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Sunday Roast: Cats & Zooey take a day trip

Yesterday, it was such a beautiful day that Cats and I decided to take a spur of the moment day trip.  We made a loop from Eugene, down past Cottage Grove, over to Reedsport, then up to Florence, and back to Eugene.

The scenery was AMAZING, and here are just a few of the things we saw:

Canada Geese having a rest on their journey home.

Canada Geese having a rest on their journey home.

Roosevelt Elk, looking a bit raggedy and having lunch of fresh green grass.

Roosevelt Elk, looking a bit raggedy and having lunch of fresh green grass.

More Roosevelt Elk having a lie down.

More Roosevelt Elk having a lie down.

Stunning pink rhododendrons.

Stunning pink rhododendrons.

Dunes in Florence.

Dunes in Florence.

It was a perfectly lovely day, and, as you might imagine, we discussed all the issues of the day, and solved every single one of them — if only people would listen to us.  ;)

This is our daily open thread — Get on with it!

Sunday Roast: Lichen

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Lichens on basalt, Skinner Butter, Eugene, OR

Photo by Zooey

From the Wikipedia:

Lichens occur in some of the most extreme environments on Earth—arctic tundra, hot deserts, rocky coasts, and toxic slag heaps. However, they are also abundant as epiphytes on leaves and branches in rain forests and temperate woodland, on bare rock, including walls and gravestones, and on exposed soil surfaces (e.g., Collema) in otherwise mesic habitats. The roofs of many buildings have lichens growing on them. Lichens are widespread and may be long-lived; however, many are also vulnerable to environmental disturbance, and may be useful to scientists in assessing the effects of air pollution, ozone depletion, and metal contamination. Lichens have also been used in making dyes and perfumes, as well as in traditional medicines. It has been estimated that 6% of Earth’s land surface is covered by lichen.

This is our very, very, very, very late daily open thread — I blame DST!!

Sunday Roast: Gravity Glue

Michael Grab balances rocks into beautiful shapes.  He calls it Gravity Glue.

“…I am referring to meditation, or finding a zero point or silence within yourself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on your mind and your patience. The challenge is overcoming any doubt that may arise.”

I think this would be useful in life, outside of your rock balancing efforts.

This is our daily open thread — Breathe.

Guest Blog: Occupy Ukraine?

Today’s guest blogging post (and open thread) is by our friend, TerrytheTurtle.

What is happening in Ukraine is awful, bloody, murderously awful. Depending on where you come from in your world view, there are at least three ways of looking at what is happening:

1. If you follow the Western media, it is about Ukraine wishing to “join the EU” (quotes because there are many sources of this over-simplification) and the coverage is dumbed down to this one point time and again. But the EU trade agreement Yanukovych refused to sign after promising to in his manifesto, is only the catalyst, the problems lie much deeper than that.

2. This is part of the Neo-Cold War, pitting American power against the Czar of All the Russias and his part-dictatorship, part-kleptocracy. If you read the full transcript of the intercepted Nuland phone call two weeks ago, there is no question the US is picking sides, and picking which opposition horse to back, the whole point of which seems to be, to use the violence in Ukraine to win ground in a wider struggle. And for his part, Putin, by blaming ‘entirely, the terrorists and radicals’ for the violence, is shamelessly backing his client, Yanukovych, just like he has backed Syria’s Assad. It seems the US and Putin are both ‘playing cards’ and the people of Kiev are doing the dying.

3. The third thesis is that what we are watching is the Occupy movement of Ukraine. Ukraine’s government is controlled by a very small number of hyper-rich Ukrainians who owe their riches to a perpetuation of the same style of oligarchy and kleptocracy that Vladimir Putin sits atop in neighbouring Russia. They want the massive income inequality and lack of social justice to continue – its good for business. But you won’t hear this in the Western media. That kind of discussion is too close to home and would remind people of what Occupy Wall Street was all about. When Yanukovych returned to power, in 2010, as president (in an election the EU certified as fair), mainly because the Orange Revolution had stalled in the world depression after the financial crisis, he changed the constitution away from the 2004 constitution: more power to him and his cronies. Corruption blossomed again. You know the formula: billionaires, owning politicians for favours, closing and selling off factories, looting the old industries where ordinary people made a living and punishing dissent. The Kochs and Waltons would love these people.

