Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Donald Trump" Touches Himself In Hilarious Totally Incorrect Video

Josh Gad does an, um, memorable lip sync performance
of the Divinyls' song "I Touch Myself." 
There's a television show called Lip Sync Battle on Spike TV that features celebrities doing elaborate lip sync performances to popular songs.

What I saw the other day was so over the top, so cringe inducing, so hilarious, I Had to share.

This Lip Sync faceoff was between Kaley Cuoco, who plays Penny on television's "The Big Bang Theory,"

She did a spot on, awesome imitation of Britney Spears, complete with a giant live python snake!  

But she was no match for her opponent, Josh Gad, known for his performance in "Book of Mormon."

The video is below. The first half of it has Gad's performance, the second Cuoco's. Gad's performance is one for the record books.

Gad dressed up as Donald Trump and did a routine to The Divinyls' icky 1991 song "I Touch Myself."

Gad/Trump's performance is certainly an exercise in self love.

Yeah, it's disrespectful of Trump. But the way I figure it, Trump is disrespectful to a lot of people himself.

Tit for tat, so to speak.

Gad's performance has other surprises, including a Miley Cyrus moment, "expensive" underwear, a donkey, and a spectacular ending with Cuoco's Big Bang Theory co-star Johnny Galecki, who plays Penny's husband Leonard.

Penny would have some questions about this performance with "Donald Trump," as you'll see.

Here is the wonderful and scary video.

The Best Explanation Of The Confusing Iowa Caucuses Comes From Vermont

Vermont Public Radio has the best explanation of
how the Iowa Caucus works. They just use Legos.
The whole political process leading up to the Iowa caucuses has been childish.

So why not use childrens' toys to explain the convoluted process of how the whole damn thing works?   Try Legos

The Iowa caucuses are tomorrow, and nobody really understands how they select their favored candidates. I didn't, until Vermont Public Radio of all things, explained it.

The public radio station made a YouTube video using little Lego figures to explain the process.

Why Vermont Public Radio? Well, a candidate from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is a leading contender there, so VPR is covering the hell out of this.

Plus, VPR is in Vermont. We're all strange here.

Vermont Public Radio has been getting some national attention for their innovative video. I just saw it  at Raw Story, a national political and news web site.  Gizmodo also featured it. 

I won't even try to explain the Iowa caucuses. I'll let Vermont Public Radio do it with their innovative Lego video:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Don't Send Bottled Water To Flint, Michigan

Filmmaker and Flint, Michigan native Michael
Moore is quite understandably calling for the arrest
of Michigan's governor for allowing the mass
poisoning of Flint through the municipal water system. 
I'd swear, the state government in Michigan really wants to send the city of Flint back to the age of the Flintstones.

They've caused the now notorious problem of causing lead and other pollutants to flow through city residents' tap water in a move to save money and show how conservative they are.

Go Austerity!

You'd think a modern society would ensure everybody gets safe drinking water. Not in Michigan.

So what if a few thousand kids get brain damage from lead? We're fiscally conservative, Yay!

As the crisis intensifies, the administration of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder still seems totally aloof. If poisoning an entire city and seeming not to care doesn't get every American's blood boiling, I don't know what does.

I love the irony in the slogan on Snyder's web site: "Getting it right. Getting it done."

Ooookay!

Now, I grant you the headline on this post sounds awfully mean. Don't send bottled water to Flint? Let them drink lead?

After all, the water in Flint is still unsafe, Snyder's administration is clearly not interested in really fixing the problem and Flint's kids face lifelong disabilities because of the lead in the water.

So shouldn't we be sending everybody in Flint clean, safer bottled water instead of forcing them to literally drink poison from their taps?

Well, yes, that's been an OK short term solution. But forcing a city to live on mountains of water bottles is no way to go.  We definitely DO need to give a huge shout out to all the individuals, corporations and celebrities who have sent, or encouraged us to sent lots and lots of bottled water to Flint.

But, enough.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's administration
expected people to drink water that looked like this
in Flint. Maybe we should force him to drink that water? 

I have to agree with none other than Flint, Michigan native Michael Moore who also says it's time to stop sending bottled water.

Moore, the famous guerilla filmmaker, is not being mean to his home town either.

Moore, instead says Michigan needs to dig deep. And fast. The first step is getting that idiot Snyder and his administration out of the way.

Moore compares the Snyder administration to terrorists. To be honest, I think Moore is being rather fair.  Read his words and decide for yourself:

"There's not a terrorist organization on Earth that has yet to figure out how to poison 100,000 people every day for two years - and get away with it. That took a Governor who subscribes to an American political ideology hell-bent on widening the income inequality gap and conducting various versions of voter and electoral suppression against people of color and the poor."

Snyder had appointed "emergency managers" to several financially troubled Michigan communities., including Flint.

These managers reported to Snyder, so local residents and voters had very little say in what went on in their cities.

The many critics of these managers said it disenfranchised voters and the managers were insulated and indifferent to what residents were saying. (If elected officials were in charge, they'd presumably be voted out of office if they ignored voters. Especially ones up in arms about poisoned drinking water. )

And as the New York Times suggested, the worry is and was that "emergency managers are more concerned with fiscal discipline than public health."

Flint would be Example A of that.

Since the Snyder administration seemed so indifferent to the crisis in Flint, Moore wants Snyder kicked out of office and arrested.

I totally agree. Despite his denials and faux expressions of concern, what he did or more accurately, didn't do to Flint is criminal.

As Moore says:

"The perp who allowed the poisoning to continue once he knew something was wrong -- and his minions who cooked the evidence so the public and the feds wouldn't find out, must be removed from office ASAP."

Moore also notes that Snyder says the EPA has no legal authority to tell him what to do with Flint. Really?

Earlier this week, we got news that way back in last January - a year ago! -  Snyder was telling Flint residents the water there was hunky dory and drink up!.

Mother Jones reported Thursday on an email from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget to employees in a state office building in Flint.

"While the city of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements."

By the "City of Flint" the email pretty much meant the aloof emergency manager appointed by Snyder.

My guess is that the Snyder administration was worried the public employees union would sue if they found out employees were drinking bad water.

Meanwhile, the residents of Flint, mostly African American, and many of them poor, were left to drink the scary water. Brown water for brown people, Governor Snyder?

Moore goes on to say that Snyder, with all his fiscal conservatism, along with previous administrations, did help Michigan develop an  $800 million surplus and $600 million in a rainy day fund. Moore says Snyder should use that money to fix Flint.

Snyder is the face of the state of Michigan broke Flint so he oughta pay for it, goes the logic.

