1 Second Everyday

Posted January 11, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: apps, Pictures

Tags: , ,

So I discovered a new app (new to me) a few days ago. It’s called “1SecondEveryday“. It’s an app for putting together a photographic timeline of whatever you have been doing. The app is available for both iPhone and Android. Here’s the link to Apple’s app store. Here’s the link for Android.

Where did I go and what did I do. The idea is that you take a couple of pictures every day and add them to the app. So that after a period of time (a week, a year or whatever) you can produce a video of the series of pictures with each one presented for 1 or 2 seconds. This becomes a video diary.

So I’ve started taking pictures of the people and places that I interact with every day from the barista at Starbuck’s to Pastor Jacques at church. So every day I intend to take a couple of pictures and add them to the app. Then from time to time, I will then post on FB a video.

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky – A Novel

Posted January 3, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: Books, Reviews

Tags: , , , ,

img_0593Latest book that I’ve been reading is “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” written by Mark Sullivan. This is the true life story of Pino Lella, an Italian resistance fighter in WW2. The starts with introduction of Pino, a normal Italian teenager who wants nothing to do with the Nazis and the war. I am amazed at the amount of research it took to write this book.

The story starts with Pina escorting Jews over Alps to Switzerland. Then his parents force him to enlist in the German army in the hopes that will save him from harm.

After he is injured he ends up becoming the personal driver for a German general who is Hitler’s right hand man in Italy. From that point on he is busy spying for the allies and the partisans.

Good book, worth reading. Here’s a wikipedia article on the Italian resistance movement in WW2

Here’s a short excerpt:

They crossed the Po River, and long before dusk, while the countryside still lay blanketed in summer torpor, the train squealed and sighed to a stop amid gently rolling farmland. Pino carried a blanket over his shoulder and climbed after Carletto to a low grassy hill above an orchard that faced southwest toward the city.

“Pino,” Mr. Beltramini said, “watch out, or there will be spider webs across your ears by morning.”

Mrs. Beltramini, a pretty, frail woman who always seemed to be suffering some malady or another, scolded weakly, “Why did you say that? You know I hate spiders.”

The fruit shop owner fought against a grin. “What are you talking about? I was just warning the boy about the dangers of sleeping with his head in the deep grass.”

His wife looked like she wanted to argue, but then she just waved him away, as if he were some bothersome fly.

Uncle Albert fished in a canvas bag for bread, wine, cheese, and dried salami. The Beltraminis broke out five ripe cantaloupes. Pino’s father sat in the grass next to his violin case, his arms wrapped around his knees and an enchanted look on his face.

“Isn’t it magnificent?” Michele said.

“What’s magnificent?” Uncle Albert said, looking around, puzzled.

“This place. How clean the air is. And the smells. No burning. No bomb stench. It seems so . . . I don’t know. Innocent?”

“Exactly,” Mrs. Beltramini said.

“Exactly what?” Mr. Beltramini said. “You walk a little too far here and it’s not so innocent. Cow shit and spiders and snakes and—”

Whop! Mrs. Beltramini backhand-slapped her husband’s arm. “You show no mercy, do you? Ever?”

“Hey, that hurt,” Mr. Beltramini protested through a smile.

“Good,” she said. “Now stop it, you. I didn’t get a wink of sleep with all that talk of spiders and snakes last night.”

Appearing unaccountably angry, Carletto got up and walked downhill toward the orchard. Pino noticed some girls down by the rock wall that surrounded the fruit grove. Not one of them was as beautiful as Anna. But maybe it was time to move on. He jogged downhill to catch up with Carletto, told him his plan, and they tried to artfully intercept the girls. Another group of boys beat them to it.

Pino looked at the sky and said, “I’m only asking for a little love.”

“I think you’d settle for a kiss,” Carletto said.

“I’d be happy with a smile.” Pino sighed.

One more thing. The author mentions the aria “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot several times in the book. The title translated to English means “None Shall Sleep”. Click here to get a full translation of the lyrics as well as a performance by the late great Luciano Pavarotti.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Posted December 28, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Movies, Reviews

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday was date night here. We arranged for Dawn to come and watch Mary while Paula and I went out to see the latest Star Wars movie. Wednesday is bargain night at the Terraces Starlight Cinema. Tickets were $6 each for seniors. Indeed, I paid more for a medium bag of popcorn and a bottle of water than the tickets.

