Category Archives: News

Automotive Aeronautics

Saw a news story yesterday about a Tesla flying into a building.  Watch until the end, because the last camera’s viewpoint is fascinating.

Of course, I assumed it was a Tesla that was driving itself.  Imagine sitting back in your Tesla, kind of paying attention and suddenly you are crashing into a building.  Turns out that it was a guy driving; he said he lost control.  Witnesses suggested he had sped up to make a light before the car took wing.  So the story isn’t as fun as a Tesla auto-piloting it’s way into a building – not sure what that says about me.

I’m thinking the driver was incredibly lucky – his entry point into the building was the glass window and door entry way; if he had sailed into some other part of the building at that speed, I wouldn’t be writing this story because the poor guy would likely be pushing up daisies. 

When was the last time you flew anywhere?  Any flights coming up?

Expert Advice

Husband was highly gratified yesterday to get an email from a local soil scientist who works for the FPAC-NRCS office in town. That is the soil conservation branch of the US Department of Agriculture, and they work with local ranchers and farmers to promote soil and water conservation. The sender of the email had heard through the local grapevine that Husband was a passionate proponent of urban agriculture, and she needed his advice putting together some soil health teaching/demonstrations to help local urban gardeners improve their garden soil and increase their production. She explained she was new to the area and was more familiar with the soil issues of area ranchers than she was with those of urban gardeners and the peculiarities of our local urban soil. Husband replied he would be happy to help.

We are usually asked for our expert opinions by the Court regarding rather sad and troubling situations. This was a delightful change. Also delightful was figuring out how on earth she got our email. It involved a tangled pathway from former clients, the Food Pantry, a pastor of a Lutheran church we don’t attend, and the pastor’s mother in law who is one our our fellow parishioners. Living in a small town can be quite interesting.

What could you provide expert advice on? What are the informal pathways that news and information travel in your family and community?

Half a Giraffe

You’re giving a announcement to the press about a small asteroid that has managed to get through our atmosphere without completely burning up.  The small space rock is named 2022 EB5 and hit above Iceland last Friday causing a boom and a flash of light as it whizzed across the sky.

You haven’t found any evidence of the asteroid actually making it all the way to the ground, but you want to make folks feel secure about how little damage it would have caused.  So you describe the size of the asteroid as small, 10 feet/3 meters across, “half the size of a giraffe”.

What?  I think a lot of people have probably seen a giraffe in a zoo and have a fairly good idea of how big a giraffe is but it’s certainly not the first thing I would think of when trying to tell someone the size of something.  Especially when 10 feet or 3 meters isn’t that hard to imagine.  But a giraffe…. actually HALF a giraffe?

Isn’t half a giraffe the same as a baby elephant?  Or six dolphins?  Are we picking on animals?  Should we say the asteroid is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle?  And even if we stay with giraffes are we talking half a male giraffe, a female giraffe, a dwarf giraffe?  Are we talking head to halfway through the torso or halfway through the torso to the feet?

Possibilities are endless.

What do you think is a measure of size that the world is missing out on?

The Hat

Melania is selling her white hat. 

Apparently this is big news and you can find it spun in several different directions.  Personally the most interesting thing about this news item is that I don’t remember ever seeing a photo of her wearing it.  I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me; for the past 5-6 years, I’ve really worked hard to stay away from the news.  Too much coverage and drilling down was just making me anxious and miserable, so I quit.  I look at CNN usually just once a day and the StarTribune every few.  I do Facebook but not too much (I’ve actually only posted once) and no other social media platforms.  It’s actually made me feel better.

So back to the hat.  In all the photos I could find, she wore it so far down that you couldn’t see her face most of the time and I’m not sure how she could see either.  But it is a very striking hat.  I wouldn’t want to give up a hat like that although I’m not sure where I would wear it these days.  It would be a little out of place at Target and Trader Joe’s.

Tell me about something of yours that you’d like to auction off.

Good News

This has been an awful week for bad news. In times like these, I think it is helpful to focus on whatever good things are happening in our immediate settings.

Our son let me know last night that his West Highland Terrier had successfully excreted the leather shoe laces and leather slipper he had ingested last week. There was concern it could have provoked an intestinal crisis. We seem to be in the clear. I have received excretion updates all week. I am relieved the terrier is ok.

Our daughter informed us that her work evaluations are stellar, and her place of employment is investing a lot of money to train her in three very expensive therapy modalities in the next several months. She is supremely happy.

What are the positive things that have happened in your life this week? How do you cope with bad news?

Last Minute Tasks

Ok, all you ND cattle ranching Baboons. You have until December 31 to renew your cattle brands. 91% have been renewed already. About 1,900 brands will lapse at the end of December. If you don’t renew on time, another rancher could take over your brand! Send your renewal into the Stockmen’s Office in Bismarck as soon as you can!

The Christmas season is busy enough, and then there are these extra things that need to be done. We paid our property taxes early to save $128. We renewed our professional licenses. We made sure our church pledge was all paid.

I am amazed by the number of cattle brands in my State. I would love to know their history, and who designed them. I have never attended a branding. They are real social events. It would be fun to incorporate a brand into signing my professional reports in addition to my signature. Wouldn’t that confuse the insurance companies! I would need to consult an artist to design one for me.