What do Ukrainians think about some of this? The most recent poll I could find (Feb 5th) said:

Showing divisions between Ukrainians on foreign policy, 48% said Ukraine should reconsider its rejection of an EU partnership, but 40.3% said it should not.

Asked if the protests should continue, 48% said yes and 45.1% said no.

These divisions have an ethnic and geographic element to them – west is more likely to be ethnic Ukrainian and east and south more Russian. But like the American south, the Russian-leaning part is voting for more income inequality, more Russian-style “democracy”. But Ukrainians seem to distrust the EU only a little less than Russia, especially when it comes to helping them now. It seems to me they feel like they are on their own.

OK, so all this geopolitics aside, you just have to look at the faces of the people in the streets and in the makeshift hospitals to get an idea of which of these theses is closest to the truth and it is complicated, even if I am getting some coaching.  :)  That ordinary Ukrainians just want the freedom to have their government represent them and protect their freedoms from foreign powers (all of them!) and from their own “entitled” citizens and corporations.  Just spend some time on the blogs (helpfully translated on request and forwarded to people like me by friends). You will see what I am seeing and hearing directly.

Yes, there are protesters with guns now and policemen have died, but today’s toll of death was far unbalanced to the 10s of thousands of mostly unarmed protesters, shot in the square, or beaten by police or paid thugs, the “tituski”, in the side streets as they try to leave to take care of families or escape the bloodshed. Or as volunteers try to treat them in makeshift hospitals while the police try to arrest them from the bloody floor where they lie.

Take a look at two of Putin's "radicals and terrorists."

Take a look at two of Putin’s “radicals and terrorists.”

Finally, and I wish it was finally, this article I was sent today goes roughly like this: A former policeman has come to Kiev to find his 19-year-old son, a student in Kiev. Like all fathers he wished his son did not go to the protests, but as a Ukrainian he was proud of his son to go. He holds in his hand the helmet he wore, covered in blood, a single sniper bullet hole in the helmet where his forehead was. Facebook posts are full of pictures of young people like this….

And yes, like Zooey said Thursday, this could be us too, someday soon.

Sunday Roast: Balinese Gabor Dance

Cats and I went to the Oregon Asian Celebration on Saturday, and had a great time wandering around the various exhibits.  We had words written in Chinese calligraphy on squares of red paper.  Mine reads “good health,” and Cats’ says something similar to “thumbs up.”

We watched a group of ukulele players having fun singing Hawaiian songs.  Did you know “ukulele” means “jumping flea?”  Well, now you do!

After the jumping flea players, it was announced that there would be Balinese dancing.  We decided to stay, since we’d never seen Balinese dancing.  All I could say is wow! We saw the same dance as in the video above, which is called a Gabor Dance, which is a sacrificial dance for the gods, wherein the dancers themselves are offerings.

I love learning new things!

This is our daily open thread — What did you learn today?

Sunday Roast: Altered States

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I found this on facebook, and it made me think about how we all care about each other so much, and know each other so well, after so many years on The Zoo and TP — but most of us have never met, and quite possibly never will.

It’s mind-blowing to me that, if there were no internet, I wouldn’t have crossed paths with a single Zooster or Critter on this blog.  My life would be so different — and most definitely not in a good way.

This is our daily open thread — What do you think?

Sunday Roast: Moving Day

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Well, here I go again!

My son and I are loading up the truck today, and bright and early Monday morning, I’ll be hitting the road to Springfield, Oregon.  Obamacare, here I come!

Ummm, looks like a lovely place.  Right?  The best thing is that Cats and Nonewhere are going to be kinda sorta neighbors!!  Could this be the start of the Zoo Commune!?

Anyhoo, internet access will be spotty for a little while, but I’ll check in whenever I can.  Try not to miss me too much!  :D

This is our daily open thread — No talking about me while I’m gone!

Sunday Roast: Remember How We Forgot

Shane Koyczan.  If you’ve never heard of him, you need to find him on the interwebs ASAP.

