Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dog Days of Summer Part 1

It is hot today.  85 degrees in the shade.  Our community has a lovely dog park.  It is fenced and grassy.  There are plastic chairs and a water spigot with dog bowl.The west fence borders a bike trail - a reclaimed railroad right-of-way that runs 35 miles from salt water to the base of Mt. Rainier.  The west fence is also shady and I sat there this afternoon watching my puppy play.  He is five months old.  He easily amused himself.  Bikers passed frequently along the trail.  For five or six seconds they were within earshot of my chair.  Here are a few snippets of conversation - each a short story.

"...his family.  Aren't you ever invited ?"

"..other things left in the car.  Do we need...."

Girl biker "... one more mile.."
Boy biker " more mile..."

" ...without the key we don't...."

Girl biker "..don't see why not"
Girl biker "Do I dare..."

Boy biker "What the *** is that?"
Girl biker "dog park"
Boy biker "Let's...."

Boy biker 1 "... which Lake?"
Boy biker 2 "we're headed the wrong way"

"... still at work with all those..."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fast Draw Weed Killer

I watch television.  I am unapologetic.  I enjoy some of the programs, and many of the ads.  Sponsors pay dearly for market research, focus groups and product development.  The media offer expected audience broken down by sex, age group, education and occupation.  The ad that we see is expected to appeal specifically to the target audience.  I am curious about the ads for weed killer.  Over several years, in ads for several different products, the action is the same.  The weed, often a dandelion, usually animated, struggles up through a crack in the driveway concrete.  The homeowner, always male, often shot looking up from the weeds' vantage, readies, aims and fires.  He holds the spray-bottle of weed killer in a pistol grip.  Western drama theme music plays. Sometimes his neighbor, using a competitive product is vanquished.  The weed withers.  What do the advertisers know about male homeowners in the 35 to 50 age group?  Do they all harbor dreams of a shoot out in OK corral? Is weed management on their minds?  Apparently women don't yearn to shoot weeds.  In case you have not seen these ads, here is a classic:

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I am reading about war again.  Two very good books:  "We Band Of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese" by Elizabeth Norman; and "Quiet Hero; Secrets From My Father's Past" by Rita Cosby.  Cosby's father fought with the Polish resistance in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.  These books are not about rape, but rape is always part of the story.  Rape is always part of war.  Rape is never given as a reason that we are moved to intervene in other countries' affairs.  We declare a national interest in geo-political stability, protecting strategic oil supplies, or protecting citizens from chemical weapons or ethnic genocide.  Rape should be reason enough.  What do we expect of the outcome of rape?  Do we think about the social instability of a woman raising the child of rape?  What does she say to her child?  How does she explain?  How are her values reflected in her loyalty to her child, her country, her conquerors or what we antiseptically call "civil society"?  First the violation of the act.  Then the life long consequence.  Can she overcome her outrage and mother her babe?  Who will she trust again?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

You Go Girl

Four year old filly Estimate breaks for the win at the Gold Cup, Royal Ascot's biggest race.  Her proud owner is seen clapping, cheering and beaming with pride.  In the winner's circle the Duke of York (aka Prince Charles) presents the trophy to his mother, 87 year old Queen Elizabeth II.  The race is in its 207th year.  The Queen's love of horses and the track is legendary.  She has bred horses since receiving the filly Astrakhan as a wedding present from the Aga Kahn.  She is the first reigning monarch to win the prestigious Gold Cup. (The 75 year old Aga Kahn is the Imam of Ismaili Muslims.  There are 15 million Ismaili Muslims living in countries around the world.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Have You Sipped Its Nectar This Year?

Honeysuckle.  Along a trail near my house where I walk my dogs there is an overgrown thicket of honeysuckle.  In the evening the dizzying fragrance fills the air.  I cannot resist.  I pluck a flowering branch and pull off a single yellow tube.  I suck out the tiny drop of sweet nectar.  I reach for another. 

Honeysuckle is not native to North America. It was introduced in the 19th Century as an ornamental plant for erosion control.  It thrives throughout the country.  It displaces native plants, kills shrubs and trees as it climbs and weaves, choking off sunlight.  But oh, the pleasure.  The deep nectar reservoir in the long tubular flower is easily managed by visiting hummingbirds.  (The hummingbird's tongue extends well beyond its long beak.  The base of the tongue is at the back of the skull letting the tongue wrap over the head when not in use.)

Honeysuckle blooms in early summer.  If you crave the scent year round, there is a fragrance for that: Burberry London for Women, or Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl Summer.  For now, just take a walk wherever nature runs wild. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Who Wiped Down the Machines?

In the news tonight is a brief respite from the scandals and protests.  In  Northern Ireland, County Fermanagh at the 5 star resort Lough Erne a new tension arose among the world leaders.  The G8 Summit brought them there, journeying finally through the small village of Enniskillen.  (A note about the Irish economy.  It is still awful.  The Summit hosts dressed up the empty store fronts of Enniskillen with wrap around posters to hide the sorry truth.)  To get a taste of the scope of available pleasure at Lough Erne visit this BBC presentation.  Watch the commercial to get to the film clip shot just before the guests arrived.  Today we learn that the vast resort was unable to accommodate the requests of Presidents Obama and Putin who both wanted exclusive use of the hotel gym at the same time.  In a sort of "rock, paper, scissors" triage, President Obama's request trumped as it was phoned in first.  President Putin went for a fast swim in a cold local lake.  This has all been well covered by the media.  Imagine the photo opportunity.  Imagine the security nightmare.  Imagine what might have happened.   Seems to me they missed a chance to talk.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Ice Cream Truck Brings me Back

Last September I wrote about the ice cream truck that cruises my neighborhood.  It is back.  The distant notes of "The Music Box Dancer" bring me to the curb with my money.  Closer and louder.  On my street there are children riding bikes, scattering now to ask permission for a creamsicle.   In case you haven't had a truck on your street, here is a glimpse of one passing by: