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Archive for May 2008

A nice picture of severe weather…

Good morning, Netizens…

This is a bit off the beaten track for most folks in Spokane, but KREM-2’s Tom Sherry will simply have to eat his heart out.

This is a picture [photo removed due to DMCA] of a classic super-meso tornadic cloud formation, taken from the AP wire, of what was the beginning of a series of severe storms that afflicted the entire Midwest, beginning Thursday in the Kearney, Nebraska area, where it dropped multiple tornadoes in four counties. Over the evening, it moved through the Lincoln, Nebraska area with high flat winds and hail, and then the entire storm center stalled for awhile in the Heartland of Iowa before taking aim at parts of that state, as it continued moving east. Last night it dropped a series of dangerous late afternoon tornadoes near Springfield, Illinois where it drove the State Legislature, including the governor, into shelters beneath the State Capital Building.

You might think the life cycle of this storm would possibly end here, but no.

Very early this morning, after whomping parts of Indiana, this same storm complex moved rapidly into Ohio, where it spawned several severe thunderstorms just to the south of Columbus. According to the NEXRAD radar looking south from Columbus, this storm complex finally appears to be dissipating, although the echoes from the squall line still appears to be packing a punch with hail and high flat winds.

There has been a lot of instability throughout the Midwest weather pattern this week, with a complex low pressure center vying with a cooler air flow aloft, all which promises more severe weather for the area.

We rarely see this kind of cloud formations here in the Inland Northwest, although we do occasionally have tornadoes and funnel clouds sighted in the area. Even then, we seldom see the kinds of intensive storm cycles, such as this classic type of severe weather which can travel through parts of several states, all without losing its punch. Thus, when area weather forecasters prattled on about severe thunderstorms in parts of the North Spokane area two nights ago, they didn’t know what they were talking about.

We drove up to North Spokane county, just to keep track of the storm moving East-West through Spokane and Stevens Counties, and upon observing the weather conditions at that time, which according to the TV weather reports, were severe thunderstorms, we both laughed. Here, then, is the face of a truly severe thunderstorm.


Al Qaeda’s projection of the future?

Good afternoon, Netizens…

The rather gruesome picture you are looking at is a computer-generated image which was posted on an Islamic extremists’ website yesterday. It purports to represent what Washington, DC would look like in the aftermath of a terrorist’s nuclear weapon. It is designed, by its creators, to shock and frighten Americans, but fortunately a great deal of what is portrayed in the picture is a blatant LIE.

Like most of the past attempts of Al Qaeda to manipulate the news media, they seem to do a fairly good job of devising their schemes unless you really examine matters closely and know some basic essential facts.

First, there is the picture itself. Washington is in ruins as far as you can see. The Capitol is a blackened, smoking ruin and the White House has been razed. Countless millions of civilian and government employees are dead, and people living downwind are subject to a wide variety of radiation-related illnesses which kill thousands more. Now you’ve got the picture.

Before someone in the news media seizes on this picture for some wildly-unpredictable reason, let me apply some rational thought here.

Rather than being a detailed simulation created by terrorists, this apocalyptic vision is in fact lifted from the computer game Fallout 3, by US game designers Bethesda Softworks. The game bills itself as “America’s first choice in post-nuclear simulation”, with players roaming a ruined landscape some time after a nuclear war in 2077. Isn’t that sweet! We make a game out of our own nuclear annihilation. Send one to every kid you know, if you are warped enough, that is.

Having said that, I’ll go a bit further. The bomb that hit Hiroshima did much less devastation than we envision in this picture. It weighed in at a conservative 12.5 kilotons of TNT, was dropped from the air exploding at an estimated 580 meters altitude and was of relatively crude design, based upon modern standards. According to all the estimates I have read, a suitcase nuke probably would range between 1 and 10 kilotons. Rationally, then, we could expect fatalities of up to 20,000 and a comparable number of injured. Weather conditions, evacuation efficiency and time of day all would have substantial parts to play in the outcome. That’s a lot less than the millions the terrorists want us to believe.
Such an explosion using a “suitcase nuke” would be horrific, have no doubt about it.
The terrorists first problem is going to be smuggling one into our country. The second problem will be finding a deep enough hole where they can hide once we begin prowling the world looking for vengeance. Let’s hope that if this ever happens, this time we find and eliminate Osama Bin Laden.
Of course, your thoughts may differ.


Wild Card Friday, May 30, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

In this image made available Thursday from Survival International, showing ‘uncontacted Indians’ of the Envira, who have never before had any contact with the outside world, photographed during an overflight in May 2008, as they react to the overflight at their camp in the Terra Indigena Kampa e Isolados do Envira, Acre state, Brazil, close to the border with Peru. ‘We did the overflight to show their houses, to show they are there, to show they exist,’ said uncontacted tribes expert Jos Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Junior. (May 29, 2008) Associated Press

Normally I would pass on such a picture, but as of late we have had some interesting discussions about the Brazilian Tropical Rain forest, if not those indigenous people who live within it. As my previous pictures of indigenous tribal members riding in public buses to attend demonstrations show, many of the resident tribes of Brazil are at least aware of the infringement of mankind upon their culture and lands.

