Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yes, We Have No Tomatoes (when Sarah is in town)

DK brings you Palin-in-Utah news:

If you want to buy tomatoes at Costco, you better make sure Sarah Palin is not signing books there that day!

Apparently, ever since a man in Minneapolis lobbed a few tomatoes her way last week, part of the standard preparation for any public Palin appearance includes removal of tomatoes.

A woman shopper in Salt Lake City, pleased to find empty aisles and no waiting at the check-out lines at her Costco, even though the parking lot was full, became displeased when the store manager informed her all tomatoes had been removed from the shelves because Sarah Palin was signing books there today. Well, that explains the full parking lot (Utahns being among Sarah's greatest fans)!

Upon seeing her dismay over not being able to purchase the tomatoes she had expressly braved the winter snow to buy, the Costco manager put everything right for the woman shopper by sending an employee into the warehouse storage area (where the scurrilous tomatoes had been whisked prior to Palin's arrival) to retrieve a bunch which he then gave her for free.

Way to go, Mr. Costco Manager ... Costco has gained another customer for life because not only was the woman shopper able to shop at Costco with no lines (an event never to be repeated in this or any other lifetime), she got free tomatoes without having to endure The Magical Palin Book Signing Tour (since that was obviously taking place in another part of the store). A Win-Win for all!

During this same visit to her most loyal fans in SLC Utah last week, Sarah also managed to disappoint the leaders of the UT Republican Party (who were told she didn't have time for them unless they wanted to come to her Costco Book Signing Event and buy her book which would include a signature and a wink, not necessarily any conversation) and at least one hard-working hairdresser.

The Salt Lake hairdresser was stiffed for payment and tip, and ended up having to pay for parking to boot! She was called at 8AM for an emergency hair repair of Sarah's Signature Coiffe. Even though she had scheduled her 3-yr old child for a dental filling that morning, she dropped everything in her life for Sarah (the tooth-filling appt was delegated to her husband who had to take time off work to do it).

She was instructed to leave her car with valet parking (faster than walking across a large parking lot) and quickly ushered up to Sarah's hotel room. During the elevator trip up, she was told not to talk to Sarah unless Sarah talks first (rush-rush, get that hair repaired, no chit-chat to slow things down).

As soon as the emergency hair repair was completed, Sarah's entourage quickly ran out the door for the Costco Book Signing Event (previously sanitized of all tomatoes). The hairdresser was left to pack up her hair equipment (feeling slightly used and put away wet, no doubt). That's when she realized no one had even mentioned payment or a tip!

When the valet attendant retrieved her car, the hairdresser decided enough was enough and told him since she was with the Palin party, they should take care of the $10 parking fee. That was news to him, the valet said (I bet he'd probably already been stiffed by them). So she forked over $10 plus a tip (hairdressers and waitresses always tip because, unlike Sarah, they know how important tipping is to the service industry).

She has since sent Palin an invoice for her services. So far all she has received is a Palin book and some signed photos. I hope she included her husband's lost wages in her invoice. I wonder if tomatoes might be involved in Sarah's next hair repair. I also wonder if Sarah meant for this to serve as an example of the type of fiscal conservatism she thinks will exorcise the socialism out of america.

If this is how Sarah treats her friends (and she has no better friends than Utahns who ooze their remaining brain cells at the mere thought of meeting The Mighty Moose-Huntress), I'd hate to be that Minneapolis guy who threw the tomatoes!

What was that tomato thrower thinking? Didn't he have any shoes?

Behold, the Mighty Sarah ... hairdressers quake at receiving a call from her and retail stores must remove items that might be lobbed her way at a book signing! Sarah Palin ... bad for us and bad for business!

(personal update in comments) ...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

We have met the enemy and he is us!

New Milky Way Image, a panorama created by Axel Mellinger, of Central Michigan University, melded from from 3,000 individual photographs.

I still think Monty Python's 1983 "Galaxy Song" from their movie, "The Meaning of Life" says it best:

For one of many analyses of how well Eric Idle's song has withstood scientific discoveries of the last few decades, click here.

Overall the song is still correct. We live on a corner of one continent of one planet of one galaxy that contains a hundred billion other stars -- some with orbiting planets, some without. Our galaxy swims in a void that contains at least a hundred billion galaxies more or less like ours. Still think it matters if you wax or shave?

The ending line from the Galaxy Song is: "Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space cuz there's bugger-all down here on planet earth."

That view seems at odds with optimistic Voyager I, launched in 1977, containing this message: "We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship, to teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate."

Yet a different view is held by author Jared Diamond, in The Third Chimpanzee, the chapter titled "Alone in a Crowded Universe". Mr Diamond writes that astronomers who are searching so diligently for extraterrestrial life "have never thought seriously about the most obvious question: what would happen if we found it, or if it found us .... our own experience on Earth offers useful guidance .... Humans who discover technically less advanced humans regularly respond by shooting them, decimating their populations with new diseases, and destroying or taking over their habitats. Any advanced extraterrestrials who discovered us would surely treat us the same way.

"Astronomers beaming radio signals describing Earth's location and its inhabitants ... is an act rivaling the folly of the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, who described to his gold-crazy Spanish captors the wealth of his capital and provided them with guides for the journey. If there are any radio civilizations within listening distance of us, then for heaven's sake let's turn off our signals and try to escape detection, or we're doomed."

Fortunately for us, the silence from Outer Space has, so far, been deafening!

Friday, October 23, 2009

We Who Are About to Die Salute You!

warning: this post contains grave and possibly offensive humor, but as Dada's recent post about Zombieland reminds me (even though he will think I missed his point), if you can't tolerate some morbidity around Halloween and El Dia De Los Muertos, when can you?

I admit, I have a penchant for Gallow's Humor. I suppose it was inevitable for one raised on Twilight Zones ("It's a Cookbook!"), Vincent Price ("The Conqueror Worm"), Lon Chaney ("I simply jitter to go to Java"), or perhaps more appropriately as we enter Swine Flu Season, Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death".

This type of humor goes way back, for throughout history, the condemned have found ways to deal with their impending death. This post will be confined to only a few examples.

