Saturday, January 21, 2017

History Lesson: Did you know saying "Democrat Party" is a Slam?

   Several people who have written letters to the Editor in our local newspaper and continue to use
the words "Democrat Party" when referring to the Democratic Party.

DID YOU KNOW?  That incorrect reference was created by hostile conservatives. It's insulting.  The proper name is the Democratic Party.

HISTORY OF THE INSULT:   In fact, if you Google it, you'll find that using "Democrat Party" is a slam. It's not new, although Fox News and conservative "news" sources have resurrected it. The term has been used in negative or hostile fashion by conservative commentators and members of the Republican Party since at least 1940.

USE IN RECENT HISTORY: 1) Following his inauguration in 2001, President George W. Bush often used the noun-as-adjective when referring to the opposition party.
2)  Donald Trump said on December 19, 2015, that the debate among democratic presidential candidates should be called the "Democrat Debate" rather than "Democratic", as the party was the "Democrat Party" and not "Democratic"

FOX NEWS PERPETRATING THE USE:  Fox News is a partisan outlet that promotes heavily slanted conservative views and has propagated fake news. It is also responsible for promoting ignorance in using the reference of "Democrat party."
  Democrats don't call the Republican Party the "Republic Party." So Republicans need to stop using "Democrat Party."  It's all about respect.

PLAYING DIRTY-  If Republicans continue to play dirty, then Democrats need to start playing dirty. Democrats have taken the "high road" and it got the party nowhere. It's sad to think that Democrats need to start being nasty to win an election, but it worked for Republicans. It says that voters in the U.S. now respect bullies. Sickening.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Italy Blog 84: Pompeii Part 5: The Brothel and Phallic Directions

Menu of a spanking
In this blog of our tour through Pompeii, Italy, we'll take you to one of the places most frequented, with an impressive "menu" and tell you how phallic symbols gave directions. Really. :)

THE BROTHEL - We learned that the brothel was apparently one of the most popular places in Pompeii from the time it was built until the time it was covered with ash from Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Because Pompeii was near the River Sarno and the Bay of Naples, men who sailed on both would come to the city looking for pleasure. Of course, back then men could be with women or men, or women with men or women. It made no difference (as it shouldn't).

Another Menu Item
Stone bed in the brothel
THE MENU - On the walls of the brothel as you enter are murals. These are actually "menus" where all you have to do is point to get the "service" you want. There are couples involved in all kinds of sexual acts. So, if the sailors didn't speak the local language or dialect, it made it easy just to point to the picture. Clever.

ROOMS - There were also rooms where people could go to do their business, and there were pools to clean off afterward. They seemed to think of everything!

A penis direction to the brothel
PENIS DIRECTIONS - Our tour guide, Maria pointed to the corners of many buildings as we walked through the un-buried city. Many of the buildings had a stone carved shape of a penis, and she said it pointed in the direction of the brothel!  She said that it was the most popular place in the city.

NEXT: Eerie Plaster Casts of the Dead

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Italy Blog #83: Pompeii Part 4: Interesting Streets and Waste Disposal

Wheel indent in Pompeii street
In this blog about Pompeii, Italy we're going to make you look down at the streets, because they were pretty amazing and ingenious. We'll also explain how they had indoor toilets and waste water disposal.

STREETS - The streets throughout the entire city were all hand laid stone. Not only that, but they were engineered with gutters along each side of the street, to carry waste water and run-off from rains, to a lower location outside of the city. It was ingenious!  To think, that that was part of a society built before 100 B.C. is amazing. What's sad is that was lost and forgotten for 1500 years until after the middle ages.

Pompeii indoor toilet
RIDDING WASTE WATER - "Roman hydraulic engineering and city design being what it was, Pompeii was well supplied with constant flows of spring water from the inland mountains.It seems that most streets were constantly flushed with water overflowing from fountains, and so waste (as in the case of that brothel chamber pot) could be disposed of by dumping it into the continuously flushed gutter,"According to: It's a pretty basic one-hole frame design. A chamber pot would be placed below the hole, and then taken out and emptied into the sewer immediately outside.
So, it's an indoor toilet, but not indoor plumbing.

