Watermelon Loving Boy

We were invited over for late afternoon today for a Lewis backyard barbecue. It was also Michael’s birthday too. Really nice evening being sunny and warm, not too cool nor too hot. The Thayers brought produce from their garden. The hard grown spoils of Mister Thayer. Can you tell from these pictures that his grandson, Ryan, loves his watermelon?

What watermelon are you talking about?


This watermelon!


A Changing World Order?

Is the world as we know it changing? Is the economic prosperity and hope for increasing democracy seeping away in current times?There are some who believe so. Time will tell. I believe the next 6 to 12 months could be very dangerous and significant months.

Russian Art as Propaganda

There is a current art exhibit on display in a newer museum in Moscow. The concept is the art of “Soviet Realism”. Of course in Communist times, this type of realism is very much propaganda. A discussion of the exhibit and how it is a look into this time frame and heritage of the Russian peoples can be found here.

“The term "Soviet Realism" conjures up images of workers and farmers nobly engaged in their labors—inflated to mythical status—and depicted in a kind of debased academic style. Produced at a time when Soviet authorities scrutinized art for its content and its execution, demanding ideologically worthy subjects as well as expressive methods that would be easily understood by the masses, works of this kind were offered in direct contrast to the "decadent, bourgeois" styles that flourished in the West, those that embraced abstract forms and individual expression—both anathema to Soviet aesthetics. Much of it is more properly understood as propaganda than as fine art.”

World War I Artists

I previously had a blog piece about the poets of World War I. Now it is on the artists of that time.

“When the firing ceased in 1918, the belligerents of World War I counted their dead, missing and wounded. They numbered not in the thousands or hundreds of thousands, as in previous wars, but in the millions.

A century after the carnage, the British artists whom art historians deem most consequential are those who reacted most aggressively against the heroic tradition of war painting, both in style and in content. We now automatically associate the Modernist works of Christopher R.W. Nevinson, David Bomberg and Paul Nash with the Great War just as much as we do the bitter and disenchanted poetry written by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. But seeing the conflict exclusively through their eyes leads us to neglect other talented artists who pictured the war in more conventional ways that the general public could readily understand. And so it is that many admirable artists who depicted the conflict, such as Henry Tonks, William Orpen and even John Singer Sargent (in his wartime paintings), are often undeservedly neglected.”

Today I Found Out

I recently came across a website that sends out daily trivia facts to your email. It is called Today I Found Out. It is quite interesting. One can learn about how the word “boycott” came about or how the maximum occupancy for a public room is determined.

Black Soldiers of the Civil War

I have tried to highlight different aspects of the Civil War. African-Americans made a significant contribution in the Civil War. A discussion about their involvement by a very good author can be found here.

“At this time 150 years ago, the two major Union army formations — Major General George Meade’s Army of the Potomac and Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army group — were tightening their stranglehold on the Confederacy. The former was besieging Petersburg south of the city, trying to thin out Confederate lines and cut the last railroad line connecting Petersburg–Richmond to Georgia and the Carolinas. The latter, having forced the Confederates back on Atlanta, was engaging John Bell Hood in vicious battles at Peachtree Creek, Ezra Church, Dalton, and other places. Atlanta would fall in September, freeing up Sherman for his march to the sea. Petersburg would hold out until March 1865.

While these events were taking place, there were other developments that were less known both at the time and now: among them, the full-scale employment of black soldiers in the service of the Union. The former slave and great abolitionist Frederick Douglass had called for arming blacks at the very outset of the war. Writing in his Monthly of May 1861, Douglass argued that the way “to put an end to the savage and desolating war now waged by the slaveholders, is to strike down slavery itself, the primal cause of that war.” ”


To get a sense of the mystique and superb nature of Elvis Presley as an artist and at the height of his artistry, this article will give some insight about a recent packaging of his work from 1970. A restoration, per se. ‘That’s the way it is’.

Why Do We Read?

To gain ‘wisdom and insight’ to get a bit of that in your life, check here.


Bob and I have visited art museums in a number of locations. We both have seen the work of Caravaggio. I can’t remember if it was in London or if in San Francisco. The painting was stunning and had so much emotional impact. I came across this piece about a Caravaggio painting that had been lost for many years. It had been long in the dining hall of a Jesuit location in Dublin. Quite a strange mystery surrounding this. The painting is called “The Taking of Christ”.

Some pictures depict mysteries; others have mysteries attached to them. Caravaggio's "The Taking of Christ," a painting that now hangs proudly on a wall in the National Gallery of Ireland, fits into both categories. For almost two centuries it had gone missing.

