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Tuesday, April 30, 2024



The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a National Historic Landmark. At 64-miles in length, it is the longest, the highest and most authentic steam railroad in North America, traveling through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rocky Mountain West. 

Owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico, the train crosses state borders 11 times, zigzagging along canyon walls, burrowing through two tunnels, and steaming over 137-foot Cascade Trestle. 

All trains steam along through deep forests of aspens and evergreens, across high plains filled with wildflowers, and through a rocky gorge of remarkable geologic formations. Deer, antelope, elk, fox, eagles and even bear are frequently spotted on this family friendly, off-the grid adventure. 

Join this vintage train line for a day trip through the still stunning Rocky Mountain West and on what the readers of USA Today have called the best, and most scenic train ride in America (2016, 2019, 2020). 

Depart from Antonito, Colorado or Chama, New Mexico aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad for a journey packed with fellow tourists (who love steam trains). 

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad’s passenger service operates May 25th-October 19th, six days a week, Tuesday-Sunday.

 Looking for something different?  You just found it, Come to Northwest New Mexico and climb aboard one of seven different train excursions and three different classes of service.

Departures include our geology trains and our 4th of July fireworks trains.

Tickets & Info: 1-888-286-2737

Monday, April 29, 2024


In this sketch by Jane Rosenberg shows David Pecker testifing in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. 

Let the pushback begin in court. Former President Donald Trump appears in court during his hush money trial in New York City. 

GUEST BLOG & OPINION / Via CNN / By Frida Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. She is a weekly opinion contributor to CNN, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. 

Perhaps it’s a na├»ve view. 

Maybe it’s something we were told as children. 

But most of us believe that truth is more powerful than lies. 

That’s one of the reasons why the years of the Trump presidency were exasperatingly frustrating. How was it possible that a man who told lies in such prodigious quantities, overpowering the army of frantic fact checkers who simply couldn’t keep up, would face no negative consequences from his relentless assaults on the truth? 

Worse yet, the lies worked. 

They penetrated the national psyche, cast doubt on truthtellers, helped polarize the nation, weaving an alternate reality and undercutting American democracy. 

Incredibly, most dye in the wool Republicans believe former President Donald Trump’s most pernicious lie, that he won the 2020 election. It seemed as if a cosmic law was being violated. 

Lies, denial of reality, weren’t supposed to succeed with such ease. 

 Now, however, the truth is getting its revenge. 

It may be temporary, but in recent days, the deceivers have been put on the defensive. And it’s not a good look for that class of people whose misleading ways so often come dressed in supreme arrogance. 

The image of Trump sitting in a New York courtroom, seething, looking angry, diminished, should have a soundtrack. What Trump was hearing was the confession of one of his facilitators admitting to their alleged tactics. 

David Pecker, the former head of the National Enquirer, was granted immunity to testify. He admitted to the plot he coordinated with the Trump team, using his publication to smear Trump’s opponents with stories they knew to be false, while hiding truthful news about Trump’s misdeeds from the public. 

That, of course, includes the story of adult film actress Stormy Daniels, at the center of the case, who claims Trump paid her off to keep the story of their alleged affair out of the media, because it could harm his presidential prospects in 2016. (Trump has denied all wrongdoing, including denying that he had an affair with Daniels, and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.) 

The revelations, though not surprising, are appalling. A national publication knowingly, deliberately engaged in deceiving its readers. We knew the outlet did it for entertainment purposes. 

Now it confessed to adapting their unethical practices to bamboozle American voters. While criminal defendant Trump had to sit and listen, other alleged accomplices in his effort to overthrow the US election faced an unhappy truth of their own. 

It’s taken much too long, but the lies about the 2020 election — all of them found to be false by dozens of courts across the country — are now turning into prosecutions. 

This week, Arizona indicted multiple people in connection to the plot to declare Trump the election winner. Among them: Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. While his acolytes faced the prospect of prison, Trump’s lawyers went to the Supreme Court to argue the former president enjoys absolute immunity for just about everything, including to weaponize his lies. 

