Music

I have written web pages for various purposes; but, I have never written one that simply shares the things I like. I hope you find something that pleases you. I will be including information about travel, book reviews, art & naval research. I recently added a forum to discuss American education.

Travel

Oregon Coast: Building a House (2016)

Ervin Visits the Holy Land (2015)

A Visit to the Oregon Coast: a week of photos.

Visiting Sicily's Vulcano Island.

A Country of Contrasts: India December 2012

Quick Travel Gifts at Tokyo's Airport

Sweet Treats in Japan Airport

Most of my neighbors wouldn't know what to look for when passing through Tokyo's Narieta airport. Japan is full of beautifully packaged and special delights. If you have a sweet tooth, green tea flavored chocolate may be "just the ticket." The photo above features some of the choices that just arrived at my house!
  • Nama Chocolate, Royce (made in Japan)
  • Tokyo Banana - (cream filled cakes from Japan)
  • Green Tea flavored Kit Kat (made in Japan)
  • Macha Choco & Green Tea Pocky sticks (an Asian favorite made in Japan)

The World's Best Places

I believe we have found some of the world's best. While these places offer great services, they linger pleasantly in the mind ... See Entries Below:


Cape Panwa Beach

Tropical Beach: Cape Panwa Hotel: Phukete Thailand,
Of many I have visited, this is the best. A half moon of white sand bordered by a coconut grove. At the far end is a Portugese Colonial mansion now serving as a Thai restaraunt. The site is stunningly beautiful as is the associated resort.

Cape Panwa Beach

Rocky Beach: Cannon Beach: Oregon, USA,
While a tropical beach in the moonlight is unsurpassed, the cold, stony beaches of Oregon and Maine have their own special attraction for me. Only 30 minutes from Astoria Oregon, Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful. It is easily visited and good accomodations are nearby.

View from Grotta Hotel

Beach Hotel: Grotta Hotel, Naxos Greece,
We found Grotta Hotel quite by lucky accident. It was a cheerful place & perfectly situated 10 meters from the water. Continental breakfast was lovely in the ocean view dinning room. We usually followed it by a 1/2 km walk to the ancient ruin or the village waterfront. (Above is a view from the hotel)

View from Grotta Hotel

Ancient Ruins: Parthanon, Athens Greece,
It comes as no surprise that Athen's ancient temple complex, The Parthanon, is perhaps the world's most impressive ancient site. It is impressive walking up from the cafe's below, but equally so up top. For some, the experience of visiting this ancient site brings tears to the eyes. (other similarly impressive sites include Sukhothai Thailand.)

La Fiaba Image

Breakfast: La Fiaba B&B: Molin Nuovo, Italy,
At the small LaFiaba B&B in the Tuscan wine country, Erica offers the best breakfast experience. She schedules her guests through her lovely kitchen serving them home made jams & local fruits with excellent European breads & patries. The kitchen, like everything at the B&B is artistically executed.

Small villages, outdoor cafes & wineries are nearby. All are easily accessible. At check-in, the staff can provide this information. From La Fiaba, a short drive will take you to midevil towns of San Gimignano or Siena.

Moreno's Bakery Image

Coffee: Mureno's Bakery: Florence Italy,
We sampled coffee all over Tuscany and it was good. But the small Mareno Bakery just off Ponte Alla Carraia bridge (on Via del Serrogaii street) provided the consistently outstanding capacino we were hoping for. The Coffee man was delightful as was all the staff. Sitting down for morning coffee & watching the interaction with patrons was lovely. (Stay at the very good San Frediano Mansion just around the corner to enjoy Mareno's coffee every morning.)

View from Grotta Hotel

Beach Town: Castiglione della Pescaia, Tuscany Italy
The small coastal village of Castiglione della Pescaia is a fabulous place. The market area is perfect for walking, eating & drinking. A variety of shops offer pastry, clothing, beach accessories etc.. This area includes a wonderful little playground for children. Above the town stands the old 12 century midieval castle with a little village in its ring wall. Not far away, the beach ....

San Gimignano Image

Midieval Town: San Gimignano, Tuscany Italy
In the heart of the Tuscan wine country, San Gimignano is a wonderful example of Midieval Towns, with its narrow streets, towers & classic ring wall defense. This walled city is now very commercial, but clean and lovely. Above, Jeab &Athena have lunch in a street cafe.

Matsuyama Castle Image

Japanese Castle: Matsuyama Japan,
A medium sized town on Shikoku Island in south Japan offers visitors the chance to visit an authentic Japanese castle situated high on Pine Mountain. A "not too difficult" climb will bring you to the summit & castle. Persons interested in the interior of castles, may wish to visit Kochi Japan, also on Shikoku Island.

