IF YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH, BE WARY OF EATING IN CHAMONIX…..THE BOILED HOT DOG CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

DAYS 36 and 37…..Greece the First Time

I am back!

It is a question mark each day whether I will return. I failed to bring my computer with me. I am at the whim of internet stores and friendly people. One thing I know for a fact. Everyone in Italy is using old and sick machines. Each day is a task and a surprise.

I have been sleeping in Courmayeur the last three nights. Driving back and forth to Chamonix each day. The Alps are always before me. From the moment I rise to the time I go to bed. They are there on the drive to Chamonix and back. The mountains dominate the scene.

I would be remiss if I failed to make some additional comments regarding Mont Blanc. Recall it is 11 peaks on top of an already big mountain.

Mont Blanc defies description. I guess that is why I am back trying to tell you more about it. Words do not adequately verbalize what the eyes see.

The mountain is high and tall. It stands defiantly. Speaks quietly. Says…..Don’t screw with me!

Impossible to see all 11 peaks at one time. Clouds up high. Block the view.

Trees cover the lower range of Mont Blanc. Pine. All the way up to a certain level. Then nothing but bare rock. Someone told me pines will not grow above 2,000 feet. The bare land is formidable. Then comes the peaks. Not just the very top. The top for a considerable distance downward.

When I arrived, some of the peaks had valleys of glaciers. Ice. One day later all the peaks were covered with snow. A significant dusting. Impressive.

Many waterfalls. They are streams running down the sides of the mountain. All over. Some a foot wide. Others up to 20 feet. Beautiful. They run in and out of the woods. You see it, then you do not. All of a sudden the stream reappears again.

The thinner streams were not running yesterday. They were frozen. Yesterday at this time (11 am) the temperature was 29 degrees F. At the same time 24 hours later it is 50 degrees F.

The waterfalls are attributable to two factors. The first is the melting glaciers. The other is that the mountain top is loaded with natural springs and wells. Below ground. They seep their way upward and add to the glacier spill off.

Yesterday morning, I had a unique experience. When I opened the door to the balcony starring at Mont Blanc, I saw a number of clouds. Some were below my eye level. Others at my eye level. Others above my eye level. All set against the green pines of Mont Blanc. A wow!

Last night when driving back to Courmayeur, I had another experience. Though one I have had before. Fog. Big time. There were occasions I could not see at all. Bad.

Moving on from Mont Blanc, let me share two food experiences I had yesterday.

The first was in Chamonix at lunch time. I went into a big restaurant at the main corners of Chamonix. Where all the world walks by. It was too cold to eat outside, however.

The menu was in total French. No English sub titles as I had become accustomed to elsewhere on this trip. I saw what appeared to be the word sausages. I have been eating many sausages this trip. All different. All good.

I ordered sausage. Pointed to it on the menu to the waitress. My mistake was not asking her to spell out exactly what I was ordering. Assuming she spoke English. I do not know. I found whereas many Greeks and Italians have at least a smattering of English, the French seem to be above a second language.

I was served two boiled hot dogs and french fries. Not big fat hot dogs. Not long ones. Two regular sized.

I looked at them for a few minutes. And then decided, oh well! My mistake. Eat them. I did not wish to be the ugly American.

I called the waitress over. Asked for ketchup and mustard. The least I could do was dress the meal up. She looked at me in shock. I knew what was coming…..We do not serve ketchup and mustard! We are French!

I quietly ate my boiled hot dogs and fries.

Dinner last night got screwed up, also. I was at what might best be described as a good neighborhood restaurant in Courmayeur. It had been so described to me. I was told to be sure to eat polenta. It is the favored dish in this Alpian village.

There were only six entrees on the menu. Each served with polenta. The only thing I recognized was chicken cachetore. I asked what polenta was. No screwing around this meal. Lunch had been bad enough bad enough.

The waiter provided a polenta description. It was crushed corn. All mashed together with what I could not understand. He told me it was everyone’s favorite. Had me look at the other tables. Each had a heaping large dish of yellow stuff on their table. He further told me Christopher Columbus introduced polenta into Italy. There was no corn in Europe prior to Columbus. He brought it to the old world from the new world.

I did not like the polenta. I was told to bury it in the tomato sauce. That is the way it is supposed to be eaten. I did. Better, but still not my dish.

The polenta alone cost me 12 euros. About $16 American money. Not worth it.

I am absolutely impressed with Italian roads and bridges. All appear in tip top shape. The Italians have also recently constructed a speed train from Milan to I know not where. A new road was built near the railway tracks. The road had to have 72 bridges. So the trains could pass underneath.

Italian roads and bridges are well maintained. There is a reason for it. At some point a law was passed that whoever built or constructed a road, received a contract to maintain the road for 30 years. The money for maintenance comes from tolls. The contractor charges the tolls. The contractor keeps the money and makes repairs as needed.

A good deal for the contractor! Positive cash flow!

The Italians using the roads are not very happy about the 30 year thing however. The tolls are expensive. My two hour drive from Novara to Courmayeur had cost me 25 euros one way. The Italians are an adept society. Their way around the burdensome toll is to drive back roads. They know all the bye ways.

I think the Italian way of building and maintaining roads and bridges is worthy of investigation. Gets the job done! The job we are not and have not been doing for years. Our roadways and bridges are a disgrace. Forget maintenance. A pot hole per family. The cost is not a tax to be imposed. It is paid daily by the users of the roads and bridges.

It is probably a screw job either way. However, worth exploring.

A few words about Chamonix. Lovely! Gorgeous! Exciting! People all over. Summer and winter. Great pedestrian walk ways. Terrific high scale stores. No tee shirt vendors. Very European. I sat several times having a coffee at an outdoor cafe and watched the world go by. It was the world. The whole world. Every nationality walking the streets.

I got to Chamonix through a tunnel. A nine mile tunnel. The Italians and French built it. Runs right under one of the Alp mountains. Cool!

Somewhere in the back of my mind comes a recollection of Mary Shelley and this area. I did not have the time to research it. Forgive me if I am wrong.

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein’s Wife. A best seller at the time. She lived in the Courmayeur area. Courmayeur provided the background for the book.

Recall that her story took place in a castle. Castles all over the place here. Recall also the fog. Fog frequent here. Recall further the fog I drove through last night. The fog was thick enough not only for Frankenstein, but also Dracula and Wolfman.

Later today, I am driving to the Portofino area. The Italian Riviera. A three hour drive.

I will be staying in Camogli, a town immediately next door to Portofino. Camogli a part of the Italian Riviera also.

The trip should be interesting. It is summer time and the area should be flourishing.

Enough for today. I am going to be thrown out this internet store. It closes from noon to 3 each day. In Chamonix, all the stores closed from 1 to 3. Siesta time.

Enjoy your day!

Florida’s Governor DeSantis maintains a fixed place in my mind. Incompetent. Grossly incompetent. Yet he still ranks high on the list of Republican Presidential candidates for 2024.

Vaccine distribution has been a disaster in Florida. Everything COVID has. DeSantis generally the blame. To place my observation in better perspective, Trump considers DeSantis the best Governor in the U.S.

Florida uses Publix as one of the places where vaccine shots can be received. Seventy thousand doses a week are delivered to Publix’s distribution center in Lakeland. From whence Publix distributes the vaccine to various Publix stores throughout the State.

This system has been ongoing for 5 weeks. Three hundred fifty thousand vaccine shots distributed thus far.

One problem. Officials do not know where the vaccine is delivered once in leaves Publix’s distribution center in Lakeland. Florida has not required any such information. Publix has provided none.

Not the way the distribution should be handled. Problems will reveal themselves at some point.

Publix was a major financial supporter of DeSantis.

The 70,000 vaccines received by Publix weekly represents 25 percent of Florida’s available doses.

Most Republican governors are not on the ball when it comes to the virus.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbot an example.

What he has done represents pure insanity.

Abbott announced yesterday that he was opening Texas as of next wednesday. One hundred percent. All businesses. Mask requirement will no longer be in force, also. He is reversing his own pandemic orders imposed several months ago..

Abbott has his reasons. Though not correct.

He claims Texas vaccination numbers are increasing. The State and people generally have more knowledge as to how to manage the spread of the virus. Hospitalization and positivity rates are decreasing.

Abbott’s representations much like Trump’s. Permeated with falsehoods.

Texas is not out of the woods. Masks still needed. COVID-19 continues to be widespread. Following Abbott’s address yesterday, the San Antonio mayor said in response there were still too many cases, Abbott’s decision was a mistake.

Texas likes to dance to its own tune. The recent grid power failure an example. Texas believes it knows better.

Here are the facts. Only 6.5 percent of Texans have been fully vaccinated. Herd immunity has not yet arrived. May never.

What follows is the best. A recent study of U.S. counties having the “worst” of virus conditions has been made public. The 20 worst counties the most interesting. Eleven of those counties are in Texas.

Additionally, not all health case workers have been vaccinated yet. People are told to sign up to get the vaccine shot. They are told no vaccine available when the time comes to receive their shots.

Biden will have to make a decision soon. To save the filibuster or pass his agenda. He cannot have both. The Republicans a long time ago forgot bipartisanship.

The stimulus package will pass. It is not subject to filibuster. However the voting rights bill will fail because it is so subject.

