Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tattoo Dreaming #12

Another Beauty of a Tattoo.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I'm Listening To #87

"Up with the sun, Gone with the wind..... Out to the road, Out 'neath the stars, Feeling the breeze, Passing the cars."

Sitting at home, thinking of friends, listening to Seger, this evening soon ends...

And if none of this makes any sense to you, well, you weren't born in 1961, and you didn't live near Detroit in 1978.

These are the memories that make me a wealthy soul....dreaming like a young man, with the wisdom of an old man...

Glee Quote of the Week, Episode 16 "Home"

In a word, "Back". In a phrase, "Back in the saddle." I can't remember when I've been so excited about a TV Show.

For two weeks now, I feel like I've been to CHURCH when the hours is over. No, I take that back, church isn't nearly as powerful as Glee.

So there are quotes and here they are:

Second runner up: "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to put in a call to the Ohio Secretary of State. You know why? People should know who I am." ~ Sue Sylvester

First runner up: "I'm pretty sure my cat's been reading my diary." ~ Brittany

This week's winner: "You have a week to loose ten pounds. That's like loosing one of my butt-cheeks. Look what I'm eating: peeled celery, and for breakfast I had Splenda." ~ Kurt Hummell

Funny and cleaver as ever, but this week also incredibly poignant. If this show was just funny, it would be like "Will & Grass," if were just cleaver, it would rival "The Big Bang Theory". If it were both, it would be another "The Office." -- And none of these comes with songs! But it's all of this and more, and this week it really emphasized the MORE.

So the three most amazing poignant moments are (in sequential order, not based on any quality standard), and a seminal quote from one of the key players:

1) Mr. Hummell and Kurt's confrontation. "Suddenly I'm not the guy who sat through "River Dance" for three years in a row?" ~ Mr. Hummell.

2) Mercedes Jackson and Quinn Fabre in the nurse's office after Mercedes passed out from hunger. "When you start eating for someone else; so that they can grow and be healthy, your relationship to food changes. What I realized is that if I'm willing to eat right to take care of this baby: Why am I not willing to do it for myself?" ~ Quinn Fabre

3) Finn Hudson and his mother when he tried to teach her a lesson by threatening to dump the ashes of his father. "This family manages. We get by. You just don't know any differently, because you think what we have is normal." ~ Carol Hudson

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Art I Owning #8

After my first purchase from Chicago based artist Dean Grey back in the autumn of 2009, I have been so happy with it. So when he finally produced this companion piece entitled "Survivor," I just had to try and purchase it to go with it's mate, "Crumbling".

And the bottom line? I won.

Dean is an amazing artist, who no doubt has more beauty in him to come out in works of art than he has days on the calendar. And every expression of that beauty is a gift. I hope he's still making amazing art, long after these examples are in the homes of my heirs or some museum somewhere. For me, the subject matter is especially precious. I love trees.

I have always loved trees. Growing up as a boy in Michigan, my first love was the monumental crabapple in my backyard that literally spanned the whole yard and topped out with the pinnacles of the telephone poles that traversed the rear fence line of the yard. I've never seen a larger one anywhere. And once you're hooked, you just keep noticing and admiring trees. Can leaves be far behind?

Not for me. I've familiarized myself with hundreds of them as tools for identifying species, and it's like so much in my hyper curious world, I've only just scratched the surface. That this is a water maple leaf by shape is a no brainer. That the colors defy everything I know about the species ~ a brilliant curiosity.

And here is the first painting again. A Silver Maple in traditional colors. No matter, they are amazing exercises in contrast. The old iconic arguments between The Real and The Ideal, perhaps. I know that they will give me much joyful contemplation thoughout the life I've been given: I've Crumbled, and I've Survived.

Oil Oil Everywhere......

From a satellite in the atmosphere on Sunday, this is an image of the oil slick caused when the British Petroleum owned oil rig, The Deepwater Horizon, after it exploded and eventually sank. Since this picture was taken another 60,000 or so gallons of raw oil have escaped from the uncapped drill hole left by the floating platform. As nasty as it is, it doesn't hold a candle to the infamous Exxon Valdez spill in Prudhomme Bay, Alaska. That behemoth released 11,000,000 gallons of oil into the sea. For this spill to equal that one the uncapped hole on the gulf's bottom would have to continue to discharge 42,000 gallons a day unabated until Thursday, January 13, 2011. Not much chance in that happening.

