Countdown 1945

Posted June 10, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Books, Reviews

Tags: , , , , ,

So I have to stop watching late night TV. There’s always some author on pitching their latest book. Then, I decide that I have to read it.

So last week I was watching CBS Sunday Morning. Also, saw him on Stephen Colbert. They were interviewing Chris Wallace (reporter for Fox News). The book has nothing to do with Fox News (If it did, I wouldn’t be reading it.).

So the book is titled “Countdown 1945” and it covers the time from when Harry Truman becomes president on April 12 1945 until the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

So Truman was going down to a room in the capitol called “The Board of Education” that was operated by Speaker Sam Rayburn. It was a room in the Capitol would go at the end of the day to have a drink and hang out.

He headed from the main public floor of the Capitol down to the ground floor, downstairs to House Speaker Sam Rayburn’s private hideaway, Room 9, which was known as the “Board of Education.” It was the most exclusive room in the Capitol—entry by Rayburn’s personal invitation only. Most afternoons, members of Congress met here after official business hours to discuss strategy, exchange gossip, and “strike one for liberty,” enjoying a drink, or two. Truman was a regular. And his drink of choice was bourbon and branch water.

The book starts with Truman being summoned to the White House in April 1945. There he was informed FDR had died. A couple of days later he is told about the project to develop an atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan. This is the story of the days leading up to the eventual dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One last quote:

But Truman confounded the conventional wisdom. He campaigned relentlessly and effectively, often making speeches from the back of trains as he barnstormed across America. At almost every juncture he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds shouting: “Give ’em hell, Harry!” In one of the biggest comeback victories in American political history, Truman defeated Dewey in November 1948.

While Truman had notable achievements—he issued executive orders banning racial discrimination in the military and the government—he continued to face problems at home and overseas. He introduced what he called his “Fair Deal” program, designed to build on FDR’s New Deal. It included proposals for universal health care and more funding for education. He couldn’t get it through Congress.

I couldn’t put the book down. You know what the ending is but that doesn’t matter. Go ahead and read it.

Ben Hur

Posted June 3, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Movies, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

So last week Ben Hur was mentioned at our weekly Bible study as an example of adult adoption. We were discussing the idea of Jesus being the adopted son of Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth.

So we decided to watch the movie “Ben Hur” this week. The movie was released in early 1960. It is the story of Judah Ben Hur. The film runs about 3 hr and 45 minutes, so we decided to watch it over two days. Indeed there is an intermission half way. You don’t see that in films anymore. So we watched it in two sessions.

The movie is available to rent/buy from Amazon Prime streaming video. Click here for the Amazon Prime site.

“Ben Hur” won 11 Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Actor and Best Director. The movie stars Charlotte Heston, Jack Hawkins and Stephen Boyd. The movie was directed by William Wyler.

The movie starts with a parade of Romans bringing the new Roman governor to Judea. As Judah is watching from the rooftop, a tile is dislodged and falls right by the governor. Then the soldiers rush in and take Judah prisoner and send him to off to row in one of the Roman galleys.

So the galley sinks in a battle. So Judah manages to save Quintus Arrius, the captain of the galley. After they are rescued from the sea, Quintus Arrius repays Judah with his adoption.

The movie has several allusions to Jesus. The film is set in Judea. Judah Ben Hur is given water to drink by Jesus during his forced march to the fleet of galleys where he was put to work as a galley slave. Once again, he encounters Jesus during Jesus’ crucifixion march up Golgotha hill. This time Judah is the one providing water to the fallen Jesus.

In the end section of the movie Judah Ben Hur is seen searching for his Mother and sister. He finds her living in a leper colony not far from Judea. He brings her home where he cares for her and she is cured. Not clear how she is cured, perhaps a miracle. Click here to learn more about leprosy.

So we are watching many movies during the pandemic. Next up are “Dirty Dancing” and “Footloose” (Paula’s request). These are two of Paula’s faves.

Enemy of All Mankind

Posted June 2, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Books

Tags: ,

This is my most recent book titled. “Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power and History’s First Global Manhunt” by Steven Johnson. This is a story of an English pirate named Henry Every who captained a pirate ship called “The Fancy” in 1695.

