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PJMcK's Journal
PJMcK's Journal
March 27, 2021

Ocracoke is a lovely but remote island

We normally live in New York City and it's a two-day trip to get here. The capper is that you have to take a ferry boat to get on the island. So, if you're going to spend a week on the island, you really need two weeks otherwise you're only here for a few days.

About a year and a half ago, Hurricane Doria's storm surge flooded the entire island with over 5 feet of water. It's a barrier island and it's normally only a few feet above sea level. There wasn't a lot of wind but the wall of water inundated many of the homes and businesses. Our house was already on 7-foot stilts but many of the homes have been raised since then. The process of lifting a house is incredibly fascinating and if you're interested try this YouTube video:

The locals are still recovering. However, last summer was a huge success for the island in spite of the pandemic. Based on the advance bookings, it looks like the island will do at least as well as last year. The local economy needs it. The storm surge destroyed the school and the bank but they're being rebuilt.

It's a funny place because only about 700 people live here year 'round so the employment opportunities are somewhat limited. For example, there's generally only one of many professions: plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, food market, hardware store, etc. There are quite a few carpenters but that's probably due to all the repairs the homes need. The seafood restaurants are among the best I've ever eaten in. The fish and shellfish are fresh out of the ocean and the locals prepare them in some delicious recipes. There are many artists and musicians who bring a lovely creativity to the island.

The Landlady(!) bought our property about 20 years ago and built a cute two-bedroom beach box with the idea to use it during the off-season and rent it in the summers. Since we've been together, I've been here about a dozen times and love the island and its people. However, I always get roped into repairing, painting, upgrading, etc. It's exhausting and not a lot of fun! And I'm almost always here when it's cold and damp.

If you're interested in coming back one day, here's a link to the island's rental agency. They're friendly, professional and reasonable.


As for dinner, we're just starting to get it organized and I'm hungry!
February 16, 2021

That's too bad

I've lived in and around New York for 45 years and it still fascinates me. I moved there to go to college and stayed when I started my career. Business opportunities in the city are numerous, diverse and generally well compensating. There are opportunities in almost any endeavor and field. Anyone with ambition and a bit of drive can find opportunities for a successful life.

The diversity is incredible as there are people in NYC from everywhere! They've brought their cultures, languages, arts, clothing, personalities and foods with them making NYC one of the world's great melting pots. The sheer variety of restaurants is a testament to the many cultures represented in the city.

Pre- and hopefully post-pandemic, NY's entertainment choices are nearly endless. The Metropolitan Opera, Broadway, the NY Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, dozens of clubs and venues all provide top-flight entertainment. You mentioned Colbert's show; there are actually dozens of programs (and movies) filmed in NYC, many with live audiences. The museums are fantastic and have collections that people come from all over the world to see and appreciate. The Hayden Planetarium, part of the Museum of Natural History, is world-class and run by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Our sports teams are (usually) very strong and events like the U.S. Tennis Open and the NYC Marathon also draw crowds from around the world.

Because of the OP, I assume your opinion of NYC is a fear of crime. That's understandable. However, crime in NYC has declined precipitously in the decades I've lived there. The freak who shoved people onto the tracks is one person out of 8 million. I suspect you would find an equal or probably higher ratio of crime in nearly any other city in the country. The subways are cleaner than ever and, generally, the service is excellent. Keep in mind, it's one of the largest and oldest mass-transit systems in the world. Consider this: You can ride nearly 50 miles on one swipe of a MetroCard, (roughly $3.00).

NYC's architecture is hundreds of years old and also brand spanking new with spectacular creativity. The history of the city is very rich and dynamic. Because it's a waterfront city, the beaches, boating, fishing, horseback riding and other activities are plentiful. There are championship golf courses, (just stay away from Trump's course in the Bronx!), marinas and parks in all five boroughs. The skyline is spectacular and Times Square is popular and, shall we say, unique.

