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Archive for November 2008

Kids love a parade at Christmas…

Good morning, Netizens…
Photo Source Associated Press

Parade-goers look on in excitement as the Boise Holiday Parade passes down South Capitol Boulevard in downtown Boise. (Idaho Press-Tribune, Charlie Litchfield)(November 29, 2008)

This could be anywhere there is a parade and kids, for holiday parades, especially just before Christmas, bring out the excitement in kid’s faces. Originally I was going to use one of the pictures from Europe, more to show the solemnity of the Christmas Tree lighting, but the excitement in the kid’s faces won over solemnity. There will be lots of time later on for solemnity, and august observations as the Christmas Season draws nearer.

Of course, we may see other situations arise, such as in Mumbai for terrorism does not respect anything but their own credos as we have seen in the 60 hours of mayhem that took place.


Mr. President?

Here we have another excellent David Horsey cartoon that begs a good question. When someone asks a question they do both seem to be answering.


Mumbai still under seige this morning…

Good morning, Netizens…
Photo Source: CNN

There were more explosions and a rapidly-moving fire that broke out this morning according to CNN. At 4:24 AM PST this morning, CNN is reporting there are 101 dead and 314 wounded that resulted from yesterday’s and this morning’s terrorist attacks.

There have been as many as 10 coordinated attacks in the last 12 hours in one of India’s premiere cities, its financial capital. Formerly named Bombay, at 13 million, it is one of the most-populous cities in the world, a frequent Mecca to tourists and international business people from around the world.

Brief history of this event: All except one of the attacks took place in South Mumbai, at the crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station; two five-star hotels: the Oberoi Trident at Nariman Point, and Taj Mahal Palace & Tower near the Gateway of India; the Leopold CafĂ©, a popular tourist restaurant in Colaba; the Cama Hospital; and the police headquarters where at least three high-level officers, including chief of the Anti Terrorism Squad of Maharashtra, were killed by gunfire.

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower is showing flames bursting from a window on the fourth floor, while the sounds of explosions and automatic gunfire are purportedly being heard from both it and the Oberoi Trident.

As in all fluid events, which is what this continues to be, a previously unknown organization identifying itself as the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks by email sent to news organizations. Some media reports have attributed these terrorist attacks to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group.

An ocean-going cargo vessel, the MV Alpha reportedly has been boarded by Indian officials and at the latest report, it is suspected to be involved in the attack.


Tradition is beginning…

Good evening, Netizens…

According to the gossip, the first annual Virtual Thanksgiving Day dinner is being prepared by a collaboration of the most grandmotherly-type ghosts in the Virtual Ballroom, and as I arrive this evening, after another long, arduous day of working, I see them over in an area of the Ballroom that most are now calling “Grandma’s Virtual Kitchen”. A band of elderly female ghosts are obviously already hard at work, with boiling pots, tureens full of bubbling substances and two huge virtual turkeys getting ready to be stuffed and placed in the giant oven. The air is vibrantly alive with the aroma of cinnamon, sage and parsley (from our Virtual Garden this summer) and other tantalizing smells.

Earlier this week, when I first caught wind of this conspiracy to serve a Thanksgiving Day meal to ghosts, I thought to myself, “Why, ghosts do not eat food, do they?”

So, as I sat down in my preferred bar stool at the Virtual Espresso Bar, I waited with some trepidation, for I was most intent upon asking one of my favorite barristas, the ghost of Professor Piddlydiddle, a world-class ghostly intellectual and eccentric who, after all, knows the answers to nearly everything worth knowing. He would know all about all the fuss over a Thanksgiving Day meal for those who, by their own admission, no longer have to worry about eating.

Brief history of Thanksgiving

The turkey has become such a symbol of the Thanksgiving holiday that it is hard to believe that there is a possibility that the Pilgrims might not have even had turkey at their meal.

The Turkey and the Chicken

Everyone is hustling and bustling, preparing for Thanksgiving and the feast and family it surrounds. What are you thankful for this season?

I am preparing for my first Thanksgiving without my sons as they set off to start their own traditions. As we enter the holiday season, Christmas shopping, which stampedes out the door at o-dark-hundred Friday morning, I ask again - what are you thankful for?

Freedom of Speech, or is it?

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Good morning, Netizens…

This morning one of our pictures of the day takes us into a somewhat racy statement made by PETA in Moscow. Lisa Franzetta, right, and Lauren Bowey of the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), wearing only underwear and bunny ears, protest against the wearing of fur in Moscow on Monday near a monument to Karl Marx. The activists stood topless in in cool Russian weather to protest for animal rights. (November 24, 2008)

Now wait a minute! Old Karl Marx is spinning in his grave I’d bet!

Here are these two comely females parading around in a public place in the lower half of their underwear and no police officers in sight? Now what would happen if this were to take place say in Spokane, Washington, and not Moscow, Russia? Wouldn’t they be subject to arrest by our enlightened gendarmes here?

Which would this be, indecent exposure or free speech? Mario Savio would have a field day with such questions, wouldn’t he?


Touching the face of God…

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s picture of the day, a little girl attending a mass after a procession for peace on Sunday in Managua’s cathedral, is pointing out something that she sees to her mother, who hushes her.
(November 23, 2008)

However, what I truly believe is that, in her child’s simplicity and awe, she is pointing out the face of God that she and only she can see. At that age, of course, she does not have the cognizance to interpret what she has glimpsed, but from within her innocence she is in awe at how beautiful it is.


Picture of the Day —The amazing monarch…

One day you shall flit about again, my friend: Insect Good Samaritans Jeannette Brandt and Mike Parwana rescued this monarch butterfly from a roadside in rural Hadley, N.Y., and patched its broken wing with two white splints. When it regained its health, they persuaded a trucker to drive it to Florida and release it. (Mike Parwana / AP)

Good morning, Netizens…

There are things to marvel at in nature and our lives, but perhaps nothing in nature creates a greater sense of awe than the monarch butterfly that, with its amazing five to eight week lifespan, manages to migrate from various northern areas of the United States to Mexico each year. According to A Monarch information source the monarch migration has completed at the beginning of this month, and they are now beginning their overwintering period. Then there is the “Methuselah generation. As autumn approaches in their sites of migratory origin, a special generation of butterflies is born. Unlike their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents — all of whom lived only weeks — these migratory butterflies survive seven or eight months to return northward to mate, die, be reborn and thence to restart the entire amazing process.

