"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Monday, March 28, 2016

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off

Monday’s political observation:

Oh, Dearies, this one is so pregnant with possibilities I think I'm having labor pains.

Seems someone started a petition to allow open carry of weapons at the Republican convention in Cleveland in July at the Quicken Loans Arena, which is usually a gun-free site.  Thus far, 20,000 concerned folks have signed the petition.

Now, you’d assume these weapons would be carried for self-defense, right?   Cleveland isn’t known for its pacific pastures and all, so one must take care when walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  Why, they’d be sitting ducks should a malcontent start blazing away with six-shooters.

Ah, but maybe there’s another plot in play here.   Is this a new way to select the presidential nominee?   A last man standing thing?  

And how convenient is that venue?   Quicken Loans Arena?   Need a Quick(en) Loan for bail money?

Wait.   Is this another dirty trick perpetrated by the oppos?

Oh, I swoon.    

In the meantime, Happy Spring! 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Made It Through Another Winter

The end of March and the weather sure acts like it's spring.

Warm, sunny, and what little snow we had is fast disappearing.  Time to do those springtime chores.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, A Parrot in the Tub

For reasons that completely escape me, Pablo Parrot feels compelled to take a bath whenever I run the vacuum cleaner.

Left to his own devices, he dips the top of his head in his water cup, then lets the water run down over himself.   Not only does he get wet, but so does everything around him.

That's a real parrot in there but I can't tell what's  what.   

AH, there he is.   I thought about how soaked his cage lining would be.   How splattered everything in the vicinity would be....

 So, I put him in the kitchen sink with nice gentle warm water spraying on him.....   

That hole in his head?   That's his ear.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Knocking Down Idols and the Ivory Pedestals They Rode in on, so to Speak

Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails.

The famous, now long-departed, trial lawyer Clarence Darrow has long been a favorite of mine.   The quote above is one of his. 

Darrow was noted for his exceptional oratory and for standing up for the aggrieved.  He lost perhaps the most well-known trial in which he defended the accused.   It is popularly known as the Scopes Monkey Trial., litigated in 1925.

The State of Tennessee charged a high school teacher, John Scopes, with teaching Darwin's evolution,

strictly forbidden in any publicly-funded educational institution under Tennessee law.  The approved curriculum mandated only creationism, that man was created as defined in the Bible and did not descend from any form of lower animal.

Darrow defended Scopes.   The case was prosecuted by three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan.   Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, but the case was later overturned on a technicality.  It marked the beginning of a change in public sentiment and of a long argument about faith versus science.

This is how that trial relates to idols and ivory pedestals and things we thought we understood.  I was reading “Flesh and Bone” by the writing duo who call themselves Jefferson Bass.   The protagonist is a forensic anthropologist who, in this particular novel, is visiting the courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee, where the Scopes trial took place.

From the novel:  I had long known that the trial was a media boondoggle; what I hadn’t realized…was how thoroughly orchestrated a publicity stunt it had been, from start to finish.  Tennessee’s 1925 antievolution law was real enough, and so was the ACLU’s interest in challenging it.

What was nearly pure hokum was the trial itself.  It was the brainchild of the local businessmen, Chamber of Commerce types who dreamed of putting Dayton on the map in a big way.  When similar challenges to the new law began gathering momentum in other….Tennessee cities, the Dayton boosters maneuvered to get the….trial moved up, so Knoxville and Chattanooga wouldn’t steal Dayton’s thunder.

The authors go on to say that Scopes was a ringer.   He was a chemistry teacher, not a biology teacher.    He played the martyr, gathered up some students and coached them to say the Scopes had indeed taught evolution.

Ah, Spencer Tracy!   Did you know all this when you played the character based on Darrow in Inherit the Wind?

(Note:  I did a bit of research to determine the veracity of the authors' words.   Should you be in Dayton, TN, and visit the Rhea County Courthouse, now a museum, where the trial took place, you can gather around the table from the nearby drugstore where this publicity stunt "evolved."


Friday, March 18, 2016

Monogolia, A Report from the Field: Back to Ulaanbaatar

Patti and Cap are sitting across from me in the dining room of the Comfort Hotel in Darkhan, Mongolia.  Just beyond us is a nice breakfast buffet, from which I have already partaken.  Now, I’m finishing my cup of tea and thinking about last night.

Shortly after I was shown to my room, an apologetic Yusuf knocked on my door and tentatively asked if I would mind swapping rooms with Cap and Patti as the bed in their room was too small for the two of them.  Of course I wouldn’t mind, I assured him, and off we went with my duffle bag to make the exchange.

I thought about warning them that my room seemed to be right over the karaoke sign, but figured there was no point in that as it might not happen and they would get a nice night’s sleep.

So this morning, I ask.  “Sleep well?”


Oh, dear.  Mongolians seem to love karaoke, I think.   On one block in Ulaanbaatar I counted five karaoke shops, and that was on on;y one side of the street.

“Karaoke too loud?”

“No!”   Patti explained that the guests in the room across the hall from them had a very loud, very long argument late into the night.   Finally, about 1 A.M., they heard a nearby door open and a very loud, very authoritative voice said about ten words in Mongolian.   Then a door slammed and all was quiet the rest of the night.

Part of the buffet.

Rice and , yes, hot dogs.

Veggie soup.

Mmmm....    Flour soup with lamb?

Pickled veggies.

So, I finish my tea and we load up in the van for the final leg of our trip.   In a few hours, we will be back in Ulaanbaatar.   Cap will have time to make his 2 P.M. meeting, which has speeded up our itinerary.

I talk Patti into riding in the front seat, and though reluctant at first, she is thrilled once we get on the road.   

Boys herding the cattle.

After a few hours, I see the rising columns of smoke and steam  from the coal-fired electrical generating plant cooling towers that mar the cityscape of Ulaanbaatar and make it the second most air-polluted city on earth.   The first is Ahwaz, Iran.

Ulaanbaatar’s air pollution comes mostly from the coal-burning electrical plants, but also from thousands of gers, in which coal and wood are burned for heat.   The city sits in a mountain-ringed basin subject to temperature inversions that hold the smoke in the basin.

And then we’re there.   Chimdee pulls the van up in front of the Sunshine Hotel and I get out.   Cap and Patti are staying in an apartment just across a narrow access lane, so they’re home, too.
In my room, I download the hundreds and hundreds of photos I took on this five and a half day trip to and from Lake Khuvsgul onto my small travel tablet and label some.   I make a trip to the local grocery to get few things for the next couple days before we leave UB early on Tuesday morning.

I’m going to miss this place.  I’ve come to think of my room at the Sunshine Hotel as my home away from home, and the staff as my family away from home.  I’ll miss Yusuf and Chimdee, too.

My hot breakfast the next morning.

I plan to spend four days in Hong Kong before flying to Seattle and then on to Anchorage.   For now, I have two days to get myself and my luggage organized for those flights.

Sunday afternoon, Cap, Patti, and I meet several of Cap's friends for lunch.   These are some of the dishes served.   For some reason, I didn't take a photo of the main course--sheep ribs with potatoes and onions, which is delicious. 


Push this thing and a horrendously loud bell rings to summon your server.

A variety of dishes to accompany the sheep ribs and potatoes.


Kim chee

"Mushroom warriors" aka sea mushrooms.

Sea cabbage.



and bacon potato salad.

The Hot Pot Korean Restaurant, just down the block from our digs.

Cap and Patti navigating the slippery sidewalks of Ulaanbaatar.