Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Need a Change?

New decade... and perhaps you are thinking about trying something new?

After all, you are never too old to learn something new if you set your mind to it, right?

While the scene above looks quite old, it actually is a fairly recent bit of art painted on the side of a building three blocks from where I work.

It serves to advertise the business that is undertaken inside the building's wall.

Quite eye catching advertising, no?

Inside the building: a violin making school.

Bet you've never seen one of those before.

Bet you never even thought about such a school before.

Bet you are now sort of thinking about how it would be to be a violin making student.

You'd sit at a bench....

Working with wood and glues and shaping tools.
I imagine that while focusing on the task at hand time would disappear...
Each completed instrument would feel like part of you. Your memories of the time in which you created the instrument would arise every time you saw it. You would remember selecting the wood, making sketches, applying the stain color to the grain that would suddenly come to life.

The profession of violin making is centuries old. Modern technology has figured out why some violins have such remarkable sound each time they are played, century after century, while other violins, while equally well made, deliver a less lush tone.

(Hint: it has to do with the growth ring size of the tree that the wood comes from....)

Next door is a shop where violins and similar stringed instruments could be purchased.
While the school does not allow visitors, the shop is happy to show you around.
The tiny child size violins are just amazing...barely larger than a paper back book.
They look like toys...but they aren't. They are finely crafted musical instruments, and are priced to reflect that fact.
Next door to the shop...well, why not a recital hall?
The musical artist needs a place to demonstrate their skills, or to debut new musical compositions before family and friends, and interested music lovers.
I'll be watching for the January calendar to be posted.
A short walk over a lunch break and maybe I could take in a recital from time to time.
Just for the joy of listening to those who choose to play.
I'm not looking for a career change to violin maker this year (although SLC has TWO such schools...image that!)
But I do think I would benefit from more live music.
I think that would be a change I could really enjoy.

The BEST column of 2010...and maybe the whole upcoming decade!

This is the BEST article about Tiger Woods and Christianity. Do NOT miss this!

(With full hopes that Ann can forgive me for copying this is just too good NOT to spread across the Internet in any way one can.)

by Ann Coulter
January 6, 2010

Someone mentioned Christianity on television recently and liberals reacted with their usual howls of rage and blinking incomprehension.

On a Fox News panel discussing Tiger Woods, Brit Hume said, perfectly accurately:

"The extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."

Hume's words, being 100 percent factually correct, sent liberals into a tizzy of sputtering rage, once again illustrating liberals' copious ignorance of Christianity. (Also illustrating the words of the Bible: "How is it you do not understand me when I speak? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my words." John 8:43.)

In The Washington Post, Tom Shales demanded that Hume apologize, saying he had "dissed about half a billion Buddhists on the planet."

Is Buddhism about forgiveness? Because, if so, Buddhists had better start demanding corrections from every book, magazine article and blog posting ever written on the subject, which claims Buddhists don't believe in God, but try to become their own gods.

I can't imagine that anyone thinks Tiger's problem was that he didn't sufficiently think of himself as a god, especially after that final putt in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year.

In light of Shales' warning Hume about "what people are saying" about him, I hope Hume's a Christian, but that's not apparent from his inarguable description of Christianity. Of course, given the reaction to his remarks, apparently one has to be a regular New Testament scholar to have so much as a passing familiarity with the basic concept of Christianity.

On MSNBC, David Shuster invoked the "separation of church and television" (a phrase that also doesn't appear in the Constitution), bitterly complaining that Hume had brought up Christianity "out-of-the-blue" on "a political talk show."

Why on earth would Hume mention religion while discussing a public figure who had fallen from grace and was in need of redemption and forgiveness? Boy, talk about coming out of left field!

What religion -- what topic -- induces this sort of babbling idiocy? (If liberals really want to keep people from hearing about God, they should give Him his own show on MSNBC.)

Most perplexing was columnist Dan Savage's indignant accusation that Hume was claiming that Christianity "offers the best deal -- it gives you the get-out-of-adultery-free card that other religions just can't."

In fact, that's exactly what Christianity does. It's the best deal in the universe. (I know it seems strange that a self-described atheist and "radical sex advice columnist faggot" like Savage would miss the central point of Christianity, but there it is.)

God sent his only son to get the crap beaten out of him, die for our sins and rise from the dead. If you believe that, you're in. Your sins are washed away from you -- sins even worse than adultery! -- because of the cross.
"He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:14.

Surely you remember the cross, liberals -- the symbol banned by ACLU lawsuits from public property throughout the land?

Christianity is simultaneously the easiest religion in the world and the hardest religion in the world.

In the no-frills, economy-class version, you don't need a church, a teacher, candles, incense, special food or clothing; you don't need to pass a test or prove yourself in any way. All you'll need is a Bible (in order to grasp the amazing deal you're getting) and probably a water baptism, though even that's disputed.

