Monthly Archives: June 2013

20130625 – In And On The Lake; Goodbye MPLS; Goodbye America; We’ll Be Back

Tuesday – hot 85F, humid and sunny.

DSC02572

Lazy morning. Stroll over the road to the liquor store, it’s such a pleasant area. 

In the afternoon we drive over to our Home Exchange hosts place in Waverly. A small town of about  a 1,000 people around the lovely lake Waverly. They have a fantastic lakeside home, complete with dock, speedboat and pontoon boat – truly the American dream. We have a trip out on the lake, on their luxury pontoon boat, have a dip in the lake, it’s just 72F, ideal for cooling off on such a lovely hot day. This is definitely the life.

DSC02577

Stay for dinner, which in typical American fashion, is cooked on the barbecue. No it’s not a £2 instant barbecue from Asda, but the traditional and all essential giant gas barbecue. No American home is truly complete without one. A lovely meal and great company.

Just browsed a lovely book on the Hadza, a small group of hunter gatherers who live in Northern Tanzania. Just fabulous to see in pictures how they live off the land and probably bother no one. Have some intriguing rites of passage. For DSC02584 nstance the girls are adorned with beads and given specially decorated staffs (narichanda) made by their fathers but given by the mothers. They then have several days when they are encouraged to hit any young men in sight with their staffs. Tough on the young men. A tradition developed to remind young men that women are equal.

They have a refreshing attitude to religion “We believe in God and we have our rituals, yet we don’t try to change anyone to our ways. Why do these big religions always try to change people to their ways.” If only the rest would take a leaf out of their book.

DSC02587

Lanky speak:

“World War I started over summat an nowt”  – Big arguments can start from relatively inconsequential sources 

“There’s nowt funnier ner folk” – People can be strange, especially in Oldham. 

“He couldn’t knock t’skin off a rice puddin” – He is weak 

“Aye, an woke up swettin”- He’s exaggerting his physical prowess 

“He couldn’t neck a meat puddin” – His romantic skills are overated 

“Be good, an if tha’ can’t be good be careful and if tha’ can’t be careful buy a pram” – Contraceptive advice c. 1958. 

DSC02592

“Never run after a buzz or a lass, there’ll be another one along in five minutes” – advice to the lovelorn c. 1963

 And then people ask me why I include these little red rant sections in my blog:

The UK Department of Health in 2010 announced that it would loosen hygiene rules for Muslim and Sikh doctors and nurses. From now on, they will not need to wash their hands before procedures as it compromises their modesty. Instead, they will have the admittedly less sanitary option of wearing disposable plastic over-sleeves.

Acknowledging the danger of microbes and death, a Department of Health spokesman said, “The DSC02593 guidance is intended to . . . balance infection control measures with cultural beliefs.” But, believe it or not, from a culturist perspective, the death of some patients is not the main cause for concern that this policy elicits.

The most dangerous problem is that this policy encodes multiculturalism not culturism. Whereas culturism acknowledges that England has a majority culture to protect and promote, this multiculturalist policy implicitly says that England has no core culture. It says that the nation can be whatever pressure groups decide it is. It, therefore, officially ends the dominance of English culture in England.

DSC02597

I DON’T BELIEVE IT! This was done in 2010. Why aren’t I aware of it? Why wasn’t it headline news? It was in some newspapers, but why not on the front page of every self respecting newspaper until the stupidity was reversed? Why haven’t heads rolled? Why are we putting up with such crap? Has England run out of common sense? Do I have to go back?

It’s just pots for rags. If you want to be a nurse or doctor then washing your hands goes with the territory. If you don’t like it, go and be a shit shoveller or work down the sewers. MRSA is one of the biggest problems in hospitals. They even expect visitors to wash their hands. This is the sheer lunacy we’re going back to. Keep me out of their grubby, germ infested hands. And then the loony lefty, liberal, progressive brigade wonder whyDSC02608 your average Brit (no I don’t take offence at being called this) gets uptight about so called racial and integration issues. It’s just stupidity! Rant over!

Wednesday – hot and humid.

Spend the morning cleaning the apartment and packing.

After lunch we pay a visit to the Mill City Museum. It’s just across the river from us so it’s a pleasant but very humid stroll.

Interesting place with a great 19 minute film on MPLS and an elevator ride with a difference. It’s a giant freight elevator, not quite the tower of terror but each floor has a different story to tell about life in one of the biggest flour Mills in the World. Interesting museum with fun things to do, especially for the kids.

DSC02600

Well you learn something new every day, problem these days is remembering it, so perhaps it’s the same thing I just keep forgetting. But I hardly think todays learning would be forgotten, it is so appalling I just didn’t believe it until I’d researched it on the web, and of course if its on the web it must be true. So what is this inconvenient, well hidden truth, learned from one photo in a photo exhibition in the Mill City Museum of a young Indian girl crying as she listens on her headphones. Apparently women, both Native American (Indians to the less PC among us) and blacks, were being forcibly sterilized by the US government up to the early 1970’s. Eugenics here in the USA – unbelievable.

More Lanky speak:

DSC02613

“Nincompoop” – an idiot.

“Ne’er-do-wel” – someone who’s a waste of space>

“Scorrock” or “skerrick” – a little, hardly any.

“A’ve sin better ‘air on bacon” (I’ve seen better hair on bacon) – I don’t like your hairstyle 

“I thowt tha ‘ad more oil in tha’ can than that” (I thought you had more oil in your can than that) – I thought you had more sense

“He’s as thick as two short planks” – He is not very intelligent 

“A were standing there like cheese at fourpence” I wasn’t making much progress in getting things done 

DSCF9504

US company making pork-laced bullets to send Muslims ‘straight to hell’

The group is angered about the idea of an Islamic cultural center opening near Ground Zero.

According to the Huffington Post, South Fork Industries, based in Idaho, however has claimed its ammunition, called Jihawg Ammo, is a defensive deterrent to those who violently act in the name of Islam.

The company stated that the pork-infused paint made the ammo ‘haram’, or unclean, and therefore will keep a Muslim who’s shot with one of the bullets from entering paradise.

DSCF9847

The company, in a press release, said that with Jihawg Ammo, one can not only kill an Islamist terrorist, but can also send him to hell.

The company’s website called the bullets as ‘Peace Through Pork’ and a ‘peaceful and natural deterrent to radical Islam’.

Novel idea.

Thursday – very hot and sunny.

Taxi to metro, metro to airport, check in, suffer the TSA – they manage to create a queue out of thin air, airport lounge. Fantastic 30Mbps free wifi. A bit too early to hit the free booze.

DSC00490

MPLS airport is lovely. Perhaps one of the nicest we’ve experienced. Not too crowded but almost a full Mall. Even has live musicians a sax player and then a harpist. How cultured is that.

Flight to Atlanta’s on time and pretty comfortable even though full. Just love watching the mayhem with carry on. They charge for anything put in the hold so it’s now even worse than ever. Just another way of making air travel more miserable. I think they must have a secret annual award ceremony, the OSCAIRS, for the airline or airport that comes up with the most innovative ways to screw the customer and make the experience more miserable.

They all bring their giant bags plus a hold all. Most of them have zero spatial awareness, trying to get a quart into a pint pot. Mind you it’s even worse when disembarking, if they managed to hammer and force it in, they’ve now got to prize it out while everyone watches spitting feathers in horror and boredom.

Airport lounge at Atlanta has free wifi that’s even slower than Belthorn. At least with the hour jump DSC02018forward it’s after 17:00 so I can hit the free bar.

Well it’s good bye America after a great 10 week road trip. We’ve visited 13 states and 23 Cities and towns. No we didn’t follow the Mississippi religiously, but more or less. The deep South was interesting; really enjoyed New Orleans; The Smokies were fantastic, just a pity about Pigeon Forge and Tennessee in general; Nashville was a great experience; Memphis Beale Street was a scruffy dump, but Graceland was enjoyable; St Louis was lovely with that awesome Arch; Chicago was a great town if somewhat noisy and busy, but a fantastic experience living downtown in a loft; Des Moines was lovely and free despite DSC02361 what people said about it; Minneapolis was awesome, relaxing, cultured, a fantastic apartment in a great city, there’s so much I’ve already said about it; stepping over and wadding across the Mississippi, at the source, was the crowning glory of our trip.

