Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Inside Old Faithful Inn

(Click to enlarge)

Jon Gosselin Wants to Postpone the Divorce Immediately Following the Announcement that he's Off the Show. (OH. HELL. EFF'N. NO.)

In an exclusive report by InTouch, Jon Gosselin has admitted that he made choices that negatively impacted his family, and he realizes the consequences of his behavior. This news rides on the heels of the TLC announcement that Jon has essentially been written out of the reality show Jon and Eight Plus Eight. The show will now portray Kate as a single mother raising her famous brood of children without Jon, and is to be named Kate Plus Eight.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Idaho Falls

This is the view just steps from where my work meeting was held. It's a nice metaphor for the whole state, I think: beautiful country; crazy religion (that's a Mormon Temple in the background).

If you're not familiar with the origin of the Mormons, let me just condense it down for you: in 1893, a white salamander told a dude named Joseph Smith where he could find a set of golden plates (or tablets) which were buried in a hill in Manchester, New York. These plates had previously been guarded by an angel named "Moroni". Yes, Moroni. Our friend Mr. Smith then spent the next few years dictating his translation of what was supposedly written on the plates in a language called "reformed Egyptian" to his wife. Smith also channeled the "voice of God" during this time, producing a whole new set of commandments. THEN, Smith returned the plates to Moroni, who was still apparently hanging around on that same hill in New York all this time (five plus years).

All of these writings form the basis for the Book of Mormon. Conveniently for Joseph Smith and all his apostles (yes he had apostles just like somebody else we know and...oh! Several of them saw the tablets before they got dropped back off with Moroni), the Mormon Deity was completely down with these guys having more than one wife. This all changed after they settled Utah, and the US government absolutely refused to admit them as a state unless they cut that shit out. Then, well, they reconsulted God and God was all like, yah, you should totally cut that out. And...presto! Statehood!

I know there are factions of Mormons who still practice polygamy and after questioning people in the city here about it (inquiring minds and all that) I'm told the pluralist Mormons live more in the southwest, like, in Arizona. The Mormons that rule Idaho and Nevada and Utah are just your regular garden variety salamander-believing one-wife, no-caffeine Mormons. Or at least that's what I was told today during my scientific investigation that consisted of me talking to the retired teacher at the antique store. So, obviously, as with all my research, you can totally take that shit to the bank.

Why they call it Idaho Falls: this here very long waterfall that runs through the center of town. You can still see the same Church of of the Latter Day Salamander in the far background. I snapped this from the walking trail portion of the bridge that crosses the falls. [Note to my now traumatized Mother: Yes, I was on a walking trail in broad daylight where the serial killers obviously lurk. Luckily, I've learned to recognize and deter serial killers primarily by singing "At Last" in my worst, most nasally and obnoxious Chicago Girl voice. Not even the sickest of serial killers wants to knock me over the head and drag me off to their windowless panel van after that. Trust me.]

And, really, though beautiful, that's obviously not a natural waterfall. It's a diversion dam built to generate hydroelectric power. The original dam was built in the early 1900's and the dam as it is today was updated in the early 1980's. This dam, along with three others like it, produce 50% of all the electricity required to keep Idaho Falls up and running. Without all this diversion and some fancy irrigating, Idaho Falls would be one dry-assed city, situated as it is, in the high Idaho dessert. Sort of like Las Vegas only not as hot and with fewer casinos. (Also, more Mormons I'm guessing.)

Wisely, Idaho Falls constructed a beautiful walking trail that circles the picturesque dam so out-of-towners like myself can risk life and limb snapping photos and enjoying the beautiful scenery during a stroll from the hotel to the downtown. I'm not going to lie to you, shopping Idaho Falls is not exactly like shopping Jackson Hole. Not by a long shot. But still. No complaints here. It was a lovely, lovely day. Even if it was pretty much all kitch (sp?).

My lunch at the Snake Bite Cafe: a Snake Bite Burger and house salad. If you look closely, you can sorta see the hot sauce leaking out the bottom. Like most of the western food I've eaten, it was perfectly fine. I have not, however, had any delicious food on this trip that would challenge my basic theory that the closer one is to New Orleans, the better food tastes. And that the southern United States produces, on average, the best tasting food in the whole country. This excludes the metropolitan areas which obviously attract top chefs at upscale restaurants who cook disproportionately delicious dishes. I'm talking here about just your regular food and the luck you might have at a highway diner. You're much better off in the south in that situation, in my opinion. And in New Orleans? There is no bad food. At least I've never had any.

