Monday, June 30, 2008

Some photos

A leaf the other day...laying in the grass...with fresh rain drops in it...

Click the photo to size the full size/resolution image...the detail is amazing...

A leaf...

A beetle on a tiny rose earlier today...

A beetle...

A tiny, tiny pink rose bud...and yes, those are my calluses...

A tiny rose...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sand and Sorrow :: A new film about [the genocide in] Darfur by Paul Freedman

Excuse my french, but what a fucked, fucked, fucked-up world we live in my friends.

Apparently, the U.N. and the U.S. stood by as the genocide occurred in Darfur, Sudan. The reason? Sudan is China's primary supplier of oil. We wouldn't want to upset the balance of the oil supply, now would we? (This is my own oversimplification. I'm sure the issues there are extremely complex, but still, this smacks of something very, very wrong.)

The cleansing of the non-Arab populace has been happening since 2005. I'm as guilty/ignorant as the next guy. I've heard about it (very little) in the media, but never investigated until I watched the documentary.

What can we do? What should we do? What can I do as an individual? What do we do when the priorities of our government do not match our own? The electoral/political process is too slow and too fucked up anyway. The system is broken. We need some vehicle to effect rapid response within our government. Some way to just say no - with teeth. Some way to get the attention of our leaders. Shouldn't we be able to go straight to the top? To the President? Isn't that where the buck stops?

Is it because "the public sucks" as George Carlin said? Do we really just not care? Are we more worried about NASCAR, beauty pageants, fantasy football, and sneakers with lights in them to care? Are we more worried about our super-duper self-propelled lawn mower, our new swimming pool, our latest capital gain, being upside down in our mortgage, our new GUCCI/Prada/LV handbag? The new Dolce & Gabbana shoes?

Hundreds of thousands of people have died in Darfur. Our priorities are all wrong, and we are paying for it. Our souls are paying for it.

There's no trailer on YouTube, but here is a Q&A session with the director.

Here is the film website ::

Here is the HBO film website ::

Tango Parody :: Follower Antics

From Limerick did I miss this? It's a hilarious parody dance with Jose Garafolo in the follower's role. He is exaggerating unled follower embellishments. I'm not saying I have ever seen any of this on the social dance floor, but I'm sure it occurs.

The Dancing Brain

More good stuff from Joe Grohen's "The Topic is Tango". He ran across it thanks to Mash on Tango-L.

Here's the synopis of the article "The Dancing Brain" on The Dana Foundation's website:

How can watching one dance performance, whether classical ballet or the newest modern choreography, be so engaging—even thrilling— and watching another leave us indifferent? Dutch choreographer and researcher Ivar Hagendoorn argues that contemporary neuroscience points at the answer. The limbs move, but it is the brain that dances.

Here's the link.

How to keep your feet happy

I've been wearing flip flops and loafers with no arch support for almost 6 months straight now. Although my flip flops are Oakleys (casual/work) and Cole Hahn (dress) and do have some element of arch support now that I look at them, but they are still not ideal in the support department. I can't believe I have "dress" flip flops - two pairs - brown and black.

I like the feelings of freedom and relaxation - au naturale you might say. Flip flops and loafers both express my low key attitude. I am definitely a low key guy. I had an interesting conversation with a tennis coach last night at a party - a conversation about how we can't hold a "real" job - and wouldn't want to.

Anyway, back to flip flops. The other day, I listened to a spot on NPR about plantar faciitis and what havoc it can wreak on your feet and lower calves. I've noticed increasing stiffness in my lower calves and I can feel the tightness of my achilles tendons going down to my heels.

Then, the other day, when checking out Joe Grohen's blog for the first time in a long time (I have always liked his blog - he was one of the first I started reading) and he had a post about "high heels and flip flops" that got me to thinking about the NPR bit again, and how I need to make a change and take better care of my feet and calves. I'm doing it for my tango.

Here is the link to the NPR spot - "How to keep your feet happy"

So, at the end of the day, I have two choices now - going back to being the "Birkenstock Cowboy", or wearing cowboy boots with shorts. Oh yeah, I suppose I could just wear nice, comfy, supportive running shoes like everyone else.