However, this picture shows one of several indigenous tribes of the rain forest who, according to Survival, International, have never had any contact with anyone from the modern world. Can you imagine life without the modern conveniences?

How would we as a culture survive without modern amenities? That is an interesting philosophical question, as based upon the portion of my life spent living in a line cabin, I must admit there were still tradition amenities upon which I was dependent. Would we become an extinct species, if reduced to living without our “gadgets” or, over generations, would we adapt and once more our history would be passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth?

The visual image of these simple tribal members armed with bows and arrows shooting at the airplane sits pretty deeply within me. How does it impact you?


A new swan in born…

Good evening, Netizens…

Decades ago one of the truly graceful places I could afford to go in Chicago-town was the Lincoln Park Zoo. In this picture, a male trumpeter swan takes his newly-hatched offspring (the males share caring for their young with the females) into the swan pond for a swim earlier today. The newly-hatched cygnet emerged from its shell Wednesday. (May 29, 2008) Associated Press

Do you remember when the trumpeter swans used to swim in Manito Park? Do you remember why these graceful, elegant birds no longer live there?

All I remember is the sound of a slightly-wounded male trumpeter swan flying in circles over Manito crying for its mate who lay dying on the ground below. According to what I have been told, if a mate dies, the other Trumpeter will continue crying for it until it, too, dies.

Is this fact or fiction?


Meet Community Comment Citizens!

Reminder: Come join Dave, John, and me at Frankie Doodles at 3:00 Friday (tomorrow) for friendly conversation, philosophical interchanges, and a “real” cup of coffee. Come see what the virtual ballroom inhabitants look like in person! I’m the girl. :)

Third and Division, just past Dick’s Drive Inn.

Twilight on the Trail…

Good evening, Netizens…

All good things must eventually end, and today has been a good day in my view of life. In my few moments of quiet introspection before I climb off my virtual horse and head for the barn for the night, a vague piece of old-time music came fluttering into my consciousness from the era of Perry Como. Some of my peers tell me you have to really be ancient to even remember Perry Como, but I disagree. Most of my familiarity with both he and various other crooners of the 50’s came about because of a minor in the history of American Music, which became a gift that kept on giving all the years of my life.

So gather up your virtual horses and I’m going to take myself to bed with a snippet from “When It’s Twilight on the Trail” by Sidney D. Mitchell, 1936.

When it’s twilight on the trail,
And I jog along,
The world is like a dream
And the ripple of the stream is my song . . .

It’s been good riding with ya’ll today. Until tomorrow, then…


Wild Card Monday May 27, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

As this morning’s gentle ambiance wafts over the city, scattering the debris in the gutters downtown, I wanted to remember the purpose of Memorial Day past, before anyone tells me about their wild camping trips or vacations on the clamshell. In this picture, Julie McBride from Los Angeles weeps as she kneels before crosses set up to represent each U.S. soldier killed in Iraq at the Arlington West War Memorial in Santa Monica, Calif. on Monday. McBride said she worked for Halliburton in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) (May 26, 2008)

It stands to reason, in my mind, that if she can kneel alone before this field of crosses, shedding tears for men and women she did not personally know, where were we? Camping?

Better yet, another question begs an answer, when the decisions were made which took our nation into Iraq, when the Bush Administration alienated half the world with his abjectly-dysfunctional foreign policy, where were we? Asleep?

We all have made decisions that set our courses, be they for or against wars of all kinds. So, this morning, with the smell of cordite wafting over the thousands of cemeteries from all the 21-gun salutes to fallen soldiers that ever have rung out, and with the sounds of Mz. McBride still weeping alone before a field of crosses, I will close with a series of quotations from some of my elders, each of whom have spoken out clearly against the ghastly business we call war and dying for our country, for I am and have always tried to be a pacifist.

First, my favorite tree-hugger, who was and still is right in many of her beliefs about man and nature:
We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing we set back the progress of humanity.
— Rachel Carson

…and because of all the Presidents in my tour of duty, in my opinion he was most-representative of what I consider Christianity should be, President Jimmy Carter:
War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.
— Jimmy Carter

…and because he once was a friend decades ago, and because aside from the many obtuse things he did in the public eye, he was truly a believer in Peace, the late Abby Hoffman:
If people were forced to eat what they killed there would be no more war.
— Abbie Hoffman

It is good and has merit that we should honor our fallen war dead. If they could speak, they would, each to a person, tell us no more wars. —Dave Laird

What did you do for Memorial Day?


