Friday, May 31, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Visit to Mostar

We went to Bosnia / Hertzgovinia today to the city of Mostar. Destroyed in the Balkan War, the bridge was rebuilt I'm 2004.
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The first view is from a Mineret. In the picture with the shops look at the wall above and check out the bullet holes!





Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Great afternoon drive

Eddie and I drove over the pennisula today. Beautiful!!
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These were all just from one spot where the road plunged through vineyards, through mountain gap to the sea.





Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We are staying here

We are staying above Viganj (VIG-an-i). You can see it in this photo by expanding and then use the sailboat's mast follow it up the photo to the two or three houses up on the hill
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We are in one of the holiday homes with 7 friends. It's lovely.

Eddie Make Fire!

Ed and Bob where in He-Man mode tonight and made a fire for sitting around outside. Weather here is very Santa Monica / Newport Beachy. Nice and sunny days but cool crisp seaside nights

Land Gate for the town of Kocula


Went across the bay to an island and city called Korcula. A very old city that has some great churches from the 1300.



Scooter and Gareth in Ston





Dinner in Vignaj

Friday, May 24, 2013

BIG seats in Singapore Air Beezwax

Our ride to Frankfurt arrives (upstairs - duh)

Well, How Is It?



It's been a week at the new job.
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Much too earlier to really evaluate - and yet never too early to complain.  And so, let's review.
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The job is interesting.
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Well.... The job is interesting-ish
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 I am learning about taxing, off-shore, intermediary accounts, flow throughs and foreign financial institutions.  I am learning about the new tax law that goes into effect in stages this year and next, and how to catch tax cheats.  That is kind of cool.
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"Taxes and foreign entities?  Wow, is that what you studied in school, Scott?"  Well, you are either new to the blog or haven't been paying attention.  Hell no.
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Karch at 84 Olympics
I studied Geography and Economics.  And by Economics, I mean Economics of Transportation and Economics of Labor Unions.  You know, big worthless classes so I could watch Karch Kiraly sleep in front of me.  Nothing actually applicable.
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No, being a Project Manager means being able to manage pretty much any project  - so yes, 4 days into it I could give an overview class on the new Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and basic withholding systems in compliant, non-compliant and IGA 1 and IGA 2 treaty countries.
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"Wow Scott, if that is the good - what the hell do you think the bad is?"
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They work 9 to 10 hour days!  Every day!  You know how long it has been since I expect to work until after 6 or 6:30 every night?  Since never, that is how long.  The only time I expect to work that late was when I was bartending and I didn't start until 9:00PM.  Scooter is a born-Californian 40 hour a week boy.  We will see if this all works, I am contract so I do get overtime.
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Karch in '81 when UCLA won another VBall Championship
See - everyone had bad hair parted in the middle then!
Anyway, I am off to Croatia and the French Open for 10 days.  And no, it is not a vacation.  I was suppose to start in June, but they accelerated it, knowing that I would be gone 10 days.
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FYI - about the picture to the left.
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Yep, it really is Karch at UCLA when we were both seniors.  And yes, he was considered dreamy at the time.
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And yes, those really were the shorts length, they weren't riding up.
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And yes, I had silky "dolphin" shorts the same length.
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And yes, I looked damn good in them!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Odd Coincidence

So we just donated to the Oklahoma Disaster fund with Team Rubicon.  Team Rubicon is made up of ex-military who are some of the first responders in natural disasters; they were on the ground in Oklahoma within hours.
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Anyway, I donated and the receipt was issued in Inglewood California.  It's funny, because that is the city I was born in (behind the Red Onion).
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Weird huh?

So Oklahoma Senators and Representatives voted to defund FEMA and not pay for Hurricane Sandy

One cannot believe the hypocrisy in these (Republican) assholes.  But see, we New York and California (Democratic) Liberals don't screw people just to make a point.   But I am allowed to say, screw you two.
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(LINK not included because it will just raise my blood pressure, but here are some quotes)

Inhofe, of course, believes his state deserves those resources, even though he voted down aid to Hurricane Sandy victims. On MSNBC, Chris Jansing confronted Inhofe about his calling the Sandy aid bill a “slush fund,” and the brazen right-winger insisted the two issues shouldn’t be linked.
“Let’s look at that, that was totally different,” Inhofe told Jansing. “They were getting things — for instance that was supposed to be in New Jersey, they had things in the Virgin Islands, they were fixing roads there, they were putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C.; everyone was getting in and exploiting the tragedy taking place. That won’t happen in Oklahoma.”
Inhofe’s answer is too dishonest to fully parse. First of all, there was Sandy damage way beyond New Jersey, including in the Caribbean and in Washington, D.C., too. And Inhofe had different objections to the Sandy bill at the time. In a rambling, hard-to-follow Senate floor speech blocking Sandy aid last December, the Oklahoma conservative objected to the bill’s timing — “There’s always a lot of theater right before Christmas time … We shouldn’t be talking about it right before Christmas” — even though it was already going on two months since the storm ravaged the East Coast.
Hurricane Sandy devastation - which was not deserving any aid according to the dick-heads from Oklahoma

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What if the Middle Class is an anomaly?

