Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who's living next door?

What do you do when life reads like a really bad novel? You thank God it's not your life! I guess that's the best positive spin I can put on some of what I'm about to blog about. I've gone back and forth on this post and questioned whether I should include something so grim in my blog. I won't know for sure that I will until I finally hit the publish button. And of course, I can always delete it. So if you're reading this..... My apologies in advance.

Warning! If you are a minor (younger than 18 years old) or are sensitive to images or ideas of rape and incest please don't read beyond this point.

Anyway, here it goes:

Yesterday, I read in horror about an Austrian man, Josef Fritzl, who police say has confessed to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering seven of her children. That's right! Are you as shocked as I am? Anxiously I read on, gathering up each detail of this perverted story. All the time repeating in my head "This can't be true. There must be a punch line to this story somewhere." I read on to learn the unthinkable details of a pathetic and sad story.....

According to investigators, Josef Fritzl held his daughter Elisabeth captive in a cellar for 24 years. That's right! 24 YEARS! He raped her repeatedly and eventually fathered seven of her children. He fabricated a story that his daughter ran away from home but came back on three occasions to drop off (abandon) her children. Fritzl and his wife agreed to raise these children in their daughter's absence. All the while, Fritzl kept his daughter, the mother of these, children, plus three other children that he fathered locked in a cellar beneath his house. One other child that Fritzl fathered, a twin, died shortly after birth. Fritzl later admitted to burning the remains.

Fritzl was finally caught when his 19 year-old (daughter/grand daughter), Kerstin fell ill and needed medical attention. Fritzl claimed she was dropped on his doorstep and took her to the hospital. Fritzl came under suspicion when a note was found in Kerstin's pocket written by the captive mother Elisabeth. This note described their captivity. I won't go into any more of the morbid details of this story but if you're interested follow the link below the photo to a more detailed story.

Right: Elisabeth Fritzl in a 1981 school photo taken when she was 15 at the "Polytechnische Lehrgang

More Photos

Today, I read about Susan LeFevre 53, who had been living under an assumed identity for 32 years. LeFevre was a fugitive living under cover after escaping from a Michigan prison in 1976 while serving time on heroin charges. She managed to build a new life for herself in California. She and her husband raised three children. Her husband Alan of 23 years, claimed he never knew her real identity. LeFevre was arrested April 24 outside her home in an affluent suburb of San Diego after someone anonymously alerted Michigan police and revealed her assumed name. She was arrested wearing a sweat suit and driving a black Lexus SUV.

So I ask myself, come on.... the spouses of these two individuals must have had some idea of what was going on right? Is it possible to be married to someone for 23 years and not know that they're a fugitive from the law? And more frightening, can you be married to someone for nearly half a century and not know that he has held your daughter and three others captive in a cellar for 24 years? And what about the neighbors and friends? Did they suspect anything?

In all honesty, the LeFever story is somewhat tolerable. I suppose I could stand the thought of living next to an escaped heroin user who had cleaned up her life and become a law-abiding citizen. But the Fritzl story is tragic and nearly knocks me off my feet. As were the stories of Manson, Ray, Bundy, Gacy, Dahmer and other serial killers. Every time I read or hear of a story like this it make me wonder. How many more of these quacks are out there yet undiscovered. Call me paranoid but I'll be keeping a close eye on my neighbors for the next few years and you should do the same!

photograph of Susan Lefevre, now known as Marie Walsh

If you're interested in checking out your neighbors as well as staying abreast of safety issues that may affect you and your family check out:


This site contains a National Sex Offender Registry as well as other tips that may help keep you and your family safe.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More Joshua Tree

Some of you may be saying "Enough of the U2 and Joshua tree stuff." Well, this post is for those of you who really enjoyed my "U2- Joshua Tree" post a few weeks ago and are thirsty for more

