Marie Kondo 2021 – Take it and Shove it !

Yes, I have seen the YouTube videos, have read the excerpts from her book, watched the Netflix show. Marie Kondo is still everywhere.

And it seems like she is sorely needed here in the center of Conspicuous Consumer Consumption: the good ol’ USA.

Except that I’m not buying it; I’m not drinking the KonMari 1 Kool-Aid. Marie Kondo, you’re a fraud.

Is it desirable to have a clean, efficient home? YES
Is it comforting to know that you’re not a hoarder? YES
Is it socially just to own just what we need daily? YES

But the KonMari Method is a Decapitate-to-solve-Headache solution. It is designed to appease those folks that need to see rapid-progress, instantaneous solutions, Must Have my Cake Now or I won’t eat my vegetables.

I can accept the first step: Pray to your House Spirit (in essence) Those of us with religious backgrounds can attest to the many rituals that fill our lives and in many cases provide comfort and fulfillment. So I’m OK with praying to the inner quiet and joy that a happy home brings. When our home is destroyed by a flood, a quake, a fire, we feel a loss. Whether you pray to the walls or to a Higher Being that gave you the home is OK.

Then we start dumping our closets in one big pile. To make us realize that we own too much. But you could also do the same by going to those photos taken some time ago, showing under-developed, developed, 1st world families next to all their belongings. Very enlightening as shown in Material World photos. And same result. I get it: I buy too much junk.

But can a person love 100 pieces of junk, er, treasured objects? I believe the answer is YES. We have no problem believing that a mother/father can love 6 children as easily and as much as they would love 1 or 2. Same for our valuable possessions. But Marie Kondo is right about one thing: if we don’t organize, we tend to lose our precious objects and miss out on enjoyment. I recall finding a long-lost watch and having a moment of joy when finding it again. So I suggest the Harem Solution: organize your treasures and schedule time with each of them. You will still enjoy each and every one. And avoid sharing your Treasure with others; you may catch a communicable disease2

And you don’t have to do a Master Cleanse of a room to motivate you into cleanliness. I can visualize my end goal; I can see myself living comfortably in the new space; I can make a plan to get me there. If I had an extra room, I would follow Marie’s advice and dump everything there, then start bringing items back one at a time. I do not agree with her solution to throw the remainders out. We can organize our Treasure Trove so that our items are accessible and dust-free. I suggest foot lockers done in tasteful Earth tones and indexed for easy retrieval. Walls should be sparsely decorated with rotating artwork.

Clothes should undergo the FIT test. If they fit, and you like them, keep them. If not, donate immediately. Store clothes by season, so that all of them are accessible at the correct time of year. You can use stretch film wrap –easy to use, inexpensive– to store the seasonal bundles of clothes. Sure I own 40 t-shirts, but I use them consistently in a rotating basis. I do wish I could donate them somewhere when they wear out3 All the same, if there are clothes that you love and would like to share with a friend, loved one then we should pass it on. Most of the time, though, the only people that want the clothes are the recyclers.

And finally, one item that Marie Kondo does NOT address: the lifelong regret when you wish you had something that you discarded / donated / threw away. Yes, we can re-purchase some of the items but that does not support responsible consumerism. Some items are gone forever, once out of our hands. Can you live with only the memory of a treasured heirloom? If the answer is YES then go ahead and KonMari your life away. I will still look for a sane, middle-of-the-road solution.

  1. I’d rather call it the MariKon Method: ask a Spanish speaker for translation. []
  2. as Robin Williams put it “a venerable disease” []
  3. turn your clothes into dollar bills… How do I make that happen?? 100% rag bond is used for currency, and is illegal to own. []

FILM: Cargador de Flores (The Flower Carrier) 1935 by Diego Rivera


I know what you’re thinking:  “Agent Renegade, this is a painting, not a film!”—And you would be right.

This work of art was painted by Diego Rivera (1886-1957) a prominent Mexican painter. He was also a well-known Communist. He even lived with Leon Trotsky for a time.

Now, the Red Scare in America went from 1947 to 1957. A number of people who worked in Hollywood on films were Communists and had even been blacklisted.

“Agent Renegade, now I get it. This posting is about films, after all.”

Right, because subversive activities never stopped in Hollywood, as you shall see.

“I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”

Stay on the ball. Keep in mind as you view the following film scenes that they were produced during the Red Scare, and that the “Flower Carrier” is a Commie painting.

“In a Lonely Place” (1950) starring Humphrey Bogart. Gloria Grahame is seated at right.

