bun: tv

Sean Hannity is not a good role model!

Seriously.  "Whupping" your kid when they don't "mind" you is child abuse.

"I got beaten by my Dad" is not a good reason to do the same to your child.

"I just lost my temper" is no excuse.  For anything.

"I'm going to wash your mouth out with soap!" is something no parent should ever say to their child, let alone do it.

Hitting your child with a belt, a switch, a tree branch, or any other object is unacceptable.

Hitting your child because you're angry at them does nothing but teach them to be afraid of you.

Your child being afraid of you is a very, very bad thing.

Saying that "it's different" when a famous person abuses their child makes the problem worse.

You can like the abuser, or even be related to them, but it doesn't make their abusive behaviour any less real.

Silencing the child that speaks up makes you the bad guy.

Pretending it never happened makes you the bad guy.

Hitting a child is not okay.
yah rly

It Was 47 Years Ago Today... (a post from Bob)

I attended a concert at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. on August 15, 1966 (altho it was still called DC Stadium at that time). I remember being intensely concerned what my ex-girlfriend was doing (she was there, too) and I also recall being acutely aware of her best friend, who was there with her. I had shifted my affections from my ex to her friend and kept my binoculars trained on her more than the warm-up acts. None of this worked out as planned -- the thing with the friend never materialized and I ended up marrying the ex a few years later.

Did I mention that The Beatles were headlining?

The Beatles, playing D.C. on their last tour of the US, with opening acts Bobby Hebb ("Sunny"), The Cyrkle ("Red Rubber Ball"), The Remains (I got nuthin') and The Ronettes ("Be My Baby", fitting, given my infatuation with my ex's bff). 

I read today that The Beatles set in '66 was only 11 songs. I couldn't really say, since between watching my (hope-to-be) new girlfriend, the primitive state-of-the-art sound system at the Stadium, and me and everyone else, screaming incoherently, I heard maybe only a third of what was going on. It didn't matter, of course; it was magical in the way such things are to a fifteen year old.

Interesting stuff happened before the show started. While waiting outside the Stadium, a group of Carnaby Street-clad fellows walked by. My friend and I noted their (to us) outlandish clothes with interest. We later learned that Stadium officials had mistook them for The Cyrkle and let them inside and backstage.

Even more outlandishly dressed were the Klu Klux Klan marchers, who were there to protest John Lennon's infamous lament that the band was more popular than Jesus. As they say nowadays, h8trs gotta h8.

Seeing the Beatles live was one of the epochal events of my life. Since then I've seen many performers live in concert -- Elton John, Billy Joel, Elton John and Billy Joel, Neil Diamond (my second ex made me go to that one), Michael Jackson, Prince, Sly and the Family Stone, Bread, The Fifth Dimension, Grand Funk Railroad and Steven Stills (actually, I didn't see him in concert, I saw him in my jail) to name some. None of them compared to the Beatles; not even seeing McCartney in concert in 2011. It may seem odd that a 30 minute set of second-tier hits beats out concerts that lasted hours. But it was The Beatles, the greatest rock band ever.

Don't agree? Well, all I can say in response to your sad negation is to point out is that the band's last two hits -- "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" -- were released in 1995, twenty-five years after the band broke up. Not enough? Both songs reached Billboard's Top 100 in 1996, #6 and #11 respectively. Need more? How about the fact that the writer and lead singer of both songs HAD BEEN DEAD FOR 16 YEARS!

There's a t-shirt that says "I may be old, but I saw all the great bands". For me, it should say "I may be old, but I saw The Greatest Band of All Time ".
My room


My father, Anthony Smith, died this last Monday, June 7, 2014, of a sudden illness.

He was the founder of the British Balloon and Airship Club, an amazing and prolific writer, the first Brit to fly over the Alps by balloon, and the first to fly in a gas balloon over East Africa (documented in his books Throw Out Two Hands and The Dangerous Sort), an adventurer and explorer who never let mere caution get in the way of a really good idea.  In 1955, he drove from Capetown to Cairo on a Triumph motorbike, and then, in 1980, from Cairo to Capetown on the same motorbike, this time accompanied by my brother, on another vintage Triumph motorbike (High Street Africa, Smith & Son).  He found a previously unknown species of cave loach in Iran (Blind White Fish in Persia, A Persian Quarter Century).  He sailed down the Amazon (Explorers of The Amazon, The Lost Lady of the Amazon), he traveled to every continent, and he had a love of learning that he shared with everyone*.

He worked with balloons and/or airships in the movies Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Charlie Bubbles, and Superman II.  A consummate storyteller, his adventures became legend in our family, the last great adventure being his trip across the Atlantic on a raft, spending his 86th birthday at sea.

He has the Glaxo Prize for Science Writers, and The Royal Geographical Society's Cherry Kearton Medal for writing, and the Federation of Aeronautique Internationale's Diplome Montgolfier and the Diplome Tissandier, along with a Ballooning "Hall of Fame" award.