Having a link open in a new window :: Simple HTML

You know how some links open in a new window, thereby keeping the reader/viewer at your website/blog? My simple href links (built in functionality with always navigate people away from my blog - to the linked site.

Many months ago, I tried to figure this out - how to have a link open in a new window. Just now, determined to get the bottom of it, I did a search and found out how simple it is. I found what I was looking for in about 5 seconds.

The trick is to add the code target="_blank" just after the final quote mark and before the close bracket symbol ">".

Note that below I've omitted the first open bracket "<" before "a href" to disable the functionality of the link...

a href="" target="_blank">

Here is the result. Clicking the link should open a new window.


The Public Sucks :: More George Carlin

This is a good one (on politicians and our political systems) that I am almost in total agreement with. Who do we have now to "give voice to an indignant counter culture"?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Remote Tango :: Windhoek, Nambia, Africa

Proof that tango exists (at least in someone's mind) in some very far corners of our blue marble. A Google hit today from someone in Windhoek, Namibia, Latitude -22.57, Longitude 17.0836 using the search string "tango quotes"...amazing...

This photo is also somewhat representative of my mental state just now - a heat stroke induced torpor (where the fuck do I come up with these words!?), emerging from my after work collapse called a nap, groggily not knowing what day it it real? Or is it a dream?

Is this person a tango dancer? Do they live in Namibia? Is there tango being danced in Namibia? Or, is it someone on an adventure trip or safari, who is simply missing their tango? Did they forget the exact wording of a favorite tango quote? Did they just have to get online when they had internet access and do a search?

I wonder. I wonder from within my torporous stupor.

Dune in Namib Desert on Flickr by Emmie76 Thanks to Emmie76 on Flickr for this fantastic photo - and for making it shareable...

Updated blogroll link :: Joe Grohens/The Topic is Tango

Joe's blog has been listed in my blogroll for some time now, but the link was orphaned/outdated. Joe contacted me with the correct information.

Check it out!

Carlos Santana :: Put your lights on

Last post for tonight...I promise...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lucciano Pizzichini :: Samba Pa Ti

A seven year old kid!

y el maestro....Carlos Santana...(best audio quality)

Tony Joe White :: Rainy Night in Georgia

You might remember Tony Joe White from this one :: Polk Salad Annie

Lucinda Williams :: World Without Tears

I had to wash away that prior post/experience. Lucinda Williams has a uniquely scratchy voice - a "not great" voice - with a sweet smoothness to it. I saw her live at the Belly Up in Aspen a couple of years ago - she's a great live entertainer. Her lyrics are painful and heartfelt.

I'll give her my vote for the best female artist with the worst voice and the biggest heart - I love her. I love her funky, scratchy voice.

Here's another good one - "Passionate Kisses" ::

"Unsuffer Me" :: with tones that remind me of Neil Young on the guitar...

And my personal favorite :: "Righteously"

I'm sorry for advance...

Have you ever stepped in dogshit whilst barefoot? I did, once, a long time ago. I remember it vividly. I won't go into the details, but there is just something about the absolutely yucky feeling of the big, fresh, steaming pile squishing up, warmly between my toes, and the instantaneous realization of what has just occurred. As I recall, I let out a guttural verbal utterance expressing the grossness that I was feeling. Something like "guueeaahh".

And what, pray tell, reminded me of this? Well, I was just watching this music video from TED and the song/singer reached a certain point and the "guueeaahh" guttural verbal utterance expressing the grossness of what I was hearing spontaneously/involuntarily issued from my gut/vocal areas. I mouse clicked that fucker closed before you could say "eeewww".

Here ya go - like I said, I'm sorry in advance. TED should stick to profound intellectual bullshit and stay away from music. Keep your hand on your mouse and/or your finger on your mute button in case you decide to watch.

The perfection of the perfect superlative

I took two years of Spanish in college. I was reading Spanish literature and speaking Spanish in a seminar level class. My writing wasn't so great as I remember. That was 29 friggin' years ago. I still remember muchas palabras. Pero no soy fluent. My Mayan labor force likes me because I try - I do my best - sometimes I make them laugh. I call the swimming pool "el lago". "Necessitamos mas agua en el lago" - when the pool level is getting low.

