College Rape Continues to Trouble US Campuses.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

 

Grassley on Bipartisan Bill to Boost Accountability, Transparency on College Sexual Assault

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today joined colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation that addresses sexual assaults on college and university campuses by protecting and empowering students and strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions, including penalties for non-compliance with the legislation’s new standards for training, data and best practices.

 

“Our bill has provisions to ensure that colleges treat sexual assault cases with the seriousness they deserve,” Grassley said. “This includes better coordination with law enforcement and clearer expectations for how colleges should handle reports of sexual assault.  Sexual assault is not some mere code of conduct violation.  It is a major criminal offense.  Like with any crime, weak enforcement makes the problem worse.  This bill will start to turn that around.”

 

The Campus Safety and Accountability Act was announced by Grassley and Sens.  Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).  The legislation is intended to confront sexual violence against students, a problem facing increased attention as victims come forward.

 

The current system of requiring colleges to report sexual assault to the federal government results in non-reporting, under-reporting, and non-compliance with the already weak standards under current federal law.

 

The bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act will make it in the schools’ immediate best interest to take proactive steps to protect their students and rid their campuses of sexual predators.

 

Provisions of the bipartisan legislation include:

 

New Campus Resources and Support Services for Student Survivors: Under this legislation, colleges and universities will be required to designate Confidential Advisors who will serve as a confidential resource for victims of assaults committed against a student.  The role of Confidential Advisors will be to coordinate support services and accommodations for survivors, to provide information about options for reporting, and to provide guidance or assistance, at the direction of the survivor, in reporting the crime to campus authorities and/or local law enforcement. To encourage individuals to come forward with reports about sexual violence, schools will no longer be allowed to sanction a student who reveals a violation in good faith, such as for underage drinking, in the process of reporting a sexual violence claim.

 

Minimum Training Standards for On-Campus Personnel: Currently, a chronic lack of training of on-campus personnel hampers sexual assault investigations and disciplinary processes, often resulting in negative outcomes for survivors. This legislation ensures that everyone from the Confidential Advisors, to those responsible for investigating and participating in disciplinary proceedings, will now receive specialized training to ensure they have a firm understanding of the nature of these crimes and their effect on survivors.

 

New Historic Transparency Requirements: For the first time, students at every university in America will be surveyed about their experience with sexual violence to get an accurate picture of this problem.  This new annual survey will be standardized and anonymous, with the results published online so that parents and high school students can make an informed choice when comparing universities. The Department of Education will also be required to publish the names of all schools with pending investigations, final resolutions, and voluntary resolution agreements related to Title IX.

 

Campus Accountability and Coordination with Law Enforcement: All schools will now be required to use a uniform process for campus disciplinary proceedings and may no longer allow athletic departments or other subgroups to handle complaints of sexual violence for members of that subgroup alone. This legislation will require colleges and universities to enter into memoranda of understanding with all applicable local law enforcement agencies to clearly delineate responsibilities and share information so that when an assault occurs, both campus authorities and local authorities can focus on solving the crime rather than debating jurisdiction.

 

Enforceable Title IX Penalties and Stiffer Penalties for Clery Act Violations: Schools that don’t comply with certain requirements under the bill may face a penalty of up to 1 percent of the institution’s operating budget. Previously, the only allowable penalty was the loss of all financial aid which is not practical and has never been done. The bill increases penalties for Clery Act violations to up to $150,000 per violation from the current penalty of $35,000.

 

The federal Department of Education handles laws covering sexual assault on campus. Title IX, a federal gender equity law, requires colleges and universities to respond to sexual assault and harassment cases on campus and have policies in place to help prevent such incidents. The Jeanne Clery Act mandates that colleges and universities report information on crime on and around campuses and provide victims with select rights and resources.

 

Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his fellow Senate sponsors have been working together for months to examine federal, state, and local policies, collect feedback from stakeholders, and craft bipartisan legislation to better protect and empower students, and hold both perpetrators and institutions accountable.

 

Grassley said he has not been approached about particular cases in Iowa.  He has been following efforts to address sexual assault at the University of Iowa.

