The Power Chord – Parts I & II

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones gained fame in southern California in the late fifties, working from their home base, the Rendezvous Ballroom near Newport Beach. The story goes that in 1962, on a bet that he couldn’t play a song using only a single guitar string, Dick Dale (née Monsour) reached back into his Lebanese roots and remembered his uncle playing a song on one string of a lute. Dale upped the tempo – and the volume – several magnitudes. The song was “Misirlou,” (or “Miserlou”) meaning “Arab Land.” The song had been recorded many times since the 1920s, but never like Dick Dale. “Misirlou” entered the rock canon and established Dale as “King of the Surf Guitar.”

Continue reading “The Power Chord – Parts I & II”

Christmas Trees to Oregon? Coals to Newcastle?

“Coals to Newcastle” – something brought or sent to a place where it is already plentiful. Newcastle-upon-Tyne in northern England was an abundant coal producer. “Carry coals to Newcastle” has been an expression for an unnecessary activity since the mid 17th century.

You probably bought your Christmas tree from your local Boy Scout troop or the people who set up every year on a corner close to your neighborhood, right? Or maybe from a nearby big-box store? If it’s the latter, you may have also brought home some elongate hemlock scale insects.

The Oregon Department of Forestry alerts that trees imported into Oregon may be carrying invasive pests, such as the above-mentioned elongate hemlock scale. Although Oregon is the nation’s largest producer of Christmas trees, retailers such as Home Depot may bring theirs in from as far away as North Carolina, bugs and all.

The Department of Forestry warns that trees dumped wherever may result in the hatching of eggs laid on them and the pests escaping into living trees. They urge you to inspect your tree carefully. If you find indications of unwanted bugs, they advise against recycling it or throwing in on the grassy median on Ainsworth Street. Instead, cut up the tree, seal it in a plastic bag and dispose of it in a closed garbage receptacle.

It’s a little late. So now they tell us?

And all those Oregon trees? Most are exported out of state, half of those to California.

Something New to Worry About

Are you anxious because you do not have enough to worry about? How about piles of rocks? Stone stacking is the latest thing on Instagram and Facebook. Posters put up selfies with hashtags #RockStacks and #StoneStacking. (Facebook owns Instagram.) In your travels you’ve probably seen and marveled at cleverly-built small stone towers.

Killjoys, though, are not pleased. Zion National Park posted a photo of someone’s artistic rock piling with the caption “…leave rocks and all natural objects in place.” The post went on to say, “Stacking up stones is simply vandalism.” The problem? Moving a lot of stones can result in erosion, damage to animal ecosystems and disrupt the flow of rivers. Hikers depend on sanctioned cairns for navigation in places without clear trails. Park rangers, environmentalists, and hikers have reactions ranging from annoyance to alarm.

Vikings built stone cairns (worked better than bread crumbs) to find their way back from explorations of Finland in the ninth century and as markers for those who followed. Now tourist guides are pleading for them to be left alone and not mucked up with twenty-first century imitations.

Proponents call it artistic and meditative. Critics rail that social media has made it a global phenomenon and so reduces the amount of wilderness left in its natural state.

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

If your schedule or family commitments prevent you from visiting London, Paris or New York City this holiday season, don’t despair. The good folks at Condé Nast Traveler have put the world’s best holiday window displays all in one place for you to visit at your leisure.

Click here.

You’re welcome.

Sulking Republicans

Republicans, that Grand Old Party: the party that strongly believes in personal responsibility; that fetishizes John Galt; that legislates work requirement for SNAP – aka food stamp – recipients; believes that if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat; that thinks you shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s medical care; that claims to be working for the American people – yes that Republican Party.

Former and soon-to-be-next House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated how to bait the current occupant of the White House when she declared he did not have the votes to fund his border wall. What makes her so sure? Maybe it’s because lame-duck Republican representatives who lost their seats in the 2018 election are not bothering to show up for Congressional votes. They apparently have decided they’re not going to work for the remainder of their terms.

No doubt they are still cashing their paychecks, however, and utilizing their taxpayer-funded health coverage.