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Guy's Blog

Just one Guy's personal blog of thoughts & sense--common, non, and otherwise--of the world in which we live.

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Location: Nipomo, Central Coast, California, United States

I also blog over at Nipomo News, Messenger and Advocate and Bloggernacle Times

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My Heart Breaks For New Orleans

I've only been to the the Big Easy, three times--but it was love at first sight. It's a city of life, food, music, and fun. I will always remember it as it was the last time I was there in September 2003. The photos in this post are a small sampling of this last trip, which will now hold even more precious memories. My hope and prayers are that it can recover and will be rebuilt. It is heart wrenching to see the disaster that has fallen on that great city, and its fine people.

When I last visited, I stayed right in the French Quarter, at this lovely hotel, the Palace d' Armes. It was walking distance from all the sights in the French Quarter--most important, in my book was the world famous Cafe du Monde, where they served the world famous

beignets--the world's tastiest pastries. If you don't know what a beignet is, check here. You used to be able to buy the mix online from the Cafe Du Monde website, and try to make them at home. We tried once, but they weren't the same as we bought in New Orleans.

Now, the only place I know, other than New Orleans that makes anything close is Downtown Disney in Anaheim, where the have a Ralph Brennan's Cafe, that also serves beignets.

In Jackson Square, the fortune tellers and other street folk line up early to get a start on the tourist trade that walks the French Quarter nightly. On Decatur street along the river front in the French Market section of the French Quarter you can hire a carriage driver to take you throughout the French Quarter.

Another shot along Decatur Street of one of the many colorful street folk that line the French Quarter on any given night (or day it seems). Above right, is a shot along the water front adjacent to the French Quarter where it meets the Mississippi River. Interestingly it was Lake Ponchartrain that swept into the city from the levee breach, rather than the river.

Above left is the old Jax Brewery also on the waterfront, and off Decatur Street. Above right another shot of the long line of Tarrot card readers and fortune tellers ever present each evening in Jackson Square, just off the French Quarter.

Above left is the waterfront trolley, which you can take all along the water front. Above right, one of the many mimes, who entertain throughout the French Quarter. Some are quite talented.

Above left is The Cat's Meow, one of the dozens of bars along Bourbon Street. It is located at the corner of Bourbon and St. Peter's Streets. If you look closely in the upper right window pane as you face the door, there is a live internet cam, which prior to Katrina would broadcast live shots of people at the corner just outside the bar. One day, it will broadcast again, and the party will resume. Above right, Bourbon Street in the early afternoon, is just beginning to come to life.

Above left is a shot of Pat O'Brien's, likely the French Quarter's most famous bar. Above left is one of the myriad of the voodoo houses in the French Quarter. Everything seems to make some money in the French Quarter.

These two shots above are from world famous Pat O'Brien's Bar in the French Quarter. The left shot is inside their Piano Bar, where dual pianos entertain the patrons nightly. I don't drink; however, I have sat for hours in this bar just listening to the tunes from the dual and dueling piano players, and watching the people. In the left shot you can also see Mr. Eddie Gabriel, aka Mr. Eddie, playing his aluminum tray with thimbled fingers. Mr. Eddie invented that act in 1945 during world war two. He has been a regular at Pat O'Brien's since 1937. You can read a bit of his history with Pat O'Brien's here and here. CNN reported on 9/4/05 that Mr. Eddie was missing, and had not been heard from since Katrina struck. He was 95 when Katrina struck.

Bourbon Street comes to life at night. The left shot above is early in the evening, on Friday, 9/26/03, and things are just getting warmed up on Bourbon Street. You can imagine what it looks like on Mardi Gras. Above right is one of the famous Bourbon Street balconies where many nights you can see more than just beads. You can even rent one of them for your own balcony party.

Above left, another balcony. And above right is early morning on Decatur Street, looking at Jax Brewery. It will be a long journey back for New Orleans and her residents; however, from what little I know about the city and those who live there, they have the love of life and their great city and will compel them to the task. God Bless to all victims of this horrible tragedy, and may they rebuild their unique way of life.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thunder Over The Valley III

This particular chopper is stationed in San Diego. They made the trip in about three hours, and flew right through downtown Los Angeles, flying straight up the 101 freeway through the downtown area. I can imagine what some of the higher floor office occupants must have thought seeing a military helicopter flying through downtown Los Angeles. The gauges in the cockpits are just mind boggling--much, much more complex than driving a car.

The by-planes were very impressive. Taking off, they almost lumbered off the airfield. They don't fly very fast, and they look as though the just might fall out of the sky; however, when they let their smoke out over the airport, it was quite breathtaking.