They found a huge turtle the other day and we had an amusing discussion about the difference between a turtle and a tortoise. I even managed to explain how large tortoises grow in the Galagpagos Islands - "islas en el centro del mar Pacifico".

Today I tried to explain how to paint - actually how to apply stain and varnish - with finesse. Not explain with finesse, but apply the finishes with finesse. We are having to refinish eight 10x10 douglas fir posts because Augusto, in spite of my original demonstration of technique, got it in his head that more was better. That one very thick coat of marine grade exterior spar varnish would be better than multiple thin coats. I had to run to the lumber yard after I showed him what I wanted, and didn't notice the problem until the finish started bubbling and blistering in the sun yesterday afternoon.

It's very important for the belt sander to be directed in a perfectly linear fashion, any slight angle and you will end up with microscopic, but visible, grit scratches in places. You can only see them if you position yourself in a particular way so that "la luz/el sol" is just right. If you look straight down on the wood, you can't see it, but at an oblique angle, it slaps you in face like a...slap in the face.

Then, the finishing sander (a big, honkin' old style Porter-Cable beauty), also has to be operated in a perfectly linear fashion - "with the grain". Direcho.

Then, the stain has to be applied with a brush in a linear/with the grain fashion, then wiped with a rag - linear-ly. Care has to be taken at the corners not to have drips or build-up of the coating.

Teaching someone how to use a brush (natural china bristles) is also a challenge with the language barrier. There is a finesse in the action of your arm, hand and wrist. There is a slight flicking intention with the tips of the bristles. The tips are the most important part of the brush in delivering the coating to the surface. You don't slap the wood with a brush, you don't lay it on its side.

Once the stain is dry, the first coat of varnish goes down, after a rub down with five aught (#00000) steel wool. The varnish is applied very thinly - not too little, but not too much. After it's dry, then another pass with the finishing sander and 220 grit aluminum oxide paper. A quick pass - not too little, not too much. Another rub down with five aught steel wool, and then the next coat. I will be doing at least four coats on this, perhaps five or six.

The key is that each step, from the 120 grit belt sander to the final 00000 steel wool - 17 steps in all - must be done "with the grain". It's the cumulative effect of the multiple steps and multiple layers of finish - handcrafted with loving care - that give the deep, rich finish that I am looking for.

Anyway, we got two (out of eight) of the massive columns re-sanded and re-stained today. I did everything so they could watch and learn. Even I was impressed with the outcome - and I am hard to impress. I think they got the idea even with my funky words and communication. They laughed when I showed them brushing technique "con la musica" - with tango playing in the background. That it's about long, smooth strokes, finessing the tips of the bristles with an imperceptible flick of the wrist at just the right moment - such that there are no brush marks left on the surface. The final strokes are as if you are using a feather. Perhaps there are some ridges and valleys in the finish - on the subatomic level. Imperceptible to the eye - imperceptible to the touch.

They kept using the word "espejo" as they felt the surface of the wood. I had to look it up on babelfish when I got home - espejo means mirror.

I'll take that as a compliment.

But, it's still a struggle for me to explain myself - sin palabras - sin superlatives.

Here are all the finishing steps...I listed them so I could count them up...out of curiousity...

1] 120 grit belt sander
2] 220 grit finishing sander
3] 00000 steel wool
4] Stain
5] 00000 steel wool
6] Varnish #1
7] 220 grit
8] 00000 steel wool
9] Varnish #2
10] 220 grit
11] 00000 steel wool
12] Varnish #3
13] 220 grit
14] 00000 steel wool
15] Varnish #4
16] 220 grit - very light, or possibly omit this step
17] 00000 steel wool - very, very light to knock down the final sheen and give it a nice, matte/satin finish

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Slow Dancing :: Photography by David Michalek

I was just having dinner with friends, we were talking about what incredible athletes dancers are, and I was telling them about this video. Actually I suppose it is a video composite of high speed photography at 1,000 frames per second. The high definition version is better, but I can't find it on the Apple/MacPro site. You can read more about it here.