Wild Card Sunday, May 25, 2008

Good afternoon, Netizens…

I admit my heart is heavy today, knowing that Utah Phillips is no longer aboard this train keeping us on our collective toes. There are some in our society who proudly proclaim themselves to be either musicians and/or folk singers, but few, I fear, who could ever have the temerity to aspire to the standard set by a hobo, poet-philosopher and truly a great monologist. (It was in A Word A Day about six weeks ago, and I adopted it!)

However, for today’s Wild Card, I thought immediately of this traffic stop, or rather, could we call this a traffic impediment? Yeah, just try and drive away from this traffic cop. Said buffalo doesn’t need a Taser, and he won’t shoot you between the marks with his Glock. He just stands there patiently with his head in your face, waiting until you cough up your license and then, because it is just a piece of plastic, munches on it awhile.

And on that note, here is your wild card for the day.


Obama adopted into the Crow Nation

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Thank you to our favorite Chef and Friend, John Olsen for sending this important message regarding Barack Obama:
On May 19, Obama was adopted into the Crow Nation.  (See article here
I checked the web and at the Crow’s official website, found the following:
A historical event occurred in Indian Country!  

On May, 19 2008, Senator Barack Obama a Democratic presidential candidate visited and campaigned  in the Crow Reservation.   He is the very first candidate who has taken an interest in American Indian issues and visited an Indian Reservation for a campaign rally.   Senator Barack Obama was immediately “adopted” into the Crow Nation by Hartford “Sonny” and Mary Black Eagle.  He was given a Crow name by Hartford “Sonny” Black Eagle. His name pronounced in Crow is Awe Kooda bilaxpak Kuuxshish, which means “one who helps people throughout the land.”   Barack’s Clan is of the Whistling Water and child of the Newly Made Lodge.  He was also presented with several gifts from the wives of the Executive Officials.  The gifts included a beaded medallion for his wife and miniature beaded buckskin cradle boards and purses for his two daughters.

Picture courtesy of

Weld County Colorado tornado…

This is a view of the F4-F5 tornado that hit near Greeley, Colorado in Weld Countyr yesterday. It is unusual in several different ways, namely it is a “wedge” tornado partially hidden by a rain wall to the left, and not the typical Colorado Front Range rope type funnel. It was accompanied by golf-ball sized hail, in some areas for as much as five minutes. I’ll append this message as soon as I gather all the sources.

This morning the storm has moved into Northeastern Nebraska and at 9:00 AM Nebraska time they have already issued several tornado warnings for the Kearney area. As of just two minutes ago, at 9:48 AM Nebraska time, they issued two more tornado warnings for Nebraska, with a strong likelihood that at least two funnels have been verified on the ground. Unusual? Yes. Unprecedented? No.

This is indeed a busy year for tornadic activity and with an unusual development pattern emerging.


Wild Card Hump Day, Thursday May 22, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

In today’s picture, Czech artist Harald Eichhorn finishes building a sculpture of the Simpsons’ television set at the village of Pera in southern Portugal’s Algarve coast. The sculpture is part of a series depicting Hollywood films and characters created by more than 60 sculptors in a park that opens to the public Thursday. (AP Photo) (May 21, 2008)

I have a remarkable collection of pictures of sand sculptures from previous competitions and events held around the world, some of which are quite fascinating, very complex and some extremely beautiful to the eye. Some of the competitions held in the Far East are particularly thought-provoking and utterly without flaw in my opinion. I’ll use a few more of these in coming days.

Of course, ever the inquisitive type, I have always wondered what happened to those marvelous sand sculptures from previous years. What will eventually happen to Homer and his family? Once the tourists are gone, will an errant windstorm come along and simply blow the entire Simpson family further on down the coast? Some day when you are walking along the beach, will you unknowingly step on a piece piece of sand that was once Marge’s nose from far across the sea?

You have to admit he managed to get quite a remarkable likeness of Homer and Marge. The only downside to this intrinsically unique sculpture, of course, is that one good windstorm could clean poor Homer’s clock but good.

And thus, cleaning clocks, we have our Wild Card for Hump Day. Watch out for the sands…


Thoughts on Memorial Day

Memorial Weekend. There is a cartoon by Joe Heller [See Huckleberries] showing a guy filling his gas tank next to a cemetery and he says “I’m not going to complain about the high cost of anything this weekend.:” Pan to the right and the cemetery headstones read: Viet Nam, Iwo Jima, Persian Gulf, Pearl Harbor, the Bulge, Iraq, Afghanistan, Khe Sanh, Tet, Normandy, Midway, Okinawa, Inchon, Korea, Gettysburg, Valley Forge, etc., etc., etc.

