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June 15 2017Europe 1956
I found the Irish poor but kind and London wet but jolly and theater in both places good. Paris was wet too but in a melancholy way, and the waiters in cafes so snooty you could starve if you didn’t correctly pronounce the nasalized vowels.
The Dutch were hearty laughers but without much humor. The Danes had humor and were cheerful and spoke excellent English. The Germans had no humor but were busy building gleaming new cities. Around the gaming tables of Baden Baden they jostled the pound-shy English asking: “Who won the war?”
So when I had been through these places and done my duty to monuments and museums, battlefields and cathedrals, it was August before I got to Venice. It was hot in Venice and the canals and close-built buildings made it stuffy. I took a room at the air-conditioned Bauer Grunwald and ate my dinner on the terrace watching the flaming sun drop over the Grand Canal.
For two days I walked crowded streets and crossed over little bridges or took Diritto boats to the beach at Lido. At night I sat in cafes of San Marco’s and listened to the orchestras and sipped wine. Then I took a train to Rome and changed for one to Naples. Then a bus to Sorrento.
I got to Sorrento on Sunday evening and found a hotel on a shady street that curved off the square. The hotel was cool, the rooms white-washed and clean, and underneath tall trees there was a patio that looked out over the bay.
Six waiters served me dinner there, and afterwards I walked back to the square and down the steep switch-back street with flowers hanging over the wall to the pier where boats came and went to Capri. There was a band playing and a lighted Ferris Wheel and the boat offices were crowded with people and children laughing and shouting.
I walked out on the pier and tried out of darkness to find Capri. I stared into the blackness but could see nothing. I threw my cigarette into the Bay of Naples and walked back up to the square where I sat in a sidewalk café lit by strings of little lights and sipped a bottle of Tuborg.
In the morning I took the boat to Capri. It was a warm breezy day and the boats were filled with tourists. I had met a lady in Venice who told me to skip Capri. She said tourists had ruined it for those who remembered Capri as it was before the war.
I didn’t ask what war. Capri has been under attack ever since Tiberius built his villa there. Attila and the Huns, those dreadful Goths and Vandals. This August morning I found myself in another barbarian army mustered at the funicular ready to begin the assault
A battalion in sport shirts, thirty-five millimeters strapped over shoulders, chest bandoliers with film. Like the Goths, we brought our women clutching bags to carry away the loot. The cable cars made their slow grinding climb to the top. We exploded from the cars, storming the little plaza to sack the cluttered shops. The natives put up feeble resistance.
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Climate change, global warming, whatever you want to call it, it is already making a difference, and we need to protect ourselves. It has already hurt our water supply and the quality of our drinking water. Some states are concerned about them having enough clean, safe drinking water in the near future.
The mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are moving in and biting more people and pets. The number of people and pets that have been bitten has tripled since 2004. More tick bites, mean more Lyme disease. The fleas are spreading heartworm and the mosquitoes bring disease like Zika. It is important to use insect repellant and to check for ticks when leaving a forest area. Also be sure to empty any item that holds water to curb mosquito breeding.
As the weather warms up, the bacteria reproduce more quickly. Meanwhile, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming more common. Using less antibiotics in humans and farm animals will help to curb that problem. Waterborne infections are expected to rise as the floods overuse the water treatment systems.
Asthma and allergies have gone up over 10 percent in the last 10 years, partly due to longer growing seasons that put more pollen in the air earlier and at a higher count. The higher humidity brings more mold. Close your windows and change clothes when you come inside.
Hotter days prompt people to wear fewer clothes. It has been predicted that the warmer days will bring more skin cancer. Be sure to apply sunscreen when you go out and wear a hat to protect the tips of your ears and the back of your neck.
by Jim Bennett • firstname.lastname@example.org
JAN 17 2019
God’s Flood Part Two
FROM THE L.A. TIMES, Dec. 20: “Up to 73 million sharks are pulled from the water each year, where their fins are sawed off their live bodies. Then they are thrown back into the water where, without their fins, they cannot get water to flow over their gills to access oxygen. They drown, starve to death, or drift down in the water, where they are eaten alive by other animals.”
73 million per year. Chew on that number awhile.
“This barbaric and wasteful practice,” the editorial continues, “feeds a market for the expensive Chinese delicacy known as shark-fin soup, and for shark fin curios that are put up for sale.”
Journalist Doug Peacock, Sierra Club member and Montana outdoorsman writing in November, “”Last spring the National Rifle Association with the Safari Club International (SCI, a privileged group of mostly wealthy trophy killers dedicated to killing large and rare animals), backed a successful bill to permit extreme killing methods of wolves and grizzlies on national wildlife refugees in Alaska, including the gunning down of animals from helicopters and slaughtering wolf pups and bear cubs in their birthing dens.”
From Genesis, Ch. 6: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” We know the consequences—an all-consuming flood, a death sentence for all living creatures, save Noah and his family.
Last week in this column I pointed out the current worldwide “wickedness” of man’s inhumanity to man, while wondering out loud if there was enough to justify another such flood.
