Saturday Surprise — A Hodgepodge

I haven’t done a Saturday Surprise for the past two weeks, for other things have been occupying my mind and time, and I almost skipped it this week, as I am a bit under the weather with a respiratory ‘thing’.  But … I am told that a certain young man named Benjamin, who hasn’t been able to be here for quite a while, will be checking in today, so I wanted to do something!  So, I have just a couple of things to kick off the weekend with a smile!

Take a look at this and tell me what you think it is …cake-1I bet you think it’s a nice, healthy salad, right?  Wrong … look again …cake-1-aYep, it’s actually a cake decorated to look like a salad.  Some years ago I did a post about uniquely decorated cakes that looked like something other than cakes.  I have found a whole new batch and I thought you might enjoy looking at a few.


Oodles of creativity there!  I don’t think I could eat the hand, though.  There are a ton more – if you’re interested, head on over to Bored Panda and check ‘em out!

I’m sure to people in Australia, the current toilet paper, or loo paper shortage is no laughing matter.  But I couldn’t help but chuckle at a few things I saw.

The Northern Territory News, or NT News, based in Darwin, Australia, printed 8 blank pages on Thursday.  Why?

“Run out of loo paper? The NT News cares. That’s why we’ve printed an eight-page special liftout inside, complete with handy cut lines, for you to use in an emergency.”

The editor of NT News, Matt Williams, said in an interview with the Guardian Australia that it was “certainly not a crappy edition.”

And then, of course, there have got to be memes …tp-meme-1tp-meme-2

One store is reported to have imposed a 4-roll purchase limit … pity the family who has six children! tp-grocery-lines

How would you like to get up to your house looking like this one morning?ice-1It happened on the New York side of Lake Erie last weekend when gale-force winds and 15-foot waves from the lake encased the structures in 1-to-3-inch-thick ice.  In some places, such as rooftops, the ice can be up to 3 feet thick, so of course there is concern about structural damage among homeowners.


And to end this post with a big smile, meet Pim, the Skinny Pig from the Netherlands …

Now, go forth and have a fun & happy …weekend

A No-Snark (Mostly) Sunday

After my last couple of rather rant-y posts, I felt like giving some thumbs-up and kudos tonight, proving that there are some things to be thankful for.

Christmas was over more than a week ago, but I thought I’d like to highlight a special Santa …Santa-1

That’s right, folks, it’s former President Barack Obama decked out in a fluffy red cap to surprise patients and pass out a few gifts on Christmas Day at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.  The facility is the same one his wife, Michelle Obama, visited every holiday season during her time as first lady to read stories to patients. She sometimes came with one of the couple’s two daughters.santa-2.pngThis year, it was the 44th president’s turn. He walked the hospital halls with a giant red bag of goodies slung over his shoulder. He visited a hospital playroom and stepped inside patient rooms, to the delight of the children and teens inside.  Dressed casually in a sweater and pair of jeans, Obama posed for selfies while handing out jigsaw puzzles, race cars and other gifts he and his staff collected recently.

santa-3.pngHe also recorded a video message that could be relayed for the people he couldn’t meet during his visit.  Before he left, hospital staff members greeted the president with a rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Obama responded by thanking the crowd for their work during the holidays.

“At a time that obviously is tough for folks, and as the dad of two girls, I can only imagine, in that situation, to have nurses, staff and doctors and people who are caring for them, and looking after them, and listening to them and just there for them and holding their hands. That’s the most important thing there is. What a great reminder of what the holiday spirit is supposed to be all about.”


santa-5One could make a comparison to another who spent the day in a luxury resort and on a golf course, but I won’t go there.

Two thumbs up to Germany who will close all 84 of its coal power plants. The nation — one of the world’s largest consumers of coal — will rely on renewable energy instead.  The announcement came earlier this year as Germany revealed its struggle to meet its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets. Coal accounted for 40% of Germany’s electricity at the start of the year.coal-vs-windCoal is the EU’s biggest economy. Germany accounts for the lion’s share, responsible for around one-third of electricity-related CO2 emissions, according to Carbon Brief. It generates roughly half of the EU’s electricity from brown coal (lignite), which emits higher levels of CO2.

More than halfway into 2019, German coal production had fallen by a fifth, largely replaced by renewables such as wind farms and solar. Wind is on track to become the country’s largest source of electricity, surpassing environmentally-unfriendly lignite. Germany also pledged to close its 19 nuclear power plants since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Renewables will account for 65 to 80 percent of Germany’s electricity by 2040, officials say.

