Art and commentary by Kimberly Harris

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Velma was an Astrophysicist

Painting of woman with bouffant hair containing images of outer space

Velma was late to the Gala at the planetarium because her mind was elsewhere.

Velma was dressed and ready to attend this year’s “Stars are Out Tonight” Gala at the planetarium. She was a world-renowned astrophysicist and the guest of honor at the event. She should have been there by now, but there were problems to be solved and her mind was somewhere else.

This print is available at

Hitch a Ride with a Pooka, but Never a Kelpie

A Pooka in rabbit form drives a car with two passengers while racing a jet ski riding horse-headed Kelpie.

Choose wisely who you ride with.

You can hitch a ride with a Pooka, but don’t ever accept a ride from a Kelpie. Please be aware that if you accept a Pooka’s offer of a lift, he may not take you where you want to go. Bring a map, GPS, beverage and snacks. It may take a while to get back home.

Going with a Kelpie would be a poor choice. He may dive into a lake, drown you and devour you.

A signed art print is available at my Etsy shop

President Obama and Krampus Unwind on the Beach in Hawaii

Krampus and President Obama listen to music on the beach in Hawaii

The Krampus and President Obama are on the beach at Hanauma Bay discussing a contract to punish the members of Congress who have been so naughty in the previous year.

December 5 was Krampus Day in a number of European countries with Teutonic roots. As many of you know, the fierce horned Krampus figures prominently in the folklore of Germany and Austria, and also in the traditions of Hungary and the countries of former Yugoslavia. The role of the Krampus is complementary to that of the benevolent bearded old man who distributes presents to nice children far and wide on Christmas. The Krampus rounds up the naughty children that Santa has passed by and proceeds to whip them with a switch of birch branches. Those who have been exceptionally bad are stuffed into a sack and taken to a remote location in the woods to be devoured by the Krampus.

This year saw an unusually large contingent of naughty children who disobeyed their parents, failed to do their household chores, talked back to their elders, refused to eat their vegetables and got into fights at school. Disciplining the lot of them kept the Krampus very busy and by the time all of the punishment had been meted out, the Krampus was exhausted.

President Obama was likewise very tired from fighting with the Republicans over raising taxes for the rich, saving entitlement programs and avoiding the looming fiscal cliff. The president had just wrapped up a brief chat with the Chancellor of Germany, Andrea Merkel, regarding the debt crisis in Southern Europe when the Chancellor suggested that Mr. Obama invite Krampus to visit him in Hawaii so that they could both unwind on the beach together. Krampus immediately sparked to the idea of escaping the cold German winter and promptly booked a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Honolulu.

Soon after arrival the pair proceeded to Hanauma Bay where they were served heady tropical beverages while being entertained by an exotic dance troupe recruited by the Secret Service. When the show was over, President Obama approached Krampus concerning a possible future contract with the US Department of Justice to castigate all those individuals appearing on the list of naughty legislators that the president has been compiling. Mr. Obama emphasized to Krampus that certain members of Congress had been very, very naughty.

Illustration by Kim Harris
Story by Don Rudisuhle

GSA Hot Tub Hijinks in Las Vegas

GSA Hot Tub Hijinks in Las Vegas

Jeffrey Neely, Angry Clown and Gumby enjoy refreshing beverages while relaxing in the hot tub after a hard day of reviewing resorts and sampling gastronomical delicacies.

After a hard day of scouting out resorts and sampling the offerings of Las Vegas’ finest caterers, General Services Administration Western Region Director Jeffrey Neely decided that a bubble bath in his suite at the M Resort in Las Vegas would be in order.

Upon viewing the images in the news media, many have asked the question: Who was the second glass of wine for? Well, not to be selfish, Director Neely decided to share the experience with two colleagues that he had recently identified as prospective performers for the festivities planned in connection with the GSA’s 2010 Western Regions Conference. Mr. Pagliaccio was selected to perform as his character, the cigarette-puffing Angry Clown who continuously creates disharmony in an office environment. Gumby was brought in to reinforce the GSA’s commitment to their “Going Green” campaign. Gumby was also expected to be a guest artist during the Green Man Group’s performance at the conference.

