Saturday, June 28, 2008

This is not what I do ...

Before we head off to see the wizard this evening, I thought I'd share an unexpected musical find. First, as you probably already know, there are 4,000 events being held all over the U.S. tonight for Barack Obama. Click here to enter your zipcode & find an event near you. I'm not sure what to expect since we don't tend to attract a lot of Democrats here in SW UT. I hope I'm pleasantly surprised. I'll let you know tomorrow how our local event went.

But to continue with the musical find .... I certainly never expected to be grabbed by a snip of a song in Shrek the Third. But there I was this afternoon, lazing on the couch, wondering why I was wasting my time watching this third film in the Shrek saga. Ever since the Godfather III, I've learned to stay away from any third sequel. But just then, my ears were arrested by a mournful piano and my breath was taken away by an intimate voice ....

It's called "Nine Crimes" by Damien Rice, an Irish folksinger I was unfamiliar with. Here it is, see if you agree. (note: I found it easier to understand the lyrics after Damien appears & sings).

Click here if you'd like to see the solo guitar version.

If you liked those, you might also like Damien Rice's "The Blower's Daughter" which was part of the soundtrack for the film, "Closer":

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Couldn't Britain have kept him a little longer ... just a measly SIX more months?

Well this was certainly awkward, wasn't it? I mean there was our President this week trying to instruct the British Prime Minister in the finer art of street jive handshakes ... but the poor P.M. got so flustered three of his fingers end up Bush's sleeve!

Ever polite, the Brits were extremely accomoda- ting of our POTUS's demand to never see any protestors (but you can see them in a good vid here -- and read about what the catastrophe known as George W. Bush was spared from seeing). Other shocking information contained in that link reveals that Laura Bush doesn't care for her husband's "war talk". But never fear, as Bush explains, "she thought it made it look like I like war. And I don't". Good thing he cleared that up, hunh? I'd hate to think where we'd be today if he DID like war.

Another item that same click will reveal is that Bush took the opportunity of his visit to urge Britain to (surprise!) stay the course in Iraq -- an urging with which P.M. Brown is reportably in complete agreement. The President's advice to Britain followed hints that their Ministry of Defense was drawing up plans for the withdrawal of virtually all their remaining 4,200 troops in Iraq. Mr Bush said any move by Mr Brown to bring forces home should be "based upon success". This little inside joke almost brought tears to my dry eyes, for we all know that Bush has no definition of success, never having achieved any himself. Such a kidder!

If Herman's Hermits were singing today, here's how one of their hits might've turned out: (cue banjo-plink guitar)
Mr. Brown, you got some lovely masters.
Guys like this are rare and hard to find.
But it's sad, Bush-Cheney don't love you!
You can get down on your knees,
But they won't repay you in kind.
(or, Alt end for awkward handshake): If you get down on your knees,
You can slip your hand up Bush's sleeves!

For those who missed Maureen Dowd's column of 6/18/08, I cannot resist linking it: "American President Pleads Guilty to Hopeless Idealism" wherein Ms Dowd tells of this week's unfortunate meeting of Mr Bush and Mr Brown.

A few random D.K. thoughts about Ms Dowd's description of Bush's Big British Ball (but you should really read Ms Dowd first):

OMG, he wants his final White House Xmas card to be under a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I? I guess he's really bought into that whole history-takes-a-long-time-to-be-written crapola. Too bad he never bothered to study enough history regarding what our American Revolution was all about (hint: NO MONARCHY!). Oh well, he probably just thinks The Virgin Queen was a "purdee laidee".

Ms Dowd also informs us that Bush thinks words like "warmonger and poodle" are just "words people love to toss around foolishly". hmmmm .... he probably thinks COOKED INTELLIGENCE, LYING OUR COUNTRY INTO WAR, WAR CRIMINAL, INCOMPETENCE and IMPEACHMENT are foolish words as well.

Oh and now Bush psychoanalyzes Saddam Hussein's motives for bluffing to rival neighboring nations (talkin bout you, Urrrahn) about WMD he didn't have?!? Oh the irony that Saddam's initial untruthfulness abso-friggin-lutely forced us into blowing up Urrrock ... because apparently our own foreign intelligence experts are incapable of figuring out the difference between dictator boasting and verifiable weapons inspection facts.

Finally, as Ms Dowd teased in her title, it turns out Bush thinks his only fault has been "hopeless idealism". Good gawd! I'm amazed P.M. Brown let him in the country in the first place. Who knows where his Hopeless Idealism might lead next. Perhaps he is interested in spreading U.S. freedom to Europe? However, there are no do-overs in foreign statesmanship. Once there, I was selfishly hoping the Brits could detain him a little longer. Touring castles and playing golf at St Andrews for another 6-months would've been perfect. Certainly, if he was still over there, he wouldn't be inflicting his shoulder-shrugging homilies to comfort the hard-hit flooded American Midwest here (doing the LEAST he can, as usual).

