Monday, December 22, 2014

Visited with Soraya

Today Soraya, a friend for Buenos Aires and Citi meet us a showed us some of the city. 
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These are from the famous Ricolette Cemetary
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Evita 
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Japanese Garden in Buenos Aires

Had a great time today at the Japanese Gardens. Beautiful. 
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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Toured the Casa Rosada today

.We toured the Casa Rosada today. It is Argentina's WhitebHouse. Because it was Sunday we even got into the Presidents Office. 
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It was very cool
The famous balcony (Evita) from outside and ...
And inside!!
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Damn Sausage Swiper - I had friends at the bar that did this - kind of....

Sausage Swiper

On 20 December we are expecting Sausage Swiper. He loved to eat sausages and stole them whenever he had a chance.


The ninth was Sausage Swiper,
a shifty pilferer.
He climbed up to the rafters
and raided food from there.
Sitting on a crossbeam
in soot and in smoke,
he fed himself on sausage
fit for gentlefolk.
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Now, in Wisconsin these guys steel Brats.  But when I worked at a gay bar I had co-workers that would steal a date right from under your nose.  Or, worse!, would steal a good tipping customer.  (The "sausage" in this would be your double entendre.)
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Today's picture follows the theme of the fault line.  I loved this area.  It is also near here (which is a landmark in the flat country) is the site of the first Allthing - the democratic council that meat first in 900AD.  It is considered the longest serving parliamentary  system in the world.

Friday, December 19, 2014

We wing our way tonight...

We are on our way to Buenos Aires....

Yay.
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Odd, Tone Deaf Response

You know something is way off when David Brooks and I agree (LINK).  He has an interesting take on the Police Unions current set of responses to New York peaceful demonstrations.
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And I find the whole thing odd.   Odd that the Police have been so tone deaf to some very real worries that the public has.
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Whenever most of us question or dare to criticize the Police, it is always prefaced by the very honest caveat that we appreciate the work they do.  We understand how they put their lives on the line for people.  Perhaps the present flood of criticism seems unfair, but again – it is always preamble by how much the public appreciates the police.
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But the recent response by the police unions in affect areas, New York, Ohio and Ferguson, has been tone deaf.   In New York, mild criticism from the Mayor, and non-violent protests have pushed the Police Union Chief to a) Promise a slow down at work (oddly by following the rules) and b) ask all the Police to issue a statement that if they die in the line of duty, then the Mayor shouldn’t come to their funerals.
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Look, I hate Mayor DeBlasio  as much, if not more, than most people.  But he hasn’t been a left-wing looney on this.  He didn’t come out and say that the Staten Island Police should have been indicted.  He told people to respect he process.  How that stirred up so much hate is crazy.  Perhaps it is because he didn’t come out and denounce the peaceful demonstrators.  (One, ONE, demonstrator did hit a policeman and DeBlasio immediately repudiated that.)
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In Cleveland, Police Chief Follmer has said that the shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice, in a public park within 2  seconds (TWO SECONDS) of the police showing up as the child played on the swings was justified because the police had been told the child had a gun.  And the Grand Jury will undoubtedly agree with him.  But he has gone on to complain that athletes shouldn’t be allowed to express their opinions on a shirt in warm ups at football.
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It was a 12 year old.  A kid on a swing set, with a toy gun that the police never saw!  Also in Ohio they shot a shopper (black – duh) in Walmart carrying a BB Gun he was buying.  And while you can say whatever you want about that, the video shows he wasn’t aiming it or threating anyone. AND, thank you NRA, Ohio is an open carry state.  He actually had the legal right to carry an assault rifle in the store and many white men do – and they are not shot.
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I am not judging the police’s actions in their job of law enforcement here.  But I am questioning their response to heartfelt questions and concerns.  Their response – that they are the victims in the cases where they have killed people accidently – is basically tone deaf.  They are defining anyone that questions them as idiots or busybodies.  And that is making them bullies to an entire generation.  Lawless bullies and people to be feared, not respected or supported.
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That is not the America that they want to serve.  These few Police Union talking heads are giving honest, hardworking and great police a terrible name. 

I don't like the name Gobbler when associated with a Troll...