Ah, found it. Here is the high-res version from the MacPro site, without the bizarre but cool audio of the YouTube version.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Biagi's Picante vs. Pole Dancing Lesson

I did a search on YouTube using this text string - "Biagi Picante". This was one of the videos that came up for whatever reason.

At first I thought it was kinda cute and endearing, watching this woman taking a pole dancing lesson from an amazon blonde Scandanavian babe (as best I can tell from the language they are speaking)...the little one has enough trouble just mounting the pole...then the amazon appears to pull her legs apart a bit...then watch what happens...

Il tango degli ombrelli CTF 08 :: Capri Tango Festival

Anyone know the name of this song and the orchestra? I think it's Biagi, but my Biagi collection is weak. I'm going to have to work on that.

Also, the sound quality is great on this video - note to videographers - always try to position yourself very near the speakers for maximum audio quality.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How not to be eaten by a mountain lion...

Here's an article about a dude who got himself "et" by a mountain lion...false teeth on the counter and water still running in the sink...

If you see a mountain lion, you are probably about to be eaten...they stalk and hide so you never really see them until it's too late...

If the hair on the back of your neck stands up...this is a primordial instinct from caveman/sabertooth tiger are about to be eaten...

Do not run under any circumstances...this is what prey does...this will confirm to the beast that you are will be eaten if you run...

Stand your ground...wave your hands at your sides and over your head to make yourself appear larger...yell loudly...or scream like a small child...

Look for sticks or large branches or rocks to use as weapons...throw the rocks and sticks...use a large branch like a baseball bat...grasp larger rocks with both hands and use it in a "bashing" fashion...preferably right between the eyes of the beast...

If there are no branches laying around, your adrenaline rush will allow you to rip and rend live trees from the ground...and you will probably scare the shit out of the beast in the to do this while yelling or screaming like a small child for maximum effect...

If there are no rocks or branches in your immediate proximity, shove your fist down the beast's throat and/or try to grab its tongue with all your might and pull the tongue out of it's 86 year old ex-marine actually survived an attack and killed the damn thing by pulling its tongue out of it's head...onetoughsonofabitch...

In general, fight for your life...most documented cases of people fending off attacks are when they fight back viciously...

P.S. This is likely to be one of the unforeseen side effects of the current mortgage crisis...more people in foreclosure...more people in an RV...or a "VAN, down by the river"...thereby exposing themselves to attacks by mountain lions...I wonder what Darwin would think...

here i am

here i am
Originally uploaded by leone.

Someday, I will dance with this woman.

Everybody knows this, right?

here i am
Originally uploaded by leone.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was telling me about a guy who is teaching now with his partner. I used to call him "Rico Suave", but that was before I knew him. He's actually a really nice guy - a kid really.

My friend had danced with him at a milonga and was talking about the lack of connection with him. She attributed it to the fact that his dancing is all about him. His steps, his sequences, his embellishments, the way he looks. She can feel that he is focused on himself and his dancing and not her. He's dancing with himself.

It struck me after our conversation that everyone (leaders - especially beginners) might not know this - that this will screw with your tango - it's the me/ego mindset.

Tango is all about the woman. It's about making her feel good and safe and making her feel beautiful and special in those nine minutes on the floor. Leaders have to focus on the "her" and the "now". Her. Now. This moment. This connection. This dance. This tanda.

Focus your thoughts and energy on her. Think about her feet, not yours. Think about what you want her feet to do. Beginners have the disadvantage of having to think about steps and sequences and weight transfers and the minutiae. Being able to think about her will come, in time. Try it some time though, even if just for a minute of one song. Focus your thoughts and energy on her. See how it feels.

For me, when I realized this a couple of years ago, and when I was able to manifest this all the time in my dance, it was a breakthrough. A defining moment. An epiphany.

Sometimes we forget about the basic, underlying principles, and just have to be reminded.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fuck with your head

Have you ever hit the "repeat song" button on iTunes or whatever? It would have to be a song that you really, really like and don't mind listening to over and over again.

I've done it before to this ::

And this [the first song - DiSarli's "Verdemar"] ::

I've done it before for like two days. Then the song will autoplay in your head for like two weeks. It's really handy if you don't want to carry an iPod or something around...