So LOOK at the area covered by this relatively small spill. And imagine what it would be like if it were to cover 26 x's as much of the Gulf of Mexico. That's what the spill of the Exxon Valdez did to the waters off of Alaska.

And if you ask me, this looks oily and slimy enough as it is.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Today's Sermon #24

from I Sing The Body Electric


This is the female form,
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot,
It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,
I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor,
all falls aside but myself and it,
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what
was expected of heaven or fear'd of hell, are now consumed,
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response
likewise ungovernable,
Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all
diffused, mine too diffused,
Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling
and deliciously aching,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of
love, white-blow and delirious nice,
Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the
prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh'd day.

This the nucleus--after the child is born of woman, man is born
of woman,
This the bath of birth, this the merge of small and large, and the
outlet again.

Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the
exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.

The female contains all qualities and tempers them,
She is in her place and moves with perfect balance,
She is all things duly veil'd, she is both passive and active,
She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as

As I see my soul reflected in Nature,
As I see through a mist, One with inexpressible completeness,
sanity, beauty,
See the bent head and arms folded over the breast, the Female I see.

~ Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garden Up-dates

Let's start with a revisit to the native azalea now that it's in full bloom. As I've considered it more, I think this is actually a member of the Rhododendron family. Yet, isn't it also just edibly delicious?

Here's a close up of the Wild Geraniums that are now blooming beneath the native azalea. They can be found in three others areas of my gardens and all are progeny of the one that I brought form my old Kentucky home when I moved to Takoma Park back in 1994. The original plant was given to me by one Mrs. Crouse and president of the Wilmore, Kentucky garden society back around 1990. Who knows where she got her first one from? True gardeners are generous people. I'm to the point of developing an annual plant mart of my own. I have distributed celandine poppies, phlox, lysimachia, helleborus, and even mayapples. Perhaps it's time I cultivated this and made a little change off it?

I filled the bed beneath the kitchen window with pansies and violas back when it was mostly just dirt. Now they rise and compete with the thick and voracious colony of yellow Moon Flowers, as well as, an amazingly robust group of Japanese Anemone. And the effect is way more interesting than the dirt that used to be there!

I will end this post with a revisit to some of the ferns in the lower woodland bed. Here are the three Tassel ferns that I planted last August back with a real gusto. They are so full and vibrant, I can hardly wait for them to begin colonizing. The fern at the bottom is the native Christmas Fern that I obtained from a friend's property in southern Maryland a decade ago. And here it is looking as healthy and verdant as it ever has. Amazing and delighting me every time I visit it.

I conclude this visit with the newly forming bed of Ostrich ferns. I bought two of them last year and planted them here; now, I have nothing short of 13 unique mounds. I couldn't be happier, but I will tell you this: I purposefully selected the two original ferns not based on size, but by the number of runners that they appeared to be sporting. I figured that size was an attribute of nurture, while proliferation had more to do with innate genetic disposition. I can feed them, but I can't make them spread if it isn't in their inborn nature to do so. Was I right? I don't know, but I am pleased!

Saturday Funny

A German advertisement "in English" promoting safer sex practices. Don't suppose it gets any safer than this!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Family Life

Another year of "Family Life" instruction is history. A sub in the building commented to me as I waited in the hall for the students to arrive for today's lesson that she felt sorry for me. She couldn't be more mistaken. Of all the things I am privileged to teach children, their first shot at sex education is the most sacred and important.

The lessons are done in 5 days and are coed for the first 4. Students participate only with parental permission in writing. Of the 119 fifth graders at my school only 2 did not receive permission. ALL materials are available for any parent to view or read for a month ahead of instruction and an ad hoc committee of parents chosen by the PTA and the teachers meet a month ahead of time to review the lesson plans and discuss any concerns. It's one of the most democratic and collaborative things we do in school.

The content includes the general characteristics of maturation from the onset of puberty thanks to the pituitary gland. Both male and female reproductive system parts are identified and their roles in the process are described. Changes in feelings and self-esteem are also important components of the instruction. The process of menstruation is also described as an event and by it's purpose in the reproduction process.

In recent years, a Family Values group has inserted itself into the process being no longer content to simply withhold their children from the lessons. So there is a growing list of words and phrases that I am not permitted to say; however, we are permitted to watch a wonderful video that covers most of the things that we are not allowed to say like "masturbation is an act that both boys and girls engage in and that it is normal and natural." News FLASH: most 11/12 years have figured this out already and it's a gift to have someone they respect present this little fact to them even in the format of a 20 year-old video.

I've been doing this since 1984 myself, and I would say this about today's kids. They ask questions that are 1,000 times more sophisticated, they rarely display embarrassment, they know how to spell "Masturbation". And when I addressed one question with the reminder that it was not a topic that I could respond to, a helpful classmate in all seriousness called out, "Google it".

Google It! ~ Made me almost feel obsolete. And woe betide any parent who thinks that their child doesn't already have this figured out. They're a fool.

My advice? Don't protect your children from the ocean, teach them how to swim.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Glee: The Skinny on Jonathan Groff

Where to begin.... Jonathan Groff is one of the newest additions to the cast of Glee. He plays the character of Jesse St. James who was the lead performer on their arch nemesis glee club "Vocal Adrenalin". Now he's McKinley High's newest student, dating "New Directions" ingenue, Rachel, and presumed to be of nefarious intents -- but can Glee work its magic on him? Time will obviously tell.

Now, the facts:

1) The character's name is the same as an famous female porn star: Jessie St. James. Some low down ~

Jessie St. James is an American pornographic actress who was one of the biggest stars of the "Golden Age of Porn".

She made her debut in hardcore pornographic films in 1975 with a small part in Blue Heat. She acted on and off for several years, then began working full time in 1979. Among her earlier films were Blonde Fire, "EASY", and Insatiable. St. James was older than most of her contemporaries, and played characters like housewives or schoolteachers in most of her notable roles

2) The Actor. Some low down ~

Jonathan Groff was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to parents Jim and Julie Groff. He is a native of Ronks, Pennsylvania. Groff graduated from Conestoga Valley High School in 2003. His family raised him in the Mennonite Church. Openly gay, Groff told during the National Equality March on Washington, D.C., that he is "gay and proud".

3) His Career up to Glee. Some low down ~

Groff is best known for originating the role of Melchior Gabor in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening. He played the role from the musical's Broadway debut on December 10, 2006 through May 18, 2008. He also played the same role in the original Off Broadway production earlier during the summer of 2006. Other Broadway credits include the 2005 musical, In My Life. Jonathan also was in the National Tour of The Sound of Music as Rolf, and appeared in Fame at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, Massachusetts.

In April 2007, he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his role in Spring Awakening. In May 2007, he was nominated for the Tony Award as Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance, with the award eventually going to David Hyde Pierce for his performance in Curtains. Jonathan left Spring Awakening on May 18, 2008. Part of his decision to leave was due to his starring role as Claude in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Hair, which ran July 22 through August 31.

Some earlier jobs of his included being a waiter at The Chelsea Grill in Hell's Kitchen, a ride operator at Dutch Wonderland, and a counselor at a theater camp in York, Pennsylvania where he taught acting to 11 and 12 year olds.

Earthquake Central 04

In the past 7 days there have been 6 Earthquakes on Papua-New Guinea. The red square occurred with this hour, the two blues within the past 24 hours from left to right they reached magnitudes of: Yellow 5.0, red 5.0, blue 5.1, blue 5.4, little yellow 4.9, big yellow 6.3. Can you imagine?

Glee Quote of the Week, Episode 15 "The Power Of Madonna"

This week's line goes to Santana: "Everything about you screams virgin. You're about as sexy as a cabbage patch kid. It's exhausting to look at you!"

Runners up:

"When I pulled my hamstring, I went to a misogynist." ~ Brittany

And, "Would you please stop talking? You've grossing out my baby." ~ Quinn

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What I'm Watching #235

This is a sweet film that turned out to be more interesting than it initially appeared. Nothing happened, while so many things were instigated -- like a French film. The lead, Eric Debets, was delightful. The plot was about a man who had the insight to relocate to a fantasy world in a time of duress, and the moxie to realize that running away isn't redemptive, even if it is necessary to gain the perspective to heal. Well worth the time to watch!

