Asians

September 9, 2018

Saw Crazy Rich Asians two weeks ago. I also read about the controversy over casting Nick, as Henry Golding is only half Asian. He’s trending now.  Instagram photo of him at Tom Ford’s spring collection, between Anna Wintour and Cardi B. The entire rest of the cast is made up of Asians from all over the globe, including Ronny Chieng who is an annoying senior correspondent on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show; he plays an equally annoying character in the movie.

Rich Asians reminded me of Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (on Netflix); she’s a bit too profane for me but did crack me up at this description of her husband:

Asian-American men are very underrated. I don’t know why people don’t go for them. They’re the sexiest. Asian men are the sexiest. They got no body hair from the neck down. It’s like making love to a dolphin. Oh, my God. It’s so smooth, just like a slip and slide…  And then Asian men, no body odor. None. They just smell like responsibility. That’s where the umami flavor comes from.

The same idea as Rich Asians (rich boy falls for poor girl and mother isn’t pleased) carries two Netflix series – Meteor Garden (Chinese) and Boys over Flowers (Korean), both with subtitles and both based on the same manga series.  But these are set in high school with an edge to the plot – rich boy with attitude falls for poor girl with attitude.  Frankly, good escapism from work.

SNL

Was reading, in the NY Times, about a new Amazon series with Maya Rudolph; I don’t have Amazon, but it mentioned her SNL impersonization of Donatella Versace, so I had to check them out.  LOL. There are three on this link:  Versace. Then, since the last one had Mick Jagger, had to check out his nine SNL sketches (which you can also do from that link).  He’s also a kick.

Epcot

Labor Day last weekend so spent Sunday at Epcot Center with two guys from work.  Probably shouldn’t have gone to the first weekend of the its International Food & Wine Festival; parking was zooey, but there are trams to take you to the in lines (followed by the check bags line). Nine hours, and more than I usually drink, but also more than I usually eat. 90° and 78% humidity, with a few very short rains.  Then, at the end of the day when I was looking like a drowned rat, they thought we should take pictures.

Hurricanes and Other Disasters

We are watching the weather here – please no hurricane until we’ve completed processing the last one!  This from Brock:

Once again, we find ourselves looking at multiple storms threatening the United States at the height of hurricane season.  Right now, a Tropical Cyclone is bearing down on Guam and will likely make landfall early next week, Hurricane Oliva is tracking towards Hawaii with effects potentially starting as early as Tuesday, Hurricane Florence will begin to intensify again as it heads toward the East Coast, and there are other storms brewing in the Caribbean and off the coast of Africa.  I cannot recall a time when so many intense storms threatened the United States in such a short timeframe.  Added to that, the area of concern spans more than half the globe…

The Desert in Bloom

August 9, 2018

The red birds out front are ginormous, probably from the flood from my cracked drip line, which the neighbors reported. $100+ water bill last month for what is mostly a desert yard.  Finally, the owner agreed to replacing a whole section of the PVC pipe, which dries out underground after many years of our heat, not just one patch at a time.  Anyway, I keep a bouquet of the birds next to my computer when I’m home, even though each branch last only two to three day, there are so many to cut.

Flowers on two barrels.

Only three Japanese eggplants this time home.  Photo of my veggies from the last time.  I’ve planted nothing for a year – these are continuing since last year.  Unfortunately, the tomatoes didn’t make it.

A family of eight quail, just beyond my fence.  The spring babies, those little acorns, have grown and are almost ready to be on their own.  The loud cheeping of a towhee on my bird feeder, then the birdbath – first bird I’ve seen there since I filled it last Saturday.  (Put it away when I’m gone as water in it lasts about a-day-and-a-half in this heat.)

Day before yesterday a coyote just next to the fence, walking slowly due to the 105° temp at 1pm, but still too quick for me to find my camera.

Sand

There are two issues that really get me with the Feds: government insurance so people can build back in flood zones and moving sand back into places where rich people have their summer homes.

Hurricanes often wash away or remove sand with strong winds from under the foundations of beach properties undermining the structures. This is a condominium complex in need of serious repair after Hurricane Irma in Key Colony Beach, Florida.
Photo by Robert Kaufmann – Jun 14, 2018 – Location: Key Colony Beach, FL fema sand

Wordsmithing

We used to talk about accidents; now in Orlando they say crashes and in Tucson I heard a newscaster say collisions. A bit more graphic than not-on-purposes.
Would people give more thought to guns being deadly if, instead of a shooting (which could happen to a target at a shooting range or a captive animal at a hunting preserve) we called it a multiple murder.

Disasters

Presently California is burning up. (cbsnews.com)  This is last year, which I am still working on in Orlando:

2017 Atlantic Hurricane season. In three weeks, the nation responded to three hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and Maria. At the same time, wildfires claimed lives and destroyed property across California. FEMA processed more individual assistance claims in one year than the previous decade combined.  In 2017, FEMA had 73 declared disasters, presence in 35 states, and 800 open disasters. fema.gov

A must read is: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change. I haven’t finished it yet ’cause it’s real depressing. But we all must read it.  This just part of the Prologue:

The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The Paris climate agreement… hoped to restrict warming to two degrees. The odds of succeeding… are one in 20.  If… [we] limit warming to two degrees, we will only have to negotiate the extinction of the world’s tropical reefs, sea-level rise of several meters and the abandonment of the Persian Gulf… Three-degree warming… forests in the Arctic and the loss of most coastal cities… Four degrees: Europe in permanent drought; vast areas of China, India and Bangladesh claimed by desert; Polynesia swallowed by the sea; the Colorado River thinned to a trickle; the American Southwest largely uninhabitable. The prospect of a five-degree warming… the end of human civilization.  losing-earth

Good News

I do look for positivity in the news.  One extraordinary merganser duck has been spotted leading about 76 ducklings. ducklings-creche  I guess if one flunks geometry it’s no big deal.  (I was thinking of when I had 44 kids in a geometry class.)