Unlike most American cities, Matsuyama Town is pulsing with energy. Just walking around is interesting; but, the 100 year old street car system is fun and inexpensive too.

Restored Streetcar - Japan

Historic Street Car Routes: Nagasaki Japan,
Several Japanese cities have restored street cars collected from around the world. These are organized into routes that are interesting and provide an inexpensive way to tour the city. One of the more extensive systems is in Nagasaki - a city bustling with innovation and pulsing with energy. My apprehensions about going there as an American were unfounded as the Japanese were wonderfully hospitable and kind.

Classic Japanese Alley

Alleyways: Nagasaki Japan,
Alleys around the world are fascinating and say much about a culture. This one is a classic that I found in Nagasaki, South Japan. I am sure I have seen dozens, but none more iconic than this. Japanese Manga comic books often capture the feel of Japan, and this alleyway photo is the kind of scene commonly shown in Manga.

La Fiaba Image

i-berry Icecream: Chiang Mai Thailand,
We arrived at Chiang Mai in the monsoon season. A fine mist was falling outside; but inside we were surrounded by two score happy customers & employees alike. The ice cream, coffee & decor were fabulous including the grounds & banyon tree outside.


Elephant Ride

Elephant Ride: Thai Elephant Ctr., Lampang Thailand,

Elephant rides are available many places in Thailand, but the half hour ride through the jungle just north of Lampang is fabulous.


We have chosen these locations to highlight, because they are special to us. If you go there, we think they will be special to you also.


END OF SECTION

BOOK REVIEW QUICK LINKS:

My Book Release:

Cape Panwa Beach

The Prophesy of Hermes

A Modern Greek Cat Becomes the Prophet

by Paul Watson

Three cats, four friends - the Great Rat Plague spreads across the Mediterranean as Hermes, Ajax and Artemis sail from port to port on a rusty old ship. If cats are to survive, they must solve the twin riddles: Where are the rats coming from and how can they be stopped?

Storms at sea, rat armies and tunnels connecting past to present create an intricate weave of challenges the cats must overcome. Can Hermes and his young recruits solve the twin riddles? Can they end the most powerful challenge cats have faced in 500 years?

Join Stefan the sailor and his three cats in this epic journey. Read The Prophesy of Hermes!

Where can I buy The Prophesy of Hermes

The Prophesy of Hermes will be available from listed e-book stores below on 31 Oct 2014 (or as shown). Estimated delivery for Kindle through Amazon is 14 Nov 2014. The Propheys of Hermes is currently available in ePub format (for most electronic readers) and MOBI (for Kindle). This book is not currently available in paper format:

Where can I read 2 chapters free?

Chapters 1 & 2- Publicly Accessible for Free

Spotlight Book for YA

InterWorld

InterWorld

by Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves

5 Star Fiction for readers 10 to 80.

InterWorld -- vibrant, youthful and full of action. This portrayal of a young man who literally walks into a parallel world provides fast paced action blended with creative intepretations of space and time.

Fourteen year old Joey Harker "walks" himself to an alternative Earth where the Golden Arches of McBurger are replaced by tartan plad. At his home, his place seems to have been taken by a girl just about his age with matching hair and eyes. Back on the street, he is soon pursured by strange men wielding electronic nets as an equally bizarre character tries to rescue him.

After a harrowing journey through the "in-between", Joey finds himself at InterWorld headquarters where all the recruits are alternate versions of himself. He soon joins the InterWorld Walkers as they defend the MultiVerse against forces of evil.

I read all three InterWorld books quickly and without regret. I strongly recommend InterWorld to boys and girls ages 10 to 80. If you like either fantasy or science fiction, this book is for you!



Other Books of Note:

  • Skippy Jon Jones, Judy Schachner: A wonderful picture book about a kitten & his imagionary adventures.
  • One Leaf Rides the Wind, by Mannis & Hartung (picture-book)
  • Suki's Kimono, by Uegaki & Jorisch (picture-book)
  • Cross of Lead, by Avi (boys 7 to 12)
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson (boys 6 to 12)
  • A review of the Wizard of Oz Series by L. Frank Baum (boys & girls 5 to 9)
  • Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling


Read Any Good Ghost Stories Lately?