Old Blackie.

 

Nothing to do with the story, but who cares!
Nothing to do with the story, but who cares!

Old Blackie started to fail last fall, when he and I were at the Mall looking for a pair of winter shoes.  I didn’t mind his tattered appearance, nor his faded and cracked skin – no, not after all we’d been through together.  What I had a hard time accepting was his way with my money; he kept losing it.  I’d give him six or seven dollars to hold for me, and when I’d ask for them back he no longer had them.  He never explained or said he was sorry; he just sort of gaped at me.

Old Blackie is, or was, my wallet.

I got him on sale, twenty years ago, at a men’s haberdashery in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  Amid a tumbled pile of wallets, card cases and coin purses I spotted him right off the bat.  He was sleek and self-assured, seeming to hold himself aloof from all the other plebian Naugahyde receptacles.  I tried to pretend I wasn’t interested in his sort, but when I saw that he was real leather, and waterproof, I couldn’t help myself.  I shelled out the nine dollars and took him home to the family.

They were cold at first, but soon warmed to his modest and competent ways.  He always kept my library card separate from my Driver’s License, which kept me from making a fool of myself when stopped for speeding.  He could hold quarters like you wouldn’t believe – I was never again bullied by parking meters.  His glossy black skin gave me a sensuous thrill every time I pulled him out to pay for movie tickets – and the kids noticed right away that when I had Old Blackie with me I became the last of the Big Time Spenders; going so far as to let them get the Jumbo bucket of popcorn with all the butter lubrication they wanted.  Cokes all around!

Lordy, we had some times together . . . me and Old Blackie.  There was the time we got separated in a hamburger joint down in Saint Petersburg, Florida.  The waitress looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a frock, and I thought she was going to wrench my head off and use it as a bowling ball if I couldn’t pay the check.  Luckily, Old Blackie showed up in the Men’s Room in the nick of time; someone gave him to the proprietor just as I was about to write my last will and testament on a paper napkin.

But he couldn’t take the hard way I lived.  And spent.  I shut my eyes to his rents and tears, until the dollar bills started slipping through the cracks.  That was last fall.  I put up with him until just a few weeks ago, when I spotted a brunette number at Walmart.  On sale for five bucks.

I don’t know where he is now – I transferred everything over to the brunette a few days ago, and he seemed to just fade away.

Good night, Old Blackie, wherever you are!

 

A Post No One Else Would DARE Publish . . .

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The following events are true, albeit somewhat disgusting.  They occurred today, Monday, July 28, 2014 – at approximately 11 a.m. Mountain Standard Time.

The place was the Chevron gas station at 818 North 500 West, in Provo, Utah.  I do not know the names of the other parties involved – for very good reasons, as you shall soon find out.

Some background is necessary.  I am under doctor’s orders to exercise, especially to walk; so each day I walk 1.5 miles to the Provo Rec Center for the Senior Lunch and an hour of aquatic aerobics afterwards.  Then I walk home.  I figure this is pretty good exercise for a 60-year guy.  A fat, 60-year old guy.

Recently I came down with a urinary tract infection, which has stubbornly resisted the antibiotics the doctor prescribed.  This weekend I started yet a new antibiotic.  One of the side effects clearly marked on the label is possible mild diarrhea.  I noticed some tummy rumblings, but nothing happened.

So this morning I am walking to the Rec Center down 820 North, when the rumbling suddenly becomes imperative.  A rest stop is needed, immediately.  If you know that neighborhood at all, you know there are no commercial buildings around, just residential houses.  I quickened my pace, to make it up to 500 West; I knew there was a Chevron station there.

As I waited for the light at 500 West to change I began dribbling.  Not from the mouth.

As I scuttled into the Chevron station a boy and girl were behind the counter.  The boy was telling the girl he had just put his papers in and was hoping he wasn’t called on a stateside mission.  The girl batted her eyes at him adoringly.  Under normal conditions I would have lingered to hear this age-old drama unfold.  But I was still dribbling.