…Once upon a time, we were young.
Our dreams hung like apples
Waiting to be picked and peeled
And hope was something that needed to be reeled-in
So we can fill the always empty big fish bin with the one that got away
And proudly say that “this time, impossible is not an option”
Because success is so akin to effort and opportunity that it could be related
So we took chances
We figureskated on thin ice
Belief that each slice of live was served with something sweet on the side
And failure was never nearly as important as the fact that we tried
That in the war against frailty and limitation
We supplied the determination it takes to make ideas and goals the parents of possibility
And we believe ourselves to be members of this family
Not just one branch on one tree
But a forest whose roots make up a dynasty
So when I call you sis or bro
It’s not lightly
And when I ask you to remember
It’s because the future isn’t what it used to be…

 

This is our daily open thread — We were here.

 

Sunday Roast: Giving the unemployed the finger

In the face of empirical evidence that unemployment benefits help boost the economy, Congress went ahead and let the benefit expire for 1.3 million people — with another round of cuts coming right up.

Yes, I said “people.”  Not slackers, takers, losers, or lazy fucks, as Republicans and Tea Party morons like call the long term unemployed.

Officially, there are three people applying for every job in this country, but with so many people off the official unemployment roles (like me) — because their benefits ran out long ago, they’re so discouraged and depressed they don’t even look for work anymore, or they’re elderly or disabled — the actual number of people applying for each job is probably eight to ten.  Far too many of those jobs have absolutely no benefits, and don’t pay enough to keep a roof over your head AND keep the lights and heat on AND eat halfway decently.  Pick one!

But listen to the GOP/Tea Party, and you’ll hear patronizing statements that unemployment benefits make people lazy, shiftless slobs, who will feed off the government teat forever — this from career politicians who feed off the government teat.  Apparently, the best way to get people off unemployment is to just let the funds run dry, and accuse hard-working Americans of being lazy, blood-sucking shits, rather than actually passing a jobs bill (hey, the President has one!) or a sufficient stimulus bill.  Oh yes, they’ll extend unemployment benefits, but children, veterans, the elderly, and the hungry are damn well going to pay for it — unlike in the Bush years, where nothing was paid for EVER, and the GOP were happy as clams.

And gee whiz, where did all this unemployment come from anyway?  Let’s all ignore the FACT that George W. Bush crashed the economy in 2008, and had been hemorrhaging jobs out of this country long before the crash.  No no no, all this unemployment is because of President Obama’s socialist, fascist, Marxist, commie, pinko, nazi policies — again, flying in the face of actual evidence to the contrary — not because of constant Republican obstruction and blatant refusal to do the work they were sent to Washington DC to do.

Do you know how long they’ll keep doing this to the people of this country?  Yes, the people — do you actually think YOU are immune to GOP policies?  They’ll keep doing it as long as the people stay silent; as long as the people stay out of the voting booth; and as long as they can keep the people fighting among ourselves over things like the “War on Christmas,” so-called religious persecution, taxes (except the taxes of the top 1% aka the “job creators”), and other social issues that are only the business of those actually involved.

Pay no attention to the 97 days the millionaires in the House of Representatives will work this year — naming post offices, repealing Obamacare again, and railing against dirty, dirty women who want unfettered access to birth control, because they just don’t want to push out an unwanted baby every year — or their rapist’s baby EVER.  No, of course, lazy blood-sucking GOP/Tea Partiers aren’t the problem — it’s the unemployed.

Right.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss whatever.

Sunday Roast: The Snowman

This is one of my eldest’s holiday favorites.  I love it, too.

What are your favorite holiday videos or memories?  Hey how about recipes, too?  We haven’t done that in a long time.  :)  Please share in the comments section!

This is our daily open thread — Happy Holidays, everyone!

Sunday Roast: For Some Folks, Life is a Hill

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Having been off for a week, listening to crashing Pacific waves, breathing salt air, reading, reading, more reading, and getting my head straight (kinda, sorta, pretty much), Mr Blow asked me, via facebook, to read his column for tomorrow.  I agreed to do so, and, for me, this column is very powerful.  What do you think?