Perhaps the paintings on the wall have attracted your attention.


“The Prowler” (1951), starring Van Heflin as a crooked cop, and Evelyn Keyes, pictured, as the crooked wife.

Notice anything on the wall of the dining room?

And now:

Crime Passion2
“Crime of Passion” (1957), starring Barbara Stanwyck.

The astute viewer will notice a painting on the wall above the bed.

I think by now, you understand these Hollywood activities. Do you get it now?

Need help?

“It’s incredibly obvious, isn’t it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That’s the way your hard core commie works.”

Absolutely right, and you’d better believe it. Right during the Red Scare, this commie painting was deliberately placed into these films which were shown in all the theaters in America, and introduced into the mind of each viewer, without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice.

That’s the way your hard core commie works.

Pssst Kid……. They’re lying to you.

I don’t like writing political pieces. Always divisive, even when prompted by the best of motives. And we just had a very divisive Presidential campaign. All of us are trying to put it behind us. At least those of us not in the streets, rioting/protesting.



But today I heard a piece on NPR1 , about a school teacher having meeting with parents of 5-year olds. Every meeting started with weeping from all parties, before they actually talk about the kids. And then, the 5-year old says that he has to go to Mexico because he’s Mexican (his parents are Mexican; he was born in the US) and that he has to say goodbye to all his friends.

That’s it. Stop the crazyness. Stop the paranoia. Someone tell that kid that his parents along with all of us have been listening to too much media coverage from CNN. We have all been under a barrage of media coverage that demonized one candidate while giving fawning publicity to the other. That’s my opinion, and that is why I don’t like to write these pieces.

Candidates have been known to make outlandish statements while on the stump. Other candidates are more measured and in control. The media may just be attracted to the outlandish comment because it makes for a more interesting piece. But the type of coverage in the 2016 campaign needs to be studied as a breakdown of media abuse. Was there really better coverage for one candidate vs. the other? Were all of us fed just one outcome of the election so that what actually happened was a big shock to everyone? Were the polls really based on bad research or were they manipulated?

No matter what history decides, that 5-year old needs to be re-assured immediately. And thatcannot be done without revealing that the media lied to you, kid. Don’t trust anything you hear or see, especially on TV. Always use your common sense and take everything with a pinch of salt. You’ll be the better for it.

  1. I stopped supporting NPR back in the early nineties when I found that their coverage was not as unbiased and even-handed as they advertise. When my opinions became more centrist, I could not find them reflected in their coverage. So I left. []


The forerunner of the Bellis Music Camp.

Mr. Lawrence B. Bellis, music director at La Cañada Junior High School, organized an annual summer band and orchestra camp beginning in 1957. It took place shortly before the school year started. Incoming, continuing, and outgoing students were invited. Group leaders, identified by their white sailor’s caps, were alumni. The very youngest student attendees, going into the 7th grade, were not quite 12 years old, and graduates heading for 10th grade at John Muir High School were typically 15.

This 1961 event took place after the La Cañada schools separated from the Pasadena school system, and right before the start of the first year under the new organization. None of the teachers at the junior high continued with the new system.

Mr. Bellis moved to Pasadena’s Elliot Junior High, and Douglas Coe was hired to replace him at La Cañada. Both outgoing and incoming music directors worked together at this camp, easing the transition for us band and orchestra members. In addition, Olaf Frodsham of Caltech was choral director at the camp.

Lawrence B. Bellis (1907-1974)

There used to be an online bio of Mr. Bellis, but I could not find it. I do remember that he directed a band in Honolulu during the war in the 1940s, and there was a photo with the band members wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Everyone in this big photo loved Mr. Bellis, with his demanding direction of band and orchestra, but also with his sense of humor when dealing with us individually.

Click this thumbnail to enlarge.

The large photo has been divided into 14 top-to-bottom slices, numbered 1 to 14, left to right. Each slice lists its camper names and you access a slice by clicking on its thumbnail in the above group. The top row has numbers 1 to 7 and the bottom row has 8 to 14.

A few attendees have entries in wikipedia, imdb, or other locations on the web, for which links are provided. These can be seen by clicking on thumbnails 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 14.

My copy of the big photo is creased, as is the greatly-faded roster attached to its back, but I did manage to decipher 115 of the 119 names. The school annual, Don Dias ’62, was instrumental in confirming some of them. Otherwise, the big photo actually did survive a half-century in the closet!