I leapt into the Men’s Room . . . only to find the one stall occupied.  There was not a moment to lose, so in desperation I pulled down my already soiled drawers and relieved myself in the urinal.

Have you ever tried to sit on a men’s urinal?  It’s rather clumsy, not to say painful.

Considering the circumstances, I think I did the right thing.  But when the man in the stall came out and saw what I had done he ran out the door yelling bloody and profane murder and instantly the boy who was putting in his papers was screaming in my face, using language most powerful and inventive.  I was trembling from my efforts and my face was bathed in sweat, but that did not stop the young man from cussing me out every which way he could think of.  Although I felt dizzy, I offered to clean it up for him.

With a blasphemous rejoinder he opened the door and bade me begone, and to never darken the place again with my fecal presence.  I tottered out and made it to North Park, where I caught my breath on a bench under the pavilion before entering the Rec Center – where I did some clandestine laundry in one of the changing rooms.

Now, looking back, I can’t blame the boy for being upset.  Nobody in their right mind enjoys cleaning up a urinal full of crap.

And, I guess if they can make J. Golden Kimball an apostle, they can send this boy on a mission.

But what really gets me is WHY am I writing this down in the first place?  There should be some things in life that you just pass over quietly, leave behind you and forget.

I guess I’m either a dedicated blogger, or just a plain old egomaniac.  This is what social media is doing to people in America.  Even mature, respectable people!

Chevron_Gas_Station,_US_19_41,_Griffin

The End of Ramadan.

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July 28, 2014 is

Eid Al-Fitr

Eid al-Fitr begins tonight at sundown! This Muslim holiday celebrates the end of Ramadan—a holy month of fasting. In Arabic, “Eid” means “festivity” and “fitr” means “breaking the fast.” There are over 2 billion people in the world who observe the religion of Islam, and many of them will gather together today for this joyous occasion.

There are many traditions associated with Eid al-Fitr. In the days leading up to this holiday, each Muslim family donates a specific amount of food to those in need. This ensures that everyone can participate in the celebration. On the day of Eid, families and friends will host large feasts, exchange gifts, and send well-wishes to loved ones near and far.

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You can read more about Tim Torkildson by clicking here.

The Durian and I

Durian dilemma: Would I be bold enough to eat Thailand’s exotic fruit?

Durian, a thorny tropical fruit with a distinctive strong odor, is widely available in Thai markets.

Durian, a thorny tropical fruit with a distinctive strong odor, is widely available in Thai markets. (Getty Images: Tengku Bahar)

Would I dare to eat the durian?

That was the question on my mind last March, when the sour economy finally caught up with me and I was out of work, so I decided to try my luck back in Thailand.

I had spent several years in Thailand more than three decades earlier, as a volunteer missionary for my church, and I returned again in 2003 to the town of Ban Phe on the Gulf of Thailand to teach English.

In all that time, I’m ashamed to admit, I couldn’t bring myself to eat a single slice of durian — a fruit so entwined with Thai culture and cuisine that to refuse its embrace is tantamount to blasphemy.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of the durian. Throughout Southeast Asia, it is called “the king of fruit.” Its taste has been compared to a custard spiced with cardamom, cloves and chile peppers.

The fruit is a bright, bilious yellow. It grows on trees that soar 50 or 60 feet in the air, and it is encased in a thorny green carapace that can make the whole fruit weigh up to 7 pounds.

The fruit is not harvested until it plunges to the ground. Walking to and fro through a durian plantation in the cool of the evening, you would be well advised to wear a hard hat. You would no more consider having a sit-down dinner without durian in Thailand than you would a barbecue back in the States without mustard and ketchup.

But it’s the smell that makes the durian infamous.

I have ridden in buses with Thais who have cheerfully cracked open a couple of durian for the long trip, filling the bus with an odor that can only be described as dried vomit overlaid with fermented gym socks. Compared with that awesome fragrance, changing a baby’s diaper is a stroll through a French perfume shop.

SENSUAL DELIGHTS

As I boarded my Delta flight at the Hubert Humphrey terminal this spring heading to my new job as a communications specialist in Thailand, I vowed this time around, I would eat the fruit of the durian, come hell or high water.