I was stimulated by some of the comments by Speedcat, Bellydancegirl, Pentad, and Footsteps to do a little more research on this Joshua tree stuff. In my studies, I discovered a wonderfully written post by Brad Biringer, who submitted: My Two Visits to U2's Joshua Tree.
Brad paints a wonderful picture as he leads you through his odyssey and highlights his story with photos, personal experiences and history. To me, this post read like a fine short story. Miss Jane -I hope you don't find this story a bit too "soppy" (in your words) but I enjoyed it and thought it was well worth the few minutes to read.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Happy ANZAC Day!
I've been on the road again. Spending some more time in Sydney, Australia. Sydney set a record today after posting its' eleventh consecutive day of rain. It's been 77 years since Sydney has had more than ten strait days of rain in April. Today I collected my things in my hotel room and prepared to head to the airport for my flight back to Los Angeles. As I looked out my window upon a rainy windy morning, I couldn't help but notice the buzz. All around the city there was talk of the upcoming ANZAC celebration and people scurrying about. On the radio there was talk about the parades and celebrations. On television they were running a recurring documentary describing what ANZAC day is all about. For those who don't remember from high school history class or never knew, here's a brief reminder:

ANZAC - stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC Day commemorates and recognizes the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a Federal Commonwealth for only thirteen years. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, under a plan by Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stale-mate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.
I won't be around to enjoy the celebrations this year. In the past, I've witnessed the parades and watched as they blocked off the streets in the "Rocks" area of Sydney and prepared for a period of drinking and merry-making. I've even stopped in a pub - "The Hero of Waterloo" and shared a pint or two with a couple of Aussies and listened to perhaps the oldest band to ever grace the stage. It's a fun time and a wonderful tribute to those brave lads on all sides who fought in Gallipoli. I won't be around this year but I will make a point to rent the movie Gallipoli and eat some ANZAC biscuits to remember.

1981 movie Gallipoli

Monday, April 21, 2008

Remembering Elliot Yamin's #1 Fan!

Do you remember Elliot Yamin?

In the 2006 American Idol season, Elliot Yamin finished third. I didn't remember that Elliot finished third but I do remember his number one fan. His mother, Claudette Goldberg Yamin. She captured the limelight as her son competed in the series. She was known for her dedication and unwavering support. Her weekly smile served as inspiration to many and captured a true Motherly proud moment. I just learned two days ago that she passed away earlier in the month. I'm a Little behind on watching Idol this year so I've also just learned that American Idol had a small tribute for her last week in which Elliot sang a song and was given the opportunity to eulogize his mother.

Certainly she will be missed by friends, fans, and family. I'm thrilled she was able to share in her son's success and enjoy her time in the spotlight before passing. She seemed to be such a delightful lady and she brought a wonderful new perspective to the season.

Claudette Yamin At The ETrain JDRF Fundraiser

In celebration of her life I'm running a youtube clip of one of my favorite Elliot Yamin songs. This song brought Paula Abdul and Simon to tears. (I think Simon was crying because he was laughing at Paula.) But Paula was clearly emotional and I think it was justified.

Elliot was singing one of his favorite songs: His lucky song - "A Song For You" by the late Donny Hathaway. I also learned that Donny Hathaway's daughter sings background vocals for Idol. How coincidental...

Elliot does a great job with this song! Through his talent and persona, he has brought credit and recognition to both Donny Hathaway and his Mother.

Thanks Elliot........

Here's the original song by a very young and talented Donny Hathaway who in my opinion, left this world far too soon and before his enormous talent could be fully realized.


See also:

and Elliot's website:

Friday, April 18, 2008

What's in a Dream?

And how can you figure out the meaning of your dream?

Last night "I" had a dream. Not in the MLK sense, but a dream nonetheless. Some of you are thinking - Whoppie! News Flash! Call the press - Intrepid had dream! Do you guys have dreams and remember them? I usually have dreams. And sometimes, I actually remember what I dreamed about. One of my favorite things to do is to wake up in the morning and lie there in peace for a few minutes and review the cinematic glory of the preceding dream and reflect on the contents. Interpretation - kick back with the pillow over my face and run the tapes of the dream and try to figure out what happened and what it all means.

My dreams are generally all over the place. They usually involve people or faces that I don't know or remember. They usually take place in some unfamiliar territory and they generally involve one of several recurring themes.

I can classify my dreams into one of the following categories:

1) Anxiety - This dream normally involves some sort of time constraint and I characteristically find myself unprepared and not ready. My standard dream in this category is to discover just before I wake up that I have a major college test, a college paper, and a sports contest i.e., football game, basketball game, boxing match, or track meet all happening when I wake up and you guessed it.... I haven't prepared for any one of these. It's always a relief to awaken to realize that none of the above are happening. Whew! I'm glad that's done with.

2) Insecurity- I call these my "I can't" dreams. These usually find me involved in some activity in which I just can't quite close the deal. For instance, I once had a dream where the entire world was cloaked in darkness. I surprisingly through a series of quests discovered the one light switch which could illuminate the world. The switch was hanging from a ceiling in an empty room. I walked into the room and reached up to flip the switch. Guess what? The switch was just out of my reach. I stretched, jumped, and tried everything to turn on the switch but I just couldn't reach it. I also have a recurring dream where I'm being chased by a villain or creature. Let's assume it's a man sized RAT! You all know how I feel about rats! The rat finally catches up with me and corners me. No problem, I swiftly unholster my 357 Magnum and aim between the eyes of this gigantic rodent. But as I try to squeeze the trigger I realize that I can't physically move it. It's too hard. I squeeze with all of my might but to no avail. I generally wake up from this type of dream very frustrated and disappointed with myself. My confidence diminished.

3) Erotic Fantasy- Okay, I'd be disingenuous if I didn't include this category. You all know the deal here. Sometime during my slumber some mysterious fair maiden(s) enter my dream. She teases and seduces me and otherwise stimulates me to some degree of sexual arousal. We frolic and fancy each other and continue with the love games until poof! It's time to wake up. Boo for me. I'm left with the fond memory of her company but unfortunately I never achieve the illusive triumphant victory.

4) Hero and champion - This is the dream where I do everything right and wake up the hero. Like the time I came to the rescue of Miss Jane. She unfortunately had placed her trust in a lad named Bond. I won't go into all the intimate details but let's just say when I rescued her she was buried waste deep in a sand bunker on the 17Th hole at Paradise Isle Country Club. 007 was no where to be seen. I later found him floating in a water hazard. He was alive but his service weapon (PPK) was rusted, empty, and useless. So I single-handedly fought off the gold digging sleazes of S.L.U.S.H with my trusty Colt (.45). I considered calling my bud SpeedCatHollydale for back up but things were going smoothly so I waited. When I had dispatched the final 10 attacking enemy agents, I had a few shots left in my weapon so I slung Miss Jane over my shoulder and decided to play number 18 (par 5) before it got dark. After some coaxing, Miss Jane came to life and begged to tee off with me. It was difficult finding the hole in the fading light but we managed to close out the card. Miss Jane finished with an impressive eagle and I posted a birdie. Keep in mind she played from the red tees. We found some time to unwind at the 19 hole before we had to report in to our respective agencies. I called Speedy and he joined us for some chicken nachos.

5) Other - Any dream that doesn't fit in one of the above categories falls into this area.

This is the subject of my post today. When a dream falls into the other category it puts me into the analytics mode. If there's time, I really try to analyze my dream and determine if there is anything I need to do or a lesson to be learned. I don't always reach a conclusion but it's fun to explore the options. So here we go...... Last night there was a part of my dream where I was walking across a very long bridge. I passed many people in my walk but no one stood out until the very end. As I reached the other side, I approached a middle aged woman talking on a cell phone. She was average looking and was wearing a low cut V-neck sweater. As I approached her I noticed she had many (15-20) loose 1 carat diamonds all over her neck and around her feet. She didn't want to move for fear that more diamonds would fall off her neck and drop off the bridge into the water below. As I got closer, she mumbled "help me please." I quickly walked up and pulled a credit card from my wallet and scraped the loose diamonds on her neck into my hand and helped her gather the diamonds at her feet. I surrendered the gems to her and she thanked me and walked away.

So what on Earth does all that mean? I'm sure you all have some great ideas. Please leave your input in the comments section below. I've pondered this a bit myself and decided to consult with a few dream analyzing sights. I've consulted with and If you have a dream that you're seeking clarification for maybe you'll want to input the ideas and analyze the themes.

Here's what I've concluded using the symbolism from the sites- As I transition from one phase of my life to another, (symbolized by the bridge) I will encounter a woman reaching out/calling for help (symbolized by the cell phone). She is vulnerable (symbolized by her open neck) and having problems in her financial life or is having a difficult time keeping in touch with reality (symbolized by the diamonds). I will come to her aid either financially, or organizationally (symbolized by my credit card) and help her stay in touch with reality or advance financially. Wow! Pretty deep huh? Who knows if any of this has any relevance or truth. It sure was fun exploring though.

So let's move on to my dream the night before when I was being chased by an elephant! When I finally got tired of running I turned to face this beast and noticed it was running after me wearing beach sandals. I started laughing so hard that it hurt the elephants feelings and he began to cry!

I'll have to tackle that one on another day!

Dream On!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Federal Income Tax - Is it Constitutional?

Do you really need to file a Federal Tax Return?

Forget about the procrastinators, the extenders, and the just plain "I hate to file my tax return" people and let's talk about the approximately 1 million Americans who "defy the law" and refuse to pay federal taxes based on principle. Some of these Tax Protesters believe that our federal income tax policies are unconstitutional and do not apply. So annually, they refuse to file their tax returns. You've surely heard this argument in some fashion before. About 14 years ago while I was anxiously preparing my taxes a friend informed me that paying taxes is optional. "Excuse Me" I queried? I've always believed that there was nothing more certain than income taxes and death. He forwarded some literature to me and I read it but ultimately didn't have the "cajones" to defy Uncle Sam in this venue. So I cracked the whip and got my taxes done. I must admit, every year around this time I wonder how much of his argument is actually true. Not that I'm trying to escape my obligation but I'd just like to know the truth. Proponents against paying taxes submit that Section 861 of the tax code supports their argument. One of the bigger advocates of this idea is columnist William A. Shields for USA Daily. Check out his article: SECTION 861:THE LAW THEY HOPE YOU NEVER READ

According to Shields, "at least 300 persons have requested clarification from the IRS on this subject in general and section 861 in particular. To date, the IRS has refused to address these questions and they have resorted to bullying, blustering and threatening. But ALWAYS they have refused to address specific questions about section 861."

Fueling the argument is Joseph R. Banister C.P.A and former IRS special agent, and Congressman Ron Paul who also argues that income taxes violate the Sixteenth amendment.

view this:

I personally believe the tax code is entirely too complicated and that far too many resources are expended to support this bureaucracy. Nonetheless, It's April 13Th, and I'm wrapping up my return and preparing to write the IRS a check. I'll be combing the tax codes and searching for every little deduction and legally protesting in my own little way. But ultimately, the IRS will get their money from me and next year I'll have the same question in my mind.......... Is it constitutional for the IRS to require me to file a tax return? But for now, here's your money.... Leave me alone for a year PLEASE!

IRS building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C..

Sunday, April 6, 2008

U2 - Joshua Tree

What's U2 got to do with Palm Trees, Cactus and Snow-Capped Mountains?