A is for Azaleas In April

It is azalea time again and here are a couple of the early bloomers.
These flank my deck and brighten the way to my Buddha statue who sits at a fork in the path--the perfect place to seek insights beneath the canopy created by two entwined Japanese Maples.
Here's one that is a native cultivar. When I bought it it had yellow blooms, but now it comes to spring with these amazing tangerine flowers.
And you can see that they are really compacted collections of flowers more like rhododendrons than azaleas. I have to keep them sprayed, too, 'cause the deer love them.
This final shot is of this magnificent pink beauty that hugs the faux gas light at the stop of the steps from the street. Even without the sun to illuminate them, they just seem to glow!

Earthquake Central 03

This weekend has been one for Central America to shake.

From Top to Bottom of this map: 4.6 in Mexico (April 12), 5.6 in Guatemala (April 18), 4.4 off of the coast of El Salvador (April 12), 4.7 off of the coast of El Salvador (April 16), 4.6 in Nicaragua (April 17), 5.4 off of the coast of Nicaragua (April 17), 4.8 off of the coast of Nicaragua (April 17).

On Saturday this 5.4 quake shook the ocean floor just west of Managua, Nicaragua. It was felt all along the western coast of Nicaragua, with reports of light damage coming in from Masaya and Léon. It was followed by a second temblor of 4.8 with almost the same epicenter later in the day.

Again around 7:30 PM a third quake occurred on the mainland of Nicaragua. The epicenter of about 10 miles WNW of Managua. Again reports of light damage have come in from people living in Ciudad Sandino, Villa El Carmen, and Ticuantepe.

Now this morning this 5.6 Earthquake hits Guatemala. It's still only just an hour since it occurred, so reports of damage are very preliminary. The worst thus far are reports of moderate damage coming in from Tapachula, Mexico on the Guatemalan border. The reach of the quake extends north to Tuxla Gutierrez, Mexico and south to San Salvador, El Salvador. East in Guatemala to the city of Cahabón.

What I'm Reading #28

Finally, got to this long anticipated memoir and it's even more beautifully written than I imagined. It's a tale of life that reads like a beautiful prose poem. I've never been a big fan of Patti Smith's music, although I appreciate it, but her writing style is so lyrical that it's easy to get lost in its magic. Here's a sample:

"When I was very young, my mother took me for walks in Humboldt Park, along the edge of the Prairie River. I have vague memories, like impressions on glass plates, of an old boathouse, a circular band shell, an arched stone bridge. The narrows of the river emptied into a wide lagoon and I saw upon its surface a singular miracle. A long curving neck rose from a dress of white plumage.

"Swan, my mother said, sensing my excitement. It pattered the bright water, flapping its great wings, and lifted into the sky.

"The word alone hardly attested to its magnificence nor conveyed the emotion it produced. The sight of it generated an urge I had no words for, a desire to speak of the swan, say something of its whiteness, the explosive nature of its movement, and the slow beating of its wings.

"The swan became one with the sky. I struggled to find words to describe my own sense of it. Swan, I repeated, not entirely satisfied, and I felt a twinge, a curious yearning, imperceptible to passersby, my mother, the trees, or the clouds."

A Year In Photos: Obama

After watching this, I can say: I've never been so proud to be an American.

And unlike the way that the Fox hounds made an issue out of Michelle Obama's statement about pride in America, I can say that there have been times in my life when I was ashamed for my nation and the way it's ideals were being perverted by past governments.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eyjafjallajokull Redux 02: Random Thoughts

Three more thoughts:

1) Comparing this map with the previous one I posted from yesterday you can see that the cloud has thickened and moved further south, north, and east. Most people in the United States don't know that Iceland is the current really "bad boy" of Europe. In a nutshell, it has to do with the fact that during the global financial crisis' days of collapse, the banking system of Iceland went kaput and took with it large amounts of investments from other countries, most notably the United Kingdom. Every since, they've been trying to get the Icelandic people to choose abject poverty for an indeterminate period of time in order to make good on the fiscal promises of its banks -- the people of Iceland have basically responded with that classic Latin credo, "Caveat Emptor." a.k.a. it's your tough shit.