“If the president decides that his rival is a corrupt person and he orders the military … to assassinate him, is that within his official acts for which he can get immunity?” asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  

The awful answer: “That could well be an official act,” said Trump’s lawyer, D. John Sauer. Words fail to capture just how outrageous this claim is, for a would-be president, no less. 

 This past week also marked the first anniversary of another moment in the battle between truth and lies. A year ago, Fox News, a purveyor of election lies, fired Tucker Carlson, a host who spewed conspiracy theories. Fox, you’ll recall, did face consequences for its mendacity. 

After letting hosts and guests relentlessly claim that voting machines had thrown the 2020 election, the right-wing network settled with Dominion Voting Systems for $787 million. 

Then it fired Carlson. 

Carlson’s effort to retain his enormous influence seems to be faltering. At the height of his fame, he could make or break Republican politicians. His show was getting four million viewers a night. Now his “network” TCN has half a million followers on Elon Musk’s limping platform, X. 

Carlson now sounds like a Putin-loving conspiracy theorist howling under a Russian moon. Even Sen. Mitch McConnell blasted him, blaming him for the “demonization of Ukraine.” 

Other far-right publishers of conspiracy theories are also on the ropes, or down for the count. The Gateway Pundit, home to wild inventions and a mainstay of MAGA falsehoods, including about the 2020 election, announced this week that it filed for bankruptcy. The website, like others in its realm, is facing expensive lawsuits. 

Turns out when you’re accused of telling lies, it’s hard to come up with a defense. (One reason Trump’s best shot is to argue that he cannot be prosecuted.) One of the lawsuits against the Gateway Pundit came from Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who became well known when they testified during the January 6 hearings in Congress about how their lives had turned into a nightmare following lies about their role in the vote count. 

Also facing the consequences of their lies is another far-right “news” outlet, One American Network, or OAN. OAN, too, spread fantasies about voting machines playing a role in a supposedly fraudulent election. 

Last week, the network and Smartmatic, another election machine company, announced they had reached a settlement in the company’s lawsuit. The amount was not disclosed. 

Somehow, the courts have become the place of reckoning for malignant liars, although the process can be long and frustrating. 

Alex Jones, who all but tortured the parents of children massacred by a gunman at Sandy Hook, claiming it was all staged, was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion. He and his company declared bankruptcy, but court documents claim he continues to “enjoy an extravagant lifestyle.” 

Still, there is a certain satisfaction in seeing enemies of the truth, perennial manufacturers of deceptions, at last face strong and potentially effective pushback. 

It’s not only that their words caused harm, although they did. And it’s not only that they deserve to be punished, which they do. But there’s something else. There’s a fundamental, necessary law of the universe that truth must be stronger than lies. 

It turns out that enforcing universal laws can also require an army of prosecutors. 

Sunday, April 28, 2024


Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA

GUEST BLOG / By veteran wine journalist Tom Gable
--White Rhone-style blend value Tablas Creek, Patelin de Tablas 2022 Paso Robles ($22, local merchant), blend of 49% Grenache Blanc, 22% Viognier, 10% Marsanne, 10% Vermentino, 9% from three others. Sharp mid-green gold; low viscosity (12.5 alc.). Peachy, tropical, lemon nose; mid+acids; mid-body; balanced; good depth; long round (4.2 g/l residual sugar) peachy finish. Spring and summer sipping wine. 16/90. 


 Tablas Creek Vineyard, 9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles CA 93446 

Saturday, April 27, 2024



 Waiters celebrate the start of France's iconic Course des Cafes ('coffee race'). 

A 110-year-old tradition has waiters racing through Paris streets while balancing coffee and croissants. 

GUEST BLOG / Article and photography by Joshua Berlinger, Al Jazeera of Paris’s most fashionable districts was flooded with white-shirted waiters balancing trays of coffee and croissants as the iconic Course des Cafes (“coffee race”) returned to the French capital in early Spring. 

