Wednesday, December 30, 2009

what I want to know is....

Heard on the radio this morning that the Underwear-Bomber:
  1. paid cash
  2. had no luggage
On a normal transcontinental flight, what percentage of passengers pay cash and check no luggage?

60? 50? 1? .1%

I have to assume the percentage is *somewhat* low. Shouldn't this have been a signal that a *more-comprehensive* pre-flight search was called for?

Also, do we know if he bought a one-way or round-trip ticket?

Just curious...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What a difference 2 days makes

Last Sunday morning: walking along a cactus-strewn nature trail in the bone-dry, california desert.

Today: sitting in my portland living room, watching a snowstorm.

Monday, December 28, 2009

some vacation photos

Coachella Nature Preserve - Willis Palm grove

Big Morongo Canyon preserve - cottonwoods along Canyon Trail

Anza-Borrego state park - view from Wind Caves trail at Split Mountain

Borrego sunset 1

Borrego sunset 2 - our last evening, from S&D's terrace

when jokes turn cruel

Back in the days after the Shoe-Bomber, after it was decreed that nobody gets on a plane without taking off their shoes, I got a lot of mileage out of the following gag:

"At least he wasn't the Underwear-Bomber".

It was funny then, but, this morning, I hear that the Nigerian guy had the explosives sewn into his underwear.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

and we are now home

With a cat sitting on my desk, trying to be cute (and succeeding).

Had a splendid time in the Palm Springs neighborhood - went for some very nice walks in a variety of desert preserves, including a palm oasis near Thousand Palms and the colorful canyon trail near Morongo.

Thanks especially to S&D for their hospitality in Borrego - the bumpy drive and hike in the Split Mountain canyon was awesome, as the photos attest. Maybe I will get around to uploading one or two soon, but I am tired from the traveling.

We did have breakfast this morning at this very cool place. Quite retro, with photos on the wall of movie stars who stayed there over the years (Bing, Gable, Brando, Marilyn, etc).

heading home

2 pm flight today, from Palm Springs back to Portland.

Have spent the last 3 days with S&D in Borrego Springs. We went hiking yesterday to some sandstone 'caves' up in the Split Mountain area. Amazing vistas of the fabulous eroded wasteland - very remote feeling, except for the other 4-wheel drive vehicles and occasional motorcyclist.

Great sunset last night capped off a pretty good 10-day sojourn in these parts.

Still, as always, looking forward to being home and seeing the animals.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It drives me nuts

Listening to NPR morning edition today, as I frequently do.

They interviewed the proud mother of an Illinois soldier who had received multiple medals during four tours of duty in Iraq.

The guantanamo prisoners are coming to the nearby prison, and she said that bringing 'terrorists' there is a 'slap in the face' to her son's service.

Will someone explain to her that (unless the real reason is oil), her son's overal purpose for being there was to help establish our beloved (rightly so) principal that every accused person is both presumed innocent and guaranteed a trial?

Why is this so difficult, both for Mom to understand and for NPR to mention?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

it finally happened

We are here in Palm Desert for a few days, enjoying the sun and spectacle. It's actually totally pleasant.

We don't pick up our rental car for a couple of days, and it's clear that this area makes NO concessions to pedestrians, aside from sidewalks. There is a 'Marketplace' here at the resort, but one look at the $6 boxes of cereal made me decide to walk to the nearest grocery store, to buy provisions.

Alas, the nearest grocery story is a Wal*Mart, and I have NEVER been inside one of these, on some kind of principal. I walked there and did my grocery shopping, and I am happy to say that, yes, the prices are surprisingly low, and at least I didn't buy anything made in China.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

and now for something completely different


times change

While wasting time, I happened upon this page, where Google is thoughtfully providing complete Life magazines, from post WWII America.

We got 'Life' every week, and I remember vividly the important stories of the day, like Vietnam, the Beatles, and LSD. However, browsing thru an old issue today, the ads caught my attention, especially this one, which, I remember, was a mainstay in the magazines of the day:

Yes, the good old days, when Americans were worried about being too skinny.

people I don't really know in the news

In the middle of the night, I was listening to BBC radio, as I often do when I can't sleep, and they broadcast a story about the ongoing controversy in Uganda, about the proposed anti-gay laws.

The BBC announcer reported that the situation had been made worse by the efforts of two American 'preachers', one of whom is Scott Lively.

Now that is a name I had not heard in many years, not so much from his Oregon Citizens Alliance days, but from another, more distant connection.

Scott's wife, Anne, worked at Blue Cross when I was there a long time ago, and I always thought she was a lovely person. In fact, she and Scott were invited to our wedding party - this would have been 1985.

As a wedding present, they presented us with a plant, now many feet tall, that still sits in the corner of our dining room (and had to get carefully moved out of the way for Thanksgiving).

He and Anne divorced years ago - I have wondered what it was like in that home - and today, Scott Lively is in the international news spotlight, for being one of the world's pre-eminent anti-gay crusaders.

This certainly does not approach the level of the "I knew him when" bragging I can do about Tommy Hillfiger, but, this chilly, rainy morning in Portland, it's the best I can do.

Merry Christmas to all. I wish I could believe that the savior of humanity has already walked the earth, but it's a stretch, given the evidence to the contrary.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

one man; one vote

Lieberman's - grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Friday, December 11, 2009

i've been down on Obama lately

Frustrated with the compromises on Health Insurance reform, and the continuation of the Afghanistan tragedy, but I must say that his Nobel acceptance speech revealed much about the man.

There can be no doubt that he is a remarkable individual, and that, despite the horrendous conditions under which he assumed power, and the determined opposition that will stoop to nothing to obfuscate and obstruct all efforts to move forward, we are very fortunate to have him.

I hope he lasts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

think back a couple of months...

During the height of the 'Death Panel' scare, I remember hearing, from several sources, this opinion:

"If you think that the disinformation campaign currently being waged by well-funded vested Health Insurance interests is incredibly brazen and shameless, just wait until attention is focused on Global Climate Change. What we will see then will make the Health Care debate look sane."

Aye, mateys, it has come to pass exactly as predicted.

Nothing significant will come from Health Insurance reform, and nothing significant will be done to slow CO2 emissions. Your grandchildren will live in a vastly different world from today, but, at least, there will probably be a few billion fewer (mostly non-white) humans around, so your internet access might be a little faster.

I really believe that we, as a species, are going to just let it all happen, because a very small minority of us are so damn greedy that all they care about is money.

There's an old story about a fabulously wealthy man who was asked: "You already have everything that anyone could possibly need. What more do you want?", and he answered, "More."

Monday, December 07, 2009

back from Bend

It was a lot of driving today (we came over Willamette Pass, to stop to pick up some of my mother-in-law's ceramics outside of Eugene - it's a long story), but it's good to be home.

Bend was incredibly snowy (almost a foot of powder fell Saturday night and Sunday) but today was clear and the roads were no problem. Here is a photo taken Sunday afternoon from our motel room, right on the Deschutes river:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Heading to Bend

Karen has a hearing monday morning, so we're driving there for the weekend

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Watched Obama's speech tonight, and I am sad.

We have been here before, and many more young people will die and become physically or psychologically maimed. The cost of today's decision will be paid for decades to come.

Did my ears deceive me, or is the main justification for not withdrawing now 'this is not like Vietnam'?

Why not take the money we would be spending on continuing this war (and paying for the long-term care of the veterans) and spend half of it building schools, bridges, medicine and water systems in Afghanistan, and the other half doing the same thing here?

What am I missing?