Sunday, June 25, 2017

the phone call


A lawyer attempting to call his clients had the following conversation with their little boy who answered the phone:

The phone rang and the little boy, in a whisper, says, "Hello."
 

Lawyer: "Is your mommy there?"
Boy: (whisper) "Yes."
 

Lawyer: "Can I speak with her?"
Boy: (whisper) "She's busy."
 

Lawyer: "Is your daddy there?"
Boy: (whisper) "Yes."
 

Lawyer: "Can I speak with him?"
Boy: (whisper) "He's busy."
 

Lawyer: "Is there anyone else there?"
Boy: (whisper) "The fire department."
 

Lawyer: "Can I talk to one of them?"
Boy: (whisper) "They're busy."
 

Lawyer: "Is there anybody ELSE there?"
Boy: (whisper) "The police department."
 

Lawyer: "Well, can I talk to one of THEM?"
Boy: (whisper) "They're busy."
 

Lawyer: "Let me get this straight, your mother,
father, the fire department AND the police department
are ALL in your house, and they're ALL busy. WHAT
are they doing?"
Boy: (whisper) "They're looking for me."


***

In between times of no painting a story can still suggest a picture - as this one did.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will 
make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours”
~ Eric Idle




Monday, June 19, 2017

the passenger


John Bradford, an Irish university student, was on the side of the road hitchhiking on a very dark night and in the midst of a torrential storm.

The night was rolling on and no car went by. The rain and wind were so overwhelming he could barely see. At long last he observed a car that slowly came towards him and stopped just a few feet away.

John, desperate for shelter and without thinking about it, got into the car and closed the door... Only then did he realize there was nobody behind the wheel and the engine wasn’t running. The car started moving slowly. John looked at the road ahead and saw a curve approaching. Scared, he started to pray, begging for his life. Then, just before the car hit the curve, a hand appeared out of nowhere through the window, and turned the wheel. John, paralyzed with terror, watched as the hand came through the window, but never touched or harmed him.

Shortly thereafter, John saw the lights of a pub appear down the road, so, gathering all his courage, he jumped out of the car and ran to that comforting beacon of normality. Wet and out of breath, he rushed inside and started telling everybody about the horrible experience he had just had.

A silence enveloped the pub when everybody realized he was crying... and that he wasn’t drunk.

Suddenly, the door opened, and two other people walked in from the dark and stormy night. They, like John, were also soaked and out of breath. Looking around, and seeing John Bradford sobbing at the bar, one said to the other...

Look, Paddy... there’s that idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it!



I imagine you may have heard this one before, but just in case you haven't..

Monday, June 12, 2017

fear of flying with Crow


Recently Crow attended the nuptials of his cousin Cornelius and his lovely bride Hortensia. Aren't they a sweet couple?* and, yes, it was a lovely wedding.

When he returned he told me the guests at the reception had been quite disturbed about the news that humans are planning to annoy and irritate the flocks (more than they already are) by attempting to transport themselves to and from their various destinations by flying car. According to reports these vehicles are designed to fly 10 metres off the ground at a maximum speed of 100kph. Hmmm..

Anyway, here are some of Crow's thoughts on the matter:

I can understand a great deal of excitement has been generated among humans about being able to fly to the shop for a bottle of milk, but humans have certain handicaps in this regard that aren't shared by those of us born with wings. Ahem.

1. Birds, not having hands with opposable thumbs, do not text - ever.

2. When a bird decides to land most of us are small enough to find safety on a branch or on a roof. People in flying cars will not have this option.

3. Birds can glide. If anything goes wrong with your flying car it will become a flying brick. 

4. The number of new things a flying car could crash into are too numerous to list.

5. There aren’t too many scenarios where a crash could be trivial. At 10 metres high and 100kph you'll be ensured of serious injuries - and not necessarily just to yourself.

6. There aren’t even the beginnings of any sort of 'road rules' for flying cars.

7. We teach our young to fly. Who will teach yours?

8. What about traffic lights?

9. Unlike birds having the occasional 'accident' as we fly over your grounded cars, or selves, what happens to those below when you notoriously messy humans throw things out of your flying cars?

10. We can fly anywhere we like, but what of flying cars? Where will they fly? and will they sing and make happy chirping sounds outside your window? 


I fear there will be no peace anywhere.


After we talked about these unconsidered scenarios Crow and I watched a movie I remembered enjoying years ago. Called 'The Fifth Element', it does feature some flying cars:



Is this a modern development you're looking forward to enjoying?

* Family Wedding by Rudi Hurzlmeier



Article of the week: False flags

Sunday, June 4, 2017

other people's work #296 - Anthony Howe


Anthony Howe lives with his wife on an island off the coast of Washington surrounded by little more than trees, wind, and other natural elements that inspire his incredible kinetic sculptures. He works primarily with stainless steel which he welds to create carefully engineered objects powered by the slightest breeze. His wind-powered, carefully designed kinetic contraptions are so well thought out it’s hard to believe they’re sturdy, welded metal constructions. When a gentle breeze begins to blow, the sculpture’s wind-catching spoons and paddles begin to turn, and the entire piece begins to undulate in fascinating patterns.

