Aug 29

The Dreamers of Dreams

I really know next to nothing about the man Gene Wilder who died today at the age of 83.

 

We are the music makers… and we are the dreamers of dreams.

~ Willy Wonka

But I do know that he left an indelible glowing and warm memory in my childhood: that of Willy Wonka from the 1971 classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

 

“I can’t go on forever, and I don’t really want to try. So who can I trust to run the factory when I leave and take care of the Oompa Loompas for me? Not a grown up. A grown up would want to do everything his own way, not mine. So that’s why I decided a long time ago that I had to find a child. A very honest, loving child, to whom I could tell all my most precious candy making secrets.”

~ Willy Wonka

And so, for his artistry and in morning of another childhood light that is crossed by shadow, I was sorry to hear of his death. But I hope that the images and sounds of his whimsical, (if sometimes deliciously dark) portrayal of the candy man lights a candle of pure imagination for generations to come.

 

“Where is fancy bred, in the heart or in the head?”

~ Willy Wonka

Thanks for the memories Mr. Wilder.Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompas

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”

~ Willy Wonka

Aug 03

July 2016 – Quote of the Month

“My attitude to peace is rather based on the Burmese definition of peace – it really means removing all the negative factors that destroy peace in this world. So peace does not mean just putting an end to violence or to war, but to all other factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality, poverty.”

~Aung San Suu Kyi

Jul 31

Camp Cow or Brazen Bull

Buy a Brazen Bull for your next Lawn and Torture Party

I have a fondness for lawn ornaments – as long as they are in other people’s yards and preferably not next door neighbors.

On my drive home from work, I encountered a roadside collection of custom made metal yard decorations and I had to stop to check them out.

I quite enjoyed the 6 foot tall velociraptor but I was really intrigued by the six foot long golden bovine grill: both aesthetically ‘striking’ and functional!

Cow Yard Ornament Grill

Seeing this grill reminded me of the dark tale of the Brazen Bull: a torture and execution device designed in ancient Greece.

The story goes that an ancient greek ruler – Phalaris commissioned a bronze boiler shaped like a bull to torture and execute criminals. The concept behind the device was that some luckless wretch would be tossed into the metal sculpture while a fire was lit beneath – cooking the condemned alive.

How it Works: The Brazen Bull

As if that wasn’t fun enough, the chap who invented it – a fellow named Perillos, designed it with a series of pipes that converted the screams of the condemned into the sounds of a bull angrily bellowing. (In fairness: remember that this was before TV and Donald Trump rallies.)

Perillos being forced into the brazen bull that he built for Phalaris.

Unfortunately for Perillos, Phalaris ordered that the inventor be tossed into the chamber for its trial run. (The National Endowment for the Arts had a much rougher funding and vetting process back then.)

The story also goes on to tell that later, Phalaris himself was killed in the brazen bull when he was overthrown.

I think there is a lesson here about the risks of getting involved in roasting one’s fellow humans in metal farm animals.

Anyway, who wants a hotdog?

Jul 08

June 2016 – Quote of the Month

“While we are under the tyranny of Priests, it will ever be their interest, to invalidate the law of nature and reason, in order to establish systems incompatible therewith.”

~Ethan Allen

Jun 19

Warning: Outdoors May Contain Nature

Personal Tragedy or National News Fodder

On June 14th, 2016, tragedy struck a Nebraska family when their two year old son was attacked and killed by an alligator at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Five days later and this event is still making national headline news.

As unadulteratedly heartbreaking as this is for the child’s family; as much as they will be scarred for the rest of their live; even allowing Disney’s place in popular culture and footie-pajama memories; this story does not warrant the national handwringing that has been blaring from our media for nearly a week.

News Flash: Alligator’s Live in Florida

Risk Assessment

Just another hunter like a wolf in the sun
Just another junkie on a scoring run
Just another victim of the things he has done
Just another day in the life of a loaded gun

The odds get even, you name the game
The odds get even, the stakes are the same
You bet your life

~ Rush

According to the 2005 Scholastic Book of World Records, the majority of the world’s alligators inhabit Florida and Louisiana, with over a million alligators in each state. (Southern Florida is the only place where both alligators and crocodiles live side by side.) There are 1.3 million alligators across the state of Florida ‒ that’s one for every 15 people.

Disney World is built on wetlands – the natural habitat of gators and other Florida native reptiles. In fact, they built the park on a big mound of dirt from the earth that was scooped out to make the Seven Seas Lagoon. The entire property is interconnected via canals and is quintessential alligator habitat.

Disney World covers 43 square miles and hosts 50 million visitors a year. (And there are another 60,000 employees who work at the park.)