I was thinking, as we move to an information economy and income at the top grows around the world, what becomes of the middle class?
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I mean, a "middle class" which is made up of workers is a relatively new phenomenon in the grand scheme of things.  It is the result of an industrial revolution that allowed subsistance framers and craftsmen to move to the city to become "workers".  The increased output reduced the price of goods so workers could afford them, if they were paid a reasonable wage.  Agricultural automation allowed the growth in yields per acre, and transportation (first trains, then refrigerated transportation) allowed farmers to produce enough food so workers could purchase it.
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For the first time, workers could produce income and income could buy goods - and susbistance receded and the middle class grew.  Policy and regulation by the government (both Democratic or Republican in the olden days) ensured that all the benefits didn't go to the wealthiest by enforcing 6 then 5 day work weeks, outlawing child labor and allowing union organization.  Monopolies were broken and overtime workplace safety was mandated.

Friday, May 17, 2013

So Republicans "misrepresented" the e-mails (lied)

Yes Virginia, the Republicans did freaking lie about the Benghazi "smoking gun" emails.  They released email "quotes" that were entirely made up.  But then, everyone expects them to lie, so now one cares.  (CBS News Report - 2 minutes long).
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I Start Monday


As of Monday I lose my eccentricity.
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ec·cen·tric 
n.
1. One that deviates markedly from an established norm, especially a person of odd or unconventional behavior.

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I start work again on Monday.  I suppose, I am happy to once again be an upstanding member of society.  Drone-ish devotion to the 9to5 MtoF schedule that rules the world.  Something worthwhile that pays me a very nice wage and hopefully challenges me.
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And yet, I question.  Have you seen "Holiday" with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn?  If so, then you understand my trepidation.  But I am not Cary Grant and my Katherine Hepburn doesn't travel coach.  And so, I will do this again.
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If you haven't seen it, it is stupid to explain.  It makes one sound infantile.
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Once more into the breach, as they say.
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Not everyone makes it to the other side, I hope I do.
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I fear my ambivalence is showing.  I shall adjust my attitude.
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Hazah!

The Problem, of course, is Daisy


Yes, yes, yes I understand Daisy is a cypher.  Well less a cypher and more of a McGuffin.  And Cary Mulligan is a beautiful McGuffin.  A beautiful, blond (if not icy) McGuffin that Hitchcock himself would be proud of.
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And yet her beauty cannot carry the movie when it is the vessel for such empty ineptitude.  Why does out Leo pine for her so?  I understand, truly I do,  the idolization of a memory.  The fictional personification of perfection you carry in your head, and which drives you towards success.  But when confronted with the very real and very vacuous reality, one adjusts.  Daisy is trophy wife personified.  And when it is clear she desires no more than that - why does our Leo / Gatsby care anymore.  To win?  No, we must believe he will do most anything to get ahead, and that means cutting your loses every now and then.
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Perhaps in this, the book was better.  Perhaps the ideal of Daisy can be carried out in a slim volume, but not in the 2D (or in this case 3D) reality of visualization.  Perhaps our dream of the perfect woman cannot survive the transition to flesh and blood, even on screen.
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But why can't Leo/Gatsby (who reminded me of a young Orson Wells - except Orson Wells would have transformed the "old sport" into something more mantra-ish and less literal) get past Daisy when she so obviously fails to live up to his memory?  When she is so obviously limited; less afraid of losing everything that she is afraid of hurting anyone's feelings from loved one to distant cousin to husband - and so she ends up destroying everything through paralysis of inaction.
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I can think of only crude sexual explanations by which she has all and sundry transfixed, and these jokes, while no doubt funny, have no currency in this musing.
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No, Daisy is an artificial plot point designed to give Gatsby his comeuppance.  And so we come to the inherent production code problem with this movie.  Transgression of social norms must be punished.  And not just a slap on the wrist, but the ultimate punishment.  Loss of first love, then loss of fortune, then loss of life.  And everyone can cheer as the rich (the better people) move on and the poor (less deserving of happiness, joy and even love) learn their place.
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I suppose, when all is said and done, it could be worse.  It could be Mia Farrow.  In that Gatsby she looks like a 1920s Cruella DeVille pregnant with Faye Dunaway.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"John Malkovich IS Casanova"

I got an email blast with this headline and picture.
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TM Insider: JOHN MALKOVICH is Casanova - SAVE 15% on tickets!



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Now, I am not a 17th Century Venetian Damsel, but I think I could do better than John Malkovich.  He doesn't look the "great lover" type.  I even buy this guy more.