You can be washing the dishes or walking your dog or just sitting there minding your business hating Susan Sarandon and accept that God sent his only son to die for your sins and rise from the dead ... and you're in!

"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9.
If you do that, every rotten, sinful thing you've ever done is gone from you. You're every bit as much a Christian as the pope or Billy Graham.

No fine print, no "your mileage may vary," no blackout dates. God ought to do a TV spot: "I'm God Almighty, and if you can find a better deal than the one I'm offering, take it."

The Gospel makes this point approximately 1,000 times. Here are a few examples at random:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23.

In a boiling rage, liberals constantly accuse Christians of being "judgmental." No, we're relieved.

Christianity is also the hardest religion in the world because, if you believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, you have no choice but to give your life entirely over to Him. No more sexual promiscuity, no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no killing inconvenient old people or unborn babies -- no doing what all the other kids do.

And no more caring what the world thinks of you -- because, as Jesus warned in a prophecy constantly fulfilled by liberals: The world will hate you.

With Christianity, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and your eternal life is guaranteed through nothing you did yourself, even though you don't deserve it. It's the best deal in the universe.

1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106

Monday, January 04, 2010

Most of it was all happening at the zoo...

Sunday afternoon.

Sunny weather.

Need to get out and walk.

What to do?

Go see The Hogle Zoo.


Because it was there!

More specifically, because I have been wanting to see Baby Zuri since she was born in August.

(Now how Mom Christie got mixed up with a guy from Pittsburgh...well, I think it was a long distance romance to say the least. She is probably still wondering how she got pregnant!)

Christie wasn't too interested in making eye contact, and baby Zuri was sacked out. I've seen footage of Zuri romping about with her big flappy African elephant ears and she is simply A-dor-able!
Next to the elephant enclosure was this little sign.
Apparently you pushed a button and got to smell elephant smells.
I've smelled elephant smells...I used to work at the San Diego Zoo. I wouldn't ever go out of my way to push a button to get a snoot full of that odor!
The funniest part? The button had been pushed so often it was broken. I wonder how many young boys had taken turns pushing the button, smelling, and saying EWWWW....
Rambling around the zoo was interesting . A lot of the enclosures were inside and had great window views close to the animals. And in this case, of the zoo keeper as well.
Other enclosures had plastic covered chain link fencing. At first I was thought that Hogle needed to update to the moat style enclosures like the San Diego Zoo has.
But then I realized that with a moat, you can't get this close to the animals. I was about four feet from this handsome kitty cat with the most gorgeous blue eyes.
The San Diego zoo never has zebras in the snow. Hogle does...score a point for that lovely scene!

I would guess there were maybe 30 people visiting the zoo while I was there. We tended to keep bumping into each felt rather chummy.

The girl in the rosy colored jacket made me smile. She skipped and pranced and begged to go see the "Polar Berries" next.

Apparently the Hogle Zoo doesn't have Polar Berries, or Polar Bears either for that matter.

(I later asked if I had missed seeing the hippos. I was informed that their one and only hippo "Moe" was wintering in a zoo with better facilities and three flirtation female hippos. I think Moe must be very, very happy this winter...)

The penguins were having a fine day.

I asked them what they thought about global warming.

They shook their heads and walked away from me. Interpret that as you will...

All the zoos are big on guilt trips for children. I'm not sure what the children of Salt Lake City might have done to decrease tiger habitat, or how they could aid in preventing several other animal's possible extinction. While I appreciate the need for education, it seemed like every where I went there were announcements like this one.

Now this is more like it! The menu looked terrific...with lots of Asian foods that would be fun to try.

The area around the tigers and snow leopards was built to mimic a Tibetan village.

Only nicer I suspect. The prayer flags were colorful. Funny... I didn't see any appreciation for other religious practices from other areas.

A printed prayer that flaps in the breeze: a rather poetic concept. Wonder if anyone has done any studies on the success of those prayers like they have of Judeo-Christian prayers.

The snow leopards were really enjoying the sunshine instead of the snow below their perch.

Isn't that a really lovely tail dangling there? Those two sleep scrunched faces look a lot like Tigs when he is sleeping.

(I admit it...I would LOVE to go scritch those kitties and sleep with them. )

Mother Tiger....

Had every reason to be zonked out.
Triplet boys...and they apparently are now at that exhausting age where they get into EVERYTHING!

Two of them were munching snow, jumping up on the roof of the little shelter, chewing on branches, swatting each other...on and on it went while Mom just laid there looking at me like she would kill for a baby sitter and a chance to get out and meet with a friend.

I watched as one of the boys turned and eyed the small tree, put out a tentative paw, and then gingerly tried to climb up a branch.

In a flash Mom Tiger rolled over and was facing the cub with a "You get down from there RIGHT NOW!" expression that I knew all too well from my own years of raising a boy.

Yup, she had eyes on the back of her head all right when it came to seeing potentially foolish behavior.

Apparently the Hogle Zoo is quite a fertile place to be. The baby giraffe was just too cute.