If you look at the migratory map of the monarch you may notice there are few Monarch roosting places in Florida, which begs the question what happened to the Monarch in this picture.

Another amazing tidbit is that quite often in the late summer, you will encounter vast flocks of these delicate, beautiful creatures smothering trees and bushes all along their flight path, as they pause to rest up for their migratory travels.

Despite their size, they have few natural predatory enemies. The monarchs feed on the common milkweed plant, which makes them poisonous to most birds and other insects.

What makes them even more amazing is their ability to return to the places where their ancestors hatched from caterpillars into butterflies, and their amazing navigation skills, flying by both day and night, guided by the sun’s orbit as they travel. Even on cloudy days they stay on track thanks to an internal biological compass that functions according to the movement of the sun.

We do take nature for granted, don’t we?


WHAT was he thinking?

Good evening, Netizens…

Far be it from me to speculate too loosely over such an event but the story that appears in today’s SR, about the man who robbed the Shell gas station at Third and Maple and then calmly waited outside for the police to come arrest him might have had ulterior motives involved. Some of my wilder speculations might be:

He took several hundred dollars from the clerk so he could make his truck payment on time. Of course, the police seized his truck after arresting him as well as the money he had stolen.

He was chronically depressed over the loss of his house to an earlier foreclosure by the bank which only recently has changed many of their policies about flexible-rate mortgages, but too late to help him.

Due to unemployment in the Spokane region, which came just before the holidays, he was out of food and money. Free meals at the County Jail seemed like such a logical alternative to staying at a homeless shelter.

He forgot to take his medication for long-term mental illness. All of the business involving the rifle, the money and the free ride to jail was a hallucination.


Multiple Choice Question for November 21, 2008

Photo Credits: REUTERS

Good evening, Netizens…

For the first time in the history of our illuminating Virtual Espresso Bar, we have a multiple choice question tonight for everyone to consider. The above picture is which? Choose one or contribute one of your own interpretations in case none of ours quite match those given.

This picture shows:

Mexico supporters cheering during the World Cup qualifying match against Honduras in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

City of Spokane department heads upon hearing that, despite all the reassurances from Queen Mary, that our city is facing a major deficit forcing the City to make major budgetary cuts.

Ditto the above for the Spokane County Commissioners.

A few of the 40 new workers hired for the holidays by Steve and Barry’s store in Northtown Mall upon hearing that the store’s bankruptcy and resulting closure announced earlier today may result in fewer hours than they were promised.

Please give us your spin on the picture.


Quote of the Day —November 21, 2008

The old ways are dead. And you need people around you who concur.
That means hanging out more with the creative people, the freaks, the real visionaries, than you’re already doing. Thinking more about what their needs are, and responding accordingly. Avoid the dullards; avoid the folk who play it safe. They can’t help you any more. Their stability model no longer offers that much stability. They are extinct, they are extinction.

Hugh Macleod, How To Be Creative: 16. The world is changing. , 08-22-04

Thanksgiving Day humor…

Picture from my archives
Good morning, Netizens…


What better way to start off the approaches to Thanksgiving with a bit of humor?

By the way, having raised some turkeys from the time they were chicks, I can tell you with absolute authority that, other than being able to spot a hawk overhead, they have to be the dumbest birds on the planet.

They would never figure out how to make themselves appear as cows, even to a blind man.


Disposable life…

Photo Source: EPA

Good morning, Netizens…

I have been closely following a parallel set of events, the legal battles in Nebraska over being able to anonymously drop off children at area hospitals, and then this picture, which says a whole lot more to me.

What has created such a furor in Nebraska is that, under the existing state laws, any parent can drop off any of their children at area hospitals. I did say any age. This has brought about a remarkable number of parents dropping off their wayward or uncontrollable teenage children as hard times begin to hit the farm belt. Yes, the law is being modified.

However, in this picture, a woman walks past the Baby Rescue drop-off bin in Cape Town, South Africa. Baby Rescue is a charity organization which provides Baby Bins in which unwanted babies can be placed. One has only to remember the remarkable number of babies born in South Africa that already have the HIV or AIDS at birth.

Can we even suggest the term “disposable babies without losing lunch?


My morning rant…Part I.

Photo Source AP
Good morning, Netizens…

In my reverie this morning, I gazed repeatedly at this picture of a woman carrying firewood using a headband and her 18-month-old daughter down a dangerous road in the African Congo. This was shot on the road linking Rupango to Sake, Congo, which is stricken by war, death and carnage that stalks the land like a remorseless savage out of control. She walks the 16 kms every day, crossing from the CNDP rebel-controlled area to the government-held town of Sake to sell wood. That is how she survives.

Suddenly I realized how damn much we actually have in this country to be thankful for as we approach the gluttony we call Thanksgiving Day. Everybody, even the impoverished and destitute have to have a Thanksgiving Day turkey, to sit around the dining room table and eat extra helpings free of any guilt. We gleefully contribute to Tom’s Turkey Drive and various other charities so that everyone can share our sin of gluttony free of any tinges of guilt, but as Dr. John Olsen mentioned the other day, the rest of the year we ignore poverty in our community, if not the entire world. We seemingly have a knee-jerk reaction to where we ignore world-wide abject poverty, which may be worse than anything we have seen in this country, we patently ignore the chaos and pathos because it cannot interfere with our Thanksgiving Day feasts.

Peer into this woman’s eyes and someone please tell me why three-quarters of the world eke out their lives under such miserable conditions.


Quote of the Day November 19, 2008

Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American.