Health Care

Because I manage over ten million dollars in FEMA claims, most from three regions of hospitals which I’m getting to know pretty well, I’m understanding why Florida Obamacare premiums have gone up 41.8% from 2017 to 2018.

This is a great website: atoday.org/the-adventist-health-business

A business magazine in Florida reported 2011 annual “total executive compensation, including base salaries, bonuses, retirement or other deferred compensation, and non-taxable benefits” for the Florida based Adventist Health System as $1,062,010 per year for the lowest of the top 10 executives, to $3,191,124 for the head of the organization.  I suspect that in 2017 none of them has had a significant pay cut.

DHS

FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which sends us almost daily emails about this and that, and most of them (with this administration) make me mad.

August 1, 2018
Dear Colleagues,
I am honored and excited to be the Department’s Chair for the 2018 Feds Feed Families campaign. This year’s campaign began on July 15 and will run through October 18. Food insecurity impacts approximately 41 million American households, including 13 million children and 5.4 million seniors. This means people lack access to enough food for an active healthy life for all household members.
Feds Feed Families was created to help food banks and pantries stay stocked during summer months when they traditionally see a decrease in donations and an increase in need. There are many ways to contribute, and our Department is uniquely poised to help with a strong presence in local communities across the Nation.
Last year, employees donated non-perishable items at work, traveled to farms to harvest crops (gleaning), and even donated freshly prepared food directly to local shelters. Recognizing that families in financial crisis can find it difficult to meet the nutritional needs of their pets, Feds Feed Families has expanded the campaign to accept donations of pet food. These donations can ensure that families and pets stay together, and that these pets stay out of shelters.
As Department Chair for the 2018 campaign, I commend you for your past generosity, and invite you to make this year’s drive the most successful yet.
Sincerely,
Thomas J. Walters
Director, Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers and 2018 DHS Feds Feed Families Chair

Am I a curmudgeon thinking that the Feds want the middle class to take over feeding the poor, so actually, we’d be subsidizing the huge tax breaks they gave to the rich?  (I have been giving to our  Community Food Bank since the old days when Punch Woods was CEO.)

Orlando Art

July 15, 2018

Last weekend went to the Orlando Museum of Art. Behind the front desk were two large-scale charcoals by Robert Longo.  (See tma for another.)  In the courtyard a large Chihuly.  (Scroll down in denver-2014 for many more.)

Then the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art.  The Florida Prize, now in its fifth year, is an invitational exhibition recognizing 10 progressive artists working in the Sunshine State.

Carlos Betancourt’s “Let Them Feel Pink,” a 26-foot-long banquet table topped with a smorgasbord of objects including a giant pelican, all in pepto-bismol pink:

There were many of his photos too.  This huge one, Castro in Triumphant Advance to Havana, piqued my interest.  He was born in Puerto Rico; check him out in Wikipedia.  He was selected as the “People’s Choice” award recipient.

I did a double-take with Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s The Seeds of Decadence andTropicalypse.  They almost looked like black-and-white photos, but were ginormous charcoal works.  The first is a negative of a Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.  A section of it at right.  I just took these photos with my camera, so resoution isn’t great, but you can click on them to see them larger.  He was born in Colombia, but has resided of the US for over 20 years.

His recurrent opulent and decadent charcoal drawings have grown dramatically in scale and complexity with two monumental multi-panel, charcoal drawings such as “Tropicalypse” and “The Seeds of Decadence”. These massive works portray two seemingly disparate scenarios: While the drawing “Tropicalypse” portrays an imaginary apocalyptic landscape of burning palm trees; a gesture alluding to the palm tree as an archetype of “tropical culture” in America, “The Seeds of Decadence” depicts a lavish and opulent Victorian room with inverted values.  TROPICALYPSE

This by Kenya (Robinson), the recipient of $20,000 (the “Florida Prize”), considers white male supremacy (but no one mentioned the fake grass buddah).  Guess the artist’s race and gender.

The #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET, a project that began in 2013, is a work in which (Robinson) imagined a small, corporate-clad, plastic figure as a talismanic reminder that “white male heteronormative supremacy is an idea not restricted to phenotype, gender or nationality.” In fact, (Robinson) suggests that, “the -ism is insidious because we each believe in it a small amount, creating a dense network to be challenged internally, and as a societal task.”

I have many more photographs, but I  think this is enough for today.

Sink Holes

Sink holes are big in Florida (except for the small ones).  I’ve been watching one slowly grow next to the road I take from my hotel to work.  I first noticed it as a leaning power pole and a chainlink fence, covered with a vine (kudzu – the vine that is trying to take over the South?), sinking into the ground.  The fence has gone from about 10 yards to 40 yards underground so far.

This from the Orlando Sentinel (Monday, July 9, 2018):
Several guests were evacuated after buildings crumbled when a sinkhole formed at the Summer Bay Resort on US Highway 192 in Clermont near Walt Disney World.

This explanation offered by Cloud9 Services:

Types of Sinkholes Found in Florida

… Dissolution is a process where surface rock is soluble to weak acids and becomes dissolved. Suffusion forms cavities below the land …

Dissolution sinkholes of dolomite or limestone are most intense when water first contacts the rock’s surface…

…cover-subsidence sinkholes… develop gradually. Their cover sediments are permeable and also contain sand. Usually they form in areas with thicker brush [and] may go undetected for long periods of time since they are hard to spot. With new construction… they become uncovered.

…collapse sinkholes can develop over a period of hours [and] are devastating; you probably seen photos of them devour a family’s home…  They occur when the covering sediments contain a vast majority of clay. Over time, erosion, ground water flow, and deposition of the sinkhole will cause a surface depression and a cave-in from below.
http://cloud9services.com/sewer-drain-and-septic-services-blog/types-of-sinkholes-found-in-florida/

Post rain

It does rain almost every day now, and afterwards the sidewalk around our office is patrolled by tiny six-lined racerunners, a few dragonflies doing their thing, a few brown aloles on the wall, showing off their orange crests.  Racerunners can grow to 12” so I wondered why these were so small, and then I saw the egret.  Guess she (so graceful I made her female) was picking them off before they had time to grow up.

