Monday, April 30, 2007

The Good

Last Friday was a beautiful day. No rain, no hail, no ice, no heavy frost, no wind, no gray skies, no thunder, and no tornadoes. At sundown my husband and I took the dogs down to the River Walk for a run. I had not been down there in a month and everything was green; the grass, the weeds, the flowering plants, the stuff growing at the bottom of the river, and the trees. The river was running high because of all the rain we had earlier in the week and the ground was a little bit muddy but not enough to collect on the soles of my shoes.

As we walked I listened to the sounds around us. There was the watery clattering sound of fast moving liquid. The cooing, trilling, warbling, peeping, honking, whistling,squawking, cackling sounds of the birds hidden in the trees and bushes. By listening closely I could tell that we were surrounded by doves, red-wing blackbirds, turkeys, flickers, sparrows, and robins. A small flock of geese flew low over our heads honking continuously and loudly. My husband honked in reply and there was a pause of confusion on the part of the geese. They honked back twice, paused, and then resumed their continuous honking as the flew on. A few seconds after the geese left I heard the sound of an engine up over my left shoulder and looked up to see a small airplane banking slowly as it turned into the last leg of its approach to the airport. The plane would return every five minutes as the pilot practiced touch and go landings at the airport. The sound of the droning engine would fade in and then out as the aircraft repeatedly reappeared overhead and then departed.

Half way through the walk Duke raced by us and quickly disappeared into the underbrush. A few seconds later I heard the sound of something big snapping branches and twigs as it crashed its way into the river. Then the sound of splashing water as it made its way to the other bank. I could not see what was making the sound but since I had just stepped over freshly made deer prints I was pretty sure it was one or more mule deer searching for a place to spend the night. Duke startled more than deer that night. We could tell just were he was by what appeared before us. At one bend in the river two wood ducks protested loudly as they flew off the water and disappeared into the trees. A few minutes later the whole process was repeated as Duke disturbed a pair of Mallards. They flew down the river a bit and landed on the water again only to be rousted under protest again when Duke rediscovered them.

By the time we walked back to our truck the sun was way below the horizon and the shadows had disappeared into the coming darkness. The birds must have found their sleeping quarters for the night and the pilot must have practiced enough touch and goes for one day because the only sound now was the rumbling of the big rig trucks traveling on highway at the edge of town. A beautiful end to a beautiful day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Service Temporarily Interrupted Again

I think I am solar powered. My energy level is very low due to the lack of sunshine in my part of the world. That means I don't have enough energy to do more than reply to comments left here on my blog. I will be back as soon as my batteries have recharged.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bubbles of Violence

I have been overwhelmed by the events of last week (shootings at Virgina Tech and the Johnson Space Center) and the constant television coverage of it. So overwhelmed that until now the only way I could express my feelings about it was by using the words and images of others. What is wrong in our country? If you have been watching the talking heads on TV it seems as if no one really has a clue. All the talking heads know is that we had a couple of wackos with guns go out and kill people. They did touch on gun control with the anti-gun control people interviewed reacting very emotionally to any suggestion that maybe guns should not be so easily available in this country.

They have talked and talked. They talked about how insane the young man in Virginia must have been to do such a thing. It turns out a lot of people knew he was a threat but did not do enough to protect the other people on campus. Seems he had rights and the administration were more worried about their rules and the threat of a lawsuit than about the danger this kid presented to his fellow students. They talked about Columbine and the other school shootings in this country. They talked about the victims, living and dead. They talked about how this must never be allowed to happen again- just like they have done after every other mass shooting in this country. Not once did anyone talk about what set this boy off. In the excerpts of his video statements he focused on the disenfranchised of the world and saw himself as their avenger. The shooters at Columbine also saw themselves as avengers for the mistreated. In their case they believed the mistreated were themselves.

These incidents remind me of the influenza outbreak of 1918. That came in two waves. The first outbreak was mild with the number of deaths very low. But there were signs that this virus was not as benign as scientists thought. There were bubbles in the wave. Bubbles where the virus killed swiftly and completely. These bubbles were a warning that the virus was mutating into something more deadly. Scientist thought these bubbles of death were an abnormality and did not prepare for what was to come. When the second wave came it swept the earth like a raging forest fire killing millions.

Our country is infected with the virus of rage. A rage that is fueled by the widening gap between the have and have nots, the sense of entitlement that has seeped into every level of society, the lack of any spirituality at our cultural core*, the lack of respect we have for our fellow beings if they are different from us in any way, the lack of tolerance for any dissenting opinion of any kind, our belief that things and money can make us feel whole, our belief that youth is more valuable than experience or knowledge, and our sneaking suspicion that who we think we are as Americans is not being reflected back to us in the mirror of reality.