In March 1987, the album "The Joshua Tree" was released by U2. It debuted at number one in the UK and quickly reached the top of the charts in the United States. At the time, I had no idea what the impact of this blossoming Irish band would be or the politics behind their music. Additionally, I had no concept of what a Joshua Tree actually was. Like many people, I was captivated by this new sound - the catchy lyrics and the soulful music which accompanied. So like many others, I purchased the album. It was then that I first recall taking note of what a Joshua tree actually looked like. Up until that point I had spent most of my time east of the Rocky Mountains and in Europe so I had never seen a Joshua Tree in person. However, nearly a decade later, while driving a stretch of highway in the Mojave desert, I experienced a sentimental moment as I drove over a hill and viewed a lone Joshua tree highlighted by the western setting sun. As the sun peeked through a thin layer of clouds to illuminate this solo tree, I felt a bit choked up inside as I marveled at it's majesty. There it stood alone in acres of barrenness. Rocks, sand, brush, and shrubs seemed to cower below as this creature reached toward the sky defying the elements and time. This insular living thing opposed all and presided like a living monument and testament to any being who has endured the extreme hot and cold temperatures of the desert.

I guess this is what U2 had in mind when they picked the title for this blockbuster album. And I do mean blockbuster. These are just small testimonies to the success of the album:

-"With or Without You" and the rhythmic gospel "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" were released as singles internationally and quickly went to number one in the U.S. "Where the Streets Have No Name" was also released as an international single and became a smash hit

-The Joshua Tree won U2 their first two Grammy Awards, with the band receiving honors for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal.

Just prior to the release of "Joshua Tree", U2 spent time studying American blues, pop, and country artists. It's been said that while the members of U2 felt antipathy towards the United States and anger at our foreign policy, the band was fascinated with the country, its open spaces and freedom. Additionally, the band wanted music which portrayed a sense of "cinematic quality" reflective of the imagery created by American writers the band had been reading. It's also been said that this title was picked as a "Tribute" to the United States of America and not a metaphor. I'd like to express my personal take on that statement but before I do that please let me give a bit of background:

While a Joshua Tree stands tall in the desert, it's really not a very sturdy tree. The trunk of a Joshua tree is made of thousands of small fibers and lacks annual growth rings, making it difficult to determine the tree's age. The tree has a shallow root area and top-heavy branch system, but if it survives the rigors of the desert it can live to two hundred years of age. The tallest trees reach about 15 m (49.2 feet) tall.

So my opinion is - it's not that U2 was saying the US was top heavy, slow growing, relatively weak, and metaphorically about to collapse under it's own weight but that it was resilient, beautiful, and majestic in its' own way. And they wanted to pay tribute through their new style of music.

Ironically enough, the original Joshua Tree pictured on the album cover (and below) collapsed and died somewhere around the year 2000. Supporters had always feared that the tree would be vandalized or stolen. But experts believe one branch initially broke off leaving the tree unbalanced. Shortly thereafter, the unbalanced tree strained the weak and shallow root structure and eventually fell due to the disproportionate weight.

The original tree on the cover photos (taken by Anton Corbijn) died around the year 2000

So what, you ask, does any of this have to do with Palm Trees, Cactus, and Snow-Capped Mountains? Well here it is: I recently posted about a trip I took and published a photo of a cactus, snow-capped mountain, and a palm tree. Strange combination maybe? In the post I asked if any one could guess where this photo was taken. A few intrepid readers wagered guesses but no one got if correct. So here's the answer....... (Drum Roll)

And while I was there I took a short drive out to Joshua Tree National Park. I know now why they call it Joshua Tree NP. There are thousands of these trees. Unlike the area in the Mojave desert where I saw an occasional tree, these trees were very concentrated and in all shapes and sizes.

I've uploaded a few of the photos I took for your viewing. These pictures can't portray the actual beauty of the tree or capture the experience of being there but I hope they will help you appreciate their beauty .

For your listening pleasure, I'm streaming U2 - With or Without You - Follow this link to listen

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Another Clue!

For those of you who have secretly been trying to solve the mystery of the Palm Trees, Cactus, and Snow-Capped Mountains! post; Here's another very good clue:

Just to let you know, I will reveal the answer in my next post. I know many of you have been staying up late at night researching the answer (smile). Well soon you will be able to sleep again.