Phone Booth

Scott Pruitt is gone.  So I asked my boss if we couldn’t request his $48K phone booth.  We have no place here for private conversations.

I was thinking of Superman and his phone booth.   I can understand that he had his diver’s skin/bicycler’s lyrca under his suit, but where was the cape?  And does he leave his shoes and suit (neatly folded) in the booth?  What about his wallet?

Traffic

The lights here in Orlando are three to four times as long as those in Tucson.  It was a culture shock being back in Tucson –  I was stopped at a light and had no time to drink coffee or file my nails or read a book, the light changes to green so fast!

But long stoplights are not the problem on I-4.  This from the Orlando Sentinel:

Declaring that taxpayers deserve to know more, Central Florida’s Democratic U.S. Reps… today asked the state’s top transportation official why the “I-4 Ultimate project is both behind schedule and over budget.”

Other stories are Surviving I-4: Punctured tires, busted windshields – “Oh lord, please”, Construction resumes on I-4 Ultimate project after worker’s death, Local reactions mixed to plans to tear apart, rebuild SR 436 intersection with I-4, and more.

Aging

Some people worry about losing as they grow older: their eyesight, their hearing, their hair, their minds.  Some worry about gaining: weight, cataracts, skin tags, nose hair, a wavering in your voice (the website said I need to sing to maintain a robust voice). But I am bothered about the migration.  This is not like the wildebeest migration, which I have witnessed in Tanzania (and I can tell you, I don’t care if I never see another wildebeest again).

Over two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles move through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of green pasture, in a regular pattern.

Watching two million anything day after day can get boring.  No, the migration I speak of is more insidious, and quiet.  Not like those animals splashing and braying as the crocodiles catch them in the river (wildebeests).  That “baby fat” that kept your hands soft, which are now witchy, the bones and veins bulging out, slithers up your arms, gathering strength, until it slides down your back, leaving some scouts on guard there, peering over your bra straps, then realigning its forces into a circle, as Cape buffalos do for protection.  Against what?  The hug of a grandchild?  (This circle is sometimes called a tire, although for thin people, such as my brother, it’s usually a bicycle tire.)  Why did evolution create this?

But while the migration is happening, so is calcification.  Don’t stop exercising or you’ll be taken for granite – and exercising is much harder to restart!  Granite doesn’t bend well and moves more slowly.

Haboob

Two of my friends have been in Glasgow, two others in Amsterdam.  And of course I’m delighted to be in Orlando where it’s 94° (heat index, which takes  into account the 57% humidity, 99°), even hotter than Tucson, whose monsoons have “cooled” the city down to “only” 91° (and with the humidity of 45% still feels like 91°).

In my 40+ years in Tucson I have only seen one haboob, and it was last fall, driving back from Phoenix.  Our climate change must be hatching more.  A friend posted this marvelous video on Facebook.  It shows A mountain, and the two houses I designed and built are right behind it.  haboob

Newfangled Gadgets

I challenge you to guess how to open the back end of my latest rental car, a Ford ecosport.  Bet you can’t figure it out without googling video instructions.

Note

My fortune cookie said, New possibilities with friends are in your future. 

Baked or Steamed

July 2, 2018

Obviously we’re baked in Tucson and steamed in Orlando.

Except in the office, where we’re refrigerated.  Maybe they think that if they keep us cold we’ll work faster to keep warm?

But the A/C was out at work for three days.  The first day the residual cold was extinguished.  After that it gradually warmed, so I wound down from my third layer jacket, then my sweater, to short sleeves, and was actually warm by the third day.  Reminded me of the punch line from the a fifteen stanza poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert W Service, Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.

(You can look it up and read it.  My father used to recite it at campfires every year when we’d go camping, and I memorized it in about the 4th grade.  After I had kids I would recite it at campfires. Had taken them on a raft trip down the Colorado River, and our boatman said he’d recite it at campfire; my son announced, My mom knows it!  So we recited in tandem.  My son also learned it, freaking out my daughter, You sound just like Mom!)

Commuting

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the rain continues to shower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as Commuters’ Hour

Blue Men

They’ve performed at U of A on many occasions, but I’d never gotten around to seeing them, so I bought a ticket at the Universal Theater complex, for the row behind the first 4 rows, where they have a splash zone, like at SeaWorld for the orcas and dolphins shows. They color splashing from the snare drums appeared to be mustard and catsup.  And later on someone smashed bananas. But the audience there were all wearing those $1.95 clear ponchos, which I assume the show gave out.  It was vacuous but fun.  They didn’t allow photos during the act so I just snapped this afterwards.

Distilled Water

We’ve had a number of people who have “demob’ed”.  One of the guys in our group, who went home to get his roof, severely damaged from a storm, fixed.  He left me a gallon of distilled water that he bought to iron his shirts.  (! You can tell he’s old.)  Now I rarely iron, so I thought to just drink it, then thought I ought to check before drinking that water:

Distilled water tends to be acidic and can only be recommended as a way of drawing poisons out of the body. Once this is accomplished, the continued drinking of distilled water is a bad idea. Water filtered through reverse osmosis tends to be neutral and is acceptable for regular use provided minerals are supplemented. http://waterhealthstudies.blogspot.com/2007/12/distilled-water-vs-reverse-osmosis.html

So thought to make coffee from it:

If you care more about the longevity of your coffee maker, feel free to use distilled water. Your morning fuel won’t be great, but it will get the job done. However, if you’re all about stellar coffee, always skip the distilled water. Instead, make coffee with cold tap water. Your taste buds will thank you.  http://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/should-i-make-coffee-with-distilled-water

But it works well for my Waterpic.

Six things you could do without

Try to limit it to just six.