The competition, which began in Paris 110 years ago, sees waiters race each other while holding trays of typical French fare. The event had not been held since 2011 because of budget issues. 

But with the Olympics coming to town this year, the city of Paris decided to revive the tradition to contribute to the spirit of athletic competition. “Slaloming between tables and serving orders in record time without spilling one’s plate – that’s a sport,” the city peres et meres said in a press release. 

Thousands gathered to watch more than 200 waiters take part in the race, which traverses a 2km (1.2-mile) route around Le Marais in central Paris. 

Without running, each waiter had to reach the finish line while balancing a tray with a glass of water, a cup of coffee and a croissant – and without spilling anything. 

Competitors were required to wear a white top, black trousers and a waiter’s apron, the traditional garb for Parisian waiters. 

The dress code was meant to “pay homage to this legendary historic race”, said Paris Deputy Mayor Dan Lert. Lert is also president of Eau de Paris. The public service company sponsored the race as part of a public relations campaign to encourage people to drink more tap water and consume fewer single-use plastic water bottles. 

The race starts and finishes at the Paris City Hall, an imposing Renaissance Revival building in the 4th arrondissement, close to the River Seine. 

Competitors must weave their way through some of the narrower streets of Le Marais district, one of the only parts of the city where the cramped alleys common to medieval Paris remain intact. 

Racing waiters also have to contend with hordes of tourists coming to explore the Marais, a popular spot for visitors thanks to its elegant 17th-century mansions, the Picasso Museum and writer Victor Hugo’s house. 

The district is also known for its boutique shops and, due to its roots as the Jewish Quarter following the French Revolution, home to a couple of famous falafel shops as well. 

The race’s female and male winners, ⁠Pauline Van Wymeersch and ⁠Samy Lamrous, were each given tickets to the opening ceremony of the Olympics this summer. Other top finishers received gift cards to restaurants around the city.

Racers were required to sport the white tops and black bottoms traditionally worn by Parisian waiters.  

Faces of France. Before the race, Pauline Van Wymeersch (centre, in focus), said that she had 'hoped to win'. After her victory, she told Al Jazeera: 'The Parisian crowds were awesome.' 

Valentin Marques crosses the finish line after winning the apprentice’s race, which was held before the main event. 

Samy Lamrous of La Contrescape cafe in the Latin Quarter crosses the finish line as the top men's finisher with a time of 13 minutes and 30 seconds.
Mon Dieu!

Croissants sit ready to be picked up by participants before the race. 

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo congratulates Pauline Van Wymeersch of Cafe le Petit Pont, located in the 5th arrondissement, on finishing first among female competitors (14 minutes and 12 seconds).  Mr. 57 is believed to be the owner of Cafe Le Petit otherwise he is just a photo bombadier.

Old logo shows running, which is not allowed, alors!

Friday, April 26, 2024


 CLICK HERE for more book info. & TOUR STUFF.


LOCAL AUTHOR ADVERTISEMENT BELOW: gives indy authors' best royalties.

Thursday, April 25, 2024


Yes, inflation is a part of our lives, but so is Costco (for the rest of fellow 99 percenters). And like all corporate success stories, Costco pays attention to the little guy/gal or former guy/gal and to the little details that puts a smile on day to day living. 

 For example, Costco still sells its jumbo all beef hot dog and a 20 ounce soda (with refill) for only $1.50. That price hasn't changed since 1985.

Inflation be damned!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024


The Woolworth's building at 19th and K streets in downtown Bakersfield, CA is an example of the architectural style of late moderne. Elements of late moderne emerged from the art deco period, but with the changing times came a shift to a more streamlined, modern look, clean but still maintaining a sense of theatricality with its curves and subtle ornamentation. 

GUEST BLOG / By Steven Mayer, It’s been more than two years since a group of partners connected to Moneywise Wealth Management purchased the historic Woolworth’s building in downtown Bakersfield, California. 

