Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

I feel sorry for the kids today.  Norah has started watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and they are horrible.  Sure, they aren't made for me, but supposedly Bugs Bunny wasn't made for my folks either.  But that's just the thing, cause I think the old cartoons were made for my folks, and today's should be made for me, too.  You telling me we kids had the wherewithal to know what was going on when Bugs mocked Hitler or Stalin, or Tojo?    Today's cartoons are so bland and safe, and litigiously clean that the only thing you can fault them for is the length they go to say nothing.  Gone are the jokes, the social commentary, the edginess that made us think Bugs was the coolest cat (or bunny) of them all.   

It must have been fun drawing not only for kids but for adults too.  what's worse is I'm not all that certain you can even find those great old toons anymore.  Quite a few years ago Warner Bros. cleaned a lot of them up and by clean, I mean sanitized rather than restored.  I guess many had become too politically incorrect.  Still, I think our generation had the best of it: we might not have known who Hitler, Stalin or Tojo were, but at least they didn't talk down to us.   

A recent sunrise at Bedlam.

Mars was flirting with the Moon last week.

Nothing quite like finding a few stolen moments from a busy day, maybe grab a beer and sit down with the latest edition of Oil & Lube News.  

I'm tired having returned from Savannah and Tybee Island this past weekend, a bit of the sniffles coming on, and watched Norah today. So I am closing Tuesday Tidbits in a somewhat abbreviated edition.    This will free you up to spend your time in more constructive efforts.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Life Lessons From A Gecko

This guy was outside my bedroom window for awhile last month.  We keep two bikes out there: the current Mrs. Blythe, sans seat, and Norah's.  Mine was stolen shortly after moving into Bedlam.  It wasn't tethered to anything like the bikes now, so it was my own fault.  Trusting Northlander. 

Anyway, this fellow, a Florida gecko, or anole or whatever these creepy things are that inhabit everything decided to make the seat stem his home.

Yeah, that's Greg the Gecko peeking up from the bike seat stem.

 I couldn't help but admire him.  He had found what had to be an almost impenetrable fortress. I'm not sure what they have to worry about except maybe herons that are numerous down here, but I don't see them around Bedlam.  There are some feral cats, but I suppose the main thing might be human feet.  I see a lot of expired geckos on the sidewalks.  

Let's call him Gus just because its easier to type than gecko.  Gus, an astute member of his species, seemed to really think this one through.   Most of his kind, mom and dad and so forth and so on, spend a lot of time on the leaves of the bushes around here,  Most probably feast on bugs and I know one grabbed a beetle a few days earlier that I posted on EIB.  So it must be kind of harrowing to sit on this leaf all day, exposed as it were to the weather and other crawling, jumping things.  How can you enjoy your meals when you are constantly disturbed by nature?   But Gus seemed to grasp his surroundings on a higher level.

Gus found an almost perfect place to hide out.

Gus grasped perhaps the most important aspect to survival:  always watch your flank.  West Point students and War College experts will tell you that most fatal attacks will come from an exposed flank.   Study Civil War battle plans and you will soon discover that Generals sent brigades out to the front, then sent troops along the flanks to counter weaknesses caused by frontal assaults.  

Gus seems to know that strategy as well.  Here he uses his position in the stem to guard his flank.  

Gus, our Uber gecko, also understands the second principle of survival:  Find the high ground.  Here Gus is perched three feet off the ground, safely above the killing field below.  From this position, he can survey the landscape below and easily assess how the rigors of nature is playing out.    

The last principle of surviving is one easily understood by visiting the countryside in England and all over Europe.  Building an impenetrable fortress to keep the invading hordes from you is perhaps the most important aspect to living to fight another day.  Royals all over ancient Europe built castles to keep safe whilst raining fire, arrows and other effluvia down on invading armies.  Gus is without doubt the safest gecko in all the land because he has utilized his minuscule brain to formulate a defense that will confound any approaching adversary.  Of course he is still vulnerable to an aerial assault so it would serve Gus well if he keeps an eye to the sky as well.  

Perhaps my optimism that Gus would transcend his species' minuscule brain and take a small step forward in the evolutionary slog toward a better gecko was misplaced.  After a few days of watching Gus watch me and other things happening around us, he disappeared.  Did he fall down the stem unable to get back to the parapet?  Did he leave and resume his past life of geckodom, the stress of living outside the box, or leaf, too stressful?  Somehow I feel cheated.  And sad.  I saw us as kindred spirits, fellow flank-watchers.  Both of us stuck in a hostile land.  Farewell, Gus.  We hardly knew ye.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Flashback Friday

Today, March 27, marks the anniversary of Black Thursday at Iowa Wesleyan College when I was there.  It's not quite up there with the American one or Bastille Day,  but in our circles it was pretty profound.  Here is what happened.  

