Sunday, December 7, 2014

2014 Books

This year's book list. The (r) denotes a repeat read.
  1. Carte Blanc, Jeffery Deaver; January; A James Bond Novel; Very good, worth reading, but he's no Ian Flemming.
  2. Death of a Policeman, M.C. Beaton; February; Policeman Hamish Macbeth in the Scottish Highlands, aging formulaic series, but still enjoyable. There was a TV series in the late 1990s staring Robert Carlyle as Hamish.
  3. Night Train to Lisbon(r), Pascal Mercer; April; Language Professor meets Portuguese woman in peril, buys Portuguese book, becomes intrigued by the author, takes train to Lisbon and searches for the back story of the authors life. He travels by train, what more could you ask for. The story of the fictional author's life is compelling as are most of the characters. They made a film of the book, the reviews are not good so don't see it before reading the book... or after.
  4. Bryant and May on the Case, Christopher Fowler; May; Quirky Detectives investigating odd cases in London.
  5. Rosanna, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo; May; First of 10 Martin Beck (a fictional Swedish Police Detective) stories by a Swedish pair written in the 1960s. All the books were very quick reads. Mainly teamwork, hard work, experience and some luck solve these cases. Interestingly, in the 1960s the Swedish Police were acquiring Military hardware and once they had it were itching to use it no matter if there were other ways to solve an issue. Start with #1 and read them all.
  6. The Man who went up in Flames, #2 Maj and Per; June
  7. The Man on the Balcony, #3 Maj and Per; June
  8. Naughty in Nice, Rhys Bowen; June
  9. The Laughing Policeman, #4 Maj and Per; June
  10. The Grand Tour, Agatha Christie; June - September; Postcards and letters from Ms Christie's travel with the Overseas Mission of the British Empire Exhibition. Most interesting thing I learned was she became an accomplished surfer. The difficulties of travel makes me glad for the improvements that have been made in that respect.
  11. Travels with my Aunt(r), Graham Greene; July; I read this every summer. Aunt Agusta (his aunt) is quite amusing, there was a movie with Maggie Smith as the Aunt, miss it.
  12. Hunt for the Southern Continent, James Cook; July; Abridged excerpts of the log book of his travels in the South Pacific, he sails past Staten Island, but not the forgotten borough of NYC. He includes technical bearings and headings which I looked up on the internet to understand.
  13. Trains and Lovers, Alexander McCall Smith; July;
  14. Monsieur Pamplemousse Aloft(r), Michael Bond of Paddington Bear Fame; July; The fifth in the series, all are quick reads and geared towards adults. Monsieur Pamplemousse always seems to gets himself into lots of embarrassing situations while trying to help others.
  15. The Fire Engine that Disappeared, #5 Maj and Per; July 
  16. Murder at the Savoy, #6 Maj and Per; August
  17. The Abominable Man, #7 Maj and Per; 2 days in August
  18. The Locked Room, #8 Maj and Per; August
  19. Cop Killer, #9 Maj and Per; August
  20. The Terrorists, #10 Maj and Per; August
  21. The Grave Maurice, Martha Grimes; August
  22. Scrambles amongst the Alps(r), Edward Whymper; September; An interesting travelog of his attempts up Alps and the first ascent by him of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.
  23. The Restraint of Beasts(r), Magnus Mills; September; An Englishman leads a pair of Scots south of the border to put up fencing and bury bodies.
  24. Rising to the Occasion, Hazard and Pinfold; October
  25. The Great American Weekend book; October; Just browsed through it
  26. Turn Right at Machu Picchu, Mark Adams; November; See the end of this post for a synopsis.
  27. Return of the Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett; November; Screenplays for 2 more Thin Man movies staring Nick and Nora Charles. Some interesting stage directions. TCM movie synopsis for After and Another. Mr. Hammett also wrote the novel, The Maltese Falcon.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dream House

The Chestnut Ale I made last week seems to have stopped fermenting. It start out bubbling away at a rapid pace, after it settled I put on the small airlock and things seem to be in suspended animation. Even if this does ferment, this will probably be my last batch, I can't make better beer than I can buy, so it isn't worth my time.
Chestnut Ale

Oatmeal Stout
Oatmeal Stout - February 2014
Smoked Wheat
Smoked Wheat - November 2013

A house in NJ that I coveted and actually could afford (even the taxes while employed) and almost wanted to buy. It was set up on a hill, had a quasi turret, garage, fireplaces, and a wood paneled library.
Entrance Hall with fireplace
Library's fireplace

Living Room, conservatory possible on the left outside the french doors

Beers in the Fridge:
Actually in the nook's pantry at cellar temperature.
The India Ale was hoppy but not too bad. I don't usually like IPAs, but I would buy this again. The 3 beers came in a package along with a pint glass and 2 coasters. Christmas came in November.