So! That's it then. I know you'd love to listen to all my half-baked theories all night but, people, I have to pack! And return to the homeland bright and early tomorrow morning. I have yet to edit my photos from the remainder of Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Jackson Hole. I'd say I'll do that real soon, but you know how that's been going lately. It's a wonder I've posted anything.

See you on the other side.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone (click for larger)

I'm taking a minute to post a few of my favorite shots from yesterday. Flickr is giving me a fit and for some reason selectively uploading only certain of the photographs I tell it to. ARGH! Otherwise, I have very little time between frantically seeing jaw-dropping, amazing sites constantly (and I'm not kidding this place is paradise) and driving from one place to another--Yellowstone is massive, and it takes forever to get from one place to another. Especially when you are stopping to photograph constantly.

Turquoise Pool, Yellowstone

My flight in Friday was a nightmare beginning at 6:30 AM at the Paducah airport when, apparently the plane wouldn't start. The explanation? It "needed some alone time". This from the pilot. I think he thought that might cheer his passengers up, but I assure you, it had quite the opposite effect. We were delayed, herded off and then back on to the plane. The result of all this was that I missed my Memphis connection (I ran into the terminal just in time to see the flight flicker off the screen). I dashed over to the Delta counter where an apologetic Delta agent immediately booked me on a flight to MINNEAPOLIS, handed me a boarding pass, herded me across the the way to the next gate and, in less than 15 minutes from touch-down to take-off, I was on my way to Yellowstone by way of Minnesota. I would board no less than four flights that day (Paducah-Memphis-Minneapolis-Salt Lake City) before I would arrive at my destination city, Idaho Falls, a full ten hours later than expected. It was a lot of text and Facebook whining, I assure you. (Thanks for your support.)

Sapphire Pool, Yellowstone

Only scenery of the caliber that I have experienced here since my arrival could shake me out of the exhausted state in which I began this little adventure. I am constantly moving from one amazing vista to another, camera pressed to my face. I squeezed off nearly 400 shots yesterday, only twenty or so of which I feel are the least bit worthy. Photography is an unforgiving little little bitch of a sport. I'll post a Flickr show if I EVER get a spare minute.
Who could resist a "Snake River Pale Ale" at Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone. Very chewy, actually.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm going on a little trip. And whilst away on this trip I hereby declare I shall be shod in one pair of boots or another each and every day. The photo above should provide a (giant, screaming) clue as to my destination. I will be armed with my camera and the shooting capacity for at least a thousand photos. If I don't obliviously wander off a cliff with the camera affixed to my face, I hope I will find the time to upload a few of the more bearable shots here in the very near future. What? Shut-up. I'm thinking positive about this. I've never been to the pacific Northwest (<----CLUE), but I can assure you I will, as with each and every trip I take, return an insufferable expert on the region including where/what to eat, most picturesque locations, local customs, fun facts, and general history of the area. Just ask me.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Like watching paint dry...

Yes, I continue to be riddled with guilt about my lack of postage. I was talking with a friend the other day and reeling off my litany of excuses for not posting: too busy with work, too busy with school, too busy drinking wine and debating the merits of Ryan's Steakhouse (which, for the record, I think is completely gagifying even if you can top your potato with another potato or make your own heinously large BMI-busting sundae if you're brave enough to grasp the snot-covered ice-cream dispenser handle), too busy eating at Jasmine, too busy being inappropriately touched. On the shoulder. (Hi Sandy. That was for you.)

This friend suggested I post my latest school paper which I declared, in my very, very, most annoying and whiniest voice, was the only damn thing I've written lately. And so I'm taking his advice. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my paper on the Kennedy-Nixon Debate of 1960, an event that happened MANY YEARS (many, many) before my own birth. Which, of course, doesn't stop me from having all kinds of opinions about it.

Nixon-Kennedy Debate
The Nixon-Kennedy debate held September 26, 1960, featured presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon, at that time vice president under Dwight Eisenhower, as the nominee of the Republican Party, and John F. Kennedy, a Senator from Massachusetts, as the nominee of the Democratic Party. The debate, lasting an hour in total, allowed each candidate an opportunity to respond to questions from a panel of media correspondents. By prior arrangement, both candidates agreed the subject of the debate would be limited to domestic affairs and that each would be allowed an 8-minute opening statement. This debate, one of the first of its kind, introduced the visual element of television into the equation. (Woolley)