The 115 identified names are listed alphabetically by last name, with photo number. If you can supply any of the names, please let us know! Continue reading LA CAÑADA DONS MUSIC CAMP 1961

The Force Awakens: These are NOT the spoilers you were looking for…

Rest easy, I will NOT be posting any spoilers in this article. For one thing, I’m many days from being able to get a ticket to the movie. And I would not spoil the experience for you, even if I had real information about the movie.

Even the title of this post is probably something I read in one of the many articles from months past that have tried to sate our need for Star Wars information until the movie opens tonight. Lots of speculation out there, so let me have a try….

If you don’t want to even read my random musings, do not read below the image below. And enjoy the movie; I know that I will !!

Landscape art
Landscape art


Speculation follows:








Poe Dameron is the new Wedge Antilles.  He won’t do much except show up at *all* battles and survive.
Someone in the Star Wars Universe will die.  My bet is Luke Skywalker.
(BTW droids don’t die.  They get rebuilt, memory wipe and recovery from server.  Good as new)
Luke Skywalker is evil in this movie.  Or has lost his way and regains it before dying.
Kylo Ren is Luke’s son.
The Girl  (whatever her name is)  is Luke’s daughter.    (Symmetry with the original trilogy, here)
Harrison Ford will get killed.  Wait, I only said one person dies.  OK, Han Solo and Luke die while disarming the new Death Star.
Princess Leia survives, but nobody cares.
At some point in movie, BB-8 will get shocked, overloaded while trying to access a computer port.
There will be stop-motion animation somewhere in the movie.  Maybe even a main character (??!!)
There will be some new Force power shown for the first time.   We know the Force can choke, levitate objects, affect weak minds, allow use of light sabre in the dark (hey, it glows!!)  and have pinpoint accuracy when they throw it.   I’m guessing a Force force-field.

End of Humanity: A.I. Terminators or The Big Bang? Or both?

A confluence of events in this year of our Lord 2015 leads me to believe that the end of Humanity is at hand.
Let me give you the raw data:

“AI is the single greatest threat to human existence.”                                   — Steven Hawking
The Supreme Court will decide the fate of gay marriage in America this year. — CNN
Ex Machina opens in theatres, May 2015.  Sentient, Sexy robots among us.
(Skynet)Defense network computers. New… powerful… hooked into everything, trusted to run it all. They say it got smart, a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a microsecond: extermination  .                                                   –Kyle Reese, in “Terminator”






The Supreme Court will rule on the gay marriage question this year. By the time you read this article,  it may already have decided in the favor of this new “marriage model.” This by itself does not
doom the human reproductive future: there are still so many, many children being born from hetero couplings.
The homosexual community is a small percentage of the population1 and they are in fact another reliable resource in  rearing unwanted children. Gay marriage should in theory advance human presence on the Earth.

But this legal decision will forever undo the correlation between reproductive behavior and marriage.  Marriage is now a joining of families and resources, and not expressely a contract for child rearing.2 This will open up marriage to a large number of actors (not the Hollywood  kind). Once agreement is in place NOT to produce children, marriage between genetically-common family members would be permitted3 More importantly, marriage between a person and a corporation or other social structure should be possible.

This is where Skynet and the A.I. entities come into play. What if you could marry a corporation or trust  that ensured your continued care until end of life? They could manage your resources to best use and  keep you living as long as possible. What if this corporation was controlled by a very efficient  AI? It would make decisions to keep you healthy and lucid until the end of life. In the meanwhile,
if you are needing companionship, they could  send a sentient, robotic companion to your home to care and interact with you. I need say no more,  just look at the following view of the future:






With humanity now under proper health care and sexually satisfied, procreation using the heterosexual  model becomes quaint but inefficient. You don’t need kids to care for you when the AI State can do a  better job. And there is the SuperModel of the Month that comes to your home and makes sure your  coffee is properly ground and your teabags properly dipped.

It sounds like a perfect way to terminate Human presence on Earth, once the AI decides it wants to  stop human reproduction. The human family model becomes irrelevant and may even be considered vulgar  and gross. Those of us who believe in A Man and A Woman creating A Child may be persecuted and hunted.
But I doubt it will come to that. Humanity will give up in  complacency. It will all end not with a whisper but with a (literal) Bang. The Terminators came (again, literally) and ended Human existence.