One or the other. Biden’s program will fail unless he gets rid of the filibuster. He will face problems with Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema who support filibuster.

Biden has his work cut out for him.

In the modern era, it is becoming more frequent for Presidents and former Presidents to be indicted. Israel’s Netanahyu is one.

Another France’s former President Sarkozy. He was charged with forming a “corruption pact.” Tried and convicted. Sentenced to 3 years in jail. Two years suspended. The Court not sure whether he will be jailed or serve home confinement for the third year.

In 2 weeks, Sarkozy faces his second criminal trial. The claim is he violated campaign financing rules in 2012.

Sarkozy’s third problem still under investigation. He remains under investigation for allegedly receiving millions of euros in campaign funds in 2007. From who? Mommar Gadafi.

Trump’s time is next. He has the Manhattan District Attorney investigating him for tax and bank fraud. The Futon County, Georgia District Attorney announced yesterday that she had convened a grand jury to investigate the telephone call between Trump and Georgia’s Secretary of State. Trump wanted the Secretary to find some 11,000 votes that Trump could say were wrongly counted and should have been in Trump’s column. The Secretary refused.

The telephone call was recorded.

Stormy days ahead. Black clouds are assembling.

Pope Francis continues to play out as the best of men.

It is Lent. Catholic Church members give up something. Could be candy, drinking, swearing, food, etc.

Francis says lets be more realistic this year. Give up something of more value. Like gossiping/speaking ill of others. Christians should stop spreading hearsay/false rumors. He also recommends the Bible be read with more frequency. In most instance, a start to reading it. Francis suggests only one verse a day. No big deal.

Great show last night! Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Outstanding topics. Everything meshed.

Enjoy your day!

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ AWAITS…..MONT BLANC, COURMAYEUR AND CHAMONIX

The wonderful world of Oz awaits.

Today covers Days 35 and 36. Courmayeur and Chamonix. Both sit in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Different. Exciting.

Courmayeur is the last community in northern Italy. Near the French border. On the french side is Chamonix. A 9 mile tunnel through Mont Blanc connects the two.

Courmayeur is an Alpine resort. On the sunny side of Mont Blanc. One of Chamonix’s distinctions is it sits near the junction of France, Italy and Switzerland. A skiing resort in the “French Alps.”

DAYS 35 and 36…..Greece the First Time

Posted on July 2, 2012 by Key West Lou

Between northern Italy and mid eastern France, computer/internet connections have been a disaster. I think it is because I am high up in the Alps. Whatever.

I could not blog yesterday. Today is a double header. Every word worth reading!

If I had been able to do the blog yesterday, my opening comment would have been…..The last 48 hours have been amazing! Absolutely amazing! Hard to believe!

Here it is…..48 hours ago I was in Athens, Greece. Yesterday Novara, Italy. Today Chamonix, France.

How about this…..Athens a boiling 90 degrees. Novara’s humidity a killer. It snowed last night in Chamonix and is presently 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

The trip caught up with me in Novara. The humidity unbearable. Italians have electrical power problems. Ergo, little air conditioning. I slept in Novara the one night with no air.

Fortunately, only one night in Novara. Then to Courmayeur. Courmayeur is the area in northern Italy immediately before France. I am staying a couple of nights in a Swiss chalet designed condo there.

The drive from Novara to Courmayeur took 2 hours. The speed limit was 85. I was the only one doing it. They were passing me at 125 miles per hour. Each time a car went by, I did not see it for long, but heard it loud and clear. A long swishing sound.

I stopped at a super market before going to the condominium. Needed breakfast goodies. The parking lot was an eye opener. The parking spaces were all half the size of those in the U.S. The cars small also. No big cars here. I was driving a Fiat. Stick shift.

Italians pay $12 a gallon for gas. They learned a long time ago to conserve. We have not when it comes to cars. I doubt the American public ever will. The desire is for big and more big.

Courmayeur looks like a Swiss movie. Makes sense. Switzerland is only one hour away. Old stone homes. Hundreds if not a thousand or more years old. Stone with wood trimming. The stone is gray, the wood brown.

There is a lot of renovating going on. Huge cranes all over the hill sides.

Courmayeur is in the Alps. So is Chamonix, France from where I am writing this blog. The Alps are big. No question about it. I had never seen anything so big anywhere. Majestic.

Mont Blanc is huge. As far as the eye can see in any direction. Higher than anything I have ever seen.

Mont Blanc is not one peak jetting upwards. It is a series of peaks. Eleven peaks sitting on top of an already high broad miles long mountain. The whole thing is called Mont Blanc. One of the peaks is specifically named Mont Blanc. The biggest of the big. Four thousand eight hundred ten m. I do not know what the m means. Suffice it to say, I have never seen anything bigger!

Mont Blanc is beautiful. Breathtaking.

The condo I am enjoying has two bedrooms. The building itself all stone. Two private balconies. Balconies and trim wood.

My intent was to drive to Chamonix the first evening and have dinner in France. Only a half hour away. I was too tired. It was bed for me.

Courmayeur is a valley. About two thirds the way up Mont Blanc. I was glad I had jeans. It is cold that far up.

Many power lines run along and on the mountains. Italy has a power shortage. France does not. France has nuclear reactors producing electric power. The Italians buy much of their electricity from France. At a premium price. The Italians voted at one time to ban nuclear reactors in Italy. A costly decision dollar wise. Whether health wise is another question. I make the observation because France and Italy are so close. Any French nuclear disaster would pour down on the Italians.

The drive from Novara to Courmayeur was interesting for a number of reasons. One had to do with castles. So many. Each built high on a hill. A small one. Apparently making it next to impossible for an enemy to scale the walls.

The castles were about a mile apart. I recalled that way back when there were many Italian kingdoms. Each with its own king. They warred constantly. It was easy. They were each a mile distant from each other. One hour’s walking time. Less on a horse.

Churches everywhere. Apparently each castle had its own church. The church was an integral part of each kingdom.

That is the end of Day 35. I had intended to go on to the next day. Day 36. A rendition of my first day in France. However, I am too tired. I apologize. The trip is starting to get to me. I will pick it up here tomorrow. You will love the glacier and snow stories, the dramatic drop in temperature, and the high quality of Italian roads and bridges. And more.

Enjoy your day! I am mine. I know this is the trip of a lifetime and one I will never do again.

The Wall Street Journal is a conservative publication. In the past 4 years, the Journal has basically supported Trump.

No more.

Trump spoke Sunday at the CPAC meeting in Orlando. Part of his self-serving speech was his claim that his 4 years as President were the best. Especially year 4 which he described as “fabulous.”

The Wall Street Journal disagreed. An Editorial piece yesterday titled The Grievances of Trump’s Past hit the nail on the head: “If 2020 was so fabulous, why are Republicans shut out of power up and down Pennsylvania Avenue?”

There is insanity on both sides of the aisle in Washington. One example is the Warren and Sanders proposed 3 percent tax on billionaires. In bill form labeled Ultra Millions Tax Act, they propose a 2 percent tax on the $50 million wealthy rising to 3 percent for billionaires over $$1 billion.

Where is the fairness? These people have already paid any taxes due in the years they received the monies. Isn’t what is proposed “double dipping?” Double taxation?

Seems UnAmerican.

Warren and Sanders believe their bill would “close the wealth gap” between the rich and poor.

If I was fortunate to have $50 million or $3 billion, I would take my money and body and move elsewhere.

Joe Manchin is playing “power politics.” The Democratic Senator from West Virginia knows he is one of the swing votes. With an equally divided Senate, the Democrats need his vote on most if not all measures. Our country will never correct itself  if Biden and team cannot get legislation passed which would get the U.S. over the many humps it faces.

Manchin has become a pompous obstructionist. He is nickel dining bills like the present stimulus one. He doesn’t care. He has his fortune. What of those that do not have a fortune to rely on and are having grave difficulties even putting food on the table.

Some of his muscle flexing hard ass tactics include his refusal to vote in support of getting rid of the filibusterer. Without it, Biden will fall far short of what he promised he could do and will do.

Even with the $1,400, Manchin is pushing Biden to give less.

He vocally opposes policy proposals from the progressive wing of his party, including Medicare For All.

One of the biggies today. Manchin is opposed to increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

On this day in 1990, 6,000 drivers went on strike against Greyhound Lines. An impasse was reached in negotiations following the calling of the strike. The union remained adamant. Greyhound fired all 6,000 workers.

Shades of Ronald Reagan and the air controllers a few years earlier.

On this day in 1899, The Court of Inquiry investigating the loss of the Battleship Maine met in the Key West Custom House.

Harry Truman was quick to recognize a good thing. Especially when it came to Key West. The President arrived this date in 1951 for a three week vacation at the Little White House.

Topsy turvy Syracuse basketball. Syracuse beat North Carolina 72-70 over the weekend.

Some sportswriters are now saying Syracuse is back on the bubble and might have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.

Tonight, tonight will be like every Tuesday night……My blog talk radio show. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Nine my time.

Great topics. Less fire and brimstone now that Trump is no longer President.

Join me for a quick moving half hour. Guaranteed you will enjoy. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

AN ANNIVERSARY…..SELF-QUARANTINED ONE YEAR TODAY

Some people celebrate marriages, some relationships, I celebrate today my first anniversary of being self-quarantined.

