thanksgiving at joshua tree national park

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Joshuas

Monzogranite, I think

Cholla cactus

Leftovers on the rocks

Oasis

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the inside of my pocket

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Once again, Google has been asking me, via messages on my Android phone, to submit photos of Seattle locations for Google Maps. Most recently I snapped an image of the inside of my jacket pocket while walking through McGraw Square downtown:

They were pretty happy with this one, as you can see:

A year ago was my first submission, “A dark night at Green Lake”:

I’ve volunteered to become a “Local Guide” for Google so I can offer additional aid. I’m suspicious about how well they really like my pictures, however, because I can’t find them on Google Maps.

I’ll keep trying. Maybe a close-up of one of my fingernails as I stand beneath the Space Needle would garner more appreciation.

news from the looney bin

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The New Yorker has recently provided some of the best writing I’ve seen about gun violence in the U.S. I’ve accumulated some quotes below, along with an opening and closing quote that I found elsewhere.

The U.S. begins its process of doing nothing about the deadliest mass shooting in its history. (Charles Mudede in The Stranger)

In recent years, gunmen have shot up fast-food restaurants, post offices, military installations, a movie theatre, a holiday party, a night club, a health clinic, a congressional softball game, churches, high schools, colleges, an elementary school. Three weeks ago, someone killed eight people at a football-watching party in Plano, Texas. You didn’t hear about it because eight gun deaths barely register as a national news story anymore.  (“Washington’s Ritualized Response to Mass Shootings.” The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza)

The distance between forty-nine dead in Orlando and at least fifty-eight in Las Vegas is sixteen months. The deadliest shooting before Orlando, the massacre at Virginia Tech, which claimed the lives of thirty-two people, held that terrible distinction for nine years—not a small amount of time, but damning by another measure, in that our “worst” tragedy could not exist for a decade without being surpassed. (“Another Worst Mass Shooting in the United States” Jelani Cobb. The New Yorker)

 … if he was … from a Muslim country, then a massive act of terrorism would have been committed and a militant response, including travel bans and broad suspensions of rights, would be essential. If it was just one more American “psycho,” then all we can do is shrug and, as the occupant of the Oval Office put it, send “warmest condolences and sympathies…” (“In the Wake of the Las Vegas Shooting, There Can Be No Truce with the Second Amendment,” The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik)

After Newtown, Wayne LaPierre, the C.E.O. of the National Rifle Association, said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But in Las Vegas the only thing that have could have stopped a sniper hidden behind a bank of windows on the thirty-second floor of a building, shooting at people twelve hundred feet away, would have been the unlikely presence of a similarly armed sniper located at a vantage point that gave him or her an open shot at the perpetrator. (“Another Worst Mass Shooting in the United States” Jelani Cobb. The New Yorker)

One measure of the development of a civil society is the obstacles that we place in the path of those who would commit acts of great harm to innocents. (“Another Worst Mass Shooting in the United States” Jelani Cobb. The New Yorker)

There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons. (Governor Ronald Reagan)

Vandercloot

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“It’s living between the folds in your cerebral cortex.”
–   Dr. Vandercloot

Dr. Vandercloot is a 19th century exorcist, scientist, and collector of strange artifacts. He will appear on stage next month – Friday the 13th – October.

Info here: Seattle Playwright’s Salon

Vandercloot’s first name is Randolph, but you won’t know that from watching him on the stage, because no one is on a first-name basis with the doctor.

(He’s part of a Halloween-themed show presented by the Seattle Playwright’s Salon.)

His assistant, Alba, will accompany him. She enjoys the doctor’s occult science, but is a bit numbed from years of serving as his guinea pig.

(Remember that Friday night parking in Georgetown can be horrifying, so please appear earlier than the 7 p.m. start time.)

In this short adventure, Vandercloot endeavors to help his local dentist, named Florian, who has a terrible malady. In the process, we’ll seen some ghastly items from the doctor’s peculiar collections.

 

the council for manhood speaks

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Above: Man attempts to open a pickle jar.

Recently an organization with the entertaining name of the Council for Christian Manhood and Womanhood met in Nashville and released a document called the Nashville Statement. This document claimed to speak on behalf of a God that does not sanction “same-sex attraction or transgender self-conception.” It made the news for a bit.

The mayor of Nashville quickly made it clear that this statement was not a city-condoned proclamation. One of the Nashville Statement signers, David French, wrote an editorial in the National Review. He writes that for some people, separation of church and state “is just a pit stop on the road to de-Christianizing America.”

Obviously the mayor was not invoking the separation clause; just trying to protect the city’s reputation. But it’s interesting to see this writer describe the very idea of upholding the Constitution as a way to “de-Christianize.”