MPLS must now rate as our all time favourite city, despite the mosquitos and the humidity. But Park City still rates as the top town and my favourite place in America.

Now some slightly bad news about the mighty Mississippi. The 4th longest river in the World and the longest in America. But actually it turns out in geological term the Missouri River is the longest and the Mississippi should real be viewed as a tributary of the Missouri. The Mississippi below St Louis, where the Missouri flows in, should really be called the Missouri. Mind you the revised Missouri still wouldn’t be the longest in the World.

So what we’ve been conned, but what a great time we had, so much to see and do. Never a dull DSC02353 moment. On the positive side perhaps what we now need to do is a trip up the Missouri from St Louis to the source in Montana?

More Lanky:

“Side the table” – Clear the table 

“Bally foundered” – to be hungry

“Essel up” – To get closer to

“Chunner” – To complain, grumble

“Powfagged” – Tired 

“Keck ore” – fall over

DSC02478

The cause of too much trouble in the World. Now what could that possibly be?

Religion no longer seen as a force for good by young people

More young people in Britain believe that religion is a cause of evil rather than a force for good, according to a new YouGov poll.

The place of religion in the lives of 18-24 year olds is smaller than ever, with politicians, brand names and celebrities having more influence than religious figures in the day-to-day decisions of young people.

Additionally, the YouGov poll for The Sun showed the reputation of religion amongst young people is actually more negative than neutral: 41% agree that religion is more often the cause of evil in the world and only 14% say it is a cause for good.

Can you blame them?

DSC02271

Who said it?:

“Lighthouses are more use than churches” – Click here to find out.

“This would be the best of all possible Worlds if there was no religion in it” – Click here to find out.

“Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man” – Click here to find out.

Interesting that such pillars of society, great thinkers and founders of America had such views. I suspect if any American politician spouted any of these views today they be tarred and feathered and out of office quicker than a ferret down a rabbit hole.

Great documentary from  Bill Maher – Religulous – watch it, well worth it.

Now it’s 6 weeks at home. But best is we get to see our new Grandson at last. 

How will I cope?  

So the blog will have a rest now until mid-August when we go to France. Plenty of fertile things to rant about over there!

Oh and by way of a change its cold, misty and raining in Belthorn.

20130623 – Aftermath Of The Storms, Guthrie 50th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday – more storms overnight and a sultry morning but hot and sunny afternoon with 80% relative humidity.

DSC02535

Yet again Main Street is closed off this time it’s an adults run.

After a lazy morning we stroll across the Stone Arch Bridge to go to the 50th Anniversary celebrations at the Guthrie Theatre. There’s a lot going on such as choirs; piano recitals; stage craft demos of sword fighting; free photo’s in silly hats; talk on the Mississippi river; face paining – passed; hair dying – passed; free lemonade; free cakes on as tick – delicious; free candy bags; free competitions back stage tours. All free just up DSC02536 our street. Of course to spoil it all there had to be a Farmers Market – not free. We even attended a “Secrets to Presentation Success” seminar where a voice coach taught us about breathe control when speaking; build; reverse build and cut back. Interesting, took us outside of our sphere of comfort.

More Lanky:

“thad mek a berrer doer thun a winder” (Thy would make a better door than a window) – You’re standing in my line of vision!

“It’s omptyin t’streets” (It’s emptying the streets) – It’s raining very hard

“Shut tho cakeole” – Close your mouth!

”I am for up the wooden hill” – Going up stairs to bed,

DSC02539

“If tha duz owt fer nowt, do it fer thysen” (If thy does anything for nothing, do it for thy self”)

“Thaart nesh” (You’re nesh) – some someone who feels the cold or is soft.

Doh!

An ad on Seattle buses placed by the FBI that shows the faces of 16 wanted terrorists is racist, because all of the men appear to be Muslim, charges Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.

The Seattle Weekly reports McDermott sent a letter to the FBI requesting that the agency remove an ad that shows 16 faces of Most Wanted Terrorists, who all appear to be Muslim.

McDermott, whose district covers much of the Seattle area, calls the ad “offensive to Muslims DSC02542and ethnic minorities,” contending it “encourages racial and religious profiling.”

He argues the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list includes people of other races and “associations with other religions and causes.”

“But their faces are missing from this campaign,” he writes.

Thirty of the 32 people listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list appear to be Muslim. The two non-Muslims are a member of the revolutionary Black Liberation Army who escaped from prison after being sentenced in 1973 and an animal-rights extremist wanted for a 2003 bombing.

DSC02547

Surely loyal American Muslims would not be offended. Surely they would want terrorists caught. Surely they’d rat out any terrorists in their midst. As for profiling, bring it on, you know it makes sense.

Monday – grey and overcast but very warm, with a torrential downpour of bigger and better American rain.

We drive down to Burnhill just South of MPLS. Fortunately for Wendy, but unfortunately for me, there’s big Mall there. Dam I forgot my earphones yet again.

Meet up with Dennis and Nancy, two home exchangers who stayed at our place in April, after us staying at there Sarasota home in December.

Had lunch with them and was really nice to meet them after all our emails and exchanges. One of the plus points of home exchanges.

DSC02551

More Lanky speak:

“Be sharp!” – Hurry up

“Wigwams for lame ducks” – never you mind

“Get up the Dancers”  – go to bed

“Put wood in T’hole lad” (Put wood in the hole) – Close the door.

“Nae cast a clowt til May is owt” (Never cast a clout until May is out) – Keep wrapped up.

“pinklewatter” – weak tea

“I was as black as UP LUVVER” – I was as black as if I had been up the chimney (louvre)

DSC02555

Keeping Blasphemy Law Out of Europe…

European Parliament passed 2 resolutions opposing any attempts to establish blasphemy laws.

On 13 June, MEPs voted in favour of 2 resolutions to set the EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief, which explicitly mention the need to protect the rights of both believers and non-believers and oppose any attempt to criminalise freedom of expression on religious grounds.

The first resolution ( 2011/2081(INI) ), DSC02560 focusing on press freedom: Recognizes that governments have the primary responsibility for guaranteeing and protecting freedom of the press and media. The resolution also points out that governments also have the primary responsibility for hampering freedom of the press and media and, in the worst cases, are increasingly resorting to legal pressures in order to restrict that freedom, e.g. through the abuse of anti-terrorism or anti-extremism legislation and laws on national security, treason or subversion. The EP endorses a balance between the concerns of DSC02567 ational security and press freedom. The resolution goes further to deplore the fact that journalists are frequently wounded or murdered or are being subjected to serious abuses throughout the world, often with impunity, and stresses the importance of combating impunity.

The second resolution ( 2013/2082(INI) ), centering on religious freedom, endorses the firm opposition of any attempt to criminalise freedom of speech in relation to religious issues, such as blasphemy laws. The EP predictably condemns all forms of violence and discrimination, but goes further to emphasize that particular attention should be paid to the situation of those who change their religion or belief, as in practice they are subject in a number of countries to social pressure, intimidation or outright violence.

Bloody hell are our politician growing some balls at last.

Wake up Europe free speech is under serious threat.

 

 

20130621 – Fort Snelling, Soiree and At Last A Lazy Day

Friday – Very hot 85C, sunny and a tad humid.

DSC02450

Drive down to Fort Snelling via the main runway of the International airport thanks to that bitch in my satnav system – she obviously had the map upside down.

Fort Snelling was really interesting. Canon firing; soldiers drilling; surgeon to talk to; had a chat with Colonel Snelling about his problems, he really does need to improve his table manners and stop eating off his knife; chatted with the cook in her farmhouse kitchen; watched the washer women do some washing. All great DSC02478live demos. The only down side is we didn’t have enough time.