And more good news on the environmental front comes from Australia, where bans introduced by two major retailers, Coles and Woolworths last summer, resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the country’s overall use of single-use plastic bags.

Initially, some customers felt “bag rage” about having to BYO-bag or fork over 15 Australian cents (11 cents) to buy a reusable one. Woolworths execs blamed slumping sales on “customers adjusting” to the plastic bag ban. Coles even briefly backed down on the bag ban and caught a lot of flak from environmentally conscious shoppers for giving away reusable plastic bags.

But the good news is that it seems most Aussies haven’t found it too hard to adjust to the change—and that’s fantastic for our landfills, oceans and the greater environment, which have become dumping grounds for our plastic waste.

There has been a growing movement to ban or tax these bags. Around the world, at least 32 countries have bans in place, according to reusable bag company ReuseThisBag.   The U.S. is obviously NOT one of the nations to ban single use plastic anything.  Only two states, California and Hawaii, have bans on single-use plastic bags.  A handful of others have either a tax or mandatory recycling, but on the federal level there is … nothing.plastic-bagsA personal note here … thanks to the initiative of my environmentally conscientious granddaughter Miss Goose, I now use my own re-usable canvas bags to bring groceries home, and re-usable mesh bags for my produce rather than the store’s plastic bags.  Most of the cashiers and baggers are upbeat about it, but on occasion I have had a surly clerk who acted as if I were intentionally making her life hard by bringing my own bags.  Twice in the past few months, I have written to the management of my local Kroger store, asking what their plans are for replacing plastic bags with paper or some other biodegradable material, but have yet to receive any response.  The U.S., it would seem, is far behine Australia and at least 31 other countries.

Well, that’s your good news for the month, and now I’m going back to my usual fare, complete with snarking, ranting, growling and grumbling.  Have a happy Sunday!

Saturday Surprise — Let’s Have An Adventure!

Good Saturday morning, friends!  No, no … don’t take your coats off, for we are going on an adventure today!  It’s been ages since we went exploring new places, and Jolly has the Filomobile all warmed up and ready to go!  Don’t worry … we’ll have you back in plenty of time for you do go do some Christmas shopping with the family.


First stop on our agenda today is Honolulu, Hawaii … let’s hope it’s warmer there than it is here, eh?  You may be surprised that we are going all the way to Hawaii to visit … a candy shoppe!  It’s one of the oldest Japanese candy stores in the United States, and I’m told they have quite a unique selection, so I thought it would be fun to start our adventure with a bit of something sweet to give us energy.  Well, here we are …Nisshodo-outsideI know it doesn’t look like much on the outside, but let’s go in and see what they’ve got to offer.  Oh look at all that! Nisshodo-4Doesn’t it all look yummy?  Welcome, friends, to Nisshodo Mochiya where the sweets are made in the Japanese-Hawaiian culinary tradition that stretches back to the mid-19th century, when the first Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii as indentured laborers on sugar plantations.

One of these immigrants was Asataro Hirao. He was already living in Honolulu when, in the 1910s, he decided to return to his home city of Hiroshima for a visit. That’s where he learned to make Japanese confections. When he returned to Honolulu, Nisshodo Mochiya was born.  Hirao tweaked traditional recipes, adapting them to local Hawaiian ingredients, and his descendants continue to make sweets based on his creations to this day. The shop is so rooted in tradition, Hirao’s successors were using his original vertical mixer until just a few years ago. And the whole family continues to come together around the holidays, making mochi to fill the rush of  New Year’s orders from customers who have been returning to the shop for decades.Nisshodo-2Everyone has their favorites, but the pink-and-white chichi dango, wrapped in translucent white paper and powdery with starch, is Nisshodo’s best-selling item. “We sell out of chichi dango pretty much every day,” says Mike Hirao, the shop’s third-generation owner.Nisshodo-3Looks like we got here in time!  The thing that Nisshodo is most famous for is Mochi, a sweet, chewy glutinous rice cake (which also happens to be gluten free, for those of you who care).  Every Asian culture has its own style of mochi, but the Hawaiian style is soft, sweet, and not quite as chewy as Japanese mochi.  Grab a sample, then we’ll be moving on …mochi-1mochi-2mochi-3

Next on the agenda, we are going to Australia to visit … bees!!!  Yes, Joe, I know you’re allergic, but you’re not going to get stung … these bees are ‘stingless’ bees!