So we get bubbles. Bubbles of violence that show us all is not well. And, like the bubbles during the first wave of influenza in 1918, these bubbles are not an abnormality. They are a warning of what is to come. If we do not address the underlying cause of this violence we will see more and more bubbles rising with greater and greater frequency in the coming days.

*I am not talking about religion. Religion seems to teach us that anyone who does not worship God the same way as we do is our enemy. Spirituality shows us that we are all one.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It Was Three Hundred Ninety-One Years Ago Today

William Shakespeare was born- they all say.

In celebration of this fact I give you the lyrics to Cole Porter's song, Brush Up Your Shakespeare.

The girls today in society go for classical poetry
So to win their hearts one must quote with ease
Aeschylus and Euripides
One must know Homer, and believe me, Beau
Sophocles, also Sappho-ho
Unless you know Shelley and Keats and Pope
Dainty Debbies will call you a dope

But the poet of them all
Who will start 'em simply ravin'
Is the poet people call
The Bard of Stratford on Avon

Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow

Just declaim a few lines from Othella
And they'll think you're a hell of a fella
If your blonde won't respond when you flatter 'er
Tell her what Tony told Cleopaterer

If she fights when her clothes you are mussing
What are clothes? Much ado about nussing
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow

Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow

With the wife of the British ambassida
Try a crack out of Troilus and Cressida
If she says she won't buy it or take it
Make her take it, what's more As You Like It

If she says your behavior is heinous
Kick her right in the Coriolanus
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow

Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow

If you can't be a ham and do Hamlet
They will not give a damn or a damlet
Just recite an occasional sonnet
And your lap'll have honey upon it

When your baby is pleading for pleasure
Let her sample your Measure for Measure
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow - Forsooth
And they'll all kow-tow - I' faith
And they'll all kow-tow

Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow

Better mention The Merchant Of Venice
When her sweet pound o' flesh you would menace
If her virtue, at first, she defends---well
Just remind her that All's Well That Ends Well

And if still she won't give you a bonus
You know what Venus got from Adonis
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow - Thinkst thou?
And they'll all kow-tow - Odds bodkins
And they'll all kow-tow

Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow

If your goil is a Washington Heights dream
Treat the kid to A Midsummer Night's Dream
If she then wants an all-by-herself night
Let her rest ev'ry 'leventh or Twelfth Night

If because of your heat she gets huffy
Simply play on and "Lay on, Macduffy!"
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow - Forsooth
And they'll all kow-tow - Thinkst thou?
And they'll all kow-tow - We trou'
And they'll all kow-tow

(From the musical, Kiss Me Kate.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

"You Got To Understand That This Is Gun Country."

-gun dealer with a store a few miles from the Virginia Tech campus quoted in the Chicago Tribune.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gazing Into The Abyss

The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
-Proverbs 10:11

We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.
-Jim Morrison

The cause of violence is not ignorance. It is self-interest. Only reverence can restrain violence - reverence for human life and the environment.
-William Sloan Coffin

If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
-Martin Luther King

In violence, we forget who we are.
-Mary McCarthy

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
-Isaac Asimov

He who fights monsters should look into it that he himself does not become a monster. When you gaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss also gazes into you.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, April 13, 2007

Service Temporarily Interupted- Please Stand By

For awhile now blogging had been more of a chore than a pleasure for me. I need a break.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hawaii Five-0

Dun dun dun dun dun DA
Opening notes from the Hawaii Five-0 theme

(The big wave from the opening credits and Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett with his hair combed the same way.)

I got the first season of Hawaii Five-0 on DVD last week. The main thrill for me is seeing the episodes in color and without any cuts. Television shows in syndication are always shortened to allow for more commercials. The only way to see any TV show the way it was first broadcast is by waiting until it comes out on DVD.

When I popped disc one into the player I got a big surprise. The DVD set includes the Hawaii Five-0 movie! The movie was the pilot for the series and was first broadcast a couple of weeks before the premiere episode. It was then shown in two-parts at the end of season one. For the people who did not see the pilot until the end of season one the movie must have been a bit disconcerting. The Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) in the TV show is totally different from the Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) in the movie. McGarrett in the movie is playful, light-hearted, funny, and almost lovable. As any Five-0 fan knows this is not the McGarrett we all know and "love" from the TV show.

The other difference is the actor playing McGarrett's right-hand man, Danny Williams. They replaced him in the series with actor James MacArthur. After seeing the other guy in his big scene in the movie I can see why. He was horrible. I don't know what he was to attempting to do acting wise but all he succeeded in doing was make me want to smack him up side the head and tell him to get on with it.

