Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mayors stepping in where SCROTUS fails

"Following the acts of domestic terrorism carried out by white supremacist terrorist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend, cities must act decisively and immediately by removing these monuments.” — Brandon Scott, Baltimore, Maryland city councilman

LIKE YOU, I'm inexpressively angry about the white supremacist terrorist attack that began August 11 in Charlottesville, VA.

But surprised? Not even a little. SCROTUS* has given racists, anti-Semites, homophobes, misogynists, bigots, isolationists, reactionaries, thugs and bullies permission to crawl out from the woodwork and brandish their hatred — as well as their baseball bats and torches — with pride.


In the midst of the worst in our country, hope is emerging from another source. Across the country mayors of American cities are taking forthright, corrective action.

When SCROTUS, in his bottomless ignorance and hubris, the depths of which appear limitless, betrayed Americans — not to mention the planet — by removing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, mayors from Seattle to Des Moines to Boston joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. (More about this in an upcoming post.)

And now mayors and city councils nationwide are removing statues and monuments that confer honor upon traitors and glorify a way of life built on human slavery. 

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh directed the overnight dismantling August 16 of four Confederate monuments. I love it that Baltimore has black woman as mayor, and I applaud Baltimore City Councilman, Brandon Scott, for calling what took place in Charlottesville what it was — domestic terrorism.

Photo from The Baltimore Sun

The Houston Independent School District has renamed seven schools — four high schools and three middle schools — that had been named after Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, Stonewall Jackson, John Reagan, Richard Dowling, Sidney Lanier and Jefferson Davis.

Hollywood, California has joined the national movement to purge street names of Confederate generals. Hollywood commissioners voted to rename streets bearing the names of three Civil War generals: Robert E. Lee, John Bell Hood and Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was also first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan

Meanwhile Hollywood, Florida city commissioners also voted in favor of renaming streets previously named after Robert E. Lee, John Bell Hood and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

And so it continues across the nation. Why did it take this long and why wasn't I agitating for it to happen sooner?

Below is a map from The New York Times.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Total eclipse of the heart . . . I mean, sun

“There is no science in this world like physics. Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It's the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin. What time the eclipse is going to end.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, author, actor, science communicator and Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City

I'M SURE by now you've heard that a total solar eclipse will be visible Monday, August 21 in an approximately 70-mile-wide strip from Washington State to Florida. I was fortunate enough to witness this natural phenomenon when I lived in Montana. Paul, however, has never seen one, and he does not want to miss it.

Paul's brother made hotel reservations months ago for somewhere in Missouri and invited us to join him, but Paul said that he didn't want to pay for a place in advance that might end up being clouded over when the big day comes. He's already watching the weather, and as soon as he knows what location will be both clearest and closest, we're headed out. We can sleep in the car or the van; I'm not fussy. 

Path of the solar eclipse

If you're planning to view it, here's a helpful article from The Planetary Society about how to view the eclipse safely.

Bill Nye's top eclipse tip: Protect your eyes

By Bill Nye

August 15, 2017

Greetings Earth's citizens,

If you're like me (and I know I am), you know next week's solar eclipse is going to be extraordinary. A total eclipse will sweep through North America, and millions of people in South America, Central America, even Europe and Russia can enjoy a partial eclipse. This is exciting, and it's time to prepare. 

There's a lot of information out there. So, keep one thing in mind: 

"Be wise; protect your eyes."

It is never safe to look directly at the Sun overhead without protective eyewear. The danger is simply that an eclipse is so fascinating, that we are tempted to stare right at the Sun for minutes at a time, much longer than we would even consider on any other day. Don't try to sneak even a glimpse. A direct look at the Sun can cause a lifetime of permanent eye damage. Let's avoid that.

Here are three things I recommend for safe solar eclipse viewing:


Before the eclipse, secure safety eyewear for your family, students or friends (including yourself, while you're at it). Everyone should have their own pair, even if you're watching with a small child. Check your glasses for scratches and scuffs, even if your glasses are brand new. Many places are selling and distributing free eclipse glasses. Check out the American Astronomical Society's approved list of safe eyewear distributors.

Click here to read the whole article.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Aunt Sally's 90th birthday party

“I wish every person had an Aunt Sally in their lives, especially as a youngster.” — Micki Farichild Bradburn

SALLY RILEY FAIRCHILD, Paul's aunt and Micki's, turned 90 this year, and August 3 her six living children, Riley, Tim, Dana, Ralph, Anne and Forde and their spouses, hosted a spectacular party to celebrate her birthday. Included in the festivities held in a family-owned meadow west of Spirit Lake were a large tent complete with stage and sound system, a sod house, 
talent show, bagpiper, an Irish flag and an American flag brought back from service in Afghanistan hoisted 70 feet in the air, rubber duck races, and food, flowers, balloons and adult beverages.

