Friday, April 30, 2010

30 April 2010 Alls well that sounds well

30 April 2010 Alls well that sounds well

We had a very good evening dining out in Asheville.

We had a wonderful night seeing out good friend, David Gans, and listening to the music he plays so well.

We got home at 0200, got to bed at 0300, and ran errands all afternoon.

April gives way to May.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

29 April 2010 Japanese food, bar food, and live music

29 April 2010 Japanese food, bar food, and live music

Tonight, we will be privileged to see our friend, David Gans, perform live in Asheville.

Any trip to Asheville, about an hour to an hour and a half offers the opportunity to dine at a good restaurant. Asheville has a much more cosmopolitan makeup than does Johnson City. The selection of restaurants is highly superior to that of N.E. TN. So far, we’ve been to a Tapas restaurant, a Mediterranean restaurant, a Japanese restaurant and a noodle shop/Asian restaurant that were worth revisiting. We have also been to an Italian/Greek restaurant that was lacking in quality and a noodle/Asian fusion restaurant that was more about impressing the guests with how smugly superior the waiters are than about food quality, variety, and service. We won’t be returning to the last two.

Tonight we will dine at our regular time on Asian/Asian fusion. Our memory of our last trip to Doc Chey’s, was that we wanted to try more from the menu. Tonight we will.

People with diabetes seem to do best when they eat at regular times rather than not developing a schedule that helps them maintain glucose levels. Gloria and I eat a bit earlier than many people but that allows her to build in light snacks later in the evening, to avoid unwanted spikes and dives. Since we won’t have access to our kitchen tonight, we’ll have to depend upon finding her food at the venue. Supposedly this bar has a good menu and kitchen, how fast the turnaround is may be problematic. But we travel with emergency food for her.

Doc Chey’s doesn’t take reservations. There is some sort of festival going on today that is filling restaurants. We may not be able to get seats at the time we want so we have backup reservations at a good Japanese restaurant as well. Doc Chey’s will be less expensive if we can get seated.

Then the matter of evening snacks should be met at the venue’s kitchen. I’m not at all opposed to some bar burgers if they are available. I’ve been wanting a cheese burger for several days, despite having had one last weekend.

The drive should be a good one. The weather is clear and the nearly full moon will rise at 2200. The drive back should be beautiful. We have no idea how late we’ll stay after the David’s set. If we see him before he plays, we may just leave when the set’s over. If not, we’ll hang around for a bit to say hello and catch up. He’s a very engaging person, highly skilled musician/singer/songwriter. He’s penned some excellent works of social commentary, including American Family; which should have been John Kerry’s campaign song. For that matter, it would be relevant for any candidate opposing a Republican for election this year.

Here’s to a great evening, good food, great music, safe travel, and sleeping in tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

28 April 2010 Going Where Those Chilly Winds Don’t Blow

28 April 2010 Going Where Those Chilly Winds Don’t Blow

Woody sang it, Dylan sang it, and The Grateful Dead sang it and jammed around it, particularly pairing the song with Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away.

Ian Tyson wrote and sang about “Four Strong Winds” and “Dusty Autumn Winds.” Others sang about “Cold Rain and Snow.” Every folk singer has a weather song in his/her repertoire; most of them about bad weather. Mary Travers will always be linked with,” It’s raining, it’s pouring,” a children’s song that caused thousands of audience members to sing along, mostly off key and off temp, whenever the song rolled around in a P, P, & M performance.

From “Wasn’t that a Mighty Day,” to “Mariah;” from beach to mountain tops, songs about cyclonic storm winds chronicle hurricanes in Galveston and late winter storms in California’s Sierra Nevada.

The songs aren’t always great, or even good. “Mariah” is a mawkish Broadway musical number from “Paint Your Wagon. “Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad,” the source of the title lyric line, is a folk standard that speaks to the universal “blues” that we all feel occasionally.

