41119-Trees-cover November 19, 2014

Cyber Security: Time for Us to Quit Spying On Ourselves And Be Ready for the Real Threats

November 21, 2014



In its quest to see all and know all about us, the government has made it easier for our enemies to do the same. Here we go again: Admiral Michael Rogers, who heads the NSA, has just told Congress that China and “one or two other countries” could take down critical parts of our infrastructure […]

“One in Three Military Women Raped.” Really?? I Don’t Think So.

November 17, 2014



It’s interesting, when confronted with what seems like an outrageous claim, to pull the string and follow it to where the statistics come from.  Sexual assault in the military is a terrible thing, damaging, unforgivable, under-reported, too rarely prosecuted.  Yes, it is all those things.  But one in three military women are raped during their […]

Death to the Clamshell! I Long For The Simple Cardboard Box

November 14, 2014



Hubby: “I’d like to find the guy who invented this crap and punch him in the face. If he was here I’d be like, ‘Oh, was this your idea? Come here so I can punch you in the face.’” Hubby is usually a pretty easy-going guy, and generally reserves such outbursts of violent fantasy for […]

Joan Larsen Encore: Far Off the Beaten Path in Patagonia

November 12, 2014



By Joan Larsen So much of my life has been spent in the world’s most remote places, and often many of my fellow companions are the crème of the crop of the world’s most famous photographers – the ones vying for those National Geographic covers. They have climbed the highest peaks, photographed underwater, and been […]

“Thank You For Your Service.” What Do You Really Mean By That?

November 10, 2014



Instead of a thank-you, I’d like something different:  I want you to pay attention, stay informed, and get politically involved.   In recent years, more veterans are letting us know that they find it a little off-putting to be thanked for their service. The exact reasons vary, but I have my own, so count me […]

Dear H.B. Reese, What the Hell Happened to Your Peanut Butter Cups?

November 7, 2014



Has anyone else out there noticed that Reese’s Cups – formerly one of the most perfect foods ever to grace the planet – have gone somewhat downhill over the past couple of years? Specifically, I have my doubts on just how much “peanut” is in these things lately. Peanut butter, in its purest form, is […]

Alice Friedemann in Deepest Africa: On Safari in Botswana, Crown Jewel of Wildlife Conservation – PART 2

November 5, 2014



A dear friend of Joan Larsen takes us with her into the wilderness of Botswana, and the results are spectacular. By Alice Friedemann It was hot, up to 102 F, but dry, so not too bad, a free sauna. The human ability to cope with the worst heat of the day is one of our […]

Oh. Not Again.

November 3, 2014


Whatever Clock

By Lauriate Roly   It’s so dark; so early. Was I supposed to set my clock back an hour last night? I used to love the dark, on Berri Street.  I used to feel so comfortable and sure about myself in the advancing darkness and waiting for the streetlights to go on.  Also, I loved […]

The Benefits of Cutting Back on Dining Out

October 31, 2014



Lila and Hubby recently took advantage of a long-languishing gift card for dinner and a movie. We figured we’d better use it up before it expired or we lost it or something. We intentionally chose a weekday on the theory that the theater and the restaurant might be less crowded. We were right about the […]

Alice Friedemann in Deepest Africa: On Safari in Botswana, Crown Jewel of Wildlife Conservation – PART 1

October 30, 2014



A dear friend of Joan Larsen takes us with her into the wilderness of Botswana, and the results are spectacular. By Alice Friedemann   This country is mostly a desert, with the vast majority of the 2 million people living in a small region in the south east corner near South Africa, where there’s water. […]

Jim Klobuchar Presents: From Ginger Rogers, A Squeeze and a Promise

October 29, 2014



It is with pleasure and delight that I introduce you to a man of many talents: Jim Klobuchar – the daily columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for over 30 years (and probably the best-known name in the whole upper Midwest), named the nation’s top columnist in 1984, finalist in NASA’s Journalist in Space project (a […]

So You’ve Never Heard of Steampunk?

October 27, 2014



So there was Lila, invited to a Halloween party at the last minute, and not a thing to wear. What to do, what to do… Aha! For Christmas a few years ago, some wonderfully strange friends had given Lila Ebola and Plague. No, no, not the actual diseases; these were somewhat cute, plush, giant microbe […]

Halloween is One Week Away. Children’s Costumes to Avoid

October 24, 2014



In case you missed this last year, here is Lila’s common-sense public service announcement about costumes for your daughters:   If your little girl is wearing this stuff, she’s a pedophile’s dream.  If your teen is wearing it, she’s jailbait.  That’s all there is to it, so pick something else. Halloween is a week away, […]

Jeanne Henriques: An Extraordinary Travel Moment… In Laos

October 22, 2014



A most special treat this week for all of us . . . and the warmest of introductions to our guest blogger, Jeanne Henriques – someone I call a dear friend from afar, writer and photographer extraordinaire. Jeanne not only writes like a dream, but leads and writes about the most extraordinary life I have […]

Drunk Sex: When Will Women Be Seen As Responsible Decision-Makers in Sexual Matters?