Fortunately, we are being spared photos of Bush and McCrusty guffawing together as they view the midwest flood damage today. That's because their flood disaster viewing schedules kept them 50-miles apart from each other. So near, yet so far. What, no time for a big hug or head kiss for Scrooge McDuck this trip?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday quiz: At the tone, the time will be ...

I thought this quiz was fun. I always suspected I didn't have an accent, although I am sometimes accused of sounding a bit Canadian (which I assume means I talk fast & clipped).

It turns out I have the Classic Midland Accent, even though I have never spent any time in what I would call the American Midland. This is the accent Americans can most easily understand no matter where they are from. It is the voice the original Bell Telephone company selected to tell you the time of day when you felt you needed to call them to find out (that was when those calls were free). It is the accent you are most likely to hear on any large corporation's voice mail program (which will change immediately once you reach an actual person, an outsourced employee who has probably never heard of the American Midland). And according to this chart, it is the accent most heard in the American West, which is where I've always lived. Apparently, I would feel right at home in southern Ohio or southern Illinois (but not northern, hmmm?).

This is my result. Take the short quiz yourself (click down below) & see if your accent reflects what you think it should.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I was a bit disappointed they didn't ask for pronounciation of some words people tell me I say funny. Such as: EGG or LEG (which I say with a long "A" so they rhyme with spade). ORANGE sounds a bit like SYRINGE from me (two distinct syllables). I say "pleasure, treasure, measure" all the same way (play-zhure, tray-zhure, may-zhure), which I'm told is part of my Scots-Irish heritage.

And of course, for Nevada natives, there is that old bugaboo, which is asking others to please honor the state's preference in order to cut down on ear bleeding. It is Nuh-VAD-uh ... accent on the VAD, which rhymes with bad or dad or lad, OK?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cetacean Collateral Damage

Sorry, I know I don't usually post twice in one day and I certainly don't want to detract from my conciliatory friendship post below, but I couldn't get the idea out of my head that these 26 dead dolphins in Cornwall England are just more military collateral damage.

Click here to read the 6.11.08 full story, which has many explanatory links and ends on this cheery note: "One hopes that although the animals died, that we can learn something from this..."

I don't have the stomach to tell you what I really think we will "learn" from these deaths. Can anyone look at this photo and not think, the dolphin is literally crying tears of blood? I wonder if anyone ever counts how many of these large-brained sonar-guided dolphins and whales suffer "coincidental" deaths when the navy is conducting SONAR war games. Wouldn't it be ironic if Cetaceans really are Aliens Among Us, and our first chance at cosmic diplomacy involved killing them while testing our quaint tribal war technology?

6.12.08 Update from MSN.UK.News: A common reason for cetacean stranding/beach deaths is when they are chasing fish - but if they were feeding, there would be clear evidence of it ...
Post-mortem tests on a pod of dolphins which died this week after they became stranded in a river have revealed evidence they were "scared ashore" near Cornwall, England.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said most of the dolphins had no fish in their stomach, which adds weight to the theory that they were panicked by an underwater disturbance.
The Royal Navy admitted it was carrying out training exercises with a submarine and survey ship using sonar in Falmouth Bay. The Ministry of Defence would not comment on what training the submarine was doing but said it would have relied on passive sonar during the exercise & confirmed there were live firing exercises.

My Friends

These are things I would like to point out to the next person who tells me they are voting for McCain because their first choice for democratic nominee is not presumptive:

As usual, The Beatles said it first ... except I don't think "we should say goodnight" yet ... because WE CAN work it out:

Otherwise, we won't be able to find our way home:

(this last one is a smokey version of the Blind Faith song, rendered here by Yvonne Elliman who you might remember singing "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from "Jesus Christ Superstar", early 1970's)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

1968 - 2008 ... Prediction = Fact

Watching "Meet the Press" today had me once again feeling that this human being, this man known as Robert F. Kennedy, was more than just a man. Here's the excerpt that knocked my socks off:

He gave a speech to the Voice of America all around the world 40 years ago. And despite what was going on in the country, particularly in Alabama, Bobby Kennedy said this: Things are "moving so fast in race relations, a Negro could be president in 40 years." This is in 1968, we're now in 2008. "There's no question about it," RFK said. "In the next 40 years a Negro can achieve the same position that my brother had." ... Kennedy said that prejudice exists and probably will continue to ... "But we have tried to make progress and we are making progress .... We are not going to accept the status quo." Extraordinarily prescient, which leads us to our "Meet the Press Minute" ....

