Put A Cork In It

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It finally happened, my cork container filled to overflowing. Can you guess how many corks are in this cagey little container?

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This clever wire formed barrel came to me as a gift a couple of Christmases past, and I have been busily engaged in selecting, and consuming the nectar of grapes fermented to perfection. It is no secret (in fact, nothing in my life is secret as one can tell by reading this blog) that I love red wine. It doesn’t matter what kind of red it is. Cabernet, Merlot, Syraz, Malbec, Pinot Moir, Chianti, you name it, I drink it. I listed them in order of my preference. So if you are looking for gift ideas, anything with one of those names on the label will be graciously received and consumed by me. If the color is not red then the game changes a bit. I also imbibe Riesling (Late Harvest) Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of my favorite. It’ll come to me after my brain cells wake up and actually begin working for a living.

Although I enjoy a full-bodied rich Cabernet from Napa Valley the most, I don’t always afford that level of wine. Most of the time, I limit my purchase to a max of seven dollars, with the average per bottle cost coming in around six dollars. I am on a fixed income you know, and I must spend judiciously.

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The number of corks in the container doesn’t tell the entire story, because it does not count the times I drink with my friends at their homes, or in a restaurant. I don’t enjoy drinking in a restaurant as well because my sluggish brain goes into hyper drive when it registers a per glass price that exceeds my average per bottle price. I keep getting a little voice in my head that says “Go home and drink you dummy, it is cheaper.” It wouldn’t be so bad except the brain goes into a loop and I get the message over and over.

On some nights, the buzz is better than on others. I haven’t determined if it is because the choice had a high alcohol content or if the volume did it for me. One thing I do know is that any wine will make me high quickly on an empty stomach, so I always order my wine served with the meal.

I have a couple of friends who make their own wine and have been nice enough to share their product with me. I have to say that they are pretty good wine makers. One of them has grapes shipped to his home from California, the other buys grape juices. The one who crushes his own grapes produces the limit allowed by law. He is Italian and he shares with his entire family. The other, produces less than a hundred bottles a year for his own consumption.

I thought about making wine many years ago, but chickened out for fear of failure. My mother bottled grape juice that she made from Concord grapes grown in her garden. One year, a very loud bang awakened my dad from his evening nap in front of the TV. He jumped out of his chair and looked outside to see what happened. He saw nothing but his own breath. The night air was at zero, and there was not a soul on the street. He continued looking for the source of the noise, and discovered his basement turned purple. One of Mom’s juice bottles, which she stored on a shelf behind his bar, fermented and blew up. The idea of an explosion in my house caused me to stay away from becoming a vintner, but I am extremely happy with the arrangement I have devised for my self, and love sampling the wines of many vintners from around the world.

The cage has 192 corks in it. The estimated value of the wine represented by those corks is $1152. Not bad for an old guy on a pension. Corks are another subject. For many years wine was kept in the bottle by stuffing a cylinder of a squeaky-rubbery substance known as “cork.” Cork was readily available and makes an excellent seal. What I never knew is that cork is the outer bark of a cork oak tree. As the world grows in population and the wine consumption increases, and the number of cork oak trees remains the same, cork becomes scarce. Trees don’t like it when their protective covering gets stripped off. To solve the cork shortage problem, a group of people got together and drank some very good wine. After the buzz was on they dreamed up a plastic solution. Today, they make corks of a compressible plastic foam encased with a thin plastic sheath. It does just as good a job as cork, and is more available than cork. Lower cost wines will use plastic corks, while the higher end wines still use real cork for stoppers, and really cheap wines use twist off metal caps. The twist offs are very easy to open and I prefer them to the corky types. I have broken a half-dozen cork removers and still struggle with pulling the damn things out of the bottle. My wife says that is a good thing because it slows down my consumption.

The name of the white  wine that escaped my memory is Chardonnay. I had to look it up. Evidently, the brain cells associated with remembering white wines were lost after I finished my last glass of the stuff.