Malcolm X (1925 - 1965), Malcolm X Speaks, 1965

Love and death in the desert…

Good morning, Netizens…

Tina Loesch and Skye Hanson had a pretty good run of it in a sick, demented sort of way. If half of what one surmises, reading the official releases from the Post Falls Police Department are accurate, the lesbian lovers were directly or indirectly responsible for the murder of Tina’s father. Then they killed Tina’s mother mother in a death-by-hot tub event, a piece of bizarre logic that nearly defies the mind since it was inevitable the truth would eventually surface. Since they had convinced the mom to buy life insurance apparently well in advance of dumping a portable TV into the hot tub, they absconded with a half-million dollars worth of life insurance money and then hid out in Arizona. For a long time nobody, not even the highly-proficient U.S. Marshall’s Service knew where they were.

History: Loesch and Hanson apparently met when they were both serving time in prison, fell in love/lust while behind the bars and naturally migrated toward living together in connubial bliss once they were released. Tina’s father hated her being a lesbian so much, he wrote her entirely out of his will, which perhaps set the stage for his murder. He was shot to death while delivering newspapers. That crime remains unsolved until this day.

Aunt Lucretia’s Thanksgiving…

Good morning, Netizens…

This morning, we begin a fictional review of Thanksgiving past, as viewed through my particular aperture on life. It should be noted that the Safeway Store that this story refers to is no longer there, thus making Aunt Lucretia make the trip on a city bus.

Every town, I imagine, has an doting aunt of their own, but with the passage of the years, I have grown accustomed to seeing Aunt Lucretia each year on Thanksgiving Day keeping her appointed rounds. She is but a sprite of a woman, well enough up in years, so that you scarcely notice her as she purposefully moves down the sidewalks in Hillyard. Dressed in dark purple full-length faux satin dress she reserves for important occasions, ankle-high sensible shoes and a prim flat hat firmly pinned to her gray hair, in the days and weeks prior to Thanksgiving she makes several furtive trips to the grocery store and inevitably a trip behind her house where four crabapple trees still linger among the jimsonweeds, hollyhocks and a weathered child’s swing that rocks back and forth in the evening breeze.

Each year, for as long as I can remember, Aunt Lucretia makes two neat little fruit salads, one of which she brings to my house, and the other she tells me is for her son who lives ten blocks down Market Street, but I know better.

The Greater Tragedy…

AP photo

Good morning, Netizens…

It is not quite dawn and while I sit in solitude on the stoop in front of the Virtual Ballroom, Spokane awakens, awakening from her sleep, she combs the beer cans out of her hair and makes preparations for another day’s business.

I watch from the shadows as Foghorn, my next-door neighbor, wheels her car out of her parking place and drives down the avenue to her job at Albertsons. While there are many neighbors on my street, whose names I know, whose faces I recognize and whose spirits I cherish, Foghorn is perhaps the only person on the block who is aware of The Virtual Ballroom, although she has never set foot inside, just peered around the entrance curiously watching people come and go.

Old Mr. Odduck, who lives halfway down the block, acquired his name for his habit of saying, “Howdy Neighbor” to everyone who lives on this street as he drives or walks by. It isn’t as if we have names that he would bother to remember, nor that he would stop and talk about the weather, politics or how the garden did this last summer. He simply waves his hand in a laconic manner, without affection nor animation, and travels onward, having fulfilled his neighborly obligation.

California Dreamin’…

Good morning, Netizens…

In a scene somewhat familiar to people in Spokane from last summer’s wild fires, stairs leading up to a home destroyed by fire are seen at the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles, Calif. on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008. Several hundred homes at the Mobile Home Park were destroyed by a wildfire that raged through the community. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, Pool)

California often comes to me in my dreams, for I know parts of it that reside uncomfortably in my heart, much as part of me still wanders the ragtag yet intellectual streets of the East Bay Area. I can visualize how things are, having been there, still taste the unwashed atmosphere that comes before the dawn. Berkeley, attired in her finery, is always strewn with garbage early on Monday morning, awaiting the collectors, and old Bolshevik women wandering before the dawn peer into high-end shops wondering why anyone would pay $600 for a pair of shoes unfit for walking.

Revisionist Uncle Sam…

Good morning, Netizens…

In one of our pictures of the day, we have another vision of Barack Obama as Russian artist Farid Bogdalov poses next to his painting of US President-elect Barack Obama dressed as Uncle Sam in a gallery in Moscow. Picture: Courtesy of AP

Uncle Sam, huh?


Right Wing Radio…

Good morning, Netizens…

Call them right-wing whack jobs, extremists or other less-exemplary bits of nomenclature, what is unavoidable in such discussions is that the ultra-conservative elements of the Republican Party have about the same rights as the Ultra-left-wing members of the Democratic party who often appear as equally nutcase loose-in-the-head as their Republican counterparts. Equally unavoidable is that the Republican Party lost the election, although not entirely due to its more ultra-conservative members.

Since somewhere between the two political sides is where I suspect most voters reside, this morning David Horsey’s cartoon from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer approaches humor where perhaps none exists.

Simply because most religious broadcasts in the radio spectrum are viewed with disdain by all but their supporters, I thought we should also be fair to Old-Time Gospel music on the radio so that they can keep up with the Republicans and Democrats.

Will the Virtual Ballroom Choir please stand and sing an old-time gospel song, “Turn Your Radio On” written by Albert E. Brumley.

(the everlasting ghostly members of the choir materialize at the front of the Virtual Stage and without further improvisation, begin to sing with their reedy spectral voices.

Turn your radio on (turn your radio on)
And listen to the music in the air,
Turn your radio on (turn your radio on)
And glory to share (glory share)
Turn the lights down low (lights down low)
And listen to the Master’s Radio,
Get in touch with God (get in touch with God)
Turn your radio on.

Now we will hand those of you who are so blessed with progeny back to the Saturday Morning Cartoon shows before the kids declare themselves to be a separate state of the Union.


Quote of the Day November 15, 2008

Experts say you should never hit your children in anger. When is a good time? When you’re feeling festive?

