Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The next two are scenes that I like. They would make good subjects for an artist to paint. Unfortunately for me, I have not the slightest idea where these were taken since the slots were in an odd lot sleeve. I would guess that both were taken from a tour bus in Burgundy-see the vineyards. Enjoy!
One of the things that I like about this one was that in the middle of the tree was a large refection from the bus's window. With the aid of computer magic it seems to be gone.
Monday, March 30, 2009
While we have been enjoying the antics of two of out great grandchildren for the past three days All Plainfield bloggers have been busy producing "food for thought" for the great world of anonomi to use for commentary material.
I was not convinced when Jerry Green first started his blog, Jerry was actually writing his postings then and certainly am not now. Of late there has been a marked change in its composition, although not in substance. However, originally the grammar and phraseology was so unique that I too used it as the subject for my postings.It annoyed me that the individual who was supposed to be speaking for me in Trenton wrote as if he was producing a script for the `1930 Amos and Andy radio show.
Every one who writes, sends letters, or posts has made errors in phraseology, punctuation or spelling that proof reading and spelling checkers have not picked up.Often when I proof read what I wrote I do not see what is on the paper, but what I thought I had written. Only too often I have gone back days later and after looking at a specific document would say to myself, "my god, did I really say that".
None of this excuses those who in their brilliant witticism introduce racism into the discussion. And perhaps we are misjudging the Assemblyman who to no ones surprise has just received his party's selection to be the candidate for his 10th term in the Assembly.
He must be doing something right, like being a good team player.or cold it also be as Karl Kraus once wrote;" The secret of the demagogue (I substitute-politician) is to make himself as stupid as his audience so that they believe that they are as clever as he." That may be Green's asset in serving 18 years in Trenton.
Certainly he is truthful when he writes;" The people, not the party, elected every Mayor who served their term. The people, not the party, elected every councilperson who served their term".
What is lacking in the above statement is that if you can assure that there is no choice the people have to elect the only available candidate. As Whoopie Goldberg an outstanding pundit said, "You've got to vote for someone. It's a shame, but it's got to be done".
Green also took liberty with the figures for the 2008 primary vote in the 3rd ward. The fact remains that Mapp received 47.5% of the votes cast which is 10.3% greater than the incumbent garnered . I would call that significant, some politicians would call it a mandate.
Dan Damon who makes no bones about his political agenda supplies a link on his "Clips" blog to Jerry Green's page. Jerry uses this page for only two purposes; To blast the "New Democrats/Republicans" often by name, and to post laudatory press releases. I would ask Dan that isn't it time to link Mapp's political blog to "Clips"?
Sunday, March 29, 2009
exhibit something of interest.
Instead, from my large collection of " Petra" photos these are the last few that I will post.
This was called the "Sexus Florentine Tomb" from Roman times but is in the classical Nabatean style.
The great Nabatean temple; known as "Kasr el Bint aroun
This was the Temenos Gate entrance to the central city complex.
Another view of Kasr el Bint Faroun
I had posted this one before without identifying it; It is known as the "Lion Tomb" from the two lions con the side s of the "door"
Saturday, March 28, 2009
If you look closely the Roman Amphitheater is in the center background.
Friday, March 27, 2009
However we will continue with our visit to Petra.
The old city area is now occupied by Bedouins who have taken over caves and cleared out tombs for their residences.
To Dottie, it was Hegel who said " We learn from hstory that we do not learn from history". Sadly how true.
However, I am troubled by his apparent downgrading the Public's input at the comment portion restricted to 30 minutes at the end of the Council's sessions, or at the Business Meeting to a short period just before resolutions and ordinances are up for vote. I can not remember when any of those comments changed the Councilors' preconceived position. To quote;"The role of citizens into key decision of the City has to be increased and nurtured. It has to be taken from the public comment section, to active participation."
To often I have the feeling that the commentators are just being tolerated. Moreover, with the new schedule of 50% less meetings and no change in the public's participation time allotment, citizen's input has been cut in half.
A mechanism must be found where a citizen can be able to ask for clarification to an answer to an asked question. At present and for reasons to prevent a donnybrook, after ending his initial remarks he is muzzled.