Earlier in the day, the three had sampled the Petite Beef Wellington and Mini Monte Cristo sandwiches that were proposed to be served to the civil servants attending the networking reception. Mr. Neely and Mr. Pagliaccio both ordered a glass of vintage Napa Valley Cabernet from room service. Gumby, who comes from a less privileged background and who arguably has a somewhat unrefined palate, settled for a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

The soothing bath and the relaxing drinks prepared the trio for the next challenging event of their rigorous resort scouting trip. They were tasked with awesome responsibility of evaluating the proposed fare that consisted of Boursin Scalloped Potatoes and Barolo Wine Braised Short Ribs that would be featured at the conference’s closing dinner.

There have been recent stories in the media that reveal that Mr. Neely and his wife have enjoyed holidays in Hawaii and other Pacific islands while ostensibly on important official US Government business. Wow! To be able to live as largely as a Federal civil servant!

Illustration by Kim Harris
Story by Don Rudisuhle

Senator Claire McCaskill’s Carbon Folly

Senator Claire McCaskill as a Varga girl on the side of a B-24

Her critics are calling it “Claire Air”

Claire McCaskill, the senior U.S. Senator from Missouri has recently become mired in a sticky affair whereby allegations have been made in the news media regarding her extensive use of a chartered corporate aircraft for her air travel, some of which may have been for personal purposes, all the while billing the expense to the taxpayers. More importantly, it has been revealed that the aircraft used by the senator was registered to a Delaware corporation owned by her husband, a wealthy real estate developer whose considerable fortune came in large part from federal contracts. This would appear to be a conflict of interest of a type that politicians should always steer clear of.

In March 2007, the Senator flew from St. Louis to Hannibal, Missouri to attend an annual political event and billed taxpayers $1,220.44 for the trip. The distance between these two cities is only 116 miles and could have been driven in a couple hours, incurring a mileage cost of only $112.52 at the official government reimbursement rate of 48.5 cents per mile at the time.

Contrary to stories that have appeared in the media, the aircraft in question is not a twin-engine Piper, but rather a Swiss-made, single-engine turboprop Pilatus PC-12/45, a high-end pressurized executive transport plane with seats for 8 and a cockpit crew of 2.

This is not an environmentally-friendly way to travel. Taking into account time for start-up, taxing to and from the active runway, runup, cruise, St. Louis approach patterns and area traffic, this round trip flight could have easily taken two hours. The PC-12/45 is not very efficient for short flights at low speeds and low altitudes and can burn 500 lbs of fuel per hour under those conditions. With Jet-A fuel weighing about 6.8 lbs per gallon, this translates into about 147 gallons for the trip. A modest sedan getting 20 mpg would have required less than 12 gallons, by comparison.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 23.9 pounds of carbon dioxide are produced for every gallon of jet fuel burned, so this short jaunt was responsible for needlessly releasing approximately 3,513 pounds of carbon dioxide into the Missouri skies.

Multiply this times the 89 flights said to have been flown, many of which were much longer in distance and a formidable carbon footprint starts to emerge, one that could have been avoided by using the humble automobile or a seat on a commercial carrier.

There was more in store for the tireless champion for transparency and fighting government waste and excess. Senator McCaskill promptly reimbursed the U.S. Treasury $88,000 this month for the 89 trips on the plane, a few of which were said to be for political purposes. In recent days it came to light that the Senator failed to pay property taxes on the aircraft after it was moved to Missouri four years ago. Its market value is estimated to be in the vicinity of $2.4 million, and St. Louis County calculated the outstanding tax bill to be $319,541, including penalties and interest. Senator McCaskill’s husband’s Delaware corporation, Timesaver LLC, paid approximately $287,000 a few days ago.

With her reelection campaign soon to be launched, it is all but certain that an in-depth investigation will follow in short order, with many additional lurid details emerging into the public venue.

The irony in this whole affair is that during the 2004 primaries for governor, then State Auditor Claire McCaskill successfully used this same argument against her opponent, incumbent Gov. William Holden, when she accused him of using the taxpayer-funded state airplane for more than 300 trips, some of which were for the purpose of attending sporting events.

Wait a minute, the Senator used to be an auditor…?

Garlic Man at the Airport

Drawing of a man in the form of a garlic bulb sitting in an airport terminal

Please be kind.

We garlic lovers don’t mean to offend others. Often we are oblivious to the noxious bouquet that envelopes us and permeates our immediate environment. If you happen to be among the unfortunate ones forced to spend an extended amount of time in our presence in a public place such as an airport, we apologize. Please be kind.

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