The opening statements by Kennedy and Nixon are nothing if not remarkably similar in content and issue identification. Both debaters include the economy, the threat of communism, power production, civil rights, education, social security, elder care, and Medicare as major issues. As the debate begins, Kennedy, the candidate to give the first opening statement, identifies these issues and Nixon, speaking second, in many cases, agrees with Kennedy’s assessments and goes so far as to point out the many areas in which the candidate’s views are similar. While this may be true enough, this may mark the first misstep by Nixon in making the republican come across as weaker by agreeing with rather than taking the chance stand in contrast to his opponent. On balance, Nixon makes an excellent case during his eight minutes, specifically, that the Eisenhower administration, of which he is a part, has implemented programs that have boosted the economy and made the Americans of 1960, in general, more prosperous than they had been in the past. (Kennedy-Nixon Debate ¼)

As the debate unfolds, upon watching the video, one cannot mistake the difference in looks and demeanor of the candidates. Both Nixon and Kennedy do, at times, seem tense when watching the video, it is nearly always Nixon who comes across as more tense and even, at times, looks haggard. By minute twenty, the viewer can clearly see beads of sweat standing out on Nixon’s face. Kennedy, in contrast, looks (and is) younger, more confident, relaxed, and never breaks a sweat. Kennedy’s chin is held higher, his manner, arguably, more presidential. Kennedy seldom smiles while Nixon smiles somewhat more frequently and nervously. (Kennedy-Nixon Debate 2/4)

While one cannot help but be struck by the difference in looks and manner when watching the video, the opposite is true upon reading the transcript. Nixon’s question responses are dense with facts and figures. Nixon’s remarks are, on average, longer, more specific, and more complex than Kennedy’s more general responses. (Woolley) This fact, however, is easily lost when viewing the debate on video.

As significant as the Nixon’s sweating that begins at around the twenty minute mark is a question posed to a somewhat already seemingly (visually, at least) shaken Nixon at approximately minute twenty-five. The question, posed by a Mr. Vanocur reads in part, “…Now, in his news conference on August twenty-fourth, President Eisenhower was asked to give one example of a major idea of yours that he adopted. His reply was, and I'm quoting; "If you give me a week I might think of one. I don't remember." Now that was a month ago, sir, and the President hasn't brought it up since, and I'm wondering, sir, if you can clarify which version is correct” (Woolley) The beginning of the question referred to Vice President Nixon’s campaign claim that he is a proven, effective leader. One cannot help but be struck by the somewhat negative tone of this question both in reading the transcript and watching the video delivery of query. On balance, no question of quite this sort is posed to Kennedy. Again, Nixon’s sweating betrays him, although he offers an excellent response, explaining that specific credit is almost never given to cabinet members and team advisers of the President. (Kennedy-Nixon Debate 2/4)

As significant as the “If you give me a week and I might think of one” question is to Nixon, perhaps the most significant exchange for Kennedy occurs afterward when Mr. Novins poses the question that reads, in part,

“…And I'm wondering how you, if you're president in January, would go about paying the bill for all this. Does this mean that you?
MR. KENNEDY: I didn't indicate. I did not advocate reducing the federal debt because I don't believe that you're going to be able to reduce the federal debt very much in nineteen sixty-one, two, or three. I think you have heavy obligations which affect our security, which we're going to have to meet. And therefore I've never suggested we should uh - be able to retire the debt substantially, or even at all in nineteen sixty-one or two.
MR. NOVINS: Senator, I believe in - in one of your speeches
MR. KENNEDY: No, never.
MR. NOVINS: - you suggested that reducing the interest rate would help toward -
MR. KENNEDY: No. No. Not reducing the interest -
MR. NOVINS: - a reduction of the Federal debt.
MR. KENNEDY: - reducing the interest rate…”

While a strict reading of the transcript would indicate that Kennedy reversed himself in the heat of a difficult question, in watching the video, this exchange actually comes off as a victory for Kennedy. Timed as it is, immediately after Nixon’s difficult question, Kennedy, seeing the shoe about to drop, takes the offensive. By calmly and insistently challenging the questioner and refusing to accept that he may have advocated for the reduction of the Federal debt (and the smart money says he did), Kennedy comes off as the calm, in charge victor whereas a smiling, sweaty Nixon reads as defeated, at least in the visual sense.