Weather songs are like weather, always with us and subject to change. The more unpleasant the weather, the more we notice it and the more we bitch about it. The better the song, the longer it stays around and the more people perform it or just sing as part of their day’s activities – often autonomic ally, “green boarding” for those who are old enough and widely read enough recall the idiom. On the other hand, a truly horrible song is likely to remain in play, too, as it will undoubtedly wind up in some most popular lists, requested by the musically challenged for any number of reasons having nothing to do with musical worth, talent, or the abilities of the writer, composer, or primary performer.

This weather outbreak is occasioned by three days of thunderstorms, drizzle, hail, gusty winds, and falling temperature. This morning’s low was 36°F. The higher mountains in the region had demonstrable snow yesterday afternoon while other locales had intermittent but heavy rain with some embedded thunderstorms that almost assured that everyone who was moving about would get wet at some point in the day. It was a good day for cioppino and sourdough bread. This morning was quite suitable for oatmeal cooked overnight in a crock pot, a method I first learned when we vacationed in Boothbay Harbor, then later from an Alton Brown book on kitchen tools and techniques.

We will likely have leftovers tonight. Both of us could stand an early night.

I attended my last class for the semester today. I told Dr. Fritz I was glad I had chosen his course. He actually thanked me for my participation. Nice thought to end a class. He expressed concern and regret that the students seemed to be less and less willing to talk, question, and become engaged with subject matter. I’m glad to hear him say that; it seems to confirm some of my thoughts about the last semester.

The next classes will begin in warmer weather and shorts. I’ll be wishing for some slightly more chilly winds by then.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

27 April 2010 Closing down the semester

27 April 2010 Closing down the semester

Yesterday was, for all intent and purpose the last day of my CSI class. Of course, the class has not met for instruction for two weeks previously. The last two weeks have been devoted to a mock crime scenario; a one hour look at how CSI’s might go about the science of evidence identification, preservation, collection, and submission to the actual analysts. Arbitrarily assigned groups of 8 students were provided a scenario, a dummy/body, and told to “investigate.”

The group I wound up with, all strangers after nearly a semester was the third group to run the maze. Prior to our arrival, no other group had been prepared with the basics of a kit: tape measure, flashlight, and protractor, scale markers, etc. In the brief meeting that took place prior to running the maze, I had suggested those tools. However, I avoided committing myself to bringing them. Three of the assigned group did not bother to show up at this meeting.

I took photos at the “scene.” I committed to printing out the required 5 photos. Everyone was to complete their own work up and conclusions. Someone, not me, suggested another meeting to cooperate in the work up. I agreed but had to miss it in order to have a car repair done. I tried e-mail contact but had not return from anyone until yesterday morning when two of the young women suggested a meeting during my first class. I declined. They had access to my photographs for a week before I Dc’d their presence on Flickr.

Yesterday’s class was chaotic. The instructor handed out a final exam and asked the groups to gather their paperwork. By this time I was so annoyed with the class that I simply gave my diagrams, printout, and workup, along with 8 photographs I’d printed out, to the group and said goodbye. There’s a certain satisfaction in not having to worry about a grade. My diagrams were as professional as I could make them, my conclusions sound. I have no interest in what the children did. To round out the day, at 2200 I received a broadcast e-mail from another student begging for a copy of the final exam. The instructor had not printed out enough and had told her to borrow one and copy it for herself.

The class was one I was very interested in when I enrolled. But the technical material was glossed over or ignored. The class wound up becoming a series of film strip-like power point lists for the class to memorize or to copy into take home exams. Very disappointing.

Tomorrow, the final exam for the Holocaust history class will be posted to download. There will be two more hurried classes, leaving far too much uncovered.

Today’s dinner is Cioppino, based on a Fulton Fish Market recipe. It’s not like being in San Francisco, but my dinner companion will be my favorite face to see across the table. Actually we had cioppino in the North Beach area, just down the street from City Lights Bookstore. Wonderful meal, wonderful trip, and I got the recipe and the woman!