(DK note: actually, it's more like 2.5 minutes, and please understand, for those of you under age 40, that Negro was a perfectly acceptable term for African-American back then; in fact it was the formal respectful word, a neutral word which black americans preferred):

I agonize over June 5-6 every year. In November last year, I blogged about my memories of that day. I wasn't going to put them up again because, although the memories are timeless, the inspiration for that blog was the presidential candidates as they appeared to me & commenters at the time. If you want to read it, here is the link. The Title is "Sounds of Silence".

I know in my heart that RFK's prediction for 2008 will become fact. In 1968, I would've thought he was being extraordinarily conservative, yet here we are today, wondering if the wounds of the past have finally healed enough to allow us to realize the future.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Watch the Skies!

STARTING TONIGHT, Southern Utah!What am I talking about? The Space Shuttle Discovery is currently docked with the International Space Station, presenting unusually good opportunties for viewing them from down here on earth. If you've got a telescope or even a powerful pair of binoculars, you might even see the famous T-shape!

In Southern Utah, our best views begin tonight @ 10:43 PM, Thurs @11:04PM, and Saturday 6/7/08 @10:14 PM, and Monday 6/9/08 @9:23 PM when the ISS/Discovery will make a visible pass from NW to SE. Tonight and Thursday will be quick low-horizon passes lasting about a minute. Saturday and Monday passes will fly directly overhead, lasting from 2-3 minutes each!

Approximately 2,000 satellites are currently in earth orbit. Thousands of smaller pieces of junk also circle the globe. Most are faint and rendered invisible. But depending on who's counting, anywhere from 100 to 300 satellites can be seen with the unaided eye. These are generally more than about 20 feet in length and anywhere from 100 to 400 miles above Earth, a region called "Low-Earth Orbit".

The International Space Station is by far the biggest and brightest hunk of technology circling the planet. Its solar arrays span 240 feet (73 meters). The main modules are together 146 feet (45 meters) long. It stands as tall as a nine-story building and weighs 412,000 pounds (186,900 kilograms). And right now, with the space shuttle Discovery attached, it is even larger.

Traveling around the Earth at 18,000 mph (28,970 kilometers per hour) at an average altitude of 240 miles (386 kilometers), the station can appear to move as fast as a high-flying jet airliner, sometimes taking about four to five minutes to cross the sky, visible to the unaided eye as a point of light similar to aircraft lights.

For more general information on tracking the International Space Station as it passes over your area, go to spacewatch/iss viewing and scroll down to When and Where to Look. Or, see this Nasa Site which allows you to enter your country, then click on your state, then your city & see what will be visible in your area for the next 10-days. Concentrate on those passes with the highest Max Elev (anything above 50 Degrees is good -- 90 Degrees would be directly overhead).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Presumptive Nominee

In acknowledgement that our country is fed up with politics-as-usual and hungry for change, Senator Obama is officially the presumptive democratic nominee! Gawd, that feels good to finally say. Presumptive President Obama feels even better to say!

Tonight, we stand on the shoulders of giants to proclaim, YES WE CAN! This is truly an historic moment. It's been many years, too many, since I was this excited over an election. And for crying outloud, MSM, let us have a few moments to savor this victory before you start bombarding us with Vice-Presidential choices.

Tonight, I say to McCrusty, you are toast, go back to the senate and seek solace with your lobbyists and Bush agenda criminal enablers. You think democrats are too busy being hard on each other to deal with you? You ain't seen nothing yet, "my friend". We can unite against you! And you should be ashamed to be speaking down in Louisiana tonight. When they needed you during Katrina, you were busy hosting a pre-flyover Bush BBQ. And please tell me, how the hell you managed to put together an "oddience" (Dada's word), a pitifully small crowd who had to be led to know when to boo or when to cheer, near New Orleans tonight without any African-Americans? Oh, the gloves are off, my McCreepy friend. The chutzpah to call yourself "the agent of change"! THIS IS HOW CHANGE LOOKS:

The day before the final primary

What to do with myself the day before the final presidential primary and possible victory/concession speeches?

Marvel at the one perfect Tiger Lily that bloomed in my back yard?

This was a potted plant that I shoved in the ground after it looked dead last winter.

OK, that took a few minutes.

Contemplate the terrible beauty of this Desert Bird-of-Paradise in my front yard?

Fast growing, beautiful bush, but the seeds and seed pods are poisonous. Like much of life, I suppose.

Well, that used up another few minutes ...

Check on my baby hummingbirds?

Yup, they are both still there. Each head is about the size of a garbanzo bean. They should be flying away soon.

It's hard to get a good picture of them for reasons I explained in my Mom's Day post.

I could spend many moments observing, but the mother hummer buzzes me off, she doesn't like to feed them if I'm too close, so I leave.