Skyr Gobbler

On 19 December we welcome the Yule Lad called Skyr Gobbler. His favourite is an Icelandic dairy product called skyr, which is similar to yogurt. He likes it so much that he used to sneak into the pantry and gobble all the skyr out of the skyr tub.
Skyr Gobbler, the eighth,
was an awful stupid bloke.
He lambasted the skyr tub
till the lid on it broke.
Then he stood there gobbling
- his greed was well known -
until, about to burst,
he would bleat, howl and groan.
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The troll has an unhealthy fetish for yogurt.  And, for some unknown reason, Icelanders used to keep their yogurt in a tub.  If you didn't put the top on, he would eat all the Skyr.
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 This is a great picture of the area in the center of the island where the continents are pulling apart.  To the left of the picture below is the North American plate and to the right is the European plate.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Welcome to Cuba

In honor of President Obama doing the obvious and the intelligent, here are some pictures from my 40th Birthday in Cuba with with Eddie, Lynn and my dear departed Lauren Pfau.
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Cuba Cigars... you gotta do it

This is the Cathedral.  Pope John Paul II had jsut been there a few years before and reopened it.

The only private restaurants were in homes and couldn't seat more than 3 tables.

Yue Lad - The Door Slammer

Door Slammer

Door Slammer comes to town on 18 December. He always made a lot of noise when he walked around, slamming doors and such, so people could hardly get any rest. He still has a habit of slamming doors and always does when he visits the National Museum.
The seventh was Door Slammer,
a sorry, vulgar chap:
When people in the twilight
would take a little nap,
he was happy as a lark
with the havoc he could wreak,
slamming doors and hearing
the hinges on them squeak.
Now we are getting to the good ones.  This guy is bound to annoy mom and dad more than the kid.  So little John Johnson goes to bed, but a naught little troll goes around slamming doors keeping everyone awake.  I like it.
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Plus, he isn't licking anything.
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 Driving across the outback in May you can see why Iceland stands in for extrasteller planets all the time, right?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