Ice Bucket Challenge

The big craze right now through social media is to raise money for ALS by having someone dump a bucket of ice water over you as you pledge to give a certain amount of money. It has raised $44 million dollars as a campaign for them. I went to a picnic last night where one person did the challenge while there. Here is a photo of how it looks.

Fawlty Towers Dining

One of my most favorite TV shows and also the funniest is the British TV show, Fawlty Towers, starring John Cleese. It was voted the funniest of all TV shows in 2000 in Britain. Little can touch the sarcastic humor there. What a hoot. Now people have found a way to bring it to you by way of offering a Fawlty Towers dining experience show. It has traveled the world though mostly seen in the UK. You can find out more about the show and the schedule.

Ghosts Inspire Books

Do ghosts inspire books? According to Esther Freud, an author, the cottage she bought in a Suffolk England village did. The famous Scottish artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh has lived in the home at one time. His presence seemed to infuse the home with other spirits, such as a boy of 10 or 12. Macintosh’s work is everywhere in Scotland or at least its influence and replication of look. His style is esthetically pleasing too many, including me. I’d love to have many items that have that look but cannot afford them. Nice to read a bit about him.

Artifacts in the Atlantic Ocean

A curious find near Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. They found a 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and tool on the seafloor. This, if proven true, might show that there were earlier settlers than previously thought in North America. It might change our thinking of when people came here by some thousands of years. This is “food for thought”.

War Poets 100 Years Ago

There was a lot of poetry and literature that came from the angst and terrible times of World War I. Amazing thought and words on paper. With the War’s Centennial, there is an effort to highlight and showcase the poetry from that time. One example is Wilfred Owen, a soldier and poet, who died just before war’s end. More information is located online. Here is a demonstration of some of that work.

Three lives hath one life—

Iron, honey, gold.

The gold, the honey gone—

Left is the hard and cold.

—Isaac Rosenberg, from ‘August 1914’

A Birthday for Bob

No, I won’t say how old he is. Not that he would care that much. It was a good day for him. We had breakfast with Scott and Melissa in town which is not a frequent occurrence to eat with them. He also got a lot of birthday wishes throughout the day from any people. Of course, Facebook facilitates a lot of “contacting” among friends. His new computer has arrived and is at the computer repair place to get all his info transferred over to the new one. He should be excited when it all comes online.

World War I Galleries

One of the most interesting sights and museums Bob and I have visited over the years is the Imperial War Museum in London. It was big and full of so much history. I remember the section on World War II where they kept playing Neville Chamberlain’s speech as Britain entered the second World War. The Museum has ben renovated in anticipation of the centennial of the start of their declaring war for World War I on August 4, 1914.

“A moonscape of craters, mud and shattered stumps fills a wall-sized video screen; you can hear shrieking shells and shattering blasts; an enormous British howitzer, meant to pulverize the enemy’s defenses, points toward the fields. The only thing missing in this gallery, devoted to the Battle of the Somme at the Imperial War Museum here, is the ability to conceive of 20,000 British dead and 37,000 wounded or missing in the first day of fighting, and more than a million casualties over all during five months.

It is one of the most powerful presentations at the new First World War Galleries here, suggesting that this seemingly futile battle was actually a turning point. These galleries, which replace an older presentation that was a classic for a generation, are also part of a $67 million rebuilding of the museum, completed in time to commemorate the centennial of Britain’s entry into the war. That occasion was somberly observed across Britain on Aug. 4 with moments of silence, extinguished lights and the scattered petals of red poppies — the war’s symbol of bloodied innocence and death.”

Meeting Smarts

Some days I feel that I am hopeless at coming across intelligent in meetings. Maybe that fear will be no more. I found this bit of “wisdom” or humor about the “10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings”. I can use all the help I can get. Check it out here.

University of Oregon

Another article to stir the juices or maybe annoy a person greatly. Universities are becoming a mess. I tried to find the right description and mess seemed to be the best word. What is upsetting about this particular article is about the amount of money the University of Oregon’s student government has available a $15 million budget. Larger than some necessary departments for the city of Eugene. What a wasteful system and the students can’t seem to get along as it is. Maybe they all want to fight over the “pot” (of money and not marijuana).

The Marx Brothers

With the past two days covering the memory and work of Robin Williams, I can across this article about the 100 year commemoration of the Marx Brothers. Their type of comedy was a bit frenetic like Robin Williams so they seem to be a bit of a fit. I have always laughed at their early movies together. The article has a bit more focus on a number of their TV performances together. It is interesting to read that their body of work in movies and TV is not as extensive as one would imagine. They also brought a lot of laughter into our world.

