Category Archives: Drought

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Bullets cannot be recalled. They cannot be uninvented. But they can be taken out of the gun.” — Martin Amis

AMERICA, I TOLD YOU BUT YOU WOULDN’T LISTEN

Two things about the mass shooting outside Denver early this morning:

  1. I demand that reporters and announcers cease and desist obsessively referring to the opening of the new Batman movie. It’s as though they’re already writing the dramatic narrative for the shooting: To wit, it’s a movie dealing with darkness and evil and, poetically, a dark and evil event followed. No. It was an atrocity and it doesn’t need poetic spin
  2. I’ve said this too many times already: America, stick your guns up your ass.

It Happened At The Movies

DON’T CONFUSE ME WITH THE FACTS

So, farmers in Indiana and much of the rest of the Midwest will lose their crops this summer, thanks to the drought and the unusually high temperatures.

Experts say drought conditions are exacerbated by higher temps which cause faster evaporation.

Experts also say human activity is causing global warming and global weirding.

Goddammit, how many times do the sane among us have to say this?

We sell Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe‘s book, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” at the Book Corner. For the longest time it was on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list (which is ironic considering the book’s premise).

Inhofe has been verbally vomiting on this topic for more than a decade now.

Back in 2006 in an interview in the Tulsa World newspaper, Inhofe had this to say about global warming:

“It kind of reminds… I could use the Third Reich, the big lie. You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that’s their strategy.”

Whoever “they” are is never revealed. Make no mistake, though, it’s a conspiracy. Neither does Inhofe explain why any group of misguided souls might want to conjure up such a hoax.

The Environmental Protection Agency, according to Inhofe, is just another Gestapo. He often cites biblical passages to back up his “arguments” against global warming

Inhofe’s stance on the “hoax” has changed only slightly over the years. What he now characterizes as the greatest hoax he only ranked number two in his early years in the Senate. The biggest hoax at that time, he felt, was the idea that the framers of the US Constitution were in favor of a separation of church and state

Inhofe’s slogan when he first ran for the Senate in 1994 was “God, guns, and gays” — as in, they were the three most important topics on which he’d concentrate.

From God’s Lips To The Senator’s Ear

In short, the man is a dick.

Want more evidence? Try this, something he spewed during a debate on gay marriage:

“I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.”

Anyway, there isn’t much the average citizen who can read and write can do about tailless monkeys like Inhofe. But I’ve found one thing: I always make sure his book is hidden behind a bunch of other books.

Every little bit helps.

Oh, another thing we can do is vote. For instance, Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence often appeared with Inhofe on right wing radio and TV shows. The two also worked on joint legislation including quashing the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting.

TRANQUILITY BASE

The majority of human beings on this planet were not alive when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin gamboled on the moon back in the summer of 1969.

The Lunar Excursion Module “Eagle” landed on the surface of the moon 43 years ago today, at 2:18pm our time. Some six and a half hours later, first Armstrong, then Aldrin bounded down the LEM’s ladder to leave their footprints on extraterrestrial dirt.

I was 13 at the time. I was also transfixed. Swear to god, I stared at the moon that Sunday evening, hoping against hope that I could see something like the LEM’s rocket engine firing.

That first moon landing remains one of the defining moments of my life. It happened during the summer of Woodstock, Kennedy at Chappaquiddick, the Manson Family, and the Cubs surely on their way to their first World Series appearance in my short lifetime. I considered all of them part of a package. Peace, love, politics, music, hippies, horror, unbridled joy, crazy hope, and crushing disappointment.

Unbridled Joy

I once assumed that everyone — even those born after ’69 — considered the moon landing something, well transcendent.

Many don’t.

I was walking down Michigan Avenue with my brothers and his three sons one Sunday afternoon ten or so years ago. We approached the Tribune Tower which is famous for having bricks, stones and other chunks of famous buildings embedded in its walls. There are pieces of the Alamo, the Berlin Wall, Westminster Palace, the Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramid at Cheops, the Parthenon and many, many others.

There also is a moon rock on display. It’s not embedded in the wall, of course, considering it may be the most expensive hunk of stone in existence. It’s behind a several-inch thick slab of bullet-proof glass next to the main entrance of the Tower.

