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I'm a single Mormon Democrat, an NPR & BBC news junkie, a dog lover, opera buff, bookavore, migraineur, knows just enough about technology to be a danger to myself, fan of James Bond and Godzilla. 

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sunshine, the Theater, and Comic Book History

The temperature says 75 degrees but it feels much warmer. It's a beautiful day. Everyone seemed to be walking their dogs or doing yard work. (Why people want to work on a nice day seems odd to me.) There were even some poor people on the roof of the house ripping the roof off! Way too warm for that. I never felt up to walking yesterday so it was nice to go out today. The girls and I walked 3+ miles today; they were so happy when we got to the creek on the home stretch and they could wade through it. Misty especially likes it - she actually lays down in the water. Looked very inviting actually.

I listened to several different podcasts from NPR regarding the Theater. Several of them dealt with the tragic Spider-Man musical. It seemed crazy how many different things could go wrong with one show and how many people wanted it too fail. I'm not too sure of the idea of a Spider-Man musical - or any comic book musical - but people should really give it a chance.

Book of the Day: The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu. I am a big history nut and usually am reading at least one history or historical fiction book at any given time. This book is a great history of the rise of comic books as well as the great tragedy that befell them after the Second World War. It is always horrifying to hear of the terrible crimes against free speech that occurred against Americans in the '50s. The House Committee on Un-American Activities. Just the name gives you chills. But it is even scarier when you realize that many people on Capitol Hill learned nothing from this time. You just have to hear Congressman King to speak about Muslims to realize that these things can happen again. The so-called enemy has changed, that is all. FDR was right to say all we had to fear was fear itself. Fear can tear our democracy apart.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Without a reading, Alexie's book banned in Richland | KPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest

This is a fine example of the reactionary and conservative political atmosphere that can - unfortunately - be found in the Benton and Franklin communities. We like to pride ourselves in Washington State as well-educated and tolerant. That ends at the western edge of the Cascade Range. Here, in the east, the people like to watch and play sports, work on their cars, fish and hunt, and go to church. We have very large Catholic, Mormon, Protestant, and Evangelical communities. In Richland - especially - they control city government completely. Why? And why Richland especially? Because two of the biggest churches are there: Christ the King Catholic and Central United Protestant. Nearly everyone in Richland belongs to one of these two churches. And, so, censorship is alive and well in the Tri-Cities. We always seem to elect Republicans. Most people here probably do not believe in global warming. If you go to a restaurant or a bar with a TV, chances are Fox News is on - unless there's a game on. It's a hard place to be a Democrat, Progressive, or Liberal. But we struggle on...

Without a reading, Alexie's book banned in Richland | KPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Typical Kennewick Day

It seems to be one of our typical days here today. Sunny and very warm - 75 degrees as I write this - with a gusty breeze. The breeze is consistent and warm, but not quite up to wind stage. You can watch the tall grasses sway in the gully behind our house. It's a lovely sight - makes me think of Little House on the Prairie (which I never really read or watched), but it makes you think that's what those amber fields of grain looked like. The dreaded Russian Olive trees rustle in the breeze and - if you look carefully - you'll see quail, pheasant, and even a coyote if you're lucky.

Sometimes, I even think the sunlight is brighter here, the air cleaner. We are hardly in the wilderness. It just sometimes feel that we are somehow separate from the problems you see on the news. You feel it even more here in south Kennewick - away from the more urban areas. However, urbanization is even seen up here. I guess when you're at my age - I can't believe I just said that! - you look at your home through the lenses of your childhood.

We walked 3+ miles today - going along the canal path. The ducks and their families were out, goats and their kids, and mares and their colts (or were they fillies?). It always reminds me of Bambi (Two-Disc Diamond Edition) and how everything was transformed for spring. (It's just too bad it's a couple of days near summer).

Book of the Day: Blood Brothers (Sign of Seven Series) by Nora Roberts.  I've read plenty of books by Nora, but all under the name of J. D. Robb, the "In Death" series. I really love that series and I come back again and again. So, I decided to download one of the Nora Roberts' book from Overdrive (via my local library). So far - and I am halfway done - it is really well crafted and plotted - however, I don't feel the romance and suspense that I get from a J. D. Robb novel.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Seattle weather and Louis Bayard

It's a very drippy day out there today. It's sprinkling - not very hard - not a very Tri-Cities sort of rain at all. Of course, I think this is yet another example of the strange weather we're having recently. As I've said/blogged before, there's something wrong when it's forecast to be 75 degrees and it's mid-June. The slightly damp breeze and overcast weather just didn't feel like June - but it didn't stop us walking.