One Top Ten Robin Williams Performances

As we all remember Robin Williams, one site put together their top 10 performances of his. As I watch different clips, I have to marvel at his ability, his genius. I also have to laugh which can be a rare quality in this day. Please watch and enjoy a little time away to NeverNeverLand here.

Till We Meet Again, Robin Williams

Sad news today of the passing of Robin Williams, comic and actor. Of course, I never did meet him.Yet, one feels that you know of him through his work. He was an amazing comic genius. When I first saw him on Mork and Mindy TV show I could not believe the quick facile changes he did between routines. No one was like him, other than his hero, Jonathan Winters. He could make you laugh at the drop of a hat, anytime. It is though with incredible sadness that I write this........

Speed Baby

A picnic on a hot day outdoors. Thunderstorms in the evening. It is fun to watch Ryan race around to explore his “world”. He had a blast today scrambling up and down the deck stairs. He has also learned to open the pantry door to get at the food. Ah, the joys of a grandparent’s home.


It is good to feel success in tackling an unknown project. I am not a designer or crafty person. I can be determined to try something and make it work. I was able to load InDesign on my Mac computer and update a number of files that I have been waiting to tackle. I was able to make great headway and just need a few pieces of information to finish this up. It is really a satisfying feeling.

Elements Table of Famous Inventors

Someone did a fund table of using a graphic to coordinate different famous inventors or scientists. It is a form of the Elements Table of people and their names. Enjoy!

Vietnam Today

Michael Totten is at it again, writing great travel pieces for unusual areas of the world. This time instead of Cuba, he has visited Vietnam. His description of the country, people, cities and government now compared to the days of the Vietnam War are fascinating. The country has rebounded and though is a bit totalitarian, it is not repressed the same way it is in Cuba. More of a bustling entrapeneurial spirit present in the people. Here is the article. The hot weather sounds a bit intimidating and not my type to enjoy though.

“Ho Chi Minh would be appalled if he could see Vietnam now.”

Sherman's March to the Sea

Gone With The Wind as a book and a movie depict in a bigger-than-life way the destruction of Atlanta and plantation life in the South during the Civil War. General Sherman was and still is considered a destroyer, a butcher per se to many people of Southern heritage. Victor Davis Hanson has an article that discusses the Atlanta campaign the Sherman’s severing of supply lines to make his March to the Sea in Georgia. By doing so, he feels he freed himself to attack the structure and illusion of the plantation elite to prop up the Southern armies to continue a prolonged struggle. By taking the war to those who started it and wished to continue their way of life, he brought the reality of war upon them and possibly shortened the war in the end. Interesting military history.

World War l and the Movies

A look at World War l and its depiction in film...........

“Beyond their stated or implicit concerns, movies in some way always reflect the times in which they were made. And films about World War I are no exception. In the century since the start of the war, variously commemorated throughout Europe and the U.S. this summer, the conflict has often been portrayed on screen—represented at different times as either a misguided enterprise or a glorious cause. Less appreciated is the Great War's use as propaganda tool as new hostilities arose throughout the 20th century and into the present one. Such pictures shed light not only on how the war itself was perceived at different points following its conclusion, but also on the manner in which subsequent generations bent the narrative to their own purposes.”

July 1914

Did circumstances explode past the some countries’ expectations in the crucial month of July 1914? Was the war inevitable as some believed? Or did Germany let Austria take control of the issue and drive the continent into war unnecessarily? Sadly, did such loss of life inevitably need to occur before countries realized the overwhelming destructive nature of the conflict and avoid it in the future (or the future after World War ll). Here is another article discussing the nature of the summer of 1914.

Get Your Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit

For all the cat lovers out there, get your Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit......crazy_cat_lady_box-8-3-14

Warsaw Uprising Anniversary

August 1, 1944 was the start of the Warsaw uprising in the ghetto by the Jews against the Germans. This is the 70th anniversary of the start of the Uprising. By the end, most of the Jews were dead, wiped out by the Germans while the Soviets stood by and let it happen. A haunting story of one survivor’s memory of the time can be found in this article.

On Friday, Mikos will be among a shrinking group of insurgents to be honored in state ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the start of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. In this uneven struggle, poorly armed young city residents rose up against the German forces that had brutally occupied Poland for five years, battling them in the streets of the capital for over two months.

August 1, 1914

100 years ago today, imperial Germany declared war on Serbia to support their ally, the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On July 28, a few days prior, the Austro-Hungarian government has attacked Serbia in response to the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Four and one-half years later millions were dead and injured while countries world-wide were impacted. Why was it so deadly to so many? Here is an opinion page article giving some thought and voice to that question.
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