Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Awesome Little Girl Reacts Perfectly To Annoying Street Preacher

Zea, left, is non-plussed by weied street preachers
promoting homophobia in Columbus, Ohio.
Photo by Mara Gruber.  
In Columbus, Ohio, a self-absorbed, incredibly annoying street "preacher" confronted a little girl named Zea who was holding a rainbow flag.

Zea was among a throng of people celebrating Friday's Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex marriage across the nation.

The street preacher wasn't very enthusiastic about the Supreme Court decision. Oh well.

In a video showing the confrontation,  Zea at first looks a little stunned and afraid of the idiot yelling in her face. Really. Wouldn't you? I would.

Anyway, another adult enters the picture and gives Zea a high five, just to reassure her that everybody's got her back and it's OK.

Soon, Zea is high fiving  EVERYONE and pointedly annoying the idiot yelling nearby. She doesn't give a whit about what the moron is saying

Well, played, Zea!

Watch the brief video (H/T Gawker)

How I Somehow Managed To Sympathize With Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton is terrified in a cruel
prank for an Egyption TV show.  
Let's just say I'm totally not a fan of Paris Hilton.

She's the rich gal who is famous for being famous, who parties the nights away among all her rich friends in those rich clubs wearing all those rich clothes and having nothing rich or interesting to say.

I never thought I'd take her side on anything, but a cruel Egyptian TV host has me in total sympathy with Paris Hilton.

At least I think I sympathize with her if she wasn't in on this. It doesn't look like she was.

What happens in a YouTube video you might or might not want to watch below, is,  Hilton is in Dubai for the opening of a new hotel, says Huffington Post.

She's in a small plane, and the pilot does dramatic stunts to make it look like the plane is crashing.

One passenger opens the jet's side door and a man is tossed out. The five minutes of the "impending plane crash" has Hilton screaming and crying, which is what you'd expect out of anyone in a doomed plane.

Finally, the plane lands and Hilton, in tears, is told of the prank. "I almost thought I was going to die...That's been the biggest fear my whole life, dying in a plane."

I don't know if the host of this show thinks this is funny, but it's unspeakably cruel. And dangerous. Aside from something possibly going wrong with the stunts, such a prank could give someone post traumatic stress disorder, which can be a serious, long lasting condition and often hard to treat.

Paris Hilton is something of a punching bag, with her bad singing and her perfume called Fairy Dust. But it's one thing to criticize Hilton's lifestyle. It's quite another to traumatize her for no good reason other than TV ratings. 

For what it's worth, TMZ is reporting that Hilton is considering a lawsuit against the so-called pranksters. If she does, I hope she wins big. Not that she needs the money. But I'd like to see the "pranksters" taught a lesson.

I was a little reluctant to post the video. I couldn't watch it, really, because it is disturbing.

Anyway, here's the video if you want to watch. It might not last and might be pulled due to copyright complaints from the Egyption TV show.

And Paris, go ahead and sue. I'm totally on your side for this one.

Monday, June 29, 2015

So This Happened In Belgium

Seems the woman in this photo liked
the beatboxer performing in Brussels.  
Ammar Dafri, also known as Power Beat, is a beatboxer with quite a fan base.

For the uninitiated, beatboxing is a type of music in which performers use their voice to replicate drums and other percussion images.

Anyway, not long ago, Power Beat set up shop in a Brussels, Belgium square.

An elderly woman happened along. Did she like Power Beat's musical style? Judge for yourself. (Spoiler: This is one woman who would be a blast to hang around with.)

Here's the VERY fun video:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Death And Love And Marriage And Grace

This political cartoon is becoming iconic
after last week's news  
Last week was a rare moment in which grace managed to overpower, however briefly, the crudeness that is the usual way things seem to go nowadays.

These moments of grace were ironically born of that crudeness.

The grace partly had its roots in the terrible racial murder of nine people gathered in a Charleston, South Carolina church for Bible study.

The grace came after years of hate and misguided "morality" lectures aimed at gay people, some of whom just wanted to marry each other. The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that in our nation at least, these gay people had the right to marry.

The grace was visible in the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater thatn once they were.

The White House Friday evening. 
As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.

Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of the civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants that right."

By far the leading trending hashtag on Twitter was #LoveWins. For once, love DID win.  

There was something dignified, graceful in all those raucous celebrations in the moments after the Supreme Court announced its decision. Rainbow colors are fun, and they were everywhere Friday. Rainbow lights even bathed the White House, as President Obama celebrated the decision.

Obama had his well-reported graceful moment Friday - even singing "Amazing Grace" - in a scene that had nothing to do with gay marriage.

The President was eulogizing the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, gunned down with eight others in the Charleston church by a young man drowning in racial rage.

