We simply have got to have it. Even if we have to go into debt to pay for our addiction.
The real people who are helping the Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists are those of you who are driving large V8 pickup trucks and SUVs that get around 10 - 12 mpg. You are the treasonous bastards who are causing this horrible situation. And as a society we should begin treating you the way that you deserve to be treated.

Politics Texas Style

Almost thirty years ago I ran for a minor elected political office in El Paso, Texas as a Democrat. And I got elected. I’ve still got a couple of the ball point pens I gave out during my campaign: Elect H. Paul Garland - Your Vote Appreciated

At the time Luther Jones had just been instrumental in heading up the campaign for John Hill for governor. There was a really great group of young, naïve people involved in El Paso politics at that time. We all meant well. There was still the ethics and caring of the 60’s in the air. Mary Haynes, Suzie Azar, and Pat O'Rourke were part of this group.

Since then I had to spend many years pursuing a career. I also had three wives (sequentially, not concurrently), I lived in south Louisiana Cajun country for three years, and then in Europe for 15 years. Along the way I managed to get old, fat, and grey. I also completely quit smoking and drinking.

Getting back to El Paso after all this time it sure is interesting to see who has died, who has prospered, who has drunk themselves to death or OD'ed, and who has been indicted.
If what is leaking out of the FBI investigation is just 10% true, then there sure has been some rampant corruption going on downtown.

This is one of the more open articles I have seen on the subject:


Desert Willow


Inu and I were out in the desert today and came across a desert willow in bloom.
Of course technically it is not a willow at all. It is of the Catalpa Family (bignoniaceae) and it's official name is Chilopsis linearis.
And the flower looks much like an orchid. But I don't care...it is beautiful and that is the main thing.


Hadley is my first name. It was my father’s middle name.

Growing up as a boy in America with a first name of Hadley is better than with a name like Sue, but it still is a burden to bear. To this day I normally use my middle name.

I was up in Las Cruces, New Mexico USA today and happened upon this street.

Here is what my Mother told me: Before my father’s mother met my grandfather she had a lover by the name of Count Hadley. You can just imagine how thrilled my grandfather must have been when his wife named her second son after her ex-lover.

I have no idea who Count Hadley was. I do know that up between Hatch and Deming, on the east side of the Cooke’s range there is a place called Hadley Draw.

Oops, Caught on Camera


Way out in the New Mexico USA outback there are many old ghost towns.


Who would think that one would get caught using the ladies outhouse way out here?


Ancient Insects Trapped in Opal

Yesterday evening PBS had a great special by David Attenborough on Opal.

In particular insects and other small life forms trapped in opal.

And the possibility of extracting viable DNA from these creatures that are millions of years old. Maybe from the time of the dinosaurs.

So this morning I hooked the microscope up to the computer and took a few pictures of my opal collection.

Most of these were photographed at ten times magnification or sixty times.

On one I took it up to two hundred times magnification. All are lit from below.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

I can see why this movie got three academy awards.

I watched it last night. In a couple of places it got so thrilling that I had to press pause and go do other things for a few moments. And at the end I had a good cry.

This movie won’t disappoint you!
Link to Terry Hamblin's take on the movie: http://mutated-unmuated.blogspot.com/2007/10/pans-labyrinth.html

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Repairing The Insulation on the Space Shuttle


Carlos Mencia would love this.
Now that they've finally got a Mexican guy up in space they are getting him to do all the hard work. I can just see some white guy at NASA in Houston saying, "Well Gosh, all those people know how to do upholstery, etc. don't they? Let's send Olivas out to sew up the torn insulation." Anyway, no need to risk any white people on this dangerous mission, huh?
And I'm sure that Danny will do the finest job any human could do. Go Danny!
Here is an article about Danny out of China! http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-06/18/content_6255199.htm


Searching for Fluorescent Rocks

The regional vice president of the Fluorescent Mineral Society for the Tucson, Arizona area is a very nice lady. She is sold on the concept of using a black cloth barbecue cover so that one can search for fluorescent minerals during the day light hours. I absolutely love camping out in the wilderness, and then at night when gets dark getting the fluorescent lamp out. It is such a nice way to search for glow rocks.

Last weekend I went on a field trip with the El Paso Gem and Mineral Society. We went up to a large open pit copper mine near Hillsboro, New Mexico USA.

I tried out my almost $100- black BBQ cover. I can now report that in the June sunlight this device makes an excellent solar powered oven. Good grief! One could not possibly remain under cover for more than about 45 seconds without almost suffering a heat stroke.

One of my friends sent me a couple of pictures she took of me. One of the pictures shows me on the ground inside of the BBQ cover. My little black doggie is looking at me thinking, “What in the hell???”

The other picture shows me carrying the BBQ cover. My friend called me Batman. After seeing her picture I can see why.

Hector Bernal

I don’t know nearly as much about art as I would like to. First off, I am not a artist myself. I am a very practical guy, good at fixing things, working on cars, doing plumbing, electrical, etc. Call me Mr. Fix-It. But in college at the encouragement of my sister and brother in law I took a course at UTEP in art appreciation. It sort of opened up my eyes.

Then after college I got lucky enough to live in Europe - twice. The first time for almost 3 years in Frankfurt, Germany on the Main river, and then many years later I lived in The Netherlands for 15 years. Both times I went out of my way to visit as many art museums and galleries (and as often) as possible.