My wife and I suffer from wanderlust and we've visited many cities and localities around the U.S. and the world. We had travel plans last year and this year that were screwed up by the pandemic. However, our hearts will always be in New York, our home. You might reconsider your view of this city and give it a second chance after the pandemic is under control.

In any event, it took me all day to write this reply so I hope you'll accept it the sincerity I've intended. By the way, where do you live?

Have a good evening.

January 16, 2021

My sad expectation for our future

The deployment of 25,000+ military and law enforcement forces in our nation's capital seems more than prudent given the disastrous siege of the Capitol. I'm confident that these professional women and men will protect our capital and its people. But I have a fear for the longer term for our country.

In the mid-1970s, my high school choral group was invited to tour Romania as part of a United Nations cultural exchange program. We spent three weeks traveling around this beautiful country, performing American music and meeting many wonderful people and seeing fantastic sites including Dracula's Castle! At the time, Nicolae Ceaușescu was Romania's president and he was viewed somewhat favorably in the West because he didn't always toe the line with the Soviet Union. It wouldn't be until years later that the world would discover that he was a vicious tyrant.

There were about 40 of us on the trip and for many of my fellow students, this was their first trip overseas. Actually, for some of them, it was their first time on an airplane! When we landed in Bucharest, the airport was filled with people, just like any airport back home. But then some students discovered that there were armed military scattered throughout the airport. Some of them were emotionally shaken and the tour guide hustled us out to our bus. Later, I asked the guide about the soldiers and she said people had come to accept them and to give them a wide berth.

In the post-1970s skyjackings, we came to accept the intrusiveness of searches and metal detectors in our airports. In the post-9/11 era, we came to accept even more intrusiveness and the stationing of military and police in all of our transportation hubs and shopping malls. We came to accept government's intrusion into our phone calls and electronic communications.

We even came to accept torture.

What I fear is that D.C. will become a locked-down city where the Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court and all the other Federal facilities will have even more restricted access. These are the dangers that the right-wing terrorists are inflicting on our nation. The buildings that house our republic have to be protected from some of the citizens represented by the people working within those buildings! Who said that irony is dead?

I understand that these actions by our governments-- at every level-- are intended to protect us from the violence that permeates our society particularly from these right-wing seditionists.

But I remember D.C. when you could walk into many buildings without any security and the others with a tour or a guide. I remember airports without soldiers guarding them. I remember when flying was comfortable and even a little bit fun.

All of those days are gone.

January 1, 2021

1968 was a terrible year

RFK was assassinated.

MLK was assassinated.

The Democratic National Convention in Chicago devolved into massive riots.

Nixon was elected president.

The Vietnam war was raging and the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive. It was the deadliest year for American soldiers with 16,592 killed. 1968 was the most expensive year in the Vietnam War with the U.S. spending the 2020 equivalent of $569 billion.

There was even a pandemic, the Hong Kong Flu, also known as the 1968 flu pandemic (it continued into 1969), which killed an estimated 1–4 million people globally.

One bright spot emerged during the Christmas season when Apollo 8 took astronauts into orbit around the Moon for the first time. They captured the famous "Earthrise" photo. An American sent a telegram to NASA thanking the astronauts for "saving 1968."

Nothing saved 2020 except that Trump lost the election. Good luck, President-Elect Biden. You've got your work cut out for you!

December 23, 2020

An observation about the resignations of Trump's Deutsche Bankers

Here's a statement from the bank:

"Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi have tendered their resignations to Deutsche Bank effective as of year-end, which was accepted by the bank," Daniel Hunter, a spokesman for the bank said in a statement.
(He should have said, "...which were accepted..." but I'm a nit-picker!)

The bank is under investigation by several authorities for possible financial crimes related to Trump and his businesses. These two individuals were instrumental in securing huge loans for Trump.

Here's the thing: On Wall Street and in big banks (maybe smaller ones, too), when you get fired you're told to resign. This is for several reasons. First, these individuals usually have fiduciary and legal responsibilities; these need to be surrendered. Second, there's a sort of "professional courtesy" that one can resign, thereby avoiding to have a termination on their employment record.