I mention this because the people of Iceland have got to feel pretty beleaguered by the relentless demands of the folks on the continent and all the pressure and threats from the European Union as a whole. Now we all now that Iceland is inhabited by fairy elves. LOTS OF FAIRY ELVES! Thirteen distinct varieties of mischievous elusive little people who help to determine the fortunes of every man, woman and child on the windswept island. I know you know where I'm heading with this. Could it be? Dare I suggest that this little airspace and growing economic catastrophe might just be the elves finally weighing on the whole EU versus Iceland kerfuffle over something as pedestrian and human as "money"? Just sayin'. Don't mess with the elves!

2) On another point, I am SO FREAKING GLAD that President Obama has decided to forego his presence at the funeral of President Lech Kaczynski. With the cloud of ash only growing worse and more problematic and with the Frederick Chopin (awesome choice for the name!) International Airport in Warsaw already closed for business, Obama's earlier assertion that he would go seemed insane. I had to ask, has his celebrity gone to his head? Or is his need for the votes from the Polish communities in Chicago, IL, Hamtramic, MI, and Sanduski, OH worth risking his life? My best friend in the whole entire world is Polish, I love the contribution of Poland's sons and daughters to America, BUT for heaven's sake, anyone who doesn't think that this proposed journey was nuts from the outset can vote for the dog catcher for all I care.

3) Whenever something like this happens, the best and worst of people comes out. It may, in fact, be the only redeemable aspect of a catastrophe: those who survive often find a deeper sense of grace when dealing with the rest of life. I can only imagine how the frustration index in airports, train stations, hotels all around Europe must be peaking in the red zone. And not only Europe, but around the world the ripple effect must be scrambling sensibilities and perspectives everywhere. Given the fact that the arrogance of so many people of means has increased with the growing gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" over the past half-century, it's almost a miracle that no one has escalated their anger to the level of a riot.

And blessed be those who's actions have been a balm to the frustrations of others. Here's a testimony I scarfed from the New York Times blog about Eyiafiallaiokull's eruption and how one airline in one city has attempted to deal with the crisis:

"My daughter was stranded in Singapore, unable to continue on to Paris. Singapore Airlines was magnificent! They provide stranded passenger with sleeping bags and meals. As soon as they coulkd they put up the elderly and parents with children at local hotels; then worked on accommodating everyone else that they could. This included paying for transportation to, and eventually back to the airport. My daughter reported that most people were polite but there were some very rude passengers with whom the Singaporian representatives were very kind, understanding, and professional. She was extremely grateful that she was flying Singapore Airlines. Thank you so much Singapore Airlines for a job above and beyond, I will never forget your professionalism and basic human kindness to my daughter!!"

That made me happy. And YES, thank you, Singapore Airlines.

Craig David ~ Muy Caliente!

If you've never heard of him before, here's some odd little details about his life pieced together from Wikipedia:

David was born on May 5, 1981, in Holyrood, Southampton, Hampshire, the son of Tina Loftus, a shop assistant at Superdrug, and George David, a carpenter. David's father is a Grenadian and David's mother is a British Jew related to the founders of the Accurist watch-making company. David's parents separated when he was eight and he was raised by his mother. He attended Bellemoor School.

David's father played bass in a reggae band called Ebony Rockers. As a teen, David began accompanying his father to local dance clubs, where DJs let him take the microphone. He has released five studio albums: Born To Do It, Slicker Than Your Average, The Story Goes..., Trust Me, Signed Sealed Delivered and a Greatest Hits album. David has sold over 13 million albums worldwide.

What I'm Reading #27

Hédi Kaddour is a poet of some renown in France, franco-phile northern Africa, and Germany. Now, thanks to this excellent new translation by Marilyn Hacker (an amazing poet in her own right), he may become better known to the English-speaking world, too! I certainly hope so.

Monsieur Kaddour was born in Tunisia in 1945. He is a poet with both Germanist and Arabist credentials. To quote a review of his poems in this collection, Treason, his "poetry arises from observation, from situations both ordinary and emblematic—of contemporary life, of human stubbornness, human invention, or human cruelty....his sonnet-shaped vignettes often include a line or two of dialogue that turns his observations and each poem itself into a kind of miniature theater piece." I couldn't have said it any better, perhaps this example will wet your palette and encourage you to go out and buy a copy for yourself.