Roseanne Barr

Remembering others…

Good morning, Netizens…

Today is the beginning of the Salvation Army’s traditional holiday funding drive.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, and as the Season of Giving inexorably begins creeping upon us all, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles begin appearing in front of area stores and shops. This year, however, in some areas of the United States, it is as much a season of change as giving, as The Salvation Army has begun experimenting with what they call a plastic alternative for folks who don’t have cash to toss in a red Salvation Army kettle.

This season, five bell-ringers in El Paso County, Colo., will be the first to accept debit and credit cards along with spare change and bills. Salvation Army officials say the kettle tradition needs to be tweaked as consumers increasingly carry only plastic.

Bell ringers are giving the credit card-kettles mixed reviews. But some shoppers who saw the new kettles liked them, saying they’ve walked past kettles in the past and wanted to donate but had no cash.

Another change this year, what makes this year different from other years that have preceded it, is that some of the same people who would drop money in the big red kettles in front of area stores are now finding themselves so strapped for cash, they are forced to ask for help from the Salvation Army and other area non-profits.

However, you do not need to travel to Colorado to use your credit or debit card to help others less fortunate as we approach Christmas. To make a gift by credit card, please call toll free 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).


Understanding our predicament…

Good morning, Netizens…

This is a multiple-choice question from the Seattle-Post Intelligencer’s David Horsey, and once again I think he’s got the choices just about down pat, with the possible exception of (D) Let the so-called free market operate and let our finances take their course. There is that possibility, of course, that we are not truly in a free market, but in most cases, you’re safe with choosing C anyway.

Now if the Virtual Ballroom choir will please stand and sing a lusty rendition of the first two choruses of Bob Dylan’s old Folk Song, “Dear Landlord” from his John Wesley Harding album in 1968:

Dear landlord,
Please don’t put a price on my soul.
My burden is heavy,
My dreams are beyond control.
When that steamboat whistle blows,
I’m gonna give you all I got to give,
And I do hope you receive it well,
Dependin’ on the way you feel that you live.

Dear landlord,
Please heed these words that I speak.
I know you’ve suffered much,
But in this you are not so unique.
All of us, at times, we might work too hard
To have it too fast and too much,
And anyone can fill his life up
With things he can see but he just cannot touch.

Yes, I think that just about summarizes matters.

Of course you do have to remember the ghosts and spirits of the Virtual Ballroom don’t give a damn, since some of their members saw the Great Depression first-hand, not to mention all wars and cataclysms. Having a first-hand knowledge of history is a bonus feature of being dead they tell me.

Question: What WAS The Great Depression?

Answer: In the days before Prozac they called it insanity and shipped people to warehouses for treatment. In modern times people take Prozac and walk around with stupid grins on their faces, except for bankers and lawyers who are conditioned to ignore history, that is.

Of course, your results may differ.


P.S. Please tell me if this cures the picture wrapping problems reported yesterday. DL

Quote of the Day November 14, 2008

Whatever you fear most has no power - it is your fear that has the power.

Oprah Winfrey (1954 - ), O Magazine

Seven days too long? Try a MONTH!

Good afternoon, Netizens…

I think I may be onto something. A news item hot off the presses from Reuters is interesting to say the very least.

According to Reuters the White Cockatoo Resort in Queensland, Australia will hold a month-long, nude “anything goes” party to combat an expected economic downturn, media reports said on Thursday.

“Tough economic times call for stiff measures.” That is what the owner of the resort,Tony Fox, the owner of the White Cockatoo resort in Mossman, in tropical Queensland state, actually told the Courier-Mail newspaper. One might think it would have taken a few hours to remove his tongue from his cheek, but perhaps not.

Proclaming that “anything goes” for a month, perhaps one can see why religious leaders are somewhat outraged.

But the local Mayor, Val Schier, stated she was not opposed to the event, providing no laws were being broken.

She was quoted as saying, “It is tough economic times and as long as it is with consenting adults, then there is no problem.”



Saving the Old 401-K…

Good morning, Netizens…

I am frankly surprised that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s David Horsey took this long to notice what has happened to our 401-K’s, but then he has been distracted as of late what the election campaigns grinding away at his senses.

With 401-K’s dropping like sweat flies on a winter’s day, stocks and bonds heading for the basement each day, Fanny and Freddy in receivership and now GM and Ford want us to support a bail out program, and the government is saying no, what should we do?

Here are some ideas while you are drinking your morning coffee and contemplating your 401K:

Twittering Richard Simmons should be put in charge of reducing the national debt, given his vast capabilities at reducing fat from aging fat bodies. Yes, I can hear it now, his Rockin’ with the Oldies will be regurgitated as Rockin’ with your Debt in 2008. This time, when he arrives on David Letterman’s show to hype his wares, perhaps even Letterman might take him seriously.

I think we should hire Reverend Jimmy Swaggart who was defrocked in 1988 over consorting with a prostitute in Louisiana. Open his church, Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to the public. Swaggart seemingly is capable of anything, after having been caught with at least two prostitutes that we know of, being kicked out of his church at one point in 1988, being fired as an Assembly of God minister and yet still today is a high-regarded minister. I think we should put him in charge of holding the first nationally-televised prayer and tithing program to accept donations for Ford Motor Company and GM. Lots of music at this event, long and tearful prayers will be offered, and oh, be sure to play the Lotto on your way out of the sanctuary.

Of course these unorthodox methods might not work any better than what our government has in mind. Do you have any better ideas?


Morning Reverie —November 12, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Having been gravitating toward the political more than I ought, it was with some considerable relief that I returned to my beloved Virtual Ballroom quite early this morning before the sun had even tinged the eastern sky with a festival of colors. Although rumors persist that another of our region’s Great Windstorms is poised and ready to strike today, which will mean I may have to leave on important business shortly thereafter, there is always a place in my heart for the Ballroom, the Virtual Garden and the Virtual Espresso Bar where, more often than not, ghosts and spirits serve the living, when they are not frolicking the day away.