Books on the nightstand:
Purchased these recently. Turn right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams is part biography about Hiram Bingham III, who ran across Machu Picchu while on expedition in Peru and part travelog of Mark's trip retracing Hiram's steps. A good read. The book has multiple maps (I was sold right there) and a section with quite a few photos.
The Machu Picchu Guidebook covers each of the different sections in depth, the whole complex is broken up into agricultural and urban sectors and the urban sectors split up into conjuntos (group of buildings surrounded by a wall). The urban sectors were also split by upper and lower class usage. Other sections of the guide book cover hikes up the 2 mountains that bookend Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu mountain and the hike to the Gate of the Sun (Intipunku). Of the 2 mountains, Machu Picchu is easier, Huayna Picchu has many steep sections and sheer drops. The Gate of the Sun is where hikers who come to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail enter.
Here is a Travel? Why Not! Post for Peru.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Taking Care of Buisness

Estate Management:
Raked leaves on my property again. Some years someone pushes their leaves up against my garage. Just purchased a new vac/mulcher with a metal impeller. It is awesome. It make cool sounds when you vacuum up tiny rocks.
This squirrel is taking his chances in the Forest pas d'entretien. It is inhabited by C.O.U.S, cats of unusual size, they are quite mangy too.
Garlic in the ground, planted 10 rows of 8 cloves on October 12 and 20 of the smaller cloves in a tighter bunch off to the left. I now have them covered with burlap. To the right of the bricks I have spinach growing.
 My homage to the Zen garden, the new house color is in the background.

Current Blooms:
 Heather Gold Button
 Another heather
 Fall blooming crocus

Beers in the Fridge:
Will be making Chestnut Ale tomorrow in preparation for Christmas and a visit by the Eldest, and maybe the Young One?
But for now, cooler weather calls for darker beers and what's darker than stout?
This is almost too sweet for me but it is well balanced, has a chocolatey nose, remnants of hopscotch, low particulate matter and most importantly it contains alcohol.
I like Samuel Smith's stuff, this Imperial Stout comes in at 7% ABV (alcohol by volume). Don't tell anyone, but when I get the larger 18.7 oz "Victorian Pint" size I drink half and put a cork in it for later consumption. 
Also picked up an Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbeer Urbock, which I see from an earlier post that I liked the Marzen better.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sunday School Picnic Set List

About 100 years ago I was playing in a band that was supposed to play at an Oktoberfest. Due to inclement weather we could not play in the outdoor location desired and were given a chance to play in the big tent. Because of some most of the song content and planned decibel level we gracefully declined.

In honor of that missed opportunity I have come up with a set list approved for little Sunday School kiddies, their uptight moms and closed minded fathers.
  1. Too Drunk to F**K, by The Dead Kennedys, I played this song in a punk band "The Yungsters"
  2. Detachable Penis, King Missile, A new Christmas favorite of mine.
  3. C**K in my Pocket. Iggy Pop, this was one of the songs that kept us out of the Oktoberfest Tent.
  4. Dance MotherF**Ker Dance, Violent Femmes, they played on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but neither of these songs.
  5. Add It Up, Violent Femmes (take my word on it)
  6. Closer, Nine Inch Nails
  7. Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke jr., Pharrell Williams, more for the video rather than the lyrics, but the content is controversial anyway. I just like the bass line and rarely pay attention to lyrics anyway.
  8. I Love the Dead, Alice Cooper, no rude words, just rude implications
  9. Big Balls, AC/DC. Come on now is balls really a bad word. Should they have said Big FĂȘtes.
* Not Safe For Work

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saturday in the City

Spent the day in the City. Was quite unprepared, no sunglasses, no step tracker, no camera to play tourist with.