I got the tickets online which added a $2.50 convenience fee. I was concerned that maybe there was still a crowd wanting to see “Star Wars The Last Jedi“. Turn out that the theater wasn’t all that crowded. I could have easily bought the tickets at the theater and saved myself $2.50.

We had thought about going out to dinner after the show, but we struck out on three different restaurants that we tried. Everyone closed at either 9pm or 9:30pm. So we had to settle for the In’n Out drive through. I got a double-double and Paula got a protein style, double meet and one order of fries to share. Went home paid Dawn and opened a couple of beers. Paula had a Molsen and I had a Guinness. It seems that nobody goes out to eat late on a Wednesday.

Now to the movie. We both liked it pretty much. It is very fast paced and one can get a bit lost on all of the subplots that are going down. If you haven’t seen it, I would suggest doing a little research before you go to see the film to get an idea of what’s going on.

This episode introduces a couple of new characters and strengthens a couple of characters introduced in the previous episode. There were also a couple of new baddies to hiss at (to replace Darth Vader). Here’s a list from People Magazine.

There are many new critters that are introduced in this episode. The LA Times wrote an excellent story on their development. Click HERE. I particularly liked the puffin like birds (called “porgs”).

So the previous episode (“The Force Awakens”) introduced the location named “Ahch-To”, shot on location on the island “Skellig Michael” off of the coast of Ireland in County Kerry. This is the location that Luke Skywalker goes to get away from it all. an, you can’t get more away from it all than Skellig Michael, And Rey returns to get him back involved.

Here is a story about the many sites for filming Star Wars films. Click here.

I was saddened to see Carrie Fisher in her last performance on the Star Wars franchise. Rest in Peace.carrie-fisher-star-wars-celebration-1068x595

Merry Christmas

Posted December 25, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Christmas

Tags: ,

nativity_Antoniazzo[Note: This was supposed to be published last night. I screwed up.]

So today is Christmas Eve. We managed to get Mary out of bed, dressed and off to church for Christmas Eve Service. We seem to be getting her into the habit of going to church on Sunday’s again. Everyone were happy to see her and greeted her. She had a smile on her face. No grumpy for Christmas.

Tomorrow will be a quiet day for us. Our son and his family are up in the Bay Area visiting Theresa’s family.

One of the things that I like about Christmas is how everything slows down and comes to a brief stop. Shops close early.  Roads seem to empty of drivers. Seeing LA with out traffic is downright eerie.

So we went back to the Gaffey Street Diner for brunch after services. We met a new server last week named Tina. She took good care of us again today. I gave her a good tip that kind of floored her. That’s a good way to spread cheer.

So finally, I thought I would include one of my favorite bits of Christmas poetry. Here in its entirety is Clement Moore’s “Twas the Night before Christmas

Christmas_treeTwas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads; And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below; When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:

“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,”On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blixen” To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! “Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toy and St. Nicholas too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof. The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound: He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys was flung on his back,

And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack: His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry, His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry; His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face, and a little round belly, That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Merry Christmas to all!

Joe

The Crown

Posted December 17, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Films, Television

Tags: , , , ,

The CrownA couple of nights ago Paula and I started watching the TV series “The Crown” on Netflix. We’re not doing it at break neck speed but we are moving along. We saw S1E1 on Friday and S1E2 last night. Eight more episodes for season 1.

“The Crown” is the story of reign of Queen Elizabeth II in England.

Okay, we’re hooked. S1E1 starts off with marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Phillip. Phillip never knew what hit him.

A couple of comments. John Lithgow is superb in his portrayal of Winston Churchill. Great image of Winston taking a bath and smoking a cigar. There sure was a lot of smoking going on. Smoking surely killed King George VI. It seems that everyone took baths. Showers must have been an American invention. It took almost another twenty years for scientists to convince people that tobacco kills.

This is the second movie that we’ve seen in recent years about the British Monarchy. In 2010, we saw Colin Firth play King George VI in “The Kings Speech“. That movie received four Oscars including Best Actor for Firth and Best Picture.