Another place where public participation could be(edited 12 noon) effective is at the agenda setting session where there is no possibility for public input prior to Council action.
Finally, I know that often to get the best people active in a public field is to ask them to serve. Some individuals are too shy to volunteer but would be thrilled to be asked. they could be your most valuable "committee members".
Sadly most have been posted anonymously. One did use his commentary name and his remarks are consistent with his political feelings. Only Dottie Gutenkauf, who I admire but often disagree with, has the guts to publicly stand behind her remarks.
As usual she is 99.99% correct in her facts. Al McWilliams did switch parties, but twice not once. He was a registered Republican before he became a Democrat. Al wished to serve the community and knew that no Republican had a chance. It is also true that he did challenge Green but lost out at the next party committee elections. It is also a fact that although Jerry Green had lost his election to the city committee he managed to be renamed as its Chairman although not elected to it at that time.
McWilliams was also a strong advocate for the PMUA. He did not have a public conflict with Green until after his reelection. Probably because he was a smart politician he was the first in a string of mayors to get the local party's support for reelection.
Also if history is a factor recall that Ferraro was a Republican candidate when he was not the Democrat elected 2nd ward Councilman. The true fact is that irrespective of party affiliation one either was a Green supported candidate on the Democrat line, or in the last two decades was not elected. .
No one can ignore the fact that Dan Damon has a political agenda. However Jerry Green's blog is rife with distortions and accusations.I will rest this point on the three latest postings in his blog, two were on Thursday. If Mapp had not been dumped by the county party because of his association with McWilliams I am convinced that he would still be a Freeholder. It is very difficult to win in Union County and Plainfield without the party's sanction.
It seems to me that there may be an ethical conflict when a State elected individual goes to a municipality to attack an Borough employee who happens to me opposing that Assemblyman's candidate in their home town. It seems most obvious that the tone of this years Democrat primary election race is going to be filled with mud slinging and distortion of facts. As of this date I know which blogger is presenting facts.
People living in glass houses should not be stone throwers. On the other hand it is legitimate to be a whistle blower.
I will concede that my example of Russia and Nazi Germany were not applicable for Plainfield. It is true that any opposition is not killed but is exiled to a political Siberia. I should use Zimbabwe and its president Mugabe as a closer example. What I intended to infer was that unless you were a political boss in Plainfield no opposition candidate had a chance. Of course anyone who thinks that politics is honest and clean is living in another universe.
Ambrose Bierce once wrote this definition, "Politics, n, strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." That has not changed.
What also has also not changed is the fact that I will not make known my preference for any candidate until until just prior to election date. I will not, however. hesitate to print my take on any apparent negative facts about any office seeker. If you feel that I am being biased, please do not hesitate to politely say so.
There was an editing correction at 9:45 AM
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The city's water supply came through this channel cut into the wall of the Siq. There were springs on the hills above the entrance plus cisterns to catch rain.
Rounding a corner in the Siq, this was the first view of the "Treasury"
Exiting the Siq the Treasury comes into full view.
Although the Treasury looks like a building complete with support columns, this is nothing more than a facade carved into the clift's sandstone. Inside was a big carved out cavern, not finished.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Plainfield's elections have been no different than those in totalitarian states such as the Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany or the various African nations that have been ruled by dictatorships for the past three decades. The party selects the candidate. Except for the McWilliams heresy, no candidate has had party labeling if not approved by the present chairman.
I would hope that Mr. Green would publish the letter that he repeatedly refers to in his blog.
"Nevertheless, the daily phone calls of support in this matter far out-weight Dan Damon’s tactics of blaming me for Muhlenburg’s closing (which in fact the New Democrat/Muhlenberg Board sent a letter to Trenton, on behalf of Solaris, asking the State to support Solaris in closing the Muhlenberg campus)."
New Democrats is today's McCarthy type term for Communists. Green constantly uses it to blacken the character of anyone who politically opposes him. Oh well, I suppose that I too am a "Newly Democrat" since I finally decided that as a Republican I would have no voice in Pllainfield's government.