Started off at 31st and 7th and got a plain coffee at Starbucks around 8AM.
Planned to waste some time in Macy's, but it opened at 10 not 9am as I had thought. So I walked downtown.
Stopped at a Flea Market on 25th between 5th and 6th next to the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St Sava. Had seen the back of the church from 26th and Broadway and wondered what it was, had some time to kill so took a look. Flea market had the normal stuff, only picked up a Yin Yang medallion.
Next spent some time at Fishs Eddy at 19th and Broadway. They have cool stuff, but it is all heavy.
On to Paragon at 18th and Broadway, tried on down sweaters and gloves and looked at approach shoes and cold weather wear.
Strolled the Market at Union Square, bought a rye bread round. The streets were starting to get real crowded.
At Barnes and Nobel on 17th bought a easy Spanish language book and wrote down a list of books for my Christmas list, all travel related.
  • Baedekers Guide to Great Britain, 1937; ISBN-13: 9781908402615
  • Slow Train to Switzerland, Diccon Bewes; ISBN-13: 9781857886252
  • English Hours, Henry James; ISBN-13: 9781848854857 
  • Turn Right at Machu Picchu, Mark Adams;  ISBN-13: 9780452297982
Nearby was Olde Good Things on East 16th, lots of cool stuff, but no stained glass for making a transom over the door in the hall to the second floor. It can be a bit dark in the hall.
I think an opening would brighten up the hall and stained glass would litter the hall with color.

Spent some time in the Strand at 12th and Broadway, bought one book from Penguin Books Great Journeys series called "In the Heart of the Amazon Forest" by Henry Walter Bates(1825-1892), they each are short account of some explorer. I have one about Captain Cook and gave away one about Alexander Van Humboldt(1769 - 1859) "Jaguars and Electric Eels" about his explorations in Venezuela. The name sounds made up indeed.
The day's catch
After that I went for lunch, walked down to East 7th and Avenue C to Zum Schnieder. Had a brat and some beers. Football was on (Real Madrid vs Barcelona); many of the staff were German; had a Traunstein Dunkel and then a Traunstein Helles. Rolled out of there around 1:30PM.
Made my way back to 8th and Lafayette Ave for the 6 train. Along the way saw a lot of dogs in Halloween costumes, there was a Halloween Dog Parade at Tompkins Square Park. Saw a black squirrel in the Park.
Visited a Street fair at 52nd street which was labeled as a Jazz Fest, but it was just that same fair selling the same stuff at just a different location.
Lastly, I visited the Morgan Library and Museum at 36th and Madison. The highlights were Mr Morgan's study and library. The other exhibits which included leafs from the Crusader Bible (illuminated manuscript) were interesting as well. The Morgan still gives out the little metal buttons upon entrance.
My travels ended with a doughnut and a cup of coffee at 5pm.
It was a beautiful sunny day and I was dead tired.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Iggy Pop and James Williamson on guitar "No sense of crime" chords/tab

A ballad by Iggy Pop from the Kill City album released in 1977, ours was on green vinyl. One of my favorite albums. Slide and bongos on this track.
Music by James Williamson who was in the Stooges.
Iggy and the Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2010.

Video here No sense of crime

Use these chord progressions where marked below
Chords I: G and D#

Chords II: C


Chords III: D#, D

Chords IV  F, G, F, G, F,  C
A|--8--- 8--- 8--- 8--- 8---8---10--10--10--10--10--10
E|--8--- 8--- 8--- 8--- 8---8---10--10--10--10--10--10

A|-- 8--- 8--- 8---8---8--- 8---10--10--10--10--10--12
E|-- 8--- 8--- 8---8---8--- 8---10--10--10--10--10--12


Intro: Chord set I repeat 4 times with slide
I 2x
Sister, child o mine
We are the sweeter kind
I 2x
I 2x                    
Drugs and death are our place and time
Restless and running blind
I 2x
III 2x
Good and bad and lies we've done
II                              IV
Make us so touchy, oh yeah it makes us cry
And we're gonna feel good inside
we're gonna feel good inside

II 2x
Cry to me, cry to me baby, hush your mouth and cry
come on and cry
 I 2x
Kids in pain, she sees them crawl
Now ain't that funny?
I 2x
III 2x
Kids in pain, she sees them crawl
I 2x
She never cared at all
III (repeat til end)
Looks like she's got no sense of crime
Looks like she's got no sense of crime
Looks like she's got no sense of crime

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Davis Bowie is Chicago

We had seen that the David Bowie exhibit was opening in Chicago and since we had just missed it by one day when we were in London in 2013 we decided we had to make this. We used miles from our British airways account for the plane tickets and only paid $22 in taxes. That made any other extravagances seem minor, like our room upgrade. Our upgraded room was actually 2 rooms with the dividing wall removed, the other 2 beds removed and chairs and a desk added, it was quite nice.