One other surprising thing about these episodes is seeing evidence of the shoestring budget they were operating on. A lot of goofs. So far I have see: supposedly dead people with twitching eyes; a woman wearing two different wedding bands (first a thin band then a thick one) in two different scenes of the same show; McGarrett putting on his jacket and in close-up have it change to one with pinstripes and a darker color; McGarrett going undercover in a prison and wearing the same number on his uniform as his cell mate; McGarrett running out of the palace to his car and driving away on a day where no other cars are in the parking lot and then another shot from a helicopter showing him driving out of the same lot full of cars.

Then there are the guest stars. I have never see so many white actors playing Asian characters. In one episode the make-up is so bad one Hawaii Five-0 website calls it "Asian Blackface." It is interesting to see stars of the past and future. Some of the actors I have seen are: Kevin McCarthy- from the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Sal Mineo-James Dean's friend in Rebel Without a Cause; Victor Sen Yung- Jimmie Chan in the Charlie Chan movies; Ricardo Montalban-Mr. Roarke in Fantasy Island; Gavin MacLeod- Captain Stubing in The Love Boat; Nancy Kwan- star of The World of Suzie Wong and Flower Drum Song; and Farley Granger-star of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and Strangers on a Train .

But the one guest star that blew me away was a man I did not recognize. Whoever he was he had something because when I first saw him I thought, "Who is this man?"
At the end of the show when the credits rolled the words Herb Jeffries appeared. Herb Jeffries, The Bronze Buckaroo, a black singing cowboy in b-westerns made for African-American's in the late 1930's. Herb Jeffries, who worked with Duke Ellington and had a hit with their recording of a song called Flamingo in 1941. Herb Jeffries, who is still going strong at age ninety-five.

As you can tell I am having a great time watching these DVD's. I love the fact that the writers tried to put up-to-date slang in when they had no idea what it meant or even how to say it. Girl to McGarrett, "I wish I could psych you out," meaning she wants to understand him better, not play mind games with his head. Another time McGarrett says to Danny Williams, "You're up pretty tight, Danno." That's, "You're pretty up tight, Steve-o."

Then there is Steve McGarrett's misogynistic attitude toward women. He refers to women as "Broads and "Dames." When talking to some women he calls them "Honey" and "Love" instead of by their real names. And when I hear him saying these things I just shake my head, chuckle, and think, "God bless 'im," because it is like having an dinosaur walk down your street and accidentally crush your car. The dinosaur doesn't mean anything by it, he is just being a dinosaur. Steve McGarrett is a man from 30 years ago, back when that was how macho men of his generation acted. He is a dinosaur who doesn't know any better. How can you not laugh at him?

I can't wait for the second season to come out so I can see if the production qualities improved and watch Steve McGarrett become even more Steve McGarrett-ity.

Monday, April 09, 2007

An Easter Story

On Easter when my sisters, brother and I were little our mother would hide Easter Eggs around the house for us to find. One year when our baby sister was around seven-years-old she asked our mother if she could be the one who hid the eggs for the rest of us to find. Our mother told her that it was OK with her. So on that Easter morning we left our baby sister with a big bowl of colored eggs and stepped outside the house to wait as she hid them. A little while later she opened the front door and said she was ready.

We started looking for eggs. We looked under and behind the sofa. We looked under the sofa cushions. We looked under and in all the beds. We looked behind all the doors. No eggs.

We looked at our little sister,"You did hide them, didn't you?," we asked her. She nodded her head yes.

We looked in the kitchen cabinets. We looked in the bathroom cabinets. No eggs.

We looked at our little sister again, "You hid them in the house?" With suppressed excitement she again nodded her head up and down.

We looked behind the books in the bookshelf. We turn on the ceiling lights and looked to see if eggs were hidden in the light covers even though we know she is too small to reach up there. We looked behind the window curtains. No eggs.

We finally gave up and ask her to show us where the eggs were. She walked to the refrigerator and pulled the door open. There in the egg keeper were two rows of multi-colored eggs. We all laughed and told her that the refrigerator was a great place to hide Easter eggs. We then praised her ingenuity and told her we would never have thought to hide eggs in the refrigerator. What a great Easter joke.

Friday, April 06, 2007

What If You Build It And No One Comes?

I don't know if you have heard but there is a new attraction at the Grand Canyon called Skywalk. Skywalk is a glass bottom walkway that loops out 70 feet from the rim of the canyon and hangs 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. Skywalk was built on private land owned by the Hualapai Tribe. The Skywalk is being advertised as a less crowed way to see the Grand Canyon; an alternative to the National Park on the other rim.