High Lar E Ass

So funny I can't link, I must copy.... (link)
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Let me see if I have this right, because the whole thing stretches credulity: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has apparently managed to kill a major Hollywood movie. I mean, a stupid one, by all accounts, but still. We had a choice – “we” being a term of art that does not actually include you and me – of whether to stand tall for the supposed principles of free expression and free enterprise or “let the terrorists win.” We let them win, with barely a moment’s hesitation. Now an upcoming Steve Carell thriller set in North Korea has been canceled, too. It’s a breathtaking and total victory by a despised, isolated and impoverished nation, over one of the biggest media corporations in the world.
Let’s back up for a longer view, because there’s a lot about this wildly improbable news event that we still don’t know and doesn’t make much sense. So Kim Jong-un’s terrible and ridiculous North Korean regime, which he inherited from his dad and his granddad and is the last pure example of old-school perverted Marxism-Leninism mixed with insane cult of personality anywhere in the world, is believed to have masterminded the hacker attack that has brought Sony Pictures to its corporate knees and revealed all sorts of embarrassing information about its overpaid executives and pampered movie stars. And it all happened because of the James Franco-Seth Rogen farce “The Interview,” which was made and bankrolled by Sony, and is about an attempt to assassinate Kim, using his actual name. (Something even Charlie Chaplin did not do in “The Great Dictator,” although there wasn’t much mystery about who “Adenoid Hynkel” was supposed to be.)
That’s already a bewildering world-encircling worm of an event, an implausible but hilarious plot element in a novel by Don DeLillo or Thomas Pynchon. Or even an element out of “The Interview,” if it were any good, which I hear it isn’t. I haven’t seen the film because I missed the first New York press screening and was supposed to go to another one this week, which now will not happen. Now Kim’s people – according to the most recent Times report, at least – have sent an incompetent terrorist threat that appears to have been Google-translated by someone with zero fluency in English and makes Osama bin Laden look like a master of rhetoric. “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.” Hello? Monsieur Godard? You’re breaking up, I couldn’t follow that. Also, much as I might be tempted to agree with you about those who seek fun in terror, you’re really not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. Lots of people have a stick about that, their butts up.
But this near-incomprehensible threat also referenced 9/11 or, more poetically, “the 11th of September 2001,” which is the magical Voldemort incantation that makes corporate CEOs and American politicians, despite their thick coating of lard and money, poop themselves and crawl under the furniture whimpering like little bitch-babies, to quote Kerry Washington on “Scandal.” Just to be clear, there has never been a North Korean-sponsored terrorist attack in the United States (or much of anywhere else), and the odds that any individual multiplex in the exurbs of Cincinnati or San Antonio or Honolulu is going to be blown up by a coven of Pyongyang hackers make getting eaten by sharks and struck by lightning on the day you hit the lottery seem probable. But it’s only the incantation that matters. THEY SAID 9/11 OH HOLY F@CK WERE ALL GONNA DIE.
After the utterance of that incantation on Tuesday, Sony told theater proprietors they could back out of their contracts to begin showing “The Interview” on Christmas Day, if they chose. Then the National Association of Theater Owners (amusingly known as NATO) told its members it was OK to “delay” screening the Franco-Rogen farce “so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday season experiencing the many other exciting films we have to offer.” Here we see the basis for the holiday-week marketing campaigns for “American Sniper,” “Into the Woods” and “Dirty Grandpa”: Not associated with any known terrorist threat!
By Wednesday morning it was evident that “The Interview” release was in jeopardy. Carmike, a major theater chain in the South and Midwest, was the first to announce it wouldn’t show the movie at all, and two smaller chains, Bow Tie (New York and Virginia) and ArcLight (Southern California), rapidly followed suit. But sitting here amid the cushioned cynicism of the New York media sphere, I still really didn’t believe it. Was a worldwide media giant really going to capitulate and throw in the towel on a major Christmas movie expected to make hundreds of millions of dollars? Before a vague threat of violence that has not been deemed credible, even by the customarily hysterical fear-mongers of the intelligence agencies and the FBI?
I guess the answer was foreordained, but like so much that happens in America these days, it’s an answer that reveals our tremendous weakness and spectacular cowardice, our hilarious and pathetic tendency to resemble the proverbial elephant cringing before a mouse. After all the other major theater chains jumped on the bandwagon of fear – including AMC, Cinemark and Regal, which together control a majority of the nation’s screens – Sony yielded to the inevitable and canceled the release of “The Interview.” You could argue that all of this is excessive but understandable caution, and that no theater owner or movie studio wants to run the 0.01 percent risk that its reputation will be destroyed by a murderous attack. But that isn’t the answer, because I don’t think any real people think the risks are even that high. Sony and the theater owners don’t want to run the 100 percent risk that they will be pilloried by Fox News talking heads and deranged Internet commentators for not keeping Americans safe, and for inviting Ebola-carrying Mexican-Muslim-Communist terror-drones to attack the very shopping malls that represent the zenith of American freedom and the American way of life.
My heart does not bleed for Seth Rogen or James Franco, who got paid millions to make a film that arguably does cross an invisible line of decency by invoking the death of a living fellow human, however execrable he may be, and who do not have to give any of that money back now that the movie is a punch line to one of the most bizarre cultural-political episodes of recent history. (I momentarily entertained the theory that this whole thing was the culminating moment of the performance-art project that is Franco’s entire celebrity career.) One could even argue that there’s an element of karmic payback at work here for all the greed and carelessness and calculated idiocy of Hollywood – as they have sown, so also shall they reap, or whatever. Except what, exactly, have they reaped? I guess the titans of America’s culture industry, which is about the only area of manufacturing where we still rule the world, have been revealed as stupid and calculating and driven by fear, as chickenshits who can’t even successfully pretend to believe in the value of their own products. We should have known that already, but maybe the reminder is useful.
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Scott says... if we can't laugh in the face of terror, who are we...
and so, I present...

If We Stop Being Stupid for 2 Seconds, We Can Fix This Thing!!!

