This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2021
I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND SOME PEOPLE. No, that’s not accurate. Closer to the nugget of Truth would be, “I just don’t understand most people. Of course, of the few people that I do think I understand I’m usually wrong.
It’s not that I think I am superior or more intelligent than the bulk of humankind it’s just that my most frequently muttered phrase is, “Why they do that?”
A prime example of my mystification with people happened yesterday.
I GOT A BIT OF A PLEASANT SURPRISE THIS MORNING when I turned on the TV. Most mornings when I turn on the tube I am inundated with infomercials of all sorts and reruns of Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. I don’t mind the last two, but nothing great.
This morning however I was greeted by a blast of something both fascinating and cultural. On channel 198 here I bumped into a show that I had been watching while in Ireland. On what is called the Ovation Channel here was a program called “Portrait Artist of the Year.”
“Portrait Artist of the Year” is a painting contest. I know what you’re thinking, “Boy that sounds as exciting as…as…as watching paint dry.” But it is fascinating in my diseased mind.
THINGS CHANGE OVER FORTY YEARS. Me? I know that I’ve changed. I’m more handsome – Dashing even. Of course, my eyesight has deteriorated a bit over the years as well. I must rely on the opinions and observations of others…mainly family, friends, and people who are paid to say flattering things; barbers, tailors, and car dealers.
Cities also change. I moved out of Cleveland in 1978 and my recent visit proved to be like going to a city I’ve never seen before. I recognized street names, but in the intervening decades those streets have been rerouted, shortened, lengthened, and built up beyond my ability to remember anything at all.
YESTERDAY, JUNE 6TH, WAS ONE OF THOSE DAYS with both world significance and value as a personal day of importance.
6/6/1944 – The D-Da7y Allied Invasion of Europe during World War Two. It was the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.
6/6/1911 –The day my mother was born in Cleveland. Ohio. A date earthshaking immediately for the family living on East 66th Street and reverberating personally 35 years later when I came upon the scene.
I wish that I had known my mother, young Blanche, when she was a child. I’ve heard all the stories about the hardships and of the remarkable blessings that filled her young life.
I’M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR IDEAS. I have so few of my own that I am constantly scouting for the quirky, arcane, and “Gee Whiz” things outside of my own experience. It is a big world and, at any given time, half of the eight billion people on Earth are awake and up to something.
For the last week or so my wife, the lovely and universally interesting, Dawn, and I have been doing a bit of Binge Watching.
I HAVE BEEN SURVEYING THE WORLD OF PERFORMANCE ART.
It’s not hard to do –just look in your local newspaper for listings under “Live Entertainment and whenever you see something that boasts only one person doing the show, you’ve found it. But beware and tread carefully.
Most of the “Performance Art” solo performers that I’ve met over the years have been solo because nobody else in their right mind would get on a stage with them. Would YOU want to share the stage with a guy smearing ice cream all over his body? Not unless you brought the chocolate syrup and a spoon. But that would also call for a very low passable sense of culinary hygiene.
I AM A CLOSET RED SOX FAN. Not really, but because they are going up against the Hated Dodgers in the World Series …It’s baked beans and cod fish for everybody!
This year was not a good year for my beloved San Francisco Giants. In fact it was an “Annus Horribilis” as Queen Elizabeth once put it. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. To top off the misery the dodgers made it to the World Series. I was in mourning for several days.
I HAD A HORRIBLE SHOCK TO MY SYSTEM last Friday morning. Someone I’ve known and trusted posted pictures from the Gucci Summer 2019 Men’s Collection. High Fashion at 7 AM, before my coffee or my Blood Pressure Meds, is a dangerous thing. Having my loved ones nearby pulled me through.
I don’t know if the fine folks at Gucci have “Substance Issues,” a severe misandristic bent, or a just plain lack of taste. Or maybe they hate their models. I guess it doesn’t matter.
This story was shared by Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson, a fantastic public speaker with a great sense of humor. A renowned psychologist was giving a lecture on his theory of the flood. According to him, a myth about the flood of catastrophic magnitude has been present in every culture and religion in the world. He postulated that it was primitive people’s way of expressing their insecurities and fears for the future. He unequivocally stated that there has never been an actual flood. One of his listeners asked permission to comment.
