pLANNING aHEAD FOR covid end! – tHE cARIBBEAN! 99 CENT sEA sHELL bOOK sALE!

I’m getting in line for my COVID-19 Vaccination! Yes, I’ve had them all….. Both Salk and Sabin Polio Vaccinations, Hepatitis, Shingles, Typhoid, Tetanus, Cholera, Yellow Fever, …. it goes on and on even when you’re 76 years of age!

Glad my dad was a Bacteriologist, a Medical Officer on Saipan in WW2 and worked at the CDC for a while! Because of this, I got every experimental shot in the Royal Butt from the late 1940’s onward as immunology got better and better over the years. His eyes would pop out to see what has happened in the past 20 years in this field!

But back to the Point of this Blog! — It may take you a 6 months to get your COVID-19 shots, but it’s going to happen and those of us who love to travel will be off and running around the world again!

So! Plan Ahead! Before all the plane seats and cheap fares disappear!

The Caribbean and the S. of Florida are great places to visit in March, April, May and then in Sept., Oct., Nov. for lowest rates on Hotels! Diving! Boating, Fishing, Food! Etc.!

Going to be on the Beach! You need a Seashell Book! And because of the holiday season, you can get the best e-book for identifying your seashells for only 99 Cents between Dec. 16 and Dec. 19, 2020 at https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B001K8HIXI

It’s not just any book, it’s the best and easiest E- Book to read and use to I.D. all those shells you kick up inthe sand whether on Sanibel or Curacao , or in Venezuela, The Bahamas, or Barbados ….!

If you miss the 99 Center, you can still get it for $1.99 from Dec. 19 – Dec. 22, 2020- Same Place: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B001K8HIXI before it goes back to the original price!

Hope you enjoy your holidays and have a great read!

See you on the beach in 2021!

Hands off State’s Rights! : Gaming Our Democracy!

Hands off our State’s Rights Mr. President! 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” You have not been given any rights here!

This and subsequent rulings and laws were put in precisely to prevent the kind of twisting of State’s elections for anything including and especially for the Presidency and Congress in order to prevent the return to Monarchy or a Dictatorship.

Note Mr. President: Since the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court both point to state law regarding voting rights, it is up to the individual state to determine how it wants to distribute those voting rights

Despite my continued angst about our country, I have learned some very important lessons about the Presidency, our Democracy and our Constitution during the past four years. None are infallibly perfect. Our system can be “Gamed” internally by using straight old school propaganda and modern technology. Basically, we know that humans can have their brains “Hacked” and “Malignant Viruses” inserted by “Tweeting” enough falsehoods so that we forget simple truths and believe the most outrageous lies. I call it “Gaming” because psychology tells us that “Name Calling”, “Scapegoating” and “Loaded Words” are like “Computer Viruses” in that they  “Manipulate” the normal programming of our brains and thus our behaviors. In adults, this types of gaming is a lot more serious than middle school bullying which we work hard to eliminate. Adult games can end up with split societies, increased violence and major bad consequences for a nation. We only need to look at many countries we used to call “Banana Republics” to see how badly it can end.  Our nation has just concluded the most secure election in history according to our government’s NSA and most national leaders. Unfortunately the results are being “Gamed” at time when a major transition in government in needed. Consequently we see a continuation of the breakdown in our national civil discourse and social contract relationships. As a nation of varied values, races, traditions and religions we need to get back on track. There is no conspiracy, it is not a battle between “Liberals and Conservatives,” (whatever those two words now stand for) or “Guns – No Guns”, it’s about living and working together. To quote Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and it is US.

Americans, we all have a lot of repair work to do to fix the “US” whether used as a pronoun or as U.S.

School Transitions : Leaving the place Prepared for the future, and better than you found it!

I can still remember in the summer of 1949, when Dad and I were driving to Montana from our place in Oakland, California, stopping at a gas station out on that long stretch of road running across the Club Foot of southern Idaho. It was hot as the Devil and we stopped for gas in the car, water for the water bag that hung out the window to cool, and a trip to the John. The John was about as filthy as you could find one in those days.

After using the facilities, Dad said, “Well I guess we better clean some of this up before we leave.”

My little brain clicked in and I blurted out something like, “Why would we want to clean it up? Somebody else made the mess.”

At that point, my Dad looked at me and said, “Ricky, when I was in the war, I saw an awful lot of stuff that was one big mess out in the Pacific. All the fellows in the unit, including myself vowed that after the war ended, we would always leave any place we went, better off than we found it.”

With that, he flushed the toilet about five times used the plunger and an old toilet brush to slop it out, cleaned and scrubbed the sink, and wiped everything down with the ragged greasy old towel that everyone must have wiped their hands on for the past week.

When he was finished, he stood back, looked at me and smiled.