The Doctor

In the circular courtyard, trees
Turn yellow, a madwoman in a straightjacket
Watches them; all at once she starts to speak
As if nothing were out of the ordinary,
And the next day she dies
Of tuberculosis, making excuses
For having been such a bother.
It is not necessary, said the doctor,
To try to calm such patients down completely
They would become too bored.
He has ceased
Imagining a classless society
And sometimes sits in front of the municipal
Bandshell to listen to the brass band play
Military marches of the Empire.

The book features his poems in their original French on one side of the page and in Ms. Hacker's English translation on the other. It should be a crime to publish translations of poetry in any other format.

Eyjafjallajokull Redux

As frustrating to travel as its effects have been. There is a bright side. The particles in the atmosphere will reflect away some of the sun's radiation, if even for a brief period and lower the temperatures just a bit: take that you Global Warming! Oh, and it's also just so damn beautiful.

A World Becoming More Real

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Latest Quake to Shake U.S.

A quake in northern Utah is felt strongly in area nearest to the epicenter. The quake registered as 4.9. Strong enough to knock things off of shelves in the initial jolt. I was once tossed up off of a bed by a 4.5 temblor.

The pattern of quakes in central Oklahoma continues as does increased activity in the mountain west: Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, and yes, Utah. Another area of activity is just across the New York border in Canada and along the Maine coast. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dogs Save Lives: Publicity Campaign

Does This Make Me Weird?

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were to win the mega lottery and all the possibilities in the world would be suddenly open to you? There is a really great article in the current issue of the New York Times about the most isolated places in the world in which to live , and it got me all thinking again about this fantasy.
And I picked Tristan da Cunha. I'll never travel into outer space and visit distant worlds, but I could live in a remote and unique cultural outpost on this little blue gem of a planet with great abandon. From the article:

Tristan da Cunha

There is some subjectivity about which place is the most isolated, but the islands of Tristan da Cunha have one inarguable distinction: They are the most remote inhabited place in the world, about 1,700 miles from Cape Town, the nearest inhabited land mass. The South Atlantic group consists of four islands — Tristan, Nightingale, Gough and Inaccessible — but all 271 Tristanians live on Tristan (perhaps owing to the island’s remoteness, there are only seven surnames among them). Visitors are welcome to Tristan, but new residents have to be approved by the Island Council. “Given that are no spare houses here,” David Morley, Tristan da Cunha’s administrator, said in an e-mail message, “very little private sector activity/industry and very few available jobs, it would not be a straightforward matter for someone to come here to settle.”

Our Latest American Hero #139

I have not posted one of these since October of last year and I regret the lapse. Day in and day out men and women bravely risk their lives for us in this insane War on Terrorism. It breaks my heart. Here's another member to honor, one who represents dozens of others.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airmen who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He died April 9 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in a crash of a CV-22 Osprey. He was assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Killed was: Air Force Maj. Randell D. Voas, 43, of Lakeville, Minn. Along side Maj. Voas, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. James B. Lackey, 45, of Green Clove Springs, Fla was also killed.

"Father Recalls Son’s Path To Air Force"

An airman who grew up in Minnesota died after his aircraft plunged to the ground in Afghanistan, the man’s father said April 10.

Maj. Randy D. Voas, 43, died April 9 when his Air Force Osprey crashed near Kandahar, Dwaine Voas told The Associated Press. The Defense Department said three other people aboard also died.

Randy Voas lived in Shalimar, Fla., but he was raised in Minnesota, his father said. Voas was an honor student and avid runner who always had a can-do attitude, his dad said.

“He just had a zest for life,” Dwaine Voas said. He spoke by telephone from Dover, Del., where his son’s remains were scheduled to arrive late April 10.

Also killed in the crash was 45-year-old Senior Master Sgt. James B. Lackey of Green Clove Springs, Fla., the Pentagon said. Another service member and a civilian contractor also died in the crash; the Pentagon wouldn’t identify them.