For what it is worth, Mr. Green, I have exercised my franchise of voting for over 50 years. Despite party label, at the General Election I always casted my vote for the person I felt best qualified. Quite often that person was a Democrat. Unfortunately, many a time the majority voted for the wrong candidate, but that is democracy.
Undoubtedly part of the reason for the small turnout was the greater interest in the school board candidates session of the PEA which ended only shortly before the forum was to begin. Also there was conflicts with several neighborhood meetings as well as the Council budget hearings. This points out to the need for a central (city) meeting planning registry.
The first presentation was devoted to the plans for that zone which Dashields extended from the Union County College branch (previous Courier plant) to West Second near Madison. Dashields felt that the combination of commercial and residential buildings with the conversion of Gavette Place into a pedestrian mall! would as soon as there would be an upturn in the economy create a revival of the business district.
I have no objection to the proposed usage of the area with the plan to recreate on the Park Ave. plots the historic facades. That could be attractive. However, I remain deeply concerned about the lack of on site parking. I have also expressed my concern about potential fire hazards in the new mostly wooden structures. Also I do not think that the merchants on Front Street will benefit from type residents expected unless some national brand stores can be encourage to locate there and not in the new construction.
Of equal interest was Dashields explanation of the status regarding stimulus funds. He noted that the city is planning a web site for information on what has been applied for and granted. I had the impression that what trickles down to the communities will be minuscule. Also, in answer to my question, the present state grants for road projects will probably evaporate in favor of stimulus money for "spade ready" projects.
I am reassured that the city is doing what it should to try to take advantage of the "stimulus monies".
There was discussion during the audience participation about the Muhlenberg/Solaris situation. Again it is apparent that Solaris will do everything in its power to prevent the establishment of a replacement hospital on site. The city is investigating the possibility of placing the for profit portions of the property onto the tax roles.
Of interest to me was the absence of Assemblyman Green as a participant, His presence would have valuable during the question period. This was entirely the Mayor's show.
If you click on the last photo to enlarge it, you will notice in the background the first sight of the "Treasury" as the riders exit the Siq.
Later today I will write my impressions of last night's "Mayor's Forum". However, until Monday we will have three generations of our family visiting and I may not have time to prepare any commentaries. I will post more pictures from the "Rose City".
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
In 1978 shortly after the Egyptian-Israel peace, Helen and I had the great good fortune of being able to take a Smithsonian sponsored trip to both Egypt and also to Petra in Jordan.
I found the site so fascinating that I must have taken well over 150 slides. Most have suffered from color and in some cases image degeneration over the past 30 years. However I have been able to save quite a few and will blog some over the next few days.
Although some have seen Petra’s so called “Treasury” building in an Indiana Jones movie, very few have ever heard of the city. I have extracted from the Encyclopedia Britanica the following so perhaps the slides will be more interesting.
"The city was built on a terrace, pierced from east to west by the Wadi Mūsā (the Valley of Moses)—one of the places where, according to tradition, the Israelite leader Moses struck a rock and water gushed forth. The valley is enclosed by sandstone cliffs veined with shades of red and purple varying to pale yellow, and for this reason Petra was called by the 19th-century English biblical scholar John William Burgon a “rose-red city half as old as Time.”
Remains from the Paleolithic and the Neolithic periods have been discovered at Petra, and Edomites are known to have occupied the area about 1200 BC. Centuries later the Nabataeans, an Arab tribe, occupied it and made it the capital of their kingdom. In 312 BC the region was attacked by Seleucid forces, who failed to seize the city. Under Nabataean rule, Petra prospered as a centre of the spice trade that involved such disparate realms as China, Egypt, Greece, and India, and the city's population swelled to between 10,000 and 30,000.
When the Nabataeans were defeated by the Romans in AD 106, Petra became part of the Roman province of Arabia but continued to flourish until changing trade routes caused its gradual commercial decline. After an earthquake (not the first) damaged the city in 551, significant habitation seems to have ceased. The Islamic invasion occurred in the 7th century, and a Crusader outpost is evidence of activity there in the 12th century. After the Crusades, the city was unknown to the Western world until it was rediscovered by the Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812."