That said, practically nobody, Moore included, doesn't trust Snyder's administration to fix the problem. Like the feds or not, they've got to step in even more.

Other sensible ideas Moore lists are to move people who want to from Flint to nearby districts that have safe water, at government expense. For those who want to stay in Flint, FEMA should set up temporary water supplies at each home.

The rest of us in the United States who are presumably not drinking lead-laced municipal tap water ought to care about Flint a lot.

First of all,it's a national tragedy and a disaster. Second of all, it's a cautionary tale. Yep, we don't want to pay high taxes to fund the government, and we don't like seeing governments waste money.

That is absolutely reasonable.

You need to strike a balance, though, and balance is now seriously lacking in American politics. Some Republicans, in particular, seem to be in a contest to see how badly they can screw over people without a lot of power. For fun and profit, I guess. Especially profit.

You know, African-Americans, Hispanics, poor people. OK, don't give these groups free hand outs. But don't take your hand and slap them across the face either.

As Slate points out, there's a lot of municipalities out there with marginalized population with aging infrastructure. Flint probably won't be the last town in the country to find out it has been poisoned. There's no political will, no desire to fix old pipes and other fixtures before its too late for residents.

I guess turning America into a Third World country is now political palatable, which is another real tragedy here.

In Michigan, Snyder's administration thought saving money was more important than protecting health and public safety. Maybe he thought if he caused brain damage to the voters of Flint, they'd be too stupid to vote against him in the next election.

But as Rachel Maddow's Town Meeting show in Flint demonstrated the other night, there are a lot of smart people in Flint.

Who won't take being victimized by some self serving politicians.

Are there others politicians like him across the nation?  If so, I hope we have the gumption to rise up against them, too.








 .

Friday, January 29, 2016

Why You Shouldn't Get A Hoverboard, In Case You Didn't Know Already

Maybe getting that Hoverboard for Christmas wasn't
such a great idea. 
The big rage this past Christmas was to go out and buy Hoverboards.

It looked cool, floating along on those things, but humans being humans, and technology being technology, it didn't work out so well.

Hoverboards seem to catch fire, and those that don't seem to boost business at emergency rooms as people fall off them.

If you need proof and a good time waster, watch this video of disaster involving Hoverboards and other technological toys.

It'll make you want to become a Luddite.

Watch:


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ludvine The Hound Dog Does Quite Well In Half Marathon Race

Ludivine the hound dog
poses with her medal after
finishing an Alabama
half marathon in very fast time. 
Congratulations go out this morning to Ludivine, a 2 and a half year old hound dog who last weekend finished the inaugural Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon in Elkmont, Alabama, in the very good time of 1:32:56.

Ludivine charmed the half marathons, and now much of the world after her story went viral.

Ludivine was let out of her home to do her business last week when she noticed the half marathon starting.

So she decided to run the whole thing, much to the delight of fellow runners. Ludivine really ran the whole, entire half marathon, though there were a couple of detours to investigate a brook and a dead rabbit, says Runners World, via Canadian Running Magazine. 

Ludivine's time in the half marathon was good enough for her to finish seventh place and receive a medal.

I, like many others, love the idea of a dog liking sports and other people so much that she would run a half marathon with everybody.

Her owner, April Hamlin, had let Ludivine outside to do her business, just as the half marathon's starting gun was about to sound nearby.

Hamlin said Ludivine has a penchant for venturing out through the small town of Element, with a population of about 500, so it wasn't surprising that she wandered off.

That Ludivine would run an entire half marathan DID surprise Hamlin, though, reports Runners World. 

"She's actually laid back and friendly, so  I can't believe she ran the whole half marathon because she's actually really lazy," Hamlin said,

Not as lazy as Hamlin thought, apparently.
Ludivine looking fine as she approaches the finish line
of the recent Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon in
Elkmont, Alabama. Photo by Jake Armstrong.

Incredibly, another very notable record was set at this small town half marathon, notes Canadian Running Magazine.

A boy named Gratton O'Neill, 8, ran the marathan allmost as quickly as Ludivine, finishing at 1:38:22. That's a new world record for the fastest half marathon time for a person under the age of 10.

The town is thrilled by Ludivine's epic run and ensuing fame, since what she did was a community service.

That's because the half marathon was a fundraiser for the local high school cross country running team. The school district doesn't have a lot of money, so Ludivine's run is bringing attention and donations to the school.

Again, congratulatons, Ludivine! And Gratton!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Before Last Night's Arrest, The Oregon Militia Standoff Gets Sumo Weirder.

Before that stupid Oregon standoff took a more
serious turn last night, this guy challenged New
Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to a sumo match over
the matter, proving how weird the whole incident
has been getting. 
Last night, the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by those weird militia guys got more serious, with one of them killed and seven others arrested, apparently as they made their way to some sort of community meeting they called.

The deceased guy is apparently LaVoy Finicum, the de facto spokesman for the militants. Their ringleader, Ammon Bundy, was one of those arrested, we hear. 

I don't know if this the end of the takeover of the wildlife refuge by these wannabe revolutionaries, who apparently think the US of A belongs to these rednecky white guys and nobody else.

There are still some of them holed up at the refuge, and at last report, it was unclear what would happen next.

The whole thing has kept taking stranger and stranger turns anyway.

Now a warning, don't watch the video at the bottom of this post if you're eating or particularly squeamish. More on that in a moment.

Despite the increasing seriousness of the Oregon situatio, I can't resist this little gem.

One of those odd militia guys who took over that wildlife refuge in Oregon has a challenge for New Jersey Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Chris Christie.

Boy, is it a challenge!

Chris Christie is apparently unimpressed with this band of so-called "Patriots" that took over that Malheur National Wildlife Preserve in Oregon,

The wannabe frontier guys or whatever in Oregon aren't happy with Christie for not being a wackadoodle who thinks white guys who pretend to be soldiers and frontiersmen so they can use publicly owned land only for themselves at the exclusion of the rest of American taxpayers who also own the land.

Enter Kelly Gneiting with a video, and it's quite a video, as Raw Story and many other media outlets report.

As we see in our video, Gneiting is a big, BIG man, pretty much naked except for one of those sumo wrestler loincloth outfits. He challenges Christie to a sumo wrestling match that would determine the outcome of the Oregon wackos' millitants' occupation.

I guess the "logic" as it were, is that Christie is a big guy himself, so we'll do a sumo match to settle the matter. I suppose Gneiting figures a sumo match is a better way to settle a difference of opinion, then, say, debating the issue.

In the video, Gneiting claims to be Christie's brother. He wants Chrisite to "throw on a diaper" and "go to war over the Constitution."

