This page dedicated to Joey Bloggs , who gave it up in the face of ultimate hopelessness in the town of Paradiso, a mining town on a planet in the Georgia system.
Here are some interests of mine, in no particular order, with a few links to relevant sites. And please, people, save some time and dignity by saying "triple double u" and no more "double u double u double u". It's ridiculous. Much better in German, where it sounds a bit like "vay vay vay" but we don't speak German. Well, most of us don't.
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trips we took that I didn't write about.

 

GOT GAS?
Please, people, wake up. You want to lower gas and diesel prices? Easy. Buy a fuel efficient car. And it doesn't have to be a fancy-dancy hybrid either. The Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift and the Honda CRX manual transaxle cars got 45-55 miles per gallon depending on the engine, and you can buy them USED for a LOT LESS than a hybrid. My 1993 metro, manual transaxle, finally gave it up at odometer reading 346,560 miles; transmission finally blew apart, but I found a used 1995 one which is currently getting 52-54 mpg. Stop sending me these messages that we should have a gas-out to make Them sit up and take notice. The only way the price of gas will drop is if demand for it drops. It's the Economics of the Five Minute University. Supply and Demand. We have brought this problem down on ourselves by being suckered in to buying vehicles way more powerful than we will ever need. Now don't forget: India and China are making Cars for the People. That means they'll be wanting more gas to power them. So the price is not going to stay down, even if it dips once in a while, not until we're all driving electric or fuel cell vehicles, and I don't mean lead-acid batteries, I mean ION POWER. I was in a Hydrogen-powered bus back in 1975 . The only reason you can't buy one is that they don't want to retool to make them. This technology is OLD now. They say a hydrogen car would cost a million dollars right now: fine! Give us back the electric cars you discontinued, with the new batteries which can run them for 300 miles per charge, which we can charge up with electricity generated from solar, wind and water power and not use a drop of oil. We can't grow enough soybeans and corn to replace the fossil fuels when they run out, so what is the problem here? Lethargy, that's the problem, coupled with the all-consuming Profit Motive. Sorry folks, profit ain't all there is to life, nor should it be the main focus. Do the right thing, please.

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Amphibians
 

They have lungs but also breathe right through their skin, most of them. They are my favorite kind of animal. Starts out like a fish, ends up like a lizard, snake or "other". Nothing like watching your pet green treefrog eat a firefly and watch the glow light up the frog's insides for half an hour.
They're in trouble. We have carried a frog-attacking fungus from Africa across the globe and for many species it's a plague. We're polluting and removing their breeding pools, putting roads between their feeding grounds and breeding pools, and poisoning their insect food source. They could be an excellent food source, too. Bullfrog does _not_ taste like chicken. It tastes like a cross between alligator and flounder, but not as tough as the alligator.
If they're in trouble, we're in trouble. Despite what many people think, we are animals too and vulnerable to the same pollution as the rest of them. Eventually all that sevin will come back and bite us in the ass. Buy organic food whenever you can. The price tag might seem higher, but the cost to the planet is much less. Wall Street never figures that into their equations, and that's why they're doomed.
Frogwatch USA

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Religion
 

The only honest position on the subject of metaphysics is agnosticism, but since almost no one is NOT convinced one way or the other, I wrote this for the believers in hope of showing at least the legitimacy of the contrary position.
If you're toying with the idea of dropping your deity, or if you're so scared of the concept of existence without the safety net of a supernatural belief system that you've entertained the idea that wiping nonbelievers off the earth to preserve your own personal fiction might not be such a terrible idea, read the Atheist Debater's Handbook and you'll see that atheists are at least as serious about existence as fundamentalists, and no less moral. They are not Satanists, since without a Heaven there's no Hell. They are not hedonists, which is not true of many so-called pious people. Before you condemn, educate yourself. Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.
atheism links

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Wine
 

I've toured Paso Robles, Sonoma County, the Napa and Willamette Valleys, and learned much about the wines of Virginia and New Jersey, and feel qualified to opine that any wine that has the funds and the need to advertise on national television is probably best used in salads. The wine world is vast and ancient and you won't regret the time you spend learning about some corner of it. I'll give just one tip: the great wines of France are not varietals, and there's a good reason for that. Bon voyage. Now an opinion: contrary to what a local winemaker declared, Cabernet Sauvignon is not the King of Grapes and Chardonnay is not the Queen, any more than Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend. Red Delicious is not the only, nor the best, apple. Beware the Culture of Marketing. Seek out the Small and Unusual and make that part of your life.