How this for novel “Sample a Cat”. No it’s not a sign outside a Chinese restaurant, it’s outside a pet shop. Apparently you can spend 2 hours being ripped to shreds by a cat, and if you enjoyed it so much will be able to buy one.

In the evening we went to a soiree for the Phoenix on the River apartment residents and guests. A Jacobs join and bring your own booze on the rooftop, well actually they had it in their lovely social area, another great feature of this building, along with bike storage area, conference rooms, spacious garages, spacious womanned reception.

A very pleasant evening with our hosts and got to chat to a lot of the residents here. There’s some interesting DSC02483characters. Some interesting conversations. Thankfully we’re not in Tennessee – we could easily understand one another.

Horrendous rains, 80mph winds and thunder storms overnight. A severe weather watch with tornado watch. Certainly took down some trees and power lines with 500 thousands being without electricity.

More Lanky sayings:

“Hoof it” – throw it away

“yawreet – grand” (You all right – grand) – are you alright – very well thank you.

“Mum’ll do a spud” (Mum will do a spud) – to be in bother with mum.

“Owt wearin nowt bura shimmy” (Out wearing nothing but a shimmy) – she is out wearing a dress that looks like a night dress.

“A bit ten punch shilling” – not all there.

Saturday – rains stop by 10:00 and turns into yet another warm sun and cloud day.

DSC02500

Main street is closed off again this morning for yet another event, this time it a children and adults fun run. Just watching them all from our balcony tires us out.

Wander over to the supermarket and then Wendy goes to the wool shop for some buttons. Ends up in the knitting group, personally I think it’s more rattling than knitting, all very friendly and helpful with her. She learns a few new techniques. I start to get the shakes as we go in Lunds supermarket as I dread the battering our credit cards going to get. It’s that bad that last DSC02519 ime we were in here the bank refused our credit card. I have to admit they have an awesome salad bar, hot food, fish and deli counters with more cheese than a French supermarket.

I have to visit the liquor store, free wine and beer tasting – it’s a hard life and it would have been rude not to try them. Outside there’s one of these totally bodacious bike bars where you booze and peddle your way around town – see picture. Really must have a go.

It seems like since we moved North we’ve DSC02510 bviously aged and are no longer passing as under 21 – common sense at last. However I notice the couple in front buying liquor. She’s paying and has to produce photo Id. I get that. What I don’t get is why her husband also has to produce Id. Being the inquisitive sort I ask why. “Ah well she could have been buying it for him.” Have they not realised that if you’re going to buy it for someone under age – quite rightly against the law with stiff penalties – the youngster would stay outside. Another example of the immigration card question “are you a terrorist?”. My inquisition continues with “what happens if there’s 4 people in the party at checkout”. Yes, you’ve guessed it by now, they all have to produce Id. If one of them can’t then they won’t sell it and on top of that they won’t sell to you for 24 hours. Alas I’d lost the will to live by now so never got to the bottom of how they monitor the 24 hour rule.

DSC02491

Moral of this story is if ever there’s a gang of you buying booze don’t all go through the checkout together you’ll have reached retirement age by the time they’ve Id you all.

Decide we’ll have a lazy day in reading, knitting and enjoying this awesome apartment. It’s so, dare I say it, cool. Lovely wood floors; matching wood cabinets; hifi in every room from a central sling box; Apple TV – yes I know I’ve mentioned it once; electrically operated blinds; giant, plumbed in gas barbecue on the balcony; great  coffee machine that all you need to do is put water in and it grinds the beans fresh for you; luxury of a daily newspaper.

IMG 1416

This Mississippi just keeps rolling on by our apartment. I know the heavens opened up last night but you just wonder where all the water comes from.

The days are passing fast. Less than a week left, which feels hardly anytime at all to us. Wendy’s getting excited about seeing Jasper and the knitting needles are clicking away night and day.

More Lanky:

DSC02525

“A jump up door and a bite o`t towel!” ( A jump up door and a bite of a towel) – reply to what’s for tea.

“Its all a load of iron peggy martin”  – Its all a load of rubbish or its not very likely to have happened.

“stop acting the leather pig” – stop misbehaving.

“I’ll cotter you one” – I’ll smack you.

“well I’ll go to the bottom of our stairs” – an expression of surprise.

“she hasn’t all her chairs at home” – not very bright.

“Being in Dickies’ meadow” – being in some kind of trouble.


20130619 – St Paul, Mall of America and The Guthrie

Wednesday – hot and sunny again.

DSC02418

After our usual leisurely morning we drive down to St Paul, the 2nd part of the twin cities.

Start off with a Starbucks for coffee and lunch for Wendy. Wifi’s not working so my passbook app won’t work, does this sound familiar. No problem sir, we’ll take care of it (me thinks she means they’re going to fix the wifi), but no she means that drinks and sandwich are on us. Now that’s what I call customer focused and empowerment.

Easily find the visitors centre in a verify elegant DSC02428 ld building complete with two unusual but free museums. One on music and the other on woodturning, just up my street. Some stunning examples of heir art and some great lathes and bodges lathes.

Do two of the walking tours. A nice city but alas nothing really interesting, seems to lack atmosphere.

More from Lancashire:

“Tek yer ook” (Take your hook) – sling your hook or get lost.

“Bet there’s no empty windowlene bottles in er ouse” – the house is mucky.

DSC02446

“tha’s a propper mard” (You’re a proper mardi) – you are spoilt

“By the ‘eco”, “By the billy en meyt”, “By the bloomin’ (bloody) hen meat” – an expression of surprise.

 “Well, I’ll gu t’top of our stirs” (Well, I’ll go to the top of our stairs’) – another expression of surprise.

“were ya born in a barn” – shut the door

Interesting steps in France, if only our clowns in parliament had the same brass balls:

DSC09801

After a meeting on the National Immigration and Integration, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced significant changes in the country’s migration policy. The government will reduce financial assistance to immigrants, and this reduction will be substantial. Starting March 1 of next year, French immigrant benefits will be reduced by 83 percent. The amount of compensation to immigrants who voluntarily want to return home will be also reduced. If earlier the government paid 300 euros for every adult and 100 euros for every minor, in March of 2013 these amounts will be reduced to 50 and 30 euros, respectively.

DSC09798

One of the main provisions of the new immigration rules in France is the reduction of unemployment benefits. New rules will directly affect many of the immigrants who do not want to be of real assistance to the country and whose main goal is the existence at the expense of French taxpayers. 

Thursday – hot, sunny and very humid despite the weather forecast.

It’s Wendy’s treat today with a visit to Sodom and Gomarrah, the sacred and hallowed 21st DSC09779 entury cathedral of the ultimate in blatant consumerism, the Mall of America. Yes, this is the biggest in America. An indoor Disney. No litter, no chewing gum, clean, no Mosquitos, spacious, sunny yet no sunburn and no scrots. Even has a full sized fun fare inside. Reluctantly I have to say its very impressive. Even free live music, well I suppose “the youngsters” may call it music but after my rant about Opera Under the Stars being too quiet it seems I due retribution with deafening noise. I move closer to the stage but have to dash back as the noise is like one of those non-lethal weapons they use.

DSC09808

Thankfully the Mall has an apple store, somewhere to while away the hours while Wendy browses baby clothes – baby fever is reaching a new crescendo. The cheeky devils at the evil empire have cleverly positioned a Microsoft store opposite the apple store, or perhaps it’s the other way round, in which case it’s ok.

Drive back is something of a nightmare as my SatNav batch decides to take us on a route through Downtown in the rush hour. At least it makes me realise that we’re not really city folk.

After dinner we stroll across to the Guthrie DSC09834 theatre for another cultural overdose. This time it’s a play, “Clynbourne Park”. Really good both amusing and thought provoking. As usual in America its about black / white integration. What is it with the American psyche? Every play we’ve been to is about “the Blacks” – at least they can use that word rather than some new euphemism. It’s like some National guilt trip. Perhaps it’s a guilt they all feel for the appalling slave trade. Just like our German friends who showed us photos of the concentrations camps and described it poignantly, in broken English, as “Our bad past”.