Said Obama, describing the actions of the killer and the hand of God:

President Obama reminded us about grace as
he delivered a eulogy in Charleston, South
Carolina Friday. He even sang "Amazing Grace"
to emphasize his point.  
"Blinded by hatred the alleged killer would not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney and that Bible study group, the light of love that shown as they opened the church doors and invited a stranger to join in their prayer circle.

The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would reside when they saw him in court in the midst of unspeakable grief with words of forgiveness. 

He couldn't imagine that. He's given us the chance where we've been lost to find our best selves. We may not have earned this grace with our rancor and complacency and short-sightednees and fear of each other, but we got it all the same. He gave it to us anyway. He's once more given us grace."

We live in a world of Internet trolls insulting everyone in their path. We live in a world of blowhards on the cable news shows all screaming over each other and talking nonsense. We live in a world in which politicians, our so-called leaders, stir up divisions, hate, their own political fortunes at the expense of the common good. We live in a world in which activists preach hate, and encourage it, just  so they can line their pockets with the money given to them by gullible donors.  

Sometimes it seemed like the world was completely overrun with this dark scenario that I just described.

Sure enough, by the time I woke up Saturday morning, it was back to the usual awfulness in the world. A few dozen tourists had been killed by an attacker at a Tunisian hotel.  They're still searching for an escaped killer in the Adirondack wilderness. The blowhards were back on cable news. The Internet trolls ranted unimpeded.

However, the wonderful, graceful moments so many people show on Friday proved once again that good will is not dead. In the darkness of our media, political and social landscape, there are bright, inviting pockets of light.

Friday proved that.

It's time to embrace that light. With grace and love. #LoveWins.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Proud To Be An American; Proudly Gay And Married

The Gay Men's Chorus of DC react perfectly
to Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision.  
I'm sure nobody is surprised that my husband and me were thrilled by Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage in all 50 states.

Where I live in Vermont, it's been legal for years. Jeff and I will celebrate our third (already!) wedding anniversary on August 26.

Of course, now it's nice to, say, travel to visit relatives in South Dakota, and if anything happens to one of us, we can still be together no matter what.

I might have more to say on this subject in an upcoming blog post, but for now, I'll let the Gay Men's Chorus of DC  do the talking singing with their reaction in front of the U.S. Supreme Court decision was handed down Friday.

All I can say is, Jeff and I concur with this group:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Karaoke Guy Nails Whitney Houston, Internet Tracking Him Down

What this guy NAIL a Whitney Houston song.  
So a random guy at a random event steps up to the mike at an outdoor Karaoke event.

He picks "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston. It's a tough song to sing.

Watch the video below to see how he does: Spoiler: Pretty damn good!!!!

He hits the notes just right, often sounding like Houston. He even gets the diva moves down just right while singing.

I'm surprised the Internet to the best of my knowledge hasn't ID'd this guy yet.

Still, what fun.

Here's the video:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Today's Dog Cutenss: Golden Retrievers Grow Up

If you need a dose of doggie cuteness, somebody filmed two golden retrievers running down a hallway for dinner at various times over nine months from when they were puppies to just about adults

One of those SQUEEEE! videos:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Donald Trump Pinata Is Going To Be A Big Seller

Wouldn't you just LOVE to have this
Donald Trump pinata.  
I think a guy named Dalton Javier Avalos Ramirez is going to be a rich man, all because of Donald Trump.

No, The Trump Of Amazing Hair isn't giving any of his (alleged) millions to Ramirez. Nope. Ramirez is an enterprising artist.

It all started with Trump's hilarious annoucement earlier this month that he is a candidate for U.S. President.

During the announcement, Trump had this to say about Mexico and Mexicans crossing the U.S. border:

"They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime.....They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."

Trump also said he'd like to build a Berlin Wall type barricade along the border to prevent illegal immigrants from coming into the United States.

Lots of Mexicans, American Latinos and others were offended by Trump's comments. Ramirez was among them.

So, according to the Independent UK, Ramirez made a great piƱata of Trump for people to release their frustrations against Trump, and get candy in the process.

Ramirez only got about 10 orders for the pinata on the first day he announced he was making them, but I have a feeling as publicity spreads, he;s going to be an incredibly busy Trump pinata maker.

They sell for about $33.

No word yet if any American retailers are carrying these items. But stay tuned

There's also no word on whether Ramirez will appear on The Apprentice, hosted by Trump, to try to show off his wily capitalist ways with the pinata.

But that would be one episode of The Apprentice  I'd surely tune into.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

City Threatens To Jail Elderly Woman For Not Mowing Her Lawn

These four brothers mowed the huge lawn behind them
because the city threatened to jail the elderly
property owner for not mowing it.  
I guess city officials in Riesel, Texas have nothing better to do.

