Since my daughter had informed me that the girls, ages 6 and almost 4, had recently discovered the joy of arts and crafts, I planned a couple of crafty projects for us to do during the week, starting with the decoration of the birthday cakes (see post from 4/15/2017).
On Sunday, after we'd returned home from the birthday party (see post from 4/15/2017 again), we made our next craft project, a yarn octopus,
First I gave the girls the job of measuring and cutting the the yarn into 12 strands,
...a task they found so enjoyable that I had to let them cut many more strands than needed.
I ended up having to wrap more yarn around the ball to cover it.
The next day we colored Easter eggs,
...which made the job of dipping the eggs into and retrieving from the dye cups exponentially less precarious.
Over the course of the week we also discovered the fun of coloring in the newspaper pictures,
There's always time and inspiration for drawing, right?
...Continued from yesterday:
Tom and I arrived in Los Angeles late last Saturday night, 9 pm Los Angeles time, which was midnight Ohio time.
So our visit really began the following morning, bright and early, when we all hit the ground running to get ready for our grand daughter's 6th birthday party.
My job was to procure a birthday cake - a task that had somehow been overlooked in the bustle of the preparations - sufficient for the forty guests, half children, half adults.
From whence I procured two quarter-sheet cakes,
The party was scheduled for one o'clock, so shortly before that time we transported ourselves and the party provisions to the location,
...a magical place set up for all kinds of junior art activities,
...and soon the joint was jumping.
After a while of playtime a yummy lunch was served,
...the most delicious vegan salads from Veggie Grille,
It was a great party.
By coincidence, the day before a 69-year-old United Airlines passenger was dragged off a plane at Chicago O'Hare for refusing to give up his seat (see post from 4/13/2017),
...our layover between Columbus and Los Angeles, where we were headed for a visit with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.
Truth to tell, I'm glad we were flying United through Chicago the day before that horrific event rather than the day after; I can imagine the residual shock, outrage, collective weltschmerz of airline passengers that next day - especially the passengers populating the United terminal of Chicago O'Hare - would have sucked the flavor out of the trip.
But on the day of our trip we were blissfully unaware of what was about to happen to one unfortunate fellow passenger as we strolled through the terminal during our three-hour layover.
As for me, I like airports. They feel to me like little indoor cities, places out of place and time, far from the everyday routine, places of brief respite from the normal obligations and responsibilities that pull at us all day long.
And just as some cities are bigger or nicer or more interesting than others, the same is true of airport terminals; and like the city on the outskirts of which it resides, Chicago O'Hare is to me one of the biggest, nicest, and most interesting airports of them all.
And so last Saturday we spent a pleasant afternoon between flights exploring the neighborhood of the United Terminal:
...the upscale shops and restaurants,
...and where we grabbed some yummy Manchu Wok.
After dinner we continued our walk and discovered a Children's Museum,
...a museum dedicated to World War II Navy pilot and hero "Butch" O'Hare,
..and even a pet rest room.
.....Walking on a little further we found an area called The Rotunda,
Such a pleasant place did Tom and I find the United Terminal of Chicago O'Hare Airport that under normal circumstances we likely would have been only too glad to volunteer to be bumped for a few hours or even, if the price and perks were right and a hotel room thrown in, overnight.
And yet there are some times when even such an airline-ticket-voucher hound as myself does not wish or absolutely cannot afford to relinquish one's seat for any price to accommodate an airline's bottom line; and for me, as for passenger Dr. David Dao the following evening, this was one of those times:
Early the following afternoon I had a very important birthday party to get to.
Unlike Dr. Dao, I was able to be where I needed to be.
To be continued...
By now the image has gone exponentially viral, around the world and across the universe:
As everyone now knows – but here’s a quick recap for anyone who still might not – last Sunday night as the passengers of a United flight from Chicago to Louisville were preparing to board it was announced that the flight had been over-booked and four bump-volunteers were requested to give up their seats in exchange for a $400 voucher.
Except that it turned out the problem wasn’t that the flight was over-booked, but that the flight was full and there were four United flight crew members who needed a lift from Chicago to Louisville.
And so the decision was made by whoever makes such decisions that four passengers would be bumped to give up their seats to the United crew members, who apparently needed to be in Louisville to staff a flight taking off from that city.
After all the passengers were on board and seated it was announced that four volunteers were still needed and that the voucher award had gone up to $800. But there were still no takers, and here’s where the story gets a little fuzzy: United claims that the offer went up to $1,000, but the none of the passengers interviewed afterwards say that they heard an offer of $1,000.
In any case, at that point the United staff decided to involuntary-bump four passengers, possibly chosen by computer-roulette with some airline staff decision involved.
Three of the four passengers chosen to lose their seats grudgingly deplaned; but the fourth, a 69-year-old Asian-American doctor, refused to leave his seat. He told the flight attendant that he was a doctor, that he needed to be back at work in the morning, that he had patients who needed to see him.
The flight crew finding themselves between a hard place and this rock of a passenger, called the airport police, three of whom came on board and, as the passengers attest and the videos reveal, proceeded to drag the old man, bloodied and screaming, along the floor to the exit, his baseball cap knocked from his head, his glasses falling off his face and his shirt pulled up to reveal his bare midriff.
