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!

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.


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

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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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 —– for 99p

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

Hiking on Mt. Hood’s Trails

Another Beautiful day in Oregon and time to have another hike on the lower slopes of Mt. Hood. You can see where it was that we hiked on the link below. About 8 miles of generally easy walking with a stop for lunch. The Link will take you to Google Earth which I presume you have: You will see our pathway for the 8 mile hike.

Google Earth Map with hike and location points

So having seen the map, here is a short series of pictures and videos  of the hike which started at about 9:30 AM near the Umbrella Falls trailhead.  Note in the pictures we are not wearing our masks, but we do put them on whenever we meet others on the trail and also when we are ourselves stopping and yakking, eating lunch, and are close to one another. I wouldn’t want you to think that the old Biology Teacher/ Parasitologist/ World traveler/ Son of a renowned Microbiologist …. didn’t adhere to proper COVID 19 protocols during this pandemic time.

So what did we see? An amazingly Gnarly Old Tree! Watch the video below!

We ford a small stream and then pass a rushing Waterfall in Heather Canyon that leads down into Clark Creek. This area is a double black diamond area for skiers at Mount Hood Meadows Ski lift.

Then after hiking several hours we climbed out of the desert – like N. Side of Heather Canyon with Mt. Hood in the background.  2. Debbie, Julie and Dave Walking down Clark Creek, the bottom of Heather Canyon

into the trees where we finally stop for lunch. 3. Julie and Jill with Hood and Ski slope of Heather canyon behind

With More views of Mt. Hood. 4. Farther up the N. side slope of Heather canyon

Once over the top of the ridge we drop down – down towards Newton Creek which comes out of one of the rapidly shrinking Glaciers on Mt. Hood. Then look down a terrifying slope from some over-hanging rocks some 200 yards into the depths of Newton Creek Canyon and across to Gnarl Ridge – another hike for another day.

Finally, after dropping into the canyon we reach the final view looking back up Newton Creek.  Here’s my wife Jill: 5. Jill on Newton Creek with Hood in Background

and me!6. Rick on Newton Creek

We then re-enter the deeper forest for another two miles to reach Hood River Meadows parking area and the trailhead leading to Elk Meadows and Gnarl Ridge that on another day will lgive us another 8 miles or so of good hiking.

Enjoy yourselves and stay safe. Make sure you get out and vote in November!

Just Shuckin’ the corn in Oregon with a WARNING for your Dog!

I went out the other morning into the garden and 2 dozen quail take off out of my corm patch. No this isn’t a large patch, only 7 rows of 25 feet in length so I know something must be up! Yep, as I walk through my stalks, many with two or three ears set on them I can see the damage. The Quail rip back the husks and the stand on the exposed ear pecking away until we’re left with nothing but a bare pecker-head. The result?

See for yourself!

25 Ears of corn all gone! Time for action!

25 Ears eaten? That’s a bit of MY food! Time to either eat Quail or get some corn out of the field like PRONTO!!

So I start picking the ears that are ready, leaving the immature ones for another week and hopefully not for Mr. Quail! Over 100 ears in that little space of 7 x 25 ft. rows! All juicy and ready to eat! So I take them out on the back patio and watch the ducks on th epond while I shuck corn! Feels like Montana in the 40’s and 50’s all over again when Mom supervised Gail, Chris, Anne and Me, making sure we shucked our fair share before we could go off and play! (Somehow us bigger kids always had to do more than the little ones. Hmm!)

Here’s my Shuckin’ Site!:

‘ Out on the Patio shuckin’ the corn! Duck Pond to left of picnic table.

Here’s a closer look at what I got when it was all done.

100 ears ready to freeze up.

Take a good look at what we have here! A Genetic mixture fit for a class on Mendel’s inheritance rules.

A. My one row of Indian Corn – red/yellow/purple and white. B. My Mixed Indian Corn and Yellow sweet corn from my saved seed from last year’s corn-mixed because of pollination by wind. and C. Yellow sweet corn from my seed last year which didn’t get pollinated with Indian Corn pollen.


Now to throw all that corn into boiling water and cook it up for 2-3 minutes, let cool and slice off all the Kernals to go into freezer bags. Here’s some of the final take:

12 big quart bags of corn stuffed and ready for the freezer

Also a bunch of ears in the refrigerator to eat for the next week until I pick again! Note the Indian Corn is roasted with seasoning when we take it our of the freezer and then it’s like munchies for around the house snacks!

Plus! – 12 Nice Indian Corn Ears for Thanksgiving Decoration and planting next year!! Think I’ll put in about 10 rows of Indian Corn next year and sell the dried ears at the harvest festival here in Hood River next fall!


Corn Cobs are Extremely Bad for DOGS!!!!








Korea’s Developmental Christian Mission Project to the USA!

The good that goes around comes around!

As former developmental missionaries for the United Methodist Church in Africa in the 1970’s, my wife and I were amazed to get a package the other day with 20 of these Masks! WOW!

Dr. Puri Mask in Korean

Note the Writing! Korean!

I looked up the masks on line: These masks, are sold in English labelled packets of 20 for $46.00, the Dr. Puri KF-94 Masks are some of the very top level masks! These ones came direct through the Board of Global Ministries from Korea!

Inside the package was this note:

So my little brain says:

Why is Yonsei University Health System sending these? Thank-you Internet, I was able to look things up on Wiki and other sites to find out!

Before 1885, there was no practice of Western medicine in the country of Korea and no training facility. Then in 1885, a Missionary spark from the North Presbyterian Church brought this development to life in that country!

Now called Yonsei University Medical School, in Gwanghyewon, South Korea, the school dates back to April 10, 1885 when it was founded by protestant missionary Horace Newton Allen, a developmental missionary from the North Presbyterian Church. Full management of the University, initially called Chejungwon, was transferred to the North American Presbyterian Church in 1894 and the Severance Union Medical College and Hospital was opened by Dr. O. R. Avison in April of 1899. June, 1908 saw the first seven graduates receive the very first doctor’s licenses issued by the Korean government.

By 1913 – 6 Christian Denominations including: North Presbyterian Church, North Methodist Church, and Canadian Presbyterian joined together for funding the school and renamed it: Private Severance Union Medical School.

Today! Yonsei University is one of the 3 most presigious universities in the country along with Seoul National University and Korea University. All are of world renown in science.

Then came COVID-19!!

South Korea stood out by flattening the epidemic curve: a. without closing businessed! b. issuing strict stay-at-home orders c. having a strictness of grouping size orders and compliance by the population that was much stronger than in other high income countries.

So! Because of 1. Fast Government Action, 2. Lots of Testing,3. A well functioning National Health System and 4. Ample human resources and 5. Strong support from the national government including: The Office of the President, The Ministry of Health, and the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, South Korea became a model for other countries around the world.


If these folks sent a packet of 20 to each of the former missionaries in all the churches that have supported them in order to help us through our mismanaged COVID_19 Crisis, then they just spent hundreds of thousand of dollars to help protect retired former missionaries worldwide who had supported them!


From a country a fraction of the size and wealth of ours!


Our leaders of the wealthiest nation on earth who profess Christianity but do not act only to Store up Wealth here on Earth should be ashamed.

IT is EASIER for a CAMEL to fit through the EYE of a NEEDLE than for a rich man to enter HEAVEN!


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