Where Men Were Men and…

As we know from television, movies and other media, the westward expansion to our manifest destiny was the work of white men of European stock. The women were there for, well… you know what went on upstairs at Miss Kitty’s Long Branch Saloon.

But in the Old West a person could get away from life’s previous entanglements, get a fresh start or simply lose oneself.

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The Bats and the Bees

“We know the losses of bats in the West will be less conspicuous than in the Northeast, where thousands of dead bats are spilling out of cold, dark caves and across the countryside.”

Bees seem to get all the good publicity. In the past few decades, we’ve gone from fear of marauding hordes of killer bees to concern about the decreasing populations of the cute and fuzzy pollinators. But what about bats? These nocturnal creatures, who like to spend their days hanging upside down in dark caves, are creepy and scary. (Except, of course, a certain crime-fighting comic superhero.)

Bats have a good side, though. In their nighttime wanderings, they feast on mosquitos, including mosquitos carrying West Nile virus. They consume pests and insects to the benefit of cotton and corn crops. Recent studies estimate bats provide pest-control worth nearly $4 billion in the U.S. More importantly — to some — they pollinate the agave plant, the ingredient necessary for tequila. They do the same for Arizona’s official state cactus, the saguaro. In Austin Texas, they entertain locals and tourists with their evening emergence from under the Congress Street bridge. They provide similar entertainment in other cities.

Bats’ ravenous appetite for bugs, encourages many homeowners to make their properties attractive roosting places for bats. And there is no documented proof that a bat caught in your hair has dire, even fatal, consequences.

But now bats are threatened by the spread of white-nose fungus.

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July 26, 1919

This is the centennial anniversary of my mother’s birth. Marion Yvonne Riley was a product of the Heartland, born and educated in Iowa. She was the first woman reporter for the Mason City Globe-Gazette newspaper. During World War II she taught Army Air Corps (now the Air Force) servicemen who were training to be radio operators on bomber aircraft. (It was then she picked up the nickname “Mike” that stuck with her the rest of her life.)

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Moving to Plutocracy

“The wanton disrespect that these elected Republicans showed Mueller was perhaps the most alarming testament yet to Trump’s total conquest of the Party. In today’s G.O.P., as in Stalin’s Russia, evidently, decades of loyal public service count for nothing when the leader and his henchmen decide someone represents a threat and the apparatchiks have been ordered to take that person down.”

John Cassidy – The New Yorker

Read it here.

A World Gone MAD

It was 1960… or thereabouts. I was sitting in the principal’s office, across the desk from Mother Mary I-forget-the-rest-of-her-name. (Why nuns of the Holy Child order were addressed as “Mother” and not “Sister” I never learned.) Sitting in a chair next to me was my mother, who had been summoned to this meeting addressing my egregious behavior.

“Do you approve of your son’s reading this?” she scowled, holding up the MAD magazine that had been confiscated from me.
“If that was the only thing he read I’d be concerned,” Mom replied. “But it isn’t.”
Thanks, Mom. Unfortunately for me, she agreed that it wasn’t what I should have been reading in class.

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It’s Easy Being ODOT Green

“My best poem, a prayer in steel.” – David Steinman on the St. Johns Bridge

It’s easy being green… if you’re a bridge.

St. Johns Bridge – Portland

I was surprised the first time I saw the Golden Gate Bridge; surprised because I was expecting it to be painted gold. Some patient person explained to me that the bridge was so named because it spanned the Golden Gate between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.

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