But better you see for yourself:



They are mesmerizing.
I have no backyard.
Even if I did...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

new friends


Some years ago a science fiction novel I read described two different groups of humans as part of the overall story. The first group, ur-humans, were descendants of people who had been brought from Earth long ago who had been mentored by a civilization of inter-galactic beings. The second group, r-humans were more like us. They had struggled their way to a technologic society that had eventually bootstrapped its way into space. I no longer remember the name of the book, and that aspect was just a small part of a larger overall tale, but I rather liked the idea that there were humans who felt they were an organic part of a greater civilization.

Science fiction done well allows us to see our behaviour in perspective. I found a blog whose author wrote 365 very short science fiction stories over the course of 365 days. Here's one of them:

Holy Place

The priest’s words echoed through St. Peter’s soaring arches, resounding off acres of inlaid marble and porphyry. The murmur of tourists gawking and taking pictures stopped. Heads turned.

The priest stood before Michelangelo’s Pièta, hair the colour of clouds, cassock dark as a storm. A trio of Shivers had just entered the basilica and stood, clicking, their many limbs shifting nervously.

This was in the early days, when seeing an alien walking around was still rare. One of them inclined its glossy head. “We have come to admire the treasures of this place,” it said.

The priest’s eyes flashed with a dark light. “The house of God is not open to demons,” he said. “This place is for the baptized.”

The aliens clicked animatedly to each other. At length they turned to the priest together and bowed, forelegs splaying across the marble floor. “Then baptize us, father,” said the leader.

The priest blinked. “You … You wish to be baptized?” he said.

The lead Shiver nodded.

The priest’s gaze wandered over the aliens: many-legged, restlessly moving under their glossy black carapaces. He remembered the vast ships they had shown on TV, cloud-streaked, shadowing cities.

He breathed out, slowly.

“So you wish to be baptized,” he said. “His Holiness will want to hear of this … Follow me, children.”

The Shivers scurried after him. “Praise be to Allah!” they shouted.

The priest spun on them. “What!?” he said.

“Sorry,” said the lead Shiver. “Is there a difference?”




Article of the week: Manchester, or Innocence Long Lost 
by Raul Ilargi Meijer

Sunday, May 21, 2017

diving Crow blues *


Now if the river was brandy
And I was out diving with Crow
Now if the river was Remy
And I was out diving with Crow
I would dive in that bottle
And I'd never let go.

If the world treats you badly
You could go diving with us
If you got only hard times
We'll take you diving with us
Just grab your suit and flippers
There is nothing to discuss.

The river flows to the ocean
As you can surely see
Those oil guys were brazen
With their lies and treachery
Why these rich folk are so greedy
Is a mystery to me

Now they tell us Fukushima
Is just as calm as the sea
There is nothing left to see there
Things are good as they can be
But we know that they are lying
Though there's no news on tv

It's just money that matters
And they know they won't get caught
Cause they paid the politicians
Who said they never could be bought
There's no truth in what they tell you
Is what my dear mother taught

If the river was brandy
We wouldn't need a cup
If the river was Remy
We'd have a fine roundup
We can swim to the bottom
And we'll drink our way up.

So if the world treats you badly
You could go diving with us
If you got only hard times
We'll take you diving with us
Just grab your suit and flippers
There is nothing to discuss.


^ With apologies to Sleepy John Estes
* reprise from 2011 because it's all still true

Sunday, May 14, 2017

we need a miracle



Okay, I give up. It's a Sunday in the middle of May and we're still experiencing decent spring weather only once in every other week. The news I read keeps getting worse and Crow has locked himself in his library where he's working on a book he's titled 'Apathetic Agnostic: We Don't Know and We Don't Care'. So in the absence of anything else to do I've found a few church signs and bulletins that made me laugh. Sometimes that's all we can do.


Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

The beautiful flowers on the altar this morning are to celebrate the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

At the Ladies Liturgy Society this Thursday, Mrs. Smith will sing “Put Me In My Little Bed” accompanied by the pastor.


At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our bell choir practice.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They maybe seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

The Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 P.M. Please use the back door.

On Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the expense of a new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will please come forward to get a piece of paper.


There is a sign-up sheet for anyone wishing to be baptized on the table in the foyer.

Janet Smith has volunteered to strip and refinish the communion table in the sanctuary.

The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

The preacher will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth With Joy".

The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister's daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.


The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I upped My Pledge----Up Yours."

Visiting Missionary: Bertha Belch.
Announcement: "Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa".

Thursday at 5:00PM there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All wishing to become Little Mothers, please see the minister in his study.