A small subset of Disney World's Waterways surrounding the Magic Kingdom

A small subset of Disney World’s Waterways surrounding the Magic Kingdom

Nearly 90 percent of all alligator attacks in the U.S. happen in Florida. Florida averages about seven serious unprovoked bites a year, and officials put the odds of someone being seriously injured by an unprovoked alligator in Florida at roughly one in 2.4 million.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission there have been 56 alligator attacks in the Sunshine State between 2010 and 2015, with only one fatality. The main reason is, small alligators make up the majority­ of the alligator population and don’t pose a threat to human beings.

And yet, for all of the alligators sharing the same space as mouse ear attired tourists, there have only been two significant attacks on humans since the parks inception. – And that is in spite of visitors propensity for feeding them and approaching them for photo opportunities.

Odds on Death

Compare those stats with these odds of death in America:

Cause of death Number of U.S. deaths Rate of deaths
1. Cardiovascular disease 614,348 193 per 100,000
2. Cancer 591,699 186 per 100,000
3. Chronic lower respiratory disease 147,101 46 per 100,000
4. Accidents 136,053 43 per 100,000
5. Strokes 133,103 42 per 100,000
6. Alzheimer’s disease 93,541 29 per 100,000
7. Diabetes 76,488 24 per 100,000
8. Influenza and pneumonia 55,227 17 per 100,000
Drug overdoses 47,055 15 per 100,000
Kidney disease 48,146 15 per 100,000
Intentional self-harm 42,773 13 per 100,000
Septicemia 38,940 12 per 100,000
Liver disease 38,170 12 per 100,000
Transportation accidents 37,195 12 per 100,000
Parkinson’s disease 26,150 8 per 100,000
Firearm assault 10,945 3 per 100,000
HIV 6,721 2 per 100,000
Pedestrian deaths 6,258 2 per 100,000

But even if we sift the data to eliminate many of these causes of death (which are often the result of broader lifestyle and hereditary causes) and we go the the extreme – death’s caused by animals, this is what we see:

Average annual animal caused fatalities in the US, 2001-2013

  • Alligators, sharks and bears each kill an average of one person per year.
  • Venomous snakes and lizards kill six per year
  • Spiders kill seven
  • Cows take out twenty people per year on average
  • Dogs – man’s best friend – takes out twenty-eight people
  • Bees, wasps and hornets kill fifty-eight

Caution: Signs Up Ahead

In spite of these facts and the incredibly low odds of getting hurt, let alone killed by an alligator, this event has led to some criticize Disney for not having proper signage.

Although Disney did in fact, have signs meant to discourage swimming, I think it is fair to say that given the beach like property, wading into the water was not an unreasonable thing to do and so the family can’t be blamed for being reckless.

But because the family and unfortunate child weren’t careless, that doesn’t mean that Disney is culpable for the actions of all indigenous animals on its property.

But still we’re told: signs would have made a difference, even though it would take quite a sign to list the causes of death at Disney World. If not signs: perhaps fences around all water. If not fences, walls…

Everglades National Park sign warning not to approach alligators.

Everglades National Park sign warning not to approach alligators.

A number of years ago, I did a bike tour of the Everglades National Park. Mammoth alligators would often sun themselves on the bike trail. One either rode around them (our option), or turned back. Seeing these great animals was a fantastic experience.

My friends and I talked to a park ranger about the gators and tourist reactions. We were told stories about tourists who would lay down next to 10 foot long alligators so that they could get their photo taken by their family. One tourist had even climbed on the back of an alligator for a photo opp, all in spite of the numerous signs to be found warning people not to approach alligators.

If signs weren’t good enough to keep people from approaching the actual alligators themselves, how effective is a sign going to be to keep people from simply wading into water?

We react to untimely, visceral death more emotionally than the everyday variety, even if we’re far more likely to give up the ghost from a car accident than an attack from a reptile. We may die in our lazy boy recliner at the age of 90 or we may be a bear’s breakfast when we’re 16 years old. But in the end, given enough time, life is 100% fatal and there aren’t enough signs in the world to keep nature at bay.

For my part: if I ever get taken out by a wild animal, either by my own stupidity or by the chances of life: please don’t post any signs or erect any guardrails in my name.

On the other hand, I would take a nice trail name. Perhaps something like, “Glen Green Grisly Grizzly Memorial Scenic Sunset Trail“.

Disney World Caution Sign Alligators, Bees, Bacteria, Heart Disease, Pollen, Sunstroke, Etc.

Disney: You’ve Been Warned

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

~Five Man Electrical Band

 

Jun 04

May 2016 – Quote of the Month

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

~Mark Twain

May 28

Big Screen TVs Squashed by UHD

Bigger is Better if You can Stand it

When I was a kid, the “cool” place to sit in a movie theater was in the very back row. As I got older, I realized that defeated much of the purpose of going to the movies: a larger than life BIG screen experience. By sitting at the back of the theater, one essentially makes the 35 foot screen equivalent to watching a 50 inch screen from ten feet away. You can hold up your hand and block out the screen if you want.