Betsy DeVos, office coffee, the Heritage Foundation*, plastic grocery bags, the Syrian war, soda (except for tonic to go  with my gin)…

*…Heritage’s recommendations included some of the most prominent members of Trump’s cabinet: Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos (whose in-laws endowed Heritage’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society)…

…Feulner packaged his fledgling think tank’s ideology into five basic principles: free enterprise, limited government [= no help for the poor], individual freedom, traditional values [=white men in charge] and a strong national defense…

…It published papers advocating making Social Security voluntary, argued against giving striking workers access to food stamps and warned parents about the danger posed by the advancement of “secular humanism” in public schools…

…But Heritage had its complaints about Reagan at the time… “They were looking for competent people,” Nofziger, who had gone on to become a key political strategist for Reagan, later recalled. “I tried to explain to them that the first thing you do is get loyal people, and competence is a bonus.”..

…supported a Heritage agenda that included opening offshore drilling on federal lands; opposing mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food; reducing regulations on for-profit universities; revoking an Obama executive order on green-energy mandates for federal agencies; phasing out federal subsidies for housing; and opposing marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity…

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/magazine/trump-government-heritage-foundation-think-tank.html

Grammar Lady

From the person who manages my weekly hotel bills: your welcome
From a reviewer of my documentation: Debris quantity inconsistency’s

A Magical Place

June 4, 2018

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothin’ ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around
Nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Weather most foul…  No – not that bad yet.  Hurricane season does not start until June 1.  But…
Today is the official start of the rainy season; Tropics: hurricane forecasters give 30 percent chance to Gulf disturbance.   florida rain

YMCA

I started writing this a few weeks ago, but never finished it because not only am I burned out from work but I’m also tired from exercise.

I am presently going to exercise classes during my lunch hour MWF at the Y down the street from work.  They had a 50’s luncheon last week. (No, I did not attend.)  Heard in the locker room: I bought this dress at Goodwill and shortened the skirt to make the jacket.

On TuTh I go to a Cardio Strength class after work at the Y a couple of miles from the hotel where I’m saying.  Heard two women in class talking last week: I’m so excited about the cruise!  Yes, I really enjoyed it.

Diocese of Orlando

All of my Applicants are PNPs.  Some are schools in our diocese.

William Borders, the first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando, claimed in 1969 to Pope Paul VI that the then-active 1917 Code of Canon Law placed newly explored territory under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the port of departure, making the Diocese of Orlando responsible for the moon following the flight of Apollo 11. (Wikipedia)

However, their insurance policy does not cover:

11.  Satellites and spacecraft while on the launch pad, or after time of launch…

SeaWorld

I figured that since I’m living next to SeaWorld I ought to go once.  (Had offered to fly my daughter’s family here, with my frequent flyer miles, for Spring Break, but she said they couldn’t afford the amusement parks once they were here.  Orlando is a magical place. But I hadn’t even looked at prices.  Walt Disney World and SeaWorld – $100 per person per day!  How was it that the place was crowded with families?)  The previous weekend it rained, but my phone’s weather said overcast for this Saturday, but no rain.  So Friday I got sucked in by the Visit SeaWorld for one day and save $20 when you book your tickets in advance.  $80.  Plus tax.  You guessed it: my phone still said no rain, but yup, there was precipitation.

So I did my grocery shopping and laundry and went after lunch, when my phone said it was raining, but it wasn’t.

They still work with orcas – six.  One of their tricks is to make sure that the audience in the Splash Zone gets wet.  (And they must be messy eaters because a couple of egrets hang around.)

And they still show the standard dolphins doing tricks, and it’s amazing how they can stand straight up in the water working their tail fins.  The trainers are super agile.

They also save a lot of manatees.  Hurricane Irma was hard on them – many stranded pups separated ftom their moms.  And sea turtles – on the right.  (Had a closer look when I took my kids, when they were young, to Costa Rica and we watched a larger one lay her eggs, up close and personal.)

Here’s an injured dolphin, healing, that is fascinated by umbrellas, and on the right a sea turtle.  (Had a closer look when I took my kids, when they were young, to Costa Rica and we watched a larger one lay her eggs, up close and personal.

It’s funny taking photos of fish here, as the displays I’ve seen while scuba diving were far superior, but I never bought an underwater camera.  Yellow tang.  However, I’ve never seen a wobbegon shark (right) in the wild.  (Have seen many sharks – even went on a shark dive in Fiji.  Shark dive)

Another funny thing – my favorite show did not involve sea creatures; it was Pets Ahoy!  (Might also be because  it was the end of the day, I was tired and glad to sit down.)  These are official SeaWorld photos – much better than mine.  All of the animals in the show, dogs and cats, a rat, ducks and doves, and a potbellied pig, were so well trained and the skits were Laugh-In -style funny.

It starts with a (cute) rat, running onstage, then through a small door, a cat in pursuit, followed by a little dog, coming out a second door, going through a third, and so on.

What got me were trained cats!  That is a cat weaving through her legs as she walks.  (An undersized dog does it too.)  Have you ever owned a cat?  I thought I was doing well getting mine to come when called!  They has something like a dozen trained cats!  Amazing!

What’s especially nice is that, All of the animals that star in Pets Ahoy! have been adopted from local rescue shelters and given a new home at SeaWorld.

Political Commentary

May 11, 2018

Education

The Arizona teachers were on strike for a week.  My daughter, at home with three kids because of it, took them to Phoenix one day to join in the protest.  What a great thing to do!  Education in Arizona is poorly funded because the Republicans, who often send their kids to private schools, would rather pass tax breaks.  Here’s why I left: phew!  You can read that blog and the ones preceding it.

This from Wikiedia:

The 2018 Arizona teachers’ strike was held from April 26–May 3, 2018 by 20,000 teachers to protest low pay and cuts to school funding.  Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had approved a proposal giving a 20 percent raise to teachers by 2020 with a 9 percent raise in 2019; teachers rejected this proposal as it did not provide increased funding for schools themselves or raises for support staff. It has coincided with a similar strike in neighboring Colorado.