They've been threatening to jail a 75 year old woman for not mowing the lawns on property she owns.

She can't handle the job.

I suppose there's the possibility she's being obstinate, that she's just not bothering to hire someone to do the mowing. I don't know if she can afford it or not.

And the grass did get tall, up to 18 inches tall.

So yeah, maybe people in Riesel were annoyed by the tall grass. That, I get.

But threatening to put the woman in jail for not mowing the lawn? That just seems a bit harsh to me.

Four young brothers were nice enough to go over to Gerry Suttle's property, and they spend two hours in the hot Texas sun mowing the lawn, so she wouldn't have to go to jail.

However, she's apparently still in trouble.  She received another summons from the fine city officials of Riesel to mow the lawn or go to jail. It's unclear if the city is unhappy with the way the four boys mowed the lawn (looks fine to me, judging from the pictures) or whether another property is too overgrown for the city of Riesle to bear.

City officials aren't talking to reporters. They've got better things to do. Like maybe the old lady down the block who didn't deadhead all the faded flowers in her garden or something stupid like that.

I guess Riesel takes its landscaping way, wayyyyyy to seriously.

Friendly Bear Makes Nice Catch

Just watch. Happy little video:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Minion Attacks British Museum!!!

Dave the Minion appears to have had
a recent adventure in a British museum.  
One of my favorite things in the world is Minions, you know those yellow, pill-shaped characters with googly eyes, or a single googly eye, from the Depicable Me films.

I wish they were real.

I have a lot of garden projects, and wouldn't it be great to have the Minions help me complete those? It might not end up looking great, but they'd be fun to watch.

All this brings me to, of all places, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in Birmingham, UK.

A balloon depicting Dave, one of the Minions, got caught on a ceiling fan there recently. Museum officials decided it would eventually run out of helium and come down to the floor on its own.

It did, and security cameras caught it. The grainy video shows Dave the Minion appearing to have a wonderful time floating around the museum after hours.

Goofy video, but so much fun for this Minion fan, and probably you, to watch.  I also love the background music the museum chose to accompany Dave the Minion's adventure:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"Relentlessly Gay" Baltimore Yard To Get Even More Relentless

The stupid note somebody left and the "relentlessly gay"
decorations in front of the house.  
If you're going to be a jerk about what you think of your neighbor's yard decor, prepare to suffer the consequences.

An anonymous person in Baltimore is finding that out big time after that person left a note complaining about the "relentlessly gay" decorations in front of one house.  

Here is the note, in full. Capital letters and bold letters are the work of the person who left the note on Julie Baker's Baltimore front door, says the Baltimore Sun:

"Your yard is becoming relentlessly gay. Myself and others in the neighborhood ask that you Tone It Down. This is a Christian area, and there are Children. Keep it up and I will be forced to call the Police on  you! Your kind need to have Respect for GOD. --A Concerned Home Owner."

The offending decorations were a string of rainbow colored solar lights. Words on the solar lights spell out "Love" and "Ohana," a Hawaiian expression of family unity.

I'll be Captain Obvious for a moment here and dissect the absurdity of the note the idiot left.  "Relentlessly Gay?" It's not like Baker is holding a major gay pride parade every day.

A Christian area? Home decor now must be conducted by some sort of Christian designer? And who designated the neighborhood Christian? What if a Jewish person wanted to move in? Isn't there laws against preventing the Jewish or atheist person or whatever from moving in to the house next door?

There are children in the neighborhood. Who will see the rainbow lights and go "how pretty." I don't think a few colored lights will make kids turn gay, do you?  Call the cops? Um, putting up a string of lights doesn't exactly qualify as a violent crime.

Anyway, Baker is fighting back the best way she knows how. Her property will now really, REALLY become "relentlessly gay."

The Baltimore Sun says Baker started a GoFundMe page with the following pitch:

"Needless to say.....I need more rainbows. Many, many more rainbows.....I ams starting this fundraiser so I can make my Home even more relentlessly gay."

At last check, Baker had collected something like $26,000. She should probably paint her whole house in rainbow colors.

I can just see the neighbor who left the stupid note fuming like crazy.   She should just give up and make her house "relentlessly Christian." Whatever that is. And I'm afraid to find out.

Friday, June 19, 2015

One Way To Foil A Robbery

The women in this video was loaded down with bags with potentially valuable stuff. The robber saw her as an easy mark. Spoiler: She wasn't. Watch what she does

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I'm Delighted By Donald Trump's Candidacy. Neil Young? Not So Much

"Rockin' In The Free World", off Neil Young's
"Freedom" album, was the subject of
another dumb move by Donald Trump.  tion
Comedians did backflips of joy this week when Donald Trump announced he is running for president as he will certainly be, um, entertaining in his endeavors

I'm among those who are thrilled with his candidacy. He's so fun to point and laugh at when he says or does something stupid, as he often does.

