One such “assignment” was for “The World’s Best Bridges”, and it was enough to motivate me to dig thru our bridge pictures. The assignment description said that they weren’t looking for “iconic” bridges (though we have some of them, too), but for those that “make the business of crossing … an experience unlike any other.” I take that to mean “quirky”, and quirky is what we do. Read on
RoZ and I on our first “date”, October 1, 1993…
While living in Philadelphia, I used some vacation time to visit some friends in Kansas City. I stayed with a couple who took me to an event the night before, which was where I met RoZ for the first time.
On our first full day together, the four of us (five actually, as they had a toddler that came along) took a drive into the country, where we found a couple of boats available for paddling around.
We’re still as happy as we were that day, even though we’ve never been in a rowboat since.
I work one day a week at the US Bank Building in La Crosse, which has a nesting box for peregrine falcons. There is now a camera in the box, and the image from that camera is on a screen in the building’s lobby…
Seeing the new baby falcons reminded us that we had some video of the banding of an earlier hatching of falcons that took place a few years back. This motivated us to edit the video we shot that day, and it’s finally “in the can”…
It’s rare enough to see a partial solar eclipse, but to have it happening during sunset is a photo-opportunity that can’t be passed up…
It was cloudy all day today. I made a special trip to Riverside Park in La Crosse not knowing whether I’d ever see the setting sun. It appeared from behind the cloud bank just as I arrived, then sank below the horizon five minutes later, but not before I managed to capture this image.
I’ve worn a “hoodie” as long as I can remember… I can remember my mother dressing me in a little hoodie (we called it a “sweatshirt”) back in the days when Eisenhower was president.
A hoodie is a great article of clothing for spring and fall… a heavy layer of cotton to keep warm, but not too heavy to carry when the weather warms up. If the sun goes away or the wind picks up, the hood pulls up over the head and draw strings tighten it up for extra warmth. There’s a big “kangaroo” pouch on the front, perfect for inserting cold hands (which rarely happened in my case, as my hands were usually busy with stuff like baseballs or basketballs).
Somewhere along the line, the hooded sweatshirt quit being a utilitarian piece of cool-weather clothing and became a fashion statement. We have friends that have been in the tie-dye business for many years, and they tell us that hoodies are now among their most popular items. Function has become fashion.
But now right-whinge blowhards are demonizing hoodies, saying that a 17-year-old kid walking home from the convenience store got shot and killed because he was wearing a hoodie. If these gutter-dwellers are to be believed, the hoodie is so threatening that if you wear one, a crazy yahoo with a gun can be forgiven for shooting you dead.
That’s the same “blame the victim” BS that forgives the rapist for attacking a woman with a short skirt. In reality, this “logic” is a way of obfuscating racism, since the hoodie is only “threatening” if a black person is wearing it, just as a backwards baseball cap was deemed “threatening” a few years back.
If we’re going to criminalize a clothing style, lets start with suits. After all, it was (mostly) white guys in suits who ripped off our country to the tune of trillions of dollars over the past few years.
In the meantime, it’s a nice sunny day, so I should do something outside. But it’s kinda cool, so I’m gonna wear my blue hoodie.
While many other people got gadgets for Christmas this year, we got Gizmo. He’s a small white shorthaired cat with a solid black tail and big black spots on his back and the top of his head. He has almond-shaped eyes titled at an angle to his pink nose that gives his face an Asian look. He is quite agile, so he can navigate the forest of knick-knacks and gewgaws in our house without knocking too many things over.
His job is to evict and/or eat any rodent that trespasses in our house. As a bonus, he supplies us with endless amusement and kitty cuddles, and we are generous enough to supply him with human cuddles in return.
We met Gizmo at a local pet store that was providing space for Tabby Town (a no-kill shelter nearby) to display cats available for adoption. We got to handle and “meet” the kitties that interested us, and Gizmo was determined to be Our Cat. That was Saturday (Dec. 17), and we made arrangements to have him brought to our house the following Wednesday.
Since then, Gizmo has lived up to Tabby Town’s descriptions:
“sweet and gentle, tried & true”
“You’ll love his antics when he wants attention”
He likes to chase the red dot from our laser pointer, and a little toy mouse tied to a string. A few minutes of play – a couple times a day – seems to wear him out enough that he sleeps the rest of the day. When he wants attention, he sticks his face right into yours.