It was the first time the costly tilt-rotor aircraft had crashed in a combat zone.

Voas and Lackey were assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., the military said.

Dwaine Voas, himself an Army veteran, sounded matter-of-fact as he spoke of his son’s death. He said he always knew this day could come.

“You hope in your heart it would never happen,” he said.

Randy was a member of the National Honor Society at Eden Prairie High School, where he graduated about 1985, his father said. Randy also ran cross-country, discovering a passion for running that stayed with him.

Randy ran four or five marathons and did an occasional triathlon, Dwaine Voas said. He planned to be a podiatrist, but his father said chemistry classes at the University of Minnesota proved to be his undoing.

So with a biology degree in hand and unclear on his career direction, Randy passed the time with a handful of “fill-in jobs” until he decided to join the military.

He came home one day and told his father he’d spoken with a recruiter about joining a flight program.

Randy Voas became a standout pilot, earning an Air Force award in 2003 for his role in a combat air drop in northern Iraq that was the largest since the Vietnam War.

Dwaine Voas said he never heard his son’s colleagues say anything bad about him.

“They’d always say he’s an excellent pilot, they enjoyed working with him and serving with him, they liked the way he led his units,” his father said.

Randy Voas is survived by his wife, Jill, and two children. A memorial service is tentatively planned for April 15 in Florida, Dwaine Voas said.

Dwaine Voas said there’s no describing the pain of losing a child, but at least he took pride in knowing his son died with honor.

“If there’s anybody who I’d trust to do a military job,” he said, “it was him.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Earthquake Central 02

And now after a series of quakes beginning in the southern Atlantic near the St. George Islands. Then moving to the southwest Indian Ocean, then the Northeast Indian Ocean. And finally in central China with a 6.9 quake that has taken at least 23 lives so far.

"GLEE" Is Back In Town!

After it's long mid-season hiatus, "Glee" is back! And it's raring to go. Tonight's 14th episode picked up where things left off with gusto. Here are 4 highlights for me:

#1 Best Quote: Brittany to Santana, "Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?"

#2 Best Heart-full Character: Emma Pillsbury.

#3 Best Evil Character: Shelby Corcoran.

#4 Best extraneous music video knock-off: Vogue with Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer and Amber Riley.

As to category #4, I hope that they consider doing more of these little tangential vignettes. Honestly, this is really must see TV.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Elemental, My Dear Watson

Earthquake Central 01

6.3 Mw quake in southern Spain. Dishes rattled from Madrid to Algeria, from Valencia to Féz. It ain't the end of the world, but it happened in a part of the world that it hasn't in like forever. What's next?

A Pair Of Early April Bloomers

This doll is called Ragwort, Senecio aureus, from one of the largest genera of flowering plants containing over 1000 species, including leaf, stem and tuber succulents, annuals, perennials, aquatics, climbers, shrubs and small trees. The most readily recognized perennial is the Daisey.

And from my perspective this amazing corporate membership is less interesting than it's heritage among a class of plants described as "wort". It's an Old World nomenclature that traces the word "wort" to the Old English word wyrt, which traces it's origins from the Germanic word for "root." And that goes to the use of many of these as medicinals and/or poisons. Something about which persons as diversely identified as doctors to witches would have knowledge.

As to ragwort itself, it would fall into the camp of the "poisons." I prefer to enjoy it's sunny yellow beauty. And appreciate the fact that the deer leave it alone.

Here is the other early April bloomer: Money Plant, also known as Honesty Plant. It's predom- inantly a biennial, and my colony has taken to bloom in cycles of strong years and weak years. This is a weak year.

This photo of the Money Plant, Lunaria biennis, shows it blooming in the lower garden along the edge of a small roundish rustic patio I created back in 1995. The photo was taken around 6 pm this early evening when the sun was particularly golden.

It's native to Germany. In the 1500's it was exported to England, where puritan separatists included it in their bevy of seeds to bring to the New World. Like me, it's invasive. But both of our ancestors landed here in the 1630's, and so we are arrogant enough to proclaim our status as Americans inviolate while we judge more recent arrivals as invasive if they threaten our status. I mean, my God, it is a "Money" plant and an "Honesty" plant. Am I supposed to lie?