What design elements would you use in your brand? What do you need to accomplish before the end of the year? Are you happy with your signature?

My Favorite Insects

Having a lot of flowers and vegetable plants to care for has been a relief in some ways lately, since it has kept me outside the house and off my phone looking at news feeds and becoming more and more despondent. Between drought, excessive heat, the pandemic and all the associated idiocy, Afghanistan, and US politics, it has been a heart-heavy summer.

The other morning I was turning the sprinkler on the dahlias when I saw a perfect dragonfly perched on the fence. I like dragonflies. We only see them here when it is sufficiently humid. It is sometimes humid here in the early morning. I love the way they tear around. I also like hummingbird moths and their imitation of hummingbirds. They are a rare sight here, too. I saw a Tiger Swallow tail last weekend, and that always cheers me up. On the rare nights it has been cool enough to have the windows open and the AC off, I even have enjoyed hearing the crickets, unless they are frogs, but I think they are crickets.

What are your favorite insects? How to you cope with bad news? How can you tell a frog call from a cricket chirp?

Their Just Desserts

When I was growing up, families in my town who had a lot of money were often looked upon with distain if they demonstrated any public flaws or hoity-toityness.

In the current town in which I live, there are many quite well to do families who face similar scrutiny, none more than the following head of a local family who was recently discussed the media:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tommy-fisher-rio-grande-texas-private-wall-for-sale_n_60fb856be4b0733516268d21

I know there is a certain satisfaction to see such folks as the Fishers show themselves for fools. I know that one of my personal struggles is to not rejoice when this happens, but gosh, it is hard not to do so. Pride and greed are sure downfalls for many.

Who were the folks in your communities when you were growing up who were judged for their wealth? What are your favorite desserts?

Tableau

The following link will take you to a fascinating photography event that happened just 90 miles east of us, in Bismarck. It involves a collaboration of many people to recreate, with some twists, a painting by Peter Breughel the Elder, and is influenced by the pandemic. A friend of ours, a costumer and retired drama coach and choir director, sewed a costume for the collaboration, and participated in the event. It involved using wet plate photography, something I don’t quite understand, but seems to be an old technique.

https://www.inforum.com/entertainment/art/7116663-Bismarcks-Shane-Balkowitsch-makes-photographic-history-with-wet-plate-collaboration

What painting would you like to recreate in real life? What would you like to set out to photograph? What are your favorite paintings?

Mayhem at Chuck E. Cheese

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

Several years ago Dale Connelly rejected a story I offered him about a school outing to a Chuck E. Cheese mall store. Perhaps recent tweaks to that story will make it usable now.

When Molly’s fourth grade class asked me to volunteer as a chaperon for this field trip, I agreed. As a freelance journalist working from my home, I had extra time. And, heck, I enjoy ice cream as much as any kid. This outing could be interesting.

I didn’t expect to like the venue, and did not. Chuck E. Cheese is a chain of family event centers catering to kids. Loud, garish and built to be “fun,” these places are not subtle. The one my daughter’s class visited in Rosedale featured an animatronic band of figures that pretended to play instruments. Chuck E. Cheese was an oversized rat blowing a flute, backed by a gorilla on drums and a bear flailing at a banjo. The music, while dreadful, promoted a frenetic atmosphere where kids could be themselves with no limits. The business area itself was divided between a stage, some dining tables and a large room in which kids could play arcade games like the then-popular Ms. Pac-Man.

I began noticing one kid in particular, a red haired boy who dominated the room. He was over a head taller than the others and was easily the loudest and most aggressive kid in the room. Jealousy triggered him. He didn’t enjoy whatever game he dominated but was sparked by envy when he saw another kid having fun with a different machine. I tried to tune him out, and yet this kid was was getting on my nerves.

Then it was time to go back home. We queued up to get back on the bus that would return us to school. The red haired bully was pushing to be first on the bus, but then spotted a little girl doing a last bit of play with Ms. Pac-Man. That tripped his trigger. He screamed and rushed the machine. By coincidence, his path to that machine would take him right by me.

I am not decisive, athletic or aggressive, and yet in that split second I became all three. As the bully swept past me, I shot my left ankle out to hook his left ankle. With a full head of speed already in hand, the bully launched into the air with arms outstretched in the famous flying Superman pose. He flew and flew. Then, lacking a functional cape, he crashed on the waxy tile floor and slid on for some more distance, arms still outstretched.

His face contorted with rage, the kid pointed at me and roared, “He TRIPPED me!” Of course, I was by then bent at the waist, deep in fatherly conversation with my daughter. Only two people in the room knew what had just happened, and only one of them had credibility.

The return trip to school would have presented few problems for the bully. He lived in chaos and strife, so he probably smoldered with a sense of injustice that quickly burned out. That was his life.

Things were more complicated for the man who had just assaulted a kid he didn’t know. That man had never thrown a punch in anger and had, in fact, never raised his voice in a dispute. A sweet, people-pleasing man, he was suddenly haunted by visions of The Lord of the Flies. Who in hell was that man who suddenly tripped a kid he had just met? Would he ever suddenly come again?

Have you ever been shocked by the sudden appearance of emotions you didn’t know you held? Have you ever thought about what it would take to make you take a public stand? Have you ever suspected that the veneer of civilization that protects us most of the time is actually quite thin? How have you dealt with bullies?