Why do I suspect that Christie is not going to do that?

After jokingly claiming he rolled "his brother Christie" down the stairs in a sleeping bag, Gneiting made this offer:

"Bring that big 'ol belly over here, and let's' slap bellies...."

(Editor's note: EWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!)

Gneiting goes on:

"......I'm talking about 10 bouts - you win one of out those 10 and me and these other good, constitutional folk - I'm going to make them sumo wrestlers too -- all these good, constitutional folk, we'll disperse. But if I win all 10, I get to roll you down the stairs in that sleeping bag again. Woo-hoo, little Chrissy!!!'

Oookay!

Given the very unfortunate death and the somewhat more fortunate arrests last night,  and the fact that Christie has at least a minimum of common sense, I don't anticipate writing a follow up post detailing the highlights of the would-be Christie-Gneiting sumo match.

Because of course it won't happen.

So all we have is Gneiting, in his classic sumo video, inviting Christie to the match.

Watch if you dare:


Monday, January 25, 2016

Henry "Red" Sutkoski: 4/24/1920 - 1/23/2016

My dad, Red Sutkoski, in his tavern, Red's Place, shortly
before he retired in 1991. Red's Place
was a popular gathering spot in West Rutland,
Vermont for the four decades my father owned the place.
Photo by my brother in law, David Jenne. 
My dad, Red Sutkoski passed away Saturday afternoon, January 23, 2016 at the age of 95.

He had a damn good run, that's for sure.

He wasn't well known outside of Vermont, but in a time when we can all be overwhelmed by the greed, crassness, ill will and anger out there, the whole world could learn from his grace, giving nature and gentle wit.

Dad was born in 1920 to Polish immigrants in what was then the busy marble quarrying town of West Rutland, Vermont.

Dad, known to everyone from Day One as Red for his red hair, lived a sweep of West Rutland's history:

He saw onstruction of the duplexes built for Vermont Marble Company workers, the Great Flood of 1927, the Great Depression, the labor riots among West Rutland quarry workers in the 1930s.

Red saw Prohibition, during which he good naturedly took note of who got busted for making what dad called "Screech," which was the shockingly abysmal home made booze people discreetly made during that time.

Along with most of West Rutland's young men, Red marched off to World War II. He came back, opened his restaurant and bar, and from that perch saw the town at first thrive with the marble quarries, then go into a near death spiral when the quarries closed and the jobs evaporated.

He watched West Rutland struggle back from those days, and had a hand in its slow rebirth, by encouraging its redevelopment while honoring the community's history.

Red was the unofficial Town Historian, as he was the go to person to ask whenever you wanted to know what happened in town anytime after 1920, the year he was born. His mind was sharp to the end.

He was much more than West Rutland's memory vault, and everybody in town knew it. His warmth, humor, compassion and friendship brought out the best in the town,. The best in its people. His family. Me.
My dad, Red Sutkoski outdoors in his younger days. He loved
being outside, especially if it was working on a project
to benefit those around him. 

That restaurant and tavern Red owned for 40 years in the heart of West Rutland had the official name of Marble Valley Restaurant, but everybody just knew it as Red's Place.

It was the spot where marble quarry workers, Polish immigrants, truck drivers, the lonely, the gregarious, and the occasional drunk went, as the Billy Joel song says, to forget about life for awhile.

Or maybe embrace it. With Red's laughter ringing out over the sound of either a Polish polka or Patsy Cline warbling from the juke box, the smoky Red's Place was the most welcoming and lively place in town.

There's even a song by the excellent Vermont band Starline Rhythm Boys called Red's Place that is about my dad and his bar. It captures the vibe of the bar, and my dad just perfectly. (Watch the video of the Boys performing that song at the bottom of this blog post.)

Red's Place wasn't fancy, and neither was the clientele. Dad liked it that way. Sure, he embraced and befriended everyone,  including the rich and powerful. As long as they didn't abuse people with their power and money, or victimized them with it.

Dad's soft spot, though, was for the underdog, which was why Red's Place was such a good fit for him, and such a good fit for West Rutland.

Red's Place was a second home to quarry workers, Polish immigrants, truck drivers, farmers, and other town residents who just wanted a friendly refuge for the evening.

Many of us Americans are perhaps inadvertently raised to celebrate the rich, the powerful, the flashy, the thrilling. And that's all OK, except when we do so at the expense of everyone else. Or worse, we ignore the underdogs as not important and not worth our time.

Dad knew everyone was important, and he showed it by being welcoming to everybody. As long as they weren't hurting anyone else.

Dad's example in his life and work showed me how to do the opposite of that. He taught me to seek out the people we're "supposed" to ignore and dismiss. The ones that have no power, who live quiet lives, who live humbly, through choice or circumstance.

For all that I'm a much richer, happier, well-rounded person.  We should all live by dad's example. The world would be a much better place if we did.
Red Sutkoski as a young man reading the paper with a faithful
companion at his West Rutland, Vermont home. It was
a perfect combination for him. Red loved animals,
and he was always curious about what
was going on in the world around him. 

That doesn't mean we should be somber sympathizers to those who aren't at the top of the heap. The only way dad's example worked, how his life worked, was through a sense of humor.

If there's not laughter, according to the Rules of Red, there's not much else to live for.

So Red loved telling stories of other's foibles, in a way that celebrates rather than ridicules our pratfall moments.

As mentioned, West Rutland had many Polish immigrants that came to work in the quarries during the later 19th century and early 20th century.  Many people, including dad, regularly spoke Polish.

At Red's Place, you'd often hear people yell out "Nostrovia," the Eastern European equivalent to "Cheers!" when people share a toast.

At one point, a new guy started coming into Red's Place. He was worried about fitting in, and didn't speak much. He listened, trying to understand the vernacular.

This guy kept hearing everyone saying "Nostrovia!" and finally decided to make his move. He bought the man sitting next to him a beer, and chimed in with that golden cheer. The man clinked the bottle with his new buddies at the bar and shouted, "Nice driveway!"

The moment was so funny that dad immediately embraced the Nice Driveway guy as a good friend.

Dad loved telling the "Nice Driveway" story, such that I've taken it upon myself to spread the tale. Everyone knows that when they share a drink or a bottle with me, we'll clink our glasses and tell each other, "Nice driveway."

If that's not a good tribute to Red, I don't know what is.

God knows dad's sense of humor was gloriously goofy.  One great example was a day a long time ago when he was walking along Marble Street in West Rutland.

A car with out of state plates pulled up along side him, its driver obviously lost and in need of directions. "How do you get to Tinmouth?,"  the woman in the passenger seat asked dad.