Meanwhile the other passengers shouted frantically at the airport police to stop while they aimed their only weapons and took the now infamous and ubiquitously-posted videos of the event that has detonated an explosion of world-wide outrage against United Airlines,
But here’s what I wonder: what was it that compelled the elderly doctor from Kentucky to be the one to start the revolution? In his situation I can imagine myself being steamed and fuming, but I cannot imagine myself having the nerve to stand up – or rather, sit up – to three burly police officers ordering me off the plane. I wonder: from where did David Dao pull up his courage? Was it that he needed to get back to his patients who needed him?
Or was there some other reason, some thing or person besides his work that was so important to him, so needed by him that he must at all costs get back home in time?
Or could it be that Dr. Dao sensed that if it had been an older white doctor who’d refused to relinquish his seat for the reason that he had to get back to his patients he would have been shown respect commensurate with his age and profession? That the police would certainly not have been called? Or maybe, having been treated too often as an Asian rather than as an American, as an Other, as a not-quite-first-class citizen, might it be that he had finally reached the point where he had no more rat’s tails left to give?
But surely Dr. Dao could never have dreamed that for his refusal to give up for the convenience of the airline his right to a seat for which he’d paid, for his refusal to concede that his work and plans were less important than someone else’s, that for those offenses he’d be dragged along the floor like the most despicable criminal, injured, degraded, his humiliation posted for the whole word to see.
And in his worst moments of pain, shame and anger, how could Dr. Dao possibly have foreseen that his ordeal would elevate him, battered and bleeding, to the station of hero for the air-traveling masses, avatar of the annoyed, aggrieved, jet-lagged millions who believe that they’ve been mistreated to feed the greed of the airlines, any more than the airline crew and airport police could have fathomed that this uncooperative Asian man whom they thought nothing of man-handling as if he were not an aging, fragile human being who bruises, bleeds and feels,
Surely United Airlines could have arranged some alternate mode of transport for four of it employees from one of the world’s biggest airports rather than to bully four passengers out of their seats. But apparently this style of bullying has been so much the standard operating procedure to United Airlines that it wasn’t even considered bullying but rather the legal right of the airline.
Now, hopefully United Airline and its fellow companies have learned otherwise.
As I write this Dr. Dao is recovering in a Chicago hospital from his injuries and is planning a lawsuit against United Airlines.
It will take United Airlines much longer to recover the injuries it has inflicted on itself.
Here's the letter I wrote this morning to Donald Trump:
Dear President Trump,
Along with the rest of the nation I have been closely following the series of unfortunate and dangerous events that have been unfolding in Syria over the past week.
By now it's pretty clear that the recent attacks against the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun had nothing to do with taking out rebel or ISIS enclaves but was both a test for you and a trap for our country set by Bashar al-Assad, maybe with the input of Vladimir Putin. Or maybe Putin was the mastermind and the Assad the facilitator.
In any case the trap was cruelly baited with the terrible deaths of 85 people, 20 of them children. But you did what you thought you must do and made the decision to involve our country in the civil war in Syria. But you must not take another step until you have a plan of action. You must have a comprehensive, long-range strategy for dealing with both Assad and ISIS, as well as the other over 1100 rebel groups fighting in Syria. Otherwise the next step the US takes in Syria could be the beginning of World War III.
The problem is, of course, that at this point nobody has a hint of a clue what to do next in Syria.
Nobody, that is, except for one person: Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton is the one person in this country, maybe the one person on this planet who has a plan for Syria.
I remember last year during one of Hillary’s debates with Bernie Sanders one of the questions was on the situation in Syria. Hillary gave a detailed outline of how Assad first needed to be dealt with, then ISIS, then the rebels. I remember thinking while listening to her speak, this is a situation this woman has tremendous knowledge of, one she’s been thinking about and cogitating over for years, one she’s chomping at the bit to take on.
And this is why, President Trump, politics and the election from hell be hanged, Hillary Clinton is the person you should be turning to now to save us from plunging into a disaster of catastrophic proportions in Syria. Convince her to come on board. Offer her a refugee quota in the deal.
And then immediately establish a Department of Syrian Affairs and put Hillary in charge. Give her carte blanche with staffing and access to military and intelligence advisors. If you need Congressional approval for this action then do whatever you have to do to get it as quickly as possible.
And call Hillary Clinton. Please.
On Monday night Donald Trump's policy on Syria was that Syria's civil war was not America's problem, that the brutal attacks against civilians by dictator Bashar al-Assad were not our concern, that we shut our doors and our eyes to the plight of Syria's refugees, that the Syrians should fend for themselves.
On Tuesday Assad dropped an atrocity of a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Northern Syria that killed 85 people, 20 of them children.
On Wednesday Donald Trump saw images on television of dead Syrian children.
And so on Thursday he sent 59 American missiles to blow up a Syrian air field, informing the world in a televised address that he'd changed his mind about Syria because "Beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack."