Charles M. Blow, The New York Times

I strongly reject the concept of respectability politics, which postulates that a style of dress or speech justifies injustice, and often violence, against particular groups of people or explains away the ravages of their inequality.

I take enormous exception to arguments about the “breakdown of the family,” particularly the black family, that don’t acknowledge that this country for centuries has endeavored, consciously and not, to break it down. Or that family can be defined only one way.

I don’t buy into the mythology that most poor people are willfully and contentedly poor, happy to live with the help of handouts from a benevolent big government that is equally happy to keep them dependent.

These are all arguments based on shame, meant to distance traditional power structures from emerging ones, to allow for draconian policy arguments from supposedly caring people. These arguments require faith in personal failure as justification for calling our fellow citizens feckless or doctrinally disfavored.

Those who espouse such arguments must root for failures so that they’re proved right. They need their worst convictions to be affirmed: that other people’s woes are due solely to their bad choices and bad behaviors; that there are no systematic suppressors at play; that the way to success is wide open to all those who would only choose it.

Any of us in the country who were born poor, or minority, or female, or otherwise different — particularly in terms of gender or sexual identity — know better.

Please read the rest of the article here.

(photo source)

This is our daily open thread — How is everyone?

Sunday Roast: Veterans Day

Veterans Day, which is noted in other countries as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, marks the end of World War I.  More particularly, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918.  On this day, we remember those who died while serving their various countries.

As I have done in past years, I’m posting the final episode of the Blackadder Goes Forth series, entitled Goodbyeee.

The final episode of this series, “Goodbyeee“, although true to the series’ usual comedy style through most of the preceding scenes, is known for featuring a purely dramatic and extraordinarily poignant final scene, where the main characters (except [the General] himself) are finally sent over the top. To the sound of a slow, minimal and downbeat piano version of the title theme, the four are seen in slow-motion, charging into the fog and smoke of no man’s land, with gunfire and explosions all around, before the scene fades into footage of a sunny poppy field and the sound of birdsong. The fate of the four is left ambiguous. Blackadder’s final line before the charge is also underpinned with an unusually reflective and poignant tone, offered after Baldrick claims to have one last cunning plan to save them from the impending doom:

Well, I’m afraid it’ll have to wait. Whatever it was, I’m sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman around here? …Good luck, everyone.

As fantastic as this final Blackadder series is, I usually cry my way through Goodbyeee. Our amazing advances in technology, rather than being put toward the advancement of mankind, was instead used for unbelievable destruction and obscenely wasted lives of tens of millions of people, both military and civilian, but succeeded only in serving as an incubator for World War II.

I think humans could learn to live together peacefully, but there is money to be made from mayhem and war, and as long as that’s true, there will always be war; and there will always trenches of one kind or another, filled with honorable men and women, who are viewed as a means to an end — stacks and stacks of money — and used as cannon fodder, and if they survive, dismissed as a burden on society.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss.

Sunday Roast: It’s finally acting like Fall

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^^^Not my photo!^^^  I found it on weather.com  :)

Over the last two days, it’s finally been acting like Fall around here.  Sure, the temps were lower — thank FSM! — but while the leaves had turned color, the leaves were sticking in the trees as if they were glued.

Yesterday, the temps dropped just low enough overnight to get the leaves falling in the wind.  Fall is not my favorite season, but there’s something relaxing about watching the leaves falling out of the English walnut trees outside my windows.  Ahhhh….

Oh yeah, and it’s my birthday today.  54 years old!  :)

This is our daily open thread — what does Fall look like in your world?

Sunday Roast: McDonald Creek

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Photo by Zach Meier

I was going to call this post “Babbling Brook,” because the water is so low, but since this water actually has a name, I thought I should call it McDonald Creek…because that’s what it’s called.

This is the creek that feeds into Lake McDonald, the largest lake in Glacier National Park.  The water is so clean and crisp, and doesn’t my baby take a great picture of it with my awesome camera?  :)

This is our daily open thread, and yeah, I totally admit it — I got nothin’ today, so chat among yourselves.