As luck would have it, I arrived in Ban Phe just as the monsoon season struck, so there was plenty of high water. Still, I would have to face Durio kutejensis sooner or later. I opted for later.

In the meantime, I again plunged into the sensual delights of this quiet little port town on the Gulf of Thailand. A plate of fried rice with fresh crab costs 35 baht — about one dollar.

I scarfed baked cockles on the half shell. I bade local seaside chefs to drop a half-dozen peacock mantis shrimp into boiling saltwater and then savored them on a bed of green papaya salad with sticky rice on the side. And all of this cost less than a dinner at the local Red Lobster back home.

I swam and lazed on the free public beach outside of town. A word of caution, though; wear scuba slippers when you swim or snorkel; there are spiny sea urchins and occasional outcroppings of coral that can do more than just tickle your feet.

I hired a song-tiaw for two dollars to take me up into the hills to tour rubber plantations. (A song-tiaw is a golf cart on steroids that is ubiquitous and for hire to go anywhere at anytime in Thailand.)

An overnight trip to nearby Rayong for shopping or to Chonburi for a movie with English subtitles is within the budget of the meanest backpacker; the bus is the equivalent of $1.20 and a clean, air-conditioned room in a guesthouse is about $4 per night.

Bangkok is only two hours away by bus, and the air-conditioned bus in Ban Phe leaves every hour on the hour for the Big Mango. Cost: about $5 American.

BARGAIN PRICES

The open-air markets in Ban Phe feature weird and wonderful artifacts for the tourists who stream down from Bangkok on weekends. Ever wanted a fossilized blowfish lamp for that certain someone? How about a big bag of fish paste or dried squid?

Best of all are the seashells at unbelievable prices. I have seen bright, cream-colored auger shells; goldmouth snail shells; scorpio shells; gorgeous abalone shells with their mother-of-pearl inlay; and a galaxy of twinkling cowrie shells. A bag of them you can barely lift will set you back 200 baht. That’s about $7.

Finally (gulp!) the open-air markets feature rows upon rows of durian, either dried or made into taffy. Next door to the markets are little booths that sell all sorts of meats and fish stir-fried with plenty of nam plaa, chile peppers and . . . durian.

But for me, I cannot do it. Every time I come across these establishments, I lower my eyes in shame. I cannot even force myself to try the durian taffy, let alone a full-course meal featuring the fragrant fruit.

Even though I can speak Thai, read Thai, have many Thai friends and now have a career in Thailand, I cannot, I will not, partake of the durian.

Every other ex-patriot I know has sampled the durian and survived to brag about it. Some depraved ex-pats have even developed a taste for it and gobble it down as lustily as the Thais. But I will go to my grave as durian-less as a newborn babe. Please pass the mango-steens.

Tim Torkildson is a frequent contributor to the Pioneer Press’ Bulletin Board and can be reached at torkythai911@gmail.com.

Phil the Philosopher.

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(Editor’s Note:  Phillip W. Hinckley is a retired machinist who keeps a wry eye on the world around him.  He has asked us to edit a collection of original proverbs that he has compiled over the years.  We thought we would take this opportunity to share some of his more pointed and pithy proverbs with you.)

  • You don’t have to exercise your whole body; just the parts you want to keep using.
  • Why does the earth’s gravity increase the older you get?
  • The American version of Russian roulette is to eat a bag of McDonald’s french fries — which one has your name on it?
  • Some days the light is on, but I’m not home.
  • If you get to work late, leave early to make up for it.
  • If everyone did one good turn a day, the world would rotate with a lot less friction.
  • I’d like to help you out — which way did you come in?
  • Free agency is only free until you choose something that puts you in bondage.
  • I have a one track mind, and the train derailed years ago.
  • The Golden Years are when failing health extracts the gold from your wallet.
  • Ask not what your body can do for you; ask what you can do for your body.
  • When you get old you want memory on demand, only to find out it’s not available in your area.
  • If you can’t be nice, be gone.
  • Your taste buds start out as your friends, but with a little encouragement they become your enemies.
  • You can choose your vice, but you can’t choose the price.
  • If women are from Venus, why don’t they go back there?
  • We’re all in the same boat, so stop rockin’ and start rowin’!