And now, Your Wild Card for Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Good afternoon, Netizens…

It’s been a busy day here in the Virtual Ballroom, while outside the garden gnomes are bouncing with unrestrained glee at the rain falling gently among the flowers. Meanwhile at the Virtual Espresso bar, some of the more tenacious espresso aficionados are getting their nerves jangled but good drinking something our virtual espresso handler has called “Catfish John”, in favor of the old-time song by that same name.

On that note, what else could I do? There be a catfish, for sure.

Emote freely…


For some, it was too late…

Good morning, Netizens…

A previous discussion of the plight of persons of Japanese ancestry earlier today brought back some old memories, some of which were only partially recalled, were it not for the power of the Internet.

During my travels as a truck driver, I used to regularly make stops at San Leandro Nursery which is how I came about this marvelous picture of the original nursery in 1942 when it was owned and operated by the Kitsamura family.

I remembered talking to the manager of San Leandro Nursery in 1968, and from her learning about an elderly Nisei (Japanese woman born in America) whom I had seen hand-checking some racks of potted plants I had just delivered. According to what I was told, Mrs. Kitsumura lived in the only private house on the huge nursery grounds. As I later found out, that was because in 1942, the present owner of the nursery bought the Kitsumura family’s nursery for pennies on the dollar, and thinking that he had seen the last of her and her family continued business in their name.

When is it too late?

Good morning, Netizens…

In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered approximately 120,000 Japanese interred in concentration camps, including 450 former students at the University of Washington. Sunday a ceremony took place at the University of Washington that awarded honorary degrees to honor those students who were forced to leave the University in 1942 by granting them honorary degrees.

In his keynote address, former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, himself a former internee, stated eloquently:

“The message of today’s event is a simple one, and one that I believe none of us should ever forget. It’s never too late to do the right thing. It’s never too late to rejoice that the right thing has been done. It’s never too late to be grateful to people who do the right thing.”

According to the AP story from whence I derived portions of this article this morning, relatives wept during the ceremony Sunday to honor students who were forced to leave the university in 1942.

My question of each of you this morning is, was this justice, too little too late or simply the right thing?


Happy Birthday to You!!!

Good morning, Netizens…

I’ll quote the SR’s Jim Kershner here:

The Spokesman-Review celebrates its 125th birthday today. In all that time, it has never missed an issue.

Not during the Great Fire of 1889, when it printed a full map of the devastation. Not after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980, when it documented an entire region at a standstill. Not during innumerable ice storms, fire storms and blizzards.

Happy birthday SR!


Wild Card Sunday May 18, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

This picture, shot late yesterday, serves to illustrate the warnings posted in today’s paper about people riding their personal watercraft down the river when it is in flood stage. Don’t do it! It’s stupid!

During our travels yesterday, we first saw this stump moving down the main channel of the Coeur d’Alene River just before Kingston. This shot, taken near Cataldo, shows it still moving down the river. We also saw several huge logs bobbing in the water.

So today we are going gardening, with lots of things to be planted, soil to be turned and work to be done. I’ll check in later on, perhaps on my laptop.

Enjoy your wild card for a lovely Sunday morning.


Various other flooded places…

Good evening, everyone…

We tried to drive to the historical town of Burke, and as of 4:00 PM this afternoon, the road we chose was already closed due to flooding. I’m almost certain there was another road into Burke, but it was getting late, and the river was steadily rising, some sources said an inch an hour.

Bumblebee is closed, as are several other places we attempted to visit.

We have other pictures from today, but my time is running short. I’ll try and upload some others tomorrow, or perhaps later on tonight.


Road and private campground…

Good evening, everyone…

This was shot approximately 6 miles north of Enaville, on the river side of the road. There used to be a road and a private campground here, but alas, no longer. According to the Idaho Department of Transportation person guarding the entry to this location, a giant log took out not only the trees at one side of the road but the building, as well.

We encountered a lot of DOT people through the course of the day. I still have a lot of trouble believing that people with the brains God gave to turnips would actually try to drive into a river in flood stage. However, the DOT folks were sent there to stop idiots, I guess.


Wild Card for Saturday May 17, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

All this discussion about Tom Robbins’ penchant for writing about the 70’s, in particular “Another Roadside Attraction”, suddenly thrust one of my favorite characters back into my heart. Sissy Hankshaw and her marvelously-develop thumbs spoke to me in ways that are too graphic for this Blog, since I was briefly enamored of her real-life counterpart at a previous time. However, it was Robbins character from yet another of his books, “Still Life with Woodpecker” that later in my life absolutely sets me off to laughing. In Still Life, we have King Max, a former gambler and poker player whose prosthetic heart valve makes a loud scraping noise when he gets excited.

Yes, I am a former gambler, although I have taken the oath and do not do that anymore. Also I have a pair of heart stents (the first one caused the second one) that uncontrollably begin playing episodes from Wagnerian opera or select portions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute when I get excited. SSSH! No one, save my Prom Queen knows about this. Granted she is as seditious, as glowing and ravishing as she was the day we wed in a friend’s rose garden, but still first I have to catch her to get excited these days, and considering how fleet she can be, not to mention my advancing age, my stents do not warble and sing opera of any kind these days as often as they once did.