“Now, that’s a lot better, isn’t it? You need to remember that no matter how bad a place is, we always leave it better for the next person than we found it.”

I had to agree. We left that old crapper a lot better than we had found it, gave the dirty towel to the attendant, and tooted the horn as we hauled our trailer with all the family belongings back out onto the road and headed on toward Montana.

We drove off both feeling happy that we had done a good turn. That one incident made a big impression on me!

As an adult school teacher and later a principal, I switched jobs a number of times during my 10+ different postings in some forty years of professional international work.

My Dad’s phrase has always come back to guide me when leaving one position and moving to another, “We always leave it better for the next person”.

Because of this one phrase, I have always prepared for any job transition by leaving behind good records of: materials, inventories, information, files, schedules and personnel records, so that everything is in the best possible condition for the next person to come in and take over smoothly.

Believe me, I have taken over schools in which it was obvious that the preceding person(s) didn’t give a rip about any Transition! No cares for what would happened to the place when they were gone: No files of records, No Student Handbooks, No Teacher or Curriculum Handbooks, No agreements and documents on how we do business or school discipline, No maintenance done to infrastructure, No positive working conditions with staff and co-workers etc., etc. etc.

Because of previous actions by the persons who should have been positive leaders in Transitioning schools to another leader, I’ve seen and had to clean up the virtual latrines left behind. I’ve followed my father’s advice and immediately gotten into it and cleaned up the graffiti, gangs and bad attitudes that can take over and control the running and education of an entire school.But it could have gone much more smoothly with some thought by the previous person about smooth Transitions.

Schools are Family. They are a small microcosm of a State, a Country or even the World. Leaving the place in the best possible shape means that when I depart, the new person coming in will be able to pick up and run with the ball instead of having to find and pick up the dropped baton in a race that never ends. I am leaving a blueprint of myself, my values, my personality and my hopes and desires for the future of that institution behind so that someone else can come in and make the Family even better.

Having good and excellent schools is the business of us all as communities, and GOOD TRANSITIONS are the Mark of Excellent Leaders and one of the keys to maintaining EXCELLENCE in any school!

FEEL FREE TO INSERT THE NAME OF ANY INSTITUTION FOR THE WORD SCHOOL!

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This well researched book is probably the best amplified history and documentation of the massive genocide occurring from 1933 through 1945. It contains the most complete description of the causes, perpetrators and victims of the some 14 million persons who died during this era of political mass murders and crimes against humanity.

I would recommend that Snyder’s book be required reading for all students in High School, coupled with the viewing of a few of the post WW2 actual concentration camp films. Society needs a constant reminder of the kind of human horror and devastation that can be brought upon any region of the world by any political system that has leaders who are not firmly bound by strongly enforced moral and ethical codes of society and governance.

The horrors of Stalin’s Communistic Socialism and Hitler’s Fascist regimes turned the entire section of Central/Eastern European countries, from the Black Sea to the Baltic, into a human fed butchery of massive proportions. Whether the crimes were perpetrated against Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians, or whether the innocent victims were Jewish or Christian, the monstrosity of the crimes committed can only be understood by reading a volume such as this.

Containing personal witness and survivor stories nestled alongside the detailed written plans of the perpetrators and facilitators of the horrors, author Timothy Snyder weaves a picture which, be warned, may give some readers nightmares.

Read the book slowly and thoughtfully. Digest the full broad picture of the spectrum of humanity that appears. It’s a picture that shows the naivety of the victims until it was too late to escape, the systematic cold blooded plotting of the masterminds from their comfy offices, the machine like efficiency of the killing squads and the feigned ignorance professed by the watching bystanders even during famines.

Snyder’s book firmly illustrates clearly what we already know but tend to suppress about our human political situations. That is, that any population of humans, under an amoral leadership, in a society that lacks strong checks on power; when given a falsely fabricated scapegoat, that society is capable of donning the cloak of mass murder for any number of fabricated justifiable reasons.

It is only by strong checks and balances in governments and constant vigilance and education of each generation about genocidal history that we can prevent such horrors from happening again.



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Getting the Straight Stuff on Corona Virus Vaccines

This is a good one! Definitely, with the vaccine research being done and the need for excellent dissemination of correct information, You have it here. 10 minutes of excellent information.

Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Results, Explained

“November 9th, 2020”

“Preliminary efficacy data is truly encouraging, but here’s how we can best understand what it really means!”

I’ve pasted in the picture above and the link below because this 10 minute video is the kind of presentation I wish I could have done for my Biology students back in the 60’s up through the 80’s. Clear, concise, Science language we can all understand and pointing out the challenges of vaccine immunology work as well as the promise if it all comes together for us on the COVID-19 vaccine. Enjoy! https://zdoggmd.com/z-blogg/

Send this on to America! Our people need to know where to get excellent sources of information!