Try it, you'll like it...

One of the reasons (that I forgot about) that I enjoy blogging is to amuse myself with stuff like this...

Comedian George Carlin dies at 71

"that's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it..."

What a great loss - a great talent, a critical thinker - although over the top with vulgarity at times, most of the time perhaps. He was still young. A man who did not hesitate to speak the truth. Somehow, in our twisted society, the truth was hilarious. Perhaps it was nervous laughter in agreement that we, ourselves, are a bunch of idiots for continuing to chase dollars and do nothing about everything that is wrong.

Here's the article on -

The first part of this one is of my favorites...BUT...

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Saturday, June 21, 2008

Photographer Chris Jordan :: Picturing Excess :: TED :: Ideas worth sharing

"I have this fear that we aren't feeling enough in our culture today . There is this kind of anaesthesia in America at the moment. We've lost our sense of outrage, our anger, and our grief about what is going on in our culture right now, what is going on in our country, the atrocities that are going on in our names around the world....they've gone missing, these feelings have gone missing..."

Here's a little something tending toward the profound on this fine Saturday afternoon...

This is your brain on dance

My friend Malevito at Virtualapiz found this article in Scientific Americanon the neuroscience of dance.

Thank your precuneus. It's "a parietal lobe region very close to where the kinesthetic representation of the legs resides". I find it particularly interesting that the researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio specifically chose Argentine Tango dancers. Not Texas two-steppers, not swingers or lindy hoppers, not polka-ations, but Argentine Tango. Our little sleeper of a dance sure does get a lot of attention doesn't it? (Although, to be fair, they also worked with ballet dancers and capoeira dancers, as well as non-dancers.)

Next we will find that Islamic fundamentalist extremism in the Middle East has been quelched all because of Argentine Tango (with a little Monica Bellucci wearing nothing but lingerie mixed in). Courtesy of this imagery which seems to be making the rounds in Syria, Dubai, and Iran.

When you read the article, note that the researchers chose the much maligned "basic eight" for the wired/hooked up dancers to repeat while the data were collected.

What I also find interesting, sitting here thinking about it now, as we all know, it is extremely important to not think about tango, or the dance, or the steps, or the weight transfers, or the this and the that, for tango to "feel" right. I wonder if the researchers considered this - that their readings could be different for an inexperienced tango dancer thinking about the basic eight as he/she executes it, versus a milonguero who has been dancing for 40 years.

I wonder.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Green Bullshit

Last post for today, I promise.

I was just at Lowe's, too, and noticed a house plan book titled something like "Energy Efficient Home Plans" and green this and green that on the cover. Curious, I thumbed through the plans to see the normal, ubiquitous "grocery/home improvement store checkout line cheesy brain-dead numb-nuts" house plans. It's stuff that looks like it was designed and drawn 60 years ago. Tiny little 9ft x 9ft bedrooms, cut up rooms, hallways, bastardized layouts and traffic flows. The exteriors are all cut up with short walls, strange rooflines, bumpouts, bays, tons of large windows and all manner of INFUCKINGEFFICIENT design. All they did was change the cover to CAPITALIZE [$$$] on the current energy crisis/green bullshite frenzy.

One plan had a special little green box in the corner titled "Super Energy Efficient Design" and talked about using thicker R-38 insulation in the attic. My ass.

This should be illegal. It's tantamount to false advertising. Who do I contact about this? The U.S. Attorney General?

More on the solution side of things later. When I have more time. It will be in my new blog - [grin]

Gallo del cielo :: Joe Ely

Somewhere over Rainbow :: Eva Cassidy

My apologies if I already posted this in the's a good one...

Strange Tango Dreams

Chad Coombs Photo

I just now remembered why I am awake at 4:00am.

I had a really long and strange dream. At the end of it, I was riding a magic carpet. Actually it was more like a magic blanket. I was at a facility that had formerly been used as a swimming training camp, for the Olympics or something. It had huge, vast pools. Although it was dilapidated and the pools were either empty, or filled with skanky green water.

