Thursday, June 22, 2017

It's all about understanding

There's a lot more to religious liberty, which is guaranteed to all citizens, than Mom and Dad singing "Bringing In The Sheaves" at the First And Foremost Congregational on Sunday.

Other people, other faiths, make up the beautiful palette that is America. But as we grow into that palette, we need to understand things about the religions others practice.

Sikhs carry Kirpans
A kirpan
Here in Baltimore County, on the west side, county police arrested Harpreet Singh Khalsa on dangerous weapon charges. Khalsa was shopping, and someone in the store saw something and said something, that something being a call to 911 to say a man was walking around with a knife.

The knife in this case is more formally known as a kirpan. Baptized Sikhs carry them for ceremonial reasons. Mr Khalsa, 33, is a convert to Sikhism.  He is the owner of a catering business on that end of town and has been placed under arrest before for carrying the kirpan, which is carried to be a visual reminder for Sikhs to stand up for justice.

As a huge fan of rituals and of carrying things around, I take immense interest in knowing that Sikhs always carry five articles of faith, which they call they Five K’s or Kakaars. A baptized Sikh will have with him at all times the Kirpan (knife); a Kara (bracelet); a Kachehra (pair of cotton short undergarments); a Kanga (comb); and his Kesh (long hair). This is mandated by faith.

But to be fair, put yourself in the place of the police officer who responded to the call. Ostensibly, this item violates Maryland's deadly weapons law, and Mr Khalsa was taken to the local precinct, where presently the matter was cleared up, and he was released once police "confirmed that the knife was a kirpan and part of his religion and not a threat to the community," Baltimore County Officer Jennifer Peach said.

"The officer did follow all Maryland and county laws properly in this incident," Peach said, adding, "There is no known exception to the deadly weapons laws at this time."

While the law enforcers await that clarification from the lawmakers, the county police are providing training for their men and women about Sikh culture, according to Officer Peach.

There are 500,000 Sikhs in the US, and I don't know how many of them live in our county, but I am glad that our police force is doing what it can to allow them to live here in harmony.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gonna need a whole lot of Stove Top

This might be a total fake news story, for all I know. I checked, and the dateline said "June 14," not "April 1," so maybe it's legit.

Here it is: According to this story, turkeys that were like the size of kangaroos once ran around Australia.  This took place about 2 million years ago, which is going to confound the segment of the population that believes life began 6,000 years ago with the birth of Betty White.

The whole thing came up in conversation among scientists at Flinders University in Western Australia, after someone found fossils in the Thylacoleo Caves on the Nullarbor Plain.

At first, everyone said, "That's cool," and went to lunch, but this all must have taken place on a Wednesday, because they decided to look further into the matter after lunch.  Had the fossils turned up on a Monday or a Friday, the proximity to the weekend would have meant letting it all go, but they dug deeper and took a look at modern brush turkeys and their ancestors. 

Image result for angus young duck walk
"Taxonomic review of the late Cenozoic megapodes (Galliformes: Megapodiidae) of Australia" was published several weeks ago by the Royal Society. I'm not going to pretend I know what they're talking about here (and you wouldn't believe me if I tried) but the point of the paper was that they figure that giant 3.2 foot-tall turkeys were running all over Australia, even before the arrival of Angus Young.  This was one big bird, and if all you know about turkey flight is that "WKRP In Cincinnati" rerun where the Big Guy says of a failed Thanksgiving promotion, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!" these big huggers could fly!  A study of the bones reveals that the giant turkey not only flew, but also roosted in trees, because who was going to stop it?

Image result for giant flying turkeys
Police sketch of alleged huge turkey
This immense Butterball has a scientific name - Progura gallinacea - and wishes to be addressed by same. Paleontologists - people who make a living studying Sarah Paleon - are all over Australia looking into what they nicknamed "chunky birds." They figure these guys weighed 6.6 pounds to 17 pounds, but with a coupon and your Giant Food loyalty card, there was usually a buy-one, get-one deal.