Even as construction work is hitting its stride inside the 44,000-square-foot, late moderne architectural style structure built in 1949, the new owners say they will be the recipients of a grant administered by the city of Bakersfield worth nearly a quarter-million dollars — funding that is expected to greatly help the partners in their plan to remodel the interior of the building, making use of its underutilized potential, while maintaining its exterior charm and preserving its much-loved and historically significant Woolworth's lunch counter. 

Emily Waite shares her passion
for the historic Woolworth's
building and what she sees
as its enormous potential for
the long-term betterment
of downtown Bakersfield. 
"This is not an out-of-town venture capitalist group coming in and buying this as an investment," said Emily Waite, one of the family members involved in the Woolworth's Project that include Sherrod Waite and David Anderson. "We are a local Bakersfield, born-and-raised, mom and pop project," she said. "And we are just trying to make a difference, trying to have an impact here." 

In late January 2024, as Waite led a reporter and photographer through the building's three floors and massive basement, workers inside the building were hard at it, making noise and raising dust. 

A glance forward from the 19th Street entrance showed heavy plastic sheets tightly covering and protecting the luncheonette, the last functioning Woolworth's lunch counter in America. 

The partners' stated intention from the beginning has always been to keep the lunch counter open, and to restore it to its original luster, Waite said. And that hasn't changed. 

But it doesn't mean the lunch counter area will keep the appearance fans have come to expect. 

Same goes for the building's exterior. 

"The original paint was not this color," Waite said. "The green and tan you see now was not original. It's going to go back to the white and black." 

"Other than that, it will look exactly as it does now, but more polished up." 

Plans for the basement, now stripped down revealing the building's "bones," are also unchanged: Music venue, practice rooms, recording studio, and a bar are the basic amenities intended to make the space a magnet for music lovers, music makers and creatives in general. 

"This is where the basement of the department store was," Waite said as she stepped down onto the lower floor. "This is quite a thick layer of dust, but the original terrazzo tile is underneath it." 

"Terrazzo" is one of the magic words at the Woolworth's Project, where historic preservation is not only desired, it's now required, at the partners' insistence. 

Yes, it means construction will take longer. Maybe they'll be done by August 2024.

Yes, it means it will cost more. 

But they all agree, in the long term, it's worth it. Soon after acquiring the property, the partners made it a priority to have the building placed on the Register of Historic Places. 

In spring 2022, the Bakersfield City Council voted to add the building to the city's own Register of Historic Places. 

This was followed by required applications at the state and national levels. 

"We have since received historic preservation status from the California Office of Historic Preservation and expect to receive designation from the National Register of Historic Places, administered by the National Park Service, upon project completion," the partners said in their grant application. 

"Our goal is to leverage one of the area's few remaining architecturally significant pre-1952 earthquake buildings to create a hub for community, creativity and commerce," they wrote. "We plan to reopen the fully functional lunch counter to again serve the public's beloved classic burgers and milkshakes. Additionally, we hope to further the area's cultural and musical legacy by partnering with an established local music store. 

The first floor retail space, practice rooms, and basement venue will nurture talent." 

The partners say they are seeking lasting, positive change for "our beloved city," said Cecelia Griego, principal planner for the city of Bakersfield's Economic and Community Development Department, when the city of Bakersfield launched a competitive grant process for property and business owners in the Downtown Economic Opportunity Area for site improvement and business expansion, the city received 40 applications and was able to fund 24 of them. 

The purpose of the grant program, Griego said in an email, "is to support business growth, development, entrepreneurship, and innovation. "The EOA Plan is a locally initiated program that uses local sales tax revenue and other public funds to promote economic growth and development investment within specific geographic areas of Bakersfield," Griego said. 

The Woolworth's Project "met many of the evaluation criteria," she said, such as the redevelopment of an underutilized structure, helping to restore the tax base with a new or revitalized use, and providing support for new business growth that could create new jobs. 