Thanks, Rick

Repairing an Old Violin – Keeping Sane in the times of COVID-19

Who would have thought that $10.00 spent on a falling apart old violin could keep me occupied for so much time and give me so much enjoyment?

Wow! Found it in August of this year, sitting all cracked and scratched with the front and back falling off and a section of one side broken, in the photographic store of a friend here in Hood River. As a former violin player, it piqued my interest, so for a tenner I got to take it home.

Then the fun began!

In my shop, it took about one minute to run my utility knife down the remaining glue in the cracks, and there it was: Front, Back, Broken Edging, Fingerboard, Scroll and Yoke all spead out on the work table. I didn’t need to heat up the old horse-hoof glue to take it apart, it literally fell apart in front of me.

I checked out what condition things sere. Note the long crack on the lower left-hand side below the construction hole and note the black mold or fungus stains where it must have sat in a lot of moisture because these stains extend through from the outside right into the interior. Well aged, but not treated well obviously. There were similar cracks on the top and deep stains on it as well. So what did you expect for 10 bucks, kid?

I checked out the inside of the Back to see if there was a clue about who made it! Was it an old lost Strad?

Nope Not a STRAD! – But, inside there was a small label: Daniel P. Fry, Boise, Idaho, 1963. He put this together the same year I started studying Zoology at Montana Sate College in Bozeman, Montana.

First things first, remove a whole lot of damaged and scratched up finish so I can work on the body before I put it back together. An orange colored citronella based paint and varnish remover seems better than some of the more aromatic brain damaging removers. You still need to wear gloves because this stuff is caustic.

After getting all the gooey mess of varnish remover off, I sanded, and glued broken and falling apart pieces together again. Here’s the edging being held together as I glue it to the scroll-neck and fingerboard for 24 hours with some clamps.

Notice that the edging here looks a bit lop-sided. This is because of two things: first it still needs one more gluing to complete the symmetry of the actual violin shape, and secondly, because it is like a spring under tension when all the bowed pieces are finally glued together so that is is under dynamic tension when mounted between the top and bottom of the violin and helps carry vibrations and resonate better with the sound. Note the sides of th eviolin are about 1/16th of an inch think and the thin strips of springy wood that hold them bent in place and strengthen them to attach to the top and bottom are willow.

Once I had glued all the nicely sanded pieces of the edging together, I found that the spruce top was extremely weak with a lot of cracks in it. I was afraid it would collapse under the 2800 lbs. of force exerted on it when I will ultimately put the whole thing together and tighten the strings. To make it less flimsy, I reinforced it by using a couple of coats of old fashioned shellac on the underside to penetrate and stiffen the wood and hold things together. In this view (below), because the shellac had some stain in it, you can see the gouges and cracks along the edges where I have begun sanding to get a new smooth edge to glue to the sides. I also had to completely re-glue the bass-board (that long thin piece running from top to bottom which takes the vibrations of the bass strings and carries them to the two ends of the violin).

Now came the fun of gluing the bottom and then the top of the violin onto the extremely thin walls. I glued the bottom of the violin on first since it had guide holes to hold the springy sides of the walls in their proper places and also because it is made of maple and is much stronger and able to withstand any initial strains caused by the flexing of the edging as everything is glued together. This process needs a lot of clamps and care to get things padded to that the clamps don’t damage the wood of the top or bottom as you tighten everything down.

You can see some of the clamps in place as I work around the body of the violin. Remember, this is not a fast process. Every step takes a good 24 hours to set up and dry as you go along to make things really sturdy and firm with no gaps that will make weird sounds later when you start playing the strings. Note on the upper part of the back, just to the left of center is the black mar caused by water or fungal rot which I had pointed out on the inside. No way I’m going to get this out. It will just become part of the aura and mystery of this violin for the next 50 to 100 years of its life.

Here’s the top of the violin being glued down again with padded clamps to avoid crush marks on the especially soft Spruce wood of the top which is not much more than 1/8th of an inch thick.

You can see the deep staining of the wood and several deep dark gouge marks that will just have to become a part of the character of the violin as we move forward in getting it back to being a working instrument. The proof will be in the final sound of the stringed instrument when we are all done. If it is good to excellent, then the mars will just become part of its personality.

I am now at the staining and varnishing stage of the work. This is fun because it means that we can give more character to the wood by what we do with it in the final finishing steps of 4 – 5 very thin coats of tinted and clear varnih to leave us with a translucent appearance which will reclect back some of the inner grain and beauty of the wood as modified by the stains. Here are a couple of shots of front and back after the coat #1 of my cherry-wood tinted stain. My initial staining was done with a quick coat of walnut stain to blend in some of the darker imperfections of the wood but to not get too much of the blackness of that stain, so I wiped it off and let dry after about 5 minutes. Then I used a relatively thick cherry-wood stain which I actually rubbed in by hand all over the violin and scroll, leaving lighter wood beneath the fingerboard so that some of the maple marbling will show through the lighter wood where the hand moves back and forth during fingering. My varnish is a synthetic satin finish varnish diluted 50/50 with a very nice red cherry-wood stain to continue colors up through the layers of varnish towards the clear surface.