I recently read electronic editions of three different Ghost Story Collections. Two of the books were written in Ireland and one in India. After reading these three books, I can identify no strong patterns in the actions and capabilities of recounted ghosts; but, I did find them interesting. If you are looking for some light, night time reading you can try one of these:
  • True Irish Ghost Stories by St John Drelincourt Seymour
  • Real Ghost Stories Collected & Edited by William T. Stead, George H. Doran Company 1921
  • Indian Ghost Stories by S. Mukerji. 2nd Edition Allahabad: A.H. Wheeler & Co. 1917



WOW Fiction!

WOW fiction spotlights highly original books. These offer unusual settings, themes or strange metaphysical viewpoints integral to their story.


Dance, Dance, Dance by Japanese Writer Murakami 5 Star Fiction

A friend of mine once said "A story is about character development, but a yarn is merely a sequence of events." Most of the great books I have read in my life fit the "story" definition above and so it is with Murakami.

A down-trodden writer has withdrawn from society yet has recurring memories of a hotel in far north Japan and his "then sweetheart". He feels strangely attracted to the scene of his memories and books a plane to Soporo and the "Dolphin Hotel".

On arrival, he finds a sleek modern building with little personality in place of the seedy hotel of his memory. When asked about the original Dolphin Hotel, he gets evasive answers from hotel staff.

Before long, he is engaged with a desk clerk, a psychic 12 year old and her famous photographer mother. A Junior High Classmate re-enters his life as a drinking buddy. An unlikely setting for a story; but in the hands of master writer Murakami it becomes a magical test tube for restoring the writer to society amid a landscape of spiritual dreams and extra-dimensional reality.

I found this book intrigueing and never boring despite the slow "spin-up" typical of Japanese books. I recommend this or almost any Murakami book for those with the grit to tough out the first 3 chapters.


The Graveyard Book Cover

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 5 Star (Fiction)
I almost turned away from this book because of the first chapter; but, I'm really glad I read it.

On the heals of a brutal murder, a toddler climbs out of his crib, wanders out the door and into a nearby graveyard. As graveyard ghosts discuss keeping and protecting the boy, Silas the grounds keeper escorts the Murder out of the graveyard.

What kind of life can a boy have living in a graveyard? Who is the mysterious grounds keeper Silas who acts as the boy's gardian? Who is the murderer and why does he maintain a persistent interest in the boy? Read this facinating story and find out.


Alchemists Gate The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate by Ted Chiang - 5 Star Fiction Novella

A pennyless man comes before the King of Baghdad. He offers the king a glimpse into the future after the king has heard his story.

The man proceeds to recount a wonderous tale of traveling 20 years into the past through an Alchemist's time gate. With the king's agreement, he proceeds to tell both his story and the stories he has heard of others. Each is a fascinating blend of human experience and the inevitability of fate as perceived by a deeply religious ex-cloth merchant.

On the surface, this book might eroneously be seen as Sci-Fi. It is not. Rather, it is a fascinating glipse into how the ex-Baghdad cloth merchant perceives the world, God and fate.

Recommended Highly! But buy this book on Kindle or on Nook. The hard copy edition is prohibitively expensive.


A Wild Sheep Chase A Wild Sheep Chase by Murakami 5 Star Fiction

The Great Sheep Chase is a wonderful book, originally written in Japanese. As with many Japanese books, the pace in chapters 1 & 2 can be a bit slow for the American reader; however, the book explodes into mind expanding possibilities that rock the reader to his metaphysical core. In this, and other books, Murakami proves himself a genius.

The Great Sheep Chase begins when a powerful industial cyndicate contacts a recently divorced & beat down journalist. Their message is simple "Find the strangely marked sheep in this picture, or else." The protagonist considers his options before taking the train to far north Japan. He must look for the sheep.

Soon after arriving on Hokaido island, the plot takes strange turns, leaving the protagonist struggling with what his mission means & how an old friend is connected.

Difficult to explain, but gripping. This is a "must read" for connoisseurs of the bizzare. Find it on Amazon or other "on line" bookstores.


Other WOW Books

  • Review Pending: Kafka on the Shore, by Muramaki. Brillient but slow in early chapters.


Conservative Christian Themes

Cat That God Sent
The Cat That God Sent by Jim Kraus.
Age: 16 & up. An Excellent Book for many in paperback or ebook

The Cat That God Sent is witty, charming and well written. It is the story of a cat, a rural community church and its new pastor who is a good man who has begun to question his own faith.

While a theologically connected cat may test the open mindedness of many readers, the message of this book is main stream, conservative Christian values. There are no great surprises here, just a heart warming story of a pastors struggle to regain his faith as the community around looks to him for guidance. The end of this book is unexpected and perhaps shines hope on many of us.