The sugarbag bee or bush bee is particularly notable for the beautiful hives they make.  They tend to be smaller in size compared to other stingless bees. They are predominantly black and their bodies are covered in microscopic hairs.sugarbag-beeThe sugarbag bee builds hives in a distinctive spiral pattern unique to the species. The hives are broad and flat but each spiral rises in height as they turn, giving the hive a flattened conical shape.bees-hive.jpgA fully developed nest may consist as many as twenty spirals.  The hives have only one entrance, which is heavily protected by guard bees and coated with a mixture of beeswax and resins. Antibacterial properties from the resin clean any pathogens from the bees as they enter the hive. The substance also keeps out predators such as ants and beetles.bees-hive-2I find it fascinating that those tiny critters can build such an intricate structure!  And without bulldozers, cranes, bricks ‘n mortar!

One last stop, and then we’ll need to get home, for I know you all have other things to do besides flit about the planet with me ‘n Jolly!  I have a treat for you … we have been invited to visit the Los Angeles home of the famous singer, Mr. Rod Stewart!  No, no … we’re not going to hear him sing, but to take a look in his attic!  You see, he has built the most awesome model railroad … more of an entire city, actually, in his attic.

Rod-StewartHey, Rod … thanks for inviting us!  We’re dying to see your model trains!

Rod has been working on this project for the past 26 years!

railway-1.jpgThe model spans 1,500 square feet (it occurs to me that my entire house, two-stories, is a mere 1,190 square feet!) and is based on the cities of New York and Chicago as they were during the 1940s.  He started building the model in 1993 and continued working on it in between tours and making music. Often, Stewart would work on his models even when he was away in another country performing.railway-2.jpgStewart’s love for model railways started in his childhood when he lived on Archway Road in north London, near to the London Transport Highgate Depot and the Wellington Sidings coal yard. While on a holiday with his parents in Bognor Regis at the age of around eight or nine, Stewart saw a railway layout in a model railway shop window, and he thought—”if only I could get paid to build a model railway like that.”

“The only thing I wasn’t very good at and still am not is the electricals, so I had someone else do that.”

Isn’t this simply amazing?railway-3railway-4railway-5railway-6Thanks again, Rod!

Well, folks, we better get back to our home turf.  I’ve got some birthday shopping to do for Miss Goose today, then I need to spend some time planning for Thursday … ‘tis Thanksgiving here in the U.S., y’know, and I will be cooking for a crowd … best to have a plan.  I hope you all enjoyed our little adventure, and that you have a wonderful weekend!

America and Guns

This afternoon’s post comes from Simeon Levine, a young man of 17 years living in Australia. Though he lives 9,500 miles away, in another hemisphere, and has only spent 17 years on this planet, Mr. Levine sees as clearly as any, more than most in this country, the culture of guns in the U.S. Thank you, Simeon Levine, for this post and for your generous permission to re-blog!

Levine Lowdown

On the 3rd and 4th
of August 2019, 32 people were killed and 51 injured in two separate mass
shootings in America. Hundreds of family members and friends left grieving, and
bystanders forever replaying the traumatic circumstance again and again inside
their heads. Communities destroyed by the loss of life, thousands fearful of
the future and millions left shocked and overwhelmed by the situation.

I am Australian. I
feel helpless. I can’t even begin to gain a comprehensive understanding of the
American system and the obsession with guns. In April 1996, the Port Arthur
massacre left 35 people killed and 23 injured, one of Australia’s largest mass
shootings, and one of the last mass shootings. After the massacre, Prime Minister,
John Howard, restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles,
shotguns and tightened recreational shooters guidelines. A “buy-back” scheme
was introduced, costing millions of dollars, but protecting the lives…

View original post 491 more words

An Extreme Embarrassment …

Donald Trump, the man who was selected to represent us all, is an embarrassment. I am ashamed and embarrassed by the way this “man” treats the people of this nation, but even more ashamed and embarrassed by the way he treats our friends and allies. I would like to sincerely apologize today to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the bad behaviour of our elected representative.


Malcolm Turnbull

Australia is not an enemy of the U.S., but is, in fact, one of our staunchest allies. Historically the U.S. and Australia have shared intelligence, supported one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, when Trump called P.M. Turnbull last Saturday, he was rude and obnoxious.  Some details of the call leaked to the press this morning, and a senior administration official later acknowledged that the conversation with Turnbull had been “hostile and charged”, although the ‘official’ White House record shows a more toned-down version.