The walkout occurred after similar actions in West Virginia and Oklahoma, and is the third in the ongoing wave of teachers’ strikes in the United States…

The strike ended on May 3, 2018 when the Government of Arizona conceded to increase funding to increase salaries for support staff and to decrease student to counselor ratios.

…Before the walkout, teachers’ salaries in 2018 were between $8000 and $9000 lower than teachers’ salaries in 1990, when adjusted for inflation. Wages for teachers in Arizona are some of the lowest in the United States, averaging $48,372 per year. In 2017, Arizona ranked last of all fifty states for average elementary school pay, and second to last for teacher pay at the secondary level

But the strike ended with only a few promises.  Someone asked, What happens now?  One of our state  senators answered:

Steve Farley — Arizona State Senator for District 9, April 29

As the son of two public school teachers and the father of two daughters who got a great education in Arizona public schools, I know we need to increase pay for all K-12 public educators, including support staff, as well as restore funding for textbooks, computers, and building maintenance…

We need to do it now. We are in an unprecedented crisis in which more than half of our teaching positions are either vacant or held by someone without proper qualifications, because so many teachers have left teaching entirely or left the state because they could not afford to teach in Arizona. Our future as a society and economy depends on adequately funded and well-run public schools…

The Governor’s “plan” still does not have details in legislative form, so we do not know how he is claiming to fund the proposal. From what we have seen so far, this is not financially sustainable beyond the upcoming fiscal year, and nonpartisan legislative economists project a $300 million deficit within two years.

In the past when deficits have happened, this Governor and this legislative majority have traditionally voted to cut public education…

While the legislature is famously unpredictable, here’s my best guess on what the upcoming week might look like, so you can be prepared to act when necessary. There are no set times for any of these steps to commence.

This could be the last week of session if there is a budget deal, as the Governor has asserted. If there is a deal, it will only be with Republicans because neither legislative Democrats nor the leaders of the Red For Ed movement have been consulted.

If there is a deal, it will be a part of the overall state budget (including all funding for all state agencies and many other policy changes, not just education) and the first bills will be introduced on Monday.

Most of the action will take place on Tuesday, starting with Appropriations Committee hearings on all budget bills, with an opportunity in both House and Senate for public testimony. It is likely that the committee chairs will severely limit public testimony — in the past they have asked for three people in favor and three against with as little as one minute each. This is the only opportunity for the public to be heard in a formal setting. Not my idea of true democracy…

Later that day, there will be a Committee of the Whole on the House and Senate floor. This is where the bills will be debated by elected members and the public can watch in the gallery. Please pack the galleries. As your elected official, I need you to witness this. We as Democrats will attempt to amend the budget bills to address the true priorities of Arizona, including sustainable education funding. Our amendments will likely be voted down, but we will make the case for investing in ourselves instead of giving taxpayer money away to out-of-state corporate interests. This often happens in the middle of the night. Sometimes from midnight till 6am. I’m not kidding.

Then on Wednesday, the final vote will be tallied for or against the bills, they will be submitted to the Governor for signature, and the session will likely end.

Other bills will be voted on throughout these last days as members try to get their other priorities through, and bills once thought dead could come back to life, so I will be watching for those carefully. I suggest you do too.

Keep up the pressure. Your advocacy is working. Thank you for helping to revitalize our democracy, and stay involved. It’s worth it.

Steve

Does anyone know how it went?

North Korea

Education was last week’s News.  This week it’s North Korea.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was just there and brought back three American “detainees”.  Yesterday I heard Associated Press reporter Matt Lee (who was one of two journalists allowed to accompany Pompeo) on NPR’s All Things Considered (Copyright © 2018 NPR):

KELLY: … I want to ask you, Matt Lee – this is not your first time traveling to North Korea, not your first time traveling there with the U.S. secretary of state. You went along on the plane with Madeleine Albright when she traveled in 2000, and I’m curious what differences you saw… as you’re driving by … what do you see out the window? What’s it look like?
LEE: We arrived early in the morning, like what would be rush hour in a normal city. There was more traffic than certainly there was 18 years ago… Most of the morning commuters that we saw were either on bicycles or on foot – farmers, soldiers, people who are potentially office workers and lots of children in school uniforms walking to school along the side of the road. The city, from what I remember from 18 years ago, was not a sprawling metropolis of skyscraper-type buildings. That has changed.
KELLY: Suggests money is coming from somewhere to pay for that.
LEE: Exactly, exactly. Despite …severe sanctions on North Korea… the city is still growing up and out.

That made me think of an article I had read in the NY Times Magazine last Sunday, bank-heist

The New York Times has reported that North Korea is believed to maintain a network of about 1,700 computer hackers around the world, aided by 5,000 trainers, supervisors and other support staff. Many operations are aimed at harvesting intelligence from South Korea; others, as in the case of Sony, are intended to avenge slights, or others to reap financial gain. North Korean hackers have become especially adept at targeting the weak links in the financial system: banks in developing nations, especially those in Southeast Asia. “They are easy prey,” says Vitaly Kamluk of Kaspersky Lab, which found Korean-language coding embedded in some Lazarus Group malware and claims it definitively linked the Lazarus Group to North Korea, through an I.P. address that the group briefly used during a wave of attacks in Europe and Central America in 2017. “These central banks often cannot afford good security, good software, or hire a proper specialist to configure their network,” Kamluk says. “They are low-hanging fruit.”

Seen Today

A church across the street from the office has three Sunday morning services.  The first is in Creole.

A woman waiting in line ahead of me at a store Pickup had her hair in about 30 narrow braids.  Asked her how long it took – 10 hours!  Her son, age 7 he told me, was shuffling around doing basketball moves the entire time.  A woman leaving the store behind me had two children; the daughter, who looked about eight,  was bouncing sideways, perhaps a soccer move.  Kids have such energy!