Perhaps one of Robbins’ most-applicable quotations relating to life in Spokane came from Woodpecker. “Society had a crime problem. It hired cops to attack crime. Now society has a cop problem.”

Do we or don’t we?

I’m going outside today to plant a huge garden with the founding member of Cutting Edge Communications. Al Grope may have invented the Internet, but Rusan P. Green brought it to Spokane and put it into our collective brain pans. Of the original handful of Internet Service Providers in Spokane at the advent of the Internet, she is the only ISP still in continuous operation owned by its original owners.

From Tom Robbins and an overview of the Internet, we descend into the strange gestalt of today’s Wild Card. Oh, bless my heart! There goes that music from the Magic Flute again! Please excuse me while I tend to something.


Musings on a Saturday morning…

Good morning, Netizens…


The question has haunted me since I first began this Blog several months ago. What will I do on days when there is nothing of substance in the news? What do you do in the Virtual Ballroom when all the ghosts are silent, all the visitors gone and the Virtual Espresso Bar unattended? First, I’m going to have a cup of today’s virtual espresso blend, Infernal Muse, and then begin remembering, something that my lawyer tells me is probably not good for my health, but what the heck.

Gay marriage ban overturned in California

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Today the California Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on gay marriage today in a ruling that would allow same-sex couples in the nation’s biggest state to tie the knot.

I know, we don’t live there, right? Would most people consider me a bit addled if I say this has far-reaching implications for Washington State, if not the rest of the Union? Nope. As the slogan goes, it ain’t over til it’s over. There is already a move by religious and conservative groups to put laws banning gay marriage into the California State Constitution.

However, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has twice vetoed bills that would have extended marriage rights to gay couples, has stated that he respects the court opinion and will not support an amendment to the State Constitution banning gay marriage.

Where do YOU think this will all end, and will it impact us here in Washington State?


Interesting Housing starts…

Good evening, Netizens…

I just read where a group in Detroit are going to use empty shipping containers to build a 17-unit condominium project. The price? $1.8 million dollars.

According to the Detroit Free Press, they are going to stack empty shipping containers four high, install windows, doors, plumbing, stairs and heating; toss in landscaping and balconies, too.

Developers plan to offer units measuring 960 to 1,920 square feet. Prices will range from $100,000 to $190,000. All this for (gasp) shipping containers?

I wonder if it would pass inspection by our City Building Inspectors here in Spokane? Could we house homeless people this way?

What do you think of the idea?


Famous last words…

Good morning, Netizens…

(Taken from the Fortunes, a massive collection of infamous quotes which resides on most civil Unix boxes)

(1) Don’t unplug it, it will just take a moment to fix.
(2) Let’s take the shortcut, he can’t see us from there.
(3) What happens if you touch these two wires tog—
(4) We won’t need reservations.
(5) It’s always sunny there this time of the year.
(6) Don’t worry, it’s not loaded.
(7) They’d never (be stupid enough to) make him a manager.
(8) Don’t worry! Women love it!


Disasters, could they happen here?

Good morning, Netizens…
(Picture attribution: (AP Photo/Color China Photo)

It is hardly “breaking news” this morning because practically every news source in the United States is suffering an overload of disasters, from the record-breaking earthquake in China, to the volcano that is still erupting in Chile to the incredible debacle in Myanmar. What probably should be news, but may not be mentioned at all, is that while both China and Myanmar are willing to accept emergency food and medical supplies, they will not let emergency personnel into their countries. That is utterly asinine.

As you can see from the picture, where a hospital has collapsed as a result of the earthquake, they could easily use all the personnel and heavy equipment they could get.

However, the situation in China this morning is truly a disaster of monumental proportions. At the present time, according to AP there are over 12,000 dead thus far, and they are still digging in the rubble looking for more bodies.

Can you imagine what would happen to the Hospitals on Spokane’s South Hill if we had an earthquake of this magnitude? Can you envision both Sacred Heart and Deaconess collapsing and sliding down the face of the South Hill? Don’t say it couldn’t happen, because it could.

Do you think we would allow Chinese emergency earthquake specialists to enter our country in the face of such an emergency?

My guess is yes. What is your opinion?


Wild Card Monday, May 12, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Oh, dear, oh, dear what can the matter be…(traditional)

I can tell you what is the matter. It’s MONDAY! It’s time to hitch a ride on that big red wagon and it’s back to work we go!