Neil Young, however, is not so thrilled. And what happened between Young and Trump proves my point about how laughably funny Trump is.

When Trump made his campaign announcement, he played Young's classic song "Rockin' In The Free World."

According to Rolling Stone, Trump's people said he got licensing permission to use the song from the performance rights  organization ASCAP.

It would have been nice, though, to get permission from Young himself. Though a one-minute Google search would have revealed using a Neil Young song for Trump's annoucement wouldn't be a good idea, since Young's political views are more than slightly different from Trump's.

As The Guardian headline put it, referencing another Neil Young song, "Neil Young to Donald Trump: Old Man, Look At My Life, I'm Not A Lot Like You."

I'll say!

Neil Young has thrown his support behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential bid. I'm guessing Sanders, whose politics is basically Scandanavian socialism, doesn't really have much in common with Trump.

Rockin' In The Free World came out during the first Bush  Republican administration, and it referenced Bush. You'd think somebody in Trump's group would have noticed these lyrics.

"We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man
We got a kinder gentler
Machine gun hand."

By the way, Young is a Canadian citizen, too. I know how much Trump hates Mexico, and lots of other countries, it seems, so maybe Canada isn't so great in Trump's world either.

There's been quite a history of musicians objecting to politicians' use of their music, but they do keep doing it, even as the musicians object. Lawsuits, or threats of suits against these politicians are seldom successful.

Still, the laugh is on Trump as usual, as he used possibly the worst song to advertise his world view.  Late news is that Trump will stop using "Rockin' In The Free World"

Of course, "Rockin' In the Free World" is one of Neil Young's best songs, in my opinion, and there's really no such thing as a bad Neil Young song.

Maybe the tune will show up at some of those well-attended Bernie Sanders rallies, who knows?

To celebrate, here's the music video to the awesome "Rockin' In The Free World":

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Create Art With Molten Lead And Coca Cola!

Let's melt lead and pour Coca-Cola in
to see what happens!  
A guy with too much time on his hands melted lead in a frying pan, then poured Coca-Cola in to see what he'd get.

He got some really cool art!

But don't try this at home.

The lead can explode when you're heating it, showering you with hot lead. And I can't believe breathing lead fumes or whatever is good for you.

However, the result of the melted lead/Coca-Cola experiment yielded something that looked like Van Gogh's "Starry Night."

Watch the video so you don't have to melt lead yourself:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Yet ANOTHER Awesome Eyewitness News Interview, With Green Hair And Nails!

Courtney Barnes gives an amazing eyewitness
account of a car crash to a local TV
report in Mississippi.  
Those wonderful local television news interviews just keep coming!

Going viral now is an interview done by a reporter from television station WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi with a guy named Courtney Barnes who witnessed a crash between a police car and another vehicle.

No, this isn't just any interview. Barnes who saw the crash, has a nice bright green ponytail, long green fingernails to match and some of the most interesting eyebrows you've ever seen.

The crash seriously injured the police officer (who at last report is recovering and will soon be released from the hospital.)

But the crash was so nasty, and Barnes was so upset by it, that he noted that he forgot all about the trip to Burger King he was taking.

Apparently, the crash involved the police officer chasing a suspect. "They began to race behind each other like cats and dogs!'" Barnes explained.

Then the crash happened. "The PO-lice car just twist around like a tornada, girl!"

You might have seen Barnes before. He did a great job on the show "So You Think You Can Dance," some time ago.

The only bad thing for Barnes is somebody who saw the interview recognized him from security video in a shoplifting case, and he was arrested for that. (Barnes IS recognizable, after all.)

Watch the whole news interview. This eyewitness is truly a wonderful person who made my day. And will make yours:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Franklin Graham Hates, But We All Love Instant Karma

Franklin Graham just can't seem to
find a bank that suits his tastes.  
When I'm bored, I sometimes idly go through YouTube videos, and every so often I'm drawn to instant karma video compilations.

Those are the ones where somebody does something wrong or stupid, and pays the price almost immediately.

The video at the bottom of this post isn't a compilation, but it is a delicious example of instant karma.

Franklin Graham, the evangelical Christianist son of Billy Graham was really, really upset with Wells Fargo Bank.

No, he wasn't mad at any financial shenanigans Wells Fargo may or may not have done. He didn't like a certain television ad from the bank.

The ad showed a pleasant same sex couple learning sign language so they could adopt a cute deaf girl, and Wells Fargo would be there to help the newly formed family through the financial leap they would have to make to become whole.