In the 1700-1800's, many criminals in England were punished for even the most minor crimes with death by hanging. As the hangings grew ever more frequent, hanging events became occasions for spirited public displays of Gallow's Humor. The condemned were often treated as a celebrities, complete with adoring cheering crowds throwing rose petals at their feet!

Here are a few of the hanging euphemisms popularized at that time:

To die upon the wooden gallows was "to ride a horse foaled by an acorn".

Being a construction of 3 posts linked by a crossbar, the gallows itself was "the wooden 3-legged mare".

Another reference to gallows wood is "the deadly nevergreen that bears fruit year 'round".

To ascend the gallows was "to go up the ladder to bed".

To hang from it was "to be in deadly suspense".

The hanging itself was referred to as "the short drop", "the long sleep", "dancing with a stranger" or "to dance upon nothing".

And here's another fun fact from hangings of that era: the legs of women who were condemned to hang were bound "for decency", but men's legs were left free to dangle and twitch. Apparently the possible glimpse of a woman's legs in an unseemly pose could not be tolerated by the crowds who gleefully cheered as they watched and listened to snapping necks!

You'll sometimes see this type of humor in american pioneer period museums, such as these signs reproduced from 1851 in our local "Iron Mission" (click images to enlarge).

    Shakespeare often used deadly humor, never more effectively (in my opinion) than in Romeo & Juliet, when Mercutio, after being mortally wounded in a sword fight with Tybalt (Prince of Cats) tells Romeo, "call on me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man"!

    With so many bad things happening in the world, I think our collective sense of Gallow's Humor has been "stretched" but not yet "snapped" ... it is alive and well at this time of year when the living and the dead seem so close ... if you don't believe me, just go look at your neighbor's gruesome yard displays of Halloween zombies tonight.

    I apologize if this post offends you, but I hope I am always able to look death in the eye and laugh.

    If you care to share any Gallow's Humor, leave comments. I read them all, even though I've been very bad in responding lately.

    And remember, Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    Sunny D

    You've probably noticed that Vitamin D is making the news lately. It seems that Vit D is even more important than originally thought. Long known as the Sunshine Vitamin, Vit D is necessary in maintaining calcium and magnesium levels for bone health. Recent studies have also linked Vit D deficiency to:

    Osteoporosis, Cancer (esp breast, prostate and colon), Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Obesity, Diabetes and Insulin-Secretion Function, Autoimmune Diseases, Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, Bursitis, Gout, Parkinson's Disease, Depression and SAD, Alzheimer's Disease, Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Bone-Joint-Muscle Pain-Weakness-Cramps, Psoriasis, Periodontal Disease, Restless Sleep, Poor Mental Concentration, Bladder and Intestinal Problems.
    That's a lot of diseases and symptoms!

    Why do I bring this up?

    Because a few weeks ago, *I* was diagnosed as Vitamin D Deficient ... not just a little deficient either. My Vit D level is "17 ng/ml" which is about half of what is currently considered the lowest normal level.

    I wondered how I could be deficient since I live in a very sunny area and have typical redhead pale skin (dark skin and lack of sun are two predictors of Vit D Deficiency). So I researched more about it and found out ...
    • Vitamin D is more like a hormone in that it is impossible to get enough Vit D from your diet. It must be produced by your body.
    • Sunlight exposure and Supplements are the only reliable sources for your body to generate Vitamin D.
    • You do not generate Vit D when sitting behind a glass window or when using Sunscreen.
    • (your mother was right! sunshine is good for you! go play in the sun!)
    • Vit D3 supplements are readily available and very cheap. D3 (cholecalciferol) is the active form of Vit D and is the only Vit D supplement you should take without a doctor's approval.

    A lot of 5-yr Vit D research projects are nearing completion. From what has already been published, it looks like the current RDA will be raised in Spring 2010. This will affect your multi-vitamins and supplements. The current RDA is 200 - 600 IU/day depending on age. These values are way too low.

    Research suggests the RDA should be a minimum of 2,000 IU/day for those who have normal Vit D levels ... depending on age, weight, season, skin color, time spent outdoors and where you live. In the US, if you live north of 37 degrees latitude (draw a line across the US from San Francisco to Norfolk, VA), then your winter sunlight is not sufficient for your body to generate enough Vit D -- YOU MUST SUPPLEMENT!

    The maximum maintenance dose is 4,000 IU/day. Higher doses are recommended for those who are Vit D Deficient, but doses over 5,000 IU/day should be under a doctor's supervision who is rechecking your Vit D level every 3-months until it returns to normal (at which point you can lower down to a maintenance dose).

    Also, what is currently considered "normal" in a Vit D blood test might be raised next year. Currently, "normal" is 30-80 ng/ml. Research suggests "normal" should be 50-80 ng/ml.

    OK, now here it gets more interesting ... the reason you are seeing so many Vit D articles in the news lately (google Vitamin D and you will see a ton, or click here for one by Dr. Frank Lipman that I mined for this post), is because doctors are reporting a current epidemic of Vitamin D Deficiency!

    Estimates circling around those 5-yr studies indicate 30% - 100% of Americans are Vit D Deficient. That's right, possibly every man-woman-child in America is Vit D deficient. Many doctors are currently reporting that 80% of the patients recommended for a Vit D blood check are deficient.

    Doctors are quick to say that no one is exactly sure WHY this is happening, so they will continue to treat the problem with supplements, which is proper under the circumstances.

    But look at the symptoms I listed in the 2nd paragraph. Considering so many people register so many of these symptoms, doesn't it make you wonder if Vit D deficiency is a real National Malaise? yes, I know those symptoms fit many other health profiles, but isn't it interesting that research studies are linking such a wide syndrome to Vit D deficiency?

    Well, I think we can figure this out now! Let's start with the obvious:

    • We have become more indoor-oriented, even on the weekends.
    • When we do spend time in the sun, we are slathering up in Sunscreen.
    • Most of us spend at least 8-hrs a day in a workplace that is using standard Fluorescent Lighting (those 4-ft tubes suspended above your head).