This was a period of decreasing school enrollment.  Couple that with the fraternities and sororities all having houses off campus, the school began looking for ways to minimize costs and maximize school housing. 

The previous year the school had mandated all Greek organization students back to campus housing.  They gave the three fraternities Hershey Hall, an empty old relic of a building that probably should have been torn down decades before.  The Phi Delts got floor 2, the Phi Tau's floor 3, and the Sig Eps floor 4.  The first floor of the building was a lounge, mailroom, storage and other non-livable area.  

The first part of the revolution was moving back onto campus.  We all threatened to transfer elsewhere and many of us actually followed through with the documentation.  For my part I threatened to move to Rollins College in Orlando, Florida and actually applied.  I was accepted and I recall the call from Marj asking me what I wanted to do.  I had already put in two years, loved my classes, liked my fraternity and friends, so while tempting, I decided to stay at IWC.   

When the dust had settled and we'd moved into Hershey,  I don't think anyone ever transferred.  But we applauded ourselves with shooting a shot over the administration bow.  As it turned out, we all had a better time at Hershey than at the house because we not only had fun with ourselves but had fun with the other frats as well.         

Burning IWC President Louis Hasselmayer in effigy.  That is a Halloween bucket with his name on it sitting on a garbage can in the hallway.  

Bob Temple, a Phi Tau, in my room modeling a "Save Hershey Hall" T-Shirt.   

The plot thickens when it was announced shortly before the end of school year that the IWC administration had decided to close Hershey Hall and send all fraternity students into the school men's dorm,  McKibbin Hall.  This move would virtually destroy Greek life at the school.  The Phi Delts would be the last fraternity standing, and they closed in 2009.  

With only a couple of months left before graduation, none of us really cared.  College is a long haul, and we were gearing up for life in the real world and in a mere 60 days our time here would be finished anyway.

For a few days we learned how to make a statement, albeit a tempest in a teapot.  Lessons learned in the field of civil disobedience.  Hershey Hall is still on the campus as an all-purpose building: it houses art classes among others.  For a couple years "back in the day" it housed some fraternities and me.  My nickname back then was "Hymie" and many residents started calling this place Hymie Hall.  It was a fun time and helped develop our sense of the world.  It's when we started to see how things really worked, and how to mount a meaningful but peaceful protest.  Can't beat that kind of education.    

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Downtown On a Cold Spring Day

It was cold and windy but it was supposed to be Spring so a walk downtown might be fun.  Downtown was St. Petersburg, since I have not ever tried to explore downtown Clearwater.  But I will someday.  No, St. Pete was familiar territory and somewhat welcoming this Saturday.   

There are murals all over the place, this being an artsy enclave.  This is one of them I spotted on Central Avenue.

I don't know near enough about Bitcoin.  This was the first store I have seen that accepts it. 

A T-shirt for sale that, for me, says it all.

Another mural.

Kind of a classy liquor store sign.

I was taken by this architectural type picture with my iPhone camera and didn't notice the hand print on the column until I got home.  All the better.

The Dazzio Gallery is a quite nice place to visit from time to time.  It has classes for area people who want to do their work and get a little instruction as they go.  And when finished the artists can put up their work for sale.  Nice idea and maybe someday I might join them.  This is a series of Holocaust paintings someone did and will be heading to New York soon to be on exhibition.  Startlingly somber paintings that make one feel the horror. 

Central Avenue is full of cool shops, galleries, antiques and great food.  If one must be down here, then might as well enjoy the culture.    

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Springtime At The Vinoy

It's no secret that Vinoy Park is one of my favorite places down here.  Lots of space for everyone, lots to see, and lot's of people living their lives.   I won't intrude on the quiet solemnity of the park.  You can see just about anything here; bustling civilization on 12 acres. A place to reflect, energize, and watch.     

There is a local character, a nut job actually, who walks the park with peanuts, tossing out at the squirrels.  He wanders the wide walkways calling out to his family uh, furry friends by name.  He has named all of them and yells out things like "Oscar!  You better come out, last chance for supper!"  Frankly I think he does it for the attention and the looks he gets from tourists, but I suppose he is harmless enough.  Just obnoxious.  