This helicopter was the biggest at the air show. It was a United States Marine Corps chopper, and is used to actually transport the marines. It has been in active duty, and has seen combat in every military action in which the United States has been involved, from Vietnam to the current Iraq war. There is over five miles of wiring inside this copter.

The highlight of the airshow, at least for the part for which we stayed was the fly over by the B-52 Bomber. The runway is not long enough for the B-52 to land; however, it did do a fly over on Saturday while we were there. It is quite an impressive sight to see that airplane in flight.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Thunder Over The Valley II

Our scout troop, 432 attended the Santa Maria Thunder Over the Valley Air Show on 8/27/05 at the Santa Maria Airport, and it was all it promised to be. I'll try to post some of the better shots I took--some were better than others. I don't know the names and types of aircraft we saw, except for one, so I'm sorry I won't have proper names--but it was a great deal of fun regardless. This first sequence shows one of the several model planes that flew. They were actually quite large, as you can see. They can fly up to speeds of 90 mph--though for the stunts they were doing at the show it was likely much slower. These models were expensive, up to $4,000 or even more. The good news, though is that this particular spiral didn't end in a crash!

In addition to the models there were several real vintage and current planes. Most of them were World War 2 planes; however, there were also some active military air craft, including some helicopters.

For the most part, the planes at this show were the older vintage models. Though they were older, but each one was different in its purpose and branch of service.

Saturday was beautiful weather. As is customary on the Central Coast many days, particularly in summer, start of with a cloud cover, and it burns off later in the day; however, Saturday morming started off right away with clear, blue, sunny skies, from the moment we walked onto the airfield. In fact, sunscreen was the order of the day, as was lots of liquids.

The orange helicopter is a French designed, but American built aircraft that the Coast Guard uses. Interestingly, despite what most Americans feel about the French, the Coast Guard officer with whom I spoke indicated that the design was actually quite good. He also said that the engine was very good, as were many French designed engines.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Wicked Witch of the Right

On 8/25/05, Ann Coulter repeated her claim that New Yorkers would surrender to terrorists, and implied they are cowards. It is precisely people like her, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'reilly, who spread their hate and vitriol that the far right (or far anything for that matter) will eventually crumble under its own self important weight. My suggestion to Ms. Coulter is to take it up with the NYPD and NYFD.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Thunder Over The Valley

If you live on the Central Coast, and are looking for something exciting to do this weekend, you had better check out the extraordinary combined car and air show at the Santa Maria Airport. Their schedule is posted here, and in this post. The show actually begins its preview today, Friday at about 11:30 a.m. with the aircraft arrival. It begins in earnest on Saturday, at 9:00 a.m. with the opening ceremonies. According to Michael Geddry, Sr. the Santa Maria Museum of Flight Director there will be a fly-by of a B-52 Bomber, on all three days, today through Sunday. Since the runway is too short to land the bomber they do the fly-by; however, that ought to be enough to rumble the rooftops of the entire valley.

They expect 10 to 15 thousand people. All of the aircraft will be military, and most will be active, with some smattering of World War II planes. There will be all kinds of booths, as well as a combined car show. Our Scout Troop, 432 is making it an activity on Saturday, and I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Who Will Say 'No More'?

In today's Washington Post, former Democratic Senator Gary Hart, writes a powerful op ed piece, that I think is so well done, I'm going to repost it in its entirety here, so that once The Post places it in its archives I won't lose it.

Senatort Hart, thank you for standing up and asking this poignant question. I supported you in 1984, and wished you had defeated Walter Mondale--you were a much better candidate. I was disapointed at your self destruction in1988; however, the years have been kind to you, and your elder statesman perspective is exactly what our country needs today. I hope you consider a Presidential run in 2008.

Senator Hart's commentary:

Who Will Say 'No More'?

By Gary Hart

Wednesday, August 24, 2005; Page A15

"Waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool said to push on," warned an anti-Vietnam war song those many years ago. The McGovern presidential campaign, in those days, which I know something about, is widely viewed as a cause for the decline of the Democratic Party, a gateway through which a new conservative era entered.

Like the cat that jumped on a hot stove and thereafter wouldn't jump on any stove, hot or cold, today's Democratic leaders didn't want to make that mistake again. Many supported the Iraq war resolution and -- as the Big Muddy is rising yet again -- now find themselves tongue-tied or trying to trump a war president by calling for deployment of more troops. Thus does good money follow bad and bad politics get even worse.