    Whoa ... if you read that last sentence and know that I have a background in lighting issues, you might guess where I'm going ...

    The standard fluorescent lights that your employer is probably using could be dangerous to your health! Some studies suggest they are robbing your body of Vitamin D every workday! You read that right. Think about it. You are working indoors (hence not out in the sun) and you are working under the worst artifical light because standard fluorescent bulbs are cool white or warm white. They are not full spectrum.

    The reason your employer uses standard fluorescent light bulbs is cost. Standard 4-ft tubes can run $1-2/ea. Full Spectrum Fluorescent Lights cost $8-10/ea. Yes, they are pricey, but then so is treating the variety of illnesses caused by Vit D Deficiency (not to mention SAD, seasonal affective disorder, that many people suffer through every winter).

    I'm not really a fan of fluorescent light in general and it has nothing to do with cost. For me, it is the quality of light and the environmental hazard that fluorescent bulbs pose. They contain mercury. Even CFL's, the little twisty bulbs being promoted as energy savers, contain mercury unless specifically stated otherwise.

    And let's face it, most people simply throw dead fluorescents in their normal trash, thus exposing the environment to mercury poisoning. They should be properly disposed of by a recycler or taken to a place (like Home Depot) that offers to properly dispose of them. But who really does that? Most dead fluorescents end up in the local landfill where they release deadly mercury over time.

    For health reasons, employers (schools, too! Don't forget our children are spending most of their daylight hours "employed" in classrooms that are using standard fluorescent bulbs) should be encouraged to switch from standard fluorescent lighting to Full Spectrum Fluorescent Light Bulbs and to properly dispose of dead bulbs.

    Even incandescent bulbs (cheapest bulbs available) are better for your health than fluorescent lighting. At least, they do not rob your body of Vit D and contain no mercury. (note: LED bulbs might be the solution for many of these problems, but so far they are even more expensive and only provide the equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent, which is not good general lighting)

    D.K. Conclusion:

    • Humans evolved in the tropics where there is plenty of sunshine.
    • We spent most of our daylight hours outdoors until the Industrial Revolution.
    • In the last 100-yrs, electric lighting replaced candles and gaslight (light so awful people went to bed early thus maintaining a natural circadian rhythm).
    • Standard Fluorescent Lighting took over the workplace within the last 50-yrs.
    • Today, people are living more indoors and using sunscreen when they are outside.
    • On weekdays, most adults are working under standard fluorescent lights (and most children are in school classrooms sitting under standard fluorescent lights) ...
    • and now we have an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency!

    For the time being, I am remaining a light bulb dinosaur at home and staying with incandescent light bulbs in those areas I spend I lot of time in (kitchen, computer room, and reading lamps).

    I am trying to spend 20-minutes every day in direct sunlight (except on my face where I've had too many actinic keratoses) ... arm and leg exposure is the safest. Yes, the sun can be my friend again!

    I have also increased my daily Vit D intake (with two 1,000 IU Vit D3 supplements per day).

    We shall see what my levels are when I recheck in December. But I have to say, I'm already feeling better, less achy and tired, and that's after only a couple weeks on supplements!

    ......................... photo of DK and Clyde getting some free Vitamin D ! (this was a week before I found out I should've been exposing my arms and/or legs for 20-minutes, even if it was freezing cold, because there was still plenty of sunshine, LOL).............................Hope you found this helpful. I would love to hear about anyone else's experience with Vitamin D and/or full spectrum vs standard fluorescent lighting...............................UPDATE: click here for a must-read about the Swine Flu connection to Vit D Deficiency...........since flu season is here, why not add Vitamin D3 to your supplements now? In fact, why not make a minimum of 2,000 IU a permanent addition to your daily supplements?

    Click here for more Vitamin D info. (note: the last 2 links are having intermittent trouble handling increased web traffic, so here is another one with the same H1N1 info relating to Vit D Deficiency).

    Thursday, September 17, 2009


    She's Joan Armatrading and she is timeless.

    "Love and Affection" went gold in 1976. Thirty-three years later, it still sends chills down my spine.

    Here's her more current "In These Times":

    For her 58th birthday last year, Joan ran the New York Marathon. I bow to the superior woman!

    She's touring again in 2010 if you find yourself in the U.K. in March-April-May.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    We're Number 37!

    Paul Hipp is hereby officially invited to be my first dinner guest when our new home is complete! The Fleur-de-Lis will be flying that day as I just found out a flag pole is included in the new home.

    Yup, #37 in health care, but #1 in war, tanks, bombs, planes of death. Bizarro World, USA.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Welcome Back, Hubble!

    Hubble is back, thus saving me from thinking about anything political!

    This is the Butterfly Nebula. I see Dave Bowman from Arthur C. Clarke's (and Stanley Kubrick's) 2001: A Space Odyssey! Do you see him? It's like the "star child" is looking at himself in a hubble mirror! officially ...

    "The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a new camera aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, snapped this image of the planetary nebula, catalogued as NGC 6302, but more popularly called the Butterfly Nebula. NGC 6302 lies within the Milky Way, roughly 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The glowing gas is the star’s outer layers, expelled over about 2,200 years. The “butterfly” stretches for more than 2 light-years, which is about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri."

    ... hmmm, not a word about Dave Bowman, The Monolith or the Hal-9000 (who "always enjoyed working with people" even though he occasionally cut off their life support systems or set them adrift in space, thus earning the nickname "Death Panel Hal") ... what, are there no science-fiction fans at NASA?

    {check out this NASA link for some phenomenal Hubble images} ...

    ... meanwhile, if you want to know what I've been up to, see post below ...

    Egregious mail coupon brings DK back to the blog!

    I certainly didn't plan it this way, but it's been over 6-weeks since I last blogged. I've missed you all terribly! Many thanks to those who checked up on me and kept me in the blog loop.

    It's been a busy time for me, filled with new home construction and trying to stay one step ahead of our builder's schedule. You'd be surprised how quickly a new home can be built in a bad economy. At this point, we are still enjoying walking THROUGH the walls for a few more days before the insulation is installed.