Incredibly, in the wake of this difficult question for Kennedy, Nixon, who may have pressed his advantage here, again as in the opening, having another chance to draw apart and contrast himself with his opponent essentially actually defends Kennedy saying, “I think what Mr. Novins was referring to was not one of Senator Kennedy's speeches, but the Democratic platform, which did mention cutting the national debt. I think, too, that it should be pointed out that of course it is not possible, particularly under the proposals that Senator Kennedy has advocated, either to cut the national debt or to reduce taxes. As a matter of fact it will be necessary to raise taxes.” While Nixon might get “good sport” points on some level, this marks yet another failure of Nixon to take advantage of a situation handed to him by circumstances, a talent Kennedy seems to possess in spades. Ultimately, Nixon’s defense of his opponent does nothing so much as make an already presidential looking Kennedy look (if possible) more presidential while leaving a smiling, sweaty, too-thin Nixon looking distinctly second best. (Kennedy-Nixon Debate 2/4)

Also significant is the fact that Kennedy, either by luck or design, was given the opportunity to give the first opening statement as well as the last closing statement. If indeed, the beginning and end of a presentation are the most significant and lasting things an audience takes away, Kennedy’s advantage in this opening and closing placement is almost incalculable. By the time Kennedy makes his closing statement, the very last thing television viewers see of the debate, he is calm, noticeably calmer than he was to begin with, and certainly more calm and presidential than the, by this time, visually bested Nixon has been throughout the exchange. Kennedy’s closing statement is concise, persuasive and smacks of victory. (Kennedy-Nixon Debate ¼, 4/4)

The Nixon-Kennedy debate presents a fascinating dichotomy between content and impression, perhaps the first of its kind in US history. A strict read of the transcript would suggest that, while both candidates are well prepared and intelligent, Nixon has the edge having easily more facts and figures at his disposal, as well as more well thought out responses, and a better track record of experience to stand on. In this case, however, the element of television essentially hands Kennedy the victory, allowing him to take advantage of his superior looks, commanding demeanor, and ability to seize the moment. Nixon, in contrast, lacks Kennedy’s talent for thinking on his feet, continually failing to take advantage of the opportunities handed to him by the situation. In the end, Nixon comes across as more tentative, less commanding, and perhaps most surprisingly, almost a fan of the Massachusetts Senator himself. Kennedy, meanwhile, comes across as presidential, self-assured, and superior. Judged on content, Nixon is the victor in this historic debate. Judged on impression, Kennedy scores a run-away victory. The Nixon-Kennedy debate may well mark the first time in US politics that the phrase “perception is reality” comes into its own.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pencils, Potatoes, and LauraK

I know...I KNOW! I'm a blog slacker. Totally.

Rest assured I haven't forgotten this here site and I continue to think of this lack of posting as a temporary condition. Also note that I regularly feel guilty (read: all the time) since I consider myself completely responsible for wasting 1.25 minutes of your day on at least a semi-regular basis.

I'm popping in today to award a long overdue Bizzyville super-snap to LauraK who, as if being Paducah PR maven, fashionista, Chamber events promoter/orchestrater, graphic designer, founding Get Together Gals partner, and now a movie star in her spare time isn't enough, actually managed to find the time to design the super-cool graphic you see above. I. Love. It.

Otherwise, work and school continue to combine to kick my ass. And, well, a girl's gotta have a social life, right? I keep having to take history classes and constantly find myself, like it or not, fighting the War of 1812. Let's just say I look forward to the day that that particular war can, once again, exist in the time-space continuum without me.

A far more interesting factoid in that vein: my history professor tells me that there were no potatoes in the eastern hemisphere before Columbus discovered (or invaded depending on your vantage point) America.

Think about it.

Russians? Potatoes? Vodka? Didn't happen until AFTER Columbus. Ireland? Potatoes? Not happening until Columbus.

I don't know about you, but this one shook me. If I'm honest, I'd have to say my preconceived notion would be that a recently evolved cavemen one day randomly wandered out of his cave and plucked a potato from the Siberian earth and let it ferment. Then maybe his mate having snatched a few moments from her "Quest for Fire" duties offered up a handful of fish roe, ba-da-bing...Absolut, caviar and Russia. Sort of all in that order. And then, inspired by the vodka, they all broke into that Russian dance, you know, where they cross their arms over their chests and squat down and stand up and kick their legs out? Yah. Russia! Hey!


And Ireland without potatoes? Don't get me started.

And then there's...Algebra. Wa, wa, waaaaaa.

I got an email from a friend the other day kindly asking me how I was progressing with Algebra. My response: I bought a pencil. Yes, friends, I HAVE A PENCIL. So, at any moment, any old moment at all, I could start actually doing Algebra. With my pencil. And stuff. Could start. Doing. Algebra. With my pencil.

Recently, I learned that my Grandma on my Dad's side, otherwise known as Micro-Minnie the Pocket Grandma (she's tiny but mighty and could kick your ass, I assure you) will be celebrating her 90th birthday at a family get-together in southern Illinois. And at this get-together will be several ALGEBRA TEACHERS to whom I am related. Like, in one case, blood related. To a person with mad, serious algebra skillz.

So, maybe I'll bring my pencil and they can pray over me? Something.

Hey. It's a mechanical pencil. I'm not a complete loser.