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An Example of Native Advertising.

(Editor’s Note:  This article is what is known as native advertising.  It is the visual media’s attempt to get you to read advertising without knowing you are reading it.  Please let us know if it succeeded; did you feel you were reading an advertisement when you were reading this, or not?)

12 of the most rare, expensive art pieces in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has a rich variety of artwork, some of it in museums and some of it out in the open. Here’s a list of 12 of the most outstanding pieces of art you can see when visiting the state.
by Tim Torkildson, BrandInsight Contributor Modified: July 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm •  Published: July 25, 2014

If there is one thing you should know about art, it’s that art speaks to culture — and Oklahoma is full of culture.

To properly understand the meaning and feeling behind art, you need a glimpse into the creator’s mind. Museums and experts facilitate that vision when they put art — especially rare art — on display.

The state is richly endowed with museums that feature both permanent and revolving exhibits of the finest European artwork, as well as Third World art, Native American art, African-American art and folk art — including the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, and the Southern Plains Indian Museum in Anadarko.

Check out this list of 12 outstanding pieces of art that reside in the state of Oklahoma.

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1. The Gibson RB7 banjo. According to Jack Murphy at the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City, there are only two of these banjoes left in existence. There were originally 272 of them made back in 1938. Murphy estimates the museums banjo to be worth more than $175,000.
  2. The Gibson RB7 banjo. According to Jack Murphy at the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City, there are only two of these banjos left in existence. There were originally 272 of them made back in 1938. Murphy estimates the museum’s banjo to be worth more than $175,000.
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2. The Oil Patch Warrior. According to Denise Airington, of the Ardmore, Oklahoma, Chamber of Commerce, this 7-foot bronze statue of a heroic oil patch worker was erected in Ardmore Memorial Park in 1991 to commemorate a World War II company of oilfield workers who were recruited from Ardmore and surrounding areas to secretly go to Great Britain and drill for oil in Sherwood Forest. According to literature from the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, the oil patch workers helped the British oil engineers increase production from 300 to 3000 barrels of oil per day. (Photo features actual statue in Nottingham, England. Statue in Ardmore, Oklahoma is a replica.)
  3. The Oil Patch Warrior. According to Denise Airington of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, this 7-foot bronze statue of a heroic oil patch worker was erected in Ardmore Memorial Park in 1991 to commemorate a World War II company of oil field workers who were recruited from Ardmore and surrounding areas to secretly go to Great Britain and drill for oil in Sherwood Forest. According to literature from the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, the oil patch workers helped the British oil engineers increase production from 300 to 3,000 barrels of oil per day.
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Sen. Charles Ford, artist Mike Wimmer and Sen. Penny Williams stand with Wimmer's painting of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher.
  4. Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher. Oklahoma State University’s Museum of Art in Stillwater is another spectacular arena for exceptional artwork. Of particular note is artist Mike Wimmer’s painting “Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher” in the Postal Plaza Gallery. It is a portrait of Ms. Fisher with Thurgood Marshall, who was at the time her attorney, in precedent-shattering court trial that spelled the beginning of the end of racial segregation in Oklahoma.
  5. The Price Tower. Bartlesville boasts the only skyscraper designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Becky Cowen at the Bartlesville Convention Bureau says the 19-story building, built in 1956 to house Price Oil, is now a hotel and restaurant.
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5. Woolaroc. Ms. Cowen also mentions the Woolaroc estate of Frank Phillips, who founded Phillips Petroleum, as a work of art. Although not designed by anyone nearly as prominent as Frank Lloyd Wright, she says that the 2-mile drive up to the house features dozens of elk, buffalo, deer and prairie dogs, making this, perhaps, the only art exhibit in Oklahoma where you are discouraged from feeding part of the artwork.
  6. Woolaroc. Cowen also mentions the Woolaroc estate of Frank Phillips, who founded Phillips Petroleum, as a work of art. Although not designed by anyone nearly as prominent as Frank Lloyd Wright, she says that the 2-mile drive up to the house features dozens of elk, buffalo, deer and prairie dogs, making this, perhaps, the only art exhibit in Oklahoma where you are discouraged from feeding part of the artwork.