    Many times during the past 6-weeks, I've wanted to blog about this or that, but most anything I've wanted to say has already been expressed (much better than I could have) by others. Blue Dogs (bah, a pox on their Houses) ... Health Scare (the townhall people shouting the loudest are the ones who have lost so many brain cells, they will soon be in desperate need of the very health care they so vigorously sought to defeat) ... Health Insurance (35% of my premiums going to line insurance CEO's pockets vs a Public Option that would provide affordable coverage for all seems like a no-brainer to me) ... We the People (an overly dramatic group who did not allow their hungry children to eat their normal socialized school lunch today if their country's President would be speaking at the same time) ... Glenn Beck and other brain-dead fox sociopaths who ooze from every public TV in my state (and who are beloved by birthers, deathers, teabaggers, and racist idiots everywhere) ... yup, certainly no lack of blog material for sure.

    So if I didn't blog about any of that, what drove me here tonight?

    It was this coupon in our mailbox today (click for full effect):

    It came in an envelope full of coupons for various local businesses put out by the mass-mail advertiser, Valpak. Usually filled with $10 discounts from a tire store, or free dessert from a restaurant, or 20% off deals from some furniture store, these mass-mail coupons are used by local businesses trying to bump up their sales.

    In the current bad economy, many of these stores are really hurting. As sales drop, they have had to lay off employees and trim costs wherever possible, including employee health care and pension benefits for those they are still able to employ. Sadly, many businesses have simply failed and are now history, leaving their former employees free to attend Town Hall Meetings.

    To give customers who are increasingly reluctant to purchase non-necessities an incentive, you can understand the idea of offering a little bonus for patronizing one store over their competitor. Usually these bonuses are tied into whatever the store is selling. Free dessert from a restaurant is a logical tie-in.

    But what hare-brained idiot at "Auto Trim Design", a place that apparently caters to those who wish to protect their car's front end with a "clear bra", thought that offering a "Free 9mm Hand Gun with every Clear Bra Purchase" was a good idea?

    How desperate does a business have to be to give out guns to those who purchase car bras? I mean, I've heard of "targeting" customers, but this is ridiculous, not to mention dangerous! (that is a link to a good read about where all this gun infatuation leads) ...

    As far as I know, those car bras are mostly used by people who can't stand the thought of insects dying and leaving bug guts on their precious multi-coated sports cars. Maybe with a "Free Gun", car owners can just shoot the little winged bastards in midair, thereby negating the need for car bras altogether!

    Clearly, "Auto Trim Design" did not think through this promotion very carefully since it may just "trigger" the death of their business!

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    At The Zoo!

    Inspiration: while contacting my blue-dog congressman about health care, I noticed his website had an invitation for contituents to come visit his D.C. office and his staff will arrange a personalized tour of Washington D.C. and a free memorial U.S. flag! OMG! An invitation to the congressional zoo ... a chance to observe homo politcus in its natural habitat! caution: many links ahead ... cue music ...

    Something tells me it's all happening AT THE ZOO. I do believe it; I do believe it's true ...

    The monkeys stand for HONESTY

    Giraffes are INSINCERE

    And the elephants are kindly but they're DUMB.

    Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages

    And the ZOOKEEPER is very fond of rum.

    Zebras are REACTIONARIES

    Antelopes are MISSIONARIES


    And hamsters TURN ON frequently ...


    yeah, baby ...

    You gotta come and see!

    AT THE ZOO ...

    Lest you think I'm too flippy today, I'll close with the more somber American Tune, still valid after all these years ...

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    We the People eat Fruit Salad ...

    Invitation found stuck on my front door regarding a neighborhood rally: "WE THE PEOPLE invite you to join your neighbors for an informational meeting about protecting your rights. Learn about our constitution and government. Don't miss this opportunity to get involved. Fruit salad will be served."

    Suspecting this "WE THE PEOPLE" group to be a spawn of the Tea Baggers or Birthers, I had no interest in attending. The Tea Baggers held local rallies here over the 4th of July weekend featuring T-Shirts, bumper stickers and coffee mugs sporting old tired propaganda about Obama not being an american. yessiree. time warp.

    But as fate would have it, tonight the D.K. family found themselves walking our dog near the neighborhood park where the "Fruit Salad" being served by WE THE PEOPLE was already in progress. We witnessed a small gathering of people rapturously listening to a lively speaker. As we drew closer, our ears began picking up isolated words like, "Hitler" and "Propaganda Machine".

    Taking our time walking the dog around the perimeter of the gathering, we were able to hear more than we cared to about how Obama is worse than Hitler, about how socialism and communism are taking over america, about how it is now up to the people to revolt and take back their government. Hoping to hear HOW they intend to this, something that eluded democrats during Bush's 8-year reign of constitutional assault, we hung around long enough to understand that their insidious plans include, gasp, the compilation of an email list in order to alert fellow like-minded people of further Hitlerian activities as they occur!

    Jeez, we thought, is that the weapon they intend to fight Hitler with, an email list? Needless to say we did not eat any fruit salad, which in any case had attracted more flies than people to the rally. The lack of people who showed up did not go unnoticed by the speaker who taunted, "your neighbors are AFRAID to show up because they are anti-christian." REALLY? In the most religious state in america, my neighborhood is full of christian-haters? Good to know!

    I think what we witnessed is an example of the mental break-down of right-wingers who just cannot stand it anymore. It's happening in every state to those who follow the ravings of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, et al. I feel kind of sorry for them because they are apparently experiencing the same feelings of powerlessness that many of us felt for eight long bush-years ... not sorry enough to suppress my inner glee, but as long as they stick to verbal or email rallies, they are not violating any laws, assuming they are not promoting violence.

    I didn't always feel so tolerant, but after viewing the HBO documentary, "Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech", I feel pretty good about resisting my urge to shout at my fruit salad eating neighbors ... where was their constitutional concern when Bush was suspending Habeus Corpus, extending Illegal Wiretaps, invading a Foreign Country based on a pack of lies, setting himself up as a Wartime President with unprecedented powers, using fear to enact The Patriot Act, implementing free speech zones and loyalty oaths, etc/etc/etc????