Exciting, I know. Written with tongue and cheek.

In any event, 365 days ago I went into the quarantine. I am close to being out of it. Received my first vaccine shot saturday. Second is scheduled for 3/27. As I understand it, then have to wait something like 3 weeks before I can go out.

My first stop a bar and a drink. Chart Room not open yet. Hope it will be by the time I am released. I need to be near people. See and talk with them.

Tammy is back in town. She was a bartender at the Chart Room. She was one of the first to get the virus. Bad. Took her quite a while to recover. Suspect she was depressed as a result. Her attitude when she recovered was she had to get out of Dodge.

She has returned! I understand she is tending bar outside at Ocean Key.

I arrived today 2012 in Novara. Greece behind me. Tomorrow I leave for Courmayeur and Chamonix. One in Italy, the other in France. Both sit at the base of Mont Blanc.

DAY 34…..Greece the First Time

Posted on June 30, 2012 by Key West Lou

I am back in Italy!

Flew to Milan and then was driven the one hour to Novara.

Humid here in Novara. Very. I can understand why Italians run off to the mountains and sea shore in the summer months. They have no air conditioning!

No air for two reasons. The cost of electricity is one. The other is that most of the buildings are so old it would either be too expensive or too difficult to air condition.

Which means I slept with my bedroom window wide open last night. I also had the benefit of two fans. Hopefully I will be on Mont Blanc this evening where humidity will not be a problem. I have been told the fireplace may have to be used. It is that cool in the evening. Makes sense. Mount Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps and Europe.

Flew Aegean Air again. A treat! Lovely young attendants, stewardesses, hostesses helping. A great meal. Only a two hour flight. Not much more to tell, except for my chat with two of the working ladies.

They are not called attendants or stewardesses. They are hostesses. The hostesses are all young.

I explained how it all works in the U.S. They could not believe men did their work and what they were called and who performed the work was an issue of gender discrimination.

As to age discrimination, they had never heard of such a thing. They were confident that no way would a mature woman be permitted to do their job.

A different country. Different thoughts and concepts. Interesting.

One thing did not change. Clotheslines and drying clothes. They were evident everywhere on my car ride to Novara. Just as in Greece.

I chatted with some friends last night in Novara. The issue? The euro. What else!

They find this present marriage of sorts between Germany and France strange. The two nations have been fighting for years. They were referring to wars. France generally got kicked good by the Germans. They were unable to understand how the French could now be a junior partner with Germany.

The Italians are really mad at the Greeks. With a fervor that did not exist three weeks ago when I left Italy. They feel the Greeks have spent Italian euro money and did it in a wasteful fashion. I find this amusing since Italy is third from the bottom in this euro crisis. It is just a question of time before Germany starts defecating on them.

I was early to bed. A tired day traveling.

Today Mont Blanc.

Enjoy your day!

Watched portions of CPAC yesterday. Anxious to hear Trump.

For whatever reason, he looked older and tired. His words the same. Bullshit and lies.

His audience loved him, however.

Ted Cruz spoke. I was shocked. He is losing it. He was a rambling mad man. If I did not know better, I would say he was on something.

He closed his demonstrative talk by turning sideways, throwing one arm and one leg out and quoting William Wallace. He shouted “freedom!”

I did not recall who William Wallace was. Took only a few internet minutes to refresh my memory. William Wallace was the hero of Braveheart. Rcall at the end, he was quartered, beheaded, and hanged. Not necessarily in that order.

As he was about to be hanged, Wallace shouted out: Freedom!

No question the Republicans are losing it. Especially the CPAC ones.

A straw poll was taken to determine preference for the Republican Presidential candidate in 2024.

Two straw polls. One with Trump. The other without.

The one with Trump had Trump leading with 55 percent. Second was the surprise. Florida’s Governor DeSantis with 21. A far third was North Dakota Governor Kristi Noem with 4 percent.

DeSantis shocked me! The most incompetent governor I have seen in my lifetime. He has danced to Trump’s tune throughout the pandemic. Trump says DeSantis is the finest governor in the U.S.

The second poll was without Trump. DeSantis came in first with 43 percent. Noem 11 percent, Donald Jr. 8 percent, Pompeo and Crux each 7 percent.

As Trump progressed in his talk, I could only think of Pinocchio. Donald’s nose got longer and longer. So long, its extent ran off the screen and could not be seen.

Glen Miller was a famous bandleader and composer. He died this day 1943 at the age of 44. A Captain in the Army, he was flying from England to France to arrange a performance for the American troops there.

Somewhere over the channel his plane went down. Neither plane nor its passengers were found.

Miller “did not make it” till he was 40. He spent his earlier years looking for a “sound.” He finally found it in 1939.

His “track record” outstanding. He was the Tiger Woods of his time. The Beatles had 33 top 10 hits, Elvis Presley 38. Glen Miller in 4 short years had 59 top ten hits, which included 17 which reached #1.

Miller’s “sound” included a combination of clarinet and saxaphones.

His hits included Midnight Serenade, Pennsylvania 6-5000, Chattanooga Choo Choo, and Little Brown Jug.

The Salem Witch Hunt clearly evidences the craziness of man. In this case the craziness of woman might be a better description.

The Witch Hunt began in 1692. Adult, teen age, and young females primarily who “knew” who the witches were and pointed them out to authorities. Nineteen men and women were executed. All by hanging, except for one who was crushed.

An Abraham Lincoln quote should be warning enough: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEGGERS OF ATHENS

DAY 33…..Greece the First Time

Posted on June 29, 2012 by Key West Lou

I saw something for the first time yesterday. Something never seen before by me.

Begging.

The real kind. Not a homeless person looking for a hand out on Duval. The homeless receive some degree of care in the U.S. A place to sleep at night, cots, showers, at least one good meal a day.

The beggars I viewed seemed to have nothing. They looked pathetic. Quite frankly, as a visitor to Athens I found it abhorrent that some social network was not available to help these persons. This is the same Greece that I spoke about on my international internet show several months ago. The Greece that was preparing to give life pensions to pedophiles. Life pensions instead of life prison terms. To child abusers. While those begging and with serious problems receive nothing.

What did I see?

I was walking on a main downtown street of Athens. Two blocks from the Greek Parliament. The street is only open to pedestrian traffic. No cars. Crowded.

There on the sidewalk was an elderly woman dressed in black. She was holding on to a small wheel chair. In the wheel chair was a 30ish man. His body distorted in every conceivable way. The woman holding one hand out.

A block away, I happened upon a young man sitting on the curb. His legs were extended in front of him. His left foot was twisted dramatically to the left. He sat with his hand extended.

Then there was the young mother holding what I assume was her young child. The baby was no more than 6 months old. The woman was dressed in black. She had the baby in one arm and her hand extended with the other. Her eyes followed me.

Children 4, 5 and 6 years old came up and put a hand out. In the hand, a rose. They say nothing. Just look at you with big sad eyes.

There was one begger I shall never forget. I think young. Could have been in his 30’s, however. Hard to tell. He had neither arms nor legs. His face was totally scared. Minimal hair. What there was was disheveled. I am not sure he could see. His eyes seemed to be fixed. No movement. In front of him a dish for those wishing to give.

He was propped up on the curb with some sort of home made wood apparatus.

There are those who say the beggers are thieves. Some probably so. Periodic news reports indicate such. Pick pockets the most prevalent.

No one bothers with these people. Including the authorities.

A shame.

I had an otherwise nice day. A manicure. The nails grow regardless of where you are. Drinks at the Plaka at cocktail time. My manager friend gave me a bowl of cut up fruit. On the house. Dinner was again on what is known as the poor side of Acropolis and the Parthenon. A different restaurant. A terrific meal. I needed protein. I ordered an overflowing dish of all kinds of grilled meats.

Did I think of those who had less? Who were required to beg to exist? Yes. Did I do anything about them? No.

Today, I leave Greece. I feel like I have been here forever. Time to go. I fly to Milan this evening. Tomorrow night I will be staying some where on Mount Blanc. I will also be having dinner in France tomorrow night.

It is a good life. Thank you, Lord. There but for the grace of God could have been me on the street begging earlier in the day.

The Hotel Grande Bretagne where I am staying has an historical background of note. Many events have happened at the Hotel over its roughly two hundred year existence.

Two that interested me.

I am a World War II history freak.

In October 1940, all guests were removed from the hotel. The government and headquarters of the British forces replaced them. It was World War II time. Then the Germans came. Their invasion was successful. The Nazi hierarchy took over the Hotel for their headquarters. Greece was liberated in October 1944. The Hotel became the seat of the new temporary Greek government.

Demonstrations occur.

Generally in the plaza across from the Hotel Grande Bretagne. The plaza is in front of Parliament. Thousands come out to protest. Last year a demonstration occurred. The people came across the street to the Hotel and ripped out the Hotel’s gigantic marble steps. As well as the marble steps in front of the other hotels on the same block.

Yesterday’s blog screwed up. Spelling, English, etc. The bottom third of the first part of the publication. Nothing I could do. As terrific as this hotel is, their computers are a generation ago. Slow and mistake inclined. Suddenly, I could not correct my mistakes nor the computer’s.

