Friday, December 31, 2010

My English connections . . .

. . . redux

Most of my family tree has its roots in England, Ireland or Scotland - notwithstanding the Lowdermilk (Lautermilch) branch of my grandmother.

I suppose there is a horsethief or madam or grifter somewhere in the line, but I have found none. However, one of the more interesting finds is Sir Leonard Halliday, Lord mayor of London from October 29, 1605 to October 1606.

Leonard was knighted on July 26, 1603 by King James I, and later became one of the 124 merchants who formed the East India Company.

For those of you with a little knowledge of English history, you will remember, remember the 5th of November 1603. Just seven days after Leonard's investiture as Lord Mayor, Guy Fawkes was found guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder under the house of lords. Sir Leonard went on to great success as a merchant. Guy Fawkes and his cohorts did not fare as well.

Portrait by unknown Flemish artist - Ca. 1575.

Leonard's coat of arms is blazoned: Sable, three helmets Argent garnished Or, within a bordure engrailed of the second.

Translation: On a black shield, three silver helmets trimmed in gold,within scalloped silver border.

It's none of my business . . .

. . . but which of these is the picture of health?


or 2010

What does Kelly Ripa see when she looks in the mirror?

Monday, December 27, 2010

I hab . . .

. . . a code (sniffle)

Or a least, I did. I thought it was on the way out.

But . . . I took Mrs. B to the clinic today because I gave her my cold. She asked the doctor to take a look at me while we were there.

Good news: My cold is almost gone.

Bad news: Strep throat.

At least, I appear not to have leprosy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas present I mentioned.

Cameo by De Paola in Napoli

(The photo doesn't do it justice)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

$13,868,461,000,000 of debt . . .

. . . 308,745,538 People

If we split it evenly, my share of the U.S. National debt is $44,917.43.

I would write a check tomorrow, iff:

1. Everyone else in the USA would do the same (or Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, et. al. would do it for them).

2. The bastards in DC would quit spending more than we give them.

I would.


By the way, "iff" is a very precise mathematical/logical term.

In military terms, it means "Identify Friend or Foe."

Although - considering the subject - that definition is relatively appropos, I use it in the context of a biconditional logical connective.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Garmin . . .

. . . reminder

When one is returning from an obscure place on a dark and rainy night, one should remember to switch one's Garmin from walking mode to driving mode.

Otherwise, said Garmin believes that one is walking at 40 to 80 kph and loses it's mind in a recalculation loop.

Obviously, I have never done this, but am providing this thought as a public service announcement.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Leaks . . .

. . . about the leaker.

The documents concerning the rape charges against Julian Assange have been leaked to the press.

To The Guardian, no less.

His lawyers are incensed.

Which old saw is appropriate?

You made your bed, now . . .

What's good for the goose . . .

Turnabout is . . .

What goes around . . .

Maybe none of those applies. Perhaps this:

Tough shit, Jules!
Un viaggio . . .

. . . a Vomero

Posted in Italiano for a reason.

Questo messaggio è in italiano di mantenere un segreto.

Lunedi, non sono andato lavorare. Invece, sono andato a Vomero e comprato un regalo di Natale per mia moglie. È una cammeo ed è fatto a mano dal proprietario del negozio. È una scultura della moglie di Bacchus, il dio di vino.

Ho dovuto andare nella mia macchina, nel treno, e nella funicolare - un viaggio molto lungo, ma il cammeo è bellissimo.

Credo lei sarà felice.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Osservazioni . . .
. . . casuali

OK, no griping about the italiano. I have to practice somewhere, and if you think about it, the meaning is obvious.

Italian stuff:
The highways around Napoli have many places to pull over in case of car trouble. In English, we call them trash dumps.

When an ambulance needs to fight its way through the traffic on the autostrade, the Italiani immediatly jump directly behind and let it run interference.

As much as the Italians dote on their children, they are abysmally careless with them in their automobiles. Today, I saw a family of five, no seatbelts, and an infant on the driver's lap. It is an everyday occurrence to see a child standing on a seat or just wandering around inside the car. It gives me cold chills.

I still have yet to see anyone stop at a stop sign in Italy. They should be renamed. Perhaps nevermind sign would be appropriate

Talking on the phone while driving is illegal in Italy. Apparently, that law is cancelled if you talk on the phone while gesturing wildly with both hands off the wheel. Then, technically, you are not driving.

Non-Italian stuff:
Clueless statement of the week: Assange's British lawyer, Mark Stephens, said Wednesday that "Somebody has it in for Julian Assange and we only can conjecture why." (It appears that "having it in" is the reason for the warrant in the first place.)

Clueless act of the week: The 2011 Tax Bill has almost 7,000 earmarks with a total cost of $9,130,800,000. (Did the "earmarkers" see the results of the recent election?)

Lie of the week: The White House said money from other sources would be shifted so the Social Security trust fund loses no revenue. (There is no cash in the Social Security trust fund, and there never has been. The "trust fund" is full of paper IOUs from the U.S. government, and benefits are paid from current revenues - or borrowings. Bernie Madoff ran the same scam, and ended up in the graybar hotel.)

Obama's bipartisanship: Based on his recent speeches, Barry O's idea of bipartisanship seems to be "we lost the election, so I guess I'll have to work with the bastards."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day trip . . .

. . . to Vomero

My efforts to learn italiano are being hindered by the lack of opportunity to practice. Classwork and homework just are not enough. So, when our instructor organized a field trip to the Certosa e Museo di San Martino in Vomero, I decided to tag along.

No, this is not the entrance to the museum. Because Vomero's streets have the layout of a plate of spaghetti, and the width of a Smartcar, I decided to take the Metro from the NATO compound. I parked my car securely inside the gate, behind the two Italian guards sitting on their version of a Bradley mounted with a fairly large machine gun. This is the first part of the path from NATO to the Metro station. Inviting, innit?

When I arrived at Montesanto station, at the bottom of Vomero hill, I was greeted by proof positive of Naples' current garbage crisis.

How competent are you at parallel parking? It's an art in Napoli, and people take no prisoners. If there is a spot with 2" of clearance on each end, someone will park a car there. They primarily park by sound, and bumpers are well used - if present at all.

This is the cloister inside the church. It isn't an abbey in the common sense of the word. A Carthusian Charterhouse is essentially a community of hermits. Each house is headed by a prior and is populated by choir monks and lay brothers. This cloister is also a cemetery. Those globes on the fence are carved stone skulls, but the graves are not marked.

The sanctuary of the church is an amazing example of tireless, patient craftsmanship. The floor, columns, steps, and partitions are all marble, and are shaped as a master woodworker would execute joinery. The amount of time required to do this magnificent work is simply beyond comprehension.

Then, there's the view from the plaza outside the museum, with Vesuvio overlooking all. Bellissimo!

Napoli is sometimes called "A pretty girl with dirty feet." Today, I saw the dirty feet, but the pretty girl was still enchanting.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Attention . . .

. . . blogger on deck

As you were.


Residential internet access is not functional. Blogging from official work stations is severly limited.