Each evening, when I get home from work, I get a glass of wine and the newspaper and sit on the patio overlooking Sand Lake.  Much better view than my last place, which was mostly plants, although it was interesting to see a squirrel in a palm.

English Proficiency

Can you tell what this quote refers to?

“Against the luminous sky the rays of her halo were spikes of darkness roweling the air; shadow flattened the torch she bore to a black cross against flawless light — the blackened hilt of a broken sword. Liberty.”

Backstory from the New York Times: Thousands of German Students (taking pivotal final secondary-school exams) Protested ‘Unfair’ English Exam … which they said was absurd, with obscure and outdated references.  Kudos for my seven-year-old grandson who knew the answer!  english-test

Past our Shelf Life

A friend of mine in her mid-80’s, whose husband had died a few years ago, had moved to a retirement village.  This last year she hooked up with a fellow retiree whose wife had just passed away.  Serendipity!

Another friend, 94, who lives just outside of DC, and whose husband passed away a year ago, broke her hip a week ago, tripping on a carpet on her way out of exercise class!  It is DC, but I didn’t ask her if she exercised with the Notorious RBG.  (Here is a video of Stephen Colbert working out with her: RBG.)

Home

April 22, 2018

I do so like being home, spending time with family and friends, and working in my garden, even if it only is for a week of “rotation”.  Harvested four round carrots (easier to grown in the desert hardpan soil), two stubby bell peppers,  five small japanese eggplants, and one ripe cherry tomato.  The squash is in bloom and there are dozens of green cherry tomatoes, but the brussel sprout plant is not producing yet.  These are all plants that didn’t die back in the winter.  I’m working my own compost (produced by slow but steady worms) into the soil to plant more on my next visit home.  The Abert’s towhee is enjoying water in the birdbath; fun to watch him revel in it.  Quail investigating the yard; guess they haven’t had chicks yet.  And lots of collared lizards enjoying the sun.

Wednesday friend K and I saw an art movie at the Loft, Leaning into the Wind – Andy Goldsworthy.  I love his work, and have two books of it, but now he’s doing a kind of performance art (like climbing through hedges, as in this photo).  Here’s a trailer: into the Wind

The next day we took a tour of University of Arizona’s Environment + Natural Resources Building II by Richärd+Bauer Architecture.  Awesome building which earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – I am accredited in it) Platinum Certification.

The vision for the Environment and Natural Sciences complex (ENR2)… sustainable design. The University’s goals: this project is the centerpiece of environmental research, the building should have a definable iconic identity… serving as a living and learning laboratory, and be the most sustainable on campus…

Organized about a central “slot canyon”; curvilinear anodized aluminum ribbons define the walls of the central canyon, recalling the terra cotta walls of the natural canyon, leaning overhead, and falling away. The vertical striations of the anodized scrim recall the desert varnish pattern of the Navajo tapestry and the canyon walls. As in the natural environs, each terrace reflects the elevated desert floor, with native trees, grasses, shrub, and stone. The canyon floor is a sand and stone dry bed, which gathers the rainwater and guides it into storage cisterns for reuse…

https://www.richard-bauer.com/work/environment-natural-resources-2/

Walked the U (of Az) this morning w/ friend B and her dog, and brunch at the B-line.  Weather lovely: 64° feels like 84°.

LOL

You must read 40 Sea Gulls Wrecked His Hotel Room. 17 Years Later, a Pepperoni Pardon.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/14/world/canada/sea-gulls-fairmont-empress-victoria-nick-burchill-pepperoni.html

Florida Art

I’ve not been posting as often because I spend at least 7 3/4 hours a day on the computer at work, so I’m not enthusiastic about working on my tablet on weekends. But St. Petersburg was fun a few weekends ago. I had to go to the Dali Museum. It was built by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse who, in 1943, married, became friends with Dali, and bought their first work of his.  In 1982 they built this museum to house the largest collection of Dalí’s works outside Europe.  The architecture was amusing.  Those colored ropes, trailing from the tree in the wind, are made up of the bracelets we got when we entered the museum.  When you leave, you contribute to art.  The spiral staircase is in the center.

Dali’s style changed with the times.  Here are some of my favorites.  Love this Post-Impressionist scene, Cadaques, 1923.  (Cadaqués is a town in Catalonia, Spain where Dali spent summers as a boy and later made his home as an adult.)

The Portrait of My Dead Brother is huge – 69 in x 69 in.  This older brother was also named Salvador and died at the age of two, before the second Salvador was born.  When you’re close to it you see only the cherries (click on the photo and enlarge to see them) – the two under his nose have joined stems representing him and his brother.  Sorry not great focus – I was using a phone to photograph.  Had to take that one from a room away.

This Surrealistic self-portrait of Dalí surrounded by the elements of war, Daddy Longlegs of the Evening–Hope! was painted in 1939 in the US, where Dali and his wife sought refuge during World War II (The daddy longlegs spider, when seen in the evening, is a French symbol for hope.)  This was the Morses’ first purchase, a wedding present for themselves.

You’ll have to look up this Surrealistic painting, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, to understand all of the references.  It took over a year to paint and is so large, over 14 feet tall and 9 feet wide, I couldn’t get back far enough, with the crowds of people, for a straight shot.  It is amazing.


There is a room where you put on goggles and earphones to move through space made up of symbols in Dali’s paintings.  Sound has been added.  Much fun!

Even the gift shop has Art: this car.

Then the Imagine Museum, a glass museum, which was free that family Saturday, with children doing projects in the cafe area.  Can’t imagine them touring the glass exhibits.  Asked one of the women in charge – she said it was “a challenge.”  I have the names of the artists who did these marvelous pieces, if anyone is interested.

This is not my best photograph.  These are all glass copies of plastic containers.

 

This is all glass.  Amazing.  I had lots more photos, but can’t find them now.  Took them with my FEMA iphone.