To reach Petra you travel on a road that goes from Aquaba through the dessert where Lawrence fought the Turks. The destination is a motley group of cement huts where horses and guides are available. The entrance to Petra is through a long narrow canyon , "The Siq" which was one of the reasons the city was able to defend its self from invaders, and why it became "lost".
The exit of the city leads the traveler facing the Treasury. Today I have pictures leading to the city.
The dessert, a horse not a camel!
The village outside the Siq through the hills behind.The village's only reason to exist is for the tourist trade.
A view in the Siq. Only by looking straight up could you see the sky. This was a wide part of the canyon.
Nearing the exit. Light at the end of the "tunnel"
To recapitulate after landing. Koller had started the jeep as soon as we came to a stop. The jeep was attached by rope to the nose release and as soon as it moved forward the nose lifted up and we were able to drive out. The pilots were out of sight. If they had been in the cockpit they would have been lifted up with the nose segment.
We drove the Jeep out of the glider over to the other glider with the trailer. The nose of that glider was resting in the plowed field and we had difficultly lifting the nose to pull the out trailer. While we were occupied, a German soldier came out of the woods dangling aluminum anti-radar foil from upraised hands.
I could not be sure that he wished to surrender. I told my men to scatter. To my dying day I will be convinced that they all seven "scattered" in a straight line behind me. Probably the only time that they thought that the Captain would protect them. However, the German was a youngster who was overwhelmed by the airborne assaults and had had enough of the war.
We had no idea where we were. Nothing resembled what I had studied on the aerial photo maps. I showed the German where we wanted to be. He pointed out where we were; on the wrong side of the canal. He agreed to lead us to the canal and to a crossing near the farmhouse. Being lazy, I “permitted” him to carry my heavy medical bag and field pack. With my “prisoner" as guide we took off in file, the jeep towing the trailer, supposedly in the direction of the Issel canal.
We reached what look like an overgrown brook and followed a dirt road on the bank for a short distance. Suddenly, we noticed American soldiers lying prone sheltered by the brook’s near bank. It was our A Company whose Captain yelled out “Doc get down. We are in the midst of a fire fight”.
However, we had heard no shots, so we went down the bank, waded across the ankle high "canal" and up the other side while Koller drove the Jeep and trailer over a little bridge. We soon reached our destination, a farmhouse that had been designated for use as our aid station. Irby was already there with the other half of the aid station.
Even though it was spring, the large fields surrounding the farmhouse were filled with haystacks. For several days, we kept unexpectedly flushing out German soldiers who had hidden in those haystacks. They were hungry, scared, but happy to be alive, and wanted to surrender. A few had even hidden in the farmhouse attic which supposedly we had searched upon occupying the house.
One day one of our men went to the attic with a comrade. He saw a German soldier's hat behind a trunk and thought he would scare his friend. He yelled "Achtung"; to his amazement, the hat began to rise and there was a German ready to give up. Needless to say, that for all of us, each episode was a shock and surprise.
In the afternoon of day one, there was an air re-supply mission. The planes were Liberators. They flew very low just above the tree tops. Unfettered, the crew pushed the supplies out of an opened door. As they flew over, unfortunately, one of the men fell out of his plane. Our re-supply included British plasma as well as dehydrated British tea with milk. We did not like the tea, and did not have the equipment to use their plasma. One cannot help but admire the men who flew such a hazardous mission.
Five or six days later, a British Commando unit relieved us. We had not touched the chickens that were running around but it took them about five minutes to “police (cleanup) the yard”. We mutually agreed to celebrate our Anglo-American unity with a drink. Their captain refused our offer of our medicinal Old Grand Dad bourbon. Instead, he insisted on their “Teachers” Scotch. “The real stuff that you Yanks don’t get in the States”. All we could find in the house were water glasses. My colleague, Irby, suggested that I do the honors while he remained sober.
After repeated toasts with refilled glasses, I felt no pain. That was my second and last “bombed” episode in Europe. Unfortunately, I had to ride in the Jeep cross-country to where the regiment was repositioning to attack across Westphalia.
Another view of a glider at Wessel, all istruments had been stripped for reuse.
Not a good landing
This is the waterway we were to capture and secure the bridges over it. The road on the left bank is where we traveled to reach A company's position. We were lucky!
The barn complex of the farm which was our aid station.
This was a C46
Monday, March 23, 2009
As training went on rumors were rife that a major airborne operation was in the works.
The Allies especially the Americans had finally reached the Rhine in February after heavy casualties including some of the worst fighting in the Hurtegen forest. The invasion of Germany proper was next.
Montgomery was in command of what was to be the first trans-Rhine advance on German soil. He was amassing a tremendous number of heavy artillery on the west bank. The initial crossing, after the heaviest artillery bombardment and air attack of the war, was to be made by British Commando forces. Simultaneously, as the 17th seized the crossings over the Wessel River, the British Army and the American 9th would cross the Rhine on pontoon bridges to join these forces. “Varsity” was a well planned operation. Unfortunately for Monty, a few days earlier Patton’s forces were able to unexpectedly seize the bridge at Remagen and beat him into Germany proper.
For security purposes, by the third week of March, we had moved into what was in effect a concentration camp bordering on an airport outside Paris. The camp was surrounded by two rows of barbed wire with a restricted entrance gate and guarded form the outside by armed soldiers. I think the airport was Le Bourget where Lindberg had landed. There was no entry or exit except by written order. None the less, secrecy had already been breached. The Germans were broadcasting radio warnings that they would be waiting for us, even giving the general location of the Drop Zone.
One day a GI "accidentally" shot himself in the foot while cleaning his rifle”. I had to take him to a hospital in a Paris suburb. The ambulance left the camp headed for Paris. We entered the city through (the names of the 'gates" may be wrong) the Porte de St Michael. At the first intersection, we made a left turn. Upon reaching the next boulevard, we made another left turn and exited the city limits through the Port de Italia and proceeded a few miles to the hospital. That was my first visit to" gay Paree". I was later to enjoy several weeks of temporary duty at the only American Army Hospital inside the city.
Predawn,the morning of the operation, March 24, 1944, the "condemned men” were served a special (last meal) breakfast. Instead of the dried scrambled dehydrated eggs to which we were accustomed, we had all the “fresh” eggs we wanted cooked to order or a small steak. Unfortunately, there was no bacon or sausage. The majority chose the eggs, a real treat.
Holland had been the first daytime airborne operation, but “Varsity”, using the 17th and the British 6th Airborne, was the first (and last) time that gliders landed in an area not previously secured by parachutists. Obviously, we were very lucky since my group missed the severe fire fighting.
For the first time the operation called for the use of a double tow of gliders pulled by C46s instead of the customary C47 single tow. The planes started taking off just after 8 Am and by 9:30 all had been airborne for the 2½ hour flight to the drop zone. The number of aircraft was staggering; for the Americans 226 C47s plus 72 C46s carried the paratroopers, 906 CG4a gliders were towed by 610 C46s. An additional 420 Horsa and Hamiclar Gliders and 720 mixture of C47s and bombers as tows formed the British lift from England. The Allies had complete control :30 AM)of the air and there was no German aircraft intervention. (revised 7:30 AM)
My Jeep was in one glider and the medical supply trailer in the adjacent one. Four men plus a pilot and co-pilot were in each. I rode in the Jeep with my driver and two aid men. About halfway to the drop zone we ran into rough air and were forced to retie the Jeep's restraining ropes. That was difficult since there was little room and we had to lie on the jeep to reach down the sides.
This time the tows were flying at about 700 feet to make the drop time shorter. This was also the first time that the gliders were to land in areas not previously secured by the paratroopers. When flack appeared below and shrapnel flew around us, I was happy to have the Jeep's steel floor instead of just the glider's plywood floor under me.
The C46s unlike the C47 were poorly designed regarding their fuel lines and were very susceptible to catching fire when hit. This was the fate of several planes and resulting their loss. The gliders were also good targets for ground fire as well as AA prior to being cut loose and during their quick decent.
We missed our DZ and landed on the wrong far side of the Issel canal. Since the Germans were waiting with 88mm cannon, every one who landed in our designated DZ was killed. One of the two medical officers for the 2nd battalion also was a casualty.
