Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dream Trips of the Future - Western Australia

I have been inside for so long, I've run out of house porn! So on to "Future Trip Dreams". I think someday I would like to take a nice long (like 2 or 3 week) trip to Western Australia. 

I think I would start in Perth for a few days to see the city and enjoy it. Get my land legs back. 



Take a day cruise on the swam river up to some wineries.


Take a day trip to Rottnest Island to see the Quokkas.


Then on to Exmouth Peninsula for some amazing snorkeling or diving on Ningaloo Reef with the Whale Sharks.








Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Mt. Baldy - How I Remember It

Mt. Baldy was in the news yesterday. Ed has heard of Mt. Baldy because it figures in a favorite story of mine. My memory might be wrong, because I was probably 7 when this happened, but this is what I remember.


When people say, "Why don't you love snow? Didn't you have snow growing up?" I refer to 2 memories. The first is my Mt. Baldy experience. Once a year, until I was 7, my parent would take a day to drive up to Mt. Baldy with me. We would ride the ski lift up, have lunch in the snow with the skiers and ride the ski-lift down.

Now, while this memory is nice, it was probably hell for my parents in some ways. You see, I was afraid of heights in general and mountain roads in particular. (Which is odd, because I love heights now and am not the least afraid.) I think maybe it was too many movies where a car is driven off a cliff and bursts into flames. - How did I cope with driving up or down a mountain road? In the charming manner you would expect. I lay on the floor in the back seat and screamed into a pillow until we were off the hill or had arrived. That cannot have been too pleasant.

And my parents bickered - although bickering doesn't nearly give you the full experience. My parents were funny bickers, usually. Witty and well versed in a variety of insults and jests. But you never knew when someone was going to cross the line. It was usually my father, after being on the lsoing end of a witty reparté. And then he got mean - his choice of insult - for some reason the slur "battle-axe" drove my mother nuts. Then the pleasant bickering would take a turn for the vicious.

It was on our last trip up Mt. Baldy as I was screaming and my father was lashing out that my mother finally said, "Turn the fucking car around, Jerry."

My father countered with"But Scott wants to see the snow!" (Note - I did want to see the snow, but it wasn't a huge deal.)

To which my mother said, "Scott can see the snow when he has a car and drives his own ass up here!"

And that was my last trip to Mt. Baldy.

Just as an aside... My other "memory" of the snow is from the movies where the plane crashes and someone gets eaten. Which is why I think of snow as the white death.

I Both Understand AND Am Appalled

 I do not want to whine and say "What the hell has happened to my city", so I will endeavor to understand this nightmarish behavior.



Here is the thing, Los Angeles (home of Beverly Hills where this nincompoopery takes place) and Orange County (same) are home to the bizarre combination of appreciable wealth AND Covid denial. (This happens all over, but we are using this one as an example.) 

Part of the problem is that Donald Trump, who many believe are exposing liberal lies, speaks incoherently and people are choosing the parts they like. For example, he believes it is a hoax (sometimes) and also because of the pandemic people need help and bigger checks. His cultists (they have long past supporter level) choose to believe some of the things he says. In this case it is a hoax.

In a city with zero free ICU beds and cafeterias being turned into COVID wards, how can this be? I have some ideas:

  1. We don't see the dead. Because it is so transmissible, patients are kept in isolation, away from friends and family. So they die alone. This is unlike cancer or AIDS where relatives and friends and friends of friends watch people slowly die. So it easy not to believe it.
  2. Life hasn't really changed. With all respect to the dead, 340,000 Americans have died and very little has changed in our day to day life. Closures of fun things (movies, museums, etc) have been undertaken by the government and no one really blames the disease. So our anger is directed AT the government not the disease. Stores are open, Amazon delivers and life goes sputtering along.
  3. The dying aren't "Made for TV." With cancer and AIDS, many people who were sick and dying made impassioned speeches on television for support and understanding. People dying from Covid cannot do this, and so we don't see the struggle. It is a black box death that is usually quick and hidden from view. Now this by design of the Media and the Administration. Bush, Obama and Trump banned cameras from filming the dead returning from the middle east - which was effective in turning the Americans against the Vietnam War. The Media has followed this same process with Covid. The dead are a number (3,700 yesterday) but not stories of people. Think of the Olympics - until those "athlete beats odds" stories, the Olympics were not nearly as popular.*
  4. Too many dead. Studies have show that 4 people are the most humans can fully empathize with at a time. If you show a story of a sick person, or siblings, people respond You show a story of all Syria getting bombed and it is too big for us to feel effective. So we close off.
  5. This Administration has declared empathy to be laughable and for liberals. President Trump was elected while LITERALLY mocking someone with epilepsy. He called other politicians and enemies names that were derogatory and offensive and his people cheered. He bragged of not caring. His cultist have internalized this and see empathy as a suckers game.
  6. Religious leaders don't care. Now there might be many Pastors or Reverends that feel empathy, but the big ones (including the mega-churchs of Orange County and the SouthWest) downplay Covid. And for 3 reasons. 6a. The have already thrown in with Trump, so they cannot quit him now. They spread false news. 6b. They have told people that ONLY God has the answers for so long, they have effectively vaccinated their believers from following science. 6c. Most of the money is from donations - no services mean no donations. Even the Vatican has noted this.
  7. Republicans since Reagan have argued that Government IS the problem. So less government must be good.
It's easier to be a sheep than a thinking human. I don't think we can change their minds. But we could start throwing them in jail to change their actions.

*Note: I, personally, do not enjoy, one might say loath, the "human interests stories' of the Olympics. But ratings show I am in the minority here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Having Lived through Earthquakes: This Sucks!

 So a medium earthquake can be fun and exciting. A big earthquake sucks. Two in a row suck more.

Zagreb Croatia (and the surrounding areas) have had way too much!

A 6.4 is very huge. You can see the devastation online -  even though we haven't heard much on the news here (too Trump-All-The-Time!) But in investigating this, it gets much much worse.

First, the 6.4 was PROCEEDED by a 5.0, which is pretty damn big itself. Then it was followed quickly by a 4.2. Now a 4.2 isn't all that big, but when the buildings have been shaken by 2 much larger previous earthquakes, with no time for shoring them up - that's very bad. Shit falls.

Only to find out that I have been in a quarantined bubble. Turns out Zagreb had 3 large earthquakes last year (albeit none as big as the 6.4). Damage was extensive then too.

Recent pics:


I have pics of Eddie and I here a few years ago


Then there was last years quakes:




The top fell off the steeple. And various other damage is covered by scaffolding.


The 12 Million (okay 3) Versions of Rusty

Rusty is a crazy animal. He is lovely and sweet and a veritable perpetual motion of energy. Those are 2 of the modes. And then there is sleepy Rusty, who is sweet and cute when asleep, but sounds deadly when you try to move him (either up to the couch or even to his bed at night).

Our house is filled with toys (and ex-toy fluff)

He still insists on sleeping in his crate, only now improved with snuggle ball

This Pet Smart Bunny lasted less than 2 minutes

Yes, cute as hell

Immediately after his cut

Sharing the back seat on our 6 week pandemic journey for a place to stay

Enjoying Charolettesville with me.

Our view of Rusty 40% of the time

Crashed out after a week in Port Jervis


Monday, December 28, 2020

Sometimes Twitter Gets It JUST Right...

 


The Nincompoopery Continues

Top line is good news.



But a little digging makes on realize that this is less than 10% of what they expected AND HAVE VACCINES for. Operation Warp Speed has somehow morphed into Operation Mosey. And clinics in some states have gotten shit for letting people skip the line.

Here is the problem. President Trump and his gang of half-wits left the distribution up to the states, but can't tell them how much they get or where it is going to. then it shows up, but there is no plan to distribute it. When will the vaccine be available for the public. Maybe March or April. Maybe June.

You know, when 340,000 people have already died, "maybe June" is a shitty answer.