I’m now of the philosophy that to fully appreciate the movie going experience, the screen should be just shy of comfortably filling my peripheral vision.

So, it should be of no surprise that, as something of a home theater aficionado, I buy the highest quality big screen I can afford. Currently that means a 75″ 1080p Samsung Series 8 8000 that I bought a year or two ago. If I had my way, I’d have at least a 120″ TV.

I’ve also been working to upgrade my home theater speakers, which included transitioning to Definitive Technology speakers. Having tastes that exceed my budget, I haven’t bought a full compliment yet but I did buy a Definitive Technology center speaker.

And here is where my 1st world problems start: my legacy Ikea TV stand (from the days when I ‘only’ owned a 65″ Sony Vega), is barely large enough for my Samsung, but more to the problem: it does not accommodate my center speaker, so I’m forced to sit my speaker in front of my TV. This is only barley tolerable when I’m watching a letter-boxed movie and the image isn’t blocked by the speaker.

The Fellowship of the Ring on a Big Screen TV: Samsung UN75F8000 75-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Ultra Slim Smart LED HDTV

I’m not prepared to wall mount my TV or speaker for the time being, for various reasons, so this problem sent me on a hunt for a TV stand or entertainment center that would accommodate both my center speaker, components and TV without my image being blocked.

This issue is further exacerbated because my speaker not only fires sound forward, but up towards the ceiling as well, so I don’t want to trap it inside a cabinet or under a shelf. So, I’ve spent a good bit of time trying to find an attractive solution and have been surprised to find that there are few good choices to accommodate TVs larger than 65″.

Where Have All the Really Big Screen 1080p TVs Gone?

My search took me both online and to brick and mortar stores like my local Best Buy, and it was here that I was surprised to find 65″ Ultra High Def TVs are now as cheap, or cheaper than my 75″ 1080p TV was a couple of years ago. Perhaps with the release of UHD Blu-Rays and some streaming content starting to be released, it will finally be worth buying an UHD TV. This was a new temptation and I started to fantasize about moving my 75″ TV to another room, thinking I might be able to forego the Ultra High Def and instead get a larger 1080 big screen.

So, I perused the TVs in Best Buy and then later, at home, online and to my dismay, I started to learn that big screen TVs – bigger than 65 inches, have started to disappear. My search finally lead me to this article “Where Have All the Really Big 1080p TVs Gone?” that explained the disappearance: Ultra HD happened. In terms of TV pricing, the race to the bottom has run its course; right now, manufacturers are now looking for reasons to charge more for their televisions, not less.

So, I’ll probably be forced to commission a custom TV stand that fits my needs and I’ll likely be making for UHD TVs to become both big and affordable.

Oh, how shall I ever survive?

May 10

April 2016 – Quote of the Month

“As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.”

~Christopher Dawson

Apr 30

Trumped Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter Donald Trump could almost qualify as a cartoon character, except for the dark rancor that spews from his round, orange mouth. What at first might have seemed like an extension of one of his reality TV shows has long crossed the border into scary fascism.

Here is why I think the man is a danger based on his own words:

  • Donald Trump is xenophobic

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”

“I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.”

  • Donald is antithetical to the values of liberty and justice

 

“I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

“We’re losing a lot of people because of the Internet. We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people who really understand what’s happening and maybe, in some ways, closing that Internet up in some ways.”

“I would certainly implement that. Absolutely… There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems… They have to be. They have to be… It’s all about management.” (In reference to supporting a database and ID cards to track Muslims in the U.S.)

  • Trump’s willful ignorance which includes science, history and world affairs

“I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump–I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me. … [in which] a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back and a week later had a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”

“Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.” (fusing to condemn former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and noted white supremacist David Duke, who endorsed Trump for president)

  • Donald’s sexism

“You’re disgusting” – said to a female lawyer during a court case after she asked for a break to pump breast milk for her 3-month-old daughter.

“26,000 unreported sexual assults [sic] in the military — only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”

  • Donald Trump’s pandering

“I love the poorly educated.”

  • Trump’s arrogance (and insecurity)

“All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”

“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”
“Look at those hands, are they small hands? And, [Republican rival Marco Rubio] referred to my hands: ‘If they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”

“I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.”

  • Donald’s immaturity

“I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there.” (On Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul)

“You know, it really doesn`t matter what [the media] write as long as you`ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

“A person who is very flat chested is very hard to be a 10.”

  • Trump maligns, bullies and incites violence

“He’s (John McCain) not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”

“There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” (Encouraging violence at his rallies)

“That was so great. Who was the person who did that? Put up your hand, put up your hand. Bring that person up here. I love that.” (Praising two audience members who tackled a protester at his rally in South Carolina, Feb. 16, 2016)

  • Donald Trump is avaricious

“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”
“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”
  • Donald’s creepiness

“I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”
  • Donald Trump is a conspiracist

 “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud” 

“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

“It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!”