So this is where I am today after about two months of slow patient sanding, gluing, waiting, sanding, staining, waiting, and now varnishing.

I hope you like what is coming out! I will do a final blog on this when I finish up in November and find a proper Luthier who can make and insert a new sound peg to insert on the treble side of the violin. Then I will only have to replace the yoke, make, and fit the bridge, tighten the strings with the pegs and tune it up hopefully by Christmas.

We’ll see if I can still squeak out a good fiddle tune or two for you at that time.

Enjoy!>)

Mute Button or Chess Timer! Control for future debates!

It is obvious that WE – THE PEOPLE need to keep CONTROL of the DEBATE if we are going to have one that is worthwhile watching. Two very effective methods used by schools for keeping things on track:

A. The MUTE Button! Controlled by the Moderator. During the 2 minutes of answering Chris Wallace’s directed questions, The opposing candidate should be completely muted. (Shut One Up!) Then for the 2 minutes of free-for all, Open both mikes and let them make points or repartee and then: Take them both off the air at the end of two minutes with the MUTE button.

That way – we all get to hear the Moderator’s full next lead-in and Question.

B. A set amount of talking time for each candidate can also be used as in chess! Give each candidate 40 minutes of 2 minute talking time for answering directed questions plus their repartee. The clock runs against that candidate whenever they are speaking (Even any utterance – ejaculation – blah-blah-blah – etc. uses up their clock time). At the end, the candidates get to make a closing statement for the number of minutes left on their clock. NO MINUTES – NO CLOSING COMMENTS.

We! Control the Vertical! We! Control the Horizontal! Not some Motor-mouth Candidate who wants to interrupt Civil Discourse!

(Apologies to some of you who may not remember the old radio program “The Twilight Zone”.)

Book Review: The Fix (Amos Decker – Memory Man #3) by David Baldacci

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com



My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Beginning of this book is right up to snuff with the other “Memory Man” series and the story line runs smoothly through the first 275 or so pages. Amos Decker is in his fine fettle and the scenes he is able to draw upon with his perfect memory to solve a crime. Author Baldacci builds us a gradual picture through the eyes of Amos Decker of what really happened, that day outside the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington D.C., when Walter Dabney approached Anne Berkshire from behind, shot her in the back of the head, and then proceeded to blow himself away in front of Decker and the FBI security officer. As with a lot of sequeals, there comes a time when the author has a relatively coherent novel which just calls for a hundred page conclusion. In this particular book, author Baldacci carried that thread just about two hundred pages too far. In the process, the key threads of excitement and anticipation grow thin in a maze of rehashes that replay over and over and over … that initial moment of the stalk and kill. Too many chickens spoil the stew and by the last chapter the book has fallen into our face as we lapse into a deep snore of ennui. Splitting the book into two, and working to spice up the second half into a work of its own would have been a better solution. I await the Amos Decker # 4 in hopes that the mojo of # 1 and # 2 comes back.



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Book Review: The Last Mile – by David Baldacci

The Last Mile by David Baldacci

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I liked this book because it takes the “memory man”, Amos Decker, and uses his skills in the solution of the complicated murder frame-up which has sent former NFL prime prospect, Melvin Mars to prison for twenty years on death Row. As he’s about to walk that last symbolic mile to the “chair”, Mars has a “Texas Reprieve” which is one of those good old boys “Indian Giver” games in which the stay of execution and release from prison with the caveat that even if you are innocent, if you don’t come up with “Who Done It”, you’ll probably be chucked back in prison and executed just because “That’s the way we do things here in Texas.” So all in all, I enjoyed the entire book, finishing it in a couple of days so I could start in on the next one. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! It’s a good follow-up to the Amos Decker #1.



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Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Happy New Year! Still Time to Buy the Book about South African Independence and Nelson Mandela’s assumption of power! on sale!

The Ghosts of Ukuthula is still on sale this week until January 5, 2021!

Only 99 Cents through Amazon USA

or you can get it for

Only 99 Pence through Amazon UK

A fast moving novel that tells a part of the espionage story behind the move to Black Majority Rule in 1991 in The Republic of South Africa!

If you are South African and under 30 years of age, you need to read this book! Nelson Mandela and many others were heroes and heroines of their times in pushing for Independence from the crushing thumb of Apartheid!

From Chobe To Maun

From Windhoek To Jo’burg

This book tells the story of a “Peace” which was only won through bloodshed!

Get it now! AT —- Amazon. com for 99c —- or —– Amazon.uk.co for 99p

Enjoy! And again : Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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