"My brother takes me,!" dad replied.

Of course, he said he was just kidding, and made sure the couple in the car got on the right road to Tinmouth.

Roads figure pretty prominently in my memory of dad.

When I was about six or seven years old,  the state was building a four lane road in back of our house. The Brand New Route 4.

The way the road was built in back of our house,  there was a two lane eastbound lane, situated at an elevation several feet above the parallel westbound lanes.

As they were building the road, dad and I would go up and explore the construction site. Often, he'd start singing, of all things, a bit of the Scottish song "The Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond."

The part he'd sing, was "You take the high road and I'll take the low road."

On the surface, his words could be taken as a simple commentary on the highway construction. But there was a deeper meaning. He was instructing me to take the high road in life, just as he did.  I guess the best way we can remember Red and his life is to always take that high road. And I'm not talking about eastbound Route 4 here.

Red's M.O. was to take the high road quietly.  He had a gorgeous habit of honoring history, and the people that came before him. In a remote corner of West Rutland, the Whipple Hollow Cemetery had become overgrown, broken down and all but forgotten by people in town.

So he took it upon himself to clear the broken trees and branches, rip out the weeds, replant grass and got some help fixing broken grave stones.  This kind of stuff dad did is infectious.

As dad was at the Whipple Hollow Cemetery one day, Markowski Excavating was working on a nearby construction project. When they saw what dad was doing, they quickly went up to the cemetery with an excavator to clear rocks, stumps and debris away.

Dad never worried about controversial topics, especially when they involved love. When I came out as gay and introduced him to Jeff Modereger, the man I would marry, dad embraced Jeff like he would his own son.

Dad's biggest goal was that his three children, me, Lynn and Laurie, would be happy and well taken care of. Dad went out knowing that the husbands and partners of us three kids were making us all happy, and would take care of us beautifully once he was gone.

My dad and my father-in-law, Don Modereger, were both about 90 years old when Jeff and I married. Don had a lot in common with Red, especially in terms of their warmth, generosity, compassion and good humor.

Red and Don's only face to face meeting was at my wedding. (Don lived way out in South Dakota, and it was hard for both Red and Don to travel.)

Even so, Red and Don immediately became good friends. I can't help but think the two fathers are sharing a good laugh as I write this.

This month, dad's physical heart finally gave out, worn down by 95 years of work and family and joy and troubles and worry and friendship.  But his metaphorical, spiritual and loving heart kept beating strong. It still is.

There's not going to be a wake or a funeral or anything like that, because Red said he didn't want such ceremonies.  He never wanted people to make a fuss over him. Red told us that if anybody wanted to mark his passing, they should just do something kind for someone else.

To close out and keep celebrating Dad's life,the video of the Starline Rhythm Boys performing "Red's Place" is coming up.

When you watch it, grab a beer, and another one to share with a friend. Clink the two bottles together, tell each other "Nice driveway," laugh, and then say or do something good for anyone you see around you.

Red will see this, fetch another round for his friends in heaven, and the party will go on here and up there. Just as he wants it.

So dad, all I can say to you now is "Nice driveway."


Saturday, January 23, 2016

New Zealand Sheep Thwart High Speed Chase

New Zealand police make their arrest after
sheep (seen in background) halted the suspects' car.
Authorities routinely put up road blocks to stop those high speed chases you always see, the ones where people futiily try to roar away from cops in their cars, only to get caught anyway.

Such was the case recently in New Zealand, but it was a New Zealand style roadblock that ended the car chase.

Police were chasing the suspects when a flock of sheep belonging to an off-duty cop, were led onto a road.

It turns out the sheep were there coincidentally, and the farmer had no idea a high speed chase was on the way, but it all worked out.

The sheep and the dogs guiding them totally blocked the road, which stopped the car being driven by the suspects, allowing police to make their arrests.

None of the sheep and dogs were injured during this, which is the best thing of all.

Two men, ages 19 and 23, were charged with reckless driving, failing to stop for flashing lights, three thefts related to gas station drive-offs and theft of a motor vehicle.

Hmm, wonder if these guys will be counting sheep as they try to drift off to sleep in their jail cells.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Guy Turns His Wheelchair Into A Nifty Snow Plow

Tim Taylor operates his wheelchair snowplow
in snowy Pennsylvania. Add caption
I often feel bad for people with physical disabilities in the winter.

It's hard enough for them to get around any time of year, but when there's snow, it has to be especially challenging.

Tim Taylor, 30, of West Springfield, PA is making the best of it. He uses a wheelchair, and uses one as a snowplow, says the Huffington Post.

Taylor has limited use of his hands, so he can't construct things really well, but he can design and draw and do that sort of thing.

So he designed the snowplow wheelchair and had his father and brothers fabricate it under his direction.

 It's pretty cool!

"What I have right now is a prototype. It still has some issues that need to be worked out, but that's just prompting me to find a better way to design it," Taylor said, according to the Huffington Post.

There's a video of Taylor operating his snowplow at the bottom of this post.  I wonder how well he'd do in that huge blizzard bearing down on the East Coast this weekend.

He's also working on a wheelchair with a special mount that would allow him to go out on wildlife photography excursions, which is his favorite pastime. He's been paralyzed since a 2003 accident, and the wheelchair van he has is rusting out.

Taylor considered the tried and true method for these types of situations and was going to start a GoFundMe campaign for the money.

But he'd rather earn the money. So, he wants to work as a DJ and a snowplow operator with his wheelchair, which sounds like an awesome plan.

 I'd also suggest that he market his ideas for the wheelchair plow and the wildlife photography wheelchair. It probably wouldn't hurt if Taylor tried to sell his wildlife photography too, but I don't want to tell a guy what to do.

Seems like he can handle his own life all by himself, thank you very much.  .

Though I can't resist one more suggestion, based on this quote from Taylor: "Every day there can be a new achievement, whether you have a disability or not.....A new achievement in life helps keep you positive.

He's right, of course. But maybe he can make a lucrative living as an inspirational speaker.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Trademark Troll Company Trying To Take Yosemite Away From Us

A trademark troll that used to run concessions at Yosemite
National Park is threatening to not allow anybody to
use the names of iconic buildings and features at the park
unless the U.S. government and taxpayers cave
in to its extortion demands. They might get away with it. 
An outfit called DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite not long ago lost a contract to have concessions that ran various businesses around Yosemite National Park.

For one reason or another, they lost the contract to do that.

Now, they're demanding the National Park Serve change the names of iconic buildings and locations around and in Yosemite that have had their names for decades.

They're arguing trademark protection.