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Plink, Plank, Plunk

Yesterday, Peg and I ventured out into the big world to visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Back in January, while driving into town I spotted a bill board advertising the place. It only took twelve weeks for us to make it there, now I am sorry we did. This museum like most museums is so large that it takes more than one visit to see it all. The museum is new, very modern in design, two stories tall, and huge. Within its walls are instruments from every country in the world. Do you know how many countries exist? I don’t even remember how many continents there are, and that is important because the country displays are within rooms classified as continents. Only the United States and Canada are separate rooms because they are so big, and well, because the museum is in the United States.

We used the escalator to move us up to the second level where a tour guide asked us where we wanted to start. We chose to begin in Africa. That was a bad move because we spent over an hour and a half looking at the primitive flutes, and lutes of the various countries within Africa. MIM has a unique display for each country. The instruments are flat against a wall or supported in mid-air on display around a video screen. We received a headset and a black box at the ticket counter. The unique feature of this black box is that when one walks to within range of a video screen it begins to play a video of natives playing the instruments on display. This allowed us to hear the instrument and to see it played. Many of the videos showed scenes of native craftsman chopping, carving, and sanding wood to shape it into something they could make sound with. Strings are usually animal hair or other body part. One instrument called the thumb-harp has a series of metal fork-like handles attached to a sound box. As the musician plunks the various length metal prongs they plink, plank, or plunk into the sound box to make a note.

By the time we hit Asia, Peg and I were beginning to fade. She carries a purse loaded with at least ten pounds of stuff and I carry a bowling ball belly that plays hell with my back. We literally raced through the Mid-east, South America, and Europe, and intended to skip the USA and Canada. As it turned out I got lost in Europe and we wound up running through North America. That is when I began to get glimpses of some fabulous displays and regretted our move to start in Africa and not North America.

While in the African room, I looked at a map of the continent which displayed all the different languages spoken in Africa. I quickly realized why Africa is still so primitive. Imagine if we lived in a place where every state is a country and every county within a state has its own language. I have enough trouble understanding regional dialects much less different languages. There exists, however, a universality among these many people s. It is in their musical instruments. Somehow, the good Lord gave us all a talent and want to create music, and deep within our brains is the blueprint for how to make sounds using tubes, skins, and strings. Just about every country has a form of stringed lute, drum, and flute.

Peg and I hope to return and to begin the tour counter-clockwise the next time.  Here are a few photos of the displays.

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It Is Coming To A Neighborhood Near You Soon

Wake up America!! 

The backlash is on the way!!! 

The No. 1 song in the UK  – COMING TO AMERICA SOON!!

Bet Parliament loves this one!!

There is a central theme here, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s the US, UK, Canada or Australia!

Thanks Australia? This Is Awesome

I received this today from my brother. It is written by a dentist in Australia. He characterizes the people of America better than most natural born citizens of America. He hit the nail on the head and I appreciate his words. I wish everyone in America thought this way. The problem with this essay is that it was not written by a dentist in Australia. The piece was written by one Peter Ferrara and published by the National Review on 25 September 2001. Why do people do what they do? Wasn’t this essay good enough to steal and give credit to the real author? Or did the original thief think that he could change the author and spread the story without being discovered?

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

THANKS AUSTRALIA THIS IS AWESOME

 

Written by an Australian DentistTo Kill an American You probably missed this in the rush of news,but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published ina newspaper, an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, anyAmerican.

So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone

know what an American is . So they would know when they found one.

(Good one, mate!!!!)

‘An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish , Polish,

Russia or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian,

Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or

Afghan. An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot,

Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native

Americans. An American is Christian , or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist,

or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan.

The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them

chooses. An American is also free to believe in no religion.. For that he will

answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to

speak for the government and for God. 

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world. 

The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence,

which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other

nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.

When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago,

Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their

country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other

nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired

and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless,

tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America. Some of them

were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11 , 2001 earning a

better life for their families. It’s been told that the World Trade Center victims

were from at least 30 different countries, cultures, and first languages, including

those that aided and abetted the terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo,

and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world.

But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not

a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the

human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere,

is an American.

Please keep this going!

Pass this around the World .

Then pass it around again.  It says it all, for all of us. 

Please do not just delete. 

Pass it on first. 

Thanks!

Red Dog, the Book

I loved the movie Red Dog, and now I love the story Red Dog. My habit lately is to read a book and then watch the movie, but this time I watched the movie first and now finished reading the book. I enjoyed it twice.