    {Link to 1-minute Promo YouTube for "Shouting Fire"} ... produced by Rory Kennedy and Liz Garbus. The whole documentary is definitely worth seeing, especially the conclusion about how our first amendment rights will continue to be adversely affected for at least the next 30-years by Bush's "young" Supreme court appointments. And yes, that is Prof Ward Churchill saying 'kiss my ass' in the promo (click his name to read the "manifesto" that got him fired from Univ Colorado Boulder).

    Final D.K. thought of the day: avoid the fruit salad at any neighborhood rally, especially if Hitler is being discussed! Luckily we had already eaten our dinner, which included the salad pictured, and so were able to leave the rally with our brains still intact.

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    Singing Dolphin Dreams

    George Clooney sang to me last night. His voice was not pleasant. In fact, it was so high-pitched, it hurt my ears, like dolphin chatter. Maybe that's why I couldn't get the song he sang out of my mind all day today.

    Of course, I am speaking of a dream I had in which George Clooney appeared ... not in the way that a woman might wish him to appear in her dreams, but as a singer ... a very pushy singer who made sure his song sung in a dolphin-voice would not be forgotten.

    Since I can't get the words of the song out of my head, I will post it. I think that's what Dolphin-Clooney was trying to tell me to do by singing it so obnoxiously. Hey, who am I to argue with either Dolphin-Clooney or my unconscious mind?

    Here are the words, straight from my George Clooney dream to your eyes (blogger not responsible for bad prose imparted in dreams):

    "Quiet as a blinking eyelash
    Watching waiting for our time
    Thirty years is now completed
    Time for roaring like a lion.

    "Rising like a Grand Tsunami
    Riding on a Sea of Green
    Thirsty for a taste of freedom
    Trust us after thirty years.

    "People soft and people harder
    Call to heaven, hear their plea:
    Cast the tyrants out of power
    Trust us after thirty years."

    Now, I don't often bother to analyze my dreams, but this one is obviously about Iran. Thirty years refers back to the original Islamic Revolution in 1979. The rest is easy to figure out.

    There was one very odd occurance that happened yesterday evening that might have prodded my subconscious brain in this dream's direction. It happened when the D.K. family took our dog for his evening walk. Even though we waited until 9 PM, temps were still in the 90's. In one direction we could see and hear a big fireworks display. Lots of red, white and blue bombs bursting in air! In the other direction there was not much visible in the dark except for the vague outline of a 10,000-ft tall mountain about 20-miles away.

    As we were walking toward the mountain, a green light appeared, floating above the barely visible mountain profile. I've never seen anything like it. It reminded me of an occulting green lighthouse light, except the ocean is about 1,000-miles away. It stayed lit, a pure green pulsating light, for about half an hour, then it disappeared.

    And the whole time we were walking towards the green light, all I could think of was the Sea of Green that has become the symbol of the Iranian Protests.

    The dolphin singing voice remains unexplained as does George Clooney himself (I have NEVER dreamed of him before)!

    ps, the light was not borealis like this photo, but it was this color of bright green against a dark sky, which created a similar eerie effect. My mountain light was more pinpointed, more like a lighthouse light. It was not an antennae tower, which in any case, flash RED lights, not green...very odd.

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    July 4th, Fake and Real ...

    Click here for the full page NYT news you WISH was true. The whole thing is a spoof, brought to you by The Yes Men.

    July 4, 2009 NYT Edition: "All the News We Hope to Print" ...

    Iraq War Ends (troops to return immediately)!

    Maximum Wage Law Passed (limiting top salaries to 15 times the minimum wage)!

    USA Patriot Act Repealed (a shame-faced congress confesses they only just realized they had the power to do this)!

    Evangelicals Open Their Homes to Refugees (limited to the first million Iraqi citizens to qualify, or one-half of the estimated number, whichever is less)!

    Ex-Secretary Apologizes for W.M.D. Scare (Condi, not Rummie of course, wants us to rest assured that if there had been even the slightest intelligence that Saddam had real W.M.D. to use against our troops, the Bush Administration would never have sent hundreds of thousands of them to invade Iraq)!

    Nationalized Oil to Fund Climate Change Efforts (placing ExxonMobil, Chevron Texaco and other major oil companies under public stewardship, profits to go in a public trust administered by the United Nations, to be used for alternative energy research and development in order to solve the global climate crisis)!

    *****DK Note: the above fake July 4th NYT was distributed on the streets of New York this morning. apparently New Yorkers realized immediately that it was a hoax and began using them to wrap day-old fish for garbage pick-up. a few of the less smelly papers have been retrieved as collector's items to be placed in the National Museum of Hope, which due to lack of urban public interest, expects to soon become another rural roadside oddity along with the 2-headed snakes and 6-legged chicken attractions tempting those few brave tourists who venture off the Disney Summer Vacation Trail.*****

    And in other news that I first thought was another fake-out, but has been revealed as the ultimate Friday news dump, Sarah Palin has announced her resignation as Governor of Alaska. While I feel happy for the people in Alaska, I do confess to some fear for the caribou, wolves, polar bears and other Alaskan wildlife now that Ms Aerial Huntress will soon find herself with more free time on her hands.

    What do you think she's up to? A phony Fox consultancy, or something more ambitious? BTW, that is a fake flag-bikini'd Palin photo, but it goes so perfectly with her announcement on this eve of July 4th, I couldn't resist.

    Read: Paul Begala was reminded of a famous Hunter Thompson quote in his analysis of Palin's rambling and infantile mind.

    Have a safe and happy July 4th, everyone!

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    Father's Day Science

    Just thought I'd pass along the biological meaning of Father's Day:

    Talkin' bout Sex (containing a possible answer to the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the rooster) ...

    It was written by the science writer known as DarkSyde on DailyKos, who is now also writing science policy posts at Examiner.com under his real name, Steven Andrew.

    Here's a link to more of Steven's Articles. He has a readable style and scientific ability to break down the complex into the simple, then take it back to the geeky level again. And he is Darwin's best friend!