One can draw two conclusions from Donald Trump's newly-hatched concern for Syrian children:
1. For the past six years he must not have been watching the TV channels that have been reporting on the horror being suffered by God's Syrian children since the beginning of the war, and
2. He cares enough about Syrian children to bomb a mostly empty air field but not to save their lives by allowing Syrian refugees safety and asylum in the United States.
Or, as one tweeter so succinctly put it:
Now Russia is outraged by the American attack and the Russian Prime Minister has threatened that the United States and Russia are "one step away" from a military confrontation.
US ambassador Nikki Haley shot back that Donald Trump is prepared to "take further steps if needed." Taking in Syrian refugee families doesn't appear to be one of those steps.
In the meantime the runway of the Syrian air field that we spent 49 million dollars worth of Tomahawk missiles trying to dent has already been repaired by the Syrian government and two jets have taken off from it this evening to carry out more strikes against the rebels. Or maybe against civilians. Maybe children. And Russia has committed to replacing the twenty Syrian jets that were destroyed in that expensive American missile strike.
So now, along with the government forces and over 1100 different rebel factions that have been feeding Syria's civil war its life's blood, the war may be on the verge of receiving a massive transfusion, a fresh, new, colossal lease on life from two super-powers whose weaponry and resources can provide that the war goes on indefinitely, maybe even morphing into a proxy-war between the two powers, to be fought on Syrian soil, of course.
Suffer the little children. But not to come unto us.
The Lieutenant Colonel is a wiz at many things,
...and he can whip his weight in pre-taxable, taxable and non-taxable entities, gross vs. net incomes, deductions, refundable credits, non-refundable credits, and applicable percentages derived by multiplying the light of the moon by a puppy dog's tail then dividing by your shoe size.
I've had no trouble learning Latin, French, German, Russian, Spanish, or a few words of Hungarian.
Or rather, for the purpose of him doing the taxes and me trying figure out what he's doing.
...as I did once again this year.
"But those are the same notes you took last year and the year before that and the year before that," said Tom, glancing at my notebook as I scribbled away, "why do go to the trouble of writing down the same things year after year?"
"Repetition is the key to learning," I replied,
I do my best, though, to help fill in the forms with Tom's patient mentoring.
"No, you fill it in with "XYZ," he corrects me.
"What?" I cry in dismay, "how do you figure that?"
Anyway, it never seems to me that we rake in or hand out enough cash annually to merit such a long and tedious tax-paying process.
...not to mention the half-a-million dollars a day of my tax money and yours that it takes to keep Donald Trump's family living in Trump Tower in the style to which they are accustomed instead of in the far less opulent First Family's wing of the White House.
Having seen "The Zookeeper's Wife" on Friday night (see previous post), by Saturday night I was craving a comedy.
...to see another World War II era drama,
Or that is to say, to see part of it.
About an hour into the film I had to leave. My anxiety and distress level was getting too high - artificially elevated, albeit; after all, I was only watching images on a screen.
Still I couldn't stand to watch any more images of dirty, bruised, traumatized, starving youngsters in soldier's uniforms being blown partially or completely to bits.
Maybe I could have hung in there if the film's story line had been fiction. But the terrible story told in "Land of Mine" was based on history.
During the Nazi occupation of Denmark from 1940-1945 the German army buried 2.2 million land mines along the Danish coastline, turning that country's beaches into death traps upon the belief that the Allied invasion would occur along those beaches.
After Germany lost the war 2,000 German prisoners of war, many of them teenagers who'd been conscripted in desperation by the Third Reich during its dying days, were handed over to the Danish army and forced to clear the beaches of the mines buried by their army. Over half of those soldiers were killed trying to defuse the mines.
To say it's an intense movie is an understatement.
Now, having the previous night watched in "the Zookeepers Wife,"
And yet from the beginning of the film I felt as conflicted about the story as the Sergeant eventually did about his charges:
- The soldiers being brutalized by the Sergeant were scarcely more than children, as were many German soldiers by the end of the war; and yet how much more pitilessly were Jewish children brutalized and murdered by German soldiers?
- The POW's who were sentenced to the Danish minefields after the war may have had nothing to do with Nazi war atrocities, the occupation of Denmark or the mining of that country's beaches; they likely had no choice in being drafted into Hitler's army; were they aggressors or victims of Hitler's war?
- Was forcing war prisoners to risk their lives and limbs from mines that their army planted to destroy the lives and limbs of others justice or injustice? If not German soldiers, whose task should it have been to disarm the mines? The Danes, who'd already suffered their share of death and misery under the German occupation?
All those questions swirled through my mind as I watched the movie. Until I left the theater halfway through.
As I sat out in the lobby waiting for Tom, who's neither as jumpy nor as squeamish as myself, I wondered why anybody even felt the need to make a movie on such an awful subject as World War II minefields.
But later it occurred to me that this is a film that looks at not only the horror but the moral conundrum of war and serves as a cautionary tale of how much longer the hatred for the invader lives on after the war is over.
I can understand the value of such a film. I just don't want to see it.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it at
Barnes & Noble,
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.