New Jersey wineries

There are currently over thirty grape-growing wineries in the state. I have tried many of them. The quality varies; I list here three that stand out for one reason or another. The trouble is, as with many regional wineries, most don't produce enough to distribute to big liquor store chains, so you won't see them unless you visit the wineries themselves- although at least one Wegmans carries a label or two, and Valenzano now has their wine in liquor stores all around the state, so things are looking up. But it's worth the trip to the winery anyway, and if you're driving, don't forget to spit. With these guys just a few miles south of my place I need not look elsewhere for my fermented grape beverage needs. Remember the cost of transport, in dollars and gallons. Why buy from three or five thousand miles away when just 40 will do?

Amalthea Cellars . Listen up. These guys, led by food chemist Louis Caracciolo, not only make the best red wine on the East Coast: it's among the best on the PLANET. Aside from the usual Bordeaux varietals, they produce percentage-exact duplicates of famous French blends like Latour, Margaux and Petrus for about twenty bucks a bottle instead of the sixty and up (on to $3000 a BOTTLE) range of the originals from France, made from vinifera grapes grown right in the Garden State. Excellent stuff if you want to be a wine snob yet support local business. Also good for your education since blends and not varietals are where it's at for really good wine (except MAYBE Pinot!) After reading about the blind tests they themselves hosted, we A/B'd their 1998 Europa II with a French pomerol of the same year and they were so close that only one out of three of us guessed the wines' identities correctly, and two of us preferred the Amalthea. Worth the trip for anyone serious about wine. Are you listening, Robert Parker?

Valenzano Winery This is a young establishment that knows what it's doing. Everything they make is good, including a Concord varietal that doesn't taste like Welch's or Manischewitz (well... a little) and a great red table wine. They also make Cynthiana, using the same grape as Horton's Norton varietal: this one won an award recently and they often sell out of it.

Virginia wineries

There are over sixty wineries in Virginia now, and it's likely you can't name a single one. In the late 90s I toured about twenty with my dad and our friend Tony; since then I've become acquainted with a few more. The following are the ones I recommend you try first:

Breaux Vineyards Excellent white wines and the other ones are fine too. No more to add: visit them and find out for yourself.

Windham Winery This place is over the hill from Breaux, so they share a terroir, sort of. But I particularly liked the reds they made.

Horton Cellars Winery Dennis Horton likes variety-- a fact reflected in the thirty-odd wines he and Joan Bieda make. The most famous, perhaps, is the Norton, an obscure, robust varietal native to Virginia, completely unlike Concord of the north and different enough from the European species to be worth a try-- and they make it very well. Their Stonecastle Red varies from year to year depending on varietal abundance, but the 1993 was one of the best table wines I've had.

Barboursville Vineyards The quality is quite even at this establishment. They make a blend called Octagon which would be good with any red meat meal, and their Cabernet Franc holds its own. Lest anyone wonder about cellaring possibilities, I can attest that the two abovementioned were still in top form after nine years. Can't speak for longer than that because it done been all drunk down now.

Piedmont They specialize in vinifera grapes, meaning the well-known Cabernet, Chardonnay, and even Semillon, an underappreciated varietal in this country. High quality, fair price.

Farfelu Vineyard I must mention this place for the wine that used to be made here. There was an amazing Chardonnay, before new owners John and Caroline Osborne took over from C.J. Raney, who retired. The grapes are from the same vines, I think, but the Osbornes don't double-ferment their Chardonnay as Raney did and the distinctive flavor is gone. I ran into a similar flavor in Tomasello's Nevers Oak Chardonnay, but for twice the price of Farfelu's. I'm sorry it's gone. I hope the Osbornes think it over and put their Chard grapes through malolactic again. Otherwise a real treasure is lost.

Oregon wineries
 

The wines of Oregon are better known than those of New Jersey or Virginia, in that many people know that they exist, but that's not good enough. I prefer Oregon Pinot Noir to most wines of Burgundy, where that's the principal red wine grape. I will just list some names here and if you see them in a store you should try one, but even the lower-end names I won't mention are sure to please. If it's from Oregon, it's almost guaranteed to be good.