Incidentally - one early spring afternoon, we looked out on the deck to see a wild turkey hanging around by the grill. He did fly away, but none too gracefully.  And the very next afternoon, a little red fox came up on the deck, but that's as much fox news as I can tolerate.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

U cn lern

I saw a list online and it was perfect for those who have plenty of time to do stuff, and the desire to do stuff. (Gotta have both!)

It was a list that was talked about in one of those TED talks. I once had a boss named Ted, and he often invited me into his office to sit down and give him a good listening-to, so I don't normally attend these talks. But this one is a list of things, skills you are supposed to be able to figure out within a week.

"Where Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped a bedroll,
tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole" - Dylan
Such as learning to play a musical instrument. And they only mean like the ukulele or harmonica, not the tuba or the glockenspiel. 

Or driving a stick shift. Mark that down as "DONE" for me, former owner of many a car or truck with a clutch. That, along with parallel parking (also on the list) truly is a skill that once learned is never forgotten. 

Learning to work a Rubik's cube, cook a basic dinner, write with both hands, juggle, tell a great story (I got a million of 'em!) and the basics of a new language are worthwhile time expenditures, to my mind. Who knows when I might find myself in a land where only Russian is spoken?  

But some of the other accomplishments listed are things like learning multiple digits of pi, breaking an apple in two in your bare hands, and learning the basics of martial arts. I don't know how valuable they would be. Although I will admit, at first I thought it said the basics of "marital" arts, and that's a whole other field.

Here's the link to the article, in case you want to learn something in time to show the neighbors at the 4th of July picnic. For me, I still need to learn to play solitaire. I've been working on that since Hector was a pup.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Viktor New Man

Quick: Do you have the slightest idea who these people are?

How about if I give you a hint and tell you their names are Viktor and Amalija Knavs?

No, they are not original members of ABBA, nor are they contestants on "Undercover Boss: Moldavia." 

Mr and Mrs Knavs are the parents of Melania Trump, the former nudie model who is now the First Lady of the United States of America.

When the school year ended, all I saw was pictures of The Donald, The Melania and The Barron getting off the Marine helicopter on the White House lawn, but her parents are along, too. 

I think it was a good idea for FLOTUS and SOTP to remain in New York while Barron finished fourth grade.  Now here he is in DC, along with his parents and his grandparents, the Knavses.

Word is that Viktor and Amalija will spend some time in Washington, some time at Trump Tower in New York, and most weekends at Mar-A-Lago, before it sinks into the sea

Viktor, a former Communist car parts salesman back home in Slovenia, is 73, so he is much older than his son-in-law, who just turned a mere 71. Amalija is also 71, so they can all sit around talking about their favorite high school hits by The McCoys and Sam The Sham And The Pharoahs.

Nothing makes life better than having the in-laws living with you. 

When they make a movie of all this some fine day, I will be first in line at the theater for the adult bargain matinee to see Tom Hiddleston and Vanessa Hudgens play the ILOTP.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Rerun: Another of my hangups

I thought I was the only one, so I didn't say anything.  I mean, it's embarrassing, and why bring it up?  But now that there is safety in that some other fellow sufferer has stepped forward out of the darkness and into the light of day, I can say..

This guy who put his picture on Reddit is not the only person to suffer from CPS,  what experts call the heartbreak of Cargo Pants Syndrome.

Cargo pants and shorts were just made for guys such as I...guys who think nothing of carrying a small 40's era compendium of Ring Lardner's essays to have company while sitting at Social Security offices...guys who carry a lot of keys, Purell® and Leatherman® tools...guys with a lot less sense than the average guy...guys such as I.

You don't see George Clooney wearing cargoes, because he is sleek and sophisticated, and can afford to have a man walking around carrying all that extra stuff that we lunks tote.

Only problem is, with all those flapdoodles and kangaroo pockets riding at the same height as knobs and drawer pulls, we also know the heartbreak of getting hung up by the cabinetry.