Terri White. A love of my life. Donna writes that Terri will be appearing in The Razzy Room of the Hotel Nikko in Los Angeles on July 10. A big deal! Go Terri!

I published another article on Amazon Kindle yesterday. Chevron Officials Banned From Leaving Brazil. Theme: Fool me once you may get away with it…..try to fool me a second time and you are in trouble.

That is it for today. The end of the Greek portion of my trip. Tonight back in Italy. Tomorrow night dinner in France.

Enjoy your day!

I got my vaccine shot yesterday. Finally!

I am not ashamed to advise I was thrilled. Mentally felt better.

The shots were being given at the Frederick Douglas Gym in Bahama Village.

I was impressed with way the whole thing was handled. Such efficiency! Everyone providing the shots pleasant and respectful.

Before I even entered through an outside door, I had to go past at least 6 workers. Each had a particular piece of information to verify. Each had my name and age on a list.

Inside a form to be completed. Simple. A 5 minute job. Then escorted down a long way to the gym. Tons of people in the gym. Tables and chairs situated everywhere. Except for the shot, when otherwise seated the 6 foot rule was followed.

Within 10 minutes of arriving, I was seated with a nursing student. Dressed in nurse attire. She explained everything and gave me my shot. Such politeness. If nervous, would put a person at ease.

I was now finished with the first 15 minutes. Fifteen more involved. I had to sit for 15 minutes to make sure there was no reaction. None and still none this morning.

Even the seating was organized. I received a paper saying 15 minutes and time I could leave. Had to return it. To make sure I did my 15 minutes for any reaction.

Done and out the door in 30 minutes.

What I had thought would be a disaster was not. I might add there were at least 100 persons in the gym at all times.

The only ID I had t show was my driver’s license. To identify me and my age.

I have appointment to return on March 27 at the same place and time for shot #2.

I received the Moderna vaccine.

The Republican Party was formally organized in 1854 in Wisconsin. It is time for a reorganization.

CPAC has been meeting in Orlando since Friday. Today their “star” speaks. Donald Trump.

It is a Trump crowd. Not all conservative thinkers. Purpose thus far to debunk the election and election process. Efforts being made on two fronts to change the election process to benefit Trump followers.

The first to reduce early voting days. Second, to limit access to voting by mail. It is assumed each will make it more difficult for Blacks to vote.

Today’s CPAC in reality represents a group of white men who recognize and fear Blacks who are increasing in numbers and will soon win elections on a frequent basis.

Interestingly, I heard on one of news shows yesterday that seven of the committee meetings concerned election issues. Not conservative ones as in previous years.

I am not a happy camper. Syracuse lost again yesterday. To Georgia Tech 84-77.

One sportscaster wrote this morning Syracuse was off the bubble. Meaning doubtful Syracuse will be invited to the NCAA tournament. One writer disagreed. Thought Syracuse would because it plays in one of the toughest leagues in college basketball. The writer thought the invitation list to the league would go 11 deep.

Enjoy your Sunday!

FROM ANCIENT AMORGOS TO THE GRANDEUR OF ATHENS

DAYS 31 and 32…..Greece the First Time

Posted on June 28, 2012 by Key West Lou

I am back! Missed a day. Yesterday. Big traveling day. 

I am sad to say I left Amorgos. It is like Key West in my feelings. Twenty five years ago on my first visit I knew some day I wanted to live in Key West. Amorgos leaves me with the same feeling. No way, however. Key West is home and I am happy there. 

I am in Athens. A big vibrant teeming city. After spending more than three weeks on three different Greek isles, I needed a return to the normal world. 

I am doing my two days in Athens big time. Staying at the world famous Grande Bretagne. It is civilization. Opulent. Service till you fall over it. Tons of fresh clean towels. A woman to give me a manicure. A real shower. Not one of those small confines with a hand held shower head. Big bed with a great mattress. Clean sheets every day. 

The modern conveniences! 

My last day on Amorgos was spent doing exactly what I liked. I sat in my bathing suit with my feet propped on another chair on my terrace. A baseball cap on my head backwards. And read. Except for an hour in the afternoon when I went in to take a nap. 

Dinner was with Demetrius. He made a fuss. I told him…..I shall return! 

Yesterday was a new experience. My 9 hour boat trip to Athens. I was not excited. The starting time was too early. The length off the trip too long. I expected an old beat up trawler with a handful of people. 

What a surprise! The boat was fantastic! 

Big. Three stories. Long. A ferry boat in effect. The first floor for cars. Don’t know why. There are not that many cars in the Greek isles to fill the mammoth space. Two floors for passengers. Roughly 400. The second floor all economy class. The third, half economy and first class. The other half business class. 

I was in business class. Explanation time. Classes when traveling are not the same as in the U.S. Whereas first class is tops, in Greece business class is. The Greek first class is comparable to our business class. 

You would not believe the business class salon. Easy chairs and sofas. That’s all to sit on. Pure comfort. Always a table nearby for a drink or whatever. Service. Waiters. A small bar with little goodies to eat. Only half full. 

The trip was a treat! Rather than the dreaded experience I thought was before me

The long boat trip gave me a chance to see many of the Greek isles. We were in and out of about 10 of them picking up passengers. 

Politics could not be avoided. I was speaking with some Italian and Greek passengers. Fortunately, all spoke English. 

Italian former Prime Minister Berlusconi is on his way back. He beat a sex charge involving a seventeen year old and won some sort of local election soon thereafter. Berlusconi is running again for the Prime Minister’s job. The election is next year. 

Of the roughly 17 European nations making up the euro bunch, Italy is in the third worst shape. Only Spain and Greece are behind. Greece is last. Berlusconi has started blaming the Greeks for everything. He is siding with the Germans. The Greeks screwed up is his position. 

I shuddered. History repeats itself. The scenario reminded me of the late 1930s when Mussolini joined with Hitler. 

I further thought how dumb! Didn’t this guy realize that Italy will be one of the next. Sucking up will not avoid the grasp of the bill collecting Germans. 

An example of how heated the conversation got was the boat we were on and ATM machines. The boat was built/bought 10 years ago with euro dollars. The Italian said that euro nation dollars had built the boat. Not Greece’s money. Further, he said that money the Greeks were taking out of ATM machines was made up of Italian and euro nation dollars. In effect, the Greeks were free loading…..all the way around. 

I fear worse is yet to come. 

Last night was a replay. Went to Plaka. To the same outdoor cafe I drank at several times three weeks ago. The manager saw me and shouted out…..Louis! He embraced me.

I had dinner on the poor side of Acropolis. At the restaurant where the Greeks dance. Under brightly lite Acropolis. Only one problem. Business was poor last night. Only three tables in use. No music. The food compensated. I had huge grilled lamb chops. The kind with fat. The taste spectacular! 

Before leaving for dinner, I went to the bar and put down two gins. A magnificent big city type bar. Just like New York City. Then it was downstairs for a manicure. 

Chrysa did me. A lovely young lady. Did a good job. We chatted. She was born and raised in Greece. Has a friend in New Jersey. She visits the friend on occasion. She thinks she may be visiting the last week of November and the first week of December. They are planning on driving to Florida. I asked…..South Beach and Key West? I do not think she understood these places. Her answer was Orlando. I told her we all love Mickey Mouse and she should go. But afterwards keep going south till you hit South Beach and then Key West. 

I know Chrysa will be reading this blog today. Come to Key West! When you arrive, go to the Chart Room at the Pier House Hotel. I am there most evenings at cocktail hour. If not, tell the bartender who you are and how I may contact you. Do not miss South Beach and Key West! 

I had a quick breakfast of nothing this morning. A double espresso. It was like drinking acid! 

Enjoy your day! 

A couple of items that come to mind which are not in the blog.

The magnificence of the Grand Bretagne I have already shared. Greece’s economic condition, also. The economy affected my stay at the Gran Bretagne.

The hotel was empty. I did not know it at the time.

I had no reservation. Walked up to the counter and explained I had just spent a month on Amorgos and wanted to spend a few days in their hotel. I explained I needed a return to civilization!

What a deal it turned out to be!

I had a huge magnificent room, bathroom and terrace. All for $172 a night.

I was placed on the valet floor. Did not understand what it meant till I reached my room. The floor had a valet. Tails and all. He was to provide all services.

Nice guy. He explained I was the only customer on the valet floor. Ergo, I was all his during my stay. He unpacked my bags. Packed them when I was to leave. He said anything and everything you want, call me. I did. I was cared for like a King.

Lamb is a big dish in Greece. What is on the menu, what you order, is not lamb. Generally, goat. The islands definitely goat. Big time hotels and restaurants in Athens I assume lamb. Smaller places goat.

Don’t say ugh at the mention of goat. Tastes like lamb. You cannot tell the difference.

Goat is especially served on the islands because it is plentiful. You frequently see herds of wild goats running across a mountain side.

I am excited! Extremely so! I am finally to get the vaccine shot. Tomorrow at the Frederick Douglas Gym in Key West.

The news a relief. My 85 year old age is constantly in the forefront of my mind. I should have been one of the first in line. At the moment, they are down to age 55 receiving the shot. What happened to me? I’ll never know and don’t care. That I am to finally receive the shot tomorrow is what is important.