I remember sitting in an airport McDonald's with pinkleader and cathgrace and her lovely husband, telling them stories of his work on the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (he worked with the airship), and realizing that all the tables around us had become silent, listening to us.  Going to the Imperial War Museum in London, and listening to Dad tell pinkleader and me the story of the Anglo Saxon's Jolly Boat (Survived!). The last time Bob and I saw him, he took us to Oxford and Balliol College, his alma mater for the day, ending with an impromptu and delightful cup of tea with his close friend, Robin Batchelor.

My childhood is full of amazing memories.  His house in Bamburgh, Northumberland, was where we spent long summer holidays and frigid Christmas holidays, exploring castles, beachcombing, and climbing the Cheviot mountains.  On weekends when he took us out from London, we'd go walking through the grounds and estates of Cliveden and Polesden Lacey.   I've flown in a hot-air balloon, watched balloons take off over Holland, stood in the pitch-black dungeon of John of Gaunt's castle (Dunstanburgh), visited Holland and Belgium, found fossils in Dorset, explored chalk caves in Surrey, stayed in a haunted house, camped by a Roman fort, and a million more things because he showed them to us.

I have a number of his books; I am still completing my collection, as some of those books were published before I was born.  Bob and I always got him to sign his books for us, but he would always sign them "Dad", rather than with his name.  It was a running joke, one of many we had. I feel great sadness that he was not able to visit us in the US, a visit we had just started to plan for this year.

His book about his raft expedition will be published in February 2015.

*The rest of his books:
The Body (bestseller)
The Seasons
Beside the Seaside
The Good Beach Guide
Mato Grosso
The Human Pedigree
Sea Never Dry
A Sideways Look
The Mind
The Great Rift
The Free Life
(about my godfather)
Sex, Genes and All that
Animals on View
The Human Body
The Weather
Machine Gun
Best Friends
(a children's book)
Which Animal are You? (ditto)
Swaps (ditto)
frogs, rilly


Our hummingbirds are very friendly - I just had one sit on my finger while feeding from the window feeder.  This photo is from last year, but it's basically the same as what happened today (same feeder, even):

066 - Copy resize

The females are more willing to land on my finger.  
bun:  writing

Words to live by (from feministlaw professors.com)

Preventing sexual assault: Tips guaranteed to work!

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.


Bob points out that saying "the money was just in the cash register, looking all nice, I just had to take it!" is not a reasonable argument for theft, therefore "she was drunk and couldn't say no", or "she was wearing sexy clothes", or even "she was passed out" should not be successful rape defenses.  
baby vultures 2006


...has gone to the great people at Cat's Cradle, to be re-homed with people who can love her and keep her inside, where she won't kill 1 specimen of wildlife every day (I know for sure about 2 lizards and one titmouse; I'm guessing about the rest), and she won't have to worry about raccoons.

She was a little angel and slept most of the way - as long as we were singing.  It's official, animals like me singing to them.*

snugglecat 3
She was really good at the place, too - allowing the nice man to hold her and letting the other cats check her out without hissing.  I hope she gets a nice home.

I am back to watching over my wildlife; we have two tiny fuzzy little baby vulture butts, and they are doing well.  Mom and Dad are still being discreet, but they're relaxing - I saw one of them actually sitting in the window, instead of standing.  I look forward to watching this year's clutch learn to fly.  No pictures yet, because I don't want to stress them out.

*Based on one incident with a baby squirrel about 10 years ago, and today. I am nothing if not thorough in my statistics.
black cat

A cat found us...

Last Thursday, a cat appeared on our deck.  We can't keep her.  If you know anyone in the Maryland, Virginia, or North Carolina area who wants a cat, she's still really young, about a year old, affectionate once she gets to know you, and unfortunately, not spayed, and she was in heat when we found her.  I have no idea if she's pregnant or not.  Local shelters have failed; I don't want to hand her over to animal control, because they have an 80-100% kill rate for cats.  If you can help, leave me a comment.

snugglecat 2 snugglecat 1

snugglecat 4
pink and green

Seems like old times...

Except we got bathroom breaks, and lots of fun people to hang out with.  Once upon a time, I did a Foods and Feasts Thursday and Friday with Bob, and it was us and five or six staff only.  I talked for two days straight in the four-bay house, and it was awesome, because it was the first time I was allowed to interpret entirely unsupervised.  Also, I met the Prince of Denmark, and his brother, the Pretender to the Throne (they were attending an American university, and had come for a visit).  I don't even have pictures from that long-ago time, but I still tell everyone who will stand still long enough about being handed the heart and liver of the pig they were butchering outside and asked "they said you could do something with this; can you?" (I could; I made a pie, as any proper British person will, when handed animal organs of dubious origin)(it was a pretty good pie, as I recall).

pinkleader and I were in the Governor's House, she in the Gov.'s bedroom, I in the parlour, and we talked about all sorts of things.  She also got a photo of me in my pretty pink and green stuff and I am even smiling:
Collapse )
Mr. Darcy

Jamestown Day

I'm on my way soon to Jamestown for the weekend.  Bob is staying home to work on stuff, but pinkleader will be with me.

I have permission for the first time to wear some slightly more fancy clothes, since I'm going to be in the Governor's house.  I get to talk clothes!  I usually talk food, since we've been judges at MTA for the last few years, and my main time is Foods and Feasts, with a display:
January 2014 029

So I'm excited.  We'll see how it goes.