French goes on to summarize the Nashville Statement: “We believe the Bible is the word of God, and the word of God declares that sexual intimacy is reserved for the lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage.” And also for men and concubines, right? Because in that book, people like Abraham, Gideon, and Solomon had concubines, too. There is a pile of polygamy in the Bible.

Then there was God’s order to Moses about dealing with the Midianites (Numbers 31). “Now kill all the boys,” says the Lord. “And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” So the spoils of war are okay for men, also. If the Nashville Statement signers don’t accept these practices as well, then maybe their statement is just a wishy-washy modern reinterpretation of Biblical family values.

French’s editorial goes on to say, “There are powerful peer and cultural pressures that are pushing Christians to compromise on core principles. In some parts of the country, Christians are social pariahs if they admit to their Biblical views.”

I wonder if he means people who admit to the Biblical views displayed in Judges 19:22-24. That’s the one where wicked men surround a house and demand that the homeowner send one of his guests out of the house so they could have sex with him. But the homeowner is righteous. He protects his guest, and says, “No, take instead my virgin daughter and my guest’s concubine and do what you want with them.” I suppose people who admire this passage might become pariahs.

French writes that today’s Christian liberals subject “God’s word” to a cultural and political test. He says that today, “One can reject even His clearest commands if those commands are ‘mean’ or ‘intolerant.’” Maybe a good example is how the Bible clearly condones slavery (including the sale of one’s daughter) and stoning people to death for infidelity or disobeying parents. We can only assume French is not a wimpy-ass liberal and fully accepts these clearly stated principles.

The article also claims that in today’s society, punitive reprisals are made against “moral” businesses. “They will re-educate or ruin small-business owners who won’t lend their creative talents to celebrate gay weddings.” By this logic, opposing and prohibiting a whites-only lunch counter is an unfair punitive reprisal.

Another shining example from French’s article: “They [liberal Christians] will publicly reject basic statements of Christian theology, and they will do it in the name of comprehensive social engineering.”

I suppose he considers the entire history of civil rights, including the prohibition of slavery, to be social engineering. Maybe so, but they represent the ending of tyranny. It’s amazing the lengths someone will go to justify the desire to mistreat fellow humans.

eclipse weekend

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We were among thousands that drove to the totality zone for the eclipse, camping for three nights in the Eastern Oregon town of Culver. We participated in a scenic 25-mile bike ride as part of the Culver Crawdad Festival and in general, had a great time there.

On eclipse-day morning, we watched the first slice of shadow cut across the sun. Soon the temperature started to fall. Over the course of the next hour and a half, the temperature dropped from somewhere in the low 80s °F until it was cold enough that I wanted to put on a sweatshirt. The landscape around us gradually turned dim and a little grayish, as this picture shows in totality.  It became fairly dark, Venus appeared in the sky, streetlights came on. There were sunset colors around the entire horizon.

Most amazing, of course, was the sun, or rather the lack of it. You can look without glasses while it’s completely covered, and the sun was like a black jewel in the sky with rays of light sticking out around the side. Even though the circle itself was dark, there was something crystalline and “super-real” about it. The two minutes of complete eclipse seemed momentous and cosmic, even though it’s fairly common. It looked like this about a second after totality. (I only had my phone camera, so I have none of my own.)

We were fortunate to see some wonderful sights in addition to the eclipse (click to expand)

On a bike ride, we viewed Mt. Jefferson over farm fields

Wind farm in South-Central Washington

The amazing Lake Billy Chinook

Last but not least, the Culver Crawdad Festival

it’s not just a light, it’s tactical

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You say you’ve got your bluetooth-enabled speaker embedded in a fidget spinner? You own a fleet of Groot-branded HD camera drones? Toss that crap aside because what you truly deserve is a tactical flashlight, or even better, a tactical lantern

How many times have to said this to yourself:

I need a lantern, but not just any lantern — it must be tactical.

“Tactical” generally means something related to military operations. It can also refer to carefully planning or strategizing to achieve an end. So when you’re using precision and strategy to illuminate a dark place, you want the type of photons that radiate from a tactical light. 

(Be aware that you will also need batteries, or, as I like to call them, “tactical portable electricity cylinders.”)

Below you’ll see two lanterns, one tactical and one not. Study this carefully so you don’t accidentally purchase a non-tactical light. 

Tactical Lantern – plastic – uses 3 AA batteries – collapsible

Non-tactical Lantern – plastic – uses 3 AA batteries – collapsible

Got it? Now it’s time to go out and plan your illumination campaign. Next, we’ll examine hydration systems (sometimes called “water bottles”).