  7. Blown glass sculpture. An untitled blown glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly lives at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in Oklahoma City. Resident artist Romy Owens calls the sculpture “massive,” and one of the largest that Chihuly, the co-founder of the Pilchuck Glass School near Stanwood, Washington, has ever made.
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7. The Oklahoma State Capitol Building. By general acclaim, the 1919 neoclassical building, designed by Solomon Andrew Layton, is not only a classic but a functional piece of art.
  8. The Oklahoma State Capitol Building. By general acclaim, the 1919 neoclassical building, designed by Solomon Andrew Layton, is a classic and functional piece of art.
  9. Support beam from the Twin Towers. Under the heading of “found art,” a beam from the New York Twin Towers was obtained by the city of Bixby, according to Kellen Desalvo of the Bixby Chamber of Commerce, and installed at the Bixby Washington Irving Memorial Park and Arboretum.
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9. The Blitz Popcorn Machine. According to Johanna Makerney at the Frisco Depot Museum in Hugo, Oklahoma, this machine still makes roasted peanuts on one side and popcorn on the other  and you can watch it all happen through the glass siding. Its neat and theres not another one like it around," Makerney said.
  10. The Bliss Popcorn Machine. According to Johanna Makerney at the Frisco Depot Museum in Hugo, this machine still makes roasted peanuts on one side and popcorn on the other — and you can watch it all happen through the glass siding. In her words, “It’s neat and there’s not another one like it around.”
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10. Edmond, Oklahoma. How can a whole town be a piece of art? Simple: The town has encouraged local businesses to engage sculptors to create original statues to put in front of their storefronts and buildings. The result is that there are now more than 150 such statues by local and international artists scattered throughout town. No one statue is worth millions, but in the aggregate . . . who knows? (This statue in Edmond of the artist Monet was created by Gary Price.)
  11. Edmond, Oklahoma. How can a whole town be a piece of art? Simple: The town has encouraged local businesses to engage sculptors to create original statues to put in front of their storefronts and buildings. The result is that there are now more than 150 such statues by local and international artists scattered throughout town. No one statue is worth millions, but in the aggregate — who knows?
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11. A South German Monk. Not a caged ecclesiastic, but a very rare and beautiful pigeon, bred only in monasteries in Germany. According to Lorrie Montiro, the curator of the American Pigeon Museum, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, it has taken centuries to breed them successfully.
  12. A South German Monk. Not a caged ecclesiastic, but a very rare and beautiful pigeon, bred only in monasteries in Germany. According to Lorrie Montiro, the curator of the American Pigeon Museum in Oklahoma City, it has taken centuries to breed them successfully.
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Sod houses in Aline, Oklahoma. To date, many have decayed, but the museum that displays those that have survived receives many visitors each year.
  13. Sod Houses. Renee Trindler, Director of the Sod House Museum in Aline, Oklahoma, said “I think they [sod houses] are rare art pieces. Most have either decayed back to the earth or been plowed under. Our original structure is an architectural piece of fine art. We had over 7,000 visitors to it last year.”

 

Now it’s time to get out and see these pieces somewhere other than your screen. If the art is in a museum, be sure to check out specific visiting hours visiting hours before making the trip.

Is the U.N. Anti-Israel?

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Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) released the following statement after the United Nations Human Rights Council voted in a special session yesterday for a resolution that will launch an inquiry into alleged human rights violations by Israel.

“I am greatly disappointed but not surprised that once again the UN Human Rights Council has taken a biased and one-sided approach against Israel. The resolution that came out of the UN Human Rights Council yesterday has little grounding in the reality of a conflict between Israel, a country trying to protect its civilians, and Hamas, a terrorist group that purposefully places civilians on both sides in harm’s way. A resolution that fails to even mention the word Hamas, or the barrage of rockets that have targeted Israeli towns and cities, the rockets stored by Hamas in UNRWA schools or even the tunnels built by Hamas to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians highlights the Council’s continued blatant anti-Israel bias. I support and commend the Administration’s efforts against this irresponsible resolution.”