How Have We NOT Embraced Eurovision

This week is Eurovision.  Kind of an "Europe Idol" where each country gets to send a musical act for a musical train wreck.  It is horribly fabulous, in a glitter-ball tacky fest.
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But now, there are so many European countries there is a semi-final. This is a typical great/horrible example.  Forget, if you can, it is from a dictatorship and enjoy the camp.  (I know, I know, dog and pony to distract, etc., but enjoy).
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And if that isn't gay enough for you, this discotastic number will...
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Catching Up - The Assembled Parties

Broadway in Spring is much like Film in December, or the East LA Interchange Thanksgiving Wednesday, or Santa's Workshop the week before Christmas.  That is, there are so many shiny wonders struggling for attention, that some get lost in the shuffle.
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And so it is, with the Tony nominations out I hanker to see one or two things I have missed to date.  Not Lucky Guy, watching Tom Hanks say damn and over-emote for 2 1/2 hours isn't my cup of burbon, but there are other things.  And I start a new job on Monday (BofA / Merrill), so yesterday was my last day to see a matinee for just me.
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I went to see The Assembled Parties.  It is nominated for Best Play, but I doubt it will win, and I doubt most people have heard of it.  Which is a giant shame.  It is a sparkling, witty two act show that is funny, sweet and does not suffer from forced drama - even when the situations would allow for it.  The Assembled Parties is what I expected Broadway to be from the olden days.  You know how in TV Shows or Movies about New York in the 1950s and 1960s people dressed up, and the snippets were always wildly entertaining with quips flowing and beautiful sets.  This was that show!
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The sets - the sets were stunning.  It was a Upper West Side apartments - massive on a turntable in the first act, where 7 different rooms were shown (in 4 spaces so set changes happened when the room was not facing the audience, and action happen simultaneously.  Beautifully done.  So well i had to check.  It was by Santo Loquasto, Woody Allen's scenic designer - and his love for New York, which shows in Woody Allen movies, was obvious in this piece.  In the second act, this set was replaced by a full stage entry, living room, dinging room, office motif that didn't move.  Amazing.
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Jessica Hecht and Judith Light in 1980
It is set over Christmas Day in 1980 (Act 1) and Christmas Day in 2000 (Act 2) and stars Jessica Hecht, Jeremy Shamos, Judith Light and Jake Silbermann along with 5 others that play only in Act 1.  Jessica Hecht (from Friends - Ross' ex-wife's new girlfriend) was a delight.  There is no other way to put it.  She shines, she glides, she lifts. She is the wife, partner, friend that you want to spend time with.  Sportive, sweet, engaging and not annoying (maybe a little dim).  Judith Light is the annoying Aunt that is funny as hell - once a year!
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Jake Silbermann, Judith Light and Jessica Hecht in 2000.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Announcing "Scott's Guides To..."

I decided that an underserved market is the quick guide to locales.  You know when you are going somewhere for a long week-end and you just want to get some highlights.  Well, over time I have found that not all guide books make sense for that.  So I have created "Scott's Guide To.." series.  The first two, Iceland and Slovenia, and now ready for ebook purchase for the Kindle (or the Kindle ap on iPad or Android tablets).
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Neither location was well served by other guide books.  And, at $0.99, they aren't a huge investment.
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But how to get past the small pictures, you ask.  Never fear, I have put all the pictures, with their captions and numbers, on a web site that is a companion to each book.
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Here is the (free) site of the pictures of Iceland - LINK.
Example Picture from the Iceland Selection

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Here is the (free) site of the pictures of Slovenia - LINK.
Example Picture from the Slovenia Selection
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Let me know what you think.  Hong Kong and Rio are coming up next. (And, of course, if you see any errors, please let me know).

In Related News....

Because we all know the DOJ has been above reproach these last few days...
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In Related News...
THIS fox will be guarding the henhouse

Dick Cheney will lecture us on how Benghazi is worse than Watergate

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dog Walking in Rochester & A Cool Bike Store Lighting Fixture

Last week in Rochester, Eddie and I walked Trevor with Jocelyn and Charlie.  There aren't pictures of Charlie (the big-ass golden Lab) as he knew the park and took off.  He would wander back to make sure we were coming, or would go get Trevor when Trev got lost in the woods, but otherwise, not too much of him.
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Any who, some pictures..
Eddie and Trevor up the hill at the start (Trevor does NOT like uphills)

Trevor, Jocelyn and Eddie
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Then we went to Les' bike shop, Tryon Bike.  It was a great shop, but this lighting fixture was the bomb (as it were).  Someone made it for Les with bike parts. If you look you can see the sprockets, the chains, etc.  His logo is the one on the botton right.  His website is http://tryonbike.com/ . We bought very cool t-shirts and a water bottel.