Willakenzie Foris Griffin Creek Bishop Creek Panther Creek Ken Wright Cellars Thomas (my dad and I had a 94 but I couldn't find a web reference to it) Domaine Serene

...and especially... Chehalem.
EIEIO.
They are just different. And excellent. Check them out.

Little-known California wineries

With California represented in every wine store on the continent (probably), I was surprised to learn in the summer of '05 that there are many wineries you will never see on your local store shelf. I shouldn't have been surprised that so many people would want to try to cash in on the state's reputation for good wine (or at least huge volume of wine), but there are "boutique" wineries in California very similar to the ones back east.

In Paso Robles country, we found a place called Rio Seco which does lovely table wine with names derived from Baseball. The tasting barn has a very colorful aura and history as well (ask them about the bulletholes.) Also a place called Pipestone, an organic winery that had thee most amazing Syrah we've ever come across. The winemaker told us that's they way the high end ones taste in France but most US vintners don't try to coax that flavor out of the grape. A steal for the price they were asking. Then there was Martin & Weyrich which you might see in a store, but for good full-fruited wines at an affordable price they can't be beat in their area.

Kirigin Cellars
Gilroy, CA is the Garlic Capital of the U.S. It is also home to a bunch of wineries we noticed on the map while we were headed for Monterey. We picked Kirigin, because it was the most unusual name. I thought it might be Russian; it turned out to be Czech. But the winemaker, Michael Kreutzer, was a native Californian, trained at the universities there and managing Kirigin for the owner Mr. Kirigin who spends a lot of his time now back in the Old Country. Across the board these wines were (first) the best we tasted in California and (second) the best priced ones we found outside of Two Buck Chuck. Also a vinegar to die for (one might say the Mother of All Vinegars, pun intended) and an after-dinner port-like creation called Vino de Mocca which we can't recommend highly enough. But the plain old Kirigin Red alone made the side- trip worthwhile. The winery is the only place you can buy it, though, and they don't have their own website (not as of 11/05). If you are in central California, do what you must to get to Gilroy. A warning, though: Kreutzer was still the winemaker in ought five, but he has his own place called Dry Town Cellars which might take up too much of his time to stay at Kirigin much longer.

Wine links all in one place

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Environmentalism
 

I don't understand the huge gulf between the terms "conservative" and "conservationist". I don't understand why experts at making money are so ignorant, generally, of the cost to humanity and the planet at large (the ultimate Bottom Line) of this ruthless insatiable exploitation of what in cosmic terms is a very small place indeed. Economies can not expand indefinitely on this finite planet, any more than population can. Limits will be reached. Some limits are being reached: Spain is running out of fresh water already. Some of us are trying now to minimize the damage we all are causing to this natural home of ours, and we're branded as radicals. It is economically unsound to plunder the planet for a little bit of money, unless you don't care about anything but your immediate gratification, and if that's the case you're not very smart. A society based on greed cannot survive indefinitely: it's physically, statistically impossible. So stop now.

Lawns are bad for the Planet. People seem to think that trees with grass equal nature, but trees and grass do not an ecosystem make. People rip out berry bushes and plant grass that they then keep trimmed with machines that run on fossil fuels, and cover with chemicals that kill other forms of life, and they rake up this harvested organic matter only to have it carried to the dump along with the tree leaves, further depleting their soil which must then be replenished with fertilizer from elsewhere. And the grasses they plant have airborne pollen, while the flowers they extirpate have insect-borne pollen: which kind do you think causes allergies? The whole thing is insane and unnecessary. Is it all so we can see the snakes coming?

Urban sprawl, Suburban sprawl and now Rural sprawl are eating up much of what's left of our natural areas, while we continue to scream at Brazil for decimating its rain forests. What we need to do are 1) bring nature back to our properties (see NWF's Backyard Habitat Program ); 2) protect what we can from development (Nature Conservancy's mission); 3) have fewer children (see Population Connection). If we do Number Three, many of our other problems will just vanish. Replacement childbirth rate is 2.1 children per mother, so if we just have two children each we will eventually reverse the population explosion. But we have political and religious leaders who still think there's no population problem. Those of us within those organizations need to change that attitude if we want our great-grandchildren to enjoy the world in a state even close to the already badly degraded one we've put it in.