Paul and I drove up the day before so that Paul, Anne and Ralph could rehearse and work on the sound system, and so we could have dinner with Micki, Anne and their nice husbands. Morning came a little early, but we were up and at 'em and in place in time for the party to start at 9:30. 

Here are some photos from the day and day before.

This American flag was brought back from Afghanistan by the youngest of Sally and Dan's children, Forde, who is serving as a civilian lawyer for the troops there. He flew 23 hours straight to get home for his mother's party.

Rehearsal the day before. Tim's wife Julie — who did so much to make this party happen — applauds, family friend Keith is behind her, and Sally's niece on the Riley side, Sara, and her husband Paul are standing.

The bagpiper was a surprise for Sally. That's Forde standing with his mom.

Sally's only daughter, Anne, on the left, Ralph in the middle with Dana's son Jon and family. 

Eldest son Riley and his daughter on the right and his step-daughter in the center.

Forde and Katie's oldest daughter Mary Grace with Katie's mom.

Dana's son Jon and his wife just had a new little baby girl. They named her Sally Danielle Fairchild after Grandma Sally and her husband Daniel who passed away years ago. 

This is the sod house that Tim and his sons built . . . four times! The first time a bull knocked it down, the second time a freak, severe wind storm (can anyone say climate change) blew it down, and the third time it rained and rained and washed it away. Tim said, "What could I do? I had to built it again; 
the invitations were already mailed."

I love this photo of Aunt Sally, Forde and his middle child, Francie.

Sally's husband Dan was Paul's mother's brother. Standing in back on the right is another brother, Estel. His wife Audry is in the wheelchair, their daughter Kathy stands behind her mother. On the left is Paul's double cousin Debbie . . . Paul's father's brother married Paul's mother's sister . . . with her husband. 

Dana on the right and Ralph on the left. It utterly captures the essence of these two mischief-makers.

Tim is a welder and a metalsmith. He made this troll gate across the bridge.

This meadow, which has been in the Riley family for generations, is special. It's never been tilled — ever.

The talent show! Ralph and Anne sang, and Paul played bass. 

Katie and Forde's children, Mary Grace, Patrick and Francie, performing Irish step dancing. Katie is an O'Donnell, so as near I can figure, these three are three-quarters Irish.

Micki Fairchild Bradburn, Paul's cousin by way of her dad Bob who was Paul's mom's brother, Teri who is married to Riley, Paul, Micki's husband Steve who's an operatic tenor and Ralph.

Left to right: Patrick, Mary Grace, Sophia (Dana's son Jon's daughter), Callyn (Tim's son Patrick's daughter) and Francie perform "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round".

Paul and Anne, who is a genuine, real-deal, jazz singer.

I brought bubble wands for the kids, and apparently for me too. Rubber duck races in progress.

Patrick in the background 
watches Callyn chase the bubbles I blew. 

There was no shortage of beautiful children.

Paul shooting the breeze with his cousins and their pals.

Katie and Forde and their three. I find this photo irresistible because of the look 
and bearing of Mary Grace.

Paul, armed and dangerous. He and the other boys took turns shooting at a container of fireworks. There had to be firearms and explosives involved because . . . it's the Fairhcihild boys, therefore something
 life-threatening or at least risky must be included!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An Inconvenient Sequel

“Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real.” — Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States

THE NEW YORK TIMES has obtained a final draft of a report on climate change written by scientists from 13 federal agencies. The report, part of the National Climate Assessment mandated by Congress every four years, has not yet been made public.

According to the Times, The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it, but they're afraid the White House will suppress it. This comes on the heals of Trump's calamitous decision to pull out of the historic Paris Climate Agreement

I've attached the intro to the Times article below as well as a link to the entire piece.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, a documentary produced by former Vice President Al Gore, a sequel to his 2006 award-winning movie An Inconvenient Truth, was released July 28, 2017. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power continues what has been a nearly life-long commitment by Mr. Gore, begun while he was a college student, to sound the alarm about climate change and work to combat it.

Mr. Gore has been making the rounds of the media and late night shows promoting this newest movie. He was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air August 2. 

I've attached a link for you to listen to it. It's worth hearing. I admit that I'm still mad at him for not fighting harder to claim the presidency in 2000 since he was, after all, the winner of the popular vote, but my gut reaction as I listened was overwhelming sadness. He is so intelligent and so thoughtful and so measured. How different would this country be right now if he'd become president instead of the shrub?!

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report

By Lisa Friedman

August 7, 2017

WASHINGTON — The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.

The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.

“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” a draft of the report states. It was uploaded to a nonprofit internet digital library in January but received little attention until it was published by The New York Times.

The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land and in the air.

Click Here to Read the Entire Article

Click Here to Hear Al Gore Interviewed on Fresh Air