No Government Shut Down Was Ever Like This! A Family Memory.

vanheusen

Government shut downs don’t worry me — not after the Great Torkildson Shut Down of 1968.  The following is my version of the events; my siblings may remember it differently, or not at all.  That is their prerogative.

It all started when the old man had a run of bad luck down at Aarone’s Bar and Grill on East Hennepin, in Minneapolis, where he worked filling beer bellies, including his own.  Now, far be it from me to allege that any sort of illicit gambling took place at that sterling institution.  As far as my knowledge goes, the joint is on the up and up.  Always has been.  But according to my dad, certain regular customers were willing to take a little side bet now and then on anything going – the Kentucky Derby, presidential elections, when the first snowbird would show up for a Schlitz.  With a true Norwegian’s eye for the main chance, my dad took on all comers; he figured that when you averaged it out he’d have to win a few.  And he did, too. Until that summer of 1968, when Lady Luck took a powder on Donald Sylvester Torkildson.  Lying on my bed upstairs, improving my mind with an Archie comic book, I overheard most of the conversation that followed this string of bad luck – as did most of the neighborhood, since we didn’t have air conditioning and all the windows were open.  It started with a low mumble issuing from the pater, which I did not catch.  My mother’s reply was crystal clear, however:

“Don’t tell me you lost the mortgage payment too!”

“Naw, that’s okay.  But we gotta cut back on a few tings.”

“Like what, Rockefeller?  I’m not reheating coffee grounds again.”

“Well, can’t you cut out da kids going to da dentist this year?”

“What?”

The rest of the conversation needn’t concern us here – suffice it to say that I DID go to the dentist, although I thought dad’s idea a splendid way to economize.

The budget battle persisted all summer.  Both my parents were heavy smokers, so they couldn’t throw that in each other’s face.  My dad got all the beer he wanted, or needed, at work, free, so that ace in the hole didn’t pan out for my mother. We ate a lot of tuna fish casserole, with plain jello for desert.  No more sliders from White Castle.  That was hard to bear.  No more Jerry Lewis Cinerama movies at the Cooper Theater in St. Louis Park.   That was even harder to bear.  My mother turned off the gas for the hot water heater.  Dad went to the Minneapolis Athletic Club, where he worked part-time as a towel jockey, to take his hot showers.  I froze to death at home.  Our clothes, washed strictly in frigid water, took on a gray, gummy cast.  The dinner dishes were never completely rid of tuna fish reek.

So far, things were inconvenient, but not unbearable.  But then my mother crossed the line.  Abandoning all maternal instinct, she lined me up with a half-dozen lawn mowing jobs in the neighborhood.  I already had a paper route, for the cat’s sake – how was I going to fit in mowing lawns and keep up my in-depth research on Betty and Veronica?  This was with a rotary mower, mind, not a gas-powered mower.  But my mother would brook no denial on my part.  I’d have to turn over half my wages for household expenses, like Bon Ami powder and clothes pins – my mother refused to use the gas dryer in the basement anymore.  Everything flapped in the breeze in the backyard, even my dad’s bvd’s.

Her final gambit was to return the Westinghouse TV to avoid further payments.  Women of the 1960’s could apparently do without the boob tube.  But not us men.  I asked dad if he knew where I could get an application for the French Foreign Legion.  He said he didn’t know, but when he found out he’d gladly join me.

Fortunately, Lady Luck sashayed back into the picture just as September rolled around.  My dad won two church raffles and cleaned up at a pinochle game at the Pine Tavern.  The Westinghouse was brought back; hot showers returned; tuna fish casseroles . . . well, my mother was awfully fond of them – but we did start supplementing our diet with White Castle again.

Marie Antoinette supposedly said, when she heard that the peasants had no bread, “Let them eat cake!”  Well, I say to all those who worry about the Federal government – Let them eat tuna fish casserole!

whitecastle