Incredibly, the National Parks Service is caving to these demands, I guess because they don't want to pay lawyers' fees to defend against this outrage.  I get the idea of not wasting taxpayer money, but do we really want to cave to trademark trolls?

These are publicly owned landmarks that they're changing the names of. In other words, you, me, and every other American owns this stuff.  But, a private company is forcing the change of fun and especially profit.

Yosemite landmarks like the Ahwahnee Hotel, the Yosemite Lodge, the Wawoman Hotel, Curry Village and Badger Pass ski area will have to change their names, signs maps and guidebooks to satisfy the morons at DNC.

It gets worse. DNC, a division of Delaware North also claims it holds the trademark for any merchandise and it alone can sell things like Yosemite shirts, mugs and whatnot, says BoingBoing, using Outside Magazine as a source

Says BoingBoing, via Outside:

"DNC refuses to hand over those trademarks unless the incoming concessionaire buys it out, setting in motion a chain reaction that will presumably endure until the end of the USA itself in which the sums that concessionaires bid to profit from public property are reduced by the expected dead-weight losses to license trademarks that should never have been granted in the first place.

DNC also registered trademarks for other U.S. public property, including the Space Shuttle Atlantis."

Makes you wonder if the very name of Yosemite National Park will go away.

Judging from what's going on, that doesn't seem so far-fetched now, because it does appear to be unclear how far DNC will go to make its private profit from a name all of us as taxpayers, should rightly own.

Says Outside, quoting Yosemite (for now!) National Park Spokesman Scott Gediman:

"The outgoing company also trademarked 'Yosemite National Park' for merchandising purposes, said Gediman. Will you be able to buy a Yosemite t-shirt at the gift shop come March 1? 'That's something that remains to be determined,' Gediman said."

What about the fact that, as I noted, the public owns this park, despite DNC's trademarking spree.

Outside magazine again:

"Gediman added, 'We feel very strongly that these historic names are associated with the buildings and belong to the American people.' As for the value DNC has attached to them, 'We strongly disagree with the numbers.'"

From what I see, DNC is a classic trademark troll, which is a variation of the always hated patent troll. 

Patent trolls try to extort money from businesses by claiming patents on commonly used equipment these businesses have in their offices and factories. These businesses find it less expensive to just pay patent troll extortion demands than fighting them with expensive lawyers in an iffy judicial process.

Trademark trolls basically do the same thing with objects and brands they don't really own. All for fun and profit, you understand. Especially profit.

I'm all for trademarking original ideas, businesses, merchandise and that type of thing, but DNC's trademark efforts are a great example of how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is being abused.

According to Outside, government attorneys, and basically anybody watching the case, thinks this is just the way DNC's does "business," to make any money they can, however they can. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seems to have no teeth, or no decent regulations on trademarks and patents.

Editorialized BoingBoing in a post I heartily agree with:

"It's evidence of the dysfunction of the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, which should be heartily embarrassed by this, and the cult of fiduciary duty, which holds that companies should do anything they can to earn a profit for their shareholders, no matter how odius and unethical."

That "fiduciary duty" to me is a part of a larger American shortcoming these days. Everybody yells about their rights, but ignore the responsibilities and ethics that accompany those rights.

Yes, we have the right to make a profit, to have successful businesses. But what gives anybody the right to run roughshod over everything and everyone else, in the name of greed.

Right, Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli?

Obviously, I hope DNC somehow loses out, or gets its comeuppance like Shkreli did.

But I'm not optimistic.

Makes me wonder if every name, everything we do, will have some corporate for-profit stamp on it.

That would be a shame.

Like Bernie Sanders Or Not, His New Ad Is Very Different, And Remarkably Well Made

Bernie Sanders' "America" presidential campaign ad
is one of the best and most effective I've ever seen. 
You either love Bernie Sanders or you hate him.

Either way, he's certainly not the usual politician.

Just check out his latest ad. It's at the bottom of this post. It's a very unusual ad for a presidential candidate and a very good one at that.

All politicians have ads that try to inspire you, to feel good about the candidate, to embrace his or her story.

This ad for Sanders is no different. But aside from the politics, it's remarkably well crafted. And a welcome change from incessant ads that just hammer away at opponents with misleading claims, shouting and lies.

There are human elements in some campaign ads. There's the humorous moment in the Hillary Clinton ad in which a young girl, probably a plant, asks Clinton if she's elected, will she be paid as much as if a guy won.

That let her launch into her spiel about equal pay for equal work.

A current ad for Republican John Kasich ad is pretty good, too. A good old boy narrator  tells his background story about growing up in gritty Ohio and getting things done, all to the twangy homespun guitar in the background.

But as far as tugging at your heartstrings and trying to get you to embrace a candidate, as well as his message, the new Bernie Sanders clip is tops.  This one's a winner.

In it, you hear the song "America" by Simon and Garfunkel. As the tone of the music swells, we see various shots of quintessential Americans interspersed with Sanders and people at his campaign rallies.  Sanders does not speak in the ad, except for the end, when he informs us that he approved this message.

The ad shows bigger and bigger crowds,. Then you see the smiling mug shots of thousands of people who have donated small amounts of money to the Sanders effort. As this happens the words containing the song's lyrics flash on the screen in front of all the people. "They've all come to look for America."

That ties in with Sanders' message. Whether you agree with him or not, the ad wants you to join the people who think the America they know has been taken away by the powerful forces and people and money Sanders rails against.

All the people supporting his campaign, the ad is saying,  have come to look for the America they remember and want, the one in which power is spread among all the people, not just some elites. And Sanders, by golly, will lead them there, goes the message.

Again, you might not agree with Sanders' overall approach or you might love it.

But coming from a person who detests most ads because they're poorly done. And a person who likes to single out the rare good advertisements you see on TV, this Sanders ad is compelling and effective and artfully done.

It triggers emotions and a feeling of patriotism and makes you remember the "product," in this case, Bernie Sanders.

Watch this very well composed ad:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oregon Whack Jobs Sure Don't Know How To Run A Revolution, Or Whatever They're Doing

Members of "Y'all Qaeda" are still holed
up at an Oregon wildlife refuge. Sigh. 
I was going to follow the lead of law enforcement and pretty much ignore the crazy guys who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge  over in Oregon.

Apparently, they're annoyed by what they think is the evil federal government taking away our rights to the citizens' land.  Or set fire to it to control varmints or something.

Or maybe they just want to play dress up and pretend they're life sized GI Joe action figures and Wild Bill Hickok or something.

This place is a wildlife refuge, which, um, is open to the public. Anyone. At least until these yahoos showed up. Now nobody can go there except them. Are they the only people who think they are U.S citizens?

