My public comment in support of preserving America’s national monuments

July 12, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 12, 2017

On Monday, I happened across this essay by Brent Rose about more than two dozen national monuments that could lose their protected status. This spring, after President Donald Trump ordered Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, to conduct a review process that may lead to the revocation of some of their status as national monuments, Rose resolved to travel to the 22 monuments located in the continental United States.

I was so moved by Rose’s essay that I decided to leave a public comment on the process at regulations.gov. (The period for commenting closed at midnight on Monday.)

The following text is a slightly edited version of the comment that I made:

~~~

I’m writing to urge Secretary Zinke to uphold designations of National Monuments and Marine National Monuments unless there is overwhelming evidence that such designations were improperly made and/or that such designations directly harm the public interest.

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 6

July 11, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 11, 2017

After lunch on Saturday, the dog and I began walking along the street away from the W&OD trail. Soon after leaving the O—s’ house, we were on a narrow sidewalk abutting some overgrown bushes. I noticed R— approaching a suspicious-looking tendril protruding from the greenery, but before I could do anything, the dog brushed against it. I hope that’s not poison ivy, I thought to myself.

It may or may not have been poison ivy, but something I touched was. When I woke up Sunday morning, I had two itchy red patches. One was on the inside of my left elbow; the other was on the inside of my right wrist. To be specific, the latter patch was just below the meaty part of my hand that contains a bunch of the muscles that seem to help me move my thumb and make a fist.

These areas would bubble up over the ensuing week. Despite my touching the inflamed skin minimally, the rashes opened and began weeping. The poison ivy rashes expanded around their original territory, albeit slowly. Fortunately, aside from a few very small red patches that appeared near the bottom of my rib cage around Wednesday, the rash stayed confined to those two initial areas.

Still, the urge to scratch was powerful, especially over the early part of the week. I applied some cortisone cream and took regular naps in order to distract myself. I also regularly self-medicated with samples from the O—s’ container of Breyers chocolate truffle ice cream. (When they returned, I told them I was checking their desserts for quality-control purposes.)

To be concluded continued


Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 5

July 10, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 10, 2017

With this, my fifth post about the eight or so days I spent dog-sitting for the Os, I will now begin to discuss what I actually did with the dog in question.

My ward was a very cute, sweet-natured six-month-old pup named R—. Her human adults departed around 10 in the morning of Friday, June 23, after which I spent most of the day lolling around the house fiddling with my computer. I let the dog out on her run a few times as appropriate, but otherwise we engaged in minimal physical activity.

On Friday evening, I stopped entertaining the notion that I was going to shower and dress and spend any time around other people. Instead, shortly before 7:30 p.m., R— and I headed out of the house for a stroll on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

The W&OD, a 45-mile-long paved former railroad line, stretches from a spot roughly two miles west of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport just outside of the District of Columbia to a point near Monk’s BBQ, a restaurant in the rural community of Purcellvile, Va. Part of the trail runs near Mr. and Mrs. O—’s home.

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 4

July 7, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 7, 2017

As I documented exhaustively in my previous post, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rerun that I watched on the evening of the last Monday in June had a subject in common with the Star Trek: The Next Generation rerun that I caught on the following evening. And, as it happened, that Next Generation episode had something in common with the DS9 show that I saw on Wednesday night.

Wednesday’s outing was titled “A Simple Investigation”; it opens with two thugs murdering a visitor to Deep Space Nine for reasons that remain unclear until late in the episode. The victim was planning to rendezvous with a woman named Arissa, whom Odo, the station’s shape-shifting security chief, has a flirtatious chat with in the bar. After Arissa is caught attempting to break into confidential Deep Space Nine computer logs and then into a closed office, she reveals to Odo that she is fleeing from a powerful crime syndicate. He resolves to help her, and the two launch an unlikely romance. (Odo had never before been intimate with a solid woman.)

The reason I mention any of this is that “A Simple Investigation’s” main guest star was Dey Young, who played one of the chief colonists in “The Masterpiece Society.”

I won’t belabor the point — it’s just that that’s the kind of coincidence that I find absolutely delightful.

This brings me to the end of my television reminiscences from my dog-sitting stint, but I’ll be back soon with a few notes about the actual sitting-on-dogs part of the dog-sitting.

(Note: I’m just kidding about that sitting-on-dogs thing.)

To be continued


Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 3