Look, I know it isn't easy. But that is what we pay you for. I'm a project manager and could get this shit out much better than the short bus of this administration.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

While I Was Pre-Occupied

 As i have been pre-occupied with the American dumpster fire, they have discovered more penguins! Well, actually penguin species. They have also discovered a lot more actually penguins (drones and satellites) but that isn't what I am talking about.

Some is just a bunch of subspecies (for instance their are now, like, 4 different types of RockHoppers), and one is cute as hell.



This is the "White-flippered Penguin" of New Zealand. I had no idea New Zealand had so many penguins and penguin types. They also found extinct types in New Zealand, wiped out when the Maroi's arrived, from the North Island. 

Anyway, just thought I would share. I'll go someday and visit these cute ass little birds.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

One Last Christmas picture and wish

May all of your Christmases be fantastic as the one below was for Jane. Ho Ho Ho.

 


Here's An Idea


So here is an idea. We all know that children are bored with the covid staying home. But let's apply what we have learned.

First, Americans hate socialism. Rightly so, the idea of fair and equal treatment of public goods for all Americans is a truly horrible idea. It perverts Capitalism. So screw schools. Your kids can't go out of the house for school anyway, so let's just stop funding them.

But then, I hear you ask, what do we do with those kids and their energy. We do this. We turn to real capitalism and say "what is their value to the family" and the answer - as anyone who reads Ayn Rand knows - there value is what they bring in without government help. So send the little tykes to work.

Immigrant children are already picking strawberries and tobacco, let's let little Chelsea and Noah do the same! Make it a game. For every bushel they collect, another 10 minutes of screen time.

It's time to remove the nanny state barriers, cancel culture whiners and socialist institutions of education, health and welfare. We know that no one has the right to health care - only socialist communists and libtards think that. So, if they have no right to health care, then make them work and earn their doctors appointments.

I'm not saying I don't love kids. I love kids (I had two for breakfast last week - ha - joking). But we know from Fox and Trump that sending them to school only brainwashes them to think independently. AND, schools are socialist institutions. So rather than de-brainwashing them later, let's just raise them with a love of Capitalism.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Two Penguins Watch the Lights of Melbourne

 


Today's Posts brought to you by the letter F

 As in F - I FORGOT my Effexor yesterday.

So ignore me.

No More

 (.. I just want to say, at the end, he gets on with it.)


A Refelection


I have never ben more weary.

When Trump was first elected, my doctor posted a note about how the next four years would be tough. But, he said, we who disagreed should engage, educate and be ready for a tough 4 years. He was never so right. Scooter is weary.

No funny names, or memes, just a horrible weariness against what is a never ending horrible, sad, disgusting time for our country. From large to small.

Large - yesterday another black man was shot by police for no reason. He was carrying a phone and went out to talk to the police who visited for a noise complaint. The police didn't turn on the cameras until AFTER he was shot dead. But there is a 60 second buffer, so you can see the shooting, albeit without sound and no extra context. But AGAIN. A.G.A.I.N.

The noise complaint was for intermittent noise. What made 2 white officers decide that loud noise bothering a neighbor was worthy of a man's life? And worthy of a man's life and not bothering to turn on their body cameras. Nothing. But a black man is worth nothing in this country. Literally a black man's life is not worth noise. A cigarette. A jog. Sitting in a car.

How do you explain a Black man's life is worth, LITERALLY, less than a Snapple and twizzlers?

Weary. From the serious and life losing to the mean and petty.


Mean and Petty new rules.

No more. Please.

No.

More.

--

I remember that day in November 2016. The day Dr. Gary called to make sure I was okay. I remember saying I don't know if I can "teach" anymore. If I can teach that I am not a devil because I am married to a man. The day I said, I didn't think I would make it out from four years under a person who lies, demeans and ruins people for his personal enjoyment.

I still don't know. I do know, I will never be the same.

Things change you. Mark's death made me want to live for the day and the moment. Trump's Presidency has made me realize that the country I love isn't the country I thought it was. That Americans have so much hatred in them.

Just. Weary.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Christmas Pictures 4

 Yes, I got more.