One of my favourite artists is the Spaniard, Juan Miro’. I have seen his work all over Europe and once was lucky enough to visit the Miro’ Foundation Museum in Barcelona. I own a couple of his original prints, one of them signed.

Another one of my favourites is the Belgian, Rene' Magritte. I have also seen his work in many art museums across Europe. A couple of times in Brussels I visited the house he lived in while he did some of his best work. I’ve also been to his grave site. Paul Simon wrote a song about Rene' and his wife Georgette and their dog.

I got the following from Wikipedia: Rock band Jethro Tull mention Magritte in a 1976 lyric, and Paul Simon's song "René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War" appears on the 1983 album Hearts and Bones. Paul McCartney, a life-long fan of Magritte, owns many of his paintings, and claims that a Magritte painting inspired him to use the name Apple for the Beatles' media corporation.
The really odd thing is that I used to occasionally have these somewhat erotic dreams about his wife. She of course has been dead now for many years, but as a young woman she was so incredibly beautiful. For a while I kept a framed picture of her on my desk at work, until one of the ladies who worked in the office told me, "Paul that is just TOO weird." I still think she was beautiful, but I no longer dream about her.

Yesterday I went by the Hal Marcus Gallery in El Paso, Texas. Marcus is one of the more famous local artists, and he has a very nice gallery. They have some of the nicest paintings from Southwestern artists that I have seen anywhere.

One of their exhibits was by a painter named Hector Bernal. This is a link to an article about Bernal: http://www.ventanasdelvalle.com/html/visualarts.html

Here is what the Hal Marcus website has to say about him:

Hector was born in Cd. Juarez Chih. He came to El Paso at the age of twelve in 1959. He then attended Aoy Elementary School in south El Paso. He also attended Bowie High School and graduated in 1968. His priorities changed soon after graduation. He got married and started a family. Having the responsibility of supporting his wife and children, he had no choice but to neglect his painting. He took a job as a commercial artist in 1974 and also worked at The Popular Department Store and The White House Department Store. He resumed his painting in 1986, since he had a little more time and space. In 1997, he had his first one man show which was a great success. Since then he exhibits his works and continues to paint.

"Painting has always been the language of my inner being. It is my gift not my profession. Modernism and technology dazzle everyone, but we remain as artists to say who we are with our hands, our imagination and with our vision. I strongly believe that a man as an artist should always be concerned with the problems of social struggle. Painting to me is a process of freedom by which I express not simply what I see but how I feel and see with my eyes. Through painting I want to express what moves me most....the human aspect"

I was absolutely taken aback at his work. So striking. This is not in any way a put down on the other really excellent artists who are exhibiting in the gallery, but Bernal’s work is just simply outstanding.
And in some ways it reminds me of Rene’ Magritte. I liked all of his paintings, but I was especially taken with his work entitled "The Visionaries."

This is a link to the website of the Hal Marcus gallery: http://www.halmarcus.com/

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Danny Olivas

The El Paso metropolitan area (including Juarez) has far in excess of a million people.


But it feels like a small town in a lot of ways.


And everyone is so proud to have one of our own as an astronaut in space, doing walks and everything. It shows the young people that if you are responsible, diligent, and work hard greatness is possible.


Friend In The Hospital

A dear friend of Inu and myself is in the hospital in Ruidoso, New Mexico USA.


She foolishly chased after a pickup truck, which ran over her.


Well, we have all done foolish things in our lives. Anyone who is not making mistakes isn't doing anything.


Daisy, we sure wish you a speedy recovery!


Anne Frank

If she had lived yesterday would have been Anne Frank’s birthday. Her full name was Annelies Marie Frank. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1929 and her family moved to Amstetrdam, The Netherlands in 1933.

She died in a German concentration camp along with her sister. She had wanted Dutch citizenship, but instead she and her family were turned in by the Dutch. She would be a really old lady now, but it is entirely possible she would still be alive if she had not gone to the Nazi concentration camp.

I lived in Frankfurt, Germany for several years and then many years later I lived in The Netherlands for fifteen years. I’ve been to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam several times.

Overall I would say that the top tourist attractions in Amsterdam are the canals (which are free to visit), the Anne Frank house, and the museum which houses the artwork of the lunatic painter Vincent Van Gogh. I guess for young people visiting Amsterdam going to a coffee shop is also high on the list.

It is not much talked about among the Dutch, but it is common knowledge that some of the jews from Amsterdam who had been sent to concentration camps did survive world war II. But when they returned home to Amsterdam to reclaim their houses and businesses their prior neighbours claimed not to know them. Because their property had been taken (stolen) by the local Dutch Christians. Honest.

After living there so many years I know the Dutch very well. One of the weaknesses of the Dutch culture and character is placing far too much emphasis on making money. Even to the point of doing immoral or unethical things.

Please check out the web site of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. This place is sacred:

And here is the link for the wikipedia site on Anne Frank:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Universal Health Care

Its just talk.
At least the Democratic candidates are talking about it. And the Republicans aren't even talking about it. But even among the Democrats its just blah, blah, blah.
Michael Moore's new Movie Sicko says that Cubans and even U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo get better health care than many Americans. That is sure true for the almsot 50 million of us who have no health care at all. Zero. Zip. In the wealthiest country in the world. The only remaining superpower. Absolutely shameful.
This is a picture I took about a year ago of some of the art painted on the remnants of the Berlin wall.