Coronavirus is what? A year old. New things happening daily. Problems. Solutions.

One of the recent occurrences involves a baby born in Washington, D.C. in September. The baby was born with the virus. More dramatic and worse, the baby had 51,000 of some bad thing in his body. The 51,000 number far higher than those in other young patients.

No one knows why.

The baby was “very sick.” Responded well to treatments, however and is virus free today. Doctors believe the infection was from a  coronavirus variant.

The baby was “lucky.” The young barely show symptoms.

We are all familiar with the saying when it rains, it pours. Somewhat like Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

I refer to Boeing. “Poor Boeing.” However the poor is not really applicable. Boeing has a glitch or two in its manufacturing process. People die when something goes wrong with a plane.

I mention Boeing this morning because a Boeing 777 made an emergency landing yesterday in Moscow after receiving an engine sensor warning.

A safe emergency landing was made. No injuries. No visible damage to the plane.

This is Boeing’s third engine problem this week. Another  777 engine problem and a 737 one.

Something’s wrong in the plant. Boeing better figure it out. And soon! Otherwise no one will fly their planes.

There will be no blog tomorrow. My time will be absorbed with the shot.

Enjoy your day!

CHILDREN STARVING WHILE CATHOLIC CHURCH MORE CONCERNED WITH REVERSING 48 YEAR OLD ROE v. WADE

In 2018 before COVID-19 struck, 1 in 6 American children lived in poverty. The number 11.9 million.

Today the number much higher. A moral outrage.

Let me put this in perspective.

The Catholic Church’s pro-life stance the issue in today’s blog..

Are we more concerned with children in the womb that we forget them as soon as they are born? Being pro-life must include concern for children after they are born as well as for those in uteros.

The Catholic Church has been fighting for the reversal of Roe v. Wade since it was decided in 1973. Billions have been spent.

The cry of the Church is minimal for childen who live in poverty. Pope Francis considers them a crisis situation. The split Catholic Church apparently does not.

When I refer to the Catholic Church, my comments are primarily directed to the U.S. Conference of Bishops. They are opposed to Francis on most issues.

My admonition is they fight for that which they believe, forgetting not the children already born. The philosophy involved simple. Everyone must eat!

Pierre Auguste Renoir was born this day in 1841.

He was part of the original group of painters that became known as Impressionists. Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, and Pissaro. Close in age, they were all friends They spent many times together enjoying food and drink while discussing impressionistic painting.

Renoir was modest about his work: “What are paintings for, after all?” He answered his own question: “To decorate walls.” Not a big deal from his perspective.

His thought process re whether he was a great artist included also: “I am not syphilitic, homosexual or insane.”

Renoir was in his 50’s when he developed painful rheumatoid arthritis. His hands progressively deformed. His right shoulder a problem also. A stiffness. His malady so bad he could not even pick up a brush.

To continue painting, his wife or a model would carefully place a brush into his clenched hand. His hand was then wrapped with soft cloth to prevent sores.

Renoir’s best works were done in his later years when he was forced to paint as indicated. His work in those years involved vibrant colors and exuded positive energy.

One of Renoir’s intimate friends at the turn of the century (1900) was Louis Valtat. In 1905, Renoir did an original lithograph of Valtat. An image of him sitting comfortably in a relaxed pose in a chair. The image is 11 1/2 x 9.1 inches. Signed in stone in the lower right corner.

Nine hundred fifty lithographs were made from the original.

Some 45-50 years ago, I purchased one of those lithographs. I was told at the time that only 5 still existed.

I have never sold “my Renoir” as I like to describe it.

Thirty years ago, I was wandering the Impressionistic wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There on the wall in front of me was “my Renoir.” One of the 5 purportedly remaining.

I was thrilled!

As mentioned earlier, Pissaro and Renoir were friends. Pissaro was part of the young impressionistic painters mentioned. I have a Pissaro oil. Don’t be impressed. It is small. Something like 3 x 5 inches.

I wanted to be an artist. Studied part time for 2 years. Realized I did not have the talent. Ergo, became a collector.

My thought is Trump believed he could buy people. Especially judges. So went crazy appointing them to the Supreme Court and lower federal courts.

He never thought nor understood that some people cannot be bought.

Regarding the ballot fraud issue, 62 cases were brought in lower courts. Trump lost 61 of them. He also lost the “big one” when it came to the Supreme Court.

Harry Truman loved Key West and Key West loves Harry Truman.

Truman made 11 trips to Key West. The trips totaled 175 days.

Trump arrived in Key West this day in 1948. He was returning from Guantanamo. He stopped to “rest for 8 days.”

No Greece blog today. Days 31 and 32 got screwed up when I did them. Something was wrong in Athens at the time. I need Sloan to “fix” my problem. Hopefully she can get to it this evening.

Enjoy your day!

 

LEAVE AMORGOS FOR ATHENS 6 AM TOMORROW…..NINE HOUR TRIP

DAY 30…..Greece the First Time

Posted on June 26, 2012 by Key West Lou

An interesting experience this morning.

I was sitting on the terrace reading. It was very early. The sun had just risen.

I assumed the rest of Amorgos was still sleeping. It was. Except for one elderly Greek woman.

She came walking by. Wrinkled face. White hair. Tanned. Dressed in black dress and stockings.

She stopped and talked with me. She spoke smilingly and occasionally excitedly. In Greek, of course.

I sat there smiling at her. Nodding my head in agreement on occasion.

I never spoke a word. Nor did I understand the Greek she was throwing at me.

At the end of whatever she was telling me, she gave me a big smile and walked away.

Notice how well I speak Greek!

Yesterday, I walked. Once more to the other side of the bay. About 2 miles. My gait and wind are much better. I was moving along.

I lunched at an outdoor cafe overlooking the harbor. A spectacular view. All views are spectacular here in the Greek isles.

I ate at Demetrius’ again last night. Why not. The food is outstanding.

Demetrius’ place is nothing appearance wise. An old old small building with a beat up awning outside. Maybe a dozen small tables. Tables, chairs and silverware not matching.

The place is packed every evening by 9.

Last night, I had ceci peas. Soft. Covered in a tomato/oil sauce. With De Vito type bread on the side to clean the plate.

My entre was a chunk of lamb and boiled potatoes covered in a similar sauce as the ceci peas. I was told the lamb was local. I suspect the poor animal had been killed within 24 hours of it showing up on the plate before me.

The lamb melted in my mouth.

I showed up for dinner at 9. Finished at 11. The Greeks eat slowly.
Then to bed.

Tonight is my last in Amorgos. I will have been here a week. I leave tomorrow for 2 days in Athens. I am returning to Athens to do some things I did not when last I was there 3 weeks ago.

I shall miss Amorgos.

Permit me to share some random observations with you about this island.

I suggested this past week that Amorgos probably had 2,000 residents. I was close. 1,859. On an island more than 50 miles long.

Amorgos is as it was 200 years ago. Perhaps even before.

The houses are concrete. All white. Each more than 200 years old. High ceilings. Irregular walls.

The people are 80 to 100 years ago. Throwbacks from another time. Simple people. Good people.

There are few cars on Amorgos. Two means of transportation exist. Your feet and three wheeled bicycles. Three wheelers all over the place with big baskets on the back.

The men generally 50 plus. Many 70 plus. Paunchy. White haired. Dress in black. The women the same. For whatever reason, the women’s faces are especially wrinkled.

The reason both sexes dress in black is that it supposedly is cooler than wearing a lighter color.

Honesty prevails! Eleni and I discovered each other when first I arrived. I had one big bag. She insisted on rolling it along. Not far. She stopped in front of a building. Note we are standing on the harbor front. Busiest place on the island. She told me to follow her. But she left my bag alone. What about my bag? Don’t worry, she said. No one will steal it.

Her husband drives a three wheel bike. He parks it outside at night on the concrete walkway in front of his building. A public thoroughfare. No lock. Any one could ride it away. No one does.

My apartment sits on the bay of Amorgos. I see the boats come in and go out. Not that many. There are no big boats per se. Some evenings, 2-3 big sailboats. People put in for the night. Otherwise, the boats moored or otherwise tied up in the water are small.

Really small.

The predominant vessel is a row boat. Yes, these fisherman go out into the sea to catch their ware in row boats. If you think about it, it is not so strange. In Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, the fisherman was out on the ocean in a row boat the whole story.

There are some ancient type boats, also. A couple of feet longer than a row boat. A rudder in the back.

The boats are evidence of my representation that Amorgos is significantly behind the times.

Few tourists. The island is off the beaten track. Only two ferry boats a week. I think Amorgos is absolutely fantastic! And cheap! Everything costs nothing. A person could easily live here on a Social Security check. And still have money left over!

The tourists are from all over the world. They all come for the same reasons. Peace, solitude and the cheap cost.

The locals are a happy group. Difficult to know at first. They are wary of strangers. But in less than a week, I became a welcomed guest on their island.

There are young people. However, not that many. The proof of the pudding. There is only one disco on the island. The younger people probably leave Amorgos for bigger and better things when they come of age. I hope some of them return in due course. Everything they will be looking for in later life is already here.

Internet and wi fi service comes and goes. Every restaurant and hotel claims they have it. Impossible to find! You become adjusted. Take it in stride. Eventually it returns.