I needed to shop for Father's Day and being on a fixed income, I thought I could just go to Yoke's and buy him some cheese and other food items. I know that's being cheap, but he does love cheese. The cheese section is quite good at Yoke's with all kinds of cheese. There are even some that look kind of disturbing. The only problem shopping for my father is being careful of his diabetes.

My audiobook today was The Black Tower: A Novel (P.S.) by Louis Bayard. I have read his previous books: Mr. Timothy : A Novel (P.S.) and The Pale Blue Eye: A Novel. His books are mysteries and thrillers with a literary bent. What makes them interesting are the central characters. Mr. Timothy's main character was Timothy Cratchit from A Christmas Carol - Original Unabridged Version and The Pale Blue Eye used Edgar Allen Poe.

This book is not his latest. He has another book out called The School of Night: A Novel too. This book also features a historical figure - Vidocq - the famous French crime fighter. I am only 10% done with the audiobook, which is narrated by Simon Vance. It's very atmospheric and reminiscent of a Sherlock Holmes story, so far. There is only one thing that is noticeable about the audiobook. The decision to have Vidocq speaking with an East End accent. Isn't he French? It is a little irksome. I wonder if that was a conscious decision and why?

I also listened to an interesting podcast from Australia. The Book Show did a segment on the 400th anniversary of the King James bible (400 Years of the King James Bible). Some of the points that expert historian made were really interesting. I never realized that Hebrew and English were very similar in rhythm. He made the point that the Bible in English has a better rhythm than in one of the romance languages (i.e., Latin, French, et al). He also explained what certain phrases meant. For instance, "cover his feet" was a colloquialism for going to the bathroom (!!).

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Cold Pea Soup - Recipe and Video - The MInimalist - NYTimes.com

I saw this article on-line and it just made me chuckle! There's nothing funny about the article or even the recipe. It just reminds me of a story my mother told me when I was growing up. It was about how pea soup doesn't taste as good cold as warm. When my mom was young, she didn't want to eat her hot pea soup. But my grandma wouldn't let her leave the table until she finished. (Weren't those the days!) My mom was the same way - if not as severe as Grandma Micki - I remember a lot of nights that I was at the table a long time. However, my mom NEVER served pea soup - cold or warm!

Cold Pea Soup - Recipe and Video - The MInimalist - NYTimes.com

Colm Toibin on a Nice Spring Day

A beautiful spring day outside as the girls and I started out for our walk. It was sunny, with hardly any clouds in the sky, and just a slight breeze. I love the breeze in the Mid-Columbia area - it always feels so clean and refreshing. Our atmosphere here isn't as dry and baking as it was when I was a child 30 years (!!) ago, but it's still better than most of this country.

Unfortunately, I fear climate change is upon us even here. I left the house at a quarter after nine this morning and it was not yet sixty degrees. This is a good temperature for April or early May, but certainly not June - and four days from the Summer Solstice. It is usually getting quite warm here this time of  year. The hills are yellow and brown, not green and lush. The fire hazard is up. I am not complaining - I like the temperature and the nice spring day. But, it is abnormal. Is it global warming/climate change? Or is it a more recent event? Like La Nina or the Icelandic volcano with the un-pronounceable name.

Today was a day to walk down to the library. It's actually a lovely walk passing lovely yards, boys practicing football without gear on, and a baseball game on the way back up via Olympia Street. I walk down Garfield Hill, but I go up Olympia. Garfield has a very steep grade, and Olympia is less steep, though it is still a great workout. The round trip is 4.8 miles. Walking down Garfield is a nice cool walk. It is a very leafy hill, and there is a channel to walk by where run-off water flows.

The chip-and-seal work to repave Garfield is finished, and most of the tar smell is dissipated. The smell of tar has always made my stomach turn. School is out - so there are less teenagers about in some ways. We walk down past the high school - GO LIONS!! - on our way to the library. Unfortunately, the girls get very nervous around anyone under the age of 40. Though, even with school out - Dayton - the street in front of the high school - seemed much busier than normal.

I tie the girls up at the bike rack in front of the library and I even gave them some water. Why they are always so hesitant to drink water while they are away from home always flummoxes me. I put it down to stress and neuroses. (I don't think we've ever had dogs that didn't have some neurosis or other.) They just are too worried to drink.

I love libraries. Like I love bookstores. Hell, I just love books! Our library system is a wonderful place to get videos and books. Today, I picked up 4 books and 5 DVDs. One of the books I picked up was Skippy Dies: A Novel by Paul Murray. I've been meaning to pick this up for a while. It was longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize - one of the most prestigious of book awards. I have already read another book that was shortlisted: Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue. (I couldn't believe that Room didn't win. It was incredible.)