It seems the main source of conflict was a previously negotiated agreement that the U.S. would accept approximately 1,200 refugees from two detainment facilities off the coast of Australia, subject to passing security screening.  Trump’s immigration ban, signed last Friday, included a special provision allowing for exceptions to honor “a pre­existing international agreement,” a line that was inserted to cover the Australia deal. Nonetheless, it appears that he now does not want to honour the agreement and made his displeasure known in ways consistent with his venomous personality.

refugees-2.jpg“I don’t want these people,” Trump said. He called it “the worst deal ever”, and told P.M. Turnbull that he was seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.” Then yesterday he tweeted, “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”  There are approximately 2,000 people in the two detention centers, and the agreement calls for the U.S. to accept half of that number.  And they are refugees, asylum seekers, not illegal immigrants.

This morning, Republican Senator John McCain tried to smooth things over with the Australian government, calling Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, “to express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance.”  At least somebody in the administration has a sense of propriety.

“I asked Ambassador Hockey to convey to the people of Australia that their American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance, honor the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote.”

When the news of his call to P.M. Turnbull, as well as another contentious call with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto became public knowledge this morning, Trump responded with this:

“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it. The world is in trouble, but we’re gonna straighten it out, OK? That’s what I do, I fix things.”

Prime Minister Turnbull has been gracious about the call, refusing to criticize or condemn Trump.  That is what is called ‘diplomacy’, something about which Trump knows nothing.  The refugee crisis is ongoing.  We are talking about people living on two islands, in detention centers that are, in the words of one aid worker, “inherently toxic … akin to torture”.  These are families with children whose only crime was being born in a country that has been at war and being Muslims.  The conditions in these centers are so bad, and the plight of these people so hopeless that many are suicidal.  “I felt like my job was just convincing people to stay alive,” said another aid worker.

Even putting the humanitarian issue of the refugees aside, whether Trump likes it or not, we, the United States, signed an agreement with an ally, to which we are legally and morally bound.  It is unacceptable for Trump to be rude and berate the leader of another nation, one who is our friend and has done nothing to deserve such treatment.  This, in and of itself is bad enough, but consider for a moment … what happens when he throws diplomacy to the wind when speaking to a leader who is not so tolerant as Turnbull?  How will he negotiate with Kim Jong Un of North Korea or President Xi Jinping of China?  If he cannot even communicate civilly with our friends, how will he ever manage to communicate with our enemies?  Think about that one for a minute …

This is our new leader.  And I am ashamed and embarrassed.

A Windy-Cowbell-Quokka-Joke-a Monday


Today is Monday!  Bet you didn’t know that, did you?  See, if I hadn’t told you, you might have thought it was Sunday and spent the day enjoying yourself when you really needed to go to work.  No, no … no need to thank me … just seeing your BIG SMILE is thanks enough!


And take heart, for in the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, it is already Tuesday!  Now  on with the show …

Not your average cowbell


Nancy Holten has lived in Switzerland for 33 years and recently applied for Swiss citizenship, however, the request was denied.  Is Nancy a terrorist?  No.  Is she a criminal?  No.  So what, then, kept Swiss officials from approving her citizenship application?  Nancy does not like cowbells.  Yes, you heard me … she objects, apparently quite vociferously, to cowbells on the grounds that they are harmful to cows because they are too loud and heavy and should be outlawed.



Nancy, you see, is an animal rights activist, and has publicly protested the use of cowbells more than a few times.  In Switzerland, citizenship requests are processed at the local level, and the locals are tired of hearing Nancy complain, so even though she has lived nearly 80% of her life in the Swiss village of Gipf-Oberfrick, she was denied citizenship by the village officials.  “She annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions,” local politician Tanja Suter said.

There may be a bit more to the story, as Nancy has also complained about the noise of church bells near her home early in the morning.  Perhaps Nancy simply does not like bells!  At any rate, Nancy continues to live in Switzerland, though sans citizenship. Personally, I would invest in a good pair of earplugs.

I know this Monday morning post is guaranteed to be about anything EXCEPT politics, so I hope this joke I came across doesn’t break that promise, but it was just too humorous to pass up!