Coming through the front gate I paused to contemplate the emptiness of the Virtual Garden where, last summer, Garden Gnomes and their kinfolk had lovingly tended row after row of vegetables and fruit, pausing in their labors late in the evening to sit beneath various plants to strum their unusual stringed instruments and sing Gnome folk songs from as far back in their heritage as I suppose anyone can remember. Now that the frost is upon the land, they are all below-ground, in their spacious warm burrows, with only an occasional puff of smoke from their chimneys to reflect their presence.

As I enter the Virtual Ballroom, I notice the wraith of a rather fat turkey standing just inside the doorway who nods at me as I pass, and I am not nonplussed, for the improbable ranging to the implausible always seem to happen here, without cessation. Perhaps that is part of the mystique of this place. I cannot wonder about the heritage of the fat tom, which Thanksgiving Day feast he once hailed from, or how he came to be here, for I must hasten to the business of the day.

As I sit at my customary place at the Virtual Espresso Bar, I am delighted, no… make that ecstatic to see an old and dear poet-laureate, journalist and balladeer, the late Carl Sandburg, serving as this morning’s barrista. Having spent many a year relishing Sandburg’s vibrant poetry, I am honored that his ghost would come to pay us a visit.

“The Virtual Espresso blend of the day today is Pig Iron,” he intoned gently as I sat transfixed, “For you will need pig iron in your veins to survive coming challenges.” Sliding a cup of staunch-appearing espresso before me, he added, “’Life is hard; be steel; be a rock.”

Having read what I considered to be Sandburg’s most-memorable work, The People Yes as quickly as you could say the words traversing time, I was there, where reality and unreality meet head-on, where the signposts say Danger Ahead and even brave and stalwart men and women are reluctant to tread. There is the sign, and it reads:

The white man drew a small circle in the sand, and told the red man,
“This is what the Indian knows,”
and drawing a big circle around the small one,
“This is what the white man knows.”

The Indian took the stick
and swept an immense ring around both circles:
“This is where the white man and the red man know nothing.”
(Carl Sandburg 1971—The People Yes


Only in Mainz, Germany…

Good morning, Netizens…

In our picture of the day, we have the so-called “Schwellkoepp” (swollen heads), the traditional carnival figures of Mainz, take part in a parade on Tuesday in Mainz, southwestern Germany. Carnival revellers in the German capital and mainly the Rhine region celebrated the launch of the carnival season at 11 minutes past 11 o’clock. (November 11, 2008) Getty Images

Actually, when I looked more-closely at this trio of unusual figures, I briefly thought I might have recognized one of the faces, which worried me a bit. Given that my present mother-in-law is a saintly, gentle old woman who has a heart that knows no boundaries when it comes to human dignity and decency, I cannot disparage her by comparing her to the female figurine.

However, I would swear the female figure in this picture closely resembles certain brittle female politicians I have encountered recently.

See anyone you recognize in the above picture? Inquiring minds want to know.


Quote of the Day November 12, 2008

Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.

Henrik Tikkanen

Remembering a Soldier

I once came across my Dad’s high school yearbook – his senior year. I scoured the pages for a look at my Dad at the same age I was – 18 and a senior at Lewis & Clark. I couldn’t find him.

Finally on the last page was a dedication to several boys who snuck out of their parents’ home twelve months earlier, in 1943, enlisted in the Navy by lying about their age, and weren’t home to get their pictures in the yearbook or to graduate.

Think of this – this was a tiny little town, Jerome, Idaho. So small it didn’t even have a stop sign. (So small that when I was little and wrote to my grandfather, the postmaster for Jerome, he would know it was my letter even though it was addressed simply to Granddad, Jerome, Idaho). In 1943, Jerome High School experienced 50% less boys because they joined the service, to serve their country towards the end of World War II.

My Dad never made it to a ship; he was a reporter/clerk – it was his most profound disappointment. He never considered himself a Veteran, although I do.

The Mortgage Crisis…where to turn?

Good morning, Netizens…

I have really mixed-up emotions about real estate foreclosures in our present economy. At first glance, it seems pretty much straightforward that defaulting on a mortgage, even a poorly-conceived and perhaps even fraudulently-written mortgage leads to foreclosures that push down all house prices. Those falling prices — combined with falling incomes and another expected surge in monthly payments on adjustable rate loans — will surely lead to more defaults and deeper price declines, threatening bank solvency and prolonging the credit crunch. Yes, sure.

As I see it, the financial situation is not going to get any better until house prices stabilize and the banks are not going to loan money until the seeping cesspool of failing mortgages ceases.

Last year, in their typical manner, the government sought to solve the problem by throwing money at it, which didn’t work, although the loan-by-loan renegotiation of bad mortgages is showing some signs of rectifying matters.

The F.D.I.C. has developed a plan that is being used, with limited results, to rework defaulting mortgages at IndyMac, the failed Southern California bank. Under the plan, the banks restructure troubled mortgages — lowering the interest rate, extending the loan term or deferring payment on a portion of principal — so that they’re affordable. The goal is to reduce the monthly payment to about a third to two-fifths of a borrower’s after-tax income.

However, as I see it, it is rapidly becoming a dead-heat race between patched mortgages and rising unemployment. There comes a point when, no matter how you massage the interest rates, fiddle with the loan terms or defer payments to make a poorly-conceived mortgage more affordable, the ugly question arises, how can you make a mortgage work when the borrower’s income is falling below poverty level income? You cannot.

What might make things work is to permanently modify troubled mortgage loans. That is the only way that we can keep Americans in their homes, save the banks and thus stabilize the economy. The mindset for this deal also benefits mortgage lenders and investors, because, over time, the new loans would make more money than would be recouped in a foreclosure. If the loans default, the government (that is the taxpayers) would share in the losses.

That, of course, leaves the door wide open for unscrupulous homeowners to deliberately default on their current mortgages in hopes of getting a better deal from the lenders. Although the plan also only applies to people whose mortgages are not affordable based on their income, given sinking employment rates, the number of people who qualify for mortgage modification might rise. Would some freeloaders sneak in? Given hard times, you betcha!