The third reason is more serious. If a bank or brokerage wants to get rid of an employee and they fire the worker, it almost always has to be "for cause" meaning there has to be a breach of law or company policy to terminate the employee. This can become an enormous legal problem for the employer with the potential to cost tons of money and lots of negative publicity. Brokers and bankers don't want controversy because it undermines faith in their markets.

Make no mistake: Vrabic and Scalzi were canned. They were probably able to negotiate some financial benefits for themselves, as is the practice in many financial (and other) businesses. But they face serious legal troubles and they'll be on their own. It's most likely that their careers in finance are finished.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank will "cooperate" with investigators and eventually cut their own deal.

So, here are two more Trump collaborators tossed overboard.

Everything Trump touches dies.
November 7, 2020

Not really

Trump has always been unpredictable. He has always discovered the most odious things to say and do. But this game is over and he lost.

I expect two things will happen to Trump over the next year or so. First, his legal and financial troubles will come to dominate his life. He's about to discover how invasive our systems can be.

Second, he'll continue to tweet and hold rallies but as time goes on, his old shtick will grow tiresome. Fewer people will attend his events. Since he won't have any power, his bleatings won't be particularly relevant. Over time, less and less people will pay attention to him especially since new events will unfold as the world moves on.

Trump is not going to be a viable candidate in 2024. Too much of his malfeasance and criminality will come out in the coming months. His personal circumstances are going to change drastically. Besides, Republicans won't let Trump happen again. Instead, they'll find someone smarter and far more devious.

July 28, 2020

I had the incredible experience to meet Dave Brubeck in 1975

My best friend, who was also the drummer in our band, was a member of a local youth orchestra. His dad was on the board of directors as was Brubeck. My friend's dad arranged for me to go over to Dave's house one afternoon.

His home was in Weston, Connecticut which is about an hour east of New York City. When I got to his house, his wife, Iola, answered the door and greeted me warmly. She welcomed me into the living room and Dave bounded out of his chair and shook my hand enthusiastically. I thought something might be wrong and they were expecting someone else!

But no, my friend's dad had sung my praises so Dave, (he insisted on being called by his first name), wanted to know everything I thought about music. It blew my mind! I was 17 and Dave Brubeck wanted to now what I thought about Jazz-Rock!

After a bit, he asked me to play something for him. His living room had a beautiful grand piano with windows overlooking their wooded property. I played a light waltz I had been working on. Then he sat down, played the tune I had just shared and improvised for about 5 minutes taking my little melody on a journey I'll never forget but could never recreate.

Afterwards, he gave me a tour of their house and we had coffee and cookies. As I was leaving, I said that I had noticed that he had different pianos all over their house. These included a couple of grands, an upright and a pair of Rhodes electric pianos. Dave laughed and said, "When our kids were young, we didn't want any of them to say they couldn't practice because one of their brothers was playing the piano. So we filled the house with them!"

It was a remarkable hour or so for a teen-aged musician. Of the many things I took away from that afternoon, one thing I've adopted is having keyboards all over my homes. I've got a Baldwin upright, a Rhodes 73 stage electric piano, a Wurlitzer electric piano, a DX-7 IID digital synthesizer along with a Korg PolySix analog synthesizer, a Yamaha Clavinova, a Korg SG-1D Digital Piano and some other stuff acquired during various projects.

All the keyboards drive my wife a little nuts but all I can say is, "Thanks, Dave!"

July 25, 2020

You go, girl!

Ms. Lewinsky made some very poor choices when she was much younger. I have very little doubt she would make that same observation.

Nonetheless, she's tried very hard to improve her life and move forward. That she can poke fun at herself shows not only a sense of humor but also a sense of self-awareness. These are impressive qualities, especially in our time.