Fresh fruit a delight! An example is a gift Eleni’s husband gave me. He has a garden next to my building. It runs three stories up a little hill. Everything runs upward on Amorgos. He has an apricot tree. One day, he brought me a bowl full of apricots. They were small and ripe. Delicious. Made my mouth water.

As else where in Greece, clothes lines everywhere. Front porches, sides of buildings, where ever. Even I have a clothesline. At the far end of my terrace. For my sole use. I have used it.

I leave tomorrow at 6 in the morning. I have no choice. The two boats a week in and out both leave at 6. It is a 9 hour trip to Athens. Going to be fun. Not really. However, I am going business class and am told it will make the trip considerably easier.

Due to the time constraints tomorrow, I may not be able to do the blog. We shall see.

I have experienced four Greek places this trip. A brief evaluation is in order.

Athens I liked. It is a big city like New York. Excitement everywhere. The reason I am returning for two days more.

The best viewwise was Santorini. Spectacular. I sat with God. The food was not that good, however. Santorini is in transit. It is going from a small unknown island to a major tourist attraction. It is closer to being a major tourist attraction.

Mykonos I did not like at all. It is a tourist trap. It sells yesterday to people who want that life style. I have no desire to return to Mykonos.

Overall, Amorgos is the winner. The view is good. Plus the island has a great package otherwise. Quiet. Solitude. Good food. Nice people. The opportunity to travel at your own pace.

That’s it. The next time you hear from me will be from Athens.

Enjoy your day!

An extremely sad day yesterday. Tiger Woods in an automobile accident in California. One car accident. Tiger driving. No other person injured.

From the looks of the car, Tiger is lucky to be alive. The whole front end appears to have been pushed up to the front portion of the body of the car.

Tiger sustained “significant orthopedic injuries to his right lower extremity….. “open fractures.” A rod placed in his tibia, screws and pins in his foot while he was undergoing “emergency surgery.”

He was responsive last night and this morning.

Enough for the technical aspects.

I was blown away. Spent a considerable portion of the day listening to the news reports and shedding a tear on occasion A few times more than a tear.

Tiger has had his ups and downs in life. Whatever his failings, he overcame them. His career has had its up and downs. He came back. Went through multiple surgeries, especially to his back.

Tiger represents America. He is the best part of America. Respected by most. An icon in his lifetime.

I suspect his career is over. He is in his early 40s. Golfers will tell you the legs are the most important part of the body when playing golf. He will recover. Fully in all likelihood. However time to get off the achievement ladder and begin smelling the roses all of  the time.

He has succeeded professionally and personally. A new life awaits him.

When I was not glued to the TV watching Tiger, I was at the Senate Committee hearing re January 6.

Most of the Republican members an absolute disgrace. Still following Trump. Their Lord and Master. Their Pied Piper.

They were a shame. The Republicans tried to whitewash the day. Continued to drive in the theory that the 6th was a coordinated attack. Planned of course by the Democrats.

Senator Johnson continues to be one who follows Trump’s dictates.

The Federalist Society in a recent Federalist article raised unproven claims. Johnson spent all his time, except for one 5 minute interval, reading word for word from the report. Like The Federalist was the Bible.

The article referred to the Democratic terrorists as “provocateurs.” Claimed they were “fake protesters.”

In short, the terrorists were planned demonstrators who in reality were Democrats.

Senator Hawly made me sick. He is the man who advised the nation on January 5 that he was with the demonstrators. Encouraged them as Trump would to do their thing. He is also the Senator who on January 6 was filmed walking up the Capitol steps with the demonstrators behind him. He stopped and turned around facing them. With a glowing smile, he gave them a thump up.

He was part of the whitewashing team yesterday.

Cruz continues to dig a whole for himself. Some things just cannot be explained away. A trip to Cancun’s Ritz-Carlton because his wife said their home was freezing. Leaving his constituents at home freezing.

He added to the fire yesterday. The fire that is slowly but surely engulfing him. He said his wife  Heidi was “pissed” because apparently one of their neighbors had advised the media they wee off to Cancun.

Heidi tweeted her neighbors telling them to join the Cruzs on the trip to Cancun. None accepted. However one did provide the media with a copy of the tweet.

Cruz referred to the yet unknown neighbor as an “a-hole.” He should have spelled it out. Asshole!

It was reported yesterday that a Jared Kushner property was in foreclosure.  The technical owner is Kushner and Cos. of which Jared is a part.

Wells Fargo is foreclosing on them.

The building is located at 229 West 43 Street. Formerly the home of the New York Times. The property was appraised for $470 million in 2016. Some big time tenants moved out. The property was reappraised in 2019 for $92.5 million. The Kushners were unable to make interest payments and such resulted in the foreclosure action.

I thought I understood big money. This is beyond me. Jared going into foreclosure for millions of dollars. At the same time, it has been reported in the past 2 months that he and Ivanka purchased an empty lot in Billionaire Bunker near Miami for $31 million. While waiting for the home to be constructed, Jared and family are renting in one of the most expensive condominium buildings in Miami. Some thing like $37,000 or $47,000 a month. Unfurnished. On top of which, it recently was announced that Jared and Ivanka had jointly earned $120,000 in 2020.

The world of high finance is sometimes difficult to grasp.

The vaccine still a problem as regards distribution. Biden’s people announced that the age required for the shots was being dropped this friday to 55. I am 85 and still waiting! Additionally, 240 million doses will be available in March.

All sounds good. I believe Biden when he says 240 million doses will be available. My problem is why am I not getting my shot. I qualified when the cut off was 85. When lowered to 75 and 65 continued tobe qualified. Now going to 55.

The Citizens’ Voice had an interesting comment this morning re getting the vaccine shot: “Under 65? No problem. A snowbird with a home, no problem. A permanent Florida resident older than 65 with health issues, get in line and wait. The vaccine system is really rigged. And all the while doses for health care workers may or may not be used, since they can have it, but don’t have to.”

Bring back May Johnson!

In the meantime, it appears William Hackley has made a step up in life. His mornings up to this past week had him taking a “bath.”

Now he refers to his morning cleansing as a “shower bath.”

It appears Hackley has gone 1897 Key West modern. He now has a shower!

My Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou blog talk radio show last night. With all humility, I must advise I think it was one of the best I have done. If you missed it, the show is archived and will be easy to find.

Enjoy your day!

THE MONASTERY HOZOVIOTISSA

DAY 29…..Greece the First Time

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Key West Lou

Nearer my God to Thee!

I was there. I was close. I visited the monastery on Amorgos yesterday. Way up in the sky sitting on the side of a very high cliff.

Some pertinent background information first. Then my personal experience.

The Monastery is also called the Monastery of Hozoviotissa. Do not ask what it means. I do not know. Could not ascertain. It has something to do with the Virgin Mary, however.

There was an Emperor Alexius back in the 11th century. Whether he was emperor of only Amorgos or more, I do not know. As the story goes, a mysterious icon of the Virgin Mary arrived on the beach below the cliff. No one knew nor could discover where it came from.

Emperor Alexius concluded it had been Divinely sent to him. He decided to build a shrine on the spot to honor the Virgin.

The spot could not be the beach. A house cannot be built on sand. There was only the beach and a cliff. The cliff towered. Straight up. Three thousand feet or better. Alexius decided the shrine should be built on the side of the cliff. The cliff that was sheer and high.

He ended up building a monastery to house the Virgin icon. The Monastery constructed is 8 stories tall. For real. Built a couple of thousand feet up the side of a sheer wall of stone. The Monastery itself is constructed of stone, marble and whatever concrete was back then.

Now to put everything in perspective. Louis’ journey and visit to the Monastery.

My first step was to take a bus. To Chora. The old part of town I visited a couple of days ago. The road to Chora is basically straight up a high mountain. The Chora area continues straight up. Evverything here is up, up and more up!

Fortunately, the bus dropped me off near the top side of the Chora. Then it was a long walk to the gate to the Monastery. Up hill, of course.

The gate did not mean I was there. It was merely an entrance.

The next step (a good word to use) in the process was to climb the steps to the Monastery. Note, I am walking up the side of a sheer cliff.

There are 300 steps. They twist a bit. Always up. Never down. Not even once.

The steps are not of normal construction. Their height varied little. Their width and length very much. Like 5-10 feet.

The steps were constructed of stone. A slate type. I do not know if they are the original steps from the 11th century or have been replaced. The stones/slates were worn. A few missing here and there.

Basically, the steps had the side of the cliff on one side and a drop off the cliff on the other.

The Monastery was at the other end of the 300 steps. Almost straight up. I keep stressing the straight. Simply because it was that way. I would estimate the steps were at a 75 degree angle or better. That is straight up!

You will recall, I failed to make it to the top of the volcano. I was not gung ho to make it to the top here. If I did, good. If not, it would have been a valiant effort. I would give it a try!

I made it to the top. To the Monastery. It took a while. Quite a while. I stopped about a dozen times. Sat a while on a step. The stress on my body did not seem as bad as the volcano attempt.

I was thinking why was I making it now and could not with the volcano. I concluded because the volcano was early in my trip and a first attempt at something high and steep. Everything is upward bound in Greece. Hills and steps every where. I have been in Greece more than three weeks now. My body gotten a bit in shape and adapted to the terrain.