This is my Grandparents and Martha. Shew as born in 1950, so this is probably '56 or 57. It is the same room the pictures of Martha and I were before.

This handsome guy? That's my husband Eddie with ashford and Hastings. Probably about 20 years ago.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas Pictures 3

 Well, now we move to my Grandparent's Ham and Zela's house. I am, obviously, quite young. With me in both pictures is my Aunt Martha. You can tell from the color picture, she does NOT like waiting to open in order to take pictures. We share that.




Friday, December 18, 2020

Christmas Picture 2 (I guess it is a theme)

 Here is another Christmas picture from Jane and Bert's House one year. 


So a couple of things. First, Look at those curtains. so very very cool. 

Second, I thinkI got my enduring (and Ed would say - annoying) eye for mid-century modern at this house.

Third - I am in my Grandfather's lap. I do not look happy. This is because we usually got to Jane's House at about 11:30 or so - right before noon. Because, Jane and Burt didn't start drinking until noon and we wanted a little sober time. Then we had hours and hours of "Now Scott and Martha, wait. We will open them later".  Later always became later and later as Jane and Burt starting drinking, getting kissy, then fighting. It was as traditional as Santa.

Martha always had an unwrapped doll to play with, but I was the big boy that was suppose to wait. So I waited - but not charmingly. Petulance is both very unattractive, and easy for a child to pull off. And, once again, you can see Smitty in the background enjoying my annoyance.

Seriously, this was undoubtedly was taken right after someone said, "Okay, let's open the presents now." And my being thrilled, immediately followed by someone (probably Smitty) saying "No, let's get a shot of us all by the tree first."

As for the people in this. Jane (seated on Burt), Burt, Smitty in the back. My grandfather (Ham) with me in front and in the right front, my grandmother (Zela) and my aunt Martha. My parents were probably enjying the night off on one Dec 21st.

Finally, nice angle. Someone wanted to show it was cove ceilings.

PS - If you didn't read my story to date on travel, you probably are amazed at the wealth in the picture here. The wealth is the result of Burt being a war-profiteer during World War II. I mean not a mafia type war-profiteer. More a little stealing gasoline and selling a bit on the black market in LA type profiteer.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

For Fuck's Sake

This administration couldn't find it's own asshole with a map and a sniffer dog! Pfizer had to release a press statement today saying, they have vaccines, but the Dipshit Us Administration hasn't picked them up or told them where to ship them. Seriously - LINK.

Note:



This might be too "inside baseball" for people to enjoy - but I love it

To help raise money for the Georgia Senate election, a lot of Broadway Stars got together to record Georgia on My Mind. I don't know what a group of Broadway stars is called? A Constellation (too presumptuous)? A bevy (too dull)? A barge (is that too weight sensitive)? A brigade?

Let us just stay with "a lot". Many you might know, most you will not. Most, I did not, and i have seen these people for years. And, I don't think it will do a lot of good. But I still like it.


Christmas Picture 1 (A Christmas Theme?)

So, you may have read about Aunt Smitty, her son Bert and Bert's wife Jane here before (if not, here is the link). If you don't want to read, you can still tell it all by this picture.


Smitty, the mother, is being hugged by her son Bert here. She is thrilled to be in the spotlight (a rare smile in this picture). Assuming this was in the early 1960s*, Smitty was around 70 in this picture Bert was in his early 50s and Jane 5 years older.

Jane's grimace says all you have to know about how she feels about "Mother Lewis". She is particularly annoyed because we celebrated Christmas on her birthday (Dec 21) and to have her spotlight taken by Smitty was infuriating. 

For Gavin, Lynn and Mom, you may remember that coffee table and couch from my time living with Mark on Laurel Ave in West Hollywood. I loved that stuff.

*I say early 60s because Bert didn't get out of bed after about 1965. And there is a doll unwrapped under the tree, which means Martha was old enough to love dolls. Martha had a doll fetish thru the early 60s, but not until after 1962-ish.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (American Gilded Age Version)

The Front of Ventfort Hall now (well as of last month)

While on our march across upstate New York during our forced absence from our home, we ventured to Lennox Mass and a Gilded Age Mansion of a J P Morgan-adjacent relative. It is called Ventfort Hall.