    Saturday, June 20, 2009

    Skirting the Storm

    Big thunderstorms tracked beside us all the way home from Salt Lake last week. Very forbidding sky. Lots of scary wind and lightning but we managed to miss most of the hard rain. As I looked at the dark clouds, it reminded me of Anne McCaffrey's books about The Dragonriders of Pern who fight "thread". I started reading her dragon novels in the 1970's and think she's written about 20 so far. "Thread" is what falls on the planet Pern whenever a certain rogue planet's orbit passes close by. Dragons were bred by the people of Pern to torch the "thread" in midair before it could reach the ground where it would destroy everything it touches. "Thread" falling from the sky:

    After watching the protestors in Iran this week, it occurs to me that they have been skirting a storm for many years.

    I pray the courageous people who have been marching non-violently can maintain their convictions in the wake of the Ayatollah's announcement today that protests will no longer be tolerated. I hope this weekend brings better news and that our media will have the courage to show us more of what is actually happening.

    If the crackdown is severe, then I hope for dragons to assist the protestors in their quest for a fair and honest election -- although truthfully I think the quest has expanded far beyond that now -- I think they are getting ready to take on the ruling theocracy. If that is the case, they will need many dragons. People have the power!

    For current news not on TV, keep refreshing Nico Pitney at HuffPost.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    if this is tuesday, it must be 2000 or 2004

    Being stuck out of town, watching the news out of Iran on a little hotel TV, I couldn't help but compare their election frustration with ours in 2000 and 2004.

    Iranian Mousavi supporter 2009, or disenfranchised Floridian in 2000:

    Confused Iranian voter 2009, or confused butterfly balloter 2000:

    Iranian protestors questioning their vote count results 2009, or U.S. Ohio demonstrators in 2004:

    Yes for a brief moment I did wonder if perhaps I had timewarped back to our presidential election in 2000 or 2004 -- but then I remembered the good citizens of the United States did not take to the streets en masse when confronted with questionable election results. That's why I'm so proud of the Iranian citizens for putting their bodies on the line standing up to the police and military and other power status quo. The ability to have valid elections goes to the very core of what democracy means. My heart goes out to the brave Iranian men and women who are risking all in an effort to get their votes accurately counted.

    Who's Who in Iran (a guide to the people you are seeing on TV)

    Al Jazeera English (click refresh for latest news)

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    When the rain comes ...

    When the rain comes, you run and hide your head ....

    Top photo is a Purple Sage plant in my backyard responding to a little summer rain storm. Then there is Clyde responding to having been bathed on a rainy day. He's usually quite frisky after a bath. Must've been the rain.

    And here's my rainy day state of mind: in filling out a crossword puzzle, I come to a 4-letter word for "Optimism". I already have H_PE. What do I fill in? HYPE, of course!

    Jeez, well, some days you might be looking for HOPE but HYPE is what you're gonna get no matter where you look!

    ps, sorry to be so rushed ...

    I'm gonna be scarce on the blogs for awhile, mostly working on a gynormous home design project which I hope to be able to hype soon.

    Please don't give up on me!

    Saturday, June 6, 2009

    Way to Go, SS and Vegas PD!

    Man accused of threatening president is caught in Nevada
    » Secret Service and Las Vegas police arrest Daniel Murray!

    The Salt Lake Tribune
    By Nate Carlisle
    06/06/2009 @ 6:37 PM MDT

    Federal agents have arrested the man who went to a St. George bank and allegedly made threats against President Barack Obama.

    Daniel James Murray was arrested at 7 p.m. PDT Friday in Laughlin, Nevada, by the U.S. Secret Service and Las Vegas police, said Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service. Wiley said agents and police apprehended Murray in the parking lot of the Riverside Casino without incident.

    Terry Donaho, director of security at Riverside Casino, said Murray was never inside the casino. Neither Donaho nor the Secret Service gave further details.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah filed a criminal complaint Thursday charging Murray with one count of threats against the president of the United States.

    According to a Secret Service affidavit filed with the complaint, Murray talked about the bad state of the economy as he opened a savings account at a Zions First National Bank branch in St. George on May 19 with an $85,000 check from a credit union.

    The affidavit says Murray returned May 27 to withdraw $12,698 in cash and became upset when a teller said he lacked the proper identification to complete the transaction. He allegedly said that "if I don't get this money, someone is going to die."

    After a bank manager agreed to allow the transaction, Murray allegedly said, "The banking system will fail and people will die," then later, "We are on a mission to kill the president of the United States."

    He returned on May 28 and withdrew the remaining money in his account, which was then closed, the complaint says.

    A former neighbor of Murray's, in Rexford, N.Y., where he lived with his parents said Murray appeared to be mentally ill. Leighann Nastasia said Murray used to walk down the street waving his arms, talking to himself. "He wore a cape," she said.

    ****D.K. note: some of last night's commenters on Crooks and Liars (see my post below) had guessed Murray might try to disappear in Vegas even though he had last been spotted heading north and east. Good guess! He must have zipped south through Vegas and headed to that back-water bilge on the Colorado River known as Laughlin, where the down-n-outers and never-wuzzers seem to find refuge. As he parked his 8-yr old Buick in the Riverside Casino lot, probably hoping to increase his $85K by playing a little Blackjack before crossing the Colorado into the dusty Tim McVeigh white power area of Kingman AZ, Murray found out you can run but you can't hide from the combined dragnet of Vegas Metro PD and the US Secret Service! Now let's get Murray some serious psychiatric help and let him spend his days contemplating the distance from the sun to the moon as traversed by eagles. I know I feel much safer tonight!****

    Friday, June 5, 2009

    Bugshit Insane

    Even though my computer is running slower than a 3-legged turtle (hence my restricted online access), I had to post a few thoughts about this bugshit insane Daniel James Murray who is now the object of a federal manhunt.

    By now, I'm sure you've seen this story and many others online yesterday and today.

    Daniel James Murray lived with an elderly couple in Rexford NY until December 2008. Since then he has been traveling around CA, UT, GA, OK and TX. No one has reported on the status of the elderly couple (were they his parents/grandparents? are they alive and well or missing?), but that is only one aspect that is bothering Detective D.K.