Monday, April 26, 2010

26 April 2010 Going armed in terror of the public

26 April 2010 Going armed in terror of the public

“Ohio man arrested as Obama leaves NC faces hearing

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- An armed man who was spotted at a North Carolina airport parking lot just after Air Force One departed and said he wanted to see the president was to appear before a judge Monday.

Authorities arrested Joseph Sean McVey, 23, of Coshocton, Ohio, on Sunday afternoon at the Asheville Regional Airport and charged him with going armed in terror of the public, a misdemeanor…”

This does not describe a person who is terrified of the public and thus carries a firearm in self-defensive behavior. This describes, more and more, people who think that they are the last bastion of “real America,” ready to defend the Constitution that they’ve never read in entirety; thinking of their selves as the “last true patriots.”

Reading more of the article is disturbing. The arrested man provided a drivers license that could not be confirmed as valid. His vehicle was fitted with police style strobe lights, dash cameras, large external radio antennae, and a siren. He is not employed in law enforcement. The presence of rifle scope formulae/calculations is highly suggestive of someone considering an assassination attempt using a rifle. provides the definition of the charge under which this McVey was arrested and held. It is a vague law which can apparently be used to detain those people who are attempting to use firearms to intimidate others. In yesterday’s arrest, I firmly believe it was an understatement of the arrested man’s intentions.

We’re going to see more and more of such behavior. The 2nd Amendment fanatics are pushing their fringe elements into dangerous and deadly actions. We’ve seen multiple ambushes by right wing extremists who wanted to kill police officers before the police came to confiscate their guns. It doesn’t matter that there has been no effort at all by the Obama administration to enact any firearms legislation since taking office. The gun lobbyists and the various hate groups continue to spread lies calculated to inflame the least educated, most likely to be psychotic, gun fanciers. These groups tend to include the racists, the Christian Identity groups, and the anti-government groups. Violence toward people who look and/or believe differently is being encouraged.

The current push to have people carry weapons openly is going to become ever more problematic. They people who feel that they must do this in order to “preserve their 2nd Amendment rights” are likely to be people who don’t have a good acquaintance with history. They mistake challenging the laws and customs of the nation for demonstrating their sovereignty as individuals under the law, and for behaving as they believe the colonial militias and patriots did. They are sadly mistaken in the latter. The historic militias were aware that when activated they became agencies of government, filling the need created by lack of a standing army. They accepted the discipline required of all members for a para-military unit to work successfully. Once we built a standing army, there was no longer a need for any militia units.

The people we see in self-designated militias today are far more akin to vigilantes than to actual militias. The current groups of “patriots” are more likely to destroy civil authority and order than to maintain it. They see their selves as members of elite military groups rather than as men playing at being soldiers. Most militia members lack the self-discipline to be a good soldier. Many of our internal terrorists, McVeigh, Rudolph, and others were discharged from active duty under other than honorable conditions. In many cases they received enough training to become more of a danger to the public. Weeding out those recruits who grew up with histories of right wing extremist behavior needs to become a priority in today’s military.

Another source of potential assassins is in the former Blackwater organization. This company seeks out soldiers with special operations training and lures them away from national service with money. Historically, the company has been shown to be behaving as a private “Christian army.” This is dangerous at several levels. I’m very uncomfortable having any government funding going to “Xe services” And I’m uncomfortable with a potential source of “crusaders” ready to serve the highest payer as hired guns.