October 20, 2014



The “No means no” slogan of the past couple of decades hasn’t really helped much where sexual misconduct on campus is concerned. Enter a new slogan, “Yes means yes.” It sounds good in theory – affirmative consent all around before any activity is initiated – but it fails to resolve the single biggest problem in […]

Nurse Amber Vinson and the CDC: If These are Medical Professionals, We Are Doomed

October 17, 2014



Is it just me, or does anyone else out there have the déjà-vu sensation that we are watching a bad horror movie unfold? Twelve Monkeys, or Z Nation, or Contagion, perhaps? At any rate, we are trapped in that sort of horror movie where the characters all do patently stupid things just to move the […]

Joan Larsen’s Book Reviews: An Inside Look – Remarkable Women of Our Time

October 15, 2014



By Joan Larsen   For those of us who are “middle-aged” or a tiny bit above, reading books is in our blood. Some of us have libraries of books we cannot part with. You can count me as one of them. I am counting on heaven as being a library in fact . . . […]

It’s Past Time to Get Off the Fossil Fuels: You Can’t Drink Oil

October 13, 2014


Here’s how Lila knows we are doomed as a species: there’s hardly any water left in California, and we’re letting Big Oil ruin it by fracking. News flash: you can’t eat dollars or drink oil. Lila’s undergraduate degree is in Geology. Decades ago, we predicted that economically accessible oil supplies would run out by the […]

Death With Dignity: Why Should Religion Be Allowed to Butt In?

October 10, 2014



I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don’t deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: A Glimpse of the Ultimate Honeymoon Hideway – Villa 11, North Island, The Seychelles

October 8, 2014



By Joan Larsen     Picture this: turquoise waters, glittering sands, and the most exclusive hidden villa in our world — on an island that is about as isolated as you can get. And – after a 3-day wedding in Venice that often eclipsed the world news, viewers were sprinkled with a series of carefully […]

Farewell to Jerrie Mock, First Woman to Fly Solo Around the Globe

October 6, 2014



She was the record-setting aviatrix you probably haven’t heard of.   Last weekend, the New York Times ran a full-length obituary article for one Mrs. Jerrie Mock, who passed away last week at the age of 88. I’d like to say that the remarkable Jerri Mock was famous for being the first female pilot to […]

Ebola Doubling Every 20 Days: Quit Placating the Public and Take it Seriously

October 3, 2014



I don’t worry about known Ebola patients coming to the US under controlled conditions. I worry about unknown incubators traveling here and then becoming ill among the general population. It’s already happened.   So the news came this week that a man flew from Ebola-stricken Liberia to visit relatives in Dallas, TX, and now he […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: My Glorious Love Affair in Zermatt

October 1, 2014


By Joan Larsen An unusual love story – the kind you hope for, dream of – has to have had “beginnings”. My mother’s dreams for her only daughter were not wealth and fame. She was a romantic, believing – showing – that when you had love, combined with a romantic life, that life could be […]

Is There Really Such a Thing as the Evil Twin?

September 29, 2014



Lila has known several sets of twins over the years. Last weekend, I had occasion to renew the acquaintance of a set I have known for several decades now. Nothing has changed: one twin is kindhearted and thoughtful, and the other is… well… kind of a jerk. How could twins be so different from each […]

Another Lila-Pause

September 26, 2014



All, alas, I must take another break today for meetings with realtors and photographers and brokers, oh my!   Or maybe just the photographers, who will hopefully capture all the charm of Lila’s old home, which now eagerly awaits a new occupant!   The past week or so has been a whirlwind of painting and […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Pure Fall Enchantment – Utah’s Red Rock Country

September 24, 2014



By Joan Larsen   Have you ever turned a single bend in a road, finding yourself so stunned by a scene of such beauty that you have felt a rush to your heart . . . or felt tears rolling down your cheeks? The threaded road with its unexpected curves and pull-offs – pull-offs where […]

Time to Make Scientific Education Standards a Priority… Starting with Us

September 22, 2014



Our huge, inter-connected population and the globalization of economies means that today, intelligence without education is outright harmful.   The human mind looks for patterns, and in the absence of education or scientific thought processes, the mind will see patterns and meanings that just aren’t there. Conversely, without education, the mind grasps little of what […]

Hostage Rescue Operations: Not So Simple

September 19, 2014


Some of the US wreckage left behind at "Desert One" in Iran, 1980.

Obama’s detractors would have us all think that one need only snap one’s fingers and tell the military to just go rescue the hostages, and it’ll be done. In reality, hostage rescues are notoriously difficult and dangerous, and often get the hostages killed.   I haven’t seen this complaint from any credible news organization, but […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Deep In Australia’s Jungles – Learning to Love a Frilled Dragon

September 17, 2014



By Joan Larsen Still young and very adventurous on our first month-long journey to Australia – travelling on unpaved dusty roads to be one of the first to discover the wild places of the country’s Top End – had been dreamed about for years. It was a bit more rugged than we had been told […]

Bridge the Divide Between Young and Old: Write a Book For Your Family

September 15, 2014



It never fails that at family reunions, the “old folks” are sitting around reminiscing about grade school and about people that the younger folks have never even heard of, much less met, and maybe the time that old Fred turned the school bus over in that ditch down by Carl’s place. The young think it’s […]


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