Integrity Engineering: Gateway

Information & Training from Bailey, Watson & Associates


Saint Paul's: Introduction to Statistics (2016)

Learning statistics is usually a painful experience, but it doesn't have to be. Saint Paul provides clear explanations with a top down approach so you know what you are trying to achieve.


Art

The Runner

Favorite Art on the Internet:



Music

Paul Plays a Buttonbox

Aren't Accordions Just for Grandpa?

Paul F. Watson
Video of Diatonic Button Box being Played

25 years ago, I thought so; but then I started visiting an Irish Pub. The customers ranged from barely legal to old, but we all had fun listening to small bands that played penny whistles, violins, banjos, concertinas, accordions & drums. The effect was a lively, toe tapping music. What could be better as you drink a brown brew or a glass of red?

Over time, I studied each instrument & here is what I found: The violin & penny whistle provided the melody while banjo contributed its unique pinkity-plunk rythm. Only the accordion was powerful enough to play melody, chords & rythm. The versatility of these small portable instuments is only surpassed by the piano, while the 'reedy' sound of a 'wet tuned' accordion has charisma beyond compare.

There is a family of these instruments ranging from the small concertina, to a full blown 120 base accordion; but, we can characterize the lot by concluding that they are uniquely powerful among portable instruments. If you are looking for a small, personal instrument to 'wile away the hours', it's worth considering.


CROSSCURRENTS IN EDUCATION

Purpose: Crosscurrents in Education is a forum for discussing what is wrong with American education & how it can be improved. Submissions welcome concerning Grades K through College. Please send informed contributions on this subject to paul-watson@sbcglobal.net.


The State of American Education
An Editorial by Paul F. Watson
February 2014

Photo of Paul Watson A few years ago, I met a young Engineer in Fort Worth. He was the best I've ever known. Three years later, he had earned his doctorate in Law and went to work at a high powered legal department. During his engineering years, he confessed "I would never have made it through my Master's program without the help of two fellow students, one from India and one from Korea. Their math backgrounds were better than mine and they dragged me through the rough spots."

This got me to wondering. What happened to the days of American confidence? The Germans have always been recognized in technical fields and the French in mathematics; but, would I have heard statements like this 75 years ago? I am forced to think that American education is slipping. What can we do about it?

We should begin by taking a hard look at ourselves, our level of committment and our educational methods. We should compare these with the motivation and methods of others. We should ask ourselves what weaknesses we have and whether we are deeply committed to fixing them.



Extreme Teaching by Paul F. Watson:

During the last few years, 'extreme sports' has become a 'buz phrase'. I reflect on teaching English in Thailand, and its pretty extreme for both teachers and students. Foreign English teachers walk into a classroom of strangers who do not speak a common language, and yet, are expected to produce results.

A Source for New Approaches: We instinctively believe the way we were taught is justified; but can't we look at extreme yet successful teaching environments to learn something new?


Stop Stealing our Dreams by Seth Godin:

Seth Godin posits that education is functioning exactly as planned; but that plan was laid down 150 years ago and its goals are not fitted to current needs. He presents convincing arguments that American education was designed to supply disciplined, unimaginative workers to manufacturing industries. He dives into the history, naming the architects of the American system and explaining their goals. In this context, he explains tardy bells, assigned seats and the lock step discipline so typical of American schools.

Godin suggests that shortfalls in stimulating creativity, initiative and higher thinking skills are all rooted in the original goals of the American educational approach. He hopes for a new era which fosters a more progressive agenda.



How to Escape Education's Death Valley by Sir Ken Robinson:
Ken Robinson presents three "bedrock" statements about man's inherent nature. He then examines American Education and how it damages these intrensic human qualities. He calls attention to the importance of learning as opposed to teaching. He assigns the appropriate role to standardized testing -- and that role is not to dominate the landscape of educational activities. Ken's presentation is very worthwhile and entertaining. It may be viewed at the following link:

The Rota Miracle by Paul F. Watson

Mr. Watson spent four years teaching on Rota Island in the western Pacific. With the help of a progressive Campus Administrator, he concentrated on creating an effective learning environment quite unlike the typical American school. Student accomplishment and confidence soared as failure rates were almost eliminated. This brief article summarizes some of the changes he made.



Computer Stuff

Learning to create web sites: Building a Website with iMac



NeoOffice

NeoOffice for Mac?

Generally, I like Apple Software quite well; but, sometimes my Windows at work vs. Mac at home reality causes me frustration. Couldn't I just have an office suite similar to what I use at work; but, without the overhead of bugs, constant updates & arkane menus ?

I bought NeoOffice. It has all the functionality I routinely use with a clear icon driven command set. I can write letters, use the spreadsheet including graphing and integrate the two. The "save as" command works just like the one at work.

Recently, I tried the data base. While capabilities include tables and supporting forms, one to many relationships established by key field is missing. This capability is needed for building a decent payrole labor reporting system and also for many other common applications. While not "up to snuff" in this area, I must admit that I have not found any other affordable package which provides these capabililities.

The Verdict? Neo Office is a great tool at a good price -- even if the data base is a bit under powered.


Web site: https://www.neooffice.org/neojava/en/index.php

Or buy from the Apple App Store


Programming Languages for the Mac

A "good programming language" is largely a matter of taste. The language you choose largely depends on your personality and what you want to do with it. My "ideal language" has the following characteristics:

  1. Commands are intuitive. e.g. box(x1,y1,x2,y2) not some arcane shxx.
  2. Syntax is straight forward and without hidden pit falls.
  3. Debug routines effectively identify the errors/locations
  4. Possesses wide range of functional libraries.
  5. Language Is portable between Mac, PC and Ubutu
  6. Language requires minimal programming overhead to define variables, structures etc.
  7. Language has a friendly & supportive community.
  8. Language is easily programmable using and IDE or other method.
My picks for the Mac are Python and Pure Basic. I will briefly discuss what I like about each:

Python: Python has all eight of the desirable characteristics listed above. While technically an object oriented language, it is very amendable to a functional programming approach. The language includes powerful libraries for auto-scaled graphs, complex math computations, a variety of statistical distribution generators and advanced photo processing libraries. Creation of a GUI interface using only the standard library is feasible.

Python's native form includes a simple IDE but more advanced IDEs are readily available (e.g. Komodo e.g. PyCharm e.g. others). I like, the Komodo IDE from Active State.

Negatives: Python is an interpretor language and thus not terribly fast. If this is a concern, programs can be compiled as .exe for PC and equivalent forms for Mac but the appropriate liscense is needed.

Conclusion: Python is easy to program and available for free. It is a powerful language that can perform well in a wide range of applications. In its native form, it is not terribly fast, but Python code can be compiled into executable programs.

Python is already installed on your iMac. Do an internet search 'activating python on mac' for details.


Pure Basic Image

Pure Basic: Pure Basic has seven of the desirable characteristics listed above. Pure Basic is a game development language. It is blisteringly fast and offers elegant graphic image manipulations. It has powerful mathematical functions; but, lacks a wide range of statistical and other libraries. Pure Basic comes with a very usable IDE. While Pure Basic is not free, the entire package with IDE is less expensive than a quality IDE for Python.

Pure Basic exhibits a consistent, rational command structure. Commands are intuitive. Help screens are very clear and provide simple examples. Quality free documentation can be downloaded using links on the Pure Basic web site. Pure Basic builds GUI Interfaces and drop down menus with elegance. Last, I found the Pure Basic forum to be a group of positive, and helpful individuals willing to give of themselves to help others.

Negatives: Pure Basic was developed as a gaming language. It lacks standard features built into most languages like functions that print nice tables of data having 4 decimal places. With a dozen lines of code, I have worked around all issues but for general purpose work it is less convenient than having those facilities provided.

Of all the languages I have used, I like Pure Basic the best; but, for Engineering and Scientific applications, I find Python or MatLab more convenient.


For More Information about Pure Basic



Naval Research & Approaches for Simulation Games

San Gimignano Image

Simulation Modeling for Naval Games

Development of Battleship Naval Gunnery 1890-1945

Technical Aspects of Battleship Anti Torpedo Defense Systems 1900 to 1940

U.S. Submarine Torpedo Accuracy in WWII WWII Pacific Torpedo Accuracy

Based on Official WWII US Combat Patrol Reports Merchant Ship Torpedo Vulnerability

Wonderful 3D film to simulate ancient naval power - Carthage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdYhshaAZDY


Music provided with reasonable royalty terms by:



Contact the author paul-watson@sbcglobal.net by e-mail.
© 2012 (Updated June 2017) All Rights Reserved
Paul F. Watson

All book & movie reviews in this website feature interesting, good quality books that we recommend. The book cover art shown here-in is copyrighted by the author or publisher. They have been included for visual appeal. Any owner of material who objects to our 'positive use' of their materials should please contact paul@dionysus.biz and request removal for a specific item.

The photos are mine except as noted. Please be respectful of my copyright & ask if you wish to repost. I can generally provide higher resolution images to you which will include my copyright notice in the lower corner.