One of the DVDs I picked up was the film The Tourist starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. This movie got really bad reviews. I really like Angelina Jolie and what red-blooded American woman doesn't like Johnny Depp. So, I've decided to take a chance on it.

On the way back, we noticed a cream colored Husky or Malamute type dog and a Pug running about together. I didn't notice a collar on either. Some people are very irresponsible. Not because these dogs were aggressive. No, they seemed to be dogs like from some Disney or other animated film. They seemed very happy-go-lucky. They didn't mess with girls at all. We ran into them a second time on 1st Street. No, the problem is that, if they get picked up or - God forbid - hurt, they may never get back with their owner. Of course, they might be chipped. But the info attached to the chip must be current and accurate. We discovered this when we found a dog trapped in our back yard. (Though, luckily, she did have a collar and we managed to track down the owner via the rabies tags.)

I don't go out on walks without my mp3 player. I listen to podcasts that I download - mainly from NPR or the BBC - and I listen to audiobooks too from Audible or from my library. Today, I listened to a free download of the first story in Colm Toibin's book The Empty Family: Stories. First impressions are that this story is very atmospheric and dark. In some ways it was even sinister. This could be because of the narration. The download was narrated by the author himself and had a very Boris Karloff or Vincent Price air to it. I'm waiting for some sinister occurrence or strange ending. (He really should do narrations of Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft for Halloween collections!)

On the way back up Olympia Street, we passed several signs for yard sales, and a couple of Little League games. As we walked the home stretch down 27th Avenue, I thought about this blog. I could write up thoughts of my walks. Things the girls and I saw. Maybe I could use the blog to expand my writing and get back in practice. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why all the fuss over jobs?

Yes, I know the job situation is serious. I know people are worried. It may not be technically a depression - but the circumstances are very clear. But, hear me out...

We can't afford health care... it'll cost jobs. A good scare tactic. But, if we had universal health care, people wouldn't have to worry about their health care going away when they lose their job or finding a job with good benefits. Businesses would have healthier, more reliable employees - and would probably spend less for health care.

We can't have taxes... it'll cost jobs.  Now, I'm sure you can find economists people to argue this either way. But I look at taxes differently. If we care about our citizens, we need to realize that we need to money to protect our citizens.

We can't have financial regulation... it'll hurt the economy. Oh, really? And who exactly got us into this situation in the first place? If you were burgled, or raped, or hurt and beaten, wouldn't you expect justice?

We can't afford environmental regulations... they're destroying business. Do we really need businesses that damage our environment. That destroy land so that it can never be used (i.e., farmed) again due to toxic contamination? Businesses that cause health ramifications that disable and kill our citizens - their possible employee base?

Businesses need tax breaks... or they'll leave and we'll lose more jobs. Now this is ridiculous. I hear this all the time from Republican, Tea  Party, conservative, and even swing/independent voters. I don't buy it. One, if we believe in a free market, then we don't need businesses that can't survive the market without help from the government. Two, if everyone needs to make sacrifices in this economy, so do businesses. And, three, the main point that has come to me... why, why are businesses and potential jobs more important than the welfare of the American people?

This is my main problem and frustration. People that are conservative - whether they be libertarian, republican, or "tea party" - they all seem to want less government. But they want government to help businesses. It seems like all Republican suggestions have one thing in common - support business. Anything that business considers harmful is bad. When did businesses start voting in elections? We need to support people.

Some of these people that talk about getting back to the Constitution need to realize that this country was not founded to protect big business and stock markets. I realize that Trade was an important issue to the Founding Fathers, but it was really about tyranny. About governments - kings - usurping our human rights for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." LIFE. Allowing businesses to destroy our health and our land and our air and water, doesn't that infringe on our right to Life? LIBERTY. Shouldn't we be free to make our own decisions? Shouldn't we be free to know our environment won't harm us? PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. If we knew that our health was guaranteed, if we knew that banks/financial institutions were stopped from harming our way of life, wouldn't we be free to be happy?

Now, many people will call me a socialist. I don't think I am. I've never read Marx or visited Sweden. (Closest I've gotten is that I prefer listening to the BBC over ANY American media organization.) I just think that we have certain rights. (Besides, where in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, does it declare what economic system is "American"?)

When it comes right down to it-- we need to make our priority the welfare of the American people. I believe jobs, the economy, businesses, the free market - will settle themselves. In the end, which is more important? I CHOOSE LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. What do you support?