I hope they're not quintessential U.S. citizens, because such citizens would be bozos.

If not for the expense this takeover is costing us taxpayers, and the fear and inconvenience to the Oregonians living near the refuge, this would seem like a farcical movie comedy that gets mixed reviews.

Let's go over some of the highlights of this takeover.

1. Nobody is taking them seriously.  Like the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, "they don't get no respect."

Federal law enforcement is ignoring them. A lot of the rest of us are not exactly calling them terrorists, but things like "Y'all Qaeda""Yee-hawdists" and "Vanilla ISIS" since they're such wannabe but failing militants.

I've also seen them referred to, as Raw Story points out,  "Yokel Haram," "Fail Qaeda" who are participating in an "Infantada."

There've been some great Tweets about this outfit, such as "Y'all Qaeda follows a strict interpretation of Shania (Twain) law." and "Every successful revolution starts with the takeover of a closed visitor center with a gift shop."

2. The group put out a call via social media to get supplies, like food, clothing and the like. They probably got some of that, but many people, also inspired by social media, sent lots of dildos instead.

Dildos for the dildos. The militants there were not amused. One video showed one of the Y'all Qaeda guys angrily sweeping the dildos off a table. Temper, temper!

3. One of the idiots, Joe Oshaugnessy, collected donation money for the cause. When a newspaper revealed that Oshaugnessy lied about being a U.S. Marine, he got depressed and went to a hotel and used the donation money to drink his sorrows away.

Another Vanilla ISIS member tearfully announced this turn of events on Facebook. Awwww. So sad!

 4. Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, who is pretty much Y'allQaeda spokesman in Oregon, complained that the state of Arizona took away the foster kids who have been staying with his wife Jeannette at their Arizona home.

Now, I can't knock Finicum for helping boys from troubled homes find a sense of self-worth and independence at his ranch.

However, as Talking Points Memo notes:

".....having one parent away from home for a significant period of time committing a number o fhigh profile federal crimes would seem like at least a plausible reason to remove the children. This doesn't seem to occur to Finicum."

Also, says Talking Points Memo and Oregon Public Broadcasting, Finicum and his wife got most of their income from being foster parents. For a guy who wants government off our backs and likes his individualism, it's a little strange he's living off government subsidies.

Oh well, I guess it's OK to be a bit of a hypocrite if there's money to be made.

5. Then we have this video, a bizarre little battle cry with strange horns. Really guys?  It sounds like they're pretending to be mating mountain goats.

Which proves their little revolution is completely off the rails.

Drinking And Driving Is Bad. So Is Leaving Your Drink On The Roof Of The Car

Alcohol abuse: The tragic aftermath of this guy dropping
his twelve pack of beer on New Year's Eve.
In the video you'll see in this post, somebody in Australia apparently left quite a bit of red wine of the roof of their car and drove off.

Then the motorist decided to hit the brakes.

You'll see what happened in the video at the bottom of this post.

As Yahoo News pointed out, this isn't the only alcohol tragedy in recent days.

A video circulating, which you see in this post, shows the aftermath of a guy dropping his case of beer just after leaving the liquor store.

He certainly looks distraught.

Here's the recent wine incident in Australia:

NY Daily News Has Final Word On Sarah Palin's Trump Endorsement

I'll just let the New York Daily News guest post today with their front page:


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

People Are Hacking Baby Monitors To Terrify Infants, Families

Is somebody checking out the baby besides
mom, dad and the bsbysitter? Baby monitors
might not be very secure. 
Now this is scary.

It turns out baby monitors are often incredibly easy to hack, and a lot of people know this.

It also turns out there are a number of sickos out there who like to terrorize babies - and their families.

A married couple, identified only as Jay and Sarah, said their three year old kid kept saying he was scared to go to sleep at night because the "phone" kept talking to them, said television station KDVR in Denver. 

Jay and Sarah could NOT figure out what was going on with their boy until Sarah walked by the baby monitor and heard a stranger's voice coming out of it.

The voice said, "Look out little boy, daddy's looking for you," KDVR reported. 

When Sarah walked into the room, the camera's night vision lens turned to examine her and the voice added, "Look, someone's coming into view."

This wasn't an isolated case. A Minnesota family learned their baby monitor had been hacked when they found photos of their baby online, probably taken via the monitor from somebody controlling it remotely.

Foscam, the company that made Jay and Sarah's baby monitor, said it might have been hacked and controlled by someone using a smartphone app or laptop.

Obviously, this whole thing freaked out Jay and Sarah enough to take a lot of safety measures around their house, because who knows what the hackers were really up to.

Last year, when a security firm named Rapid 7 tested nine widely available Internet connected baby monitors and found security on all of them lacking, reportedWired magazine.

Says Wired:

"'Eight of the nine cameras got an F and one got a D minus,' security researcher Mark Stanislav told Fusion's Kashmir Hill. Security flaws included issues such as lack of encryption, the use of default passwords, and access to Internet portals with the device's serial number or account number. Rapid 7 disclosed the vulnerabilities to the companies, who will hopefully all take the information to heart."

Yeah, we hope they did.

It's probably better at this point to go back to the old fashioned way and going in yourself to check on Baby John Or Baby Sue, rather than glancing at the baby monitor.

Because maybe a lot of other people are glancing at it, too.







Grace Potter's Beautiful, Haunting Bowie Tribute

Grace Potter in her music video as she covers David Bowie's
"As The World Falls Down." 
Maybe I've been harping on David Bowie's passing so much, but he was such an inspirational talent that he's been inspiring other talents.  

Case in point: Rocker (and fellow Vermonter!) Grace Potter just released a version of Bowie's "As the World Falls Down" that does Bowie proud.  It's quite ethereal and psychedelic and incredibly beautiful.

H/T to Spin for alerting us to this.

Here's the video to Potter's take on "As the World Falls Down:"

Monday, January 18, 2016

Drones Put On A Sky Show To Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

Drones crearte patterns in the sky as an orchestra
plays Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
OK, I'll admit right off the bat that this whole thing is basically an ad for Intel Corp.

But the resulting video is so cool I have to show it anyway.

Back in November, Intel technicians controlled drones using PCs running on Intel software to sync the flight and light displays on the 100 drones as an orchestra played Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on the ground.

This was good enough to earn a Guinness World Record for the most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously.

The performance video was unveiled, naturally, at CES, which is the big annual technology tradeshow in Las Vegas.

Here's the video:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Vermont-Style Crime: Xanax Smuggling On A Sled

A guy tried to smuggle Xanax from Canada into
Vermont by pulling a bunch of it on a sled
through the snow. 
It's winter here in Vermont, so sometimes, if you've got a criminal enterprise going, you have to make allowances for the weather.

