Saturday, May 8, 2010

Blog # 140: the World a Mess and a Half

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Nesting birds including brown pelicans inhabit Louisiana's Breton Island, which has been surrounded with protective booms in an effort to save the fragile habitat from possible approaching oil from the spill at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Carol Guzy-The Washington Post

The World Is a Mess

So What Else is New?

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What an absolute mess the world is, if you look at it objectively. The first ever explosion at an oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico is dumping an unbelievable amount of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This kind of accident, the first ever, exposed just how unprepared the oil industry really is in preparing to handle such a disaster. How could these offshore rigs not have some way to shut off the flow of oil in the case of a disaster, one can’t help but ask?

A chamber that will be used to help contain oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform is being readied at a construction site in Port Fourchon, La. Patrick Semansky-AP

The oil slick, getting larger by the minute, is slowly making its way landward. Good luck Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. And we in Texas thank the Good Lord for tides that hopefully will carry this mess to the east. §

So What Else is New II

Meantime as per usual Republicans are holding back on their support for Barack Obama’s Banking Reform Bill during the initial votes. They dare not side with Wall Street over Main Street, but they are giving a pretty good indication that they are not as yet ready to break with their God Given Right to Oppose Everything President Obama Chooses to Do.

If the Republican Party finds itself on most people’s irrelevant list, keep in mind that it will be their own fault. Without a doubt the nation’s indifference is well earned. §

So What Else is New III

53 hours and 20 minutes, now that has to be some kind of record. It was exactly 53/20 from when a street peddler in Times Square noticed smoke coming out of a parked Nissan Pathfinder, and reported it to a mounted policeman, that the perpetrator was removed from a flight out of the country and arrested.

While we’re about it, let’s give law enforcement credit for an exceptional job, exceptionally done. And speaking of drama, stopping perpetrator’s plane and requiring it to return so the FBI could remove the suspect was stretching the timing just about to the breaking point. However, you know what they say about the nick of time saving nine, or is it ninety, or nine thousand?

You would think all Americans would be impressed with the speed and efficiency of the police work required to identify, then find, and finally apprehend the guilty party.

But not our Republican friends. They are evidently unable to comment favorably on any investigation initiated under the Obama administration. And so they carp and nit-pick.

The man should have never been allowed on the airplane, never mind that the flight was stopped and the man was taken in custody.

And would somebody whose major language is English please explain to me the right wing’s hysterical opposition to reading a terrorist his Miranda rights. This comes up again every time a would-be terrorist is taken into custody, never mind that this policy originated with the Bush administration. There was no criticism of the policy when the Bushies were in charge, it was only after the Obama team continued the practice that Right Wing NutJobs have become obsessed. §

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Our Best Advice to Apple

Get a Life, and a Sense of Humor

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This week we come up with yet another example of Apple taking itself and its products way too seriously. According to the Wall Street Journal’s technology blog, Ellen Degeneris, comedian and talk show host extraordinaire, did a parody of an iPhone commercial on her show, and the next day the poor thing felt the need to apologize for it.

The ad shows Ms. Degeneres struggling to use her phone, mistakenly going to a mapping application when she tries to text. Later, when she attempts to type on the phone’s touch screen, she remarks, “My fingers are so much thicker than I remembered.”

The spoof must have touched a sore spot with Apple; for although the iPhone is a huge hit for the company, it has faced questions about its lack of a physical keyboard, which some heavy text users seem to prefer. Ms. Degeneres said Apple thought she made the iPhone look difficult to use. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment or even confirmation that they had complained about the ad. But Ms Degeneres evidently felt the need to issue the following apology the very next day.

“I am sorry if I made it look like the iPhone is hard to use,” she said. “I love it. I love my iPad. I love my iPod .… I love IHOP. … So everybody at Apple — Steve Jobs, Mr. Macintosh — I apologize.”