Friday, April 4, 2008

An Ugly Week in the Airline Industry!

We all know that it's been tough in the airline industry lately. Higher oil prices, greedy CEO's, and allegations from whistle-blowers that the FAA is too cozy with the carriers have led to some tense moments recently. This past week, two carriers, Aloha and ATA closed their doors and shut down their businesses leaving many passengers stranded and holding worthless tickets. Well, I suppose that's not entirely true. The tickets might not be completely worthless - From what I read, if the passengers bought their tickets with a credit card, there's a good chance they may get their money refunded. But it's recommended that they call their credit card companies right away and explain that they paid for a service that they did not receive. For those would be passengers who paid with cash or checks.... It could be a lot tougher to get a refund. Worthless tickets aside, these stories continue to be common place in an industry that has suffered since the horrible attacks on 9/11.

Today I watched the following video in awe as an American Airlines flight attendant slammed her company and refused to accept an award for saving a life. What gives here? Please watch:

Alecia Lutz- Rolow, the American Airlines flight attendant in the video, clearly had her own agenda when she was called by the company and invited to this awards ceremony. And she showed up with a plan and executed it. I'll admit, this video leaves me with a lot of questions. If you're like me and wondering what truth, if any, lies in her statements then you're probably forced to evaluate or question her emotional/mental state as well. We would all certainly hope that the safety issues she refers to are not true and that passengers and her fellow crew members are not in danger as they fly, but considering the recent grounding of airplanes by Southwest for missing inspections, I suppose these allegations could be true. And suppose you do assume that Ms. Lutz-Rolow is just a bit disillusioned, or delusional - which is what I'd guess American Airlines would want you to think, then you've got to question the judgement of American Airlines for hiring her in the first place. And if they hired one delusional person, how many others are on on the payroll? Oh, the questions of modern day travel. Tough and ugly times in the airways indeed!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Which direction am I headed?

I've been on the road again and today I flew home from Denver, Colorado. So in a geographical sense, I guess I was headed West. But that's not quite the question I'm really asking. Please bear with me for a few minutes......

While in Denver today, I picked up a copy of a USA Today newspaper that someone had left around the gate area. And in the Life section, there was an article titled "Which direction are you going, and for how long?" By Craig Wilson. This instantly caught my attention so I read on.

In the article, Craig talks about a friend of his who is in her 90's. He uses his discussion about her to segway into the topics of longevity and health. The focal point of these topics is a book titled "The Blue Zone" written by Dan Buettner, a journalist/researcher. Buettner describes areas in the world where people live the longest as "Blue Zones." As I read this, I recalled an article that I had read in the past that described the island of Okinawa, Japan as having more centenarians (people over 100 years old) than any other place in the world. So curiously I read on, hoping to find some secret clue to my own personal fountain of youth.

I patiently read on as Craig rambled and pitched a free website: "" So tonight as I rushed into the house I couldn't wait to log on-line to check it out. Turns out they offer what's called a Vitality Compass. This is a specially constructed quiz that will tell you when you're going to die. Well, not exactly.... But it does provide some insight into your future based on your current habits. I broke down and took the quiz and tried my best to be honest. I think I may have stretched the truth just a minor bit but mostly, I was honest. The compass offered the following information:

  1. Biological age
  2. Life expectancy
  3. Healthy Life expectancy
  4. Blue Zone years

Turns out my biological age is about 11 years younger than my actual age and my life expectancy is 93.3 years. According to the compass, I can expect to be healthy until I'm about 81 years and then my health may suffer the last 12 years or so of my life.

So there you have it. If you're curious and want some entertainment, give it a shot. Something to think about. The site is loaded with useful information. Contrary to what the Vitality Compass says about me, I happen to feel like I've been headed "South" for the last few years. This just might be the right inspiration to change directions to a Northerly heading and live better and longer. Follow this link if you want to try it: Blue Zones

Happy Navigating!