This guy was having trouble getting on his board after a few months of chilly weather.  He finally got on it but seemed to be awfully rusty.

I rather enjoy the ships that cruise into Tampa.  No such docking area in St. Pete so this is about as close as we can get.  And I don't do Tampa.

They were having a Boccie ball Tournament at the Vinoy on this day.  Registration, lots of alcohol it looked like, and people milling around waiting for the start.   Played Boccie Ball back in G-Burg for a while with the Tiki neighbors and Bonnie and Luther.  It's a fun game, even more fun with a few beers.

All in all a typical outing at the Vinoy.  It still ranks in the top 3 places to spend time here.  Relaxing and finding a bench to sit on will reap much in the way of local sights.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

This was in a parking lot in St. Pete.  My question is:  how does one get in it?  Or, rather, how would an old guy like me get in it?

Looks like one of the displaced moving into the Bedlam Estates right across the street.

Saw this girl walk in while we were at Chipotle last weekend.  Apparently there was some function in Clearwater.  Funny thing was, three Largo Police officers came in for lunch and the looks they gave her was such that I wish I'd had my camera out.  

But for sheer beauty its tough to beat this '67 Buick Electra convertible I spotted at Publix last weekend.  Sure, its paint was done cheaply (you an see the fanning above the right rear quarter panel), and there are some dents and bruises here and there, but it still retains its elegant lines and monstrous proportions.  A huge boat that I'd love to try to squeeze in my garage.  Oh wait, I don't have a garage. Drat!    

These caterpillars are all over the place down here right now.  

Listen to Miss Norah tell me NOT to touch them.  Kind of hilarious in a frantic sort of way. 

Mark and Holly are on a 2 week trip out West.  Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Tombstone, so far.  Sounds like the crazy kids are seeing a lot of great stuff.  Ah, envy. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

By Jupiter!

Last night, March 3rd, was a fairly uneventful night for sky watching.  The moon is racing to be full, and the smallest full moon of the year.  Here at Bedlam, I don't get too excited for ordinary nights like this.   But I did glance at my EarthSky email and they mentioned something rather interesting:  directly above the moon on this night will be bright Jupiter. And, if the sky is clear and you have either binoculars, a telescope or a decent camera,  you will be able to catch it and a couple of its moons.   

 This graphic shows where the planet and its moons were situated on this date.   You can see the moons Io and Ganymede were directly over Jupiter in their orbits.  

March 3rd

March 4th

Jupiter was still out the next evening so I took another picture to see the difference.  In this view Ganymede has gone behind Jupiter and Callysto is rising.  

Some astro photographers have nice telescopes with camera mountings.  Some others even have the ability to mount their cameras as well as using a computer to direct the telescope wherever you so desire in the night sky.  Now that sounds like great summer fun.  I won't be doing that very soon what with the costs of setting up something like that, but even with my camera and tripod I am pleased to be able to do what I can.    

Friday, March 20, 2015

Flashback Friday

Last week marked the 90th birthday of my mother.  It's been a while since she was with us so it kind of surprised me to think of her as that age, had she lived.  To commemorate that event I am posting these pictures of her as a girl and young lady.  

Posing prettily.  An only child, Marj was pampered and spoiled as a child,  and she readily admitted it. 

This is Marj with her grandfather, who, as I understand, she adored.  This would be her mother's dad.  I'm sorry to say that I do not know his name, but perhaps he was a Wustefeld, since that was Mona's maiden name.  

Another picture like the above.  Could this doll have been a birthday present?  

One of our responses to the kids when they wanted something back in the day was, "I want a pony."  Apparently Marj wanted a pony, too, and got one.  I have zero info on this picture so I don't know if this was hers to keep or just a one time ride.   She did admit to me that she was, for most of her life, spoiled and happy.  Being an only kid can do that to you.  But at least she knew it.    

I wonder who her friend on the left was?  

Marj is the cutie in the middle and her mother, Mona, is on the right.  Mona was a rather remarkable woman in her own right.  She was a survivor of some health problems but was a recipient of new medical procedures.  Some of the treatments were so radical and new that she was written up in some journals.  Mona died young at 61 of a brain aneurysm, unrelated to her past medical problems.  

As a side note, a Seaton neighbor, Dorothy Levine, was virtually the same age as Marj, separated only by about 4 days.   They exchanged the same birthday card for decades.  Dorothy celebrated her 90th birthday last weekend, and is doing well, and misses Marj.  So do we, Dorothy.