CRUELTY AND DEPRAVITY perpetrated on members of the animal kingdom make me wonder too. The heartless slaughter of African elephants and giraffes line the pockets of illegal ivory traders or, in the case of giraffes, feed the feeble egos of wealthy trophy hunters. There are now fewer than 2,000 living giraffes in Africa, and the elephant population is dwindling even faster. Thanks to poachers, the white rhino is now extinct. All this killing is, of course, illegal.
Michael Fay of the Wildlife Conservation society has reported “a scene of slaughter: There lay more than 300 elephant bodies, all with their tusks hacked off. Cows, calves, and juveniles had been indiscriminately left to die. Two months later, Fay found the remains of 1,000 dead elephants nearby,” according to PBS online.
If you thought the systematic horror of Canadian baby seal slaughter was declining, think again. According to Humane Society International, “In 2016, over 66,000 seals were killed in the hunt, with methods ranging from clubbing, shooting with a high-powered rifle, or using a hakapik, which resembles a pick-axe.
“98 percent of the seals killed in the commercial hunt over the past ten years have been less than three months of age. At the time of slaughter, many of the pups had not yet eaten their first solid food.”
In the American Southwest, miscreants with big guns but fragile egos shooting bison contained in small areas get to bring home a trophy while pretending to be big game hunters.
THE WESTERN WORLD was shocked during last winter’s South Korean Olympics when investigative journalists filmed appalling dog meat factory farms before operators could chase them off. These London Daily Mirror journalists reported, “More than 200 puppies were stuffed into filthy, rusting cages while fed little more than scraps before being dragged to the slaughterhouse.
“This hell exists for 2.5 million dogs across 17,000 farms in the country. Our shocking footage shows helpless dogs manically hurling themselves at the bars of rusting metal cages, their cries of misery creating a deafening din.” Factory farming in South Korea is now illegal, but still flourishing. Much like Canadian policies governing the killing of baby seals, the laws are toothless.
Factory farming of domestic animals is also a demoralizing practice in the U.S. Animal rights groups have filmed “Animals crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds and stuffed into wire cages, metal crates, and other tortuous devices.
“These animals will never raise their families, root around in the soil, build nests, or do anything that is natural and important to them. Most won’t even feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they’re loaded onto trucks headed for slaughterhouses,” again according to the Daily Mirror.
These practices (and many other similars) go beyond mindless cruelty. They are beyond horrifying. They are evil and they are sins. They are abominations desecrating God’s creation. Perpetrators have forfeited their membership in the human community for a few dollars more.
On social media, many videos are posted of juvenile calves, goats, piglets, lambs, and even horses frolicking in pastures with dogs and cats, touching noses and chasing beach balls. They are sentient beings that come equipped with the capacity for joy, pain, loneliness, and loss.
And so I would ask God one last time, “What are you waiting for? Is this not enough wickedness?” As for shark fin soup connoisseurs, let them eat cake.
The Rest is Still Unrwritten
by John Colclasure of Lexington
JAN 17 2019
Winter Storm Gia
Heavy wet snow fell in huge amounts in parts of Central Illinois between January 10th and the 13th of 2019 and it was called “Winter Storm Gia.” I have never heard of a snow storm being given a name. It was the first major snowfall of the winter season. Reports from rural towns and smaller communities reported an accumulation of between six inches and a foot of freshly fallen snow. As could be expected, there were hundreds of crashes, flight delays and power outages throughout the state of Illinois. As of this writing, round two is expected sometime between Thursday and Saturday of this week.
These predictions of heavier than usual snowfall has always motivated residents of our community and the larger surrounding cities to stock pile necessities for survival of a couple of days to a week or more. I have seen the frantic faces of individuals who waited until the last minute to stock up on groceries, snow shovels and salt only to learn that those items and others were gone. The shelves containing milk, bread, eggs, etc were empty and no re-stocking until after the storm had passed.
Thus, we were more than prepared with plenty of food, firewood, candles and flashlights on hand. It was my job to bring in firewood and fill the wood box; fill the bird feeders with seed and replenish the suet to keep the birds warm. A snow shovel was also brought in from the storage barn and placed inside the garage area for use if needed. We needn’t worry about the drive as Dan McDaniels always clears the driveway and the city boys do a wonderful job of clearing the streets. Needless to say, we hunkered down and made the best of a couple of days or so.
But, that has not always been the case. Years and years ago, as a pre-teen and a teen, snow days were filled with fun and games. Folks, let me tell you, those days are long gone and I have got the bruises to prove it. That’s right, fell a couple of times this winter. But back in the day, when our old faithful radio station with Don Munson and Don Newberg keeping us informed of inclement weather and road closing and above all school closings, we looked forward to heavy snow falling in our community. There were snow forts and snow angels to be made and snowball fights and sledding to be had. It was great!
Sledding was another fun activity but I don’t remember having an actual sled. I seem to recall that we found a sled, missing a slat or two and a bent runner. With a little creativity and team work we got it fixed well enough to use for most of the winter. I seem to recall some other farm kids that had a toboggan and being pulled along with a tractor. I even read once that some imaginative kids found an automobile hood and rode it down a steep hill laughing all the way. The most difficult part was pulling it back up that steep hill. When you grow up on a farm and had little or no money, you had to make do with what you had and we all know that farmers rarely throw anything away.
Till next time…john
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