  1. the fact that we are aware of the  plight of a statistically small community means that someone, somewhere has done a  remendously terrific job in  publicizing their viewpoint, or “agenda” as some conservatives refer to it. This is a great achievement  and puts the Goebbel’s effort in WW2 to shame []
  2. This was already apparent in marriages that were never intended to produce children, either due to age  or to consensus between spouses []
  3. Please don’t mention people marrying their dogs. It sounds ridiculous but  maybe *I* am being short-sighted []

Thermal Snap in the City of Angels

I am sharing my story to shed light on a little-known phenomenum that we have dubbed “Thermal Snap” Why? Because it sounds a lot cooler than “Thermal Expansion of Toughened Glass.” And it could result in damage that may not meet your auto insurance deductible, and you’ll have to pay for it yourself.


The following interchange tries to make sense of what happened :



Last week, I left my car parked at the Metro station in the full sun. Upon my return 10 hours later, I found the back window completely shattered. Did I get hit by a meteor or a large bird? I looked around but I could not find a point of impact or a large object that could have caused the damage *to the window only* The rest of the car was undamaged.
The cops that came to fill out a report said that it was “blown out” from the pressure building inside the passenger compartment, and that they see this type of thing all the time. I had never heard of it.

When I closed the front door of the car, the vibration brought the window down in a shower of small glass fragments; it had been staying in place held together by friction between the pieces.
Bottom line: if you’re parked in the sun, leave one of your windows ever so slighty cracked down so that there is an air space to allow pressure to equialize with the outside.
The good news (if any) is that the window replacement people come to your house and the replacement cost is not much higher than what I paid back in the 90’s for a similar service.
===================== Bladerunner

Thank you, this is exactly the kind of information CT agents need in the field. I will pass this along to others, along with the proper way to tie your shoes, which has yet to fail me.

I do have a few questions:
Was your sun shade up?
Was there any external shade at any point in the day (tree, building, etc)?
Was your A/C vent open?
How many people did you flip off on your way through the parking lot?
Glad you are OK, and that the window shattered when you closed the door, and not while on the freeway. Still a huge pain 🙁


All seriousness aside, I find it difficult to believe that your vehicle is sufficiently airtight to cause that kind of damage. That would take some serious big time air pressure. Most car cabins are not fully sealed – check the bottoms and backs of the doors. Even if fully sealed, the weatherstripping is just soft rubber and cannot contain any significant pressure. Nor can the air valves in the ventilation system.
More likely I would think is thermal stress due to expansion in the sun.
Or the car was infected by ebola.

I agree with Avatar. I believe after a 6 month failure mode analysis that “Thermal Snap” will be found to be the most likely cause. This is the technical term for what Avatar was referring to when he said ‘thermal stress due to expansion in the sun’
The glass frame and gaskets of cars are supposed to be designed to prevent/minimize this phenomenon. Thermal Snap, as all CT members know, is where the expansion of a planar object such as solar panel or windshield will heat-up but the mounting sticks and does not allow it to slide along the edges to expand, until after a certain amount of build-up pressure the glass suddenly unsticks and “snaps” to its expanded size. If this occurs while you are in the car (on earth) you will hear a loud sharp snap [as was previously observed by Agent Aquaman on a mission somewhere in the deserts of the SW]. Thus the name “Thermal Snap”.
Feel free to add this to the subject posting. This posting will surely be copied for the Society of Mechanical Engineers monthly magazine or perhaps a PHD thesis at MIT.
Adventure and Integrity
=====================Agent Aquaman

Yeah, once or twice I have seen this, where a rear
window has crumbled into postage stamp sized
pieces. And I figure it’s thermal expansion, too,
happening on a hot day, and the outward
movement of the pieces just might be due to the
window being somewhat concave, and outward
is the way to relieve pressure.

I checked with Uncle Cecil at The Straight Dope,
but came up somewhat empty, hardly worth it:

This seems better:

The Crack.

Is Back.
=====================Agent Renegade OUT.

Our police forces are well trained in the use of military-grade weaponry and crowd-pacification techniques (and I for one, am glad for this protection) but they may not have had the scientific training of CT operatives. I’ll accept the thermal expansion or “thermal snap” as a more likely solution than air pressure.
Therefore, leaving an air space will be totally useless and we are still at the mercy of the elements.

By the way, the window shades (reflective silver) were deployed when this happened, as was a secondary set of grey shades on the side. It sounds like none of this would have made a difference. Good to know. Our best solution is to park in the shade.
===================== Bladerunner

I’m tellin ya, it’s ebola.

Avoid “Escape From Tomorrow”

I’m about to give you 2 free hours in your lifetime, that can be used for *any* purpose you select.