STEPPING AROUND WASTE WATER - The Pompeii people were so ingenious they thought of everything. To avoid stepping in waste water that would run down the streets, the installed 3 stones in the street from one side to the other, so people could step on to cross. Animals and wheeled carts were simply maneuvered around them.
A main street with gutters

WHEEL MARKINGS - As we walked through the city we also noticed there were streets where the rock was worn down. We learned that merchants would use carts with wheels to bring their goods to market, and continual traffic wore grooves in the stone where the wheels traveled.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Italy Blog #82: Pompeii - Part 3: The Menander Home & Cat's Eye Marble Flooring

The outside garden behind the house
In part 3 of our walk through the unburied ancient Italian city of Pompeii, we  got to see inside the home of a wealthy family. We'll take you inside what is now called the "MENANDER HOUSE." Between the amazing gardens, the perfectly preserved wall paintings and the Cat's Eye Marble Flooring, this was amazing! 
Rob's sketch of the layout of the house

MY SKETCH OF THE HOUSE - As we walked through the Menander house, I (Rob) sketched the layout because it's hard to understand all of the facets of the house from individual photos. It was quite a layout.

Painting of Meander
WHY CALLED MENANDER HOUSE?  - Archaeologists gave that name to this wealthy house because inside was a painting of the 6th Century BC Greek Poet Menander sitting on a stool. They speculate that this painting was done to show that the owner was cultured.

WHOSE HOUSE WAS IT? The house belonged to the Poppei family and was built starting in the 3rd century B.C.

SILVER FOUND IN THE HOUSE - This house is also known as the "house of the silverware" because of the collection of pieces found in a chest in the cellars of the house. There were 118 pieces of silver as well as numerous others made of gold and coins.

Cat's Eye Marble Chip Flooring
OUTSIDE GARDENS - A large square garden was actually in the middle of the house. All of the rooms were built around the garden, which was quite elaborate (in these wealthy houses).
  WHAT IS CAT'S EYE MARBLE CHIP FLOORING? - This decorative marble floor was amazingly intact after all the ash was cleared from the home. It had reflective properties, too. When they cast the concrete for the floors, they embedded marble chips. At night, the torch light reflected off the marble chips. It worked so well inside they embedded polished marble in concrete of the streets.

PAINTED WALLS!  Think about this - 1,938 years later, some of the walls in the Menander house still held onto their yellowish color!  Amazing. 

Painted walls still retain some color!
ILIAD MURAL - The rooms to the left of the entrance contain paintings showing scenes taken from Episodes of the Iliad.

Iliad Mural
ANCIENT BATHROOMS! - Although bathrooms didn't exist in the middle ages (1100 to 1400 A.D. in Italy) because they were phased out (for some stupid reason), they certainly did in ancient Pompeii. The western area of the house is actually occupied by the quarters set aside for use as bathrooms!

OTHER DETAILS - There were designs carved on different ceilings, there were paintings on various walls and there were mosaic tile floors still in many of the rooms.

detailed mosaic floor

Detailed carving on ceiling

Another mosaic floor


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tyler Tuesday - Hitting the Road

Tyler is a serious driver. Look at him biting his upper lip
On this Tyler Tuesday, Tyler helped drive his sister Dolly to the vet to get a skin tag removed. He has to be with her all the time and said if he can't be, he will at least drive her to the appointment!

Italy Blog #81: Pompeii - Part 2: Amphitheater

In part 2 of the Pompeii, Italy blog we'll walk you through the impressive amphitheater. Keep in mind
Oldest Amphitheater in the world
that this ancient city was thriving in 79 A.D. or C.E. (common era) when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The entrance (1 of 7) to the city that we came through, led directly to the outdoor amphitheater that seated between 12,000 and 20,000 people (depends on what source you read). 20,000 was the estimated population of the entire city at that time. 

WORD MEANING - The word "Amphitheater" means "double theater" or "circular theater": it is an elliptical structure situated in a depression in the ground and backing onto embankments.