“And what if there really was a flood? What if it isn’t a myth?” he asked.
A stunned silence enshrined the audience of professional, highly educated men. After a prolonged pause, the lecturer replied, “My teacher Zigmund Freud would ask who is stronger, elephants or polar bears. He would then answer that it is impossible to judge as they never meet; they exist in different climates. You and I, sir, are an elephant and a polar bear; we exist in different climates: you allow that the flood might have happened, and I don’t. We will never meet.”
There are several different locations where Noah, a righteous man in his time, supposedly parked the Ark when flood waters receded. Amateur archaeologist Ron Wyatt, among others, claimed that he found the remains of the Ark and some artifacts to prove the veracity of his findings. His discovery has been highly disputed, but the location is spot on: Mount Ararat, as it is identified in ParshasNoah (the view is from Armenian capital Yerevan). The following video is shot by a drone flying over Wyatt’s discovery.
Take it with a grain of salt, if you will, but today hardly anybody disputes the flood itself. “Now the earth was corrupt in G-d’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11), He got outraged, and set out to obliterate everything. It was a total immersion: “The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth… and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered” (Genesis 7:18 and 7:19). We can’t help but reflect upon the Biblical flood as thousands of people in (sic) Huston are trying to cope with a disaster of the same nature, torrential rain that flooded the city, leaving its inhabitants, human and animal alike, homeless and in need of help.
Among many photographs of immersed buildings and drowned cars, there are quite a few of “modern Noahs,” righteous among the people of our times, boating four-legged friends to safety. As the waters are receding now in Huston, and relief is pouring in, this Immersion Pie might serve as a reminder to love and care for each other and all His creatures.
The idea is to imitate earth boiling under torrential water, so there is no crust. You mix spelt or gluten free flour with soy or almond milk, add some brown sugar and cinnamon, a little baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
You can immerse any berries or diced fruit, but blueberries are still in season, huge and juicy, so first I immersed them into a mix of vanilla extract and brown sugar. They should sit and contemplate their fate, while you are mixing the rest of the stuff. After all, Noah spent 120 years building the Ark, to give people a chance to abandon their corrupt ways and make corrections, so give your blueberries a chance for 10 – 15 minutes.
Since my first rule of dessert clearly states that it’s not a dessert if it doesn’t have chocolate, I also mix in unsweetened cocoa powder. It looks like mud already!
The process of immersion is about to start! Melt Smart Balance or any butter substitute of your choice and pour it into a pie baking form. Pour your mud – batter, that is! – into it and spread it evenly. Empty your blueberries, juice and all, on top of batter and also spread them evenly.
Let it bake at 350 F for an hour or so, and the immersion will occur naturally while you are not even looking – the batter will rise and cover most of the berries. There is another, much more positive meaning of the term total immersion. It is one of the most effective methods of language acquisition: drop a person into target language environment where nobody speaks his native language or any other language he knows, and, according to S. Krashen’s Natural Language Acquisition theory, he’ll start communicating in target language. It’s a sink-or-swim method, and Krashen is right: in about three months, give or take, they start swimming, i,e, talking. By the same token, I choose to believe that dropping a person into a loving environment full of kindness will force him to acquire the same behaviors. From there – Existence Precedes Essence! – is only one step from behaviors to attitudes, and from attitudes to values!
So sprinkle some more cocoa powder on top – the more chocolate, the better! – add some crushed walnuts, if you like, and cut yourself a nice juicy piece of the Immersion Pie – total immersion in love and kindness!
1 cup fresh berries or any fruit cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup spelt or gluten free flour
½ cup brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cinnamon
½ cup soy or almond milk
¼ cup Smart Balance or other butter substitute
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder plus more to sprinkle
Optional crushed walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
Mix berries with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and vanilla extract, put aside for 10 – 15 minutes.
Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon, add soy or almond milk. Do not over-mix.
Melt Smart Balance, pour into the bottom of baking pie form. Pour batter over melted Smart Balance, spread evenly. Spread berries, including juice, on top of batter, spread evenly.
Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and crisp around the edge.
Remove, sprinkle with cocoa powder and crushed walnuts. May be served warm or cold.
