Peace Golda Stuehrenberg and B.F. “Pepper” Curry

I’ve been expecting to wake from a bad dream, but had no way to express it. Now I have something concrete to write about. My sister called with news of two deaths in the family. Well, actually, one was in the family, the other was practically family growing up in Cody.

My great-grandmother, Golda Stuehrenberg, was 97, and had nearly recovered from a perforated organ (spleen, I believe). Its quite rare among my friends to have 4 living grandparents, but I’ve even had great-grandparents in my life. Golda was always a rambunctious woman, which was evidently a trait passed down to her son (my grandpa) Stan, and his children. Recently, she’d even been dating a gentleman we’d nicknamed Fast Eddy because he drove a canary yellow El Camino with yellow wheels. It was cute as all hell. She’d been relatively healthy until just the last couple months, and I’m so glad that my wife had a chance to meet her last year. We also have a shockingly colorful afghan that was a graduation present. My cousins and I are under strict orders not to use it though.

The other death was B. F. “Pepper” Curry. I don’t recall the exact reason our families became friends, but Helen and Pepper often sat for us when my parents were away. Pepper had an imagination that outpaced that of ours as children, and was the most wonderful person to be around.

Pepper often took me fossil hunting in the dry lake beds around Cody and regaled me with stories of when he and Buffalo Bill used to “hunt Indians.” These stories were fake, and we knew it then, but they were still delightful. Part of what made them so great was that he himself wouldn’t hurt a fly.

The only toy gun I owned as a child was made from a broomstick and pine that Pepper fashioned for me; burying a .22 shell into the stock of authenticity. Pepper made all manner of wood boxes, toys, and puzzles, and loved to share them. He was always playful except when in the wood shop, when he was suddenly serious about safety. My baseball cards are still locked away in a wooden chest he made for me, the top decorated with hand-carved arrowheads.

Both Helen and Pepper’s health has been declining in recent years, and Pepper’s seems to have been worse. Hilary has been corresponding with Helen for some time, and said that Pepper would thank her every day for taking care of him.

Pepper was both like a grandfather and a child-hood friend. I learned so much from him and Helen, and their impact on us is immeasurable. My early exposure to natural history, woodworking and bluegrass were all basically his fault. Thank you.

Angel’s Rest Hike

Scott, Michelle, the dogs, and I took a hike up to Angel’s Rest yesterday. It was a sunny and clear day, and we all needed to get out. The view from the top was really great; you could see Portland and beyond to the west, and Mt. Rainier to the east. It was quite windy at the summit, maybe 45MPH with gusts up to 70MPH. I was able to take a panoramic shot, though its not that great.

Smooth Criminal

A man and woman team has been stealing backpacks from the library I work in. They often take them out of the bathroom, remove the books, leave the bag, then sell them back to the bookstore. However, due to our new security system, the theives have been captured on video. The male culprit looks like me, so I’ve been getting crap about it. To make things better, people assure me that the culprit was taller and thinner.

Las Vegas

Ash trays on urinals, broken glass, vomit and call girl cards on the sidewalk. Electrical fires, rashes, antiquing, and a complete disregard for thermodynamics. Yes, I’m back from Las Vegas. Having finally been there, I still think Vegas sucks, but I had a great time thanks in large part to the group. I went on a tight budget, which I highly recommend against. I also learned several lessons, some of which I’m not entitled to divulge. So here’s a benign one: The water in Vegas is disgusting. Its no wonder alcohol is such a big deal. Well, if you’re thirsty, you can melt ice from the hotel’s ice machine. Its filtered again before the ice is made, and is much more drinkable. Its important to guard your precious fluids in Vegas.

Oh – negative

I was asked to donate blood for Spring Break weekend because I’m O-. I went in knowing that with my plans this weekend, at least one blood transfusion may be necessary for the group. Plus, I was in a good mood when they called, and they haven’t been hounding me.

Checking in went fine, but when the actual puncture happened, the technician bruised my arm, causing it to immediately swell. He informed me that the problem with bruising is that the plateletes all rush to the bruise and can clog the line. Well, after several needle adjustments, a hot pack, and a 98% full pouch, the flow had completely stopped. The donation won’t be usable for emergencies, but it can be used in the lab.

Sadly, my arm hurts quite a bit, and its mostly immobile. I hope I can gain full use of my arm, for, you know, causing trouble.

China, human rights, and private property

Up and coming world power China has just amended its constitution allowing for a guarantee of human rights and protection of private property. Most of the chatter around this monumental change focus on the private property aspects. A single line; “The state respects and protects human rights” is simply stated and and seems far to inchoate to be serious. However, its a start, and it will allow for precedent to be set by lawmakers.

The cynic in me cringes at the private property part of the amendment, which seems ultimately self-serving to wealthier members of the party. Sadly, this amendment didn’t happen before Three Gorges, which displaced millions, and will ultimately be an exercise in waste and power-plant envy. One of my previous college professors feels that the Three Gorges will be the downfall of the current dynasty, much in the same way that other gigantic state investments have in the past. Ironically, the other two started with a G, but all I can remember is the Great Wall. The other escapes me.

Anyway, there’s a recent NG article on China’s progression to a market economy and the environmental toll that has and will be paid by both the Chinese, and people everywhere on the planet. Its good to see that the government at least recognizes the problem.

GRE is over

I took the GRE General test today and received a score 190 points above the minimum for admission to the Geography program at PSU. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but its done. I’m not really allowed to speak to what was on the test, but I didn’t sign anything that prevents me from talking about how poorly marked and outdated the testing center was. Oh, and to software was crap. Developed with assistance from Microsoft (in 1980, no doubt).

But the Pentagon says…

Though our country vehemently denies that there is global warming, and stifles any official reports that suggest it, the Pentagon released a paper that details a near worst case scenario for 2020 given global warming’s affects on the planet.

It really is a worst case scenario, because many biologists, geologists, chemists, nerds in other words, don’t expect a complete melting of the ice caps for several more decades. Seven years ago I saw a rendering of what coastlines would look like around the world if there was a maximum melt. The estimation at the time was for a 33 meter rise in sea level. This would be quite disruptive because so much of the world’s population lives so close to its shorelines. The changes in Europe were quite dramatic, with sea water filling up the major river valleys several hundred miles inland. This may be somewhat hard to visualize, so just think about Manhattan (3+ million people) being submerged. That’s a very small example of the potential disaster. Even a miniscule 1 meter rise would have startling affects.

I suppose that doesn’t concern some people because their ranch outside Crawford, Tx is sitting at 750′ above sea level. It may be self sufficient, but its not an island. I hope he’ll invite us to camp on his land.