You have absolutely nothing to be sorry about, Ms Degeneres. Your piece was very funny, among your best. These days Apple has a paranoid streak a mile wide and a mountain high. Pay no attention to them, one of these days they will wake up and smell the coffee, and perhaps even rejoin the human race. And a piece like yours will be instrumental in helping them get there. §

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Meet the World’s Most Expensive Painting

A visitor at Christie's eyes Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust." It sold for $106.5 million, a record for a work of art. Photo: Ramin Talaie/bloomberg

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Nashville’s High Water Mark

High Water in Nashville. Truck cabs poke out of floodwaters in Nashville, Tennessee. The water was starting to ebb Tuesday after heavy weekend rain caused the Cumberland River, which winds through Nashville, to overflow its banks, flooding part of downtown and other areas across the city. Jeff Roberson-AP

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Camping Didn’t Come Easy

For some strange reason, my camp memories of this week don’t particularly concern the children I worked with. Rather they consist of a few of my memories of what really turned me on in addition to the children.

As I’ve said repeatedly, my favorite part of working in a children’s camp was in the sleep-over trips away from camp. I liked the climbs, the bike trips, the canoe trips, and the freedom of camping in the outdoors, washing up our kitchen utensils, and ourselves, in a rapidly flowing streams or brooks, and on cool nights sleeping snuggled like a cocoon in a sleeping bag, under the protective cover of a tarpaulin.

Camping didn’t come naturally to me, I had to work at it. My first problem was getting to sleep at night. Back in those days I was skinny, boney, and sleeping on an unbending section of terra firma was no easy task. But then I discovered the air mattress, thereby solving my comfort problem, while at the same time helping build my lung power, as in blowing up the bag. I’ll admit that a purist would take camping as it was, rather than collect gadgets which helped make camping cool. But that was not for me, I am an unabashed collector.

For me and many other counselors a high point for each Blueberry Cove summer consisted of driving down to L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, to check out the latest in camping gear, as well as getting a new piece of hiking footwear for the summer. L.L. Bean is a store that unconditionally backed up all of the products they sold.

As an example, for two years in a row I had bought a small alcohol stove which had proceeded to burn up on a trip. In each case L.L. Bean offered my money back or to replace the stoves, no questions asked. In each case I replaced the stove, as I found an alcohol stove excellent for heating the coffee water, etc. The quality of the merchandise sold in the store has made them into a nationally known mail order store, and their catalog is known throughout the country, if not the world.

Our particular corner of Maine, Tenants Harbor, had another particularly enjoyable experience not too far away. It was an ice cream parlor run by the Ames family. The front two rooms were parlors with tables upon which to rest your ice cream between bites.

The ice cream was made on the premises every day starting in the early morning. Several local teenage girls were hired for the summer, and under the direction of Louise Ames they milked the cows, picked the fruit and berries, mixed the ice cream, and loaded it in gallon containers in the large freezer. The same freezer also made jars of delicious clear ice, which seem to bring out the flavor of the ice cream. If you have never tasted ice cream made from freshly drawn milk, you have a real treat ahead of you, providing you can find an ice cream store which operates this way.

Ames Ice Cream was a treat for off duty counselors, and hardly a week would pass without one group or another making a visit. But we weren’t about to deprive the campers of this culinary delight, and usually at least once a summer on the return from a successful camping trip we would reward the campers by stopping by Ames Ice Cream to give them a treat.

Towards the end of my time there camp was buying enough ice cream to make a special meal’s dessert, although Ames did not have the facility in which to make ice cream for both their ice cream parlor and a relatively large facility like Blueberry Cove Camp. But for us they gave it a real try.

One of Maine’s really unique breeds were the lobstermen who spent long days taking their boats to their favorite fishing grounds and checking their traps. The lobstermen are our society's last true free wheelers, resembling not a little the cowboys of the mythical west of old. Many of the men came from many walks of life including the corporate world, but at some point each one threw off the wraps of civilization for the free wheeling life of the independent lobsterman. Their day was long, their life revolved around their boats and checking their traps, and selling their product. In case you’ve never had them Maine lobsters are crustaceans with a unique taste, and the meat is usually eaten after being dipped in pure melted butter.