We’re going to see more such incidents as the arrest in Asheville. It won’t be long until someone is stupid or fanatical enough to take a shot or place an IED along a motorcade route. Obama’s existence and office is, unfortunately, a magnet for the worst elements of our populace. These “patriots” are going to do more damage than we want to believe possible. The demagogues who are doing their best to stir up the idiot children have no idea of the danger they are creating for all of us.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

25 April 2010 Bring on Palin and the tent revivalists

25 April 2010 Bring on Palin and the tent revivalists

I’ve been waiting for the renewal of outbursts about the “war against Christianity” from the American Taliban. The recent court decision finding the “National Day of Prayer” to be unconstitutional in concert with the revocation of Franklin Graham’s invitation to lead the NDOP rally at the Pentagon, must have the theocons and evangelicals mad enough to throw bricks through windows. Let’s be accurate with our use of language; “rally” is exactly the right word to use. This annual event is all about rallying the GOP’s religious base and pumping them up for another year’s attempts at replacing science and history with superstition and propaganda, of using poorly translated millennia-old religious books to justify another year of hatred, exclusion, and violence to mark those who look &/or think differently as “un-American” and “un-patriotic”

Right on cue, the shrill, voice of Palin, the resignator, issues forth in a strident attack upon the part of the citizenry who have actually studied science and history, who have learned to write a complete sentence, and who agree that the National Day of Prayer is best distanced from any government connection. She attacks the Pentagon’s decision to exclude Graham because of his anti-Islamic statements in the distant and recent past. Palin, along with her poorly-read cohorts, fails to understand the nature of our shaky-at-best alliances with the Islamic governments and military units of the nations where we currently have troops stationed and engaged in a shooting war.

The 9-11 attacks were, in part, due to Islamic fundamentalists’ objection to U.S. – read “Christian”- troops on Islamic soil; allowing a Christian fundamentalist to wave a “Crusader” flag at an event with government support and labeled “National” is an invitation to our opponents to depict all our troops as “Crusaders.” The people who we are currently allied with in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other “Stan” lands are often not that fond of their official governments. They are, however, heavily imprinted by Islam – sort of the way someone who believes she saw a fossilized human foot print inside one of a dinosaur might be imprinted. Which means that given the necessary incitement by a religious demagogue they would find it easy to view our troops as Crusaders sent to destroy mosques, desecrate the Koran, and deny them their faith. Maybe they might see Graham’s sanctioned appearance as a call for a “war on Islam.”

I’m willing to bet that a series of heavily publicized prayers for an “Islamic victory” over the “West” would anger many American citizens. I’m willing to bet that many of our better read folks could actually understand the mechanics of inciting a mob to violence over religious concerns. I know quite well that the appearance of a large number of soldiers from Iraq, Iran, or some other Islamic state on our soil with concurrent calls for the conversion of all infidels, and many public speeches about how evil Christianity is, would stir up a huge amount of animosity among our fundamentalists and evangelicals.

The Graham family has too deep a hook into American political and social life. They are hold-overs from the days of divine right kings and state religions. They belong in dusty tents on empty lots adjacent to small town churches; competing with a carnival for attendees. Somehow the Graham organization grew their brand of unctuous guilt-tripping into televised broadcasts from ballparks and arenas. They now have foundations, wear designer label suits, and somehow manage to intrude into political crises as if they were government officials.

I can live with them working tent revivals in Mississippi, preaching their brand of exclusionary religion while dozens of funeral home fans with garish, mawkish pictures of a semi-Nordic Jesus stir the dusty air. I cannot tolerate the Grahams, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, or any incorporated sky pilot intruding in our nation’s political life.

The Pentagon was correct in revoking Graham’s invitation. The Chaplain’s office is there to serve the needs of our men and women in uniform who may believe in Christianity; not to enhance the personal status of an incorporated preacher who values his religion more than the lives of our soldiers.

Ms. Palin has obviously not bothered to think this matter out. It has already been discussed intelligently and honestly in many major newspapers; which puts it out of her reach. It’s been discussed in many news broadcasts, with the exception of Fox News which simply ignores the reality of the war for the GOP talking points and mob incitement value it can find. Obviously Ms. Palin is willing to send other mothers’ sons and daughters out to die in a war labeled as a Crusade by our enemies. Her children are safe and she no longer need worry about them or try to understand why we have troops in two wars at all. She’s all too willing to incite a religious component to a war she won’t have to fight or worry about.