Such was the case last week, when a man in white winter camouflage clothing trudged through the snow through the woods from Quebec across the border into Vermont.

He was pulling a sled piled up with nearly 200 pounds of Xanax, writes Adam Silverman in the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press. 

The Xanax this guy had is worth about $1.6 million, authories said.

Prosecutors said Cedrick Bourgault-Morin, 21, of Quebec was caught in the Vermont border town of North Troy after his trip across that border trip sensors that bristle in that area.

Says the Free Press:

"Border Patrol agents who responded 'observed a single adult male, dressed in white camouflage clothing walking along the railroad tracks pulling a sled behind him. The sled contained one large duffel bag wrapped in white camouflage,' according to a criminal complaint written by Agent John McGarghan."

This happened Wednesday, and the weather was pretty good that day. Not much snow falling, not very cold. This guy would have been better off waiting for a blizzard so he couldn't be seen so easily.

But he's gotta meet demand. Addicts in the USA need their Xanax. Hell, the way the news and American politics has been going lately, everybody needs their Xanax.

Not surprisingly, authorities believe Bourgault-Morin's little winter adventure is part of a larger drug smuggling conspiracy. I'm sure they'll be asking him lots of questions. Maybe on Lake Champlain's thin ice, for all I know.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cringe-Worthy Performance By Three Girls At Trump Rally

The Freedom Girls salute America,
and presumably Donald Trump. 
OK, I don't normally make a habit of criticizing young girls for their musical performances.

Doing so is usually gross and bullying. Especially coming from a middle aged guy like me.

And, I'm totally OK with patriotic performances. Pride in your nation is all good.

Here, though, I'm going to make an exception to the no dissing kids rule.

The performance by the so-called Freedom Girls at a Pensacola, Florida Donald Trump rally was more than a little creepy.

I don't blame the three girls who did the performance. They're just doing what some so called grown up told them to do. But whoever the adults were who set this up seem to take their cues from a North Korean government rally committee.

The Freedom Girls start their song with what sounds like a Trump and Tea Party political swipe at the Obama administration. Basically, the president is accused of backing down all the time and letting ISIS and every other bad guy run roughshod over us.

The Freedom Girls are having NONE of this. NO way.

USA! USA!

The hideous music the Freedom Girls sing to sounds, as the The Fix column in the Washington Post puts it, a cross between Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and the marching tune "Over There."

Then we get into these lyrics:

"Enemies of freedom face the music
Come on boys, take them down.
President Donald Trump knows how
To make America great.
Deal from strength or get crushed every time."

On the bright side, the girls do invent a new word, which is fun. It's "Ameritude" I'm not quite sure what it means, but we can all sort that out later.

At least some of the comments on the YouTube video are entertaining:

"To think that Donald Trump calls Bernie a communist, when Trump basically uses Kim Jong Un as his stage manager."

And:

"I can't wait for these kids to watch this video fifteen years later and really hate their parents."

Watch the Freedom Girls' performance if you dare:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Immigrants Read "Mean Tweets" About Themselves

This immigrant is understandably confused by
a person on Twitter who said the Great Wall of China kept Mexicans
out of that country, so it would work here, too.
In the tradition of Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets, an organizaton has asked some undocumented immigrants to read mean tweets about them.

It's a brief exploration of American ignorance, let me tell ya. Maybe we should allow these undocumented immigrants to stay, since they seem a lot smarter than the Tweeters in question.

A couple of my favorites are the guy who doesn't like being called an illegal "alien."

"I don't like the word 'alien' because I feel like green is not my color. I like being brown."  

Another immigrant, a woman, responds to a Tweet from a woman in Kentucky who is offended because she always seems to hear 94 different languages. It's America, everybody should speak English, the Kentucky woman suggests.

The immigrant reminds Kentucky Woman that speaking two languages makes you smarter, something that can't hurt a state like Kentucky.

One of the immigrants was understandably bewildered by a Tweet from somebody who doesn't think Donald Trump's idea to build a wall to keep Mexicans from entering the United States.

After all, the Tweeter says, China build a wall and they have almost no Mexicans.

Um....

The video was put together by an outfit called Define America, a media and culture organization using stories to try and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity and citizenship.

Here's the video:

Scammy "Prosperity Pastors" Explain Why They Need You To Pay For Their Private Jets

The so-called Prosperity Gospel seems to rip off
a lot of gullible people, in my opinion.
So-called "Prosperity Gospel" is one of the cruelest scams, and one that makes a few grifters very, very rich.

Prosperity Gospel is the idea that if you give a preacher, televangelist, or whatever, piles of money, then God will smile down on you and make you rich, too. You're doing God's work by handing over your hard-earned cash, goes the theory.

It's a terrible distortion of the usually harmless practice of tithing, in which churchgoers donate some money regularly, or some part of their income, to support the teachings and activities of their church.

The Bible doesn't exactly give big support to the idea of Prosperity Gospel "For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the aith and pierced themselves with many griefs," (1 Timothy 6:10)

Or, as Relevant, a magazine on religion and culture notes, "Jesus didn't die on the cross to be our genie."

n the video you'll see at the bottom of this post, grifters prosperity preachers Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis explain, shamelessly, why they needed their gullible followers to give them free money so they could fly around in their private jets.

If you want to be infuriated, watch the video. It's cathartic, so go ahead.

If you don't have the patience for that, I can give you their message in a nutshell.

First of all, if they fly commercial, they risk exposing themselves to "demons." The translation of that, I believe, is they don't want to get close to us filthy commoners, so we're "demons."

Besides, us commoners, even if we're not demons, distract them from their important business of praying.

Probably for more gullible people to give them even more money.

They also want to talk to God alone, so we don't want to have other people on a plane distracting these two preachers.

They probably don't want God to be distracted from the multitudes praying to Him that Copeland and Duplantis finally get arrested and charged and jailed for their misdeeds.

The personal jets are also needed, the pair say, because they have to quickly zip off to places having a spiritual crisis only they can solve. With more money begs.

Anyway, here's the infuriating video. It's stunning the hubris they have in actually saying these things in front of a camera:

And if you need an antidote like this, watch the video below the one of Copeland and Duplantis of John Oliver explaining the whole prosperity theology thing in a way that is truly hilarious and makes you understand it so, so well.

Oliver's video is 20 minutes long, but worth every minute to watch

First the crooks, I mean pastors:



Here's John Oliver:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Great Isolated Vocal Tracks of Mercury/Bowie "Under Pressure" Vocal Tracks

David Bowie and Freddie Mercury collaborated
brilliantly in the 1981 hit. "Under Pressure."
The other day when I was talking about David Bowie, I said "Heroes" is my favorite song by him, which is true.