The King’s Meteorologist

Once upon a time there was a king who wanted to go fishing. He called the royal weather forecaster and inquired as to the weather forecast for the next few hours. The weatherman assured him that there was no chance of rain in the coming days.

So the king went fishing with his wife, the queen.


On the way he met a farmer on his donkey. Upon seeing the king the farmer said, “Your Majesty, you should return to the palace at once because in just a short time I expect a huge amount of rain to fall in this area”.

The king was polite and considerate, he replied: “I hold the palace meteorologist in high regard. He is an extensively educated and experienced professional, and I pay him very high wages. He gave me a very different forecast. I trust him and I will continue on my way.” So they did.

However, a short time later a torrential rain fell from the sky. The King and Queen were totally soaked and their entourage chuckled upon seeing them in such a shameful condition.

Furious, the king returned to the palace and gave the order to fire the weatherman at once! Then he summoned the farmer and offered him the prestigious and high paying role of royal forecaster.

monday-donkeyThe farmer said, “Your Majesty, I do not know anything about forecasting. I obtain my information from my donkey. If I see my donkey’s ears drooping, it means with certainty that it will rain.” So instead, the King hired the donkey on the spot.

And thus began the ancient-old practice of hiring asses to work in the government and occupy its highest and most influential positions…

Too windy?  Call the cops!

monday-windy-2One night last week, it was exceptionally windy in Niagara Falls, New York, and the sound of the wind was keeping at least one resident awake that night.  So, he did what anybody would do … he called the police!

A Niagara Falls police dispatcher informed officers that a resident had called to request police stop the wind from blowing: “All cars be advised, someone called to see if the police could stop the wind from blowing so they could sleep. If any of you guys could do that, could you let me know?”

You all know I cannot resist at least one cute animal story on Monday morning, right?

Lost Quokka!  Reward:  Free Skydive!


“One of our Quokkas has escaped from Rottnest Island, help us #findquokkasteve. Please keep your eyes open for any sightings and report to Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia on (08) 9474 9055. Last seen in Canning Vale area, please do not touch the Quokka if found just keep an eye on him until Department of Parks and Wildlife arrive. The RIA are providing a free trip to Rottnest along with Skydive Geronimo Rottnest now offering a free skydive as a reward if anyone finds Quokka Steve.”

Until today, I never heard of a quokka.  Turns out it is a marsupial (think kangaroo, koala) and it has a very limited habitat, existing almost exclusively on a small island off the coast of Australia, Rottnest Island.  The story goes that the island is actually named for the quokka.  An early Dutch visitor to the island, Willem de Vlamingh, mistook the marsupials for large rats when he arrived in 1696. He named the island “Rattennest” (Dutch for “Rat’s Nest”), which was later adapted to Rottnest. Check out this in Animal Facts Guide for more interesting info about quokkas.

Meanwhile, the missing quokka is named Steve, and it is believed he has inadvertently been transported by barge to a recycling center in Perth (western Australia).  Penni Fletcher-Hughes of Rottnest Island Authority said, “We are not concerned in terms of him finding food…it’s other threats and just general stress. It’s a bit stressful to suddenly wake up in a recycling center.”  No doubt.

I hope they find Steve, but even when they do, he will not be returned to Rottnest Island to roam free, as there is fear that he could have picked up something in his travels that could infect the other quokkas on the island.  Quokkas are listed as vulnerable due to declining populations and loss of habitat from logging and development, so no chances will be taken, and Steve will either be placed in the Perth Zoo, or a wildlife park.

And thus, my friends, concludes another Monday morning post, and it is time for us to get to work!  I hope you found something to make you smile or chuckle here, and I hope that you will pass along the smile to your co-workers or whoever you may see today!








A Smile and a Chuckle …

My friend Linda informed me last night that all my ranting this week has given her a headache and she wondered if I might take a brief break and write about some happier things this evening.  I do seem to have ranted a lot this week, and I’m not done yet, but I agree that we could all use a short break from my rants.  We need to smile, or even chuckle every now and again, else we develop frown lines in our faces and ulcers in our tummies.

