Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A visit to my son in Portland Oregon for summer vacation

By SJ Otto
I had a fine trip visiting my son Ethan, in Portland Oregon. It is a long plane ride, but much better than trying to drive there. We flew from Wichita to Texas and then to Portland.
My son now lives with his girl friend Ce Ce Williams, and her son Dru, in a modest house that they rent. This was the first time my wife Cam Gentry and I got to meet Ce Ce. We found her a pleasant person and she was a fine hostess. My son seems to like her a lot and we were happy to meet her.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, tree and outdoorEthan in his back yard cooking bar-b-q.

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Our first day in Oregon we went to the Timberline lodge. We ate in the Timberline Bar. The whole building is fascinating and it was built by the WPA in the President FD Roosevelt days. Outside was Mount Hood. I it is about the highest mountain in the state. The outside of this lodge was used to make the movie "The Shining".
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoorHere we are eating lunch at the Timberline Bar. 
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoorCam and Ce Ce. 

That evening we saw Ethan playing with his band Libido Cornucopia. They were playing at the Alberta Street Pub. I drank plenty of their tall boy beers which were on sale for $3. The band plays mostly a form of punk rock, which is my kind of music. It was a small audience, but the band has a large following.
Image may contain: 2 people, people on stage and people playing musical instrumentsEthan on drums. 

The next day we went to the beach. Portland is about an hours ride to the Pacific. 
Ce Ce in the surf.
Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and natureI tried to photograph some gulls. 

On the way we visited Fort Stevens. The Fort was mostly used for defending the Pacific Coast from attacks by Japan, during World War II. It is mostly just empty buildings today, with some cannons and a jeep fixed up for display. Most of the fort is still there although much of it is not open to the public. I read in the museum that a Japanese submarine actually fired at the fort, during the war. They didn't hit anything and the sub commander said he would not have fired at the coast if he new there were all those cannons lined up just waiting to sink him.
Image may contain: sky, house, plant, tree, bridge, outdoor and natureHere Ethan checks out the look out building. 
Image may contain: 2 people, including Cam Gentry, people smiling, people standing and indoorCam and Ethan are checking out some empty buildings.  
Here is Dru, Ethan, Cam and Ce Ce.

On one of the days we were there we all visited my brother Terry, his wife Barb, and his son Jeff. Terry lives in Sandy, Oregon, which is about an hours drive from Portland. Terry writes a column for The Columbian. He also works for the Forest Service-Zigzag Ranger District in Zigzag, Oregon.
Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, plant, house and outdoorBarb is seen here talking to Ce Ce. 
 Here is Ce Ce and Ethan talking to Terry.

We saw a lot of Portland, such as Powell's Books, a really big book store that doesn't carry any of my books. Cam and I also hung out on Hawthorne Ave, in Portland, with Barb. That street seemed somewhat of a bohemian area — kind of hippy like.
Image may contain: 2 people, including Cam Gentry, people smiling, people standingHere is Cam and I at Hawthorne Ave.

So that was our trip. I took plenty of photos to remember it.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Our Day Trip with Mark Davis

We went on a day trip, with Mark Davis, who is visiting from Spain. We made a day trip and went to the wild life museum in Prat. Outside was this small pool with cool fish in it.
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I really like the fish.
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Here is Mark Davis and my wife Cam Gentry looking at the fish.
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We went to this bar, in Anthony, where Carrie Nation trashed it with her ax. Inside there is a bar with ax marks where she hit it with her hatchet. The rest of the bar was not that interesting so we didn't take pictures of the inside.

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This bar was way more interesting. It is Buster's in Sun City, KS. It is one of those out of the way places were people come from miles around to visit. Sun City has about 53 people in it, so when it is busy it has people from Wichita, Dodge City and various small towns from Kansas. The bartender said bickers like to come here.

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The inside was really cool and had all kinds of rodeo pictures and stuffed animals. These are bobcats.
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Here is a Stuffed Cougar. While I don't like to see animals killed and stuffed, I still enjoyed seeing it.
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This is the inside of Buster's. The food was good and that bartender was a real nice guy.

My fourth of July, 2018

We had a night of 4th of July fun and fireworks with my brother, Phil, his wife, daughters and grand kids. We had a great time.
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Here we all are.
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Another Fourth of July holiday 2018— light the fireworks— shut off the jingoistic commercials