Think before you buy. Orange Roughy and "Chilean Sea Bass" take a hundred years to mature, but we're harvesting them as if they were sardines that reproduce in one year. Foreign companies can now sell tuna with a "dolphin safe" label on the can even though they still catch dolphins with their tuna. Shrimp not caught by American trawlers don't have to use "a href="http://www.hsus.org/wildlife/issues_facing_wildlife/turtle_excluder_device_ted.html" target="top"> Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on their nets, but because of international trade laws we can't refuse to import them, so unless you know where your shrimp came from you may be helping exterminate sea turtles every time you buy shrimp. _And_ last year I learned that the standard size for a TED is too small for an adult Leatherback turtle to pass through! The boats in Charleston, SC, at least, now all have the "plus size" TEDs installed, but I don't know about the rest of the fleet. Long line fishing kills albatross as well as sea turtles, yet there's no law to regulate its use. We should develop a taste for catfish and other farmed species, and stop destroying wetlands which is where many fish we eat come to spawn. We "reclaim" all this coastal land and then wonder what happened to the fish! Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program to get some idea about how what you eat affects the (definitely not inexhaustible) ocean.

Demand less packaging. By avoiding buying things packaged in nonrecyclable containers and by composting vegetable matter, I have reduced my trash output to about one large plastic bag every six months. This is mostly made up of shrink-wrap and other pieces of plastic. Thus I'm appalled at the statistical amount of garbage the average American generates. Also remember that plastic is not truly recyclable since it can't be reused for the same purpose, such as a soda bottle, and eventually it disintegrates, if it doesn't end up in a landfill- and most plastics are infused with amounts of heavy metals to keep their shape, and these eventually leach out. Also, the making of plastics involves the byproduction of many horrible compounds like PCBs and dioxin. The reason so much stuff is wrapped in plastic is that it's cheaper to transport due to its light weight. Thus recycling plastics is not the answer: reverting to glass and metal containers is much more responsible. If you have a choice of buying something in glass or plastic, buy the glass version. If enough of us do it, Corporate Central will take notice.

Demand more recycled paper. I consider it a crime for a company to kill a tree to make something I wipe my behind with. There are brands of tissue products in health food stores made from 100% recycled paper. In bigger chain stores, brands like Marcal feature varying percentages. Read the package, and pay attention to how much of the recycled content is post-consumer. The part that isn't is simply scraps that have been swept up from the factory floor that previously would have been discarded but now can be called recycled because instead of throwing it out they've found a use for it, but it's not recycled since it never left the factory in the first place. Remember, it's up to us the consumers to make corporations behave responsibly, because government is generally bought by those companies and is thus disinclined to piss them off by enacting regulation legistlation, unless We the People push for it.

Contributions to most environmental charities is tax-deductible, meaning you can divert some of your tax dollars away from Uncle Sam and toward organizations fighting to preserve what we can of this little globe we're on. If you have to pay the taxes anyway, send them somewhere where you know what they'll be used for, and not used for. Environmentalism links

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Solar Energy
 

It's odd that BP Amoco touts itself as the new Green Oil Company because they sell their own line of solar panels, yet not a single BP Amoco gas station has solar panels on its roof. Same goes for Arco which owns Siemens Solar. However, as the BP billboard at the Holland Tunnel said, "it's a start."

Contrary to popular belief, solar power is competitive right now with fossil fuel power, especially in states with healthy rebates and tax incentives for installing a system. And you don't need to be in a Sun Belt state to make it worth the money. In New Jersey you can buy a system TODAY that will pay for itself in under ten years. That's New Jersey, the Garden State, which gets a good amount of rain and therefore clouds. I bought my system from Astropower, the only solar panel company not owned by a big energy corporation, and the only one to make their panels with silicon wafers recycled from the computer chip industry. Already-recycled solar panels: who can top that? Unfortunately, they went under for whatever reason, but my panels still work and I understand GE bought Astropower's plant and they're making the panels now.

Solar energy links

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Curling
 

Despite the mass media exposure at the last three Olympics, many people still don't know about curling, though it's older than hockey, basketball, baseball or football. I discovered it in "1995" at my first gig in Regina, Saskatchewan and it immediately replaced baseball as my favorite team sport. It was a banner day when I found the Plainfield Curling Club in my new home state of New Jersey. Now when I'm working locally I can curl once or twice a week. I also have four rocks of my own which I can use on my pond when it's sufficiently frigid outside.