History will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war that is draining the finest military in the world, diverting Guard and reserve forces that should be on the front line of homeland defense, shredding international alliances that prevailed in two world wars and the Cold War, accumulating staggering deficits, misdirecting revenue from education to rebuilding Iraqi buildings we've blown up, and weakening America's national security.

But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on? My generation of Democrats jumped on the hot stove of Vietnam and now, with its members in positions of responsibility, it is afraid of jumping on any political stove. In their leaders, the American people look for strength, determination and self-confidence, but they also look for courage, wisdom, judgment and, in times of moral crisis, the willingness to say: "I was wrong."

To stay silent during such a crisis, and particularly to harbor the thought that the administration's misfortune is the Democrats' fortune, is cowardly. In 2008 I want a leader who is willing now to say: "I made a mistake, and for my mistake I am going to Iraq and accompanying the next planeload of flag-draped coffins back to Dover Air Force Base. And I am going to ask forgiveness for my mistake from every parent who will talk to me."

Further, this leader should say: "I am now going to give a series of speeches across the country documenting how the administration did not tell the American people the truth, why this war is making our country more vulnerable and less secure, how we can drive a wedge between Iraqi insurgents and outside jihadists and leave Iraq for the Iraqis to govern, how we can repair the damage done to our military, what we and our allies can do to dry up the jihadists' swamp, and what dramatic steps we must take to become energy-secure and prevent Gulf Wars III, IV and so on."

At stake is not just the leadership of the Democratic Party and the nation but our nation's honor, our nobility and our principles. Franklin D. Roosevelt established a national community based on social justice. Harry Truman created international networks that repaired the damage of World War II and defeated communism. John F. Kennedy recaptured the ideal of the republic and the sense of civic duty. To expect to enter this pantheon, the next Democratic leader must now undertake all three tasks.

But this cannot be done while the water is rising in the Big Muddy of the Middle East. No Democrat, especially one now silent, should expect election by default. The public trust must be earned, and speaking clearly, candidly and forcefully now about the mess in Iraq is the place to begin.

The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating "Stay the course" even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken. The truth is we're way off course. We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began.

Who now has the courage to say this?

The writer is a former Democratic senator from Colorado.

Protesters are Patriots Too!

Protesters greeted Mr. Bush upon his arrival in Salt Lake City. I bet you didn't think such people existed in Salt Lake City; however, as you can see there is a rather healthy anti war movement there, led by none other than Mayor Rocky Anderson.

Protest, of course, is the foundation of the First Amendment, and is a bedrock of our own's nation's history. See Thomas Jefferson's ideas on protest enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

Unfortunately, this right, guaranteed by the First Amendment is all but lost on Mr. Bush, who yesterday proclaimed that those who protest his war in Iraq don't want the United States to win the war on terror. I'm sorry Mr. President, but that's not how it works in our country. Yes, this country belongs to those of us who do not buy into your war policies in Iraq. It is as much our country as yours and even those who support you. And, we who disagree and speak out against the lunacy in Iraq, are no less American than anyone else, including you.

The war in Iraq was never about the war on terror. Iraq is only a terrorist state today because of your ill advised invasion and war. You don't get to be a war time president, because you invented the war which so classifies you. Stop denigrating good and decent Americans everywhere just because they don't happen to agree with you! And, some of those who don't agree with Mr. Bush, include a growing number of conservative thinkers, leaders, and commentators. See here, here, and also here for just a small sample.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Six Feet Is Now Under . . . Rest in Peace

Well, on a lighter note (well, sort of) I'll admit I was a regular viewer of HBO's Six Feet Under. I think I watched every episode at least once, and now the final one at least three times. This was absolutely a fabulous series. I will truly miss watching the new episodes each week, and will now have to be content with the memories it has left. Claire, is and was my favorite of the show's characters. I loved the way the show ended, and that Claire lived a long and very full love filled life. May we all be so fortunate. Here's to ya Six Feet Under.

Claire Simone Fisher

1983 - 2085

Born March 13, 1983. Died February 11, 2085 in Manhattan. Claire grew up in Los Angeles and studied art at LAC-Arts College. She worked as an advertising and fashion photographer and photojournalist for nearly fifty years, creating several memorable covers for Washington Post magazine, W, and The Face. Claire often exhibited her work in New York and London art galleries and in a time when nearly everyone else in her field had turned to digital scanning and computer-driven imaging, she continued to use a silver-based photographic process. Claire began teaching photography as a faculty member at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2018, earning tenure in 2028. She's pre-deceased by her beloved husband Ted Fairwell.