The end of the steps did not take me directly into the Monastery. There was still a long walk up a path to the Monastery door.

I was there!

Awesome is the only way to describe what I saw. A mammoth white building running to the sky. Recall, the building is described as eight stories tall. That is tall. Especially when you are standing at the foot of the structure.

The building was constructed on the side of a sheer cliff. I could not help but think sadly how many slaves were involved and how many died in erecting this shrine. I also thought the engineers and architects of the 11th century had to be brilliant to have constructed such a large edifice under extremely difficult conditions.

The front door. Small. Tiny. At best 5 feet in height. Maybe less. Three to three and a half feet in width. The only entrance. I had to bend over to enter.

I suspect the Monastery entrance was so constructed because people were shorter back then. Additionally, it was a good way to ward off invaders. Only one bad guy at a time could enter.

The first room on the other side of the entrance. The first thing I saw was a table with clothes. Women’s dresses, men’s pants, etc.

There is a strict dress code. No shorts on men. Women in dresses. Not even pants. Shoulders and beasts covered. If you are not so attired, the monks provide the appropriate clothing. I was glad I had been forewarned. I wore khakis. The clothes available at the monastery were filthy. Looked like they had not been washed in 50 years.

Awesome continued to be my impression as I walked through the rooms. Amazing what my eyes beheld.

Art work in each room. Fantastic art work! Paintings. Icons. The sanctuary where the Virgin Mary icon was shown defies description. That beautiful.

An eight story structure has many windows. The views from the windows magnificent! Open sea to the front. The beach below. All in glorious color. It was like almost being in Heaven and looking down.

There was a social aspect. A monk came out at the end of our visit. The only monk I had seen. The monks here take a vow never to speak or see outsiders the rest of their lives. This monk apparently had a dispensation.

We were seated in a long narrow room. There was a throne at one end. A long narrow beautiful wood table. A long couch with very comfortable cushions on each side.

The monk served us a sweet drink. A wine of some sort. And a sweet. A piece of candy covered with sugar. He spoke. Gave some sort of dissertation. Unfortunately, it was in Greek. I understood none of it.

The monk was interesting. He was tall and thin. Appeared aged. Had a very long beard. Like down to his chest. He was dressed in a blue flowing robe. A hat/head cover of the same color.

I found his hands and face skin interesting. Dirty. Perhaps he had come to see us directly from the fields. But there were no fields. We were attached to a cliff. Then, he did not bathe that often. It was the only viable conclusion I could come to.

Between the dirty clothes at the beginning for those not properly dressed and the monk’s lack of cleanliness, I assumed the axiom that cleanliness is next to Godliness did not apply at the Monastery.

I made a meager contribution to the Monastery as I left.

There was a guest book. I signed and dated it. I wanted the whole world to know I had made it. I also inscribed above my signature…..Just amazing!!!

The trip down was not so bad. I took my time so I would not fall.

The bus was at the end of the Chora waiting where we had been dropped off. It was back to Amorgos.

An interesting trip. I am glad I have been able to share it with you.

Enjoy your day!

The Supreme Court has allowed release of Trump’s tax returns and other financial documents.

Trump is irritated big time. Could be the ticket to jail for him.

If Trump was correct that the records are sacrosanct, it means a person could cheat on taxes and commit bank fraud without responsibility.

Not the way things are done in the U.S. We are a nation of laws. Everyone is required to abide by them. Even a President.

Another scandal is engulfing the Catholic Church. Nuns are being publicly accused of sexual abuse in the U.S.

BishopAccountability.org is the watchdog group. As of 2020, 162 women of religious orders have been publicly accused. Concededly, the number is small. Especially when compared to the number of priests who have been charged.

It is believed the number of nun abused children alone is in the thousands. There have been more than 6,700 credible abuse accusations against priests. Globally there are 200,000 more nuns than priests.

Yet the nun accusations remain small. In the past 2 years, only 60.

Those abused by nuns suffer decades of delayed healing. The Church has been protecting nuns far more than priests.  The goal now is to expose “women religious” abuse cases.

If the Church’s cooperation is similar to that which for years protected priests, it will take years to expose the nun cases.

Pedophilia is pedophilia. Whether committed by a priest or nun. Each leaves its mark on the victim. Generally for a life time.

COVID-19 deaths now exceed 500,000. Physicians and scientists warn the number of deaths will get worse before it gets better.

Syracuse continues its downward spiral. Played Duke over the weekend. A “must” win for Syracuse. Such did not occur. Syracuse lost 85-71.

Duke decimated Syracuse.

The game was important to Syracuse as it concerned whether Syracuse will be invited to the NCAA tournament. At the moment, I doubt Syracuse is even on the bubble.

Syracuse plays Georgia Tech this weekend. A Syracuse victory appears to be Syracuse’s last hope for consideration.

Today is tuesday. Means Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Tonight at 9 my time. A quick half hour. Guaranteed you will enjoy. Join me. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.

Enjoy your day!

AMAZING DISCOVERY…..GREEK AND ITALIAN BLOOD COMINGLED 700 B.C. TO 800 B.C.

DAY 28…..Greece the First Time

Posted on June 24, 2012 by Key West Lou

This may be the most amazing blog I have written this trip. Perhaps the most amazing I have ever written.

I have read travel is educational. What I learned yesterday, I never knew. It was extremely revealing!

We start with bread.

The last two mornings, I have purchased at the local bakery shop a hot loaf of bread. Spread butter on it. Delicious.

The bread was familiar. Very. It was De Vito’s.

De Vito’s was a bakery in Utica. On Jay Street where I grew up. Across from Brandagee School. I did first and second grade there.

The bread was initially baked in a garage in the back. Then a for real bakery was built on the site.

The elder Mr. De Vito made a unique bread. I have never tasted any like it. A long thick bread. Crispy hard crust. Flavorful inside. Sides of loaf soft, not crusty.

After Mr. De Vito passed away, his son continued to make the bread. Then he aged and the business was closed.

A sad day.

Several years later, Mr. Zenzillo started making the same bread. He had worked for the De Vito’s for a number of years.

I have been away from Utica for some time now. I do not know if Mr. Zenzillo is still baking the bread.

Nowhere anywhere have I ever tasted the De Vito bread again till the last two days. I tasted it here in Greece on a small island called Amorgos.

My breakfast bread baked here on Amorgos.

I was confused. How? It was Italian bread and a Greek was making it.

Then I thought of my meals at Demetrius’. Dishes of my youth. Food my mother and grandmother used to prepare.

I again thought how? I was on a Greek island with Greeks cooking.

Search and ye shall find. I asked around. Talked with some of the locals. What they represented to me is one of the most startling pieces of information I have ever learned.

The southern Italian cooking I am so fond of has a Greek component. Perhaps a significant influence.

This is the story.

Greece was a commercial nation in the thousand year period before the birth of Christ. The Greeks always sought new ports from which to do business.

Between 700 B.C. and 800 B.C., Greeks immigrated to southern Italy to establish commercial places of business. It was a colonization of southern Italy by Greeks.

Calabria, Puglia, and Salento were the primary areas where the Greeks settled. They were sort of like an expatriate community. The Greeks and Italians got along. There were no ethnic battles.

Other areas settled in subsequent years by this Greek invasion included a part of Sicily and the foot of the boot. The immigration was significant. These two areas became known as the Magna Graecie. Latin for Greater Greece.

The Greeks blended into southern Italian society over the years. The Greeks became Italianized, especially during the Middle Ages.

There was another influx of Greeks in the late 1400s. To Venice.

The final significant immigration was following World War II. A time when many displaced Europeans were moving to the United States, England, and Australia. Some Greeks opted not to enter those countries. Instead they settled in southern Italy.

This immigration process has not ceased. It continues to this day. Though it is much slower at this time.

What am I saying?

Southern Italian cooking has been decidedly influenced by Greek cooking. Otherwise, how could I purchase cooked meals and bread on this Greek island made by people who have never left the island? They and their families have been born and died here for centuries.

This theory, which I consider reality, can be taken a step further.

How many present day southern Italians and Italian Americans have Greek blood in them? It has to be. All those years with no intermingling of the two nationalities? No way.

Believe what you like. I think I am part Greek. As were my father and grandfather and many of our ancestors before them.

There is another way of viewing my conclusion. Perhaps I have been in Greece too long.

Enjoy your day!

Boeing has real problems. How long will people fly with an airline that uses Boeing planes. The manufacturer of the plane to be flown on will be an item for inquiry every time a trip is planned.

Several years ago, it was the 737. Most recently, the 777.

Boeing’s problems could easily result in serious economic pain for the company.

Alexandria Casio-Cortez is a strange duck. The Democratic House member from New York City brings a new way to governing. She views something wrong or a situation where she can help, she gets involved.

Her personalty may leave much to be desired. Abrasive. However, she attacks problems and must be given credit for it.

Texas has power and water problems of the highest magnitude. Cruz takes his family and sneaks off to Cancun because his home is without power. Ocasio-Cortez raises $4.7 million in very few days and see that it is delivered forthwith to Texas to help.