DSC09800

They seem to have got over the guilt of the Native American Indians ok, suitably assuage with crap land for reservations and casinos. Is it time to get over the slave trade? Surely a black president is a major step or is that causing this to bubble to the surface?

Stroll back in the dark across the bridge. It’s still roasting and humid, and the Mossies are out in force.

More lanky speak:

“am brassic at mo” – no money at the moment

“she’s off er rocker” – she is mad as box of frogs

“somers brew in” (somethings brewing) – trouble is coming

“It’s gone to pot” – it’s gone wrong

DSC09789

“as bright as a button” – clever

“lordin it about” – showing off

I came across this piece, written by a young Muslim turned atheist who lives in Iran:

You, my dear western reader, have no idea how overbearing and suffocating religion is here. You simply don’t. You cannot begin to imagine it even if I commissioned you to write a post-apocalyptical novel. You don’t know what it means to have something taught to you everyday at school and university. You don’t know what it means when the entire media advertises a religion 24/7. You don’t know what it means to have religion everywhere, to have it define every aspect of life from entertainment to profession to politics. And to have absolutely zero access to a dissenting voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20130617 – Pilgrimage to Step Over and Wade the Mississippi Finally Over

Monday – warm with sun and clouds.

DSC02326

Up at the crack o sparrows ready for a long drive up to Lake Itasca – the source of the Mighty Mississippi.

By the time we get up there it very cloudy so we decide to drive onto our hotel in Bemidji, explore that and do Itasca tomorrow.

Quality Inn Hotel is a disaster. Typical Wifi doesn’t work. After wasting 20 minutes trying and wearing out 3 pairs of shoes traipsing backwards and forwards to reception. I vote with my feet.

DSC02336

Can you imagine if we had this performance when we wanted to turn a light on! We really are getting fed up with Choice hotels and there lack of attention to detail and poor quality control. Drive down to the Hampton Inn to try them out, a tad more expensive but wifi works and hotel is lovely, right on the lake, great rooms and great breakfast. So it looks like Hilton Honors chain may be the new chain to go with. Hampton Inn – a better way to fritter your kids inheritance.

Have a walk around downtown Bemidji. Pleasant little town but not really much there. Lake front very nice and they do have some DSC02388lovely sculptures around the place.

And to remind me of good old Lancashire todays saying are:

“Tha’s no oyl in thi’ lamp” (There’s no oil in the lamp) – he’s a fool.

“Thick enough t’chowk a donkey”  (Thick enough to choke a donkey) -A reference to a wad of notes in a rich mans wallet.

“Yer weren’t made at Pilks” – A St Helens term for “You are obstructing my view” (Pilks – Pilkingtons Glass Works)

“Tha meks a betta doower than a winda” (You make a better door than a window) – You are obstructing my view (usually the TV).

DSC02353

“Bet tha cud eyt an appul thro a beard wire fence” (Bet you could eat an apple through a barb wire fence) – My you have got big teeth

Tuesday – very hot and sunny.

Great breakfast. Then it’s off to Lake Itasca and the Headwaters of the Mississippi.

It’s very popular here they get 500,000 visitors a year. 

We’re both quite excited as we complete our pilgrimage. I get to step across the Mississippi on the stepping stones as the might river trickles out of Lake Itasca and for good measure also wade across. Wendy wimps out on the stepping stones – they are slippy – but instead, girds her loins, and wades across. And the 3rd alternative is to cross on a log. We made it. Quite a trip.

DSC02362

Wendy goes into panic mode when some tells her to check for Leaches – it’s the girl guide in her coming out.

Given the religious zealots in this country I’m amazed there was no millionaire preacher man offering salvation with a total emersion baptism, for a goodly fee of course.

Just think a drop of rain that fell in this lake on the day we arrived in New Orleans still hasn’t travelled all the way down the Mississippi to reach New Orleans yet – it takes 90 days! The Mississippi is the 4th longest rive in the World. How can the Americans cope with it  not being DSC02383 the longest. I’m surprised they haven’t had the Army Corp of Engineers extend it by 400 miles to make it the longest.

Then have a drive around the Lake and discover the State bird on Minnesota – the Mosquito. Yes, we’re todays A La Carte menu for the Mossies. Never seen so many and they have dragon flies the size of small birds – joy. 

Now I know I’m always bleating on about blobbies and the obesity epidemic but today has to take the chocolate cake with cream on. How to steer your car with your stomach. This woman was so fat her stomach was oozing all over her steering wheel. Amazing how she managed to get in her seat. Will she ever get out? A truly terrifying site – enough to put you off food for life.

DSC02392

Then it’s the long drive back – 4 hours. Call in at Park Rapids for lunch – the best Corn Beef Rueben’s ever.

Has anyone noticed how a trip to the toilets these day results in deafness for a week as these new jet like hot air machines permeate the eardrums and attempt to shred them – nosier than a scrottie Hells angel on a Harley. While there doing that they spray water droplets around the place like pellets out of an air gun, best thing is to hide in a toilet to avoid DSC02396a soaking!

By the time we get back to MPLS it seems we’ve got revenge on the Mossie’s, the front of the car looks like a bloodbath with the splattered little blighters.

From our balcony is a great place for people watching. You get all sorts form the poor old dear struggling along with two walking sticks as she takes her cute little dog for a walk; to fit lithe young females in tight everything, just bouncing along as they jog; Mothers jogging along pushing their brood before them in state of the art 3 wheel tanks; to lazy lumps sauntering along; the best prize has to go to the 50 year old geezer in shorts, teeshirt, DSC02356 rainers, reading glasses strapped around his head and  walking along at a sprightly pace reading a hard back book, complete with a pen in his hand to annotate it – must be enthralling if he can’t bear to put it down.

More from Lancashire:

“Thaz a face like a line a wet weshin” (You’ve a face like a wet washing line) – Stop sulking

“Standin theer leyke cheese at fourpence” (Standing there like cheese at fourpence) – Hanging around – Having nothing better to do.

“‘Es spat is dummy out” (He’s thrown his dummy out) – He is angry (childish like tantrum).

“Thes getten a face leyk a bulldog chompin a wassap” (You’re getting a face like a bulldog DSC02405chomping on a wasp) – God you’re ugly or you’re sulking

“Thes geete a face leyke a bulldog likkin piss off a nettle” (You’ve got a face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle) – God you’re ugly or you’re sulking

Perhaps there is a god after all:

Even Religious Extremists Can be Done for Blasphemy in Egypt…

An extremist Muslim cleric has received an 11-year suspended sentence for tearing up and burning a Bible.

DSC02412

A Cairo court sentenced Ahmed Abdullah and his son who was given a suspended sentence of eight years over the same incident, the Middle East News Agency reported. The two were ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($700).

Abdullah ripped up a Bible and burned it during a Sept. 11 rally by extremists in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, protesting an anti-Islam film produced in the United States.

It was a rare prosecution over attacks on faiths other than Islam. Over the past two years, attacks by extremist Muslims against followers of other religions, mostly Christians, have been on the increase.

 Hang on a second, no stoning, prison sentence or flogging! Seems a tad biased.

20130615 – Cultural Overload – Opera Under the Stars, pardon.

Saturday – warm, very humid and cloudy with thunderstorms.

DSC09755

Lazy morning as usual. Then after lunch we take a stroll around the Stone Arch Bridge festival. It’s all going on right beneath our balcony so very handy. Mainly stalls selling stuff that no one really needs and food stalls selling calories and cholesterol.

A couple of groups playing.

We’re fortunate to get back for afternoon tea just before the heavens open up.

After an early dinner we set off to the 19:30 freeDSC09757 Opera Under the Stars performance. Being nerdy philistines we’ve never been to the opera before and never really had the inclination either, especially not in a monkey suite or any suite for that matter. So this is an ideal, free opportunity. Fortunately the suns out and all is well with the World once again.

Set off early in the vain hope that we’ll get a seat, fat chance of that. Traffic and parking is an absolute nightmare. Finally find somewhere to park and are lucky enough to get a seat on a picnic table a goodly distance from the stage – see picture. Sadly the sound system is no better than an iPhone at 200 yards. After 10 minutes my eardrums are aching with the strain. Never mind DSC09761 we walk down to the stage area and even in the “proper seats” – mainly taken up by Germans and their beach towels – the sound of people munching popcorn is drowning out the opera.

The whole area is packed to the gunnels. Some families have tables, not just small ones either, set up with wine, drinks, food and candles. People have bought all sort of chairs and food. From cheese and biscuits; barbecues smoking everyone to death; eating tuna straight out of a tin; fresh fruit and veg – too healthy for me. Every body seems to be having a good time even though 70% of them can hardly ear a thing. Some people are even reading books. The endearing memory of the evening has to be of a 12 year old lad lay on a groundsheet, with his DSC02285 family, looking away from the stage, with his head in his hands, bored out of his tree and with a face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.

Wot no National anthem at the outset, or did we not hear it? Unusual! What’s happened to the proud Nation? It always seems such a good idea to play it at the beginning, stops the scrots dashing out at the end of a performance like they do in England.`

After 20 minutes, us philistines, pack up and go home. From what little I heard, it confirms my life long prejudice that its not for me. Although I have to say there are some popular bits of opera I have heard and enjoyed. I don’t think I could cope with 90 minutes or more of this one.

DSC02287

But it’s all indicative of the lifestyle here. And yes I appreciate it’s free but if you’re going to do a thing you should at least do it right. Choose a venue with plenty of seating and a sound system.

Now for something different. A few great old Lancashire sayings – translation in brackets:

“Pots for rags” – it’s mad / crazy

“Ah cud eyt a buttered frog”  (I could eat a buttered frog) – I’m hungry

“Bread etten is soon forgotten” (Bread eaten is soon forgotten) – Said about an ungrateful person

“Ees fair bowlegged wi brass” (He’s fair bowlegged with brass) – He’s very rich

DSC02312

“Faitin dogs come limpin whom” (Fighting dogs come limping home) – Don’t quarrel

“It’s a luvly shade o’ black o’er t’mother-in-laws” (it’s a lovely shade of black over the Mother-in-laws) – It’s about to rain

I don’t believe it! What has our country come to:

Contractor loses out on his ‘dream’ £1,000-a-week IT role after unwittingly saying he would treat his Muslim recruiter to a bacon sandwich

Clive Hunt, 58, says he was offered an eight-month NHS contract after attending an interview set up by recruitment firm Reed. The recruiter offered to come over and have breakfast when Mr Hunt started.

But he says he lost out on the job after he told her he would ‘get the bacon sarnies in’.

DSC02321

Clive Hunt, 58, says he was offered the IT job by recruitment firm Reed before a senior manager phoned him to say his offer of a bacon sandwich to a recruiter was racist

Mr Hunt, from Heywood, Greater Manchester, said he wasn’t aware he had offended Sharika Sacranie, 29, during a meeting at the firm’s city centre office until he received a phone call from a senior manager. 

You might know it’s in the Daily Mail, always gets my hackles up.

Sunday – clear blue sky, hot and sunny.

Wander up to the supermarket and liquor store in the morning. Silly me the liquor stores closed. Looks like the 18th’s been re-enacted, perhaps by Monday the 21st will come into play again. It’s Sunday and the Christian fundamentalists busy bodies have imposed their blue laws on every one. How can such a lovely, civilised, trendy, DSC02302 liberal city tolerate such an anathema in the 21st Century. Surely it’s a violation of the 1st Amendment. Never mind when the Muslims get a grip of this country it’ll be back to a permanent 18th.

After lunch we take a stroll out of our front door into the festival. Turns out to an expensive step as Wendy finally gets a new ring she’s been mithering for. Stop and listen to a few bands, see some awesome old cars and pottery. Then it’s back home for tiffin.

We’re certainly not city people but I think this place is amazing, bikes, parks, barbecues, lakes, lovely city, not too much traffic. All in all seems a great life style. 

DSC02317

More Lancashire sayings:

“Mi belly thinks mi throats bin cut” (My belly thinks my throats been cut) – I’m very hungry

“Once every Preston Guild” – Not very often” (Preston Guild occurs every 20 years)

“Pigs wain’t follow an empty bucket” – “People will not work for nothing”

” Put Th’wood in’th’ole” (Put the wood in the hole) – Close the door

“Stondin theer like one a’ Burtons dummies” (Standing there like one of Burtons dummies) – description of an idle person

“Tha’s bin aytin vinnigger offa knife” (You’ve been eating vinegar off a knife) – a response to a sharp phrase or scolding remark

Homeland Insecurity:

DSC02307

The White House assures that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is to stop terrorists, and yet it won’t snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.

That’s right, the government’s sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.
Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice
Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.

DSC02319

Before mosques were excluded from the otherwise wide domestic spy net the administration has cast, the FBI launched dozens of successful sting operations against homegrown jihadists — inside mosques — and disrupted dozens of plots against the homeland.

The FBI never canvassed Boston mosques until four days after the April 15 attacks, and it did not check out the radical Boston mosque where the Muslim bombers worshipped.
The bureau didn’t even contact mosque leaders for help in identifying their images after those images were captured on closed-circuit TV cameras and cellphones.
One of the Muslim bombers made extremist outbursts during worship, yet because the mosque wasn’t monitored, red flags didn’t go off inside the FBI about his increasing radicalization before the attacks.

Sadly I it’s the same in England, the Dhimi PC brigades and loony progressives just don’t want to offend. Bugger common sense.

 

20130613 – Cycling Along An Urban Motorway.

Thursday – hot 79C and sunny.

DSC02204

Up early to return the Hertzmobile. 35 minutes in the office getting my two free day vouchers accepted. Bloody marvellous they send me these vouchers as a reward. Delighted by them. Then they screw it up by needing 3 of them and 2 phone calls to try and resolve it. Loose the will to live, leave it with them. Computer says no! Why don’t they empower their employees?

Catch the tram into the city from the airport. Clean, fast and efficient.

DSC02207

Quest to find the visitors centre. Another city, another well hidden visitors centre. 3 web sites / apps and it takes me 30 minutes to find an address. Obscure office on the 13th floor off 2nd street. Not a sign on their maps, no you can’t call them maps because they have no scale, no compass, no key to all the symbols – obviously drawn by a 4 year old and checked by a blind man. Not a sign on their notice boards around town, most of which don’t even tell you DSC02198 You are here”. I ask if they really want visitors but of course, “it’s a problem on our radar”. Bear in mind this is the main office and they have a stand with about 20 brochures on, 3 of which are on health and safety, I ask is this all that Minneapolis has to offer, seems a tad sparse. I won’t bother you with the pathetic response. Thank god it’s not DSC02250 my taxes paying for these dilettantes. Memo to self, check signage and maps for Blackburn visitors centre when I get home, perhaps its a World Wide phenomena.

Troop up to the other visitors centre at the other end of town, at least they have more brochures and information. Interesting that both visitors centres are well outside the central area. Stiil the walks done us good.

DSC02249

Have a 4 hour walk around downtown to get a flavour of Minneapolis. Despite the crap visitors centre it’s lovely. Vibrant, clean; lovely buildings; Sky walks between most of the building, not something we’re used to or bother taking advantage of but in winter I imagine they’re a godsend; free bus service up and down the main street; a lot going on; buskers; beggars, one cheeky, but probably honest chappie, even had the traditional DSC02255 ardboard sign, but his said “Need a cold beer”. Sidewalk cafes are teaming. Union Jacks are flying in abundance at one location – good on ya. Brit Pub – we’ll pass on that – also has a Union Jack flying. This is a lovely city even surpasses Portland and thankfully not as busy and noisy as Chicago. Really like it.

After exploring up and down the city we cross the river back to our luxury apartment.

What can I say about our home exchange. It’s a luxury 5th floor apartment, two bedrooms with balcony, upstairs is a large rooftop with chairs and the all-American giant barbie for communal use, both overlooking the city and the Mississippi river in a lovely district. As you can see the apartment is luxuriously DSC02257 ppointed, everything is top quality; lovely wooden floors; matching wooden fittings; sound system throughout; gorgeous bathrooms; superb kitchen; 10Mbps wifi; Smart TV; and the piece de resistance, even has Apple TV and iPod docks. Also comes with a luxury Lexus saloon to drive. Apartment views are fantastic and relaxing. Awesome – not a word I use very often, but learnt it in America. 

Friday – warm with sun and cloud.

Bike ride around Minneapolis today. Ride down the side of the Mississippi to the Midtown Greenway a Bike and Footpath motorway through town, complete with on and off ramps; motorway signs; roadworks; detours; speed limits; gardens down the side; cafes; bike repair stations. Only thing missing is DSC02262cars.

Stop off at Lake Calhoun for lunch. Very relaxing, even break my 1st Law of retirement and have a Pils at lunch – proper one of course. Then it’s a ride around Lake of the Isles to the Kenilworth Regional Trail up to Downtown and back to our apartment n time for afternoon tiffin. a lovely 5 hours on the bikes and all done on proper cycle paths, even better than in France and even better still no French.

Another great day in Minneapolis. Really like this city.

Yet more festivals. Do they schedule them and parades in honour of our visits. Tomorrow is the DSC02195 tart of “The Stone Arch Bridge Festival”, right here on historic Main Street just under our balcony. It’s 2 days of music, art, food and entertainment. Right under our very noses. 

Sadly I have discovered two crappy laws here in Minneapolis:

No wine in the supermarkets, but at least the liquor stores are well stocked and not too greedy.

Tried to buy a beer for lunch at the Tin Fish DSC02271 ut they have to sell you a snack to get around the local licensing laws – pots for rags – buy a $0.50 packet of peanuts. If they had any sense they’d sell a single peanut for $0.01, that’d be one in the eye for common sense. Do politicians not realise that America has a serious obesity problem and encouraging people to eat is not going to solve it?

Here we go again. Looks like the people of the book (Christians) have caught the blasphemy disease:

Christians complain about an Indian song and dance number where actress wears a rosary necklace.

Mumbai christians have whinged at what it termed a blasphemous song and dance number featuring starlet Kavitta Verma, likely to be shown in the forthcoming Bollywood movie Policegiri .

DSC02228

The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), has written to the movie producers and the Censor Board protesting the scantily-clad Kavitta allegedly performing the item number wearing a rosary with its cross positioned on her belly. The perennial whinger, CSF general secretary Joseph Dias, told IANS:

The community is concerned. The rosary which she is shown wearing around her neck has its cross positioned on her belly,

Terming this as totally unacceptable, Dias DSC02223 xplained that Christians respect the rosary which they use to intercede with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and reflect in prayer. He said that the producer of the movie, TP Aggarwal, had assured them that the objectionable scenes would not be shown in the movie, due for release July 5.

However, Dias said that in case the producer still goes ahead and depicts the scene, the CSF would initiate criminal proceedings against the makers of the movie.

Need some de-sensitising training. What is it with religions. Certainly brings out the freaks. 

20130610 – Who Say Des Moines is Boring? Iowa maybe!

Monday – Grey and warm.

DSC02101

Pick up Hertzmobile as we leave Chicago. Drive over to Iowa to explore Des Moines on our way up to Minneapolis.

Iowa seems a lot like Idaho boring straight roads and nothing but farms and fields.

Call off at Amana village a village founded by an 18th century German religious sect who fled Germany to escape persecution. Village is a bit like the Amish.

Typical touristy village with lots of shops selling stuff that no one in their right mind needs nor wants.

DSC02109

Why is it that most of the staff can’t even crack a smile. They’re sat there all day, must be bored out of their tree, yet when a visitor comes in you’re lucky if they can bother speaking. Don’t expect a smile or a welcome. One exception was the visitors centre, she did smile and welcome us.

And as for that dam bakery and coffee shop we went in. Well when they said they’d have to put some coffee on, I nearly cracked up, it should have been the acid test to say go elsewhere. But no we persevered. Wendy asked for a tea. Eccentric I know. No earl grey. Then she had DSC02117 he brazen audacity to ask for milk in her tea – not bloody half and half as these philistines offered. She was told she could buy a bottle of milk out the fridge. Unbelievable, it’s a wonder we didn’t have to go out back and pay to milk a cow. Unfortunately I wasn’t with her or I’d have been voting with my feet. Obviously this surly serving wench had studied at the Neanderthal school of charm. She’d be brilliant in a John Cleese training video on how not to serve customers.

Exciting day as Apple are due to make product announcements at the WWDC2013. What new goodies will they have in store for us? Overall a bit of a damp squid product wise. No new DSC02164IPhone; no mention of the mythical Apple TV; no mention of the mysterious Apple watch.

Laws in Minnesota:

Oral sex is prohibited.

All bathtubs must have feet.

Airplanes may not be landed in city parks.

Residents of even numbered addresses may not water their plants on odd-numbered days excluding the thirty first day where it applies.

It shall be the duty of any policeman or any other officer to enforce the provisions of this Section, and if any cat is found running at large, or which is found in any street, alley or public place, it shall be the duty of any policeman or other DSC02127officer of the city to kill such cat.

Here we go, here we go, here we go: 

Pakistan’s new Information and Technology minister has warned that Google could be blocked in the country if the company fails to remove supposedly blasphemous and objectionable material from its video-sharing website YouTube.

It all depends on our negotiation clout. If they persist with their stance, we can block Google in Pakistan as a last resort as there are many alternative search engines available on the Web.

DSC02141

She said she will request Google to remove objectionable material from YouTube or at least ensure that access to it is blocked in Pakistan.

Pakistani religious groups responded violently to the film Innocence of Muslims, leading to YouTube being blocked from September 17 last year. The ban was lifted for a few hours in December before being reinstated following protests from religious groups.

In case anyone missed the Innocence of Muslims first time around here it is. 

Tuesday – very hot 87C, sunny and very humid.

Off downtown to explore Des Moines.

DSC02145

Apart from the fact that, like most American cities the visitors centre is very well hidden, so therefore a complete waste of tax payers money. We got the pathetic answers that the building wouldn’t let them put signs up. What sort of numpty rents office space without pre-agreeing signage – it’s a visitors centre for gods sake. And surely the city could put some road signs up.

A shame because, despite being told “there’s nothing there why are you bothering going”, we thought it was a lovely city. Clean; spacious;modern; plenty of free attractions; free trolley; not too busy or clogged up with traffic; lovely flower arrangements though out the city; lovely parks.

Offered a free, health food, milk shake. They didn’t have a DSC02118 unk food version so I gave it a try. OK for free, but would rather have a junk food version.

Not really a fanatic for historic buildings but gave the Capitol building a visit. Had a 90 minute free tour of an amazing building all the way up to the whispering gallery, some awesome craftsmanship – don’t make them like this anymore. Very informative and interesting. And like a lot of things in Des Moines it was free. Also visited the History Museum. Again not DSC02185 really our bag but it was free and well worth the money! Called in at Papajohns sculpture Park. Some lovely sculptures in a nice setting.

A great 6 hour city hike. On foot really is the best way to see a city.

Overall a good day out and glad we went out of our way to visit.

Interesting if you compare Des Moines to Blackburn not really a lot there but they do make the most of what they’ve got and so clean, flowers and pleasant. Mind you there really isn’t much around Des Moines whereas Blackburn has so much to offer within an hours drive. You’re probably thinking this isn’t really me saying something nice about Blackburn?

It’s quite a sobering sight when you visit a history museum and spot something you worked with when you first started work. Anybody remember these noisy beasts – the machines and the women that operated them? Yes it’s an IBM punch card machine. The punch room was the nightmare of my life a room full of women, hammering away on these machines and with their tongues. It was constant back biting, bitchiness and cat fights; they’d whine away from morning till night; nothing was ever right for them; women at their worst. It was even worse than the typing and word-processing pool. The only way to deal with them was to employ a real super bitch to supervise them. Best thing that ever happened was them being replaced as technology moved on. Happy days!  

DSC02169

Wednesday – warm but some rain on the afternoon.

A 3 hour dive up to our Home Exchange in Minneapolis.

Arrived in Minneapolis. Loving it already. So civilised hofbrau in the liquor stores; wurst and bierhaus around the corner; great area. Luxury apartment; awesome views from balcony: apple enabled; 10mbps wifi; Lexus to drive; and even bikes to ride.

The apartment is stunning. Find out more in tomorrows exciting episode…..

 

20130607 – How To See Your DNA; Hot Dogs; More Blues Festival; Literary Festival, Wot No Kindles

Friday – warm and sunny.

DSC02057

Up and off down to the Science Museum, on the bus no less. As you would expect it has to have a superlative – biggest in the Western Hemisphere.

Yes it is big. 4 floors and it is the best we’ve ever been to. So many things to see and do. There a full size Pullman train and carriages; steam locomotive; German Uboat; Coal Mine. Lots of demonstrations also. The best was how to isolate / see your DNA, using just things you’d have in the kitchen. We only had 4 hours DSC02059there. Should have got there first thing as you need at least a day. Only down side was that quite a few of the bigger exhibits such as UBoat Tour; Coal Mine; Inside Animals were chargeable extras – typical greed.

Then on the way home we call in at “Standing Room Only” to pick up my dinner. Yes’ it’s another Chicago culinary speciality, hot dog complete with all the trimmings and mustard – apparently never with ketchup. OK but nothing DSC02063spectacular.

Driving in America – the good and the mad:

Good – nearly all cars are automatic, apart from the one I’m currently loaning. Yes I know most Brits think it’s unmanly and sissy to drive an automatic, but get over it why have the bother? We don’t need to double de clutch; advance and retard the spark; control manual chokes. Oh yes I forgot a manual gives you control – balderdash. Roll on the day when a computer does the job for us and we just punch in the co-ordinates.

Good – right turn on red at traffic lights. Makes sense. A tad un-nerving and you have to remember to do it otherwise you get horn blasted. 

Bad – signs saying you can’t turn on red. They can be easy to miss. Especially if they’re behind you!

DSC02065

Mad – Chicago seems to delight in putting bus stops at traffic lights. Good for the poor lazy mites, stops them having to use their legs. But in such a busy city creates even more traffic chaos.

Bad – stop signs. I never know how many ways they are. Then you have to remember who came 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. But the mad ones are having stop signs on the main road for a road joining from the side – priorite adroit.

Good – middle duelling with death lanes to enable left turns.

DSC02066

Good – pull out or slow down when passing vehicle on the hard shoulder. Although I wonder how many more accidents are created by pulling out.

Good – undertaking, no not the funeral kind. Again a bit un-nerving but on a 6 lane highway probably makes sense.

More stupidity in Iowa:

It is illegal to read persons palms in the city limits.

Any hotel in the city limits must have a water bucket and a hitching post in front of the building.

The fire department is required to practice fire fighting for fifteen minutes before attending a fire.

DSC02070

The “Ice Cream Man” and his truck are banned.

A poll conducted by the research bureau of Maurice de Hond (the Dutch equivalent of Gallup), commissioned by the PVV, among a representative sample of over 1,900 people in Holland reveals that:

More than three quarters of the Dutch (77 percent) believe that Islam is no enrichment for our country. More than two-thirds – 68 percent – say that there is enough Islam in the Netherlands. It is striking that a majority of voters from all political parties (from PVV to VVD, CDA, D66, PvdA, SP and 50plus) share this view.

DSC02085

A majority of 55 percent favours stopping immigration from Islamic countries

63 percent say: no new mosques.

72 percent favor a constitutional ban on Sharia law in the Netherlands.

64 percent say that the arrival of immigrants from Islamic countries has not been beneficial to the Netherlands.

Nearly three-quarters – 73 percent – of all Dutch see a relationship between Islam and the recent terror acts in Boston, London and Paris.

Perhaps Gallup should conduct a similar poll in the UK. Remember we’re one of the World most DSC02073 acially tolerant countries. For a long time is has been claimed that anti-Islamic opinions are extremist. It is clear now that a majority of Dutch people supports them!

Saturday – warm and sunny.

Wendy wants to buy a Patchwork quilt for Jasper and after weeks of searching and phone calls has found a yuppie shop in North Chicago that sells them. So it’s a ride on the Brown line around the loop, on a train that looks like a childs toy train, set on a noisy overhead track – amazed it doesn’t come off as it snakes around corners with screaming wheels. Finally find the shop and after opening up every quilt in the shop, deliberating for what seemed like hours she finally settles on one. Thank Zeus for that, at last!

IMG 1395

Then it’s squealing train back to Adams to go to the Blues Festival and have our lavish picnic on the lawn sat on our stylish bin liners. The place is buzzing and there’s about 4 different bands on various temporary stages. People have bought their chairs, giant coolers, tables and of course plenty of booze. All for free and everyone having a great time. Good having so many bands on but it seems a shame that the two main stages with plenty of comfortable seating are not in use for any of them, would have been so much nicer to sit in comfort.

Then we head back and call in at the Literary Festival that’s on for two days in our neighbourhood. Again another free Festival. Food for sale; drinks and a live group. As you would IMG 1394 xpect mainly publishers, book shops and 2nd hand book sellers – not a Kindle or Nook to be seen anywhere apart from a lone Sprint stall selling smart phones and Samsung tablets. Came across a poetry stall. Completely lost on this philistine. I still struggle with why they teach it in schools.

We can tell its Saturday in Chicago again the Bible belt is here in town again with their posters condemning us to hell fire and damnation; on street conversions for those who want to repent their sins and avoid hell fires. Anyone for Pascal’s Wager? Surprising how many of these bible bashers are youngsters and not your average middle aged widow. Good luck to them, but live and let live. Leave us sinners to drink and enjoy life as we see fit, without having their anti-deluvial ways forced on the rest of us. God bless the 1st. 

IMG 1397

I wonder how long paper books, booksellers and publishers will last with the digital onslaught. As long as those greedy, tax evading, lying, rip off merchants at Amazon charge such ridiculous prices for Kindle books i’m sure they’ll be safe for a while. Eventually and somewhat sadly they’ll go the way of the DoDo and the Luddites. How can Amazon seriously expect anyone with half a brain to believe that the cost of printing, paper, distribution of books is negligible compared to an electronic book. It’s just a brazen insult to their customers intelligence. The sooner their proprietary solutions and monopolies are dismantled the better. Then we’ll start to really reap the benefits of eBooks.

End the day with a real treat, no it’s not another Chicago culinary delight, it’s even better, a bottle IMG 1398 f Hofbrau – a proper beer not like the coloured water they serve around here. Bodacious, awesome, rad, epic and wicked – words fail me. Why can’t I buy this in England?

A few more eccentricities in Iowa:

Horses are forbidden to eat fire hydrants.

No person may pick a flower from a city park.

All softball diamond lights must be turned off by 10:30 PM.

One must obtain written permission from the City Council before throwing bricks into a highway.

IMG 1402

Within the city limits, a man may not wink at any woman he does not know.

 

Whenever one asks Muslims to prove their religion and prophet to be true, all of them answer in a similar and very absurd and illogical way. They explain:

 

 Muslim: Muhammad is a true prophet because the Quran says so.

 

Inquirer: What is the evidence that the Quran is true and divine?

 

Muslim: The Quran is true because Allah says so.

 

Inquirer: How do you to be certain that Allah is the true God and the Quran is His divine words?

 

Muslim: Allah is the true God because Muhammad said so.

IMG 1400

 

Inquirer: And how do you know what Muhammad was true?

 

Muslim: Muhammad is true because the Quran says so.

 

This is called circular logic, proving something from its own source. It is like saying: I am the God, and the evidence for this is that I am saying so.

Sunday – warm and sunny.

A lazy last day. Wendy has a clean up and packs.

Then in the afternoon we have a wander down to the Literary Festival. Full of the arty farty brigade. Book and poetry readings, totally lost on this philistine.

IMG 1410

Wendy goes to the knitting shop to get some help on her knitting in the round.

Then its afternoon tea and a Kindle on the balcony. 9 floors up, pleasant but oh so noisy from the air conditioners and of course the never ending emergency vehicles. Just one scrot on a Harley pales into insignificance in the cacophony all around us. Still no excuse they should be prosecuted.

We’ve really enjoyed our time in Chicago. Living in Belthorn you’re not big city people, but have to say Chicago was very pleasant. Lots of free cultural events to say nothing of the culinary delights. Really enjoyed it but ready to move on. Let’s hope Minneapolis is a tad quieter.

IMG 1407

Let’s get ready for Minneapolis laws:

The land of 10,000 lakes declares mosquitos a public nuisance.

It is illegal to stand around any building without a good reason to be there.

A person may not cross state lines with a duck atop his head.

It is illegal to sleep naked.

All men driving motorcycles must wear shirts.

Citizens may not enter Wisconsin with a chicken on their head.

Now we’re all literally up shit creak when flying:

Islam bomb in rectum

Suicide bomber (in case you’re wondering which religion – the religion of peace of course) had hidden the bomb inside his rectum.

Afterward, the counterterrorism unit of Europol, Europe’s police agency, warned that airlines might have to tighten their screening procedures because a rectal bomb could escape detection by normal X-ray scanning machines.

“The sensitivity and power of these machines would need to be increased or reviewed, in order to overcome shielding of the device by the human body,” Europol’s report said.

941696 10152901535875249 303362107 n

So in future when you go trough airport security and you feel your innards frying as you pass through the higher powered scanners, or you hear the slap of rubber gloves being donned and are asked to bend over, you’ll know why. Perhaps it might not be too bad if they applied some common sense and PROFILED! Now that might make the so called moderate Muslims a tad more vocal against the fundamentalists.

20130605 – Blues Festival, Italian Beef Sandwich And Crackpot Modern Art

Wednesday – warm, sun and cloud.

IMG 1360

Take a metro to Oak Street and then walk to Oak Street Beach. Have a pleasant 3 hour stroll down the Lake Shore path to the Art Museum. Use a membership card to get free access. It’s massive with hundreds, nay thousands of exhibits. After a hour and a half we’ve just about covered the ground floor and still not sen a single painting.

Can’t help noticing the number of armed security DSC02036guards. What a disturbing thought. It’s bad enough having armed police – especially when you consider that some police force reject candidates who score too high on an IQ test. But arming minimum wage security guards seems like a recipe for carnage.

Then it’s back to the Loft for coffee followed by another exciting and expensive trip to Wholefooods (think Marks and Spencers on steroids).

We’re off to Iowa on Monday so we’d better brush up on their laws:

DSC02041

One-armed piano players must perform for free.

Kisses may last for no more than five minutes.

It is a violation of the law to sell or distribute drugs or narcotics without having first obtained the appropriate Iowa drug tax stamp.

A man with a moustache may never kiss a woman in public.

A board was created to regulate among other things, hearing aids.

Full text of a very interesting article on Political Islam by a Muslim. Summed up as:

Multiculturalism has become a cover for Islamist penetration of the West. The foe is formidable and has already taken hold in our backyards. Political Islam is on the rise in the DSC09719U.K. and Europe, where some cities have installed “Sharia Zones.” There are entire areas of Norway where non-Muslims are not safe.

If there is one country that truly “gets it,” it is Israel. They understand the powerful force of Political Islam, and have vast experience in determining the enemy. They are a powerful ally in understanding this volatile situation.

DSC09722

The weeding out of Islamism and the Islamist threat lodged inside the West is the essential prerequisite, or the first step, in defeating global Jihadi warfare of Islamists and in helping the Muslim world reconcile itself with the modern values of science, democracy and human rights.

To do this, we need to follow the lead of our Israeli allies and look with clear eyes into the nature of Political Islam and have a frank conversation without fear of political correctness.

Thursday – grey and miserable. Rain in the morning but picks up after lunch.

Lazy morning. Then mid afternoon it’s stopped raining so we venture out to finish off our tour of the Art Museum – you can tell its free. This time we do the paintings floor.

DSC09740

Awesome Van Gough’s, Monet’s, Pissario’s etc. Then we venture into the Modern Art section. What can we say. Well plenty really. I know arts meant to invoke a response and in this case the response is one of incredulity and hilarity. We keep on cracking up laughing. Better still when you hear some of the arty farty brigade discussing these wastes of space, it’s almost impossible not to crack up laughing.

DSC09733

Let’s describe some of the exhibits, a framed blank white canvas, I had to ask one of the attendants if it was really an exhibit; a 5 ft by 5 ft canvas with a few scribblings in pencil on and some dollops of paint, only cost $5.8 million; a table and chair with a laptop playing a cretinous video; a big canvas painted orange; two rectangle of wood, one orange, one green; the usual really silly paintings, loads of them, with paint splattered all over it; a black canvas with a date printed in white on it, not even a significant date in history; a colourful pile of sweets in a corner, yes you guessed it edible art, you can have one. Wendy triggers off an alarm when she sits on what she thinks is a bench – see pink bench picture – and it turns out it’s an expensive exhibit.

In fairness there are some Modern Art exhibits that are good.

My summary “People are seriously taking the piss here. It’s a joke”.

DSC09735

Wendy sums it up with “Like overpaid footballers they just slap something down and charge a fortune for it because they’re famous”.

I had to check on the way out who paid for these exhibits. Fortunately for the citizens of the USA, Illinois and Chicago in particular you can rest easy. They’re paid for by donations from numbskulls who have more money than sense. A pity they don’t walk out onto the streets, just 200 feet thats all, and use some of that money to reduce the number of beggars on the street. It’s just obscene stupidity, words fail me. $5.8 million for some scrawl.

DSC09739

Catch the Metro up to Portillo’s. This is a pilgrimage to have an Italian Beef Sandwich, dipped of course. I exercise some restraint and resist a “double dip”. I’ve hankered to try one of these for years since I first heard of them – almost a bucket list item. For you culinary education here’s a description of this classic example of American cuisine at it’s peak:

An Italian beef is a sandwich of thin slices of DSC09731seasoned roast beef, dripping with meat juices, on a dense, long Italian-style roll, which originated in Chicago where its history dates back at least to the 1930s. The bread itself is often dipped (or double-dipped) into the juices the meat is cooked in, and the sandwich is typically topped off with Chicago-style giardiniera (called “hot”) or sauteed, green Italian sweet peppers (called “sweet”).

It was awesome. All that’s left now is to try a classic Chicago Hot Dog.

Then to top the day off we go to the Chicago blues festival in the awesome outdoor Millennium park – you have to see the architecture of this place to believe it. Proper seats. Drinks, including alcohol for sale, even a signer for the deaf. I know it may be a tad non PC to ask but if you’re deaf why would you come to a concert?

IMG 1376

All free and there’s 4 days of it if you’re so inclined. My second only rock concert in my lifetime. At least at this one I can’t demand my money back – mind you unlike Bob Dylan these artists have some personality.

More Iowa laws to inspire:

Ministers must obtain a permit to carry their liquor across state lines.

Doctors who treat a person with gonorrhea must report this to the local board of health and include the disease’s “probable origin”.

IMG 1377

All boxes used to pick hops must be exactly 36 inches long.

Tanning bed facilities must warn of the risk of getting a sunburn.

Liquor stores may not place advertisements for beer outside the store.

The “moderate” Muslims of today are about as effective in stemming the tide of savagery as the anti-Nazi “good Germans” were.

IMG 1386

The law on incitement to racial hatred in a nutshell; it’s very easy to understand. Just remember that if you are in London, and you are a known Islamist living on benefits, you cannot be arrested for inciting racial hatred when you say the poor, murdered Woolwich soldier will burn in hell. However, if you are in Wales, and you are a hard-working T-shirt seller, you can be arrested for inciting racial hatred – if you ask people to obey our laws, and stop killing soldiers in Woolwich.