For those of you who've read thus far but won't click on the link to the PCC, a little description of the game: four persons per team; two teams; teams alternate "throwing" rocks down a 128-foot sheet of "pebbled" ice; the ice is pebbled with water-drops so that it's not smooth; each person throws two rocks; points are scored by the rock closest to the center of the"house" or target area, which is a 12-foot wide bull's-eye, and any additional rocks of the same color that are next in closeness to the center or "button"; each set of sixteen rocks thrown constitutes an "end"; there are eight or ten ends in a game, depending on what kind of league you're in; civility is prized, as opposed to (now) all the well-known team sports; game strategy has a complexity level comparable to that of bridge or chess; brushes are used in front of the moving rock to alter trajectory and length of throw; the two teams gather after the game for talks and drinks and sometimes food; couples can play this game as part of a team until they're physically infirm; unfortunately, the lack of facilities and corporate sponsorship in the States limits the public's exposure and access to the game, as opposed to billiards or bowling, whereas in any large Canadian city there are clubs where one can rent a sheet of ice for two hours at a rate competitive with a bowling alley. If you're still reading, click on the link to the PCC, which has links to the national site, which has links to clubs in your area, and then go check it out. You'll either be indifferent to it or you'll fall in love with it. There's no middleground.

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Drumming
 

I saw Kodo, the Japanese folk drumming group, play Boston Symphony Hall several years ago, and my life was changed. Since then I've attended drum circles, a West African drumming and dance camp, and classes, and I've built myself several drums to play. These are not the dead, soulless drums one finds in a trap set or drum kit or marching band. These drums sing. And when a group of people gets together to just jam with percussion instruments, the gestalt is singular. It's a real will of the people thing. I think if members of Congress started their sessions out with a drumming circle, they'd get more done in the name of the People and less in the name of the Faceless Unaccountable Tyrannies that fund their election campaigns. I think people with Puritan backgrounds are scared of drumming because it evokes a visceral, primal response in the mind and body which many aren't culturally equipped to interpret. If you're still searching for spiritual fulfillment, check out your nearest drum circle. At the very least, you'll hear some really interesting music.
Drumming links Pictures of drums I made

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Folk music
 

Long before Rock and Roll, long before Beethoven, people made music for themselves. These days people think music is a little plastic disc you put in a machine. But the traditions of music in many cultures and communities live on in organizations all over the world. Concerts are scheduled year round where you can learn something about the music of your foreparents, which could very well also be the music of your descendants, despite all the efforts of the Music Industry to convince you that you must buy an album to have music in your life. Live music is where it's at, whether it's Blues in Memphis, Jazz in Chicago or New Orleans, Bluegrass in Kentucky, Old-Time in Appalachia, or Hip-Hop in the Inner City. And you're hearing this from an opera singer.

Folk music links My AKoustic page

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Woodworking
 

Wood Butcher Tools, 38 Centre Street, Bath, Maine. If you watched the Woodwright's Shop on Pee Bee Ess, you'll love this store. Their hard-to-find tools make Brooke Stone look like the tool section of Wall Martt. And even better, they don't have a website. There are sites with that name, but it's not them. Not everything can be found on the Web, nor will it ever. Amen.

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Socially Conscious Music
 

Hamell on Trial- one-man-one-guitar dynamo from Syracuse. Check him out.
Chumbawamba- did you know that they made 8 albums prior to TUBTHUMPER? And 3 after? If you're American, I doubt it. These are serious social commentators. Try to find the live album paired with a lecture by Noam Chomsky on the unaccountable tyrannies we call corporations.
Ani DiFranco- the Righteous Babe. I became aware of her thru my friend Julianna. Aside from the on-target timely lyrics of her songs, the music is in my opinion on a par with Bach and the Beatles. Get the two collaborations with Utah Phillips to get a window into the America that's not reported on Cee En En or En Pee Arr, and not written in our schoolbooks. Truth is often more interesting than fiction.