 

Anyway, am leaving Tucson tomorrow morning to get back to work.  So figured I ought to post this.  Hasta…

March Sadness

March 27, 2018

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table

It’s raining and the low barometric pressure has made me sleepy, so I left work after only eight hours, and am having a very small cup of iced coffee.

Thinning ranks:  First, one of my compatriots went on leave for two weeks because his wife had breast cancer surgery; he may have to go home again for her chemo.  Then a friend was rear-ended (the perpetrator left the scene) resulting in her rental car jumping a construction barrier; it was totaled; she is taking leave to deal with her subsequent back problems.  And my boss’s wife, six+ months pregnant, has endometriosis, so he’s gone home to take care of their three-year-old.

Missed blogging for the past couple of weeks.  First Pi Day, 3/14.  A retired Japanese engineer, Akira Haraguchi, born 1946, memorized π up to 111,700 digits in 2015.  I believe that is the latest world record.

Stephen Hawking

Then theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died, the three years he had been given to live after his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) having stretched to 55.  I was one of ten million people who tried to read A Brief History of Time, widely called the most unread book of all time.  His computer-generated voice was known to millions of people around the world.

I remember watching him give a lecture in China. (He could just set his computer for Chinese.)  And I saw The Theory of Everything (which details the life of Hawking) in 2014, for which Eddie Redmayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor.  But I hadn’t realized that Hawking had been on the Simpsons numerous times! Simpsons.

Hawking said he wasn’t sure which was the bigger disappointment: His own failure to formulate a unified field theory, or the Springfield intellectuals’ failure to transform the town.

And he appeared on Star Trek TNG Star Trek TNG, playing poker with Data, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein.  But he had a problem when he recently commented on our president:

Stephen Hawking Angers Trump Supporters with Baffling Array of Long Words

By Andy Borowitz May 31, 2016

LONDON (The Borowitz Report)—The theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking angered supporters of Donald J. Trump on Monday by responding to a question about the billionaire with a baffling array of long words.

Speaking to a television interviewer in London, Hawking called Trump “a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator,” a statement that many Trump supporters believed was intentionally designed to confuse them.

Moments after Hawking made the remark, Google reported a sharp increase in searches for the terms “demagogue,” “denominator,” and “Stephen Hawking.”

“For a so-called genius, this was an epic fail,” Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said. “If Professor Hawking wants to do some damage, maybe he should try talking in English next time.”

Later in the day, Hawking attempted to clarify his remark about the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, telling a reporter, “Trump bad man. Real bad man.”

www.newyorker.com

Japanese Garden

Last weekend I went to the Morikami Japanese Gardens.  Unfortunately, the azaleas were missing most of their leaves, the lawns were dried out, and the lakes/ponds were way low.  Hurricane Irma caused “considerable damage” to the Japanese gardens at Morikami Museum in suburban Delray Beach, museum officials say, so most of the problems are hurricane related.  Gee, that was slmost six months ago.

But that shouldn’t affect dry gardens, yes?  The problem, after you’ve seen the most famous dry garden in the world, Ryōan-ji (above – Stephane D’Alu’s photo – I visited Japan sometime around ’86, when photos were taken with a camera and printed, so mine are in a box somewhere), is that few others can hold a candle to it.  Definitely not the Morikami Japanese Gardens.  I guess I was bothered by the lackluster ferns.

A year ago February the gardens had a moment in the international spotlight as First lady Melania Trump and Japan’s first lady Akie Abe toured the grounds.   So the gardens must have looked great then, but you can’t tell by the official photos, which show Mrs. Abe and her retinue, trying to look cheerful, while Melania stares straight ahead, looking like an ice maiden. However, she’s not at all like Hans Christian Andersen’s Ice Maiden.  I think of her as a version of the miller’s daughter who has the run-in with Rumpelstiltskin.  She had to marry the dreadful king.

On the third day, when the girl has been taken to an even larger room filled with straw and told by the king that he will marry her if she can fill this room with gold or execute her if she cannot.

Others that I have visited: The Huntington Gardens 2014/08/10 in LA have a lovely Japanese Garden    The Japanese Tea Garden in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is delightful 2014/01/17.  I have visited the Seattle Japanese Gardens (but neglected to put a photo in a blog) and many beautiful botanical gardens, so I am a bit jaded.

Got “home” and realized that I’d spent not only $13 for the ticket into the gardens, but over $20 for gas, and $16+ for the toll road, mostly one way as I tried to return on back roads.  Then my second phone died.  I had been using them for navigation.  Was going to use one each way but had also used the iphone for photos.  Couldn’t find my car charger before I left; it’s possible that I left it in the last rental car.  This car has a plug-in for the USB cord, but that didn’t seem to work.  I looked it up online (today, not then):

By plugging your phone into a low-power USB port like the one in your car, you allow the device to swallow up power at a rate that’s much too fast for the port’s capabilities. As a result, your phone might stall while it charges, or worse — barely charge at all.  businessinsider

Found a lone gas station on a back road, and swerved right in, as the gas tank was low too, and I pictured myself out of gas in the  middle of nowhere, without even a phone!  Bought another one of those cigarette lighter adaptors.

My Villa

March 13, 2018

Each time we leave on “rotation” we have to check out of our hotel rooms so our flights home are cost-effective.  I decided that I had had enough of the cheerful SeaWorld crowd, and found an apartment in a uge (sorry – I’ll never be able to say that word again without a Trump accent) resort complex, Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa.  I’m in building 90.  (You’ll need to click on this map to read it.) I have a One-Bedroom Deluxe Villa.  Now a villa is supposed to be a large and luxurious country residence.  So they’re trumping up (yes, a real expression meaning concocting especially with intent to deceive) their rentals.

Saturday we were told not to work, so I decided to walk from one end of Westgate to the other.  Took an hour.  I walked out to the Sunset Key Island (top left on the map).  A cay (pronounced key) is a low island or reef of sand or coral, so shouldn’t it just be Sunset Cay?  This photo of the stacks of “villas” is shot from Sunset Key Island.  My “villa” is in the third building from the right.)