Author Louis De Bernieres weaves a fascinating story about the traveling Red Dog of Australia. Locals dubbed him that because Red wandered thousands of miles around western Australia looking for his deceased master. As he traveled, he made friends people he met. He hitched rides on buses, in trucks, and with people in cars. The dog becomes your dog as you read the story, just as Red Dog became every Australian’s dog in real life. The story is fictionalized with human characters, but the events relating to the animal are true. The breed is a Red Cloud Kelpie or Australian cattle dog.

The town in which this story took place has built a bronze memorial to the dog which is still in place.

Watch the movie, read the book, or do both you won’t be sorry.

The movie has been altered from the book to include a more human element to the story, but overall it stays true to De Bernieres story. In the movie, a love story parallels the dog story, and the movie ending is different from that in the book. The end of the movie makes you sad but you feel good, the end of the book makes you sad.

A Dog Story To Move You

Red Dog

Image by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer via Flickr

My son recently brought me a DVD and told me to watch the film. The story called Red Dog  is about an Australian Cattle dog whose life intertwines within a super human-story.  The Kelpie (Red Dog) looks like a German Shepherd with the color of an Irish Setter. My hearing is for crap and I wished I had turned on the sub-titles because I had a hard time hearing the dialogue. The visuals were enough to tell me the story.

The locale is southwest Australia where there is little but sand, and kangaroos. A bunch of male characters live there at a salt mine. They are an unruly and wild bunch assembled from Italy, Slovakia, Russia, England and Australia. They are there to work the salt mine. The dog enters the story by hitching a ride with a couple coming to the town to open a tavern. Throughout the story, Red Dog hitches rides to wherever he wants to roam. Most notably he befriends everyone in the town and pulls the unruly bunch of men together into a cohesive team.

The story has a sad, yet beautiful ending that will bring a tear to the eye, and then a smile to your face. Red Dog is worth renting and watching. If you are hard of hearing, turn on the sub-titles the Australian accent mixed with all the ethnic dialects is hard to decipher.

A secondary character within the story is a protagonist cat that is nasty and hateful. The dog and cat get into a couple of hilarious skirmishes which eventually cause them to become fast friends. On the human side, Red Dog is a great love story between humans, and between humans and animals. Give it a watch, you won’t be sorry.

FIVE STARS-*-*-*-*-*

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“Shining City Upon the Hill”

Ronald Reagan inspired me with his speeches. None excited me more than the image he painted of the “Shining City Upon the Hill.” My heart swelled with pride as I envisioned our great country pictured as a beacon of hope and opportunity.

Barack Obama inspires me also; to move to Australia. He is chipping away at the concept of the shining city as rapidly as he can. He has employed several czars (32 to be accurate) to change policy in every conceptual institution that the shining city is built upon.

I sat in church this weekend and listened to a great priest who was “begging.”  His job was to travel from parish to parish around the country and tell the story of homeless babies in the Caribbean countries like Haiti, and in South America where a million children a year starve to death. The organization is called “Food For the Poor.” They are a volunteer organization. With their efficiencies in place, 96% of the money collected is converted to food and necessities. I thought to myself, what a great bunch of people to create and run such an effort. As I sat and thought about what they do, and what my pledge will be, I began to wonder what future the kids who are being saved from starvation will grow into.  Currently, I don’t see the government of  Haiti providing for their own. Yet, I bet the leaders of the country all live in some opulent housing and are not starving as their people are.  They do depend on “Food For The Poor” and similar organizations to do it for them. What is that government doing to create the “Shining City Upon the Hill,” for their children?

Here in America, I see the new government spewing rhetoric about the need to re-distribute the wealth. Who will they re-distribute it to? Like in Haiti, I see our own leaders living in opulent housing, being driven by chauffeurs in very nice bullet proof sedans,  to even more opulent dinners. While we the tax payers sit in squalor waiting to be thrown a bone. I see the leaders tearing down the fabric of the Shining City to make life for the masses so much harder. I see tax dollars going into government departments that do not have a ninety-six percent efficiency, but less than fifty percent efficiency. In the meantime the number of  fat-cat government positions  increase and they  become the recipients of the re-distribution. 

Come to think of it, I’ve never heard  Barack Obama’s vision for his country, have you?

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