Humpback Whales Celebrate World Ocean Day 2018

Humpbacks are denizens of the world’s oceans, from the Arctic to the Antarctic and nearly everywhere in between. Those who have seen humpbacks can understand why they make such outstanding “ambassadors of the sea” – with their size, and elegantly long pectoral fins – their name, Megaptera novaeangliae, actually means “Long-winged of New England.”

According to the late Al Jarreau, “You have to make a decided effort to not get seduced by the Blues.” Accepting that, why not save a little wear and tear on your body and soul and just get into the blues. Arena Theater makes it easy. With the Blues On The Coast series, you’ll find some of the best players around, and June is no exception. This month Nick Schnebelen and his trio take center stage at Arena Theater Saturday, June 23. 

     Personal beliefs for some, we often see as biases for others; likes and dislikes all become apparent when we reflect on the things that are important to us. Over time we may adjust those beliefs, temper those biases, or embrace something we earlier eschewed. Consider our memories. Growing up, my great aunt Violet was as important to me as my parents. Easily 40-50 years my senior, Aunt Vi was a truly good human being whose affection and wisdom were never missing. I found myself thinking of her this week for a somewhat unexpected reason.

Words On Wellness

Summer days of expansive brightness, beckon us to slip out the door and enjoy time in nature.  Walking on the uneven ground of dirt trails, sandy beaches and grassy meadows is a healthy way to balance our brains and bodies.  Human feet have millions of fast-acting touch receptors, which transmit important information to the brain at a rate of 175 messages per second.

He may no longer be a household name, but after reading this captivating bio/memoir, you’ll never forget MacKinlay Kantor.

The title of this book could’ve been The Most Famous Writer You’ve Never Heard Of, but irony is probably the more effective strategy. Like me, there will be others who will pick it up thinking, “Okay, I’ll bite. Who is the most famous writer who ever lived?” followed immediately by, “Who [the heck] is MacKinlay Kantor?”

The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump is being revived, but it is complicated.

     After creating nuclear waste for 40 years with no regulation or plan, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982.  It was the official recognition of the fact that nuclear energy activities created toxic radioactive substances that had to be thoroughly isolated for a very long time from contact with living things.  The Act established that radioactive waste should be deposited deep in geological “repositories”.  After years of studies ( and plenty of politics) they eventually decided on Yucca Mountain in Nevada.  In the 2010 Harry Reid got Obama to halt the Yucca Mountain project due to local opposition.  Of course, it never hurts a President to do a big favor for the Senate leader of their party.

Winter can put a strain on finances and relationships. By the third winter on the farm, I made some discoveries that would alter the way I was living. First, the money I had put aside for home improvements and living expenses was running out a lot faster than I had anticipated; second, my carpenter friend was stealing money from my purse, and also making a little extra cash by pilfering and re-selling some of the equipment I bought. He needed to leave, and since he couldn’t present a good argument against it, he packed all his woodworking equipment into his truck and off he went. 

Animal Health And Welfare: Laminitis

What do some of us think of when Spring rains bring lush green grass? Laminitis! During the Spring (and Fall), sunny days and cool nights create a surge of sugar in the grass. For horses, ponies, donkeys and even zebras, a fast intake of soluble carbohydrates (sugars and starch) can cause laminitis. So what is laminitis?

Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York: A book by Roz Chast, Reviewed by Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

You don’t need to read the New Yorker to instantly recognize a Roz Chast cartoon: Her lumpy, myopic Everymen and Women with perpetually bad hair always look as though they are vibrating into dust from the general angst of daily life. Her humor isn’t terribly edgy, but rather sharply observant of the quotidian, perfectly capturing the idiocy and indignities we all suffer.

You Betcha. Notes from the Midwest: Are You Still Hip, Part II

     I moved in September 1980, and brought along a friend who was a carpenter – good idea! We got busy building counters and cabinets in the kitchen, making the upstairs into a studio space, and doing some painting before the first blast of winter hit us. I had never before experienced winter that was this intense. The township I lived in was in line with the arctic winds coming straight out of Minnesota and we were on top of a hill. The worst part of this was that there were no storm windows to buffer the wind.  We had two LP space heaters, one in the kitchen and one in the living room, that struggled to keep some warmth in the house. I got used to wearing thermal underwear all the time, did a lot of cooking and baking to keep my energy up; and spent the winter reading Carla Emery’s book, while the wind howled outside and the snow piled up to the window sills. 

Adrenaline And Then Some

   There’s something to be said for adrenaline. With good reason, it absolutely gets our attention although I can’t honestly say I remember the first time I felt that rush. It might have been when I was two years old, being wheeled into surgery to have my tonsils removed; I can still smell the ether but I have no memory of an adrenaline rush. Our “adrenaline memory” is very often associated with “the first time” of any number of things. Falling out of a tree. Riding a roller coaster, or water skiing, or a first commercial airline flight. The second, or third time you’ve been on Space Mountain, a thrill may still exist but it’s unlikely adrenaline will be coursing through your system. Whatever your first, latest, or worst memory of the trigger that sent adrenaline charging through your body, we can all relate.

     As numerous others have mentioned, Trump's personal behavior has obscured some of the more important developments taking place in the real political world. Hard news has a difficult time competing with sexy women and pee tapes.  We call it “hard news” because sometimes it may be hard to absorb the complexity of a particular political development.  There are nuanced arguments that must be considered.  This is an anathema to today's instant I-don't-have-time-for-this world.  The Statistic Brain Research Institute tells us that the average attention span for Americans is 8 seconds, 33% less than in 2000.  The attention span of a goldfish, we are told, is 9 seconds.  That makes serious policy discussion virtually impossible among a populace that is far more interested in Beyonce and Jay-Z than they are, for example, in energy policy.

     Which brings me around to the subject of energy policy.


Hearts Beat Loud: A Mendocino Film Festival Film

  With my long history in the music industry certain themes, ideas and, of course, songs jump out at me with some regularity. Perhaps it’s fair to borrow a phrase from a 1970s hit: “I’ve Got The Music In me”. In fact, we all do, we all have music in us, only to lesser or greater degrees. So when I have a chance to hear something or see something with strong musical character I can’t simply ignore it. And that “something” struck again this week as I connected with a film titled Hearts Beat Loud, one of the offerings at the 2018 Mendocino Film Festival.

A Springtime Story: Love Among Leviathans

Ankle-deep in a sea of blue-eyed grass and poppies, from atop the promontory the watchers peered through binoculars downward, at the dark blue Pacific. Below, just beyond the breakers, a group of gray whales churned up a boil as they milled and rolled, splashing and lurching in a confused tangle, sinking, surfacing and regrouping. Migrating, or mating? But, this isn’t Baja – right?

Words on Wellness

The beauty of a jewel-toned sea and clear spring skies is accentuated by the purple-blue blossoms of California lilac.  Not a true lilac, Ceanothus goes by other common names like Tick bush, Deerbrush, Red root and Blue blossom, yet its small dark-green leathery leaves and clumps of tiny aromatic flowers are hallmark of this California native.

Ya, Youbetcha. Notes from the Midwest • Are You Still Hip? – Part I

     Back in 1967, the hippie movement was gathering steam as thousands of young college students abandoned the life their parents had planned for them, and advanced on the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco for a summer of love, drugs and fabulous rock music. Back here in Wisconsin, while sitting on the front porch of the duplex I shared with my mother, sister and brother, I eagerly read about this subculture of refreshing idealism and longed to be a part of it. So, that’s when that little voice in my head shouted “Well, what are you waiting for?!”