This evening at 7 PM there will be a group practice in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Twenty-two members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

The Sunday Night Men's Glee Club will meet on Saturday at the park, unless it rains. In that case they will meet at their regular Tuesday evening time.


The class on prophecy has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the Church. Children will be Baptized at both ends.

The 'Over 60s Choir' will be disbanded for the summer with the thanks of the entire church.

Over the massive front doors of a church, these words were inscribed: "The Gates of Heaven". Below that was a small cardboard sign which read: "Please use other entrance."


and my favorite recent video is this one.. not linked because I found out youtube doesn't pay creators for movies shown on other sites. This man (and his friends) could probably use a little money.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

magic island


The phrase, "I'm going to Yemen," doesn't come up very often in my experience - less so nowadays. It's a place I first read about a few years ago that looked like one of those amazing landscapes we'd only encounter in a science fiction novel - Ray Bradbury's 'Mars' perhaps. Hidden away in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Socotra is a small collection of four islands that are part of Yemen in the Middle East. The largest among them is known as Socotra. While officially a part of Yemen, the island is 340 km (210 miles) away from Yemen while it is a mere 240 km (150 miles) away from Somalia. On all sides, the island is surrounded by a vast expanse of water.


Some 250 million years or more ago, when all the planet’s major landmasses were joined and most major life-forms roamed freely from one region to another, Socotra already stood as an island apart. Ever since Socotra has been a breeding ground of birds, plants and animals. The isolation from other land masses meant whatever evolutionary process the flora and fauna underwent never spread to the mainland.


While small in size, measuring 132 km (82 miles) long and 49.7 km (31 miles) wide this little, isolated island is a treasure trove of unusual things. Completely isolated, separated from land for millions of years, the flora and fauna have remained largely untouched by man and are found nowhere else in the world. The island's harsh environment includes wide sandy beaches, limestone caves and towering mountains, but is for the most part very hot and dry leading to the distinctive appearance of its plants.


If you want to read more and see more pictures you can find them here, but please don't mention the place to the Saudis or Elon Musk. We'll just let them think these really are pictures of Mars and they really should get out there right away.

* Lindsay found this beautiful video of the Socotran landscape. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” ― Groucho Marx


I have no idea where this picture came from, just that it showed up on my screen one day and I couldn't help but save it for my own viewing pleasure. How on earth did the photographer get 23 (your count may be different) dogs to all pose in such a cheerful group? Although most dogs get along with one another quite well it's exceedingly odd to see them arranged in neat rows like a football team or an old fashioned school class. Looking at it makes me happy.

“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”

― Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings 



If there's a saving grace for humanity it's that our dogs love us.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

orphans


It's pretty much common knowledge that many of London's children were sent away to the safety of the English countryside during the WWII Blitz. What's less commonly known is that a number of those children who went to charity institutions never returned to their families but instead were sent overseas to the Commonwealth countries in a child migrant program that relocated thousands of them. Most were told their parents were dead. In general, that wasn't true but the parents who went looking for them later were told they'd been adopted by loving families who were taking good care of the children. That turned out not to be true in many cases either.

In all, approximately 130,000 British children between the ages of three and fourteen  were deported to Australia, Canada, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and New Zealand between the 1920s and the 1970s. Rather than finding new homes and loving families, never mind the oranges, sunshine, and ponies they'd been promised, many of them suffered servitude, hard labour and abuse in remote orphanages and farms. You can read more about it here if you're unfamiliar with the story. I'd write more about it myself but having spent several days reading about the tragedies that befell so many youngsters it's easier for me to direct you to some of the sources I found. Many of the individual stories are shocking and very disturbing.

Even more distressing, if anything more were needed, was learning that the British government began the policy of sending away it's 'surplus children' as far back as the 17th century when 150 'waifs' were shipped to Virginia to work on farms. Between 1869 and 1935, it's estimated 100,000 unaccompanied children were sent as indentured workers to countries that needed the laborers and also to enlarge their population of white people.

It was not until the early 1980s that Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys found out that there were former migrants in Australia who were just realizing they might have living relatives in the UK. One day an Australian woman contacted her, to say she was trying to find her mother. The woman said she had been taken from a children's home in Nottingham and sent to Australia by boat, aged four, during the 1950s. Could Humphreys help? Her plea lead to a quest that would take Humphreys across the world and uncover a scandalous policy used to forcibly ship thousands of British children away from their homes.

While a number of those now grown children were able to be reunited with their families (and apologies made by the governments of Britain, Australia and New Zealand - but not Canada), it's not possible to undo the damage or to take back the years. I wept while I watched the video of the 65 year old woman meeting her 86 year old mother for the first time in more than six decades.

I understand childhood was always hard for the poor but I imagine there were compensations in being poor among your own. Thank goodness Margaret Humphreys was there to help before it was too late for any reunions.