Facts as I see them

Most of these troubled mortgages were written for people who did not qualify for a traditional mortgage to begin with. They should have never happened.

The rising unemployment may trigger even more default on their mortgages. If the government can reverse unemployment, you might stand a chance of fixing the mortgage crisis.

How do you think we should fix the mortgage crisis?


Quote of the Day November 10, 2008

There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.

Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924)

Miriam Makeba dead at 76…

Good morning, Netizens…

In this Nov. 16, 2006 AP file photo South African singer Miriam Makeba performs on stage at the Avo Session in Basel, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Keystone/Georgios Kefalas)

Miriam Makeba, the South African singer who wooed the world with her sultry voice but was banned from her own country for 30 years under apartheid, died early Monday after a concert in Italy. She was 76.

Often referred to as “The Empress of African Song” and later as “Mama Afrika”, Makeba’s career began her singing career in Sophiatown, a cosmopolitan neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, that was a cultural hotspot in the 1950s before its black residents were forcibly removed by the apartheid government.

After she teamed up with fellow South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela — later her first husband — her rise to international prominence started when she starred in the anti-apartheid documentary “Come Back, Africa” in 1959.
When she tried to fly home for her mother’s funeral the following year, she discovered her passport had been revoked. It was 30 years before she was allowed to return home. In 1963, after appearing before the U.N. Special Committee on Apartheid, and South Africa immediately banned the sale of her records. Her music fell further out of favor after she married black activist Stokley Carmichael and eventually moved to Guinea.
After three decades abroad, Makeba was invited back to South Africa by anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela shortly after his release from prison in 1990 as white racist rule crumbled.

Makeba announced her retirement three years ago, but despite a series of farewell concerts she never stopped performing. When she turned 75 last year, she said she would sing for as long as possible.

She was a woman of courage and distinction, a recording artist and writer who brought the evils of apartheid to the world view and will always be revered for her music and sense of humor.


The Folk Festival 2008 at the close…

Good evening, Netizens…

There comes a time in every joy-filled event when it is over, and at last you must drift back toward your home, still vibrating with the sounds and the memories of the faces of everyone you have seen.

In my final picture of the set, we bought a button from this young woman in exchange for a picture of her in consideration of the nine wonderful years we have been attending this event. Yes, I have a collection of buttons, but not so many pictures. For the problem with taking pictures of The Fall Folk Festival is you miss so many exciting and interesting things by being preoccupied with getting a picture.

So today, instead of taking vastly more pictures I simply drifted from room to room, listening to many of the fine performers I have enjoyed over the years, renewing old friendships and drinking in the ambiance, for the Folk Festival is a living body of water to quench any thirst. Along the path, I met a luthier who made the first hand-made harp I have ever seen, that has a backbone made out of polymer, yet has a wonderful, rich sound. And I thought I had seen everything the festival had to offer! That was a sweet-sounding harp indeed.

While standing in the cafeteria I encountered Claudia Craven, another gifted writer I have known for years. She and I once collaborated together to investigate two very corrupt ministers from the South Hill Unity Church, something that did not necessarily endear either of us to the church members at the time. However, once all the evidence was placed before the Board members, the majority voted to fire them and the church, like others in life, simply moved onward after the ministers were deported back to Canada.

So, after exhausting my granddaughter, trying the patience of my wife and thoroughly feeling satisfied, I returned to the Virtual Ballroom, and its ghosts, who were dancing to an old Benny Goodman piece that was (nearly) older than myself.


The jams in the hallways…

Good morning, Netizens…

Since wandering through the Spokane Fall Folk Festival nearly always means you will encounter musicians from various disciplines of music “jamming”. What is jamming, some may ask? It is ‘an expression used by musicians to describe performing together without a set purpose or itinerary. a ‘jam session’ is often between musicians who do not usually play together and just play for the fun of it.’

Well, as you have seen, the Fall Folk Festival is about the dance, and is inclusive of all ages and cultures, as it should be. However, when it comes to music, the Fall Folk Festival surrounds itself, immerses itself up to the neck with music of all kinds. It goes one better that after the performers climb off the stage, you can generally find them in the hall jamming with other musicians from professionals to rank amateurs.

In this picture we have a wonderful blending as Arvid Lundin, one of Spokane’s most-gifted Celtic fiddle players who hails from a long line of musicians, is jamming in the hallway with a fully-kilted Scottsman blissfully listening to him play. Both his father and uncle, who are now well up in years, have been constant performers in recent years, despite their advanced ages. Carla Carnegie of Crooked Kilt fame is his cousin. So you see, music runs deeply in the veins of this prodigious and totally-gifted family.

Arvid truly can make a fiddle sing, both as a performer and luthier, but what is somewhat infuriating to others, is that he makes it appear so simple which it is not.


The Fall Folk Festival…

Good morning, Netizens…

Please allow me, before we begin our brief tour yesterday of the Fall Folk Festival, to introduce my intrepid assistant, Miss Lilly, my granddaughter, who at age 9 has attended three Fall Folk Festivals with her grandparents in her exciting walk through life. In her various appearances, she has danced in East Indian Dancing, belly dancing and even a little clogging last year to round out her resume.

The sash you see in this picture came about because in the East Indian Dancing, they offered participants traditional saris. Unfortunately, they did not have a sari that would fit Miss Lilly, so they gave her a sash, which is acceptable decorum, I am told. As we will see later, she danced her heart out, just before a whirlwind tour of the arts and craft room for kids.

The Fall Folk Festival is an incredible compilation of various kinds of dance, food, music, art and various arts and crafts vendors, all combined to form a vast nearly-overwhelming potpourri for the senses. You simply cannot see it all in one stroll through the hallways of Spokane Community College! There are 8 stages of traditional and ethnic dance and music along with workshops, special entertainment and crafts for children and jamming for musicians of all skill levels. Here in Spokane we have a wealth of folk artists some of whom are, in the words of the Folk Festivals’ web site, “truly hidden gems well worth discovering.” Among the types of music you will hear are Celtic, bluegrass, blues, African, Asian, Middle Eastern traditions and just plain old folk songs.

So, without further ado, let us move on to the various images from yesterday’s events at the Fall Folk Festival, remembering that it will run again today.

If you want to know what else is happening at this event today, by all means read through the Fall Folk Festival Schedule remembering, of course, that you have already missed the first day.


Who Inspires You

I am contemplating the various people who have come and gone through my life, leaving and taking little qualities that make me who I am. It starts with my Dad – whom I have written a lot about, but he still tops the list. He inspires me! He was an inconsequential short man who was one of the kindest men I have known. I never heard him say a bad thing about anybody. He had a high moral fiber that led him; he had an inner compass that kept him ultra loyal and steadfast with his friends, his family, his coworkers, and everyone who crossed his path.

I am inspired by my two sons who miraculously made it to adulthood with those same humble yet high qualities that my Dad had. I am amazed and in awe of their morals and principles.

I am inspired by friends. Kathy who lives with Parkinson’s and is the epitome of inspiration as she faces each day as a goal to meet with grace and humor. Jackie, who raised a daughter alone, who grew into a beautiful compassionate woman; Jackie who built her house almost single handedly from trees cut from her property.

Who inspires you?

Quote of the Day November 8, 2008

I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.

Charles De Gaulle (1890 - 1970)

South Dakota returning to normalcy…

Good morning, Netizens…

The road report from South Dakota this morning is better than yesterday, when Interstate 90 was closed from the Wyoming State border nearly the entire way across the state of South Dakota. An early-spring blizzard packing winds of upwards of 60 MPH accompanied by two feet of snow shut down nearly all the region’s highways, stranding thousands of motorists and isolating homeowners. Drifts in some places were as high as 20 feet, completely blocking highways.

They have the Interstate highways open as of this morning, although there are still vast areas without electricity, and the National Guard are assisting area residents who are without power and water in some areas.

I cannot help but wonder what kind of havoc and pandemonium would take place here in Spokane if we were visited with such a storm. As demonstrated by storm last winter, contrary to what our City Fathers tell us, we do not have a plan in place for blizzard conditions. It has been nearly a decade since the last storm with true blizzard conditions hit the Inland Northwest which closed not only portions of the Interstate but nearly all north-south highways. However, that storm only provided us drifts of 10 feet in places.

Twenty foot drifts in downtown Spokane? Accompanied by 60 MPH winds? Power lines down throughout the region? Nah, it wouldn’t happen here. Wouldn’t we have fun?


Oprah to quit her show…

Good afternoon Netizens…

V titan Oprah Winfrey is to quit her hit daily show when her contract ends in five years - so she can concentrate on putting child predators behind bars. She told CNN’s Larry King that she plans to dedicate her time to heroic causes when her show Oprah ends in 2012.

In an interview that aired on Tuesday, she told the CNN anchorman, “I have four or five years left on my show, and when I’m done with that contract, I’m done. Then I want to change the laws, state-by-state for child predators in this country; and that’s what I want to have done.”

“I won’t be satisfied until that is done. The children of the United States are being stolen, raped, tortured, and killed by sexual predators. I want the laws to change.”

It’s too bad about her show, but it is great that someone is finally doing something about child predators.


Quote of the Day November 7, 2008

The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.

Saki (1870 - 1916)

How much is that doggy in the window?

Good morning, Netizens…

No morning news program this morning would be complete without a full discussion of the White Dog dog, Barney and his cameo appearance yesterday when he Barney bit a Reuters reporter . Of course, all the major news media outlets seized on this video of the incident in question, which brings us to the matter of a different dog, you know, the one Obama promised his daughters during his speech?

Given the poor reporter will be on antibiotics for several days, not to mention having a tetanus shot, I thought enough of this story to make some recommendations to the Obama family about the selection of their pet dog and, unlike the traditional news media, I will even go so far as unleash my own predictions about the outcome:

Pit bull named Sarah Good with the kids, and would protect them from all harm. She came with a gift card good for a free tube of Revlon bright-red lipstick. Second week on the job the dog takes down a nosy reporter on the White House Lawn and holds him on the ground by his throat. Eventually the dog was given to John McCain as a gift, who was not terribly amused but laughed nonetheless before sending the dog to Sarah Palin in Wasilla, Alaska.

Great Dane named Frodo Again, this dog was great with the kids and protected them from any harm. It came with a gift card good for a fifty pound bag of Gravy Train, which he promptly ate in one run. Shortly after that, he began incessantly begging in the White House kitchen. Did I mention this dog could be very persuasive when it comes to begging for food? Eventually the huge dog was given back to its former owner, the owner of a slaughterhouse in the Midwest.

Standard Bull Dog named Tootsie Although very loving and great with the daughters, Tootsie’s habit of passing horrific and odoriferous gas at inopportune moments (question: when is an opportune moment? I want to know) and in general slobbering all over White House visiting dignitaries, eventually the poor dog is given as a gift to Dick Cheney, figuring that out in Wyoming he will have the wide open spaces his gastro-intestinal system so desperately needs. Somehow Cheney and Tootsie seem to be a match made in heaven.

By all means feel free to contribute your recommendations to this list. We simply have to help Barack Obama find the right dog for his daughters.


Spitzer Won’t Be Charged

Feds won’t charge Spitzer in call-girl scandal
U.S. attorney says probe shows former governor didn’t misuse public funds

NEW YORK - Federal prosecutors said Thursday that they will not bring criminal charges against Eliot Spitzer for his role in a prostitution scandal, removing a legal cloud that has surrounded the former New York governor since his epic downfall eight months ago. | AP Associated Press

Is this fair? Or was resigning his position as Governor sufficient payback?

AT&T including Blackberries DEAD in Spokane…


Good morning, Netizens…

AT&T Wireless telephones, including the highly-touted Blackberry, have been out of service since before 5:00 AM PST this morning, and according to AT&T there is no time given as to when this will be resolved.

This comes hard on the heels of a number of outages which have taken place over the last several months, including a three-state area.