The giraffe barn had two stories so you could go upstairs and be at eye level with the critters.

Upside down Christmas trees had been hung about to amuse and feed the giraffes. I wish I could say the piney scent was released, instead, truth be told, I don't think I have ever been in a more revolting smelling barn in my life. The floors were clean, but pee-yu. If the scent could be bottled it could be used for a miracle cure for appetite.

I guess I had never been in an enclosed area with giraffes before. Next time I will know better!

The meerkats that didn't make the television show. Well, at least they got a gig at the zoo. That's kind of like being on TV, right?

I've never seen an owl in the wild. This screech owl was as interested at looking at me as I was at him.

Another critter that seemed to be interested at looking at me.
One of my favorite pictures of the day. Aren't those ears something else?

If I ever see a porcupine in the wild I will totally FREAK OUT! They do look nice here though.

I waved back. What a cutie! What a hair do!

Nice bird...I do like birds with red feathers.
Another baby at the zoo!

Awww...isn't he sweet? Wonder why they didn't give him (her?) a name.

If it is a girl I think they should name her "Anna".

Like "Anna and the King of Siam".

Reflective water....and a shadowy figure below.

It's the baby Siamese Crocodiles Mom!!!!
And she is smirking because she doesn't have to put up with her baby's hijinks's like the Mama Tiger does.

This little miss was fascinated by the crocodile. It positively gave me the willies. She was so fearless...and I felt like grabbing her away so the croc couldn't get her.

Oh how deep our primitive instincts go.

Looks like a regular old cat to me...but of course it isn't. Still...I'll bet it would love a catnip mouse to play with.

The tail on this turquoise lizard was so elegant and gracefully curled.

More cats that looked like regular old cats to me. They touched noses, swatted at each other and generally behaved just like Tiggie and Hart do.

Love those stripy legs and big big eyes.

Given a chance...this little girl would have been grabbing herself a kitty cat. And those kitty cats would have been outta there in a blink.

Thank goodness all the snake encounters on my walks in Houston's forest trails have me over my scream and shudder response. I was fascinated watching this rattler as he rubbed his head against rocks and branches to begin the process of shedding his skin. The fresh skin on the head was so bright I wished I could have waited around to see the entire body freed of the old dull skin.

Hi there! (A sweet little non-venomous king snake coming at me for a closer look).
Can't help it....doesn't the loopy wad of green snake look luscious with water drops spangling its bright green skin? I sort of wish I could of touched it. Just barely...just a little touch.

Drying noodles? Ropey taffy?

That's right...waddle away rapidly and pretend it wasn't you....

The kangaroo exhibit was next to the exhibits I showed in the last pictures. They would bounce up and look in from outside while us humans would be looking outside from the inside. Sometimes it was hard to tell who was on exhibit: us, the kangaroos or the animal inside the exhibit.

All zoos seem to have peacocks. And they all seem to enjoy snitching sandwiches from unsuspecting hands. I never get tired of their amazing beauty.

Hogel had wild turkeys on the grounds as well. I'll have to ask my dad what is the deal with that tassle on their chests.

I was really ready to kick myself when I realized that the last night for Zoo Lights was on New Years Eve...and I had missed the event. All over the zoo were elaborate sculptures of animals, some of which obviously were animated on times while others were three dimensional. The last three years the zoo has had the sculptures up during the Christmas season, but are not sure if they will continue the tradition. If they will be at the top of my Christmas list of things to go see next year.

Now that's a totally different door handle for ya!

And that looks like a great place to eat. I had stopped at one little snack shop and was amazed at their prices: Three dollars for a hamburger, two for a hot dog. The San Diego Zoo charges a lot more than that for chow.

Speaking of chow...

The fruit bats were totally all over their food. Gone bananas you could they stuck their entire bodies inside the bananas that were strung as part of fruity garland.

I could almost see how people get entralled with fruit bats and could carry them around in their pockets. Almost....they are cute and all...but still not as cute as kittens.

When I first saw the exhibit, I thought the winged creatures were sparrows, then butterflies.
It was really dark, and my flash reflected off the glass. Sorry the pictures weren't better. Maybe you had better come see them in person....(smile)

The zoo had a playground too.

Wouldn't this egg make a great place to take a kid's picture every year, in summer, as a naked baby at first?

The bald eagle ruffled his feathers at me as if he was cold. I found that gesture unconvincing after seeing his brethern in Alaska. This ain't cold, birdy dude. This is just Utah!

The San Diego Zoo's horticultural collection is worth more than their animal collection. The Hogle Zoo had interesting flora as well.I'd like to know what this plant is called with the red clumps at the end of spindly branches.
A closer look...

And up close. Pretty and different, huh?

And so ended my first visit to the Salt Lake City Zoo.

I'm thinking it might not be my last visit...

I'd love to be a zoo keeper for a day. I'll be happy to do anything...anything at all!

Well, except sweep out the giraffe barn that is.