The Fancy was originally named the “Charles II” after the British King. It became “The Fancy” when Every and his men commandeered the ship in A Coruña, a port city in Spain. At that point the ship was renamed “The Fancy” and began its life as a pirate ship attacking shipping in the Indian Ocean.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1:

On a clear day, the lookout perched atop the forty-foot mainmast of the Mughal treasure ship can see almost ten miles before hitting the visual limits of the horizon line. But it is late summer, in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean; the humidity lingering in the air draws a hazy curtain across the spyglass lens. And so by the time the English vessel comes into focus, she is only five miles away.

Eventually, the Fancy makes it way to Nassau in the Bahamas. Some of the crew took their share of the loot and returned to England where some of the crew were captured and eventually tried for piracy and other crimes.

So after the ships captured all of the loot, they had to make a hasty escape. They would certainly not want to be found and they couldn’t just waltz down the Thames to be greeted by the crowds.

The last part of the book covers the trial of six pirates that had been captured. The British government were trying to make a strong statement against piracy, so the trial was very important to the image of security of shipping.

So the first trial, the pirates were found “not guilty”. Of course, the Brit’s didn’t just let them go. So they had been found not guilty of piracy but the prosecution decided to charge them with mutiny. A subtle difference, I guess.

So on the second trial, they were all found guilty. In those days, they didn’t wait for an appeal. They just took them down to the execution dock and hanged them all. Back in those days executions were VERY public.

Here’s some more text:

Several days after the second trial ended, the six convicted mutineers—including Joseph Dawson, who had pled guilty twice—were brought back to Old Bailey for sentencing. Standing at the bar for one last time, each man was asked in turn by the clerk why they should not be sentenced to death for their crimes.

And one more thing, Henry Every was never captured.

It was an interesting book about which I had little knowledge. Worth reading.

1SE for May 2020

Posted May 31, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: 1 Sec Every Day, 1SE

Tags: ,

1 Second Everyday for May 2020.


Posted May 30, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Baseball, Books

Tags: , , ,

Time for a book report. As many of you know, I’ve been reading a lot. The book that I just finished last night was “Yogi” by Jon Pessah.

Click here for the Wikipedia entry. And, click here for the Baseball Reference site.

This is one of the biographies of Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees.

I am certainly not a Yankees fan but I thought it would be worth reading. It helped fill my baseball void during the pandemic. I even read it for free. I downloaded it from the Los Angeles Library’s ebook library.

Yogi’s life was certainly interesting. He played almost his entire career for the the NY Yankees (he actually played 4 games for the NT Mets in 1965). He managed both the NY Mets and Yankees. And, he coached for the Houston Astros.

Yogi was born in 1925 in St Louis MO and died in 2015. He broke into the bigs in 1946 for the NY Yankees. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

It seems that he is most famous for his “Yogi-isms” (quotes). Here are a few of his most popular quotes.

The most famous is his insight about discipline: It ain’t over ’til it’s over. Some are observant, if a bit fractured: If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them. Or It’s déjà vu all over again. Others are goofy: Never answer an anonymous letter. And this one: You better cut the pizza in four pieces; I’m not hungry enough to eat six. One is simply spot-on: I really didn’t say everything I said. Few are as sweet as his tribute to his wife: We have a good time together, even when we’re not together. And none more apropos at this moment: You should always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise, they won’t come to yours.

Bottom Line: I really enjoyed reading about Yogi.


Posted May 19, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Corona


We seem to have managed to get into a groove in that we are doing our grocery shopping on Tuesdays. So Tuesday is our day to get out of the house.

The Governor of CA has loosened the stay at home restrictions a bit so that folks can get to the beach or other such foolishness. So Alberton’s seemed to be a good bit more crowded today.

The way we could tell other than the feeling of there being more people milling about was the check out line (see above). The check out line started at dairy section in the rear of the store, along the paper goods aisle to the check out lanes. Though, the line was moving fairly quickly. I got in line while Paula looked for a few more items.

I figure that we will be done with this pandemic thing when the paper goods aisle is fully stocked like it used to be in February. Only stuff available today was single rolls of TP and store brand kleenex boxes. No paper towels, no napkins, etc.

Meat, chicken and fish are fully stocked, as are produce. Perhaps people can’t figure out how to horde ground beef or fresh green beans.

We said hello to Dan in the dairy department (who we call “Dairy Dan”). Dan apologized profusely for not having any 1% milk. I asked if the 1% cows were on strike? So he gave us the fancy brand with a 1/2 price sticker.

We are continuing our practice of getting take-out at the Pacific Diner after we are done watching the online version of church. We had our tasty brunch at the overlook on Gaffey St and 36th.

