The Masters

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Watching the Masters
stroll kaleidoscopes of elongated shadows
zebra stripes of black across the greens
as turtles bask in noonday sun.

I wonder
are these players heroes, wealthy madmen
or insanely human beings
trying to balance stress between their ears
as thousands enraptured voyeurs pay to watch.
Gasps from collective solar plexus . . . ooohs and aaahs
Late night Swedish viewers
like myself
addicted to the game.

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Tied for the lead with one day left to go.

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Civil War

ImageThe Civil War began on this day in 1861. Abraham Lincoln’s election the previous fall had signaled, for many Southerners, that the time for compromise on the slavery issue was over. Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Fort Sumter was built on a man-made island in Charleston’s harbor, and it was the last Charleston fort still held by Union troops. They had been facing off with South Carolina’s militia since the state had seceded from the Union in December 1860.

 
Union troops were running out of supplies and in danger of starving, so Lincoln tried to send in ships to relieve them. South Carolina viewed this as an act of aggression, and so, on April 11, they sent a delegation rowing out to the fort to politely demand that Robert Anderson, the Union officer in charge of the garrison, lead an evacuation immediately. Anderson just as politely declined, saying, “It is a demand with which I regret that my sense of honor, and of my obligation to my Government, prevent my compliance.” Commander Beauregard opened fire just after 4:30 a.m., beginning a war that would ultimately cost 620,000 American lives.

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Reichstag Dome

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The decision to move the capital from Bonn back to Berlin was made after the reunification of Germany. It was also decided that the original Reichstag building be constructed with a dome that emphasized a unified Germany. Architect Norman Foster designed the new Reichstag in 1993. He did not originally want a dome, but his original design was rejected, partly due to the unrealistic costs. The dome you see in these photos was at first controversial, but has become accepted as one of Berlin’s most important landmarks. It derives from a design by Gottfried Böhm, which was added to the competition information in 1992. Foster consequently gave up his resistance against it. The dome was constructed by Waagner-Biro.

Dome From Inside

Reichstag 1 - Name

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Amsterdam Memories – Oude Kerk

Thinking of Amsterdam, still months away, my yearly visit. Browsing some photos from my last.

Kirk1The Oude Kerk (Old Church) 1650. One of my favorite places, located in the center of the Red Light District. Filled with memories of times long past. Rembrandt was married here. His wife is buried underneath the floor made out of massive tombstone slabs. Some are engraved with names and bits of wisdom.

Kirk 3Don’t pull too hard on a weak rope.
Sail when the wind blows: Anything is easier when you have help.
Money doesn’t fall out of my arse. (I’d love to know the story behind that one.)

The door to the sacristy is red. Getting married was referred to by the people of that time as, “Going through the red door”. Above the door, more words of wisdom: “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”

The organ. Notice reclining figure mid center.

Kirk Organ

Looks like hard sitting. I hope the sermons were short!

Kirk 5Stairway to heaven – Or maybe just the roof.

Kirk Stairs

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Herb Caen

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Today is the birthday of San Francisco journalist Herb Caen. His column in the San Francisco Chronicle began in 1938, the year I was born. Caen was 22 then. The Golden Gate Bridge opened a few months later. What a wonderful time to live in San Francisco. Herb wrote 1,000 words a day, six days a week, for almost 60 years — the longest-running column in American history. He coined the term “beatnik” in 1958, and he made the word “hippie” popular in the 1960s. He said: “I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to Heaven. I’ll look around and say, ‘It’s not bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.’”
So true. I arrived there in the early sixties, and fell in love with the city, a wonderland for this naive, young man from Southern Illinois. A day was not complete without reading Caen’s column, a mixture on love and humor lavished on that incredible city, ‘Bagdad by the bay,’ he called it. Those spectacular views and places: North Beach, the Haight, Embarcadero, Panhandle, the Castro, Tenderloin, Golden Gate Park. Riding a cable car to work. God, how I loved that city, only place I ever felt I was where I belonged. Everyday ecstasy.
Two decades later fate and finance tore me away. I lived across the bay in Oakland for a while, and then Seattle. Now this final stop, in Sweden. Like a long lost lover unforgotten, San Francisco comes to me behind closed doors of consciousness. In dreams I wander in a labyrinth of fascinating streets and hills of times gone by. Few months have passed without her late night reappearance.

CAEN

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Observing Sweden – Spring

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Spring in Sweden

Tsunami of lawn chairs
Appear without warning
Sun bright golden day
Grass still asleep
Lawnmower waits patiently in garage shadows
Children bounce on trampolines
Sprung up like mushrooms
Days grow long
Life is reborn.

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Coca-Cola

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Today in 1886, a Georgia pharmacist, John Pemberton, perfected a headache and hangover remedy he’d cooked up over a fire in his backyard. It contained coca leaves and extract of kola nut, and he advertised it as an “Esteemed Brain Tonic and Intellectual Beverage.” He had been making something called “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca,” but Atlanta had just passed a prohibition law, and he had to come up with an alcohol-free formula. He sweetened the new elixir with sugar instead of wine, and his bookkeeper suggested he name the beverage “Coca-Cola.”

Soon after Coca-Cola hit the market, Pemberton fell ill and was nearly bankrupt. Sick and desperate, he began selling rights to his formula to his business partners in Atlanta. Part of his motivation to sell actually derived from his expensive continuing morphine addiction. Pemberton had a hunch that his formula might “someday become a national drink,” and attempted to retain a share of the ownership to leave to his son. But Pemberton’s son wanted the money. So in 1888 Pemberton and his son sold the remaining portion of the patent.

Coca-Cola is now the most widely recognized brand in the world. In the years since its first appearance, it has developed an underground reputation as a sovereign laundry additive, ham glaze, and rust remover.

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