Let us assume for a moment that humans are really really smart.  And, compared to most creatures on earth, we are.  And we need to treat the Earth as a “you break it, you buy it” model.
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I push for acknowledgment of climate change not to be a scold, but to realize we have to do something.  Now look at this article from The Economist.
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See we now have scientist trying to fix global warming scientifically.  That is, without greatly changing our fossil fuel use, but by trying to balance this out with preventative work.  This, ladies and germs, THIS IS WHAT we must do to leave a reasonable planet to the next generation.
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Think of climate change (for a moment) like a chronic high blood pressure issue.  For me, my blood pressure runs super high due to hereditary problems.  I can eat right, exercise all I want, but my blood pressure is still deadly high.  Now, one way to deal with this would be to say “I’m not a doctor, so I can’t do anything.”  And die.
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The other way is to listen to my doctor, do the basics to lower it AND take preventive medicine to resolve the issue.  So I can live a healthy longer life.
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Think of climate the same way.  Sure… we should reduce our fossil fuel use, we should clean up our energy production facilities, but we also need some medicine to get us over the hump.  That is what scientist are doing now.  Seeing how to combat climate change with the tools at our disposal and our big human brains.
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But you know what factors act against this preventive, important work?  Our dumb-as-dog-poop leaders that say asinine things like “I’m not a scientist, so I can’t think about climate change.”  Well you’re not a doctor, but you take medicine.  You’re not an economist, but you take tons of bribes from Wall Street.  Shut up about what you aren’t and lead.  You see that is what you ARE.  You are a representative of the Americans and paid to figure things out. 
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How stupid are we humans if we don’t use our big brains to try to figure this out.  If we just put our fingers in our ear and sing la-la-la….

Dec 17th The Bowl Licker

Bowl Licker

Bowl Licker comes to town on 17 December. In the past, Icelanders ate from lidded wooden bowls that they sometimes kept under the bed or on the floor. Bowl Licker would hide under the bed, and if someone put their bowl on the floor he grabbed it and licked the inside clean.

Bowl Licker, the sixth one,
was shockingly ill bred.
From underneath the bedsteads
he stuck his ugly head.
And when the bowls were left
to be licked by dog or cat,
he snatched them for himself
- he was sure good at that!
So I think this is gross.  There is a troll that hides under the bed and licks the bowls you leave lying about.  
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First, this gives a whole new set of nightmares to the "there's a monster under my bed" story.  Second, if it doesn't scare you, it is just an excuse to not clean up.  Can't you here it.  "Daniel, take your bowl to the kitchen young man!"  "Oh mom.  Askasleikir will get it later."

The picture below was take one night in Iceland (it was probably around 9PM - see the long shadows).  This was just a pond.  But it was this mesmerizing blue and I dug it. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Last Night's Party

Last night Eddie and I went to the Christmas Party Fund Raiser for Harlem Youth Tennis.    Officially it is the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program.  And they are serious about the education.  The thing that impressed me the most is the tutoring and requirement to excel in education that the program requires.  
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Their results are amazing in a poorly served community. Here are some amazing stats.
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60% of program graduates have attended college.
90% graduation rate for high school level participants.
Over 10,000 students reached in 40 years of service.
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Those are some impressive stats.  If you want to contribute I will direct you to the web site HERE.
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Now for the fun.  The party was in the Dakota - a fancy schamcy CoOp where stars and Yoko Ono live.  It was in a beautiful apartment of a man from Sotheby's auction house.  And boy did he had some nice art.
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 The woman talking is the new Chairman of US Tennis, Katrina.  Before taking over Tennis (for 2 years) she was the head o the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program.  The bald man seated near the book shelf is ex-Mayor David Dinkens.  He is a great tennis supported.

This is Ed and his boss.  But I really took the picture to show the painting in the back - which is beautiful.  And yes, Ed's boss is very tall.
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Finally on the wow front, we meet Edwin Moses!  He is an amazing hurdler that I actually got to see at the LA Olympics.  And he still has it together.

Yule Lad 5: Another Pot Licker

Pot Scraper

 - arrives at the National Museum on 16 December at 11am
Pot Scraper is expected on 16 December. He is also sometimes called Pot Licker since in the old days he waited to snatch away the pots that had not been washed and licked the food remains from the insides. 
Pot Scraper, the fifth one,
was a funny sort of chap.
When kids were given scrapings,
he'd come to the door and tap.
And they would rush to see
if there really was a guest.
Then he hurried to the pot
and had a scraping fest.
 Again with the eating scraps.  Weird huh?

Today's picture is of Hraunfossar.  It is very pretty, but not nearly as tall as I thought.  They are, in fact, kind of little drops.

From the description:
  1. Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming over a distance of about 900 metres out of the Hallmundarhraun, a lava field which flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjökull. Wikipedia