Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 12 December 2008

Personal Defense Strategies

Ringling Museum, Sarasota

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported a 250 percent rise in the number of guns handed over in a no-questions-asked program to exchange weapons for holiday gift cards. The department's station in a high crime suburb received 964 guns, two hand grenades and two briefcases full of dynamite.

A briefcase full of dynamite for personal protection. The concept takes my breath away. We are wandering downtown and get confronted by a mugger....We pop open the briefcase and say, "OK a**hole, let's not BLOW it!"

Mrs. Phred and I visited the Ringling Museum again. I took a field trip there in 1954 in the 5th grade. That was the first time most of us had seen statues with penises, including the huge bronze reproduction of the statue of David that stands in a piazza in Florence.

We spent most of our time in the miniature Circus building. A crazy man named Howard Tibbals spent over 50 years creating the 3,800 square foot model on a 3/4 inch to one foot scale. The circus includes eight main tents, 152 wagons, 7,000 folding chairs, 1,300 circus performers and workers, more than 800 animals and a 59-car train. Tibbals started the project at age 15 and took 55 years to complete his masterpiece.

You get an idea, looking at the model, of what a big deal the "greatest show on Earth" actually was when it rolled into town on flatcars.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus apparently threw off a huge pile of cash for John Ringling. He did a good job with the existential question, "how can you effectively spend an obscene amount of money?"

The mansion and sprawling estate on Sarasota Bay are impressive. The building is modeled after a Venetian palace. The dollar has depreciated 97% since 1906. Ringling put his wealth into objects that have easily appreciated in real value more than money and sheltered them from tax forever...of course, like my old economics Prof. liked to say, "in the long run, we're all dead.", regardless of investment strategy.

Most of the money went into the treasures in the art museum. The 12x30 foot Ruebens with the angels and chubby cherubs don't do much for me, but I stare for a long time at the Harlequin pictures, wondering what they mean.



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