Awww. So sweet!

But Franklin Graham would have none of it! Wells Fargo is shoving the horrible gay agenda down our throats! An OUTRAGE!!!!! Family Values!!!!!!

So in a fit of anger at Wells Fargo, he withdrew his assets from Wells Fargo and put them in another bank that had better family values, supposedly.

Rachel Maddow tells the whole story much better than I, so let's allow her explain to us how things went for Franklin Graham and his banking experiences:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Indiana Passes Great Law Targeting Left Lane Slowpokes

Indiana is the latest to crack down on
left lane slow poke idiots.  n
The state of Indiana, widely and deservedly ridiculed earlier this year for its awful "religious freedom" legislation targeting gay people who wanted to get married, actually passed another law that I love.

This one, signed recently by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (remember that idiot?) allows police to ticket drivers who drive slowly in the left lanes of highways, causing traffic backups behind them, says the Indianapolis Star.

An amazing numher of people don't seem to understand that if you're going to drive slowly, you should stick to the right lane.

However, there's apparently a huge population of people who are frustrated parade grand marshalls: They're not happy unless there's a long line of other cars in back of them, so they crawl along in the left lane.

This is of course dangerous, because it causes other drivers to weave from lane to lane trying to get by these slow idiots, which increases the chances of a crash.

Indiana joins a number of other states in which driving too slowly in the left lane can get you ticketed.

There are lots of theories as to why people go slowly on the left.

It's basic selfishness. Some people like to drive in the left lane because there's not as many cars there. (They're all stuck behind the slowpoke).

Others apparently drive slowly in the left lane to teach faster drivers a "lesson." They figure the speed they're driving is the speed everyone else should go. "Why does anybody need to go faster," the smug self-selected speed arbiters in the left lane say.

The left lane slowpokes seem to be a pet peeve a lot of people other than myself. There's a whole website called leftlanedrivers.org dedicated to eliminating the scourge of left lane turtles. You can even order a mirror image of a "move over" decal for your windshield so left lane slow people can see it in their rear view mirrors.

Of course, laws mean nothing to our left lane slow pokes. I'm sure they'll these passive aggresive idiots will still keep put-putting along at a left lane crawl. Can't do anything about them, I guess.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Organ Transplant Advocacy Ad Is The Ultimate In Hearttugging

This dog stars in a touching, very
effective ad advocating for organ
transplant donors.  
There's a public service ad circulating in Argentina touting the benefits of organ transplants.

Here's one of the most effective, touching ads I've seen on this kind of subject.

Like some of the best PSA's I've seen, there's not a word of dialogue in this ad. But the message comes through loud and clear. Wait until the visual "punch line" at the end.

There is a Kleenex alert with this video: You'll probably need tissues.

To watch this video, you'll see a black screen with a messatge to "Watch on YouTube." Click on that sentence to watch the video.

And consider becoming a potential organ donor.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

People Of Walmart Hit A New Low

A video still of that pathetic Walmart fight
between two women and a little boy.  
I admit it: I'm afraid of Walmart, and I don't like the store.

Yesterday, I was forced to shop at one in Yankton, South Dakota while visiting this town. It was the only place in Yankton that would fill my medical prescription, so I had to go.

It was fine. There were no "People of Walmart" those incredibly weird people that seem to hang out there. The staff was cheerful and helpful. One of the employees chatted us up about our visit to town.

We were lucky. Luckier than the folks at a Walmart in Beech Grove, Indiana. Everything these days is captured on video, and uploaded to YouTube. This incident is no exception.

I'll set up the pathetic scene:

A woman in a motorized scooter and another woman exchange words in the shampoo aisle. (Note: judging from the video, both women could have used the shampoo.)

The woman in the scooter then stands up and challenges the other woman to a fight. They quickly start brawling.

The saddest part is the six year old son of one of the women, who joins in the fight by hitting the woman that had been in the scooter with his fists, and a shampoo bottle. The boy's mother, in the midsts of the brawl, yells to the kid, "Johnny, punch her in the face! Johnny, punch her in the fucking face!"

The video goes on and on with no signs of store security. Bystanders pause and watch. The guy taking the video says "This is white trash at its finest."


Police are investigating whether to charge anyone with a crime. Beech Grove police also said, with considerable understatement, that they are deciding whether to involve the Department of Child Services in their investigation because of the behavior of the kid and the possible environment where he is being brought up.

My objections to Walmart mostly have to do with how they treat their employees. Obviously, most people who shop there are nice and normal, and just hunting for a bargain. But some people....JEEZ!

Here's the sad video:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Need A Physically Strong Person? Hire These Guys

Here's two examples of strength feats that I bet you can't do.