So Palin went to Eugene OR to attack the Pentagon’s decision and to attack the current administration, the press/media, and to be a highly paid cheerleader in a GOP rally. She’s taken lessons from the same teachers as the Grahams, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Oral Roberts, and the rest of the members of The Church of Shameless Self Promotion. She now commands posh accommodations and private air travel – since she can’t foist them off on the state of Alaska any more. Even worse, she excluded the very media/press she untruthfully attacks. There is the potential to disrupt her greed-driven plans. She commands special treatment because she gets a lot of attention from the media. In Eugene, she refused to be photographed, answered no questions, and required the media to view her performance from a separate room.

The media can be her undoing. If they publicize the demands she makes for personal appearances widely enough, her prima donna actions may backfire. If they document how many times her kids are out of school it may prove damaging to her “concerned mother” image. And if they simply quit covering any appearances, press conferences, or face book utterances, she may become the poorly educated, fundamentalist, nobody she was before McCain made the biggest mistake of his adult life.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

24 April 2010 There are consequences and there are consequences

24 April 2010 There are consequences and there are consequences

“Palin testifies in hacking case

By the CNN Wire Staff

April 23, 2010 2:05 p.m. EDT

Sarah Palin told jurors that her life and campaign were disrupted when hacked e-mails were published.


• Sarah Palin testified she didn't realize e-mail was hacked until it was reported in media

• Palin said 2008 campaign was disrupted when hacked e-mails were published

• David Kernell, 22, charged with identity theft, wire fraud, obstructing FBI investigation

(CNN) -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin testified that she did not realize anyone had hacked her Yahoo e-mail account during the 2008 presidential campaign until it was reported in the media, CNN affiliate WATE reported Friday.

The GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee took the stand for about an hour Friday morning in the Knoxville, Tennessee, trial of a man accused of hacking her e-mail, a manager in the court clerk's office said.

The prosecution is presenting its case against David Kernell, 22, who is charged with felony identity theft, wire fraud, intentionally accessing Palin's e-mail account without authorization and obstructing an FBI investigation.”

Knoxville TN is going to provide some interesting conflict in the coming week. Former Governor Palin has flown it to testify about the illegal intrusion of her personal Yahoo account. From what I’ve been reading, she is blaming the actions of David Kernell, who broke into her Yahoo account, for derailing her VP campaign and for isolating her from her children.

Let’s examine her claim a bit. Her use of a Yahoo account to conduct state business instead of the official Alaska network is highly suggestive of an attempt to avoid creating public records of her activities in office. The “trooper gate” events seem to confirm that she was operating outside official channels at least part of the time she was in office. It is reasonable to assume that something was being hidden by avoiding the official network.

It find it hard to accept that she suddenly lost all access to her children in Alaska when she was advised to close her Yahoo account. The phone lines didn’t vanish from existence and certainly new cell phones were available. I’d be more concerned that she left her children alone with their 17 year old pregnant sister. That seems to me be rather careless and not particularly in the best interests of either the 17 year old or her younger siblings.

Further, it was not the necessity of dealing with an invasion into her Yahoo account that damaged her campaign. It was her frequently demonstrated lack of qualification and her serious lack of ethics that made much of America aware of what a poor choice for office she was and is.

Her behavior since the 2008 election has done nothing to cause me to change my opinion of her. She is an opportunistic, greedy, fundamentalist, lacking in education, intellectual curiosity, and any speck of political ethics. The very thought of her in elected office is disturbing. Her use of wedge issues, incitement to violence, blatant attempts to use a false patriotism to divide Americans from each other, and her false populism all mark her as unsuitable for elected office.

