Archive for April, 2021

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The reaction around Marin to Dereck Chauvin’s conviction in Minneapolis says good things about this county.

Last May 25, Chauvin, an aggressive, white, Minneapolis police officer, killed a Black man, George Floyd, for no legitimate reason. Chauvin had arrested Floyd on suspicion of making a purchase with a counterfeit $20. When Floyd initially refused to get out of his van but put his hands out the window, Chauvin dragged him from the vehicle, handcuffed him, made him lie on his chest in the street, and then kneeled on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. All was recorded on videos taken by witnesses. On the videos Floyd can be heard repeatedly pleading for his life: “I can’t breathe.”

Yesterday, a jury in Minneapolis convicted Chauvin (seen here in a prison jumpsuit) on two counts of murder and one of manslaughter. He is expected to appeal but could spend the next few decades in prison.

Chauvin (seen here during the trial) did not testify and showed little emotion when the verdict was read.

I happened to be buying some Chinese food in San Rafael when the news was announced on the restaurant’s television. A Black man near me grinned and praised the decision. The restaurant staff not surprisingly were Asian, and they too sounded pleased. When a Black couple came in and sat down, I told them what had just been reported. Both chortled at the news, and the woman clapped.

Back in Point Reyes Station, whenever I mentioned the decision, folks were equally pleased. As for me, I’m pleased that 62 percent of Americans believe Chauvin’s behavior was criminal; only 12 percent reject the ruling,  according to a USA Today poll taken in the hours after the verdict. Some 85 percent of Democrats said Chauvin committed major crimes; 55 percent of Republicans agreed; so did 71 percent of independents.

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With so much nightmarish activity in the news — mass shootings, for example, are continuing — this would seem a good time for a break.

Groucho Marx, therefore, is here to now introduce a few puns forwarded to me by Pat Mitchell of Colorado, wife of my cousin Leck Mitchell

• A vulture boards an airplane carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, “I’m sorry, only one carrion allowed per passenger.”

• A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

• A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

• A sign on the lawn at a drug rehabilitation center says, “Keep Off the Grass.”

No matter how much I push the envelope, it will still be stationery, so that’s enough for now.

 

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I unknowingly carried a Western Fence Lizard, which had been hiding in our woodpile, indoors on a log last week. Unfortunately, our fireplace cost the lizard its tail and ultimately its life.

After I added a log to the fire one night last week, I noticed something squirming near it in the gray ashes. I checked. It was a lizard, and after several tries with gloves on my fingers, I managed to flip it out of the fireplace onto the floor — along with one red ash that singed a small spot on the carpet.

This species of lizard is known as a Blue Belly or Western Fence lizard, and the Blue Belly I’d just removed from the fire appeared to be dead. No movement whatsoever even when I picked it up. Since its flesh wasn’t burned, I guessed the lizard had passed out from the heat. I carried the creature to our kitchen sink and ran cold water over it. After a minute or so, the lizard seemed to be trying to move its legs. However, it couldn’t move them very much, so I treated it to some more cold water, laid it down on the counter, and gently straightened out its legs. After that the Blue Belly took a few steps before passing out again.

With no other ideas for resuscitating the poor critter, I  put its lifeless body beside a geranium in a flowerpot on the deck. When I checked back the next day, the wretched reptile hadn’t left.

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This vulpine-raccoonish ecumenical dinner was celebrated Sunday at Mitchell cabin’s kitchen door.

Raccoons show up at Mitchell cabin’s front and kitchen doors every evening begging for kibble, and we normally give them a few handfuls. Skunks and foxes occasionally show up to share their repast. 

Elsewhere in Marin, foxes can be suspect. The Marin Humane Society awhile back had to put down a rabid fox near Novato. As for raccoons: “Although raccoons suffer from rabies more than any other mammal in the United States (about 35 percent of all animal rabies cases),” the national Humane Society reports, “only one human death from the raccoon strain of rabies has been recorded in the United States.” 

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A croaker on a bench at Mitchell cabin Wednesday.

An easy way to tell a raven from a crow is that ravens croak whereas crows caw. Easier yet, the tails of ravens are wedge shaped while the tails of crows are fan shaped. Easiest of all, only the ravens squawk, “Nevermore,” if you call out the name Lenore.

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Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

Lynn at Taps Restaurant beside the river in Petaluma.

A friend this week was telling my wife Lynn on the phone that she’s looking for a job. “What are you looking for?” Lynn asked and was startled by her friend’s answer: “It could be any of several possibilities. I’m trying to keep a fuck-the-bull attitude for the moment.”

“What’s a fuck-the-bull attitude?” Lynn asked with trepidation, wondering if it were some new slang, and it was then her friend’s turn to be startled: “I said a flexible attitude.” Laughter ensued. (Lynn’s hearing was tested recently; it’s almost perfect.)

Yours truly reading the Taps menu before ordering a Belgian ale and pulled pork. (Photo by Lynn Mitchell)

A poetry journal, The Advocet, just published two of Lynn’s poems, Birdwatching and Between Tides, and both of us received our second Covid-19 vaccinations three weeks ago, so last Friday we decided to celebrate both accomplishments with an outdoor meal at Taps Restaurant and Tasting Room. The food is first rate, and the restaurant’s location beside the Petaluma River is enchanting despite being downtown.

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Photo bombing?

Actress Paris Hilton shows up during the 2013 kangaroo-mating season in Australia.

Photobombing — the mischievous trick of injecting oneself into someone else’s picture by unexpectedly popping up just as the photo is snapped — is hardly new. Holding up two fingers behind an unwitting subject’s head is a longstanding prank. The question in this photo is who was photobombing whom: Paris and a companion imitating two amorous kangaroos or the two photobombing Paris’ affection for her marsupial companion?

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Time Zone Politics

 

Benjamin Franklin is often credited with dreaming up the idea of the Daylight Saving Time in 1784 — as a joke.

This year’s Daylight Saving Time has now been in effect three weeks, which brings up a few odd facts about it.

• As our schoolmarm taught us, it’s Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight’s Saving Time, although the latter is widely misused. Think of it this way: the word Saving is being used as a noun, and Daylight is, in this case, an adjective modifying it. The same would hold true in the phrase “a money saving plan” where money is being used as an adjective describing the type of saving plan.

• Some odd exceptions: The March 2019 Old Farmers Almanac noted, Daylight Saving Time is observed nationwide except in “American Samoa, most of Arizona, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands….

• “The Germans were the first to officially adopt the light-extending system in 1915 as a fuel-saving measure during World War I. The British switched one year later, and the United States followed in 1918, when Congress passed the Standard Time Zone Act, which established our time zones.” In 1920, the law “was repealed due to opposition from dairy farmers (cows don’t pay attention to clocks). During World War II, Daylight Saving Time was imposed again.”