The first one is Russian strongman Elbrus Nigmatulin, who decided to moe a two story house by himeself. If you need to move, Elbrus is the guy to call:

Next,  here's a guy named George Hood of Carlsbad, California, who holds the plank position for five hours. So if you need a place to set down your drink and don't have a table, you can just put your glass on his back and leave it there for hours.

Hood holds seven other Guinness World Records. He did this plank thing to raise money for the Sempi Fi Fund to help wounded Marines.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Karma Brings Great Lesson To Caitlyn Jenner Critic On Facebook

The Mark Hogancamp artwork
Facebook user Terry Coffey
used in a viral post last week.  
You've probably seen this meme all over social media:

People are criticizing those who are calling Caitlyn Jenner brave for her very public transition from the former Bruce Jenner to a glamorous looking woman on the cover of Vanity Fair.

In that criticism was people pointing to heroic U.S. soldiers and calling them the brave ones, not Caitlyn Jenner.

To me, these critics missed part of the point. There are different kinds of brave. Huge numbers of U.S. soldiers are undeniably brave, and we should be forever grateful for their service.

That should go without saying, but the current state of public discourse forces me to state that obvious fact.

At the same time, Caitlyn Jenner is brave, too, for encouraging other transgender or would-be transgender people to be themselves in spite of bigots and worse.

One of the people who cited brave U.S. soldiers as being much braver than Jenner was a person named Terry Coffey of Oregon, who pointed out the bravery of soldiers as incomparably greater than U.S. soldiers.

Coffey wanted an photo to match his Facebook post regarding this, so he found what appeared to be a photo of two World War II soldiers.

It showed one soldier carrying another wounded soldier on his back. That wounded soldier is pointing a gun, presumably returning enemy fire. These me, he said, represented bravery.

According to Huffington Post, Coffey found the uncredited image online, and put it in his post. This Facebook post went totally viral, with more than 800,000 page views.

Give that, Coffey decided it would be good to find out who took the photo, so the photographer could be credited.

The two soldiers in the image Coffey used are actually toy figurines made by artist Mark Hogancamp. 

It turns out Hogancamp was beaten almost to death in 2000 because he dressed like a woman. (Hogancamp was not transgender; he liked to cross dress.)

Coffey learned that information while looking up details of the figurines.

On Facebook, Coffey followed up with another post:

"In an ironic twist, I have discovered that the photo is part of a documentary created by a man who was beaten nearly to death outside a bar in 2000.

After spending 9 days in a coma, suffering severe brain damage and being unable to walk or talk for a year, he chose to deal with the pain of the tragic event by creating an imaginary world of characters and photos and stories, all set in WWII. His work is the subject of an upcoming documentary. 

Why was he nearly beaten to death by 5 strangers?

Because he was a cross-dresser. 

I could have chosen any one of hundreds of photos  depicting bravery, but I chose this one. Do I think it was an accident?

No, I don't. 

What happened to this man was cruel, wrong and unforgivable.

Hate helps nothing.

Love wounds no one.

and God heals all.

(and irony makes you think.)"

You know what?

I believe U.S. soldiers are brave. I believe Caitlyn Jenner is brave. And I believe Terry Coffey is brave.

Coffey's original post criticizing the idea that Jenner was brave probably appeals to conservatives who have an unyielding, unchanging view of what is right and wrong.

Coffey learned a good lesson and took it to heart. The fact that he broadcast that lesson probably raised the ire of people who can't stand the fact that an experience changed Coffey for the better. So Coffey is brave for admitting his mistake and noting that he changed his mind.

All kinds of media outlets want to interview Coffey, but he says he's politely turning down all media requests.

Which is good. Everything that needed to be said was said in his post.

Well done, Mr. Coffey!

Donald Trump Temper Tantrum Hilarious Proves Case Against Him Being President.

Donald Trump unwittingly, hilariously demonstrates
why he would be a comical if scary president.  
On Fox News, that Republican candidate loving network, recently featured pundit Charles Krauthammer, who loves Republican candidates, saying Donald Trump "deserved" to be at the top of a list of candidates Republicans say they will never vote for.

Yes, yes, I know the poll results are totally from the realm of Captain Obvious, but not to Donald Trump, better known as Captain Oblivious.

And hilariously, Trump proved the point of the poll by Tweeting out his outrage that Krauthammer said he deserved to be on a list of least likely presidential candidates.

The Washington Post had it right when they said Trump Tweets like a 14 year old girl. Read their compiliaton of stupid Trump Tweets. 

Read the series, below, of Trump Tweets, as lifted from Crooks and Liars. Here's the series, as lifted from Crooks and Liars. 