The Case of the Missing Pine Cone

kc-park.JPGKings Canyon National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, California.  Kings Canyon National Park consists of two sections. The small, detached General Grant Grove section preserves several groves of giant sequoias, including the General Grant Grove, with the famous General Grant Tree, and the Redwood Mountain Grove, which is the largest remaining natural grove of giant sequoias in the world covering 3,100 acres and with 15,800 sequoia trees over 1 foot in diameter at their bases.  Giant Sequoia cones, just like pine cones, fall from the trees and the seeds provide food for the wildlife (squirrels, deer, bears and cougars, as well as a wide variety of birds).  What remains of the cones deteriorate and provide soil in an otherwise rocky terrain.  Since the cones are such an integral part of the ecosystem, it is actually illegal to remove them from the park!


pine-coneA young child, age unknown, took one of the sequoia cones home with him as a souvenir of his visit to the park, not realizing that he had broken the law, but when he later realized the error of his ways, he quickly made amends, sending the Sequoia cone back with a note of apology.  The child is unidentified, but two-thumbs-up to his or her parents, as they are obviously teaching their children the value of honesty!

Stealing from Mary Poppins?  Shame!

mary-poppinsOkay, so Mary Poppins had an umbrella that was pretty magical, thus she did not need a car.  But most nannies these days actually drive their cars to their place of employment.  Such was the case of a nanny who worked for a young couple in Washington, D.C.  Nanny uses a visitor’s pass to park in the neighborhood when she comes to care for the year-old boy.  In April, imagine Nanny’s surprise when she finished her daily shift, went to her car, only to find that her license plates were missing.  Two days earlier, she had found a note on her car saying “I know you are misusing this visitor pass to park here daily,” the April 4 note read. “If you do not stop I will report it, have your car towed and the resident who provided this to you will have his privileges taken away.”  Puzzled, Nanny’s employer had sent out a message on the community email group asking for the note’s anonymous author to contact them, hoping to clear the matter up, but no one came forward.  Nanny replaced the missing license plates, and likely thought no more about the incident, until … two days later when, once again Nanny finished her long day and returned to her car, only to discover … again, her license plates had gone astray!  Nanny once again replaced her license plates … this has got to be getting expensive!  And in late April, the thief struck yet again!  But this time, Nanny’s employers were ready for him … they had set up a video camera … a ‘Nanny-cam’, if you will, and the thief was caught red-handed!  Now for the best part … turns out this was no ordinary thief, not some auto thief stealing plates to put on stolen cars, but none other than Bryan Whitman, a top Pentagon official, in fact, the highest-ranking career civilian in the Defense Department’s public affairs office!  Mr. Whitman was promptly arrested and charged.  He has since been stripped of his security clearance, placed on administrative leave, ordered to pay $1,000 and serve 32 hours of community service, as well as 10 months of probation.  He is also ordered to stay away from Nanny and her employer.  I hope that somewhere in there, Nanny received restitution for all the money she had to pay to the Division of Motor Vehicles, plus her time and trouble.

Saving Froggie

froggie What would you do if you ran over a little tree frog with a lawnmower?  I’m willing to bet that most of us, this writer included, would not do what Min Tims from Mount Isa, Queensland did.  Ms. Tims had heard of a frog hospital in Cairns on the coast of Far North Queensland, Australia, about 500 miles from her home.  She contacted Rex Airways, who agreed to fly the frog. A group called Dogtainers helped coordinate and custom package the animal, and a courier met the flight 500 miles away in Cairns. And, finally, staff from an animal hospital called Frog Safe picked up the patient from there.

froggie2 Turns out that the frog was a green tree frog, a breed that is becoming increasingly rare in its native Australia.  The lawnmower blade had skimmed the shoulder blade of poor little froggie, and by the time he finally arrived at Frog Safe, the wound was seriously infected and much of the tissue was already dead.  Doctors administered pain meds and antibiotics, and a few days later they discovered why froggie had been out in the yard to begin with …. he was a sick little froggie with not one, but two intestinal parasites.  Once those were removed, froggie recovered with nothing more than a slight scar to show for his trauma!

It was actually a good thing that Min Tims ran over froggie, else he would likely have died from the parasites.  Who knew there was a hospital just for frogs?  As far as I can tell, Frog Safe is the only one of its kind in the world!  I did discover, however, when I was using Google to see if there were other such hospitals, that there is a novel titled Who Will Run the Frog Hospital by Lorrie Moore.  Frog Safe has an interesting and informative website (Frog Safe Animal Hospital) , in case you are interested in learning more!