But just about my favorite song of all time, by anybody, is "Under Pressure" the Freddie Mercury and Queen collaboration with Bowie, issued in 1981.  

Mercury, one of the greatest rock voices ever, died years ago, and now we've lost Bowie.

Now, hat tip to Boing Boing, we have the isolated vocal tracks of Mercury and Bowie in "Under Pressure."

All the fantastic production values, bells and whistles of the song are gone, and we have just the pair's haunting voices. It serves as a cool, interesting eulogy to these two rock greats.

The first video, below, is just the vocal tracks of the Mercury and Bowie (black screen, just their voices.)

Right under that, is the original music video for "Under Pressure,'" a strange, compelling wonderful video in its own right.

Both performances are really fascinating:




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie Took Us On An Otherworldly Journey To Become Ourselves

The cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" album
Much has been made in the past couple of days of the late, great David Bowie's influence on all us "weirdos" out there.

Through all his personas over the decades, the vibe was that if you were an outsider, somebody that was unusual, seemingly from outer space, that was cool. Be yourself.

I guess that's why space and space travel often played such a role in Bowie's music.

Another maybe more important aspect I detected in Bowie's music was a sense of urgency,  along with that otherworldliness of the music.

Not only was Bowie telling us we didn't have to fit into neat little boxes set up by society, but it was urgent that we NOT fit into these boxes. We had to stop trying to fit into these artificial boxes. Now if not sooner.

That sense of urgency was mostly noticeable in the musical arrangements in Bowie's music.

A classic example is in my favorite David Bowie song, "Heroes," the title track to his 1977 album.

The video for that song is at the bottom of this post.

He's certainly checked off the otherworldliness part. In the video, he's in mist and shadows, an apparition from another world.

The music in the song to me inspires visions of being in some fast moving rocket ship, stars outside sweeping by as we go to God knows where in the universe.  He's taking us on a journey to another world. Maybe a trip that really takes us to ourselves.

Tbe music and lyrics in "Heroes'' pushes us on with an urgency and determination. Against all odds, we can be heroes, just for one day.

Wouldn't it be wonderful, no matter what the situation, if any of us could be heroes just for one day?

It's metaphorical heroism in this song. It invites us to come out of the shadows, from outer space, and present ourselves to the world as we are.

As the emphatic lyrics of "Heroes" says, "We can be us, just for one day."

The music in "Heroes" is also ethereal. It almost puts you into a trance, draws you in to the ability to be yourself. To embrace your oddball mind. Just for one day. And another. Until it's forever.

My gay, ADHD - addled brain is writing this blog post. So yes, I'm "weird" or an "outsider" or something like that.

Bowie helped create a world in which that is all OK. For me, and for more and more people around me.

If you come down to it, we are all weird outsiders from somebody's perspective.  Bowie helped give us the courage to recognize our outsider status. He turned our weirdness into something cool

As we remember Bowie, we should all make sure we are truly us, as we are,  just for one day.

Here's the "Heroes" video:

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Vermont Dog Story: Finally, Murphy After More Than A Year, Murphy Is Back Home

Murphy the dog is finally home in Vermont
after 559 dayson the lam. 
On June 29, 2014, Kirstin Campbell of Morristown was in a car crash in Stowe, Vermont

With her at the time of the crash was Murphy, her grandfather El Hamel's three-year old Golden Retreiver.

Murphy was totally freaked out by the crash. (Many, many dogs get freaked out in even minor car crashes.)

Right after the crash, Campbell opened the rear door of her car to check on Murphy, who bolted. Ran away, says the Stowe Reporter.

Murphy was on the lam ever since.

Until this weekend.

Murphy, after months and months of efforts by people in and around Stowe, he was finally recaptured and brought back to Campbell.

The long story of Murphy on the lam has been the talk of central Vermont for a year and a half. Many residents have been struggling to recapture him, but the wily Murphy always eluded people.

According to Seven Days, a weekly Vermont newspaper, professional dog catchers like Holly Mokrzeki of Granite State Recovery say that post-accident behavior like Murphy's is common.

"A lot of dogs will go into what we call survival feral-dog mode. Some of them will resort to that within 15 minutes of getting away from their owners. It's pretty amazing... You're calling 'Buster, Buster!' and he's not thinking, 'That's my owner; they're trying to help.' There's something in their brain that says "I need to keep moving; this is a predator trying to get me,'"  Mokrzecki told Seven Days.

People tried anyway. They left food out for him, set traps, followed him. No luck.

Murphy also managed to survive out in the wild, with dangerous animals such as coyotes and notoriously atrocious Vermont weather. He survived outdoors in one of the coldest winters in memory.

He was almost captured a year ago, when he tripped the wire on a trap set for him. But it was cold, and the trap door froze open, and Murphy was able to take off again.

Wilson Ring, a reporter with the Associated Press in Vermont, lives in the area. With help from professional dog catchers, he's set up traps for his yard, since he's seen Murphy in the area several times.

There were several close missed, but Ring never quite caught Murphy.

The plan was to place food, very gradually, closer and closer to the trap, until finally, he'd be caught.

There was one moment last winter that Ring decided not to set the trap. It was way, WAY below zero, and Ring was understandably afraid that Murphy would get caught in the trap, then die of exposure to the cold, since Murphy wouldn't have access to protection.

That night, Ring left the trap open a few minutes past 11 p.m. Murphy showed up near the trap at 11:20 p.m, or so, unnoticed, and that was another missed opportunity to get him.

Several nights later, Murphy got caught in the trap in Ring's yard, but gnawed his way out before anybody noticed him.

The efforts to capture Murphy continued through 2015. Finally, 559 days after he first ran off, Murphy was captured Saturday night in the humane trap behind Ring's house.

According to WCAX television, Murphy is doing fine and seems glad to finally be home.

Reports WCAX: 

"........hs owners say as soon as he got back to his house he made himself right at home. 'Pretty much exactly like he was. It was so amazing when he walked in the house las tnight. It was like a light bulb came on. Hey, I'm home! I know you people, and there's my toy,'" Hamel said.

Murphy will be checked out by a vet, but he seems fine. After a year and a half in the wild and the weather, I bet Murphy was happy he wasn't outside in a rare winter thunder and hail storm that swept through central Vermont Sunday night.

Given the Ring, who was so involved in the hunt for Murphy, is such a good writer and reporter, a lot of people think he ought to write a children's book about the dog's adventure.

I agree.