You know, President Clinton has always been a puzzle to me. I voted for him in both his presidential elections but he had some issues that I just didn't agree with. To the point at hand, it was he who should have shut down the "relationship" with Ms. Lewinsky. Not only should he have had better morals but he should have been a grown up man. Instead he acted like a frat boy on Saturday night. He was better than the Republican alternatives, of course, but he could have been better still.

July 23, 2020

My unfounded theory about Trump's cognitive test

Presented with no evidence but pieced together from various news reports:

Trump did or said something so disturbing that his handlers called in Trump's doctor. The doctor saw something concerning and ordered the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test.

The test is not very long or complicated and it's intended to be completed in 10-15 minutes. By Trump's re-telling of his experience, it appears he took far longer to complete. By the way, here's the website for the test and its developers:


Unsurprisingly, Trump couldn't pass the test. Some parts of it eluded him but the doctors and the handlers knew they couldn't tell Trump he was failing. So they coached him through the test and gave him BIG hints for the answers; think of how a parent tries to teach an infant.

The doctors sent Trump back to the White House knowing that he's got a damaged brain. Trump's handlers know he has a damaged brain. Trump's family knows he has a damaged brain. Hell, most of us know he has a damaged brain and we don't need to see his damn test!

Now, imagine that you're one of the medical professionals who witnessed these events. How would you feel about yourself, your job and your country knowing that Trump has a damaged brain?

If I'm even a little bit on the mark, this is really scary stuff.

July 14, 2020

We're in for a turbulent future

Everything in Trump's orbit becomes a study in chaos and if VP Biden defeats him in November, I suspect we'll be in for a years-long drama, both in the legal/political world and the social/civil world.

When Trump loses, he will not accept the results as a statesman. You know he'll scream, holler, tweet and file lawsuits. He'll have several months to continue to use Barr's DOJ to fight his personal battles. He'll have several months to continue his dismantling of our civil and military services. He'll have several months to act out in ways our nation has never seen: Start a war, drop a bomb, declare martial law... who knows?

Then once he's finally out of office, President Biden will have a more complicated set of circumstances than even President Obama had in 2009. As bad as he was, W didn't dismantle the government so President Obama had a tool box to work with. President Biden will be severely limited at first because of the damages Trump has inflicted. The economy, foreign relations, governmental structures and the divisive partisanship of much of our country will be very difficult and complex issues that require exceptional solutions to reunite our nation.

Meanwhile, what to do about Trump? Following the criminality of the W years, President Obama decided to look forward and let the sins of the past fade away. After all, the man had a tremendous amount of work to do! Yet, it might have been a mistake to let Cheney et al. get away with their crimes.

Will President Biden rebuild a robust Department of Justice that will investigate and prosecute the vast criminalities of the Trump years? If he doesn't, our country will not have learned any lessons and a future dictator-wannabe could attain power.

However, such prosecutions would be almost unheard of in our country's history. Until now, presidents didn't generally use their awesome powers to attack their political rivals especially after the crook has left office. If you think the Mueller investigations were polarizing, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

An equally important decision the new president will have to make is what we should do about all of the flaws and holes in our Constitution and laws that Trump & Co. have so deviously exploited? As one example, Trump's abuse of his pardon power (and to a lesser extent, President Clinton's) requires a Constitutional Amendment to redefine that power. Trump's commutation of Roger Stone's convictions and sentences was clearly a quid pro quo for Stone's silence during the Mueller investigations. One cannot get any more corrupt than that!

Since I mentioned Constitutional Amendments, it's time to restructure our national voting mechanisms. The Electoral College is an out-dated artifact from the 18th century. In the 21st century, is the United States going to remain a country with an insulator between the voters and their presidents?

How will our people react to these difficult and divisive issues? We could very easily experience tremendous civil unrest.

There are so many problems we'll face with our politics and our society that I hope President Biden will have the strength and humility to find a healthy and productive path for our country.

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 05:16 PM
Number of posts: 22,163

About PJMcK

Lifelong Democrat
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