    The short story is that Murray showed up here in Southern Utah, in St George specifically, on May 19th. He closed a savings account in his name at Mountain American Credit Union (located near where I shop at Costco) and received an official bank check for $85K. He then deposited that official bank check at Zions First National Bank on St George Blvd.

    Here's a Detective D.K. question, but not the one that's really bothering me: Does anyone know why on earth Murray even had bank money deposited in podunkville utah? Does he have money similarly secreted across the U.S.? Why?

    Zions Bank has a strict policy about releasing newly deposited funds. They put a 2-week hold on any new funds. They list the date the funds will be available for withdrawal on the deposit receipt. They do this even if what is being deposited is a cashier's check from another bank as I learned the hard way. The only time they don't put a hold on deposit money is if you are depositing cash or if you are transferring funds from another Zions Bank account.

    So on May 27th, when Murray walked into Zions Bank and tried to withdraw $13K from his newly opened account, he was refused because it had only been 8-days. His next words, "if I don't get this money, someone is going to die", led the manager to accede to his withdrawal, even agreeing to Murray's request for bills no larger than $50 and in non-sequential order. While his money was being counted out (qty 260 x $50 bills), Murray started a bugshit insane rant about how he's traveled "thousands of miles to be here", culminating with "people will die and there will be chaos in the world", but since he left peacefully, the incident went unremarked.

    Murray returned to Zions the very next day, May 28th, to withdraw his remaining $72K, finally capturing the bank's attention by stating, "we are on a mission to kill the President of the United States." This kind of specific assassination threat must be and was reported to Federal Authorities. Murray was spotted later that day at another bank in Cedar City UT (about 50-miles north of St George). Did he deposit the funds he had withdrawn from St George into a Cedar City bank? That's another unknown item, one that might bring Murray back to Cedar City, but not what is really bothering me.

    U.S. Magistrate Robert Braithwaite of US District Court in UT, issued a complaint against Murray on June 3rd. A Federal warrant was filed June 4th, formally charging Murray with threats against the President of the United States. Regardless of how the media is claiming that Murray's threats are "more aspirational than operational", you should know that the US Attorney's office for Utah does not file such charges unless they believe the person is capable of carrying out the threat. Note that it took them a week (from May 28 to June 3) to review everything and decide an official complaint was warranted. A week is a long time, even in Murray's 8-yr old Buick La Sabre. But that is only one other aspect bothering me.

    No, what is really bothering Detective D.K. are the dates. Murray was in St George on May 27th withdrawing $13K from Zions Bank and babbling bugshit insanity about the sun and moon and eagles and how people will die and there will be chaos in the world (that's my paraphrase). What else was going on on May 27th? Oh yeah, President Obama made a widely-publicized stopover at Nellis AFB on May 27th. Nellis is a 90-minute drive from St George. I'm not kidding. I have not read any one else making that connection.

    OK, so Murray then storms back into Zions Bank a day later, on May 28th, to get the rest of his money and leaves town, heading north. As he is leaving, he talks about being on a mission to kill the President.

    Anyone else thinking what I'm thinking? Murray may have already tried to get close to the President on May 27th at Nellis! He failed, then returned to St George, frustrated, withdrew the rest of his money and left town "on a mission". Has anyone checked on his whereabouts in CA GA OK and TX to see if the President was known to be nearby during those times?

    Murray was last seen driving a blue 2001 Buick LaSabre with NY License ERL 1445. Of course only an idiot wouldn't have already "exchanged" those plates. Is anyone reporting missing license plates from the areas Murray has been traveling?

    The fact that Murray has 8 registered firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, is another concern, especially when you consider he might have access to many other non-registered weapons, no doubt acquired on his travels through GA TX OK UT CA and all points in between. Don't expect him to give up peacefully!

    And finally, why weren't Murray's bank threats taken more seriously from the beginning? Is it because we have so many bugshit nuts here? A small example: recently my neighbor accused Obama of being a murderer. For enlarging the War in Afghanistan, I ask? No, he says, for supporting abortion! That conversation took place days before Dr. Tiller was murdered. So yeah, UT does tend to harbor bugshit nuts, maybe even more than the national average. And yeah, they all have guns and a direct phone connection to Mitt Romney's Varmint Lodge.

    But I think even Mitt would agree, Murray is dangerous! He's got guns and money and has made assassination threats. You know what he looks like, you know what he might be driving, he'll be 37-yrs old on July 12th, he's 6'2" and he weighs 250-lbs. Call the Feds!

    UPDATE ... Crooks and Liars did a good job of fleshing out some of the details today. Their commenters have great observations about bank procedures being followed for any withdrawal in excess of $10K cash, especially the odd request for an odd-amount of non-sequential small bills. That's supposed to generate a Homeland Security alert. If that had been done, they could've taken Murray into custody when he showed up the next day to withdraw the balance of his account (which may or may not have been a cash withdrawal, no one is saying, but this might be the reason he quickly drove to a Cedar City bank). And remember, he was able to close one bank account, open a new bank account, deposit $85K and start withdrawing the next week without proper ID. Did someone else put the money into the original credit union account for him? Secret Service is now saying they won't be commenting further since this case involves protective intelligence ... in fact, they are wondering how so much info was made public already (hint: bloggers were on the case cuz it sure as hell isn't making the cable tv news)...

    If I get any more updates, I'll put them in the comments ...

    Saturday, May 30, 2009

    Never ask a Canadian to do what you should do yourself ... eh?

    ...poster seen plastered all over Toronto as Canadians welcome George W. Bush to their country!

    Yes, for the second time since he officially became our former president, George W. Bush decided to venture out of the U.S. And yes, it was again to Canada that Mr Bush fled on his so-called foreign excursion tonight under the apparent delusion that Canada is not a hostile country.

    In advance of his arrival, the Canadians prepared a little welcoming party, including various protests and a formal letter from "Lawyers Against War" to the Canadian PM and other members of the Canadian Parliament. In that letter of May 26th, L.A.W. argues that in view of the war crimes committed by Mr Bush, the Government of Canada has no legal option except either:

    1. to bar George W. Bush's entry into Canada ... or ...
    2. to arrest George W. Bush and either prosecute him for torture or extradite him to a country that will do so.