Wonder why my 14-year old dog is too arthritic to walk much anymore?

Maybe she spent too many years sleeping all twisted up like this!!!!! hmmmm ....

Oh, I know! I will play "Desperado" and go out "riding fences" for the afternoon! Yes, this is a project I feel bad about putting off any longer, so today is the day! My 80-yr old Dad has a piece of property up in the pinyon pines that needs some fence repair. He's always done this sort of thing himself, but I can tell he doesn't really feel up to it right now. I guess he's been a Desperado long enough.

The property is in a funky kitchy mountainy neighborhood that Dad purchased about 20-yrs ago. He and my mom had planned to build a small cabin for summer vacations there. But the years passed and the cabin never got built, then my mom died, so the piece of property still sits undeveloped.

This winter, neighborhood road crews attempted to bring the neighborhood into compliance by regrading roads, cutting down trees in the road right-of-ways, and installing new high pressure water meters as a fire aid. It's in a high fire danger area.

In the process of all this roadwork, much of my Dad's old wooden fence was destroyed. Apparently the neighbors were starting to complain. So .... DK and EK to the rescue! Now, we know nothing about fencing, but we managed to roll up & remove the unsalvageable parts, shore up the teetering old wooden posts, and even repair a driveway gate.

Afterward, the required victory dance! All Done, Hooo-Haaah!
Check out the Cicada husks we found on some of the fence posts.
Click up any of these images to enlarge.

Well, it was a pretty good way to eat up the day before the final presidential primary. Plus it helped out my Dad. I am really on pins-and-needles about tomorrow. Montana and South Dakota will wind up what has been a long and sometimes silly, sometimes brutal, primary "season". Now we need to get beyond flag pins and pastors and concentrate on the serious work ahead of us. We have an illegal immoral war to bring to a close, a country in desparate need of social & civil reform, and a planet that is threatening to destruct. Time to stop carping at each other and work together before time runs out!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Offshore Voting, Mars Dreaming

The Phoenix Mars Lander's thrusters may have uncovered a large patch of ice on the Martian surface this weekend. Lightly covered by just a few inches of red dirt, it was quickly exposed by the blowing thrusters during Phoenix's landing. The goal of this mission, equipped with a backhoe-like robotic arm, is to dig into the Martian surface looking for ice. The lander was sent to a northern region in hopes of finding frozen water, but just how deep underground it might be was unknown. Scientists are excited as this will allow them to easily test the ice for evidence of organic compounds that are the chemical building blocks of life.

Some U.S. Presidential campaigns are also excited. The prospect of all these organic compounds located in a U.S. Territory (see flag photo below) has caused the DNC to award them primary delegates. Of course, these additional delegates will raise the total delegate count required to name a nominee, even though until these organic compounds agree to become an offical U.S. state, they will not be able to vote in the General Election in November. This prospect has caused Terry McAuliffe to exclaim, "We always knew there were more votes out there, we just didn't know how far we'd have to go to find them. It is our continued position that offshore votes must be counted, no matter how far offshore."

A tentative Mars primary date has been set for the latter part of June, or as soon as the Phoenix's onboard computers can be reconfigured to count the votes, whichever comes first -- to which Harold Ickes responded, "Why rush? We are prepared to take this to the convention or beyond, years/decades, if necessary. These white hardworking white low income white collegeless organic compounds are an important democratic demographic."

While the Mars weather forecast for June looks to be a bit colder than, say, Puerto Rico, a large voter turnout is nonetheless expected. Although unsure exactly how an organic compound might be able to flip a switch, touch a screen, or punch a chad, Howard Dean remains confident that all votes will be counted ..... Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Yeeee-hawwww!

This image shows the American flag and a mini-DVD on the Phoenix's deck, as it sits on the Martian surface. The mini-DVD contains a message to future Martian explorers and the names of more than a quarter million earthlings.

The American flag implies that Mars is now U.S. Territory. The DVD list of names seems to have been inspired by the infamous no-fly list, implying that certain people will also be persona non-grata on Mars, should we succeed in setting up biocolonies there someday! The message to future explorers? The U.S. has a priori rights to this planet and all that lies above or beneath it; better luck on Venus, chumps!

If you're as excited as I am by Mars, Click here for an excellent website set up for the Phoenix Mars Mission with overview information on Mars geology, atmosphere, polar ice caps, habitability, etc. Unfortunately, this site omitted crucial Mars voter information, an oversight I have attempted to correct with this post.

Mars has many of the same features as my current Utah desert residence. For example, on the left are water erosion gullies in Utah's Capitol Reef, while on the right are very similiar gullies on Mars which might also be the result of water erosion :

These are only two examples. Click here for three pages of other fascinating similarities.