An 8 year old camper named Pierra gingerly holds her lobster just before dunking it into a pot of boiling water. – photo by Ed Badeaux

The Maine lobster was really one of my favorite treats in the world of eating, and one of the more important treats for any summer’s eating experience was Lobster Feast, which camp managed to have once a summer no matter how expensive lobsters were that summer. Each camper was assigned his/her own lobster, which they could play with until the time came to dunk it into the pot of boiling water.

I don’t recall any children having a problem with dunking their lobster in boiling water. If a child was bothered it was explained that crustaceans were cold blooded and did not feel pain as did you and I. Most of the kids probably bought that line of reasoning, though the quivering of the lobster as it hit the boiling water didn’t do a thing to fortify the myth.

My favorite memories of camp other than trips, are wrapped around the all camp activities like the Lobster Feast mentioned above, and Feast Day, in which children were introduce to all kinds of exotic sea fare, like clams, mussels, periwinkles, etc. City children who would never stray far from hot dogs or spaghetti and meatballs, would get caught up in the mayhem of the moment, and try, and enjoy all kinds of dishes. Truly feast day was an ingenious idea which taught many children the delights of trying something new.

Another day for an all camp celebration was the Fourth of July. Fireworks is the traditional medium for celebrating the birthday of our country. But at Blueberry Cove we celebrated the occasion with a large bonfire. Since the bonfire was built below the tide line, the actual day of the celebration would depend on the tide.

Collecting the wood was an all morning experience. Groups were dispatched all over Hart’s Neck to gather up dead wood. This was trucked back to camp and gathered down on the beach. The bonfire itself was constructed by counselors experienced in bonfire making in the late afternoon, and it consisted of a large stack of wood eight to ten feet high.

After dinner at twilight the entire camp would assemble on the dock to watch lighting of the bonfire, which having been very cleverly built below the tide line, it meant that after the fire burned itself out, the outgoing tide would wash its remains out to sea, no human intervention necessary. Watching the flames was indeed an hypnotic experience. There is no denying the fascination that we humans of all ages have when staring into the face of a raging conflagration.

The 4th of July Bonfire

The entire Blueberry Cove Camp lines up on the dock to watch the annual BBC bonfire. – photo by Ed Badeaux

Little Eddy’s Health – Is No News Really Good?

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There’s nothing new by way of information on the state of my health. However, it was interesting, when the import of the doctor’s telling me my white blood count was way over the top, it suddenly dawned on me that although I had no identifiable symptons, all of a sudden that awful chronic cough of mine could probably be explained as an ongoing sympton, not to mention those inevitable intensive naps I’m forced to take after meals.

And since those naps just seem to get longer with each passing meal and day, I guess my system is practicing for the Big One, the one after which I won’t wake up.

My immediate goal is to gauge whether this new diabetes medication, glimepiride 2 mg. will bring down my blood sugar readings, or whether Dr. Troyan will have to increase the pill’s dosage. It hasn’t really been long enough to tell me anything, but it does seem to be having some effect.

My biggest problem, whereas gylburide needed to be taken a half hour before breakfast, glimepiride needs to be taken during the meal. This requires a marked change in my habit, unfortunately, and for the second day in a row I missed not only breakfast, but lunch too, and I ended up taking the pill along with dinner.

This morning it was back to breakfast, and hopefully I will get on top of this change. For some strange reason I seem to have a devil of a time getting used to any change in my regular routine.

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And so yet another edition of the Little Eddy Blog burns itself out. We enjoy ferreting out news, photos, videos and whatever, a concoction which we put together during the week, and which we upload to Google on Saturday mornings right after our breakfast.

You have a long standing invitation to join us again anytime next week for yet another edition. Meantime, keep a sharp eye out for misinformation laced with possible fraud. And take Tea Party and Republican claims with the gigantic grain of salt they so well deserve. Bye bye, take care.

The Real Little Eddy §
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