In addition, the project supports the preservation of Bakersfield's history. Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, whose Ward 2 includes the downtown district, said while downtown faces some of the biggest challenges, it also offers some of the greatest opportunities to support the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized buildings, enhance the aesthetic beauty and improve the livability of downtown, while supporting the continued growth of commerce and entrepreneurship in the area. 

"I'm very excited about the Woolworth's Project and the vision and investment from those involved," he said. It has the potential to be a "game changer," Gonzales said, not only in the vicinity of 19th and K streets, but throughout downtown. 

"Great cities in America have great downtowns," he said. "Great downtowns have great buildings. That's what Woolworth's can become, and we will be better for it." 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Nothing like a terrific Associated Press photo to bring worldwide attention to a small town in Belgium, a few miles south of Ghent. 

Here’s an example of a photo we could stare at for hours. Norway’s Vegard Stake Laengen of the UAE Team Emirates, third left, rides with the pack through the historical center of Oudenaarde, Belgium, during the Tour of Flanders bicycle race on Sunday, March 31, 2024. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert). 

An earlier image of the square in Oudenaarde with the iconic town hall and belfry in the distance. 

After the bikers sped by, many strolled over to Hoogstraat’s Jone Koffiebar, a stylish coffee house getting high marks these days. 

And you’ll see countless buildings like this one going back to 1702 as advertised. Oudenaard’s 1000 year history showcases its legacy of tapestries from medieval to present. 

And, of course, the omnipresent chocolate shops, bier halls and Old Masters paintings in museums and galleries throughout are not to be missed.

We'll leave you in a favorite sweetshop in Oudenaard: Miss Vanilla's on Nederstraat.  And, her food truck, too.

Monday, April 22, 2024



An ADU complex in the Golden Hill neighborhood of San Diego. In the distance is the Coronado Bay bridge over San Diego Harbor. Photo by Adriana Heldiz for CalMatters

GUEST BLOG / By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego--San Diego’s innovative accessory dwelling unit program is drawing national recognition for housing affordability — and the wrath of a neighborhood group seeking “responsible development.” 

Last week the city was named a top 10 finalist for the annual Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability, which seeks to recognize “ambitious, feasible and scalable solutions” to housing affordability throughout the nation. But Neighbors For A Better San Diego has appealed to the University of Utah, which administers the prize, complaining that the program is “written by developers for developers” and should not receive an award. 

The city’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Bonus Program allows additional ADUs to be built on a property when those ADUs are designated and guaranteed as affordable housing. “The city has taken ADUs to the next level by allowing homeowners to build additional ADUs on their property, an unprecedented move that allows the city to rapidly increase supply and density of affordable housing,” said Hannah Gable of Ivory Innovations, a nonprofit organization based at the University of Utah. “This innovative model is why the city of San Diego has advanced as a top finalist for this year’s Ivory Prize award. We believe that the city will stand as a model for cities across the country that are trying to tackle rising costs of housing for all Americans.” 

But Neighbors For a Better San Diego argues that bonus ADUs are being build too far from transit, undermining the city’s climate plan, while encouraging “scattered density” in residential neighborhoods and driving up prices for single-family homes. 

 In addition, the group said, increased development via ADUs is “leading to clear-cutting of San Diego’s urban forest in both back and front yards,” creating conditions for future flooding. The group told Ivory Innovations it “strongly recommends that you not award the Ivory Prize to the city of San Diego for its Bonus Accessory Dwelling Unit program.” 

The 2024 Ivory Prize winners will be announced on May 16, and $300,000 in prize money will be distributed between at least three winners selected across the three award categories — construction and design, public policy and regulatory reform, and finance. 

Sunday, April 21, 2024



President Abraham Lincoln was slain on April 14, 1865. Six days later the  wanted poster, above, was printed and posted. 

 WANTED! War department, Washington. April 20, 1865. $100,000 reward!