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JUNK FOOD STORIES
 

The Space Program brought us, among other things, Tang. Once in a blue moon they'd come out with some new "exciting" flavor but to this day in the USA the only one you're likely to see in the Powdered Drinks aisle of a supermarket, or in the Diet & Health Foods aisle, which is pretty funny considering how much sugar is in the stuff. (Tang shares with Wasa crackers the distinction of being among those commestibles which supermarket organizers have no consensus as to their best location. Then there's soy sauce, which I use as much as oil and vinegar but which is always in the Oriental aisle, as if only Orientals use it. Speaking of which, why is it not politically incorrect to call in Oriental food?) When I was in San Angelo, Texas, in "1992", imagine my surprise to find Mango-flavored Tang (or "Tang sabor Mango"-- it was a bilingual label) on the shelf right next to what they call "orange". I bought a jar, and it was the best artificially-flavored sugar drink I'd ever tasted. I went back to get more and they were gone! They had been put in a shopping cart with other products that they were trying to clear in a hurry. Imagine my worry that, having found this powdered ambrosia, it appeared that it had just been discontinued! I bought all 13 jars.
Upon return to the East Coast I called the 800 number on the jar to ask about where to get it, and the young lady said they only marketed it in Hispanic neighborhoods. I said "what about Manhattan? There are plenty of Hispanics there." She said she needed a zip code from which she could give locations within a mile or two of the center of the zip code. I gave the zip code 10023, which is middle West Side Manhattan. She said there was nothing listed in that area. I gave up. Then a week later I got a letter from them listing stores in Manhattan that carried Tang Sabor Mango, including one right inside the 10023 zip code. I went and sure enough, there it was.
A few years later I did a concert in Chihuahua, Chihuahua State, ESM (Estados Unidos Mexicanos, which is the official name of the country, not just Mexico.) This translates as "The United States of México". This is important to know if you're crossing the border. You can't just say you're from the United States and expect to be let back in.) During our off time we visited the local market. Of course I went to the powdered drink aisle, and yes indeed there was Mango Tang there. But not only Mango, but also Limón (lime), Manzana (apple), Jamaica (pronounced ha-My-ca) a purple Mexican fruit, I think and... Durazno (peach). (Oh yes, and the original Spaceman flavor as well.) For my money, Durazno is even better than Mango. If anyone in México is reading this, please send me a large amount of Tang sabor Durazno, straight away.
A year or so after that, I had a gig in El Paso, which is across the river from Ciudad Juárez, also in Chihuahua State, Mexico. One night one of the local singers reserved a table at Viva México!, a restaurant with floor show in Juárez, in the Mexican analogue of a mall. Basically an adobe mall. There was a supermarket there, so I went to stock up on Tang, and discovered yet another, new, flavor, Mandarina (Tangerine). It's leagues better than the usual American flavor, but of course you can't get it north of the border. (I should mention that we do have another Tang flavor in the States, but it's not worth speaking about.) I noticed something else in that store: there is no Hi-C of any flavor. What seems to have happened, as in nature, is that Tang has filled the niche in Mexican markets that Hi-C had already captured in American ones with the result that Mexicans, whatever other inferiorities there may or may not be in their standards of living, are enjoying some of the best artificially flavored powdered sugar drinks available to humankind.
But the story doesn't end there! I was in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, after the El Paso gig, and strolling through The Real Superstore I chanced upon yet another Tang flavor unavailable south of that border: Grape. My memory holds that Grape Tang was in American stores for a while, but is no longer. With Welch's readily available, though, Grape Tang wouldn't be worth it. (I don't know if Welch's exists in Canada. Nabisco does exist there; however, in Canada it's called Christie's.)
On April 14 "2006" I discovered that Tang and Hi-C are part of the same company.

In Indianola, Iowa, in "1991", at a store called Pamida, I first saw a different kind of Tostitos: Lime & Chili flavor. Be careful: this is NOT the "Hint of Lime" chip now universally available. This was Lime & Chili, and for a flavored salty fried food it was odd in that there were no artificial ingredients. It was the best chip I'd ever had. I came home with the empty pockets of my car stuffed with bags of it. I called THEIR 800 number to find out that they didn't market Lime & Chili Tostitos east of Chicago. "Our market surveys indicated that people in those areas didn't like them," she said. I kid you not. My girlfriend and I were in Indianapolis, just a few miles east of Chicago's latitude. I asked the local Cub Foods to buy some, which they did, and I was probably the only one who bought them. I ran into them in Dallas, Portland and Miami (which last I checked was way east of Chicago). Then a few years ago these "Hint of Lime" chips hit the shelves, and now Lime & Chili Tostitos seem to have been discontinued in favor of this chip with artificial green in it and no chili. So I write this as a eulogy to perhaps the best snack food ever made (and undermarketed) by a major coporation. The best part of it was the layer of lime and chili flavor that was deposited on your fingers while you ate the chips, which you then got to scrape off with your teeth. Mmm-mm.
However, about the same time Lime & Chili Tostitos disappeared, I discovered Boulder Malt Vinegar and Sea Salt potato chips, which though different are as good as the Tostitos. Their distribution is peppery, though: only at health food stores and absent from many of them.
I should mention that there is a Chili and Lime corn chip from one of the "natural" companies, available in health food stores nationwide, but it's nothing like the Tostitos variety. Too thick, not crunchy enough, and the lime flavor is odd.

I learned from these adventures that corporations are very particular about where and how to market their products and are often in error, and we consumers almost never hear about it.

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Eyesight
 

I learned to see clearly without lenses after 19 years of wearing glasses and contacts. No surgery. No joke. That was 29 years ago and I still don't wear glasses. My treatise on my journey back from myopia is too big to include here, so I made a new page for it. Click here to read it.

Other eyesight links

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PLANT RELATED THINGS
 

HYPOCRISY IS BAD, MM-KAY?

Double standards really bother me. Here's one:
Question: what plant has fiber stronger and more durable than cotton and seeds higher in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant material, yet is illegal to grow in the United States? In Canada it's said by some that this came about because the corporation that introduced sythetic fibers to the world lobbied to have it banned so that they wouldn't have to compete with it.
Question: what plant product has an intoxicating effect similar to that of alcohol, yet is not addictive? This product can be ingested in food or in smoke form, yet unlike nicotine, which _is_ addictive and is usually delivered via smoke to the lungs, and unlike alcohol and caffeine, which are addictive to many people and ingested in liquid form, this substance can get you arrested. Alcohol and nicotine destroy many lives and many people's health and caffeine is a multimillion dollar, legal, business, but this other stuff is considered the gateway to cocaine, LSD and other really serious drugs.
We are allowed by law to drink and smoke ourselves to _death_ using these other substances, but possession of THC- bearing material makes you a criminal. And even though the THC can be processed out of Cannabis sativa, leading to very tasty, nutritious, non-narcotic food products and durable clothing, instead of regulating its cultivation, the U.S. government declares it forbidden and thus loses out on a huge potential profit-generating enterprise, aside from denying consumers viable alternatives to soy-based vegetable protein sources and synthetic fabrics. Where's the capitalism in this kind of attitude? Where's the entrepreneurial spirit?
Before you say "no", LEARN ABOUT HEMP.