July 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 5, 2017

Author’s note: The following post contains spoilers for the fifth-season Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Dr. Bashir, I Presume,” which originally aired in February 1997. MEM

I mentioned in my previous post that, quite by chance, I picked up my viewing of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Masterpiece Society” right around the point where this YouTube clip that I’d happened to watch recently came to an end. That wasn’t the only coincidence in play, however. As it happens, this episode had some commonalities with the ST:DS9 episode that I’d seen the evening before.

As I mentioned, in Star Trek, genetic engineering has “been banned by most members of polite galactic society for centuries.” The reasons for this were established in “Space Seed,” the 1967 original series episode that introduced the villainous Khan.

In that show, Kirk and company run across a centuries-old sleeper ship containing Khan and his fellow genetically engineered Earthlings; this group of power-hungry “supermen” were exiled to deep space after winding up on the losing end of the Eugenics Wars. Khan and his associates are revived and brought on board the Enterprise, but as so often happens in these types of stories, their craving for power reasserts itself.

In Deep Space Nine’s “Dr. Bashir, I Presume,” it’s revealed that the chief medical officer of the series’ far-flung Federation outpost was subjected to secret and illegal genetic modification by his parents. The matter is referred to a Starfleet admiral, who tells the Bashirs:

Two hundred* years ago, we tried to improve the species through DNA resequencing. And what did we get for our troubles? The Eugenics Wars. For every Julian Bashir that can be created, there’s a Khan Singh waiting in the wings — a superhuman whose ambition and thirst for power have been enhanced along with his intellect. The law against genetic engineering provided a firewall against such men. And it’s my job to keep that firewall intact.

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 2

June 29, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 29, 2017

Late Tuesday afternoon, I showered, took the dog outside and set out for Sterling, Va., which is a 20 or 25-minute drive from where I’m staying. I was going to — well, let’s call it Massive Marvin’s, a dining establishment that a pair of Internet websites assured me had six pinball machines.

I haven’t yet blogged about pinball, but in brief: I started playing casually sometime last year at the instigation of my friend D—, who’d picked up a pinball jones in 2015 or so; I began developing a true pinball obsession myself about two months ago, which has evolved to the point that I played pinball at five different Triangle venues in the four days leading up to my departure for Virginia.

My phone’s navigation program led me to a nondescript shopping center in a part of Northern Virginia that looked remarkably like every other shopping center that was developed in Northern Virginia in the 1990s. It contained a supermarket, a tool store, a library, an automotive parts store, a few restaurants… The place I was looking for was right by the entrance I’d used, so I found it without too much effort.

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 1

June 28, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 28, 2017

This week, I’m dog-sitting for the Os, friends of mine who live in Northern Virginia. Their home is close to the Beltway — Interstate 495, which rings our nation’s capital — and yet lies more than an hour from the District of Columbia.

I arrived on Thursday night last week, the evening before O pére et mére were to depart for a family reunion in New England. After dinner, I asked to be shown how the dishwasher, laundry machines and TV worked.

After the entertainment system demonstration, Mr. O and I watched a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation on this cable channel, which I’d never before heard of. (The cable channel, that is, not the show.) We happened to tune a few minutes after 9 p.m., and almost instantly I exclaimed, “Is that Matt Frewer?!”

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Cheeps and Chirps for April 2017 (more catch-up)

June 23, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 23, 2017

You got it: Yet more catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump!

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Cheeps and Chirps for March 2017 (catching up)

June 19, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 19, 2017

More catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump (and comrades)!

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General notes on East Coast road trips, or: More morning motivation

June 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 17, 2017

I recently made one of a number of hometown pilgrimages that I undertake each year. On Wednesday, the eve before my return to North Carolina, my Parental Unit and I were discussing what time on Thursday I planned to depart. (I’d asked to be awoken by 9 if I wasn’t already up and about.)

P.U. then asked if I was trying to get back to the Old North State for any particular event. “Nope,” I responded flippantly.

Actually, this answer was in the nebulous realm between truth and untruth. I typically play free bar-league poker in Raleigh on Thursday evenings, and I prefer to arrive in time to participate in the early game, which begins at 7 p.m. (There’s a 20-minute grace period for late arrivals.) So there was that incentive for returning to Carolina by a particular time.

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