I’d passed it dozens or even hundreds of times in my life and never had neglected to stop and look at it. There is a hunk of the moon, I’d think as I gawked. Holy fk!

Moonrock Encased In Lucite At The Tribune Tower

So, as the five of us came off the Michigan Avenue bridge I said to the boys, “I wanna show you something so cool you won’t believe it.” Ranging in age from their early to late teens, they seemed skeptical. Only the appearance, say, of Batman himself or the spectacle of a man leaping from the top of the Tower to his certain death was likely to impress them.

Still, I believed this piece of a celestial body 238,000 distant would give them goosebumps.

It didn’t. I may as well have pointed out a common house brick. The only one of my nephews who was moved to even comment on the rock said, “So what?”

I was crushed.

BTW: Author Joy Shayne Laughter quoted this morning from some anonymous philosopher (neither of us could remember who said it), “We went to the moon on 126K of RAM. Now, it takes six megabytes to open a Word doc.”

ELMO TAYLOR

Pay no attention to the Muddy Boots Cafe calendar listing that has the band Elmo Taylor playing there Sunday night.

I was all set to plug the appearance here when Tyler Ferguson, rhythm guitarist for the band, came into Soma Coffee and plopped down next to me.

“So,” I said, “Sunday night at Muddy Boots, eh?”

Elmo Taylor

“What the hell are you talking about?” she snapped. Today seems to be a chocolate day for the usually ebullient Ferg.

It turns out Elmo is not playing at Muddy Boots this weekend. ET junkies take heart: the band is playing at McCormick’s Creek State Park amphitheater at 7:30, Saturday night.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Ivy Tech, Bloomington Campus — Breakfast Learning Seriea: Depression, Suicide, and Our Aging Population”; 8am

◗ IU Dowling CenterEnglish Conversation Club, for non-native speakers of American English; 1pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsOpening reception, “Abstracts on Canvas,” by Rick McCoy; 6pm

◗ IU Art MuseumJazz in July, Monika Herzig Acoustic Project; 6:30pm

Monika Herzig

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Oslo, August 31”; 7pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Indiana Boys; 7-9pm

Bloomington SpeedwayIndiana Sprint Week; racing begins at 7:30pm

Oliver WineryLive music, Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel; 7:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It with You”; 7:30pm

Buskirk-Chumley TheaterMary Chapin Carpenter; 8pm

◗ IU Musical Arts Center Summer Arts Festival: Symphonic series, works by Strauss, Mahler & Schubert, conducted by Cliff Colnot; 8pm

The Player’s PubLottaBLUESah; 8pm

◗ IU Woodburn Hall Theater — Ryder Film Series: “Elles”; 8pm

Juliette Binoche in “Elles”

The Comedy AtticHannibal Buress; 8 & 10:30pm

Cafe DjangoMr. Taylor & His Dirty Dixie Band; 8:15pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Gerhard Richter Painting”; 8:45pm

The BluebirdTodd Snider; 9pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Cade Puckett; 9:30-11:30pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” — Muhammad Ali

BOOM!

I love science and I love baseball. So what could be better than this recent edition of “What If?” (h/t to Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue.)

“WI?” is a weekly feature of the very cool XKCD site. It is described thusly: “Answering your hypothetical questions with physics, every Tuesday.”

Sort of a super-brain’s New York Times Science Tuesday.

So, this week’s hypothetical is “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?”

Not Even The Cuban Missile, Aroldis Chapman, Can Throw That Fast

As you know, the speed of light is unimaginably fast, almost as fast as Regina Moore‘s crew of  parking ticket scribblers (and, yeah, I’m sitting on a double-sawbuck scold slip from Friday, so that’s why the Moore Militia is on my mind.)

Anyway, you couldn’t begin to guess what would happen in such a hyper-fastball scenario unless you’d spent the last 15 years of your life holed up working out ciphers and avoiding any meaningful contact with the opposite sex.

Suffice it to say if a human baseball pitcher had the physical capability to accelerate an approximately 3-inch-diameter spheroid made of horsehide wrapped around coiled yarn centered on a cork core to a velocity of around 167,653.8 miles per hour (the speed of light, c, times .9), the immediate vicinity around the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box would be transformed indeed.

As in, oh, say, Hiroshima at 8:16 am, August 6th, 1945.

Hit By Pitch, Batter Entitled To First Base

The happy news is the team at bat now has a rally going.