Okay, folks, break time is over!  Hope you at least got a smile of two from these blurbs.  Now back to the ranting!  laugh ani2

Music and Politics Meet Once Again

Eurovision is touted as being like the Oscars, Grammys, Tony Awards, “American Idol,” “The X Factor” and “America’s Got Talent” all rolled into one — and then tripled.  Almost 200 million watched last year (even more than the Super Bowl!) from dozens of countries, and this year there were watch parties held everywhere from London to New York.  Eurovision is an annual song contest featuring singers from eligible countries that are members of the European Broadcasting Union.  It is, obviously, a big deal. Celine Dion actually started her now-famous career when she won in 1988 for Switzerland with the song “Ne partez pas sans moi” (Do not go without me).  Predictably, there are sometimes political conflicts that flow over into this entertainment event, such as in 2003 when the UK’s standing on the Iraq war may have contributed to a low score for the UK’s entry, Jemini.

This year’s Eurovision was held May 10th thru May 14th in Stockholm, Sweden.  The winner was Ukraine, which is where this story is leading.  I already mentioned that it can sometimes get political, right?  Well, Russia is apparently quite angry about the Ukraine winning and is threatening to boycott next year’s event!  Now I know you must be shocked to find that Vladimir Putin would lower himself to such levels of pettiness …

Apparently there is a two-fold reason for Russia’s anger.  First, Russia fully expected their singer, Sergei Lazarev, to win, but instead he finished third.  And then there was the song itself.  This year, organizers requested that contestants refrain from getting political with their song choices.  But Ukrainian Jamala, the Crimean Tatar jazz singer won with a ballad about the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars. Given the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine’s choice of song and Russia’s ire are both understandable.  In some ways, the whole thing is reminiscent of the controversy over the Grammy’s in the U.S. this year.

JamalaJamala, whose real name is Susana Jamaladynova, pleaded for “peace and love” as she collected her award on Saturday night. She admitted her song was highly politically charged in an interview with the Guardian the day before the contest. She has not been home to Crimea in nearly two years, saying she fears arrest, but most of her family still live there, and she said that although her song was inspired by the events of 1944*, it was also about more recent tragedies. (Walker, The Guardian, 15 May 2016)

Eurovision changed the method of judging this year.  I won’t even attempt to explain the old vs. the new methods, but under the old method, Australia would have won 1st place, with Ukraine 2nd and Russia 3rd. Some comments from Russian officials were:

  • “This is partly a consequence of the propaganda war of information that is being waged against Russia. There is a general demonisation of Russia – that we are all evil, that our athletes are doping, that our planes violate airspace.” (Russian MP Elena Drapeko)
  • “Music lost, because victory clearly did not go to the best song, and the contest lost because political attitudes prevailed over fair competition.” (Foreign policy official, Konstantin Kosachev)


It is a sad commentary of the day when entertainment events, such as Eurovision, the Grammy’s and the Academy Awards, that should focus on showcasing talent and providing beauty and joy to the masses outside the political arena, are so highly politicized.  Sadly, this is the world we live in today.  Perhaps it always was.


*Jamala’s song was titled 1944 and was about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars. The entire population was rounded up, put on trains and exiled thousands of miles away from Crimea, for allegedly cooperating with the Nazis during the war, despite the fact that many Crimean Tatars, including Jamala’s great-grandfather, fought for the Red Army and died at the front. The Tatars were allowed to return to Crimea only in 1989, and the majority of them strongly opposed the annexation of the peninsula by Russia in 2014. While some Crimean Tatars have joined the Russian government, many Tatar activists have been jailed or have simply disappeared; a Tatar television station has been chased out of Crimea and a climate of fear prevails.

Monday, Monday …

Australian police officer, Scott Mason, rescued a baby joey … a little kangaroo, orphaned when it’s mother was killed by a car in March. Constable Mason named the little roo Cuejoe, and the two have become something of a social media star down in Oz … (BuzzFeed: “This Hot Cop Adopted A Baby Kangaroo And It Lives In His Shirt”).  Cuejoe is adorable … and Constable Mason isn’t too hard on the eyes, either!  Check out the video link below:

Constable Scott Mason with Cuejoe

CuejoeI love the way he burrows into Mason’s shirt, then settles right down, just as if he were in his mama’s pouch.  But then one day, when Mason and Cuejoe were out playing in the courtyard of the Burringurrah police station, a huge wedge-tailed eagle with a 7-foot wingspan swooped down and grabbed baby Cuejoe! It lifted Cuejoe in its talons, hoisted the roo over a 6½-foot fence and headed toward the bushland. Luckily for Cuejoe, although large eagles are capable of lifting fairly large animals (Cuejoe weighed 10 pounds at the time), they cannot fly long while carrying them.  Constable Mason, with almost fatherly instinct, ran after the eagle who landed a few hundred feet down the road.  Immediately the eagle, with help from a fellow eagle, began pecking at poor Cuejoe.  But Mason scared the eagles away and, once again, rescued sweet Cuejoe, who suffered puncture wounds on his face and chest, as well as some missing patches of fur.  As Mason made his way back into the police station with Cuejoe in his arms, the eagles followed, and two days later were still sitting on a fencepost outside the police station … waiting …

Paramedics treated Cuejoe, who is recovering nicely and has started eating well again.  I just loved this story!  Full story here


There are 250,500 restaurants in the UK.  Approximately.  But a new restaurant, Bunyadi, is scheduled to open in June, apparently for just three months, and there are already 32,000 on the list for reservations!  Since the restaurant capacity is only 42 diners at one time, I am not certain how so many people will be served in a short three-month period. You are probably thinking this is an upscale, fancy restaurant along the lines of Maxim’s, right?  But this restaurant will have no phones, no electricity, and the food will be cooked over a wood flame grill.  Meals will be served on clay crockery, and the forks, knives and spoons are to be edible also. In fact, even the décor is rather … primitive.bunyadi1

According to Seb Lyall, the restaurant’s founder, “We believe people should get the chance to enjoy and experience a night out without any impurities: no chemicals, no artificial colours, no electricity, no gas, no phone and even no clothes if they wish to. The idea is to experience true liberation.”  WAIT A MINUTE … did he say “no clothes”?  Yes, that is the novelty, the gimmick that is drawing crowds to the as yet unopened Bunyadi … it is to be London’s first ever ‘nude restaurant’.  Personally, I would not wish to eat a meal while staring at a naked body, mine or anybody else’s.  I think I would need a large bottle of Tums.  But to each his own.  The price, by the way, will average $95 per person!  More Tums …

owlcafe1This is not the first … shall we say ‘brainchild’ of Mr. Lyall’s.  Last year he created another limited-time restaurant, the Owl Café, also in London. Animal rights groups were not too happy with the concept, worrying that it would be too stressful for the owls.  As an animal rights activist, I would agree with that, but I am also concerned about what might land in the food, what with owls flying around, doing … well, that which owls do.  The Owl Café had strict rules:  No Standing, No Touching the Owls, No Alcohol.  My research into the Owl Café shows that there are numerous of these establishments in Japan.  Odd that. owlcafevid


One Reilly Flaherty lost his wallet at a concert in Brooklyn a few weeks ago.  Like most of us, he assumed he would never see it again, and immediately set about canceling credit cards and replacing other identification.  If you have never gone through that process, I will tell you it is tedious and highly stressful … but less so than having somebody charge taxi rides in Hong Kong to your credit card (which actually happened to me).  Two weeks later, Mr. Flaherty came home to find an envelope containing his credit cards and driver’s license.  The only things missing were the wallet, his Metro card and the cash he had been carrying.  A note was also enclosed:

“I found your wallet, and your drivers license had your address so here’s your credit cards and other important stuff. I kept the cash because I needed weed, the MetroCard because, well, the fare’s $2.75 now, and the wallet ’cause it’s kinda cool. Enjoy the rest of your day. Toodles, Anonymous.”

Flaherty posted the note  on his Instagram account and captioned it, “thanks… I think?”



Double Disillusion.

I am sharing this post by a fellow blogger, WordyNerdBird because he makes some very astute observations about politics in general, and the U.S. & Australian political environments specifically. I find it interesting to see how people from other countries view our political circus. Well worth the read! (Also, I love his Scrabble background!)


So, it’s on.

Australians will head to the polls on July 2nd in an election that will see a “spill and refill” of all the seats in both houses of the Australian Parliament. For those unfamiliar with the Australian political system, this process is called a “double dissolution election”.

I had to laugh, though, when an ABC commentator today commented that “it’s going to be a very long campaign”. Has he not seen what’s going on in America? Months and months of campaigning just to obtain a party’s nomination to run for President, which means even more months of campaigning.

Fact is, I’m very interested in politics, but I don’t like any of the choices, either in America or here in Australia.

Why can’t we have honest, hard-working people who just want to serve their country as candidates for leadership? What happened to the statesman who believed in doing the…

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