For those of you not familiar with the term, the Gilded Age refers to a time int he late 1800s and early 1900s when capitalism ran rampant and gigantic fortunes were made, with none of the pesky worrying about the poor people (that was sarcasm, not a serious comment - I have to say things like that now). 

The main staircase and 2nd floor landing

Lennox was a haunt of such wealthy and social unaware folk. There, one of the cousins of Morgan fell into a fortune of about US $90 million in today's money. She took a third of it (approximately $35 million) and built herself a great big house with it.

Years later, after life as a home, then a music school, theater training dorms, Bible Camp housing and setting for movies (Cider House Rules), it has become a museum of the Gilded Age. 


The Casual Dining Room (not the fancy one)

It almost didn't make it. A developer (queue the "boo hiss") wanted to tear it down and build nursing home residences, but was prevented by local regulations. He could only tear it down if it was "derelict". So he knock holes in the roof and floors to allow in water and rot. In a fight for time, local activists fought and got it put on the historical register, thwarting the developer. Then the museum board purchased it and now we saw it. 

Back of the home

Here is the wikipedia page, but the pictures show how cool parts of it are (much is still left to be renovated).

And, no the pictures are not lying, we were the only ones there (plus a docent).

Kangaroos - A New, Surprising, find

Turns out Kangaroos are the first non-domesticated animal who actually is proven to be able and to communicate with people and ask for help.

Use link below to watch video

I know this is weird. The video explaining it in full is here, but the gist is as follows:

They took a bunch of kangaroos that are used to humans, but not overtly dependent on them (i.e. from animal parks, zoos, saved on the road, and wild kangaroos) and did a test. These did not include 'pet" kangaroos. They put treats / food in front of the kangaroos, first on the ground, later in bowls, bowls turned upside down and other ways the kangaroos had to manipulate the items. They did this 6 times.

Just like bears in the USA, kangaroos are well versed in manipulating human containers to get to the yummy treats inside. 

But on the 7th time, they locked the food inside a clear container (think tupperware). Turns out that kangaroos, unlike most (all) other non-domesticated animals, then turned to the testers for help. They looked at the people, then at the food: even occasionally pawed at the humans.

Now most of us are used to cats and dogs doing this, so no big deal, right? But, if you think about it, wild animals do NOT do this. Even research animals, well used to humans, do not communicate to ask for help. They do zillions of tests on mice, rats, elephants, chimps, crows, etc., but none of them look to the people doing the testing for help.

Interesting and a novel experiment.

Picture isn't connected to the story, I just liked it.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Odd Little Town of Hudson

Hudson New York is an odd little town. It is about 120 miles up river from New York City (and the ocean). After the British won New York from the Dutch, in the mid 1670s, some New England Whalers moved to Hudson the city, which was navigable via Hudson the river to the ocean.

So you have a town quite far from the ocean, with a whaling background. Weird. Its population peaked in the early 1800s when it was the 20th biggest city in the country. then the Eire Canal construction started and the economic growth moved further north. This leaves a shambolic town, once thriving, then losing importance as the Eire Canal opened. Then losing its economy when whaling started to collapse.

To the left is a home, to the right, city offices.


I do love that so many New York Armories have been turned into useful building. This one is now a library.

So the town fell into disrepair. Then comes the luck of / curse of gentrification. The city is now growing more and more hip and cool with antique stores and art galleries crowding into downtown. And the city's gorgeous but decrepit old houses being bought and fixed but younger, richer people fleeing New York City. Now they are pricing out some less prosperous residents.


This is one of the oldest Opera Houses in New York state.

So the city is moving into a mix of renovated and crumbling. It's a cool city, but I don't want to live there - too cold int he winter and to crushed with tourists in the summer. But cute as hell.




First Furries, now this..

 MAGA has a problem understanding the truth versus movies or jokes. The previous issue (and still quoted) is that some classrooms have litte...