Having paid while I feel was a proper and due diligence to the Mothers of the world yesterday, I thought it only proper that I allow my penchant for humor to be allowed to run loose this morning, and thus our picture of the day, contains a bit of amusement, as we have 5 women waiting for the perfect man. I suppose we could envision a similar group of men sitting in a circle waiting for the “perfect woman”, although there might be some clinical changes to the table setting. (substitute beer bottles for the tea cups maybe.)

There has been a 7.8 earthquake in the Sichuan Province of China. One presumes, since they felt it as far away as Bangkok that they must have felt something at the Olympic headquarters where they are preparing for the World Olympics. Of course, the early-arriving tourists who understand how repression works in China probably pretend not to notice the buildings swaying at all. The news wires speak of 7600 dead, although that number could rise as they begin digging out collapsed buildings.

So here we are on what promises to be a rainy Monday. Hitch up your knickers, put on your best professional face and it’s off to the races we go! Pour yourself a cup of today’s Community Comment Virtual Espresso Bar blend, “Garbanzo Bean Reprieve”, have a seat at the bar and get ready for another day in Paradise, and as you partake of the ambiance this is your Monday Wild Card.



A Reverie on Mothers Day…

The picture is of breast cancer survivors, something else to remember on Mothers Day.

Good morning, everyone…

I remember Mama in only a vague sort of way, because my only visions of her often came at inopportune times in my life, and then nearly always of situations where she was rendered totally powerless by my Father. It is terribly ironic that the only picture I have of her is one a digital picture of her taken by my son as she lay in a funeral home in Illinois, frail and withered, having died a slow and miserable death from Alzheimer’s Disease. Even then the fractures in my family were never more evident than some of the family feuds that erupted after her passage.

At the Close of the Day… Part 93

Good evening, Netizens…

This has been a 93 hour work week, excluding driving to and from various places across the sphere, and at age 62 and change, anytime I manage to accomplish such a task, I fully expect to pay a hefty price.

I will fully expect that any issues, including the hotly-contested opinions I have written about the Spokane Police Department, will keep for another day.

Therefore, after rising before 2:00 AM this morning, at midnight tonight, I am quietly going to curl up with my virtual cat and simply go to sleep out behind the stage with the garden gnomes.

Please gracefully pardon me if I snore.


Charges against Lyons Dropped…

Good evening, Netizens…

Having been out at a dinner and social event for most of the evening, I have been remiss in posting this bit of information, but you late-night readers may want to know that all charges against Michael Lyons, the 20 year-old police arrested on various misdemeanors have been dropped.

Moreover, based upon what hearsay information I have learned, the settlements between the City of Spokane and the other people arrested are likely to be made null and void, including those against Zach St. John.

As usual, I will comment further once I know the full ramifications of the dismissal of charges, but I do hear the pattering little feet of attorneys making their way toward the Court in the near future, which does not bode ill for people that were arrested.


Wild Card Friday, May 9, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly & clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull & ignorant;
they too have their story.

(An excerpt from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) written in 1927.

Hang in there! It’s Friday! At long last, we have made it through the week, and we only have a few more hours to go before the weekend arrives.

Lots of things are shaking around the world, and even a few here in Spokane. If you are of a mind to do so, you might read the entire poem by Max Ehrmann and carefully think upon it as we approach the weekend together.

Then having properly prepared yourself, here is the Wild Card for Friday, May 9, 2008.


Evening News Alert

While we have been going over and under the missing video of last summer’s fiasco in the park, I just received the following news bulletin from KREM:

The Spokane Tribe is upset with the City of Spokane for removing and throwing away the statue of Chief Garry from Chief Garry Park in North Spokane.

Now this is something to scream about. Thoughts? Opinions?

The Missing Video now found…

Good evening, Netizens…

After a very frustrating afternoon performing the lowest-level research imaginable, but getting a lot of answers, I believe I have the reason why a Spokane Police Investigation, including a number of arrests and the “missing” video tape all have created such a controversy surround the Spokane Police Department. However, before you assume the worst, you probably should go read Jim Camden’s thorough and technically-accurate reports here:

Then I will add some comments of my own about the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Spokane Police Department and its involvement in the demonstration in Riverfront Park and consequential arrests. I have been in contact with several person(s) from the Spokane Police Department and nearly all of them have stated emphatically that there was no malice of forethought about the video which surfaced just prior to the court trial of Michael C. Lyons that was supposed to take place Tuesday.

First, by their very nature, the CIU do not always share the product(s) of their investigations with other departments within the SPD. Actually, can we rewrite this to say few if any of their reports ever end up in the Police. Granted, that may be a flaw in the system design which I would speculate will be or is being addressed already. Moreover, some of their reports and data are not “shared” because upon occasion, they are a part of an ongoing federal investigation. That does not seem to be the case in this instance.

Rather, as several people have stated, this was human error, pure and simple. If they learned from their mistakes, and in this case I believe they did, then we have a better product that will serve us well into the future.