View from our room
Arrived to Chicago in the afternoon via the Blue line(a subway), about a 45 minute trip from the airport. There is only one train to the city so you can't pick the wrong one. The fare was $5 from the airport to the city, but we had our fare waived on the way back to the airport because the ticket machines were not operating properly. If you have a lot of luggage this may not be the best choice, but if you take a shuttle you will probably run into traffic.
We had drinks with friends at the Palmer House that night before dinner. They had also come to Chicago, one for work and one just for the Bowie exhibit like us.
One of the conference rooms in the Palmer house
Dinner was at Berghoffs, a German Style restaurant, the food was excellent, the interior was very German. It was only a block away from the Palmer House.

Museum of Science and Industry Met our friend at her hotel and we taxied to the Museum. All the exhibits we saw were very well done. Most exhibits were hands-on and not just geared towards children. There was a 727 that was hung from the balcony which you could walk in and see how the different parts of the plane worked. You could also see the internals at different spots.

Museum of Science and Industry
We then walked to the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie house, bought tickets for a tour and had lunch at Plein Air Cafe next to the Robie house. The walk was a bit far and I had forgot my fit bit so I don't know how far exactly.
After a very good lunch of sandwiches, we had the Robie House Tour, a Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Style home. Very open and airy, lots of built in storage. No attic or basement, room for servants.
Robie House south face
Dinner that evening was with our niece at Giordano's on W Jackson Blvd. We had a very good Deep Dish single crust pie filled with cheese and tomato sauce and ricotta and eggplant. A very tasty meal I will refrain from calling pizza. Not a far walk from the Palmer House. On the way to the restaurant I saw gargoyles on the corner of a building, the photos below are of the Harold Washington Library which opened in 1991, it looks older.

We again met our friends at their hotel and taxied to the museum for the Bowie Exhibit. The suggested viewing time was 90 minutes, but it took us almost 3 hours. There were headsets provided and there was music beamed to the headsets depending on your location. There were costumes and hand written song ideas and set designs, videos. It was an excellent exhibit and I watched all the videos at least once and sometimes more than once, except for the mime video. Learned a few things and was reminded of a few things. One or 2 spots were missing music and I am not sure if that was by design. One thing I did not know was that Bowie was outspoken on Tibetan rights back in 1968. I had worn my fit bit and it only clocked 430 steps for the exhibit. Felt like more.
Daily total: For Today Fitbit measured 11,560 steps 15 floors, 5.45 miles

David Bowie Is exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Arts.

Old Water Tower, once used to pump water from Lake Michigan, it survived the Great Fire
We had lunch and some beers at Pippins Tavern not far away from the museum. We ate outside. The food was adequate, but it was a beautiful day to sit out and drink a few beers and rehash the exhibit.
Our friends had a flight home that afternoon and we walked back to out hotel. They suggested we take the  Architecture boat tour on the Chicago river and we did and it was very interesting.
Tribune Building, I like Gothic
333 Wacker Drive by Kohn and Allen Architects
River City, Bertrand Goldberg Associates, completed 1986
Willis Tower and 311 S. Wacker (shorter pink tower)which it has a crown of lights on the roof
505 N. Michigan Avenue, designed Walter W. Alschlager, completed 1929, a hotel
Just strolled through the park across Michigan avenue and enjoyed the great weather.
Saw big art like the Cloud Gate aka "The Bean"
and the Crown Fountain,  there are 2 of these and videos are displayed on the inward faces of the glass brick towers which have water cascading over them.
 and the Buckingham Fountain
The fountain periodically shoots the main water jet even higher.
just an interesting glass building facade on the way back to the hotel
The Metra is another public transport system, this would have taken us to the Museum of Science and Industry south in Jackson Park. This entrance reminds me of Paris Metro entrances.
Our Saturday flight was cancelled due to the Friday FAA facility fire and we were put on an earlier flight the same day which was then delayed. We still got home earlier than we were supposed to.
 Daily total: For Today Fitbit measured 8255 steps, 14 floors and 3.89 miles

All in all a great trip.