View of LA Harbor from San Pedro


Posted May 15, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Corona

Tags: , ,

Not going anywhere today. Yesterday, we picked up a few things for Mary that the caregivers said she needed. Needed shampoo, body wash and diapers. Picked the stuff up at Ralph’s and headed over to Long Beach.

We can’t go in to visit. We just put her name on the bag and left in a tent outside the door. Called the caregiver that stuff was there and should be picked up.

Then we headed back to San Pedro to get takeout at Pacific Diner. Paula had a BLT and I had a club sandwich. I had wanted a tuna melt but they were out of tuna. Who runs out of tuna fish?

We picked up our food and headed up the hill to stop at the overlook on Gaffey with great view of LA Harbor.

I started a new book today that I got from the LA Public Library titled “Yogi” by John Pessah. Interesting.

So we’re just hanging out today. Doing laundry. Empty trash and recycling. Reading, crossword puzzles, etc.

BTW, did you know that public libraries allow you to download books for free? The app for the LA public library is called “Libby”. For my east coast friends, there is an app for the Boston Public Library. Click the link for the pointer to the App Store. Did I mention that it is free?

Mother’s Day

Posted May 10, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Corona, Mary

Tags: , ,

We started our Mother’s Day celebration early on Saturday. The staff at Regency Palms had arranged to have Mary down stairs where we could greet her through the glass so as to avoid spreading any virus to her or anyone also at the home.

Regency Palms has done a great job making sure that no one gets infected. Many other skilled nursing facilities have not done as well.

So Mike’s family joined us at 1:30 pm. Jonathan and Sarah worked on a greeting card for Mary. Unfortunately, we couldn’t leave it with her. But it is displayed on our refrigerator for all to see.

This is the first time that we have seen Mary for a few weeks. She is looking more frail and wobbly. We are not sure she understands all of the social distancing ideas that we are doing.

After we were done at Regency Palms, we headed home for a late lunch. Mike stopped at In’n’Out for burgers. We stopped at Starbuck’s for some iced coffees. It was really nice to see the grand-kids. We hadn’t seen them since the beginning of the pandemic. It was a nice day.

That’s all for now. Stay safe.



Posted May 9, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Corona


So we had to the grocery store to get a few things today. We had to wait in line to get in to the store. Ugh. Took us about 10-15 minutes to get inside. They’ve been sanitizing all of the grocery carts.

The paper good aisle is still pretty much empty.

So they have special hours for seniors, 6 AM to 7 AM. Are you kidding me. UGH! What retired person, 70 something wants to get up at 0 dark-thirty to do some shopping.

So once we got in we headed for the liquor section to get a box of white wine. We also went to the flower section to get a “Mother’s Day” balloon.

We will be going over to Mom’s place to wave to her. Each resident is given a time slot when we can come by and wave from the outside. Mike & Theresa will be coming with the grandkids.

So there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of beef and/or poultry,

Check out lines were about the same. About a 10-15 minute wait.

Last stop was to get ice cream cake for tomorrow night. Yummm.

Finally, we will get together with everyone for dinner tomorrow night.

Thursday – Books

Posted May 7, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Books

Tags: , , ,

What has everyone been reading? I just finished a book titled “Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything” by Lydia Kang MD. It’s an amazing story of the ways that people thought would cure their many ills. Scary stuff indeed. But for now, I’m going to switch over to fiction. Some of the non-fiction is getting too scary for me.

So I started reading a Michael Connelly book. Michael Connelly has written a ton of crime novels about the LAPD. One of his main characters he has written about is one Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch. Harry is a veteran homicide detective for the LAPD. The book that I am currently reading is titled “Two Kinds of Truth” . Harry has been fired from the LAPD and is working on cold cases for the San Fernando PD with his office in the basement jail of the police station. This is a lot less scary than the non-fiction.

So I’ve been telling Paula for a zillion years that I have to stop watching late night TV. I keep finding out about new books that I want to read. Stephen Colbert had Stephen King on his show a couple of nights ago. He was pitching his new book. The book is titled “If It Bleeds” Here is another case of non-fiction being scarier than fiction. Well maybe with Stephen King, the fiction is just as scary

So then we had a discussion about our favorite Stephen King books. For me, a toss up between “The Stand” and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”. Of course, Shawshank was made into an excellent film starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

“The Stand” was written in 1978. Scary stuff about a pandemic. Eventually, I will get around to rereading both titles again. I will write more about “The Stand” after I reread it.

That’s all for now. Stay safe.