Just think how trump would act if Vladimir Putin insulted him. Or the creepy terrorists of ISIS

And you wonder why people won't vote for him?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pappa Built Us A Brand New Deck, And It's Awesome

The unsafe old deck on our house, minutes before it came down.
During April and May, the trees around our house went from bare to leafed out.

That's not the only major transition around our St. Albans hacienda.

We got rid of our rickety, scary old back deck and replaced it with a new deck that I swear will land on the pages of House Beautiful any day now.

My husband, Jeff Modereger designed the new one. He does things right, so I knew his little scheme to build a big deck would at least be safe.

And big. Did I say big? Jeff does nothing small. Uh-uh.

Note: Nothing tracks the progress of the deck like photos. Click on any of the photos to make them bigger, so you can take a better look at the images.

Jeff is a theater scenic set designer, and he becomes extremely antsy in the rare moments he if doesn't have a project to do. So, during some down time, he designed this entire project. He works fast, too, so this came awfully quickly.
Old deck down, we await the new one.  

The decks, both the old and the new, were/are on the back of the house.

The property slopes downward behind our home, so the  back of the house sits on what amounts to the second floor, as opposed to the front of the house, which is essentially on the ground floor.

A door comes out of the basement beneath the deck.  

The design for the new deck extends across the entire back of the house, on the second floor. It wraps around both sides of the house. A second deck extends from the basement door, and out 40 feet toward the vegetable garden.

Starting to take shape.  
The only thing that went slowly was getting the St. Albans, Vermont town permits to build the deck. It wasn't the town's fault.

The town has regulations that any new construction in our zoning district must lie 40 feet from the property line.

Fine. The only question was whether the deck would fall less than 40 feet from Vermont highway department, which owns the road in front of our house.

We knew the deck wouldn't impinge on the setback requirements  but the state of Vermont had various maps that all wildly incorrectly positioned our property outside of where it was.

We either lived a half mile east of where we were, or west or our house was in the middle of relatively busy Vermont Route 36, which in reality is the road that sits 150 feet or so from the house.

It's a little scary that every government entity around me has a wildly different idea of where I own property, but oh well.

It took an act of Congress to prove that our property was not too close the road.

The point we could first stand our our new deck.  
But we got the permit, eventually.

The crew came to tear down the old deck and start installing the new one on a chilly April morning that threatened rain.

The old deck was unquestionably dangerous.  It was built with substandard material and with substandard construction methods, to say the least.

 We knew it was a little scary. It bounced when you walked on it. The frost made the middle of it rise, creating a nice little hill in the middle of the deck in February.

The old deck was on the second floor of the house, and I had worrying visions of it crashing down to the ground when we had a gathering out there.

Two chain smoking guys tore the old thing in minutes. I told the contractor I was a little alarmed that it came down that fast, was it that unsafe?

The lower deck begins to take shape.  
Well, yes. The supports for the deck only extended five inches into the ground. The supports themselves were only two by fours.

The old deck could have collapsed under the weight of just one person, never mind several. I'm surprised it didn't collapse when a bird landed on it. I shuddered.

I was heartened a couple days later the contractors started preparing the posts for the main deck supports.

The supports extended concrete more than two feet into the ground. They used six by six boards, and used sturdy brackets to fasten the vertical support beams to the concrete bases.

The new deck at completion. It's so big I can't get it
in one photo.  
This spring, the trees leafed out around our house abruplty, as we seemed to go directly from winter to spring.

The new deck took shape rapidly, in tandem with the blossoming trees. It started just as the tree buds were poised to flower, and finished when the leaves were fully out - less than three weeks.

As the deck was rapidly appearing, Jeff did have to do some last minute redesign.

The property slopes behind the house more than we thought, so the end of the lower deck was more than four feet above the ground when the contractors finished it.

Jeff had intended the lower deck to be deep within garden flowers and plants that will eventially surround the lower deck.  He didn't want the deck towering above the gardens.

Another view of the new deck.  
So, thanks to Jeff's changes, the lower deck now has steps that gradually lower it along with the slope of the property.

Here in Vermont, we're environmentally friendly, so recycling is big.

So,  Jeff took some of the debris left from the old deck, and pieces of wood left behind and built a great, sturdy potting bench. It's under the main deck, just off the basement door, next to the lower deck, closest to the house.

He also took more construction debris to build a cover over the recycling bins in front of the house, so things look more attractive there.

Some of the only debris we couldn't re-use was the approximately 1,987,532,221 cigarette butts the contractors left behind. I'm still picking them up. Anybody want LOTS of cigarette butts? We got 'e. Other than that, the contractors were very good, if just a bit messy.