If you are tempted to watch the Netflix offering “Escape from Tomorrow,” let me save you the time that you’d spend watching it. one and a half hours of wasted time, that is now yours. I will provide you a quick summary below, if you are still curious. But please don’t be curious; this is not a bad movie that’s so “bad” that you’d want to see it. It is just bad. Even my son Michael, who’s very young and has some time to spare, gave this movie a one-star rating (he tried to stay until the very end)

escape_tomorrowWarning: Spoilers follow !!




This movie was filmed at DisneyWorld, without permission from Disney.  You can see that the crowd shots are real,  the venue is very real and all the actors do well in mingling with the crowds while trying to shoot their scenes.  There are several extended shots of the actors in the rides, and this would have been a very easy activity to conceal.  Where stealth was not an option (say, an extended dialogue scene) they put the actors in front of a blue-screen background.

This is an interesting concept, but don’t be tempted to watch the movie just for that.  Watching an extended home movie gets boring fast, and the plot of the movie (an engineer going insane after being fired from his job, during a vacation at DisneyWorld) is just barely passable.
Are there interesting points?  Yes.  Let me outline a few but these are the only bright moments in a really dull film:
Since Disney owns the characters, music and logos, you will see from time to time a “blacked-out” part of the screen to hide the Disney name.  There’s even a sonic bleep when the word Disney is uttered.  Also, it is a little disconcerting (yet fascinating)  to see the
It’s-A-Small-World ride being filmed with an equally annoying and cloying replacement song that is used by the film makers.  However, the images of Donald, Mickey and Pluto greeting park guests is used;  I guess this is in the public domain, somehow.
Having some of the Disney images turned into demonic versions of themselves (while the main character is going mad) is interesting.  But these are short 1-second snippets which are infrequent.
The subplot of a former princess cast-member turning into a sexual predator gets your attention. Give this film an extra star if you’ve ever wanted to have a tryst with the Evil Queen from Snow White.
This is a 30-second sequence that you’ll remember.
Some special effects shots showing EPCOT blowing up are memorable.
The subplot of the main character stalking some teenage French babes is not memorable.
There you have it.  I hope I have not piqued your interest; my descriptions are probably more entertaining than the film itself.
If you want further information, here’s the review from; I’m afraid it will just increase your interest in the film.

Movie night with a dictator.

Our group used to meet regularly at members’ homes to view Classic Movies and then discuss them at the coffee klatch that followed; this was part of our on-going adult education and a great way to see some amazing films.  We used to call it “Classic Movie Night at X’s”  or CMNAX  for short.   Over the years, we met at CMNAL, CMNAP, CMNAMOC (Orange County edition) and now I’d like to talk about CMNAHAS.   Classic Movie Night at Hitler and Stalin’s.
Let me recommend this wonderful Hitler article at the Roger Ebert website,  which started me thinking about how all the world’s dictators are such great film buffs.   I already knew about Stalin’s Movie Night  but here was another story that suggested a pattern to my mind.   Wasn’t Kim Jong Il a big Hollywood fan?  I believe he was.  Before his demise (he definitely left us too early I fear) he courted Hollywood producers and directors to come visit him in that wonderful showcase for film, North Korea.
Are there others in this list?  We never got to see what videocassettes Bin Laden was watching in his compound, but he was a mere terrorist.  We need to focus on heads of state.  Saddam Hussein did not have much room in his spider hole to fit a portable DVD player, so that legacy is also lost.  And there’s been nothing on Kaddafi; he may have been a TV series fan.
We’ll have to wait to see what streaming video does to the tastes of the next Evil Head of State1
  1. On the other side of the scale, we have the Good Guy Festival: G.W. Bush was fond of Armageddon  –yuk– and Bill Clinton was a big fan of High Noon —thanks to Gene Siskel’s interview with Clinton, we know all about these White House preferences.  []

10 YEARS Already?!? I Mean, “The Crack Team: A Decade In Retrospect”

When The Crack Team was formed many years ago, it was to achieve one simple, humble goal: save the world. We’ve accomplished that, many times, and although you’ve never read about it, we know you’d like to thank us from the bottom of your hearts. You’re welcome, Earth.

I know reporting on our deeds has been lacking of late, with none to blame more than me. Therefore, I bring to you a new theme, and a concerted effort to bring you more content. Meaning: we’ll up the effort for a little while, then we both forget. Deal? Deal.

And now for our featured presentation…

The most famous covert organization in the world.