Despite all that, she, as any other citizen, is entitled to personal privacy in on-line activity, as long as she is behaving in a legal manner. If the Federal Election Commission, the state of Alaska, or any other legally constituted government body or agency believe that she was or is in violation of our laws; then they should launch a legally authorized investigation. Doubtless, Palin would do all in her power to prevent such investigation being successful, as she did with the misuse of power investigation launched by the Senate of Alaska.

Still, it is not acceptable for individuals to invade internet accounts, bank accounts, or other personal matters that involve one’s own identification. If Mr. Kernell had grounds to believe something illegal was taking place, the proper thing to do would have been to raise his concerns to the Alaska government, the FEC, FBI, and/or other appropriate agencies. I do not approve of hacking computers for recreational purposes. Mr. Kernell, if he did access her account illegally, was wrong.

Assuming his guilt, the potential sentence of 50 years is far too long. Despite her protestations otherwise, no harm came to Palin’s children, no damage was done to her campaign by Mr. Kernel’s actions. Was Ms. Palin anyone else this would have been dealt with by plea bargain. Palin chooses to use the opportunity to keep her name in print and to raise sympathy among her supporters. Mr. Kernell may have done her a favor by distracting some of her voter base from self-destructive campaign activities and general un-suitability.

Mr. Kernell should have his day in court and the prosecutors should treat this case as the act of stupidity it was rather than allowing Palin to blow it out of proportion.

I find it difficult to believe I might ever support Palin to any degree. But despite the apparent illegal use of a private account for official business, Kernell broke the law, too. While she escaped any legal consequences for her violation of Alaskan law, Kernell does not merit absolution, just a revision of charges to something realistically related to the actual offense.

Friday, April 23, 2010

23 April 2010 Civilized warfare oxy morinic or not?

23 April 2010 Civilized warfare oxymorinic or not?

East TN State

HIST 3940 - War In Modern World

A study of war since the 18th century, including how armies reflect the values of a society. changes in warfare in the modern era, the American way of war strategy, tactics, generalship, weapons, and the impact of war on society.

3.000 Credit Hours

In the earliest forms of warfare we – humans- merely attacked those who angered or offended us with the most readily available weapon, our own bodies. Fists, feet, teeth, and even the mass of the entire body can be formidable weapons when deployed against someone who is smaller, less adept, less massive, or simply less prepared to engage in combat to the death against as single opponent.

The primary risk in such combat is that the combatant may be outclassed and beaten into submission or killed by the opponent. There is also the risk that the victor will incur personal injury but survive with temporary or permanent impairment of disability. Since being injured may prevent the victor from fully enjoying the spoils, some means of personal protection is in order and some means of multiplying force used against an opponent would be desirable and an improvement in the art of war as practiced in Stone Age society.

Over the centuries the technology of war improved, allowing one man, armed with the latest technical improvements to wreak extreme damage upon anyone less skillful and/or less adequately equipped. Single combat reached its pinnacle when combinations of offensive and defensive weaponry evolved to the point that allowed armored nobles to batter and hack at each other with little risk of harm while laying waste to the opposition foot soldiers with little risk of personal harm.

The crossbow and musket changed that equation.

Armies began to consist of troops of foot soldiers led by nobles and the occasional plebian with a gift for tactics. Massive formations of men stood shoulder to shoulder and marched into the musket fire of the enemy until they were close enough to become engaged in bayonet and/or hand-to-hand personal mayhem, returning the cycle nearly to its beginning.

The American Civil War was the last of the Napoleonic wars and the first of the modern wars. Technology advanced rapidly to the point that allowed the next large war to be fought on land; but also in the air, on the sea, and beneath the sea.

VietNam was the end of one era of warfare and the harbinger of the current era, the video game wars.

I’m hoping to flesh out this overview in my next semester on campus. Watch this space for observations on the technology and art of modern warfare as taught at East Tennessee State University.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

22 April 2010 We accept prayer but prefer money.

22 April 2010 We accept prayer but prefer money.

Or: Really bad choