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Early Voting Debacle, Maryland Style

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I live in Prince Georges County, Maryland, which has a population of 871,233 and covers 498.45 square miles. There were five designated early voting locations in this county.

Five.

Whomever the Braniac was that figured five early-voting locations were enough for this county should be made to stand in line for, say, the next two years as punishment.

For comparison purposes, the District of Columbia has a population of 617,996 and covers 68.3 square miles. They had eight early-voting locations; that’s with a 30% smaller population and only 14% of the size of Prince Georges County. They had 70% more early-voting sites than PG County.

I tried early voting Saturday at 2pm. The closest early-voting location to me is the College Park Community Center, and I couldn’t get near the place. Police officers were there to attempt to handle the traffic nightmare, but I was stuck on a residential street for thirty minutes in absolute gridlock. When a policeman walked by my car, I asked what in the world was going on; I though that perhaps there had been some sort of accident or catastrophe.

He replied that all the cars were folks trying to get to the polling place, and that we all had to try to turn around and go home; officials hadn’t realized how many people would show up.

When I tried again yesterday afternoon, accompanied by an impatient friend, we stood in line for 45 minutes, and gave it up when we were told that we would have to spend at least another 45 minutes before we’d reach our turns. I was all for staying, but my friend Bob was livid and refused to spend another minute in line. I really couldn’t blame him.

So to Hell with early voting. Maybe one day some official can make an intelligent decision and designate a reasonable number of early-voting sites. I seriously doubt it.

Delta

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My great friend from Nashville, John Beasley, created an amazing blog that takes you on a tour of blues-related sites in the Mississippi Delta.

Beaz knows whereof he speaks. He’s a talented singer and player, and makes the best margaritas you can imagine. He can do anything in the world except teach me how to play Deep River Blues as well as he does.

You will enjoy the trip through the Delta with Beaz as your guide; that I guarantee.

The photos shown were taken by the Beaz and show the outside neon sign and stage at Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero juke joint in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Inside Hitler’s Bunker

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These stills are from a YouTube video. They show my dad in one of Hitler’s underground bunkers. I thought all this time that the bunker my dad had been in (and grabbed some souvenirs in the process) was the Berlin one; the caption on this video says it was the bunker under Hitler’s private home, called the Berghof. The caption also says that Dad was the first American G.I. to enter the bunker. Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say.

Just after the war, my dad was temporarily assigned to the 101st Airborne Division; in the video, you can plainly see the Screaming Eagle embroidered patch on his shoulder. Why he was chosen for this little film, which is in an early version of color, is not known to me. Maybe it was because he was a photogenic person or maybe it was because he was persuasive and talked his way into it. Don’t know; my dad never mentioned any of this stuff to me, other than to say he had grabbed a bunch of junk in Hitler’s bunker after the war. Anything I learned about his wartime experiences was from overhearing his conversations when a couple of other WWII vets visited our home in the mid-1960s.

Anyway, he sent home a roll of about a dozen water colors and a larger oil pastel that Hitler, an artist earlier in his life, had stored in that bunker. I gave away the watercolors to some friends in Naples in the early 1970s and burned the painting in the early 1990s. I reasoned that destroying an artist’s work is the biggest insult one can do him. All the paintings were of street scenes or of buildings; I guess people weren’t important to Adolf Hitler.

So here are some images illustrating one tiny portion of the aftermath of a hideous episode in the history of our world.

Hi To Our Friends Around the World!

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WordPress provides interesting stats about the blogs they host, and guess what?

Since starting this blog back in July, I’ve been gratified and amazed not only at how many folks here in the United States have visited it (several thousand), but also how many folks from other countries have stopped by.

In order of the number of views– and we’re talking hundreds of views per country in some of the top ones– we’ve had viewers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, France, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Colombia, Netherlands, Mexico, Poland, Indonesia, Singapore, South Africa, Russian Federation, Romania, Sweden, Japan, Portugal, Malaysia, New Zealand, Denmark, Serbia, Republic of Korea, Belgium, Switzerland, Pakistan, Norway, Thailand, Turkey, Greece, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Egypt, Macedonia, Lithuania, Ireland, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Peru, Georgia, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Solvenia, Israel, Latvia, Azerbaijan, French Polynesia, Venezuela, Kenya, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Uraguay, Lebanon, Macai, Taiwan, Chile, Uganda, Bhutan, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Nepal, El Salvador, Mozambique, Czech Republic, Moldava, Slovakia, Jordan, Iceland, Guatemala, Ukraine, and Grenada!

That’s over 75 countries other than the U.S!

Am I excited about this? You bet! I’ll continue to try to create entries that I hope you’ll find interesting and informative. I also greatly appreciate all the nice comments I’ve received.

Maybe this blog is in some whacky way useful in bringing people from all over a bit closer together!

Thanks again!

–Jim

Naples When It Was

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Many of us who grew up in Naples, Florida back in the mid- to late-1960s are still in daily contact and we have a lot of laughs. There was something unique about that out-of-the-way spot way down the left side of Florida. It was a strange mix: locals who lived there for the fishing or hunting or because they’d inherited a place jumbled together with the fabulously wealthy. Add in a few drug runners and such for spice.

Through the years, Naples has grown and the average income has risen. In our day, we teens had to make up ways to have fun and we had a blast!

I visited Naples for a high-school reunion a couple of years ago and it was a great week. We resurrected a variant of the high-school bands we had been in and played a few sets at the reunion dinner. During the days, we’d drive around and marvel at how much the town had changed, but also at how much was still recognizable if you knew where to look.

Earlier this year, I finished writing a fun mystery novel set in the Naples of those days, entitled Blood on a Sugar-Sand Beach. It’s on Amazon Kindle if you feel like taking a look.

One day, some astute filmmaker will create a film about that town in that era; it should be something like American Graffiti meets Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, with a bit of M.A.S.H. thrown in to snaz up the dialog. There are a million zany stories and many of them are almost 100% true!

Where are George Lucas and Steven Spielberg when you really need them?!?!?!

Ocean City Storm

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My wife, Patty, is a talented photographer. She took this photo from the balcony of the condo where she, my daughter and granddaughters were staying in Ocean City, Maryland, the last week of August.

Patty just corrected me; I thought that she took this photo with her Nikon DSLR, but she took it with her iPhone. Even more impressive.

The photo shows a storm coming from the south; the colors just knock me out. Double click to view the image full-size and see if you don’t agree!

Be Careful, John!!!

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The gentleman across the street from us is a great guy and, as you will see, a brave one as well. He’s probably in his 70s, but he thinks nothing of putting a ladder on the second-story roof overhang of his house to do some repair or maintenance on the third story or even, as seen here this morning, the roof above the third story.

I have a fear of heights and it frankly gives me the willies to see John doing that! I salute his courage as I cringe at the thought of what could happen to him if all did not go as he had planned.

John’s house is the former home of T. Howard Duckett, who was one of the founders of the Washington (DC) Suburban Sanitary Commission, which handles the water and sewerage for much of the DC area. It’s a lovely house sitting in the middle of six city lots.

Duckett, who evidently was a very good business person, put up the five Sears kit homes across the street from his house as rental properties in the mid-1920s. My house is the middle one of the five.

On the next street south of us is the old and vacant original WSSC building. After the WSSC moved to new quarters, the city gained ownership of the property and has struggled for years with what to do with the huge building. From time to time, we hear it will soon be a retirement home or an arts center or a school but what it has been for the nine years I’ve lived here is a big vacant building.

So political inertia is a powerful force and so, Neighbor John, is gravity. May it always remain your friend as you perform these home-repair duties.

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