Unlike most journalists in Spokane, I have seen the CIU up close and personal, and they do perform a thankless but extremely vital job, but that is all I can say about THAT.

One of the things they didn’t do, unfortunately, is correlate their videos and reports with other ongoing police investigations. However, that was a human error, as I have stated. I doubt they will repeat that error in the future.

Of course, your results may differ.


Wild Card Thursday May 8, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s picture, musicians of Germany’s Kammersymphoniker Berlin orchestra perform during a rehearsal for the media at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. On Friday, May 9, 2008 the orchestra will perform its first concert in the memorial. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

I cannot conceive of a better way to spend eternity than to have an orchestra of their caliber performing to commemorate the passage of so many. The victims may be nameless but I submit their spirits are part of us all.

Now we march forward, with one day to go before we reach the weekend and some much-needed rest for us all at the Heavenly Haven Virtual Restaurant. Have a seat at the virtual espresso bar with chrome handles and enjoy a cup of today’s virtual espresso, Mandolin Delight, and let us begin the business of the day together.


News Flash – Postage Rates Are Going Up – Again.

Doesn’t it feel like it was just yesterday??? Why didn’t I buy reams upon reams of rolls of Forever Stamps. Then I wouldn’t have all these piddly 1-cent stamps laying around with my 2-cent stamps and my 39-cent stamps with my 41-cent stamps (the 100 count roll, of which there are about 50 left….)

So, here’s the thing: We’ve talked about reading less because we are on computers more – is this the same reason the post office is raising stamp prices again? I love technology and can’t get enough of it – but has it taken away from the old fashioned, sit-down-and-write letters that we used to do with our friends and family? Does the post office cringe every time a new-fangled gizmo/gadget appears on the internet – like MyFace, YouTube, and others. I pay my bills online, I write to my entire family (and friends) online. The only thing I stamp are Christmas cards and birthday cards. I mean, after all – tradition should hold for those two holidays.

When I get Older will I read?

Good evening, Netizens…

The Spokesman-Review’s Rebecca Nappi wrote in the Opinion Blog today:

I intended to write their story as a retirement project. Well, one in four adults never read books now. When I retire, the number will be more dismal. And in retirement, after writing daily for four decades, will I feel like scribbling another word? Doubtful.

So what to do with a dream detoured? I’m blogging mine. One week each month on our editorial board blog, A Matter of Opinion, I post excerpts from Keo’s journals, along with Iowa-Keo historical photos. I call it the Keo Chronicles.

1 in 4 adults never reads books now? So it stands to reason writers would have a very difficult time selling books, wouldn’t it? It also stands to reason that like Rebecca, by the time I reach retirement that number will be more dismal.

Do you read books? Would you guess you will still reading books when you retire?

That is a chilling and somewhat disheartening statistic.


Week in Review Vol 1, Week 1

Good morning, Netizens

In this edition of Week in Review, we take a backwards glance at the various issues discussed this week, hopefully to see what, if anything, the Virtual Ballroom contributed either to mankind, the carbon footprint or in rare cases, the mantle atop the gigantic ballroom fireplace.

However, before we delve into that too deeply, I should mention that several garden gnomes have been outside the door to the ballroom this morning, among the petunias, tulips and dandelions and are shaking down the rest of the gnomes who obviously lost a bet. Apparently last winter, when the gnomes were hiding behind the stage in the ballroom, a bet was made that it would be June before the dandelions began blooming this year. Well, as any self-respecting garden gnome would know, the first dandelion burst into bloom when the snow was still in the snowy shadows, on March 12, so now we have a gnome shakedown under way. Corruption is everywhere, my friends, even here in the relative sanctity of the Virtual Ballroom.

Taking my first sip of the Virtual Espresso of the day, Kickass Very Quickly, and sliding into my favorite seat at the Virtual Espresso Bar, let us look in retrospect at those messages that will go down in history as speaking most often to our collective consciousnesses this week. (dotditdotdotdit) We have to use sound effects here before we’re too cheap to buy a pocket calculator.

The totals are in, and it probably will surprise no one that first place this week, at 14 responses, goes to Joseph Edward Duncan III who, it seems, may act as his own attorney which would result in him having one of the most macabre, stupid and thoroughly hideous clients in legal history. Where the hell is Perry Mason and Doris Street when we need them?

Of course, second place, at 13, has to go to the Hillary balloon. Something that was pointed out to me after-the-fact, is that the Hillary Balloon has no clothes on. As is often the case, the blow-up version of Hillary appears to have attire but in reality, like Hillary Clinton, I believe it the balloon is all hot air. Record this in the annals of the Spokesman-Review that this is the first time a caricature of a national political candidate has appeared in a blog sans clothing. There has to be a prize somewhere here, right?