The place was now being used as a tango camp or something along those lines. I remember a long, arduous trek with a handful of friends to get there. I don't remember much of anything while I was there - just scoping the place out - searching and snooping the long halls and nooks and crannies. I have no recollection of any tango music, nor tango dancing - just being there for some event - at this tango camp. It seems to have had a very dark, gulag-like air about it. Everything occured at night - in darkness. I remember being scared - of something.

In the end, we were leaving the place (on water slides), but I was looking for my cameras. They had been confiscated or something. Now the place has a Taliban feeling about it. I was riding my magic blanket from house to house (now the place has a West Texas Church of Latter Day Saints commune feel to it) looking for my cameras. I remember thinking, and telling someone in the dream, someone I could not see, that the cameras were very important to me because that is how I made my living. Maybe I was just thinking it (in the dream).

The most lucid aspect of the dream was the magic blanket ride. It was very late at night and everyone was asleep in their tango camp cabins. I remember some of the details from the blanket, and I remember how the blanket behaved under its magic forces/powers and in the wind. It kept blowing up in my face and obscuring my view. This was no doubt due to my inexperience/inability to "control" the thing with my mind. The basic premise is that you had to "will" it in the direction you wanted to go. Will it to stay flat and aerodynamic. Will it to bank and turn. Will it to accelerate and come to a stop.

Mondo bizarro.

Pablo Veron is leading a double life...

I'm not sure what to think about this.

And here he is as "Slash", the lead guitarist for Guns 'n Roses.

Mark your calendars :: Capri Tango Festival :: June 2009

This is last year's "official" video. I wonder how the tango is?

Let's go.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

To bring you my love....

Dig it... [and you could dance tango to this one]

A welcome return

Chet Baker :: My Funny Valentine

If I could sing, I think I would want to sing like this...

Believe it or not...this is the kinda stuff that I listen to on my jobsite (plus a bunch of tango mixed in)...courtesy of my iPod shuffle and my bitching JBL boombox...

The Mayans seem to like it. They ask for it every morning.

"Ugh, grok, bikini" vs. "E=MC2"

This imagery turns my brains and my thought process into primordial soup. Think of a blubbering, drooling, quivering idiot.

String Bikini
Originally uploaded by emilyusry

This imagery makes me think about quantum physics, ponder string theory, and contemplate Einstein's theory of gravitational time dilation whilst I eat my corn flakes each morning.

Originally uploaded by gcoldironjr2003

Here's the scientific proof - based on a report/study titled: "Bikinis Instigate Generalized Impatience in Intertemporal Choice".

Amarillo by Morning :: Tango in the World

This is Asleep at the Wheel performing "Amarillo by Morning", although the lead guitarist/vocalist Ray Benson is not singing, the fiddler is not too bad.

A Google hit in Amarillo this morning made me think of this song. Someone did a search on "tango musicality" Amarillo, Texas of all places. Whooda thunk!? I'm curious as to whether it's someone who lives there, or someone just passin' through.

Here's more of them...this one is "Route 66"....

And one of my favorites..."Hot Rod Lincoln"...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The most "stuff" ever done to the most beautiful song

Murat y Michelle, with their perfect musicality, dizzyingly yet beautifully executing an amazing amount of "stuff" in their dance to DiSarli's Verdemar, which happens to my most favorite song of all time. Tango song, that is.

Massive horny meat-eaters discovered in Utah

I just love a good paleontological innuendo. Especially in mainstream media.

An even better one (innuendo) is what they named the horny beast - Kryptops palaios, or "old hidden face". But you will have to "dig deeper" to get that one. OMG. An innuendo within a pun within an innuendo.

Here's the link.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A cry for help :: Blogicide

I almost did the unthinkable last night.

I was going to "make my blog private", or even worse, totally and unilaterally and irreversably "delete" my blog.

Help me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On Father's Day :: Remembering my Dad

My Dad died in 1982 after a four year battle with lung cancer. Adinocarcinoma with metasasis. In other words it spread all over. It made its way into his lymphatic system and we think his brain. Bad stuff. He was 54 years old. He had seen all of his kids get married, but had never experienced the joy of a grandkid.