Monday, June 25, 2018

The wonders of nature—and there are those who hate it

By SJ Otto
As I get older I do what I have always done to relax myself—No! Not going to the bar for beer—OK I do that also, but this is something else. I go out to a park in the country were I can be with nature. I like to swim in theWalnut River. And I've heard from a few friends and relatives: "You want to swim with fish poop?!"
The water in that river, and many other Kansas rivers, is fairly clear. I take into consideration that fish can't walk out of the water and use a porta potty. Pooping in the water is their only option. I personally enjoy watching the smaller fish swim around, as well as crayfish, cranes, ducks and other forms of water wildlife.
There is something about being one with nature that I really enjoy. After all, most fish don't have police or foremen to tell everyone what do and how to think. There are natural things all around and none had to be manufactured and paid for. It is all free. The fish and other animals seems to find food on their own and no one sells it to them.
I often get the felling that most people hate nature. Many people I know never venture out into a wooded area that doesn't have toilets and bottled water. Most people kill some kinds of animals, at least insects if nothing else. I kill some insects, such as mosquitoes and roaches, but I don't kill anything that leaves me alone.
Snakes are a real problem for people. I know a lot of people who say they "hate snakes." They don't usually say they hate lizards or turtles. We could assume that part of this is because some snakes are poisonous. But so are a few poison lizards. Maybe most people don't realize that the overwhelming majority of the snakes in this area, in this state, are not poisonous. After all it was a snake that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, and I think that has a lot to do with people's fear of snakes, even for atheists.
And that brings to another reason people seem to hate nature. I constantly hear of men (mostly white guys) who always kill snakes when the find them. They often chop their heads off with a shovel. Maybe they think the woods is safer without snakes, but that just isn't so.
According to Dr. James Carpenter, professor of zoological medicine at Kansas State University,

"Several types of snakes live in the area. The only venomous types, copperheads and Massasauga rattlesnakes, are usually found around limestone outcropping and ledges and in fields when they are seeking food or trying to get some sun, he said, and most are just trying to get warm.
The water snakes in this area are not venomous."

And there is this:

“There are good things about snakes,” Charles Lee, extension wildlife specialist at K-State, said. “They are important in the ecology of our world. They do a little bit of feeding on critters like rodents or other small mammals that people may consider undesirable. All species have a value.”

I've noticed fewer snakes in the places I go in the last few years. I appreciate snakes. I like to see and watch them. It is too bad so many people kill them and kill them for no reason.
Snakes aren't the only problem. Many men I know won't swim in a muddy pond because of snapping turtles. Many women I know just won't swim in dirty water. But at least most of these people don't kill the turtles.
There are a lot of white rural men who enjoy going on a so called "coyote hunting." They don't eat these animals and the just want to see how many they can kill in one day. It really isn't hunting at all. It is mass slaughter. I listened the other day to an NPR story about coyote calling/hunting:

 " AL MORRIS: They don't want me to hunt. And I want to tell them to go to hell. The reality of it is we're good people. And whether you understand or not, I'm doing something legal. And I really don't care if you like it or not."

As CAMILLA FOX said, in that same article,
"It's gratuitous slaughter, and that's precisely what cockfighting and dogfighting were. And it was up until not too long ago that both those practices were still legal in the U.S."

My question is why are rural white people, or maybe white people in general so attracted to killing things with guns. I can understand hunting a deer and eating it. But for many of these white red-necks It is as if they want to go around killing anything that moves, that they can kill legally. I think many of these people follow a culture of death that goes right along with hating nature. If man doesn't control something, many people hate it.
I for one value my time in the forests. I don't need to kill the animals I find in order to enjoy myself. And I think it is a sickness that so many people are attracted to killing things. Living things and the places they like to live have a great beauty that does not need to be killed.  
Pix by El Dorado, KS.

Friday, January 19, 2018

I got a great Birthday present- Svengoolie shirt

Cam got me this really cool Svengoolie shirt. I really love the show and I love that shirt. I'll wear it to Goth Night one of these nights.

Monday, January 15, 2018

My 63rd Birthday- here are the high-lights

I woke up today to actual snow. It is a Miracle. I love snow- but not driving in it. Global warming hasn't destroyed everything in Kansas- despite our idiot president and other stupid politicians.

Yea snow!

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Today, in history, a great man was born- a man who fought for equal rights. A man who fought against racism and imperialism. Also today Martin Luther King was born in 1929. If you want to help me celebrate my birthday you can meet me at LongHorn Steakhouse at 6pm. 2720 N Maize Rd. That's tonight. Don't bring gifts (I have every thing a man could ask for, at least when it comes to material things), but you might need to pay for your own dinner. -from Facebook-

And yes we went. I forgot pictures inside. Roger and Mary and Cam and I had a great time. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

This year for Christmas 2017 (Happy Winter Solstice for us)

By SJ Otto
This year for Christmas we went to Lawrence to visit Cam's (my wife) relatives. We stayed with her brother Fred for Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Cam is below and I'm above in the Christmas snow.

We also visited her other brothers, Clint and Brian. We also visited her other brothers, Clint Tuesday before we left.  
We spent a few hours at Brian's house with his wife, Amy, daughter Hanna and her boyfriend. Fred and I went to the Granada, Christmas Eve, to see a band, THE SOUL VISIONARIES. It was a great show.

We had a pleasant Christmas eve and day. While there was no snow at all in Wichita, we had plenty in Lawrence. So we enjoyed a white Christmas while our friends and relatives in Wichita had no snow.

I love putting up Winter Solstice lights.