 

Quite a mix of people: black, white, older, younger, some with kids, others with dogs, a man in Mickey Mouse ears, most in shorts or bathing suits, but a few women in hijabs.  Didn’t look at all full, but the parking lot was. Took some photos of water birds with my iphone.  Gray heron posing on a fence, limpkin, egret.  And a photo of Sunset Key Island.

I did my usual laundry and grocery shopping and went to the Jewish deli again for bagel and lox.  Then I walked the length of the open-air Marketplace at Dr. Phillips.  65 shops – these are just the restaurants:

Bistro Clo Clo (coming soon), Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, Cariera’s Cucina Italiana, Chamberlin’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Christini’s Ristorante Italiano, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Flame Kabob, Greek Flame Taverna,  Keke’s Breakfast Cafe, Lemon Shark Poke, Lotus Garden Chinese Restaurant, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Nagoya Sushi, Pinkberry, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Stefano’s Grill, Subway, The Dessert Lady, TooJay’s Original Gourmet Deli, Which Wich?, and Yogurtology.

Recycling

I don’t see anyone recycling here.  At work we toss a lot of papers, and I used to put them in the blue wastebasket until I noticed the cleaning guy empty them all into the same bin.  I asked and no, we don’t recycle.  Plus there’s a soda machine in the break room, so imagine how many cans and plastic bottles are thrown out daily.  (I refill my water bottle at the drinking fountain.)

I only went to a local sandwich place once because everything was served in or on Styrofoam!

Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and appears to last forever. It’s resistant to photolysis… This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam floats, means that large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world… a main component of marine debris.

It breaks down into those tiny pellets that sea birds and fish accidentally eat, and die with their stomachs full of them.  Plus it’s poisonous.  Read the whole article: styrofoam

When my hotel room gets cleaned, they change my towels daily, polluting more water, even though I hang them up.  And they toss out a roll of toilet paper if it doesn’t have much on it, and small bars of soap that I could easily use for another week.

I also miss my compost pile.  Last night I was peeling a potato and hated to put the peels into the garbage disposal.

Rental Car

I had a slow leak in one tire, so instead of giving me a coupon to have a tire store fix it, the Avis guy gave me a different car, a Hyundai Elantra.  The black Beetle had had Georgia plates; this one has New York plates.  They’re school-bus-yellow, which is lucky, as I’d never find it in a parking lot otherwise – it blends in with all of the other gray Asian cars.  I miss the heated seats on our cold mornings, but I like having a windshield wiper on the back window.  On foggy mornings the windows fog up and I need to see out the back.  Anyway, when he told me that it had New York plates, he said, So be sure to cut people off and honk a lot!  After that we discussed the dreadful Florida drivers.

On a similar note:  we have two armed guards per floor at work, one for each elevator bank (as FEMA is part of the Department of Home Security), and all they have to do is check our badges as we enter and exit.  So each has a television, and the rest of the time they watch the news.  The other day one was watching a snow storm in New York.  I asked him if he’d ever lived Up North.  He said, Yes, New York!  So I asked him where the worse drivers were – New York or Orlando.  Orlando!  We both laughed.

But we shouldn’t be laughing about the snow.  A co-worker who follows the news announced at lunchtime today that, The Boston Globe reports 155K without power so far.

Rodeo

February 24, 2018

Every 45 days we get a “rotation” home for a week.  My last was for Christmas with my family.  This week it’s for my yearly dentist and doctors’ appointments.  Plus I took my daughter and grandkids to the Tucson Rodeo:

The first La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Celebration of the Cowboys) in 1925 touted three days of events and competition. Today, the event has grown to a nine-day celebration centered on the Tucson Rodeo, one of the top 25 professional rodeos in North America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Had to explain to the oldest children why the broncs buck.  (Has to do with that back strap on their balls…)  And had to include the top right photo – reminded me of a photo I had taken at the Desert Museum Raptor Flight: the-good-guys-lost

Most of the photos are of broncs because that was right in front of us and didn’t happen as quickly as the roping, for example.  (One photo of the start of the roping.)  I bought my grandson another cowboy hat because he lent me his old one.

Movies

Took the grandkids to see Black Panther, it being the current rage.  Pretty good – I especially liked how important the women were in the African nation of Wakanda, especially the king’s sister:

In the technologically advanced world of Wakanda, it isn’t a man who is behind the kingdom’s latest innovations, it’s the hero T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri1

On my own have seen Phantom Thread, mostly because I like Daniel Day-Lewis.  (I remember seeing him in My Left Foot back in 1989.)   I’ve also seen The Shape of Water, mostly because I liked Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy, although I’ve only seen I and II, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Mimic.  (Can do without his Pacific Rim.)  Both Thread and Water have gotten kudos and both of them are very strange.  Not the kind of film that I think of winning an Oscar.  Well, we’ll see on March 4.

Not interested in seeing Darkest Hour as I’ve just watched John Lithgow portray Churchill in the Netflix series The Crown.  But do want to see Ladybird, the rare film that fully acknowledges the complexity of mother-daughter love2.

I’m leaving on a jet plane..

Must return to hot and humid Orlando tomorrow, with its boring 84° temps (humidity: 63%).  Was kinda getting into “winter” here, with a crisp 37° this morning when I got up.  Great news from this week’s doctors: next visit home I get to have a wisdom tooth out and a cataract removed.  At least the dermatologist only zapped a spot off my nose, and my GP wrote a prescription for my yearly stuffed up/cough condition.  But I did get all of my tax materials sent to my accountant, so that’s something I don’t have to worry about come April 17.

A morning’s stillness
At the feeder a goldfinch
In a patch of sun the cat
Thirty-seven
Winter without snow.

1https://www.refinery29.com/2018/02/191332/black-panther-shuri-women-in-tech
2https://www.thecut.com/2017/11/on-mothers-and-daughters-in-greta-gerwigs-lady-bird.html