    It's clear from the tone of their letter, that L.A.W. does not consider the U.S. to be a country capable of prosecuting a war criminal.

    We could prove them wrong! We could arrest Mr Bush as he attempts to cross back into our country from his 50-mile cross-border jaunt! Some justice-hungry border guard could follow his conscience and start us down the sweet road toward national salvation tonight, right? Don't we, like Canada, have laws about not allowing war criminals to enter the U.S.?

    Isn't this something we really have to do ourselves? Just because we relied on foreign countries to handle renditioned prisoners does not mean we can rely on them to properly prosecute our War Criminal in Chief. True, we'll never get Cheney or Rumsfeld this way because they'll never be stupid enough to travel out of the country and then try to cross back into the U.S., but ya gotta start somewhere, so why not with Mr Ivy League Brain (which we all now know is inferior thanks to Karl Rove's innuendo) himself?

    However, our neighbors to the north should not think we don't appreciate the thought! Thank you, Canada, for at least trying! Thank you for always being there, perched above us and pointing the way toward sanity and justice. I know it must be hard to watch us down here always bragging about how America (which in our egocentricity only includes the U.S.) is the best country in the world because our system of law and justice are equally applied to all, but then politely coughing and looking the other way when we have a real chance to put our grand theories into practice. I know you mean well, but really, this is something we are going to have to do ourselves.

    Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "unfinished flag of the united states" ...
    ...Here is a link to a recent Ferlinghetti poem, Totalitarian Democracy, which you might care to read sometime when you feel like thinking! Want more?

    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    Memorial Day Music

    "Shelter from the Storm"
    Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks album:

    I was in another lifetime, one of toil and blood,
    When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud.
    I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form.
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured,
    I'll always do my best for her, on that I give my word.
    In a world of steel-eyed death and men who're fighting to be warm,
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved.
    Everything up to that point had been left unresolved.
    Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm.
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail,
    Poisoned in the bushes and blown out on the trail,
    Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn.
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    Suddenly I turned around and she was standing there
    With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair.
    She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns.
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    Now there's a wall between us, something there's been lost.
    I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed.
    Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn.
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    Well, the deputy walks on hard nails, and the preacher rides a mount.
    But nothing really matters much, it's doom alone that counts.
    And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn.
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    I've heard newborn babies wailing like a mourning dove.
    And old men with broken teeth stranded without love.
    Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes.
    I bargained for salvation and they gave me a lethal dose.
    I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn.
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    Well, I'm living in a foreign country, but I'm bound to cross the line.
    Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine.
    If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born!
    "Come in" she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    Sub-Tropics to Mars and back

    I'm baaack ... at least for awhile! Been battling some computer problems but at least it's up & running (more like limping) for now.

    When my computer blew up, I began to panic about not being able to blog about anything on my mind. But the days slowly crept by and now I find I'm too disgusted with politics to blog about that. Every time I turn on the TV I see Elizabeth Edwards reminding me why I was a fool to believe in her husband, or Dickhead Cheney being a dickhead, or the congressional dems compromising (don't elections have consequences any more?), or Obama being Obama!

    Besides, I've been wanting to post some photos of a fun little camping trip to Mars we took a few weeks ago, so this will be a good test post. If the computer dies on me again, it may be awhile before I can get back online, so here goes ...

    The title of this post is a bit misleading. I don't live anywhere near the Tropics (sub or otherwise). Just the opposite, in fact. But during the brief spring interlude between frigid winter and broiling hot arid summer, something wonderful happens ... the desert blooms! Here are a couple pics around my yard just before we left on our camping trip to Mars ... Yellow Lady Bank's Rose vine and Purple Robed Locust tree:

    Click on any pic to enlarge.

    Our camping trip was actually not to Mars, but to The Valley of Fire in Southern Nevada, although the difference might not seem that great. Warning: don't attempt to camp there in the summer months! It isn't called Valley of Fire for nothing! The week we were there the temps were pushing 90, but it was overcast, so not too bad. Nights were windy & chilly. It can be 120 on summer days!

    Valley of Fire contains brilliant formations of eroded red sandstone more than 150 million years old. As you'll see in my photos, these features often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun's rays. The sandstone formations were originally huge shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs and subsequently shaped by complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion. I don't pretend to understand the geology, so I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. Don't worry, I'll only post a few!

    Descending into The Valley of Fire:

    Approaching from the rear, do you see the tall thin-headed elephant?

    How about the little chubby-trunked elephant with ears flat against his head?
    Wouldn't those rock elephants be a fun accurate representation of the repub party? Old, dry and worn out!

    Just a pock-marked cliff face or scrapings from John McCain's sunburnt jowls? Lots of bats live in the cliff face. What lives in McCain's jowls?
    Our camp site will give you a perspective of the size of these rock formations:

    Odd Shapes: an alien or a ninja turtle?

    Interesting beehive formation:

    Arches are always fun! This one is pretty typical of the Southwest:

    Of course we made the obligatory hike to Mouse's Tank (a natural desert rainwater collector forming a cistern or pond). It's a short trek with lots of petroglyphs along the way...

    Dancing with Pop Tarts?

    many Big Horn Sheep to see if you click to enlarge!

    This whole wall is covered with petroglyphs (worth enlarging, but don't be expecting any porn). The Native Americans etched them hundreds to thousands of years ago. They obviously liked the black patina canvas:

    Now for Mouse's Tank itself. Heaven help the desperate bastard who had to survive on this yucky water! It's a 50-ft drop straight down to the slimy scummy pond. Mouse would've had to devise the world's longest straw or rapel down there, swatting away bees and scorpions and who-knows-what-other biting stinging creatures that patronize the rare and precious water:

    OK, now that you've seen a bit of Mars, or Mars as it might have been before it died, here are the "tropical" blooms we came home to (tropical in comparison to Mars):

    Desert Bird-of-Paradise and Red Oleander ... both are pretty, but very poisonous!

    Hope you enjoyed a little flavor of our trip to Mars and back!