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WHO KNOWS WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS? Not me, that’s for sure. Given the state of the world today there are few things that can be regarded as certain. Not many, but there are a few. I bumped into one of those sure things last night.
My wife, the lovely and cinematically tasteful, Dawn, and I are big fans of the Movies. Dawn’s taste is better and covers a wider spectrum than mine so she roots around and uncovers some real gems. Last night she found a truffle of a film that is going to be on our short list of “Movies to be seen ASAP.”
SOMETIMES I AM MY OWN SANTA CLAUS! I hadn’t planned on it. It just happened as a byproduct of finally doing something I should have done ages ago.
My desk usually looks like Dresden after World War Two. Calling it a pile of rubble is generous. It had reached the point where I didn’t know what was stacked up there. Anyway – the other day I was looking for a small pocket knife that I know had been on my desk at some time in the past. I was rooting around when I saw something that was held together with a rubber band. It looked like a bundle of plastic cards. I gave up on the knife. It will work its way to the surface at some point, but the plastic cards had my attention for the moment.
WE REALLY ENJOYED WATCHING THE OLYMPICS. The Thrill of Victory. The Agony of Defeat and all that. The Unleashing of Whackos Worldwide.
The Games have been held in Korea – not exactly down the block for us here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Where can I buy a tutu?”). Getting from this part of the world to that part can be expensive and time consuming, so we decided to stay home and watch it all on the TV.
I AM A BIG FAN OF CREATIVITY. It comes in all sorts of flavors. Some people are creative with words, others paint, while others create the things that make the world operate on a daily basis. Then there are those whose creativity is manifested by seeing tomorrow in new and amazing ways. Me? I crack jokes and hope to make each day a little more palatable.
Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”
ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS that we, as humans, have is a memory. Our memory can keep the span of our entire lives and bring back to us people and moments long past. We have our memories, but how we remember something or someone may vary from the long-past reality. Our memory of time spent with a particular person may tell us that things were better or worse than they actually were.
IT MAY HAVE SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME, but who would want to get a tattoo on their face? It seems to be a permanent response to a temporary thought. And its gotta hurt.
Getting tattooed, at least in Western cultures, used to be solely in the realm of sailors and cheap crooks. Not any more. These days millions of people get a little butterfly or whatever inked on their body usually in a location where only a lover or a doctor would ever see it. However, there are people who just don’t know when to say “Enough.”
The idea of getting facial tattoos still remains largely in the prison/criminal gang subculture. There are others who get facial “tats” who are not criminals. I would put them in the file drawer under “I didn’t know I could drink that much” or just plain “Nuts.”
WHERE DOES ONE GET THEIR FISTS ON HUGE SUMS OF MONEY? When I mean “huge” I’m talking about enough money to become “An avid Art collector.”
I bring this up because of a news item from a couple of weeks ago where a painting assumed to be by Leonardo Da Vinci was sold at auction for a whopping $450.3 million dollars. THAT is what I mean by “huge sums of money.” I can’t imagine how many lunches I would have to skip to get into that game.
Boyan Ortse is a talented photographer, designer, filmmaker and artist currently based in Ede, Netherlands. Boyan focuses on traveling, he shoots incredible landscapes and aerial shots. Ortse uses DJI Inspire 1 and DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone.
I began with multimedia design when I was a kid, playing around with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Flash, building websites and animations when I was 14. I knew what I wanted and started studying Multimedia design and graduated in 2014. During the last year of my study I started my business making graphic designs and websites for clients. This was the beginning of my career and it made me even more interested in the filming and animation industry. I bought myself a camera (the Panasonic GH4) and picked up one of the first Professional Drones with a camera (The phantom 1 with a GoPro) back then.
John Kraft is a writer living and working in Terre Haute, Indiana. He moved to the Midwest after 25 years in California where he worked as an actor, comedian, voice-over actor, as well as a writer. He now enjoys a saner pace of life with his wife, Dawn, who tries to keep him from embarrassing himself in public.
Perhaps I should explain the title of this blog: Down the Hall on Your Left.
My name is John. People are always asking where they can find "The John." My answer is: "Down the Hall on Your Left."