It is somehow fit and proper that our discussion of the Holocaust, at 12, ranks within our top discussions this week. This coming Thursday isYom Hoshoah, a Jewish day of mourning, and undoubtedly more discussions and remembrances of this day of mourning. Genocide should never be dismissed as trivial or allowed to pass unremembered.

Our discussions of the series of earthquakes in Reno, Nevada and beyond tied with the discussions of the Holocaust at 12. To our good credit, no one from Spokane mentioned once that we could have oceanfront property here if the tectonic plates slipped in the right places. First we have to move five stories of books from Moe’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue to my back yard.

Fourth place, the story about Joseph Fritzl and his children, still leaves me with a queasy stomach, because as that story continued to develop, some major news media companies dropped the story as soon as the details were known. Fritzl is one sick puppy.

Wouldn’t you know it? The Word of the Day, harpy, placed fifth this week. I promise I am still searching for a masculine-gendered synonym for this word, but I am relatively certain if you stick around for awhile Anu Garg and his marvelously long-lived A Word a Day will find an appropriate word to describe the male of the species with equal abandon.

So, there you have it, the first weekly edition of The Week in Review.


Wild Card Saturday May 3, 2008

Good morning Netizens…

Are you feeling globally warmed this morning? This is the first day of many, we hope, where the night time temperature stayed above freezing, and the garden gnomes did not have that expensive infernal electric heater running all night, huddling together out by the garden fence swearing a blue streak.

Fortunately I am staying warm here by the bank of computers, busily doing things for my clients that somehow eluded me all week, and although I tell myself I am making progress, I sometimes wonder, since this morning I took time off the clock to mix a Chopin Etude in E with Emmy Lou Harris just to see how it would sound. It was surprisingly delicate and yet interesting enough to retain it as an MP3 for future use.

There is no Word a Day today, since it is the weekend, and thus we may never know the synonym for “harpy”, which was one of the week’s more interesting words.

So, there you have the Wild Card for today.

End of a Long Day…

Good evening, Netizens…

As softly as the sound of the door to the Virtual Ballroom at Community Comment softly closing to ward off the evening chill, we held a semi-Gathering this afternoon, consisting of a few friends and I, and it was wonderful. There will be another Gathering, and this time everyone will be invited. Please watch for the announcement coming soon.

Of course, the local news media crews are warbling like a band of jaybirds who have gotten their tail feathers trapped in an electric fence over the number of people arriving for Bloomsday. At five o’clock this evening the traffic downtown on Division Southbound was all but impossible, and thus if you didn’t have business with Bloomsday, you were better off circumnavigating downtown entirely. Of course, it was refreshing to see the motorhomes and RV’s rolling into town once again, for this might be the harbinger that Spring has truly arrived, and be damned the fuel costs!

In the national news, a series of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes once again whipped the South and Mid-West regions. Although the actual number of tornadoes thus far this Spring are not accurate, stor forecasters are calling this one of the most active seasons they have seen for severe weather in years.

Of course, not to be outdone by tornadoes, most of South Dakota highways are closed tonight due to extreme blowing snow and blizzard conditions. The Governor of that state has issued a snow emergency notification and, unlike the miscommunication here in Spokane last winter, this evening even the Interstate Highways in the state are closed due to 60 MPH winds and hard snow.

So, on that somewhat somber note, I am once more reclining toward the recliner, just shortly before reclining altogether.


Wild Card for Friday May 2, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

First a word from two of my personal heroes of old, Bill Steele and Pete Seeger:

Some say you are really old if you can remember either of these two.

Garbage (garbage, garbage, garbage) Garbage!
We’re filling up the sea with garbage (garbage…)
What will we do when there’s no place left
To put all the garbage? (garbage. . .)

Garbage, 1969
by Bill Steele (with last verse and chorus by Pete Seeger)

Just think about it. We have garbage in City Hall, garbage in the County government, and garbage on our television sets. Pretty scary, huh? Pete had it right!

Just when you thought the controversies surrounding Wheelabrator, Rabanco and the City of Spokane’s Waste to Energy Plant were a thing of the past, a new web site seems to suggest that the cost figures used by Spokane Regional Solid Waste System appear suspicious. Moreover, there are allegations that the contract between the City of Spokane and Wheelabrator (Waste Management) is flawed.

If you want to read more about it, go to and follow the links, especially the illuminating history.

You might also read the Spokesman-Review article about this controversy, which is located at:

This is your wild card for Friday, May 2, 2008…


Liberation Theology in America….

Good morning, Netizens…

The following is a document authored by the Reverend Howard Bess, a retired Baptist minister, that reviews some of the misconceptions we may have about African-American Theology, and has been used with permission of its author.

It is, at the very least, very thought-provoking and nearly as controversial as Dr. Reverend Wright himself.

Wild Card for Thursday, May 1, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Here we have your typical rush hour…

In Belarusia near Minsk. They get recyclable material out of the back end of that convertible, you know.

Here is your Wild Card.


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