Gizmo is a complete clown of a cat, the spirit of a kitten in an adult cat’s body, and we love him to death already.
I don’t literally believe the myth about St. Peter and the “pearly gates”, but it provides a useful metaphor for the passage we will all make one day from this world to the next one.
After all, the Pearly Gates are a busy place, so there must be a very long line of people waiting for their turn to negotiate with St. Peter for admission to Paradise. I’ve stood in enough long lines in my time on this Planet to know that time is often filled by memorable encounters and conversations with those near our position in the line. (For our international readers, we Americans say “line” instead of “queue”.)
So when the passings of prominent figures are clumped together on the time line, I imagine these prominent figures waiting in line together at the Pearly Gates. Last weekend, three big names dropped off the Roster of the Living simultaneously.
Vaclav Havel was a creative dissident playwright who led the Velvet Revolution that freed Czechoslovakia from authoritarian rule. Christopher Hitchens was also an articulate writer who opposed the Vietnam War but advocated the Iraq invasion, and who was an evangelical atheist until his last breath. Kim Jong Il was a pathetic tyrant who was completely full of himself. (A hole in one on his first swing of a golf club? Give me a break.)
What would these three have to say to each other while they wait in line? Would Havel and Hitchens debate over the existence of God? Would Kim insist that he was God? I’d like to think that the other two would want to kill Kim, but they’re all already dead.
Comedy writers, there’s a lot of fun to be had with this scenario. If you have an idea of what’s happening in this scene, let us know in the comments below.
I’ve heard many commentators refer to the “bongo drums” at the various Occupy Wall Street actions, and it kind of annoys me, mainly because it’s inaccurate. The term is mainly used to belittle and ridicule the occupations, but I’ve heard it used by people on “our side” who should know better. The most appropriate term to use would be “hand drums.”
Many years ago, I built a website for a maker of hand drums. (I won’t link to his site, as I was never fully paid for it, but that’s another story.) In the process I learned a lot about hand drums, and what all the variations of hand drums are properly called.
The most common drum you’ll find in public drum circles is the conga. Check out this picture from the Washington Post web site…
In this picture, we see (from right to left) a red conga, a blue conga, a snare drum behind it, a blue floor tom (another “kit” drum), a red conga, a tan conga, and an improvised steel drum. No bongos.
This picture was posted for ridicule by a right-wing blogger from South Carolina who infiltrated the local occupy rally to gather fodder for his mean-spirited rants. He prefaced this picture with, “they even had bongos.”
No, they’re djembes. You don’t know what you’re talking about.
Bongos are indoor drums. They are small… far too small to be heard in the midst of dozens of congas, djembes, floor toms, snares, and hundreds of dancing and howling revellers; so they are rare in large public gatherings of drummers.
The only place I could find a picture of a bongo player at Occupy Wall Street was from somebody’s Flickr stream, and this guy looks like he’s working really hard to be heard above the ambient noise of downtown Manhattan.
One of the special treats of living near the Mississippi River is that we share our space with bald eagles. Usually we see them in the wintertime near the river, as they like to catch fish from the open water.
The eagle shown here was spotted over the marsh, along the bike trail between La Crosse and West Salem. A set of high-voltage power lines run next to the trail, and the eagle was perched in one of the towers.
Too often when we get this close to a special bird, we either don’t have our best camera along, or the bird flies away before we can get it out. To our amazement, this bird struck some iconic eagle poses for us before flying off to look for food in some other part of the marsh, away from the paparazzi.
RoZ and I are both weather geeks, and I’m a sucker for time-lapse video. I also think the brief animation of weather photos (satellite images, radar, etc.) that we see on TV or the Internet are kind of lame.
Knowing that the satellite picture is regenerated every half hour (and that the weather was about to get interesting), I set up our computer to automatically grab the image every half hour. I let the automatic frame grabber run until the weather got boring again, and assembled the 1300+ images into the video presented below.
You’ll see the progress of hurricane/tropical storm Irene, Lee, Katia, Nate, Maria and Ophelia. In between, there’s a persistent low pressure system that whirls over the midwest.