Persons attempting to reach an AT&T cell phone are being greeted with a “fast busy” or voice message stating all circuits are busy.

The cause of the outage is unknown at this time.


A Place to Begin…

Good evening, Netizens…

At 8:00 PM PST this evening, Barak Obama became the President-Elect of the United States of America. A moving concession speech by John McCain followed shortly thereafter, thus bringing to a close a long, contentious and racially-charged election campaign.

In Barak Obama’s speech before over 100,000 supporters gathered in Grant Park, he spoke of the future and a new dedication to an end of cynicism and a reunification of our country.

This was history being made in my time, a Black man elected President of the United States. It is simultaneously something I never expected would happen in my lifetime but had always hoped I might live long enough to see.

Now we must be about the business of healing and strengthening our country and in the words of our founders, perfecting our Union. President-Elect Obama has stated he will begin immediately working on his transition team, and thus it is incumbent upon each of us to join in this process of rebuilding.

We have a national economy in tatters, two wars simultaneously being waged, national unemployment that continues to keep step with a dismal economy as we approach the holiday seasons and and an inherent distrust of anything that smacks of George Bush’s Beltway politics.

Where and how should we begin?


Quote of the Day November 4, 2008

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

The Most-entertaining Campaign EVER!

Good morning, Netizens…

David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer brings yet another Presidential Campaign to a close, and just before the curtain falls, nearly all the cast stumble out for one last curtain call.

Yes, here we are at the fulcrum, the pivotal point in time where all this angst, hysteria, dys-information, mis-information, mass mayhem and patriotism all comes to its logical end.


If all goes well, by this time tomorrow, we will finally know who is to be our next President of the United States, and thus seal our fates for yet another four years.

Far be it for me to discourage discourse, but after today the only persons we can blame for our country’s failures and gaffes is ourselves because acting as responsible Americans, we will elect the next President today, and thus buy into the future of our great country.

If you haven’t voted already, please VOTE! It is your duty. If you have voted, thank you for participating in one of the greatest exhibitions of Democracy anywhere in the world.


Tuskegee revisited…

Good morning, Netizens…

Do you remember these men who became heroes eventually? These are the first Black aviators who fought in World War II for our country. Known as The Tuskegee Airmen, the all-Black 332nd Fighter Group consisted originally of four fighter squadrons, the 99th, the 100th, the 301st and the 302nd. They were hated, vilified and treated as second-class citizens, yet they went on to achieve greatness for our country. Their impeccable record of not losing a single bomber to enemy fire in more than 200 combat missions – is a record unmatched by any other fighter group.

In the movie made about their lives there is a scene where one of their planes is forced to land in a field due to mechanical problems, and an awestruck Black sharecropper watches in awe as a Black pilot climbs down from his plane and comments with tears in his eyes, “There be colored fliers in them planes.”

How much different is that moment in history, than when a supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama cries as Obama speaks at a campaign rally at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, November 2, 2008? (Jason Reed/Reuters) This is but one of many images where Black Americans are crying upon encountering Obama.

I submit it is time America truly accepts our diversity, that we embrace it and make it as much a part of our lives as the historied Tuskegee Airmen changed the face of the USAF during World War II.

I submit it is long past due, that we as a nation based upon principles, must make that step for all generation and all races.


Quote of the Day November 3, 2008

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969)

The Politics of Hope must endure…

Good morning, Netizens…

One more day to go and the citizens elect a new President of the United States. While this is a somber note on which to begin the new week, there are a host of other cheerless bits of news that bear careful introspection, regardless of which candidate you personally hope will win come Tuesday.

Based upon the polls, of which there are many, it does appear as if Obama will be elected the next President of the United States and the Democrats appear to dramatically increase their majority in both houses of Congress. Readers beware, I am not attempting to “call this election”, but rather am citing the obviousness of the polls. While I am certain a lot of the Fourth Estate will be asking what the Democrats should do with their brand-new mandate, one of my questions that remains unanswered is what will the Republicans do with the ashes they may have been handed?

I have read several learned columnists who suggest, among other things, that the Hard Right of the Republican Party will remain in office, largely unshaped by the debacle that has unfolded, while the majority of their more-centrist membership will be voted out of office. After all, the Republican base appears to be gearing up to advertise their loss not so much as a failure of conservative principles, but rather a conspiracy of the news media. A recent poll found that Republicans, by a margin of more than two to one, believe that Mr. McCain is losing “because the mainstream media is biased” rather than “because Americans are tired of George Bush.”

Just as the Democrats have members of the party who tend to drift into the logjam called leftist political extremism, the Republicans under the Bush administration have increasingly become transformed into a party of the dark right, a haven for racists and reactionaries, a cynical party that spent the Bush years in denial, as they closed their eyes to the administration’s dishonesty and contempt for the rule of law. Some party members have tried to maintain that most cynical denial during the election season, quietly winking as the tactics of this campaign have grown even more and more ugly. It seems quite plausible that their cynicism and denial is what has led us to this massive rearrangement of the political spectrum.

One of these days the moderate conservatives are going to have to examine their collective face in the mirror. One of these days, perhaps sooner than one might realize, the GOP during this election season has become the party of intolerance and divisiveness while the Democrats have taken the first fledgling steps toward that maladroit term so often used during the campaign, that being of Hope.

For everyone, Republican and Democrat alike, must have hope for the future if this Great Country of ours is to endure the coming trials.

Of course, your opinions may differ.


Saturday 11/01/2008 Wild Card

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Although I just spoke of the changing of the seasons, perhaps this excellent David Horsey cartoon from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer online is yet another season that will change, perhaps in ways we have yet begun to discover.

What better time than this to declare one of our random Saturday Wild Cards?

Here we are, mere days away from the election, and given the variation in how one interprets the polls, I submit this election may still be too close to call. Either that, or Halloween isn’t really over yet.

So, have at it. Tell us who, in your opinion, will win the race to be our next President of the United States and why.


Quote of the Day November 1, 2008

What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.

W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973), The Dyer’s Hand, 1962

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