THE LAWN FETISH
Now a little botany quiz: How do those big showy flowers disperse their pollen? By animal carriers like bees and beetles and nectar-eating bats. How do grasses disperse _their_ pollen? By wind. So between grasses and what we call flowers, meaning the plants with big showy flowers, which pollen is more likely to get up your nose? That's right, grass pollen. But people think flowers will make them sneeze. So we just put flowers on the borders of these vast expanses of trimmed grass-leaves called lawns, and we take out the whole ecosystem that was there before, including all the wild flowers. Without them, many insects go hungry and disappear, making the animals that eat them also disappear- those that escape the lawnmower blades, that is. And it's not just flowers. Where I live now, in the New Jersey pinelands, blueberries thrive in the woods, but developers take them out and put in lawns under the few trees they leave standing, when they're not putting houses up on perfectly good farmland, and the people that buy the houses either have no idea what was there before or consider any plant that's not bought in a store to not belong on their property. Somehow the American Dream has come to include having your very own strip of green turf to water and fertilize, only to have the mown clippings-- the biomass product of all this care-- carted away to the municipal dump, or if you're lucky, the municipal compost pile, ready for other people to come help themselves to. So the lawns must continually be fertilized to replace what's thrown away. Some homeowners are smart and mulch their own grass clippings, but many of them still keep the lawn trimmed with mowers that pollute more than the worst SUV or luxury sedan. Some buy electric mowers, and if their utility company is forward-thinking, those things are powered by renewable energy like wind, water or solar power. Or even biomass incineration or methane production, fueled partly by grass clippings! Scott used to make great push-mowers which eliminate the pollution problem and also double as exercise devices, but they've been discontinued in favor of these flimsy new ones which don't have the heft to generate any blade momentum. If you scour the thrift shops, though, you might come across a nice old one for five bucks like I did. (I don't use it now, though, since I have no lawn at all. Five acres and no lawn; imagine that. Only blueberries and mountain laurel among the trees.)
Don't misunderstand me: I like the look of a greensward as much as anyone and I love golf, baseball and other lawn sports; but people waste water in deserts so they can have lawns, they pump chemicals into their lawns that leach into the water table and kill things, and they reduce the biomass production capacity in areas that could support mature forests, impoverishing the whole planet. Think: is a cactus garden really any less appealing than a lawn in Arizona?
There are communities here and there that are combating this lawn mania by requiring native vegetation to be used, and the National Wildlife Federation has a Backyard Habitat Program that helps people make their properties more attractive to wildlife. But there are many more communities that actually have lawn laws such that a homeowner must maintain a certain area as a lawn and _must_ keep it mowed to a certain height, or risk a fine. These laws need to be fought one by one at the local level. The beauty of nature needs to be taught to most people. Contact the North American Native Plant Society.
Even if you do keep your lawn, why is it that so few people in Suburbia grow any food plants on their properties? The amount of energy they spend on their lawns is at least equal to what a little garden would require. Is wartime the only appropriate time for citizens to grow their own food?? (For those too young to remember or who haven't been told, Victory Gardens were encouraged during World War Two so the troops wouldn't go hungry having to split the food with us civilians. They also made steel pennies so the copper could be saved for bombshells.) Tomatoes are great for the prostate: every man should have a few vines. Grapes are good for the heart: everyone with well-drained soil should have an arbor. Farms are turning into developments everywhere: what about towns buying them in co-op style and having the residents grow crops on them? Not for profit: for the fun and pleasure of it. It would keep a lot of kids out of trouble if they had some tomato or grapevines to keep care of. Just a thought.

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DISCOVER THE MAGIC OF P.D.Q. BACH
 

I grew up listening to P.D.Q. Bach. In fact, I heard the themes of many famous classical pieces first in pieces like the Unbegun Symphony, and only later in the pieces they were lifted from, with the result that when I hear these pieces by the great masters for the first time, I laugh out loud, whereas when I heard the P.D.Q. quotes of them I didn't laugh since I had no context.
I also grew up performing P.D.Q. Bach: in high school choir we did the famous "My Bonny Lass, she smelleth" paired with the piece it parodies ("... she smileth"); later, in college, I sang Close Encounter Tenor in "Hansel & Gretel & Ted & Alice", "Twelve Quite Heavenly Songs", "Diverse Aires on Sundrie Notions" and the grand oratorio "The Seasonings" under the baton of the redoubtable Vytas Baksys, who in addition to playing a mean piano and being a good conductor also performed the trumpet part of the "Echo Sonata for Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments" on the trombone.
There is no excuse for ignorance of this corpus which makes a mockery of Ned Rorem's claim that music has no humor in it and needs words to be funny. Check out the web site, see a concert, buy the albums, get to know the pieces, perform them, don't let them die. "The Abduction of Figaro" is a first-rate opera that should be done everywhere, yet when I performed one of the arias in a recital in 1991 the publisher Boosey & Hawkes sent us copies of the manuscript, which we then rendered into printed music on the computer. I hear through a friend that one can now rent this score, but I haven't seen it. PDQ website

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PERSONAL PHOTOS
 

Pictures are allegedly worth a thousand words. I think some are worth maybe ten words and some rate way over a thousand. Anyway, since I don't currently have a better page to include these visual blogs, if you will, here are a few snapshots of my life, in no order whatsoever.

PERSONAL PHOTOS

In The Lunsford Mill Dam

Brothers' Castle

Adam's Room 1975

Adam's House 1997

Massanutten Mountain, Page County VA

Adam's House, Pond and Panels

Adam's New Bog and blog

Adam's House Panels Through the Trees
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