Mr. Big, the Cat, May Think He’s Going Somewhere, Because the Humans are Packing. We’re Off to Florida, But He’s Not Going.

I can’t tell yet if Mr. Big wants to help or hinder the process of packing, but he sure is in the middle of things. We’ll see when we finish packing, and then the sun goes down, and we head down to Mobile, Alabama (without cats), from central Arkansas. That will be a good place to crash before the second leg of the trip, to the Orlando area. We’re celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary (which was yesterday) with this trip.

Yellowstone Bison Stops Traffic

The wildlife in Yellowstone National Park live there; the people are merely visitors. I stopped our car when I saw a bison (what some call buffalo) grazing by the side of the road; I wanted a good picture.

I certainly did not expect what happened next — the bison decided to calmly strut into traffic! He stayed there a while, too. In Yellowstone, the wildlife have the right-of-way.

I’m Walking on an Active Volcano at Yellowstone National Park

At the time my wife took this picture, I did not yet realize that we were walking around on an active volcano when we recently visited Yellowstone National Park. The outgassing behind me, which I had just walked through, should have clued me in, since it had a strong smell of hydrogen sulfide mixed with hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. At a gift shop, I found a book by Greg Briening called Super Volcano: The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park. It explains the science of Yellowstone, and makes a strong case that the volcano that created Yellowstone will blow up again, possibly soon, with cataclysmic consequences worldwide.

Pictures of Delicate Arch, from Arches National Park

These pictures all include Delicate Arch, which I once painted, before first seeing it for real a few days ago. It’s the sandstone formation on the left.

We visited Arches N.P., in Utah, on our way to Yellowstone National Park. More vacation pictures are coming soon.

Places I Have Been, #3 (Updated for Yellowstone Trip)

My wife Dee and I live in Arkansas, the state shown in yellow above. This map shows, in pink, states we have visited together, between 2013 and the present. I just updated it for our vacation to Yellowstone National Park, which roughly doubled the pink area. States and provinces shown in blue are ones I have visited, but not with Dee, all before 2013. It is my ambition to visit other continents as well — it just hasn’t happened yet.

We took pictures on our trip, and they’ll show up here soon. First, though, I need sleep, for that was quite a long drive!

Places I Have Been, #2: When Was I Last There?

This is a more detailed version of one of the earliest posts on this blog, “Places I Have Been.” In this version, I color-coded the states and provinces to show when I was last in each of these places (the color-coding is explained below the picture). Also, no, I haven’t left North America — yet — but visits to all the other continents on Earth, plus the Moon, are definitely on my lifetime “to do” list.


Here’s the color-key. It starts in the present, and then proceeds in reverse chronological order.

Red — I’m here right now. Arkansas is also the state where I have spent well over 90% of my life, and I was born here, as well, 47½ years ago (January, 1968).

Pink — These are states I’ve been to since turning 45, not counting where I am at the moment. It’s also the set of states my wife and I have visited together — so far.

Purple — I was last in each of these states during the first half of my forties.

Dark blue — I was last in Kansas in my thirties, flying there, with two other math teachers, for an educational conference.

Yellow — Louisiana is the only state which I last visited in my twenties.

Green — These are states I last visited at age nineteen. So far, that’s the furthest I have traveled in a single year. The green Mexican state on the map is Chihuahua, where I visited Cuidad Juárez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

Light blue — These are the states and provinces I last visited as a “tween” (ages 10-12). The Northern vacation trip was with my family, and, so far, that’s the only time I’ve been to Canada. Virginia made the map when I won a trip to Washington, DC (too small to be seen above), as one of a busload of young newspaper carriers, for selling twenty newspaper subscriptions to Arkansas Gazette — one of America’s many “lost newspapers,” and one which I very much miss. Alabama and Florida are included because of a field trip, all the way to Key West, with a college class — one of the benefits of growing up as a “professor’s kid” who spent a lot of time on campus.

Brown — I have been to South Carolina once, but I wasn’t even close to ten years old at the time, and now I barely remember this family trip to the Atlantic coast.

Gray — I was so young, when my parents took me to Colorado, that I have no memories from that trip at all. I don’t think my younger sister had even been born yet, in fact. All I remember is being told, much later, that, yes, I have been to Colorado.

The Strange American Custom of Holiday Observance


The Strange American Custom of Holiday Observance

Today is not Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s actual birthday. The anniversary of his birth came, this year, last Wednesday. As you can see above, that’s January 15. However, it’s being observed today — the date circled above — to give people a three-day weekend.

That’s related to something else, apart from the sheer inaccuracy of moving a date on the calendar, that bugs me about “MLK Day,” as it is often called. It’s essentially the same thing that bothers me about Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day. To honor people we respect and admire for their hard work — for civil rights, defending the nation in battle, or anything else — what do we often do, as a nation? We close schools, many businesses, the stock market, mail service, etc., all to give as many people as possible a day without work. How does a day off, of all things, honor the hard work of anyone?