 The murder of our late beloved president, Abraham Lincoln, is still at large. 

 Did anyone collect the rewards? 

CLICK HERE. For an article by the Abraham Lincoln Association titled: “Battle for War Department for the Capture of the Assassin by Robert C. Wick, 2011. 

Be patient allow the link, above, to load.


Condemned are about to be hung in the hot July 7, 1865 sun.  Left to right: Mary Surratt; Lewis Powell, David Herold and George Atzerodt.  The prison was torn down and Ft. McNair was built in its place.  The tennis courts in Ft. McNair were built over the site of the scaffold.


The assassins were hung in the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington DC on July 7, 1865.  There is a eyewitness account of the deaths by a US. Soldier; with very little difficulty his report can be located on the Internet.  According to his report, the four dead hung at the end of their ropes for 25 minutes before they were cut down.  After that the four were placed in wooden coffins as they were cut from the rope.  Only the nooses were removed before they were buried on the grounds of the old fort.

Saturday, April 20, 2024


I live in a historic neighborhood that is Gen Z trendy.  People like coming to North Park and plenty want to live here.  When it comes to coffee houses there are more than 20 coffee shops of all stripes within a mile of North Park's main intersection: 30th and University.

New coffee houses come and many disappear.

The allure to own and be part of a coffee house operation is hard to control.

I've seen friends go broke trying.  So much so warning flags like the following should be mandatory reading.

The following click through will take you to a popular post with basic common sense tips to consider before you take that leap. One item not on the list is important, too: talk to someone who has failed as a coffee house owner.  In other words give yourself a chance from day one: curb your enthusiasm.


Friday, April 19, 2024


Sweet home San Diego in a Spring Rain by Amanda Moore


CAPTIONS: A. Baltic Sea in Timmendorfer Strand north Germany, Photo: Michael Probst; B. Amalfi, Italy by Jim Cornfield, Los Angeles; C. Southern California by Jim Furlong, San Diego; D.  San Francisco Skyline by Jennifer Redmond, West Coast liveaboard; E. North County San Diego by Maggie Brown; F. Saguaro cactus, Arizona by Charlie Riedel; G. Liverpool, UK by Laurence New; H. Winter on the Malecon, by Marco Tagliarino, Havana, Cuba. I. A man walks by a park in Kyiv, Ukraine by Vadim Ghirda; J. Sunset reflected in the Salton Sea as seen from Bombay Beach, CA by David Swanson; K.  Bather in Gulf of Mexico off of the west coast of Florida by Visit Florida campaign. 












Thursday, April 18, 2024


The Velliotis Family and Clark Street Dog have been serving the Chicagoland area delicious Chicago-style street food and drink since 1977. 

The restaurant has become known for its signature Clark Street Dog lathered with mustard, onion, relish, tomato, pickle and peppers, $3.99 

They also serve a top-rated Chicago-style Philly steak, $10.99 

Outtatown reporter on assignment to eat his way
through Chicago stops at Clark Street Dog

Plus, Angus burgers and the ever-popular cheese fries. Fresh never frozen and cooked to order—always. 

 Clark Street Dog is the original hot dog bar. It features a full bar and is the original home of the pickle back shot, the latter is the result of a creative conversation over what to do with the leftover whole spears pickle juice. 

 [Note: you will not find many daily blogs that send a reporter to taste Chicago pickle juice]. 

The bar is a true Chicago brew loyalist featuring only local beers on tap with Goose Island for $5 every day of the week, including game days. 

When in the Northside's Lakeview 'hood stop in Clark Street Dog, 3051 N. Clark Street, Chicago IL 

Classic neighborhood joint with good food, spirits and for once affordable prices. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024



A review by San Diego Union-Tribune’s Lori Weisberg. 

To arrive at the final ranking Esquire Magazine said its editors and contributors traveled thousands of miles to experience new and newly renovated hotels to select the most dynamic properties worth telling a story about. 

CLICK HERE for the U-T article