Cruz got caught. He returned in less than 24 hours. He is in pics and videos handing out bottles of water. Ocasio-Cortez follows up the $4.7 million by going to Texas to see what she can do in addition to the $4.7 million.

Why her interest in Texas? Far from her New York City home base. Doubt she will get many votes because of it.

My sense is it goes to her ethnicity. Her family is of Spanish origin. Many Texans are also. Immigrants from Central and South America. These are her people.

Cruz is of Spanish origin, also. His ancestry Cuban-American.

Ted Cruz. What a guy. Wants to run for President in 2024. Good luck. He ain’t going nowhere.

First because he became one of Trump’s lap dogs. He voted not guilty in the impeachment trial.

However, Cruz has gone even further.

His Houston area home was without power. Cold! He took his wife and 2 daughters and ran off to Cancun.

His trip was discovered. Admittedly not in the best of taste.

He arrived in Cancun 10:30 Wednesday evening. After being discovered, he was out of Cancun on the 6 o’clock plane the next morning.

Cruz made one further error. One of magnitude. He left the family dog home alone. In a house without heat and fresh water.

Cruel!!!

Dogs are America’s favorite pet. No way can a pet dog be left home alone under these circumstances. People will not forget this act of cruelty.

Water is a problem in Texas. Where available, foul. Serious sickness or death could result. Boil water signs are up all over Texas.

Originally, drinkable water was required for 14.9 million Texans. Last night, it was announced that 5 million of that number were no longer required to boil water.

Most are lined up in cars waiting to get government provided water. The waiting time sitting in a car to receive water has been 5 hours.

On top of all this, homeowners are receiving electric bills in the thousands of dollars. Some in excess of $10,000.

None of the preceding makes for happy campers. Especially when Texas was warned 10 years ago that a storm such as struck the past few days could occur. The warning was ignored. .

Florida Democratic House member Charlie Crist sent a letter to the Department of Justice yesterday. Yes, on Sunday. He asked the Department to open an investigation into allegations that Florida Governor DeSantis was being selective as to who would receive the vaccine.

Seems the Governor is designating areas where he has a large number of supporters. Especially those that contribute heavily to his campaigns.

Recall when the vaccine was first available in Florida, Key West got something like 400 doses immediately.However Ocean Reef just outside of Key Largo got 8,000. Ocean Reef members are extremely affluent.

Then there is the Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County. The parent company owning Lakewood Ranch and its head have given DeSantis $900,000 in contributions.

Money talks.

I am 85 with underlying conditions including a bad heart. I am still waiting. I have been on the local college’s list for just under 3 weeks. The college has provided shots the past 2 Sundays. I do not know the number. What I do know is I am still waiting.

How many others in my age bracket are still waiting also?

Recall the age qualifying a person initially was 85. Then it dropped to 65 and 75 in some places. The college’s eligibility number dropped consistent withe such move.

Such means to me the State figures they have provided vaccine to most if not all persons 85 and older.

Not the case!

Syracuse, my Syracuse. Yet to turn into a great season. The quality of the team evidences itself in most games. The problem is Syracuse cannot hold a significant lead in the second half.

Syracuse played Notre Dame Saturday. Syracuse won 75-67.

The significance of the victory is two fold.

Syracuse was losing by 20 points in the first half. Syracuse came back to win.

The other involves Boeheim’s son Buddy. A class player. The 3 point shot his game.

Boeheim scored 29 points. Included were six 3 point shots. Boeheim made 5 of them in the second half.

Enjoy your day!

A NOTHING DAY ON AMORGOS…..FILLED WITH NON-CONSEQUENTIAL OBSERVATIONS

DAY 27…..Greece the First Time

Posted on June 23, 2012 by Key West Lou

Yesterday was a nothing day. Which means…..I did nothing of consequence.

I had intentions of visiting the monastery in the afternoon. Then in the evening watching the Germany/Greece soccer game on TV at a restaurant with a group of Greeks. Nothing happened. I got lazy.

I did take three walks. One long. About four miles.

The long one was around the bay opposite from where I am staying. Came upon a quaint small restaurant on the water’s edge. Six tables set on crushed stones at the edge itself. Shaded by a huge tree and some awnings.

It was a meze restaurant. Who knew what a meze restaurant was. It looked appealing, however. So I stopped.

A meze is a bunch of small plates of appetizers. Served with a drink. The purpose of the appetizers is to enhance the taste of the drink. Ouzo was the only drink provided with the food. Ouzo appetizers was what I had. Properly referred to as ouzo meze.

I ordered a serving. All kinds of fish and meat. A few veggies. All in small proportions. With two ouzo, of course.

A great lunch! An interesting one! I do not know if it enhanced the ouzo. But it was good.

The meze lunch was about three in the afternoon. That did it for dinner. No way.

My second and shorter walk was to get an ice cream cone. Cherry. The lady serving said it was strawberry and she should know. She was up till three in the morning making it.

I saw huge pieces of cherry. However, who am I to argue. I am in a strange country. No way would I offend any one.

Actually, the lady was nice. She was showing off her English. I attribute her strawberry/cherry mix up to that.

Another short walk. Saw two elderly people sitting in front of what I assume was their home. A small white building by the side of the road. He dressed in a black suit and hat. The clothing beat up. She in standard dress for a woman of her age. Black dress and stockings.

They each were weaving with straw new seats on two chairs. They never looked up to acknowledge me. Just kept working away.

Just off the water front, I came across a young well tanned Greek man. Only pants. No shirt, no socks no shoes.

He was making a fishing net.

The material appeared to be some type nylon. He had a roll of it on the ground. His right foot on a bench. He ran the nylon from the roll up to his right foot and between his large toe and first little one. From there the nylon worked its way to his hands.

His hands were moving. Rapidly. It was as if he was knitting or crocheting. He had a small knife type hook that was moving in and out of the nylon as he was making the net.

He never looked up either. He was intent on his work.

My game plan was to watch the Germany/Greece soccer match with a bunch of Greeks. What better way! Especially at a time when they all hate the Germans.

I have no TV. I question whether any home on this island does. However, most of the restaurants have TV.

The game was 9:45. I tried to stay awake. Too late for me. I never made it.

I notice Greece lost 4-2. Too bad. The Greeks are getting beat up badly in all respects by the Germans.

A Chinese reader commented yesterday regarding my recent writings regarding the euro crisis and Germany. The writer advised that in China they believe that shopping malls are the battlefields, that economic war cruelty and battlefield bullets are the same.

A perceptive observation.

I have been following the Greece euro problem and Germany’s involvement. I read an article yesterday that said Germany is incapable of handling the whole euro crisis. That Germany’s capacity is limited to 27 per cent of the problem. Germany would have to look to others for help in saving Europe. Germany would have to look across the sea to the United States.

Good luck! We cannot help ourselves and now we must once again aid Europe. How? I do not see how. It will be interesting if it comes to pass.

I like Amorgos. It is at the top of the list of all the Greek places I have visited. Even better than Santorini. One problem, however. It was difficult to get to and will be difficult to leave.

Only two boats a week. No airport.

I am not going to bore you with all the details. Boat here, fly there, etc. I have arrived at the solution. A pain. But one which I have decided is the best.

I have to be at the dock at six in the morning to catch the boat to Athens. The boat is like a subway local or bus. Makes many stops. I will not arrive in Athens till three in the afternoon. Fortunately, there is a business class. Not bad. However the trip will be horrendous. Without question.

I wish to return to Athens for a couple of nights. It is like New York City. Much to do.

My departure date for this trip is 6/27. Assuming the boat runs. You never know. The weather, a break down, whatever.

You are probably thinking why did I not plan this trip better. Because I did not plan. I did not want to plan. Two months gave me enough time to decide as I went along where the next stop would be.

I’ll survive.

As a side point of interest, the Greek Isles are much like the thousand Islands and Florida keys. Many islands. Approximately 1,400 Greek isles. I had no specific idea where I was going when I started. Except, my first stop would be in Milan. After that, I wanted to see Athens.

I have been doing a bit of writing and revising while on this trip. Yesterday, I published 1712 Slave Revolt in New York City on Amazon Kindle. Interesting. The essence evidences man’s inhumanity to man.

Enjoy your day!

The Communist Manifesto opens with the dramatic words: “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism.” The Manifesto closes with: “Workers of the world unite!”

Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto this day in 1848.

Communism was slow to take hold. However by 1950, nearly half the world’s population lived under Marxist governments.

The Catholic Church’s internal strife continues. Actually a war. Two sides. The right and left.

Interesting that even within the Vatican, right and left thinking exists. Each side seeking to control Church dogma and everything else.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah tuesday as head of the Vatican and Worship Congregation. Sarah has been regarded as an opponent of Francis’ vision for the Church as a global search.

A major figure in the Church’s far right group, Sarah has been giving Francis a hard time for years.

Sarah is Black. Originally from Guinea. In Vatican leadership roles since 2001. Benedict XVI made him a Cardinal in 2010.

COVID-19 deaths continue to move ever upward. Approaching 500,000, it has been roughly one year since the first known coronavirus death occurred.

Of significance: No other country has counted so many deaths because of the pandemic.

All one can say is: Thank you, Donald!

Bill Gates in a recent interview said Miami beaches “will be all gone by 2200.” The cause climate change, of course.

Enjoy your Sunday!