US- We keep the important traditions when we are revolutionaries—so I'm celebrating Winter Solstice

By សតិវ ​អតុ
When Revolution occurs, we have to evaluate our society and decide what stays and what goes. So for us here in the USA what do we do about Christmas on December 25. It is a festive celebration. I’m sure many atheists celebrate these holidays as well. Why should we not take part in such a holiday. After all it is in the dead of winter when we could use some cheerfulness. And it involves us meeting up with family members and friends. It is a great time of year. But it is also associated with the Christian holiday which involves celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. actually the December holiday that was taken over by the early Christians, when Rome converted to Christianity. Many of the old symbols are still used—such as putting a tree in the house and decorating it. And also having some kind of father character which we now call Santa Clause.  
No one is stopping people from celebrating Christmas, that is the holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, despite the fact that that the actual date has never been completely narrowed down for him,. Picking a date for such a celebration is just fine. It is symbolic and I have no problem with that. Just let the rest of us celebrate as we want to.
Some time ago people in this country realized that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, so some people began trying to include Chanukah in these holidays. In some cities as in New York there are a lot of Jews. There are menorahs and many people say “Happy Chanukah.” There is also the newer holiday called Kwanzaa. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966, as the first specifically African-American holiday. According to Karenga, the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda yakwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest", although a more conventional translation would simply be "first fruits".
A few years ago I studied various pagan beliefs, such as Druidry. Most celebrate some kind of version of the holiday known as Winter Solstice. I later decided to go back to my traditional humanist approach to spirituality and I adapted the doctrines of Epicurus. Epicurus did not deny the existence of god(s) but decided that gods take care of gods and humans need to take care of themselves. He also told people we should learn not to blame everything on gods. ‘If your house is crushed by an earthquake it isn’t the anger of the gods, you built your house in an earthquake prone place.’ And he didn’t believe in an after-life.
I am a Maoist first and an Epicurean second. I put more of my energies into my politics that my spiritual beliefs, and they overlap. Both Maoism and Epicureanism promote focusing on humanity. Either way, I believe that people come first, not gods and not the afterlife.
I still like the fall holidays, I still celebrate Samhain for Halloween and for Christmas I celebrate Winter Solstice or Yule, which at one time was also celebrated as Saturnalia. Saturnalia or the solstice was actually the December holiday that was taken over by the early Christians, when Rome converted to Christianity. Many of the old symbols are still used—such as putting a tree in the house and decorating it. And also having some kind of father character which we now call Santa Clause.
I'm not trying to wipe out Chrisian Beliefs. But I do not share their belief in Jesus as a devine God-head. So I have found other reasons to celebrate this holiday. Many athiests have found their own reasons to celebrate this holiday.:
Recently there was the blog for American Atheists who make the argument:

"American Atheists posted new billboards in Memphis and Nashville on Friday that read “Dear Christians, I share my toys. Why won’t you share the season? Happy Holidays for all!” The new message is in response to an anti-atheist billboard placed by a group of Christians on Thursday evening in Memphis that parodies the atheists’ first billboard that launched Monday and that accuses atheists of sacrilege and claims Christians are being bullied.
The Christian campaign’s spokesperson Marshall Hart also accused American Atheists of “using children” to spread its message, despite using the photo of a three-year-old girl on its own billboard.
“The hypocrisy is unbelievable,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Millions of American children are forced to go to church under the threat of being denied meals, losing household privileges, having their college tuition cut off, or being kicked out of their homes. Many atheist adults are forced to go to church under threat of divorce or lose custody of their children. We must ask the question, who are the real bullies? Those who are unafraid to stand up for our views on billboards, or those who destroy families from the inside out?”
I like celebrating the Winter Solstice and I get to do all the fun stuff, such as decorating a tree, putting lights on my house, toasting with wine, and giving a few gifts to close friends. My spirituality does not come from a god. It comes from within those who share my beliefs. That works for me and I plan to stick with that.


Have a Happy Winter Solstice! —Or whatever holiday you want to celebrate!

Keep The Merry, Dump The Myth! (Official) - Peter D'Angelo

Jethro Tull BBC Promo Vid for Solstice bells 1976

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Reasons for trouble in Iraq

A letter to The Wichita Eagle:

The newly liberated land in Iraq is turning out to be a hell hole for all those who did anything to cooperate with the ISIS government before it fell. People have been given ridiculously long prison terms and they are being executed for simply having had a job that in any way helped the ISIS officials who ruled over that part of Iraq for the last few years.
There has been a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) that criticized Iraq and the autonomous Kurdish authorities over mass trials of suspected ISIS group militants.
It would be easy to just claim that this is Iraq and this is what passes, in that culture, for normal behavior. But the truth is that it was the U.S. armed forces that trained the Iraqi troops and led their armies to remove ISIS from all Iraq territory.
The Iraq Army is a part of the government that the U.S. built from the ground floor up. In other words this is an extension of the U.S. government and armed forces.
I keep hearing that we must thank our military people for defending this country and our freedom. I hope our freedom does not rely on such repressive regimes.