He was a geologist with Union Oil Company of California for many years. First Lafayette, then New Orleans, then he ran the office in Jackson, Mississippi. We moved back to Lafayette for my high school years and he became an independent/freelance geologist. Geologists were on the "exploration" side, versus the "production" side of the oil business. I remember going into his office and looking at all of the maps and seismic logs on his drafting table. He was the guy who analyzed the maps, determined the subsurface geology, and decided where oil was most likely to be found. If I remember correctly, oil pools in subsurface sand and alluvial deposits at the underside of anticline (convex up) formation in rock. He would always explain to me what he did in his job and why. Vacations and road trips out West were always a treat - with an oral geological and geomorphological history.

He loved beer. Luckily, he never drank too much, but he did love to drink it. Falstaff was his favorite. I remember taking a sip one weekend while I was mowing the yard. I thought it was nasty. I would go with him on road trips to Spicewood Springs, Texas to buy cases of Coors beer. For a long time, Spicewood Springs was the easternmost point that you could buy Coors. Coors was a special treat, like champagne to him.

He liked to go canoeing and camping with me when I was in my teens, although we had to get him a comfy air mattress to sleep on. He loved to fish, mostly deep sea fishing. I remember he had two or three tackle boxes full of lures and gadgets, and a wide array of rods and reels. My brother has all that stuff now. In the final months before he died, I would ask him if he wanted to go fishing in the Atchafalaya Basin - in our little fourteen foot john boat with a 25 horse Evinrude motor on the back. He always said no. He was just too weak from the chemo and radiation treatments.

We had all been at the hospital for long hours in the final days. Early one morning, the nurses encouraged us to go home and get some sleep and shower. As soon as I got home, around 6:00am, I got the call from the hospital that he was not doing well, and that I should call my Mom and get to the hospital as soon as possible.

I got there first to discover he had died. I knew it when I walked into the room because all of the tubes and IV's had been removed. He died alone with no one at his side, which, in all my life may be my only true regret. Knowing my Dad, and how he was, we think he waited until we were all gone to let himself go. We had been telling him in those last few days, in his few lucid moments of a morphine haze, that it was okay for him to go. He fought and struggled to stay alive, but just couldn't do it.

I'll never forget that day. It was April and the dark, blue-gray clouds were a sure sign that a blue norther was blowing through. It was rainy, cold, and windy as I walked back to the hospital parking lot after all the arrangements had been made. The rain drops were the sharp, icy ones that sting the skin. I remember the taste of the salty mix of tears and rain on my lips.

I was 21 years old when he died. I often wonder if I would be different were he still alive, if my life would be different. He was a good man and a good father. He died too young, much too young.

I miss him.

Remembering my Dad
Around 1932...

Remembering my Dad
In the Italian Alps around 1945, on shore leave from his Navy ship...

Remembering my Dad
In 1951...

Friday, June 13, 2008

The project

Now that the project is out of the ground (all of the underground drainage, electrical, irrigation, and foundation work is complete), I will probably be posting more photos and such.

The timbers are on site as of yesterday. My guys were sanding furiously until it started raining. There is an entire contingent of day laborers from Guatemala here. They are mostly legal, with legit green cards. They come for six months out of the year and work and work and then go back home.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard Augusto and Luis speaking una idioma diferente. It reminded me of Quechua - which is a native tongue in the Andes. It was kind of lilting with an air of Portugese inflection.

It turns out they are Maya Indians.

Small world. From building ancient stone pyramids to building a loggia in Gawuhjuh.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Over hill and dale to fetch two and a half tons of wood

[Yes, I have gigantic calves that put Popeye's to shame...]

This what 5,000 lbs of douglas fir looks like. I am standing on 10x10 posts, with 6x10 beams underneath on the left, and 4x4 rafters on the right. This is for the timber framed loggia on my current project. The sixteen tons of Pennsylvania Bluestone has been delayed about a week. My back can't wait until the stone arrives.

Today I made the drive up to a sawmill in Tellico Plains, Tennessee - twelve hours total - beautiful country, but a grueling long drive. I always try to cut out the middlemen in transactions like this - saving the client about four grand in this instance. Plus about $1,500 savings by picking it up myself, versus having a trucking company (mis)handle it. I couldn't trust a trucking company to load/haul/deliver the wood without banging it up.

