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Friday, November 20, 2015

Money, money, money... it's a rich man's world...

Bjorn, Agnetha, Anni-Frid and Benny

Money, Money, Money is my ABBA favorite, though I liked all of their songs as did many. This  Swedish pop group was very popular in the '70s with their flashy clothes (like today's 'I can't believe they wore those clothes'), upbeat music and lyrics.

I work all night, I work all day
To pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad
And still there never seems to be
A single penny left for me
That's too bad
In my dreams I have a plan
If I got me a wealthy man
I wouldn't have to work at all
I'd fool around and have a ball
Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
Aha, aha
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world

This, a steal for only $159 million
I guess that pretty much explains why I can't afford the house of my dreams. 
The magic number for houses of the rich is now $100 million. And to think buying my first house for $14,500 was much more than I logically could afford... but I did it, then a few years later, made a killing when it sold for $14,900.
I have my eye on a nice little spec home in Los Angeles for $115 million, and I'm sure it's worth every penny. If things go right though, I can get it for $113.5 million, flip it and pocket the extra mill-and-a-half. Then I'll be a rich man too. Only problem.. I need $500 cash for earnest money to hold the deal til my financing comes through.
The $159 million bargain is in Hillsboro Beach, Florida and includes two 3,000 ft. guest quarters, an ice skating rink, a go-kart track, a private night club and a bowling alley. The house itself has $3 million-plus in gold leaf trim, six waterfalls--one 25 feet tall--a marble staircase, 11 bedrooms including a master suite with a heated plunge pool on the balcony, an 18-seat IMAX home theater, a 30-car subterranean garage, a wine cellar that will hold 3,000 bottles and a 1,300 gallon built-in aquarium. Builder's shrewd plan to cut back the expenses: two bathrooms. Smart.
Actually, I don't really want this house but I would like to build my $14,500 house right next door. In real estate you know, it's location, location, location.
Money, money, money... it's a rich man's world.

PS: ABBA also sung Dancing Queen, Take a Chance on Me, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Fernando, Honey, Honey, Name of the Game and Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! to name a few. And of course, their signature song, Mamma Mia, made into a long-running stage play and movie. Love 'em.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Singing to the deaf

Edie Jackson, music interpreter for the deaf

Edie Jackson does that.

Yes, deaf people do love music, they just hear it in a different way.

Thanks to Edie and others with her talents, this love of song is not exclusive to those who hear. Music is universal in appeal and where there is a will to 'hear,' there is a way.

Born blind and deaf, Helen Keller proved that many years ago. Wanna cry? Yes you do. See the moment she first understands here. It's worth the short detour. 

The Miracle Worker is the 1962 story of Anne Sullivan's struggle to teach young Helen Keller how to communicate. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke won Academy Awards for their brilliant performances.

Edie Jackson, when she isn't interpreting for the deaf at concerts, teaches the profoundly deaf and the hard of hearing and interprets for them on a one-on-one basis.

At concerts, she is either on stage or on a platform near the stage. She signs the lyrics and tries to convey the visual imagery in ways that the hearing would take for granted.

In a New York Times interview, Jackson says she "tries to rein it in since the show is about the musicians, not me. My dancing has purpose, though. The severely deaf patrons who are feeling the music may rely on me to show them what instrument is being played, the emotion and tempo and the highs and lows. I may let my fingers be the keyboard, my shoulder the bass, and so on.

"I learn the lyrics for all the music." She talks with the singers beforehand to be sure she conveys the right emotions but she also has to be ready for impromptu guitar riffs or singer's ad-libs. She interprets mostly for the band Widespread Panic but her highlight was at Jazz Fest 2012 in New Orleans "when Bruce Springsteen jumped onto my platform and danced and signed a bit of Dancing in the Dark with the other interpreter and me."  This is that moment.

"Concerts are so much more than words and melodies," she says. "Both deaf people and those who can hear go to socialize and enjoy the visual feast. Everyone has the right to music. I'm glad I can help."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Real true facts...

This is a triple overstatement. If it is real, it is true and it is a fact, no matter which order you put those words in. A real true editor would delete any two of the three.

However, that doesn't mean we don't know real true facts when we see them.

Real: Elephants can ride specially
built mountain bikes and this proves it.

True: The 9/11 terrorist attack was planned secretly by the Pentagon to give us a reason to go to war.

Fact: Aliens are for real and the government is concealing the evidence and we've all seen them.

Real: The Kennedy assassination was an inside job... and there was another shooter.

True--The United States allowed the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor because war would stimulate the economy and pull us out of depression woes.

Fact: There is no proof the earth is round and if it was, people would be falling off when they were upside down.

In Suspicious Minds,  new book by Rob Brotherton, he says we are biologically hardwired to find patterns in unrelated events. This is why more than half of us still believe the government is concealing facts about 9/11 and four out of ten think global warming is a political ploy.

"These conclusions," Brotherton says, are typically drawn from a hodgepodge of unverified photos and news reports and have only been amplified by the internet which helps connect people with similar mind-sets."