Both of our gliders came to a stop in a plowed field after crashing through barb wire fences. Before we could move, or even breathe a sigh of relief, the glider pilot and co-pilot dashed for the cover of the woods, climbing over the Jeep and us and out the door. During “Varsity” (Wessel), the glider pilots were to rendezvous and form a temporary infantry company, instead of heading to the rear ASAP. They defended an important cross road from counter attack.
We lifted the nose and drove the Jeep out of the glider over to the other glider with the trailer. Due to the plowed ground, we had difficultly lifting the nose and pulling the trailer out of the glider. While we were occupied, a German soldier came out of the woods dangling aluminum anti-radar foil from upraised hands. I could not be sure that he wished to surrender. I told my men to scatter, and to this day, I insist that they "scattered" in a straight line behind me. However, he was a youngster who was overwhelmed by the airborne assaults and had enough of the war.
We had no idea where we were. Nothing resembled what I had studied on the aerial photo maps. I showed the German where we wanted to be. He pointed out where we were; on the wrong side of the canal. He agreed to lead us to the canal and to a crossing near the farmhouse. Being lazy, I “permitted” him to carry my heavy medical bag and field pack. With my “captive as guide we took off in file, the jeep towing the trailer, supposedly in the direction of the Issel canal.
(To be continued)
About 6 weeks later, when the division was occupying Essen/Duisberg, I was able to get back to Wessel and this is a picture of an intact glider still in one of the DZs.
This was taken in the States from the cockpit showing a C47 towing our glider. As the officer on the glider I was acting co-pilot on this training flight.
Friday, March 20, 2009
To compensate, a nuclear plant in Germany near Bamburg, two photos of Holland;the land on the Rhine, and Einhoven. This was the site the Brits sacrificed the 11th Airborne. The story is in "A Bridge too Far".
Equally peaceful is the village and castle on the "Romantic" Rhine.
Oscar Levant is quoted as having once said cynically of a politician, He'll double cross that bridge when he comes to it". Listening to Senator Dodd from Connecticut, the Republicans (the real ones not the Green variety), the Democrats and Treasury people certainly can convince one that Levant was right. The unfortunate part is that statement is often applicable to all politicians from entry level on.
Never the less I am sure the punitive legislation passed in the house to impose a 90% income tax on bonuses already granted is not only an asinine piece of window dressing but quite illegal. The lawyer lobby must have thought that one since the law suits up to the Supreme Court will keep many attorneys quite gainfully employed.
I am happy that Bernice's "Contemplative period of several days" lasted about 24 hours. The status of Chanel 74, and also Channel 73 needs clarification. What ever happened to the studio and equipment that was, I believe, located in Maxon School? Where are the TV franchise fees being used? Certainly not for the purpose that was intended. Who are the members of the Cable Television Advisory Board? How often has it met and when was the last meeting? Are minutes kept?
Yes we need Information Management, and perhaps information on various civic boards, committees etc would be readily available without having to hassle through OPRA forms. On line availability would be more in the FOIA intent.
Perhaps, rather than being concerned about such weighty matters, it is more satisfying to contemplate the flamingo and other scenes on Bonaire.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
After all Merrill Lynch and the other big recipients of bailout money similarly rewarded their financial geniuses to prevent them from bankrupting some other company. The Ponzi swindler has nothing on these boys (and girls).
Jerry Green's Page contains a press release from an unidentified source relating to Solaris meeting its obligations. He advocates certain actions from the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services regarding Solaris. Would it not be nice if he used his political position in the Assembly to force redress for Plainfield?
March Madness is here, need I say more. It may or may not impact on my blogging.
Over 20 years ago, we were lucky to take a vacation that covered "cruising" on three Rivers; The Rhine from Amsterdam to Strassbourg, The Moselle to Cochen, and the Danube from Romania to beyond Vienna. Many of my slides are from this trip, although the Ecktachrome slides have faded badly. Today's are from what was Yugoslavia and Hungry.
Yugoslavian Naval power on the Danube which for a great stretch was entirely in Yugoslavia.
A munitions bunker with military camp in the right background. Yugoslavia
A typical village station for river boats, in Hungry.
The great bend of the Danube a 45degree turn westward towards Austria. This is actually in Hungry and marks the border with Slovakia.