The goal is for the finished product to look something like this - in terms of the smooth, sanded texture and finish of the wood.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Tango in Film :: Random Hearts :: Adultery by Tango

Sydney Pollack's 1999 film "Random Hearts" starring Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas has a tango component that I didn't recall from the first time I saw it. The movie was on the tube upstairs and then I heard tango music, so naturally I had to run up and see. The two characters' spouses were having an affair with each other and died together in a plane crash.

In the course of trying to figure out how long it had been going on and what they were up to, the two surviving spouses figured out that the two lovers were traveling to Miami on a regular basis to dance tango. The scene showed a public outdoor milonga with good/normal social dancing. This is one of the best portrayals in film I have seen, as a matter of fact. The only issue is the context in which it was presented - two adulterous lovers stealing away to secretly dance steamy, sultry, sensual, sexy Argentine tango in each other's arms.

Good, but not great, as far as the sociological portrayal of tango to the masses.

It also makes me wonder how many people out there in the world might be dancing tango unbeknownst to their spouse. Adultery by tango?

I am King. I shall lead.

This line is from the 1999 movie "Anna and the King" starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fat. The King asks Anna to dance a waltz and she nervously says that she hasn't done this in a while and wouldn't want for them to end up in a heap on the floor. To which he replies regally, "I am King. I shall lead." It's one of the many, many great small parts of a great movie.

It is set in Siam (Thailand) during British colonial influence - roughly in the 1860's. It's very poignant for today's times - with American warships cruising the coast of Myanmar (Burma) wanting to lend and deliver humanitarian aid. I can put myself in their shoes and have an issue with this - given our propensity for democracy by force.

It makes one long for another time in the world.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Kiss of Fire :: New Orleans Tango Event

Originally uploaded by Carl Winans

A mini-festival is upcoming at the Royal Sonesta Hotel and the Napoleon House in the French Quarter. Murat & Michelle are featured. It's July 11-13. Come join our Southern brethren for some tango!

Kiss of Fire Website & Info

New Orleans is probably the closest city to Buenos Aires, architecturally and culturally speaking. It was founded in the early 1700's by the French. It's the home of amazing Creole and French colonial architecture, the French Quarter, Jackson Square, the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, street cars on St. Charles Street, casinos, riverboats, beignets and cafe au lait with chickory at the Cafe du Monde, and their famous and unbelievable Cajun French cuisine. Don't forget that I was born in Lafayette, and lived as a little kid in 'Nawlins.

From Psyche :: The Inner Game of Tango

Here's a great post from Psyche over at "Tango with Wings"...too good not to be shared and referenced...

When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as 'rootless and stemless'. We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don't condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.

Similarly, the errors we make can be seen as an important part of the developing process. In its process of developing, our tennis game gains a great deal from errors. Even slumps are part of the process. They are not 'bad' events, but they seem to endure endlessly as long as we call them bad and identify with them.

The Inner Game of Tennis, W. Timothy Gallwey

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Heaven - Los Lonely Boys

Crushing Heartache

In the span of twelve hours...

Pure Love

When you are touched by pure love, it can be overwhelming. It can stop you in your tracks and perhaps even bring you to your knees. I won't delve into the details, because they are personal/family related. I just wanted to share this...that I touched pure love today, or it touched me. It's a beautiful thing. It makes one feel so very alive. Alive and well and full of hope.

I was actually thinking about this concept as it relates to tango about two weeks ago. You all should know by now that I have a special interest in the metaphysical aspects of tango - the "secret" of tango that everyone finds so elusive and difficult to explain. That quality of tango that addicts and obsesses us and makes us long for our next dance.

I have said before that I believe those rare and really special connections - the tangasm or the tango trance (whatever you prefer to call it) - that I believe it is when two energetic souls embrace. The energetic soul being the true you - the being within - not the physical/ego you. Your true essence.

Take that a bit further, beyond the energetic embrace itself, into the quality of what "it", this energy, actually "is".

I think it is pure, quintessential love.