I know some people have criticized the Hualapai for building Skywalk because they are worried about the environmental impact on the Grand Canyon. I'm not sure it was a good idea either. You build one attraction and that seems to lead to another attraction and then another. Pretty soon you have an large amusement park. I have seen this happen at The Royal Gorge Bridge outside Canyon City in Fremont County, Colorado. It use to be when you visited the bridge that is all there was- a bridge. You could gaze down into the canyon and enjoy the quite surrounding you as you watched a hawk soaring above. Now...well, look at the map.

Just before the walkway was opened to the public the media were invited to take a stroll on it. Although most mentioned the steep price ($74.95), they seemed to find it worthwhile That price may be the sticking point for the tourist, though. An article on the Casa Grande Valley Newspaper website says:
Visitors must pay anywhere from $74.95 to $199 to walk on the Skywalk, depending on what other activities they do. (The tribe advertises a $49.95 rate on its Web site, but that just lets you "view" the Skywalk, not walk on it.)

Fifty dollars just to look at it? I repeat, fifty dollars to just look at it?

Now we are starting to hear from the tourists who have visited. This blog post (third paragraph) mentions a few things that made the author unhappy on his visit. At this blog the author complains about the cost and has an unfavorable review of the Skywalk experience written by a person who has been there in the comments. And last but not least (and the reason why I wrote this post) an article from the Denver Post. It describes what happened on the day a tourist from London visited Skywalk with his son.

It is kind of sad how fast the wheels are coming off the bus on this thing. The tribal leaders have said they build Skywalk to bring much needed cash to the people living here. Desperate people sometimes do things that are considered foolish to other people. I hope this is not the case here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Food For Thought

For the last few weeks I have been feeling like I have two left feet, that I am all thumbs, that I somehow started out on the wrong foot and at the same time that I can't even find my feet. I am fish out of water, a basket case, a square peg in a round hole. Some days I'm out on a limb emotionally.

Other days I am dog tired, down in the dumps, not on an even keel. I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants, that I am in uncharted waters, that I am all over the map emotionally. I can't see the forest for the trees because I'm in over my head. I'm trying to keep body and soul together but I haven't got the ghost of a chance because I may be a glutton for punishment.

I got up on the wrong side of the bed, I'm swimming against the tide, I'm skating on thin ice, I'm walking on shifting sand.

Some days I've got ants in my pants and feel like my life is passing by at full tilt. Some days I feel dead to the world and that my life is on hold. Some days I'm ready to throw in the towel.

I've got the blues.

But, it's no use crying over spilt milk. I'm still in the game. I'll be right as rain soon (knock on wood) if I just hang in there. I can turn things around by being Gung Ho and keeping my eye on the ball; they go hand in hand. The blues are here today and gone tomorrow. It's an ill wind that blows no good.

How do you like those apples? If I'm wrong, I'll eat my hat in a New York minute.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why, Oh Why, Do I Love Paris?

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Just The Facts, Ma'am.

1 in 14- chance that a U.S. worker would have a drop in income of one-half his salary or greater in 1970

1 in 6- chance in 2002

14% (est.)- percent of U.S. citizens living under the poverty line

$19,803- yearly income to be considered poor in the U.S.

$5.15- minimum hourly wage in this country

$10,507- yearly salary of person working for minimum wage

$170,000,000,000 (est.)- the cost to our economy through increased crime by adults who grew up poor in this country

$203.95- minimum hourly wage for members of the U.S. Congress

$139.97- minimum hourly wage this year factoring in new rule lengthening hours Congress is in session

96%- percent of U.S. workers who pay into Social Security

100% - percent of members of Congress who pay into Social Security (but they have their own retirement plan and do not draw on Social Security if and when they retire from Congress)

$11, 494.80- average annual pension (Social Security) paid to retired U.S. workers in 2006

$35,952- average annual pension (non-Social Security) paid to retired members of Congress in 2006

$39,403 (est.)- U.S. median personal wealth U.S. in 2006

$2,161 (est.)- median personal wealth worldwide

Monday, April 02, 2007

Paranoia Strikes Deep

Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid

-For What It's Worth sung by Buffalo Springfield

This "No Guns" symbol appeared at the entrance to the banks in town last summer. I found it amusing since I thought everyone knows not to bring a gun it to a bank. If you do it is called "a stick-up." Then last week the same sign appeared at the entrance to the town library.

The town has now officially stepped beyond silly and deep into paranoid territory.