The series stars Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Phillip. Foy is known for appearance in “Season of the Witch”. Smith is probably best known for his appearance as the eleventh “Dr Who” on the BBC. Episode 1 is in 1947 when Prince Philip renounces his Greek and Danish titles and proceeds to marry Elizabeth.

Episode 2 jumps forward to 1952 when Elizabeth and Phillip are off touring the African countryside in Kenya when Elizabeth’s father King George dies. Oh my, things get intense. So the aides keep telling her that the “Crown” comes first.

Other thoughts.

The movie shows King George having surgery to remove his diseased lung at Buckingham Palace. Kings don’t go to the hospital, the hospital comes to them. They also show the embalming being done at Buckingham.

Here’s an interesting piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune about fact checking the series. Interesting read. Click here.

PS.

Quick update on Mary. She has been able to go to church on the last two Sundays. Her memory is failing fast. She couldn’t remember the church that she goes to. Everyone was happy to see her. We did lunch at the Gaffey Street Diner. Diner has improved. Waitress gave me extra bacon. I told her that she was my new favorite waitress.

Bacon

Posted December 10, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family, Food, San Pedro

Tags: , ,

Today I was with my family eating breakfast after church at one of our favorite places called the “Pacific Diner” in San Pedro. By now, all of the wait staff generally know that I will be ordering Bacon and Eggs.

So several months ago, I was sitting next to my grandson Jonathan. So, he asked me what was on my plate, pointing at the bacon. That’s bacon, I tell him. Would you like a taste? Yes, he says. From that day forward, Mike would have to order a side of bacon for the kids.

So fast forward to today. Jonathan has an omelet of some kind with bacon. So I tell him how men eat bacon. You don’t eat it with a fork and knife. You can pick it up with your fingers if you like but that is not ideal.

I show him how to pick up a half slice of toast, add some jelly and put the bacon on the toast and then fold in half. Tastes great.

So Paula asks me why men always eat bacon on toast like that. I tell her that’s because it’s the right way to eat bacon. Gotta teach young lads early.

My Christmas Letter

Posted December 9, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family

Tags: ,

2017-12-09 14.34.33Every year at this time I write a Christmas letter to 130 of my nearest and dearest friends. I started doing it about 20 years ago. My in-laws (Harold and Mary) had sent out Christmas letters to all of their friends for many years. That’s where I got the idea.

I was tired of just sending out a card that we just signed and threw in the mailbox. I knew I wasn’t possible to write a long individual letter to every one of our friends and relations. That wasn’t going to happen.

One year I tried sending the letter only be email. I wasn’t happy with how it turned out. Many people didn’t have email. It just felt better sending a written letter on a piece of paper. I still send a few letters by email, but it’s only as a last resort like when I don’t have an updated, valid postal address.

So every year the process starts anew. I begin to review the list. Who do I add? Who do I remove? I need to remove the spouses that have passed during the year. I keep the list as a group on my Apple. This year I made sure that every one got a full 9 digit zip code.

Then I ordered paper and envelopes from Amazon. I checked to see if I have enough address labels. So now I have some paper and envelopes left over. Hopefully I can find the stuff next November.

On the day after Thanksgiving, I start writing the letter. My goal is to fill 2 pages with the stories of our year. What did we do? Where did we go? How’s everyone doing?

Then I pick a few pictures to add to the letter. Obligatory pictures of us, our grand kids are added.

I usually have to shrink the font size down a bit in order to fit the letter on two pages. This year I ended up with size 11 font.

Finally after numerous final edits by Paula and I, the letter goes to print. Oh I need to check the ink status on my printer. I ordered a package of color ink from HP. but didn’t need it.

Time to print. First, I did the labels. Last year I got a new app from the app store that does a real good job printing labels. The app is called “Label Printer” by Richard McKenna. I think that he has a version for Android. One can add addresses directly from the contact database. Really does a good job.

Then I print the letter. I have a duplex printer but I find that I can do it faster if I do the front page, then after that is done, do the back page.

Then fold and stuff envelopes. Paula usually wants to write a personal note to some of our friends, so I cull those out for her.

Finally, I seal and stamp. On Monday, I take them to the PO.

TTFN

Joe