Of course, if we really get caught because we are wearing cargo pants, we probably have several tools in our pockets to use in freeing ourselves, because we are wearing cargo pants.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, June 17, 2017

If you ever wish to be confused, just google "Salad Ni├žoise" and look at the various recipes. It's pronounced sa-LAHD ni-SUAHZ, and no less an authority than Gordon Ramsay said "It must be the finest summer salad of all." But no one can agree on all the ingredients! A little greenery, tomatoes, tuna, anchovies, olive and red peppers sounds great to me, but some include hard-boiled eggs and raw string beans. Toss it with olive oil and there's dinner!
The whole world can be said to consist of two types of people: those who know what's happening here and those who do not. Julie Hagerty is still around, but the other two are turning over in their Graves if you don't recognize them.
Don't fret! There is plenty of room for all on this pier.
As a student of history (and historians!) I am fascinated by the events that took place when this car drove down the street in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne was shot on that day in this car, which led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia, and in short order, the beginning of World War I. Notice the license tag, containing the numbers 11 11 18. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the war that begin in this car came to an end. And no one noticed the thing about the tag until many years later.

The chorus will now favor us with a selection which will undoubtedly be soda vine.
I like bricks and brick walls.  This will make a nice pc or tablet wallpaper!
The other day, someone mentioned that their teenaged daughter had no idea who Johnny Carson was. Well, that must mean that Carson's "Tonight Show" predecessor, Jack Paar, draws a similar blank among the high school set, which is a shame.  Paar had interesting guests and an incisive wit, and he often had as a guest Oscar Levant (1906 – 1972), who was many things: pianist, composer, author, comedian, and actor. And a neurotic of the first order. For example: in 8th grade, he offered an orange to a girl in his class as a token of his affection.  She rejected the gift, and for the rest of his life, he refused to have oranges in his house, or anything colored orange. Levant was so intelligent that he appeared on radio quiz shows, stunning all with his vast knowledge, and so talented that he played piano with great symphony orchestras. But who wouldn't love a guy who said, "There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."
Gardening tip: Hang CDs from overhead strings to keep birds, deer and antelope from playing in your cabbage. The theory is that the critters will listen to the music instead of treating your garden like an outdoor salad bar, if one of them remembers to bring a CD player.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Some of the beach

You might be surprised on the beach at glorious Ocean City, Maryland this summer. 

The Beach Patrol lifeguards, in the absence of a (requested) formal opinion from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office on the legality of women sunbathing and ocean-swimming topless in the same areas as unshirted males, are going to look the other way, so to speak, in case of women on the beach without topcover.

Image result for bo diddleyWorcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby (doesn't that sound like someone from "Matlock"?) asked for legal guidance, and as of this writing, Beau hasn't heard Diddley. 

A woman named Chelsea Covington, who is from Maryland's Eastern Shore, is a nationally-known figure in the fight for "topfreedom."  It's her mission is to normalize female bare-chestedness, and she is pushing for the right of women to skip wearing tops on the beach. 

"At its core, the topfreedom movement is about equality under the law," she told a Salisbury (MD) television station.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan told WBOC, the Salisbury station, "We are waiting for that opinion. We understand Ms Covington's desire to be treated fairly under the Equal Protection Law but at the same time we hope to be able to protect the rights of the thousands of families that visit our beach every year. "

Covington expects an opinion in three to nine months, and hopes that equality will win the day. 

Image result for naked swimmer"Maryland's constitution and high court afford the highest guarantee of gender equality in the country with a clearly established 'absolute prohibition' standard against gender classification," she says. "Which means there exists no justification for treating genders differently when making or enforcing law, at the state or local level."

As is so often the case, there are two good sides to this, no two ways about it. On the one hand (yes, let's just talk about "hands" here) there is no reason to treat males and females differently. We all have a body. 

On the other hand, some of us have adolescent males (of all ages) on the beach with us.  So there's that.

Various beaches in other states have set aside secluded lagoons (I think I'll open a Polynesian bar and call it The Secluded Lagoon) for topless enjoyment.  

For now, as Ocean City awaits the Solomonic wisdom, which will please exactly half of the population, it will be interesting to see who is emboldened to seek a full upper-body tan. 

They will likely not be the only ones turning red.

Some people feel OK about parading around in less clothing than others wear.  

And some people need mirrors.