Another problem: We have about two dozen or slightly more immense poplar trees that grew up over the years, mostly along the edges of the property. Most of these tall poplars died in the last couple of years. Some of these ghostly dead trees threatened to topple over on the brand new deck, or the shed where we store so many of our tools.

An awesome potting bench Jeff built out of leftover
construction debris.  
We had to hire a tree guy to cut them down. To save money we told them not to haul the debris away.

That left us with HUGE piles of wood to get rid of. I'm gradually piling the poplar tree debris on a corner of our property.

We did hire a guy who is built like a Big Brick House to take the heavy chunks of wood and stack them on the edge of the property for now. But I have been cleaning up the epic amounts of wood from the house.

Poplar wood is basically worthless, so I'm going to have a LOT of brush pile burns/bonfires come winter.

(I like to do brush burns when there's a little snow on the ground, so embers don't get away to cause a massive St. Albans forest fire. Forest fires are just so depressing.)

The only drawback to the deck, the trees that have been cut down and the gorgeous raised beds for the vegetable garden that Jeff is building is these projects created an ENORMOUS amount of work to do.

It's all the type of work I love to do, gardening, garden design, physical labor outside. So this will keep me happy and in relatively good physical shape for years to come.

Note to Jeff: We did all to ensure I got exercise daily to stay in OK shape, didn't you?

The biggest challenge is creating a design for the gardens around the lower deck.  I'll get out there soon with a sketch book and map out what kinds of plantings to place around the deck, what varieties to set in, what the overall look will be.

The goal is to make our property a Must Stop on any garden tours that swing by within three years. Good look with that, but I'll try.

Jeff, with Jackson (the black dog) and Tonks (whose color
blends in with the sawdust( with just a small part
of the dead trees we had to cut down.  
The deck has only been completed for a couple weeks. It's already creating great moments, great times.

This deck has room for our dogs, Jackson and Tonks, to watch me as I work outside. (Gates block stairs and entryways, so the dogs stay put on the deck.)

Beforehand, when I was inside, Jackson would be indoors, howling because he was alone and couldn't see what I was doing.

Now, both Jackson and Tonks come out, peer through the railings along the edge of the deck and watch.

I'll glance back at them, and it's always a wonderful, happy moment.

Jeff also likes to come out and visit. Or on mild early summer mornings, we'll take our coffee and breakfast in the fresh air out on the deck while the dogs play with their toys next to us.

The deck is already the best room in the house. Also the biggest.

We'll have parties and gatherings out there, especially now that we have a deck that won't collapse under the weight of our friends and family.

We're really not into killing those we love, so it's nice to have something safe.
Jeff also hit the recycling bins under a platform made
of construction debris.  

As I noted, there's still a lot of work to do.

 I'll give an update in about, I don't know, 1,000 years, when I complete the gardens around the deck.

And if anybody from House Beautiful or HGTV wants a look see for an article or television, show, leave a comment with this blog post and our people will talk with your people.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Here's One Way To Do The Pink Panther Sax Solo

Let's have a moment with  a guy in a pub somewhere in Britain who can perfectly do the sax routine to "The Pink Panther" without the actual saxophone. Quite a talent!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Pope And God Had A Twitter Exchange Yesterday

The Pope and God talked to each other via Twitter yesterday. Here's how it went:

Vermont State Police Resolve Rush Hour Traffic Jam

A Vermont State Police trooper
workes to clear this traffic
blockage (the little turtle)
 on a southern Vermont road last week. 
Those of you who live in the Big Cities are used to the frustration of terrible traffic as you're trying to get to work in the morning

We have that problem in Vermont, too, though sometimes the traffic jam isn't necessarily caused by stupid motorists.

So it was in southern Vermont last week, when Vermont State Police were called to the traffic problem you see in the photo. Police posted news about the incident on Facebook.

The caption:

"Trooper Walker came by this Vermont Traffic Jam yesterday afternoon. After a brief negotiation and counseling session on the dangers of playing in the roadway the offender was escorted out of the roadway."

This inspired some great responses on Facebook.

Some of my favorites:

"You guys are doing one shell of a job!"

"The offender withdrew and had no comment."

"Turtle Lives Matter!"

"He wasn't speeding was he?"

(Allegedly quoting Trooper Walker at the scene,) "Don't get snappy with me!" 

While in Maryland yesterday, Jeff and I encountered the usual horrible traffic jams on the highways. There appeared to be no particular reason for the backups, they just were. The traffic was so bad it made us miss our flight to South Dakota. (We booked a later one)

Now we're in Yankton, South Dakota, where traffic isn't so bad. But we look forward to returning to Vermont when our visit is done, when we'll probably get stopped on the roads in the Green Mountain State by a traffic tie-up like this one.

Maybe if I put Turtle Wax on both the car and the turtle things would run faster?