A DIFFERENT CONSTRUCTION - Unlike the Colosseum in Rome, it didn't have underground chambers where animals were kept or gladiators trained. In addition, this theatre  was equipped with a "velarium," or cover that stretched over the complex in case of rain! In fact if you visit, you can still see some of the rings to which the canopy was fixed.

SECTIONS FOR CLASSES - Like the Colosseum in Rome, the seating was reserved for people of different classes. The seats in the lower central area were reserved for dignitaries, while those high up were for the common folks.

160 YEARS OLD BEFORE VESUVIUS -  The period of its construction dates back to 80 B.C., and since Vesuvius buried it in 79 A.D. it was in operation almost 160 years!

THE GAMES - Of course, there were animals, a "circus" and gladiator games.  (Of course, it's another excuse to publish a photo of a gladiator.).

A larger view of the Amphitheater
NEXT: A Well-Preserved Wealthy Home

Monday, January 16, 2017

Italy Blog #80: Pompeii - Part 1

Tom, Maria and Rob
In this Italy trip blog, we finally arrived at Pompeii. Our tour guide was a fiesty woman named Maria, who was like a walking encyclopedia.  Because there is so much of the now unburied city of Pompeii open, we'll explore it over a couple of blogs. This is Pompeii Blog #1 - What was the city, the eruption and rediscovery.

WHAT IS POMPEII? It was a major ancient city founded at the mouth of the Sarno River. It was surrounded by the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius (5 miles away). It was filled with artisan shops, taverns, cafes, brothels and bathhouses. There was a 20,000-seat arena, open-air squares and marketplaces.

Walking up from one of the 7 entrances
A WALLED CITY - The city was surrounded by a wall, and there were 7 entrances. We walked through one of the entrances and up a stone walkway into the city.
MOUNT VESUVIUS ERUPTS - In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted. It buried the ancient Roman city of Pompeii under a thick carpet of volcanic ash while it incinerated the city of Herculaneum on the other side of the volcano. 

According to, "as more and more ash fell, it clogged the air, making it difficult to breathe. Buildings collapsed. Then, a “pyroclastic surge”–a 100-miles-per-hour surge of super-heated poison gas and pulverized rock–poured down the side of the mountain and swallowed everything and everyone in its path.By the time the Vesuvius eruption sputtered to an end the next day, Pompeii was buried under millions of tons of volcanic ash. About 2,000 people were dead."

WHEN RE-DISCOVERED? - A group of explorers rediscovered the site in 1748 when looking for underground water sources, they were surprised to find that–underneath a thick layer of dust and debris–Pompeii was mostly intact.

According to Maria, our guide, when we were there in May 2016 one third of the city still remained covered by ash and soil. So far, 45 of 66 acres have been unearthed. Archaeologists are still digging it out. To the right is a photo of a large part of the city that is still  buried under grass, dirt, and ash.

NEXT: Pompeii Part 2: The Amphitheater

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tyler's Book Review: "Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs"

    Tyler and Daddy Rob finished reading an interesting book called "Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs," by Stanley Coren. It's a book about dog folklore from all over the world. It's really a fascinating collection of stories that give insight to how different cultures around the world look at dogs.
  Tyler gives it 4.5 out of 5 Paws (because the type could be larger to make it easier to read- the content is great though) 
Egyptians and Chinese cultures had high regard for their dogs. The Egyptian God Anubis has a dog's head (if you didn't know). You'll learn stories from Native American tribes, Canadians, and countries in Europe. So many interesting stories.
    Tyler said that he liked the English story about the black dog that roamed the countryside as a "devil dog." I think it's because he thinks he's 17 pounds of toughness, himself!
   There are also fun folklore stories like "How the Dalmation Got its spots" or "Why dogs sniff other dogs' behinds." Have to laugh at that one! 
   There were also great illustrations. The only thing that was challenging about reading the book was the 9 or 10 point type (fortunately, Tyler and Rob are nearsighted).
By the way, Stanley Coren has written several amazing books about dogs that Rob has read and talks about in his own books. Look for Coren's "How Dogs Think" and "The Intelligence of Dogs."
    This book, though is full of interesting stories for any dog lover - says Tyler and Daddy Rob. Ultimately, you'll always remember a couple of the stories from here, and that's the mark of a good book!

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14