Who sez science isn’t fun?

KEEPING IN TOUCH

Am I gonna have to make this a regular feature?

Last week I ran a screed about the gossipy, reality-show-like news that CNN has been foisting upon the public during these momentous times.

Wars, the potential for economic collapse, dramatic global climate change events, and even the political fight over women’s wombs all seem to be below-the-fold fodder for cable TV’s most venerable news outfit.

Yeah, It’s Dry — Hey, Did That Magazine Really Photoshop Kate Middleton?

At the time, I didn’t think CNN’s editorial choices could get any more ludicrous.

I was wrong.

These are among the most important happenings and issues on planet Earth within the last 24 hours, according to the Cable News Network of Atlanta, USA:

  • Billionaire’s son charged in wife’s death
  • Shark attacks: Is “Jaws” back?
  • Mash up: Jealousy in time of drought
  • Obamas find spotlight on “kiss cam”
  • New diet drug approved by FDA
  • Car falls into elevator shaft
  • Sex with ex helps her lose weight
  • It may be OK to get sick in July
  • Bobcat breaks into prison
  • Michael Vick: I won’t get a pit bull
  • Tattoos: How young is too young?
  • Stunt driver’s video goes viral
  • Parents, let your kids play
  • Daughter’s in love, Dad feels jilted

Now not only are CNN’s stories vacuous, they’re getting downright creepy. I mean, honestly, “Dad feels jilted”?

Sorta reminds me of Cary Grant as the newspaper publisher Walter Burns, shouting orders on the phone to his editors in “His Girl Friday.” (Please click — it’s the entire movie.)

No, no, never mind the Chinese earthquake for heaven’s sake….

Look, I don’t care if there’s a million dead….

No, no, junk the Polish Corridor….

Take all those Miss America pictures off Page Six….

Take Hitler and stick him on the funny page….

No, no, leave the rooster story alone — that’s human interest.

Of course, that was farce. How, then, to describe CNN?

BIG NEWS

Huzzah. Three cheers. Science has developed yet another weight-loss drug.

Just in case you’re tempted to swallow it, take some advice from a man whose girth rivals that of a cement mixer.

Hi!

The only “secret” for losing weight is eat less and exercise more.

End of sermon.

“WASN’T THAT A PERFECT, PERFECT SHOT!”

Finally, speaking of things that go boom, wait’ll you see this vid.

Apparently, the government of this holy land became concerned in the 1950s about the citizenry’s troublesome fears of nuclear annihilation. And, if we weren’t experiencing existential angst over the end of civilization, we were fretting at the very least that a nearby nuclear explosion might muss up our hair.

Ergo, the feds put together some propaganda to dispel such silly talk.

Like this:

Yup. The five knuckleheads clustered underneath the unleashing of the primal forces of the universe actually volunteered to do so. As in, “Sure, I’ll do it. Why not?”

Presumably, they kissed their wives and children goodbye before they dashed off to work that day.

Of even greater fascination is the reaction of the voiceover announcer, who also was present. I’d swear the man is experiencing an orgasm.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

◗ IU Dowling International CenterEnglish Conversation Club, for non-native speakers of American English; 1pm

Monroe County Public Library“It’s Your Money: Wi$eMoney Game Night,” for ages 15-18; 6:30-8:30pm

◗ IU Musical Arts CenterSummer Arts Festival: Outdoor band concert with conductor Stephen Pratt; 7pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It with You”; 7:30pm

The Player’s PubStardusters; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticBloomington Comedy Festival; 8pm

Boys & Girls Club of BloomingtonContra dancing; 8pm

The BluebirdThe Personnel; 9pm

Bear’s PlaceYou & All the Blind People; 9pm

The BishopMurals, The Natives, Chandelier Ballroom; 9pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryFree public viewing through the main telescope; 10pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“You can’t get mad at weather because weather’s not about you. Apply that lesson to most other aspects of life.” — Douglas Coupland

I CONFESS

So, is it I? Or is it The Loved One?

Perhaps it’s the combination of us.

Whatever the reason, ever since we left Chicago in March, 2007, nature wherever we’ve lived has gone insane.

We spent a couple of years in Louisville, Kentucky. The spring we arrived there, one of the first things we heard was how unbearably humid the place would be when summer hit with full force. So what happened? One of the driest summer’s in Louisville’s history.

The Louisville Of My Memory

Two of the three summers we lived in the River City were drought summers. Let’s see, what else happened there?

Well, there was an historic ice storm in late winter, 2009. It caused the biggest power outage the city had ever experienced. Many roads and city streets were impassable for weeks due to downed power lines and toppled trees.

Oh, and there was an earthquake in April, 2008. One morning the sound of what I at first thought were a couple of dozen grown men running over my back deck shook me out of a deep beauty sleep. Next thing I knew, doors and windows were rattling. Bottles and knickknacks on shelves danced precariously. It felt as though the very ground underneath us had become a vibrating bed in a cheap hotel room. The Loved One suddenly yelled, “It’s an earthquake!”

And she was right. The Wabash Valley Fault spasmed about 120 miles east of St. Louis, causing a 5.2 tremor on the Richter scale. It was followed by a couple of other strong vibrations later that day. The quake was felt in 16 states.

Then we were hit with a hurricane. Truth. Okay, it was the remnants of Hurricane Ike, which had traveled up the Mississippi Valley and then skittered along the Ohio Valley until it hit Louisville early on a Sunday afternoon, September 14th. Weather forecasters advised us the big blow would hit at about one o’clock and would be finished with us two hours later. They were spot on.

Ike was rated a Category 1 Hurricane when it hit us. It had sustained winds of 75 miles per hour with gusts over 80 mph. For the first half hour, I stood in the backyard with my neighbor and we simply watched in silence as fifty-foot tall old trees bent nearly horizontal in the wind. When it became too difficult for us to remain standing, we dashed inside our respective homes. Then limbs and trees began crashing down all around us.

One half of a stately old tree tumbled down on my back deck, just missing cleaving our roof. It took me a week and a half to cut the thing up with hand saws and a Milwaukee Sawzall. One good thing: the huge pile of firewood that half tree became was a nice selling point for the house when we were preparing to move to Bloomington.

Again, Louisville was left reeling. The cell phone system was jammed and for much of the rest of that Sunday, calls couldn’t get through. Eighty percent of the state was without power with some areas waiting weeks before electricity was restored. Gov. Steve Beshear called out the National Guard. On Monday morning, we awoke to find gas prices had jumped 55¢ a gallon. The Red Cross and other emergency agencies set up food banks for people whose refrigerators weren’t working anymore.

The storm was the most damaging in Louisville’s history, even surpassing the notorious tornado that ravaged the city in 1974.

So, we came to Bloomington hoping all the drama would be behind us.

Unh uh.

We were hit with another drought our first summer here, in 2010. It became so dry that fires in fields and around old railroad trestles spontaneously ignited (some of the fires were set; still, conditions were perfect for flames to spread.) And last summer was unusually dry, so much so that our grass went dormant by mid-July and our burning bushes turned flaming red about the same time. We lost a cherry tree as well as a few baby pines.

Tulip Trestle In Greene County

And now, the summer of 2012. Just Thursday, the radio announcer said we would be in for the hottest day “in decades” in this area.

My grass already has gone dormant.

Several of my burning bushes have gone red.

Both our apple and pear trees are looking awfully scrawny.

I shudder to think of our electric bill.

Try to have some fun this summer. And I apologize for all the trouble we’ve caused.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

◗IU Theater AnnexChildren’s musical,  “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs,” presented by Indiana Festival Theater; 11am

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Grant Eversoll; 6-8:30pm

Cafe DjangoThe Short List, variety acts hosted by Marta Jasicki; 7pm

The BishopDJ Tyler Damon; 8pm

◗ IU Auer Hall, Simon Music Library — Summer Arts festival, Piano, Read Gainsford; 8pm

Read Gainsford

The Player’s PubSongwriter showcase; 8pm

◗ IU HPER, rm. 107 — Ballroom dance lessons; 8:30pm

The BishopMidtown Dickens; 9pm

The BluebirdDave Walters karaoke; 9pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibit, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%” by John D. Shearer; through July 30th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibit, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts by Qiao Xiaoguang; through August 12th — Exhibit, wildlife artist William Zimmerman; through September 9th — Exhibit, David Hockney, new acquisitions; through October 21st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryKinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st, 11am

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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