  • Sadly, ‘The Donald’ might be right about at least one thing…

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Apr 14

March 2016 – Quote of the Month

“Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Mar 30

Clown and Pig have Bad Intentions

Have you ever watched a horror film that depicted a possessed or evil doll and thought that it stretches credulity to think that anybody would ever buy such a creepy looking toy in real life?

Annabelle the doll

Annabelle the doll from the 2014 movie says, ‘Take me home. What could go wrong?’

Chucky Doll

Chucky from the 1981 movie “Child’s Play” has eyes that only a serial killer could find enticing.

Well, wonder no more. I spotted these two evil stuffed toys leering out from the bin of an arcade claw game in a local Steak ‘n Shake, just waiting to dine on the flesh and soul of some foolish suburban family.

Stuffed Clown and Pig with Bad Intentions

Stuffed Clown and Pig will drink the warm blood of your children.

“Here you go kids. – Enjoy your new stuffed toys and sweet dreams!”

Mar 06

February 2016 – Quote of the Month

“Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.”

~Robert Strauss

Feb 29

Fit to be Tied

Trying to increase my fitness, I’ve been working out six to seven days a week, for 30-90 minutes a day. – A pretty respectable workout routine. And yet, in spite of the fact that I’m going out of my way to pick up weights and run, I get very irritated anytime I forget my water bottle or music and I have to walk a single flight of steps to retrieve them so that I can start my exercises.

Feb 01

January 2016 – Quote of the Month

“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”

~Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Jan 23

Elven and Hobbit Power Tools

Amazon recommendations for me under, “Power & Hand Tools”. Oh Amazon! You know me so well!

Funny Elves and Hobbit Power Tool Recommendations from Amazon

Jan 07

December 2015 – Quote of the Month

“The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.”

~Thomas Paine

Dec 28

India Observations Redux

Jaipur India - Older Man with Orange Turban by Glen Green - GlenGreenPhotography.comI’ve been back from India for over a month and thought I’d share a few more observations from the trip to compliment my Bangalore Vernacular post from October.

  • There are many road-side options to buy motorcycle helmets, and although drivers often wore them, passengers (which are very common), seldom do. – This lack of head gear includes children and women who often ride on the same bike with the helmeted man driving.
  • Many women ride side-saddle in saris as passengers on motorcycles (usually without helmets – as noted above). – A very scary sight: I kept dreading seeing a woman’s dress get pulled into the spokes of the bike – yanking her hard onto the road and into the fast moving, chaotic traffic.
  • Even though there is an over abundance of garbage piled along the roads, there is almost no graffiti to be seen.
  • Although male-female Public Displays of Affection (PDA) are not to be seen, men platonically hold hands, hug, and walk with arms around each other in spite of the fact that there seems to be strong cultural currents of homophobia.
  • Traffic speed is controlled by large speed bumps.
  • Motorists drive the center of the road – apparently to maximize the options available to them in terms of lanes and passing.
  • Given the very poor state of road maintenance, tire repair and replacement stands are common road-side sights.
  • At night, the vast majority of people street-side are men. – Women go missing.
  • People seen along the roads, squat as opposed to sit: this includes older people.
  • The areas around the India airports of Bangalore, New Dehli and Jaipur (at least), are kept relatively tidy and are complimented with extensive gardens.
  • There are swastika (svastikas in Sanskrit) – an ancient symbol of auspiciousness in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Of course, India had the symbol before the Nazis, but it still catches the eye and one realizes how deep and dark the Nazi symbolism is to the Western eye.
  • In spite of the ever-present refuse, markets areas smell good with the scents of flowers and food – only occasionally punctured with something more pungent.

If I had to sum up my experience in India into a bumper-sticker, I’d say that it isn’t always pretty but it is always interesting. Poverty and pollution are realities of India and likely to shock those who have not previously visited a developing nation, (or ventured outside of their Caribbean vacation resort compounds). However, the open minded traveler is well rewarded with a country full of vitality, amazing sights, warm hospitality and countless pleasant surprises. Just don’t drink the water and you’ll be more than fine.

Dec 02

November 2015 – Quote of the Month

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”

~Sir Richard Burton

Nov 13

Travel Tip for Parents

A traveling tip for parental units: When the airport luggage carousel is jam pack surrounded with adults trying to get their bags, you’d be wise to move the little kiddies away from the machinery instead of letting them play with it, occupying a much needed spot. Alternatively: keep your mouth shut if your spawn gets clipped by an adult heaving a 50lb suitcase off of a conveyor belt when there is no more than 6 inches of space on either side.
Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 04

October 2015 – Quote of the Month

“Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see
And I’ll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me”

~Bruce Springsteen

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