Blog disclaimer: All of the photos shown here have been verified  by me as authentic.
"When we are faced with events we cannot understand," the author continues, "it's natural for our brains to crate a narrative--even if it means 'casting the world in terms of us versus them' to potentially dangerous ends.

"Chances are," he says, you know some of those people. Chances are you are one." 

All I say is that one picture is worth a thousand words. THE CUBS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!

I think I have made my point.

PS for real: The most respected college professor I had, Dr. Paul Snider, told his fledgling journalism class that if any one of us EVER wrote "One picture is worth a thousand words," he would stamp our paper with his giant, red FE (Fact Error) stamp and we would fail the course. This one's for you Paul.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Two remarkable women you've never heard of

Gloria Tramontin Struck then and now... still ridin'
Remarkable Woman No. 1: This is Biker Babe Gloria Tramontin Struck, then... and now. She's still draws turns heads but for very different reasons.

Her father started a motorcycle business 100 years ago in New Jersey and Gloria was literally born in the business. But you couldn't get her to ride one. "I'm not going to do it," she said, "and you can't make me."

That is, not until she was 16. Now, at age 90, you can't get her to stop. At an age where most men are dead and most women require nursing care, she plans to ride cross-country as a 100th birthday gift to herself.

She has owned three Indians and 11 Harley-Davidsons and has been riding long distances to races and events all over the United States and Europe. She has ridden to the Sturgis Motorcycle rally in South Dakota from New Jersey every year since 2003 and is in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum's Hall of Fame. She still rides to the annual rally in Daytona as well.

Aside: I've been to Sturgis (pop. 6,627) during Bike Week and it is an event to behold. In 2015 the Rally attracted 739,000 enthusiasts with a remarkable SDDOT traffic count of over 1 million, mostly motorcycles. The event, though no church choir, is relatively peaceable, fascinating and welcomed, as is the revenue it brings to South Dakota. On the roads around Sturgis during Bike Week, motorcycles easily outnumber everything else on the road. You can read more about it here.

Gloria draws attention wherever she goes. On her latest Sturgis run, "I'm not exaggerating," she says. "Every time we stopped for gas, every time we stopped for something to eat, people were watching for us. One woman came up and said, 'Excuse me, is your name Gloria?' I said yes. She turned to her friends and yelled, 'Hey, It's her! It's her! It's Gloria!'

"We had three days to get to Sturgis--close to 1800 miles one way. We spent so much time talking to people and taking pictures with them, we had to ride 80 mph to catch up on time. And it happened all over again on the way back.

"When I'm 100 years old, I plan on riding across country on two wheels. I believe it'll be the first time anyone's done it--male or female. I'm very active and I love new challenges. I always tell people: Live your dreams."

I wouldn't bet against her doing it.

Remarkable Woman No. 2:

The best free-throw shooter in the world doesn't play in the NBA and is not a man. Today's best free-throw shooter is Elena Delle Donne, the 6-foot-5 star of the WNBA's Chicago Sky.

And she's more than that. She won the league's MVP award this season averaging 23.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and two blocked shots per game. Yeah, that's good.

Last season, Delle Donne sank 207 of her 218 free throws--95 percent. Over the last three seasons, including playoffs, she has made 94.1 percent of all her free throws. No one in the NBA or in college, male or female, does it better. (The NBA average for the last 20 years or so has been around 75 percent. Notable stars have fared far less. One of the greatest, Shaquille O'Neil, missed 3520 free throws in his career--about half of his attempts--and was so bad at it that the opposition would foul him on purpose to keep him from scoring. They called this defensive move 'Hack-a-Shaq.' It was so popular it became a crossword clue. And Shaq makes millions more than Elena.

When Delle Donne was 12, she hit two free throws to tie a game with 0.1 second left on the clock in the national Amateur Athletic Union baskeball championships. Her team went on to win that game and the national title. "In my mind nothing will be as bad as that," she said.

Under her dad's tutelage, when she was 6 or 7 she practiced on a lower basket to develop technique. And she learned quite well. Her free throw routine is to find the dot or nail that marks the middle of most free throw lanes. She lines her right foot up on that spot bounces the ball three times, places her index finger on the ball's air pinhole, bends her knees slightly and makes an L-shape with her shooting arm.

"From there I just lift and flick, and a little bit of ankle pop." SWISH! ... time after time after time.

The wonder is, why can't basketball players who earn millions and millions get better at something that is free and the second easiest shot in basketball? Ted St. Martin says anyone can do better. As a coach of the practice, he guarantees 90 percent. And he should know.

St. Martin, now 80, holds the world record for consecutive free-throws: 5,221 in a little over seven hours at the line! (Wow. In my freshman in high school basketball career as a bench sitter , I made one... and missed one, so I'm only 50 percent myself.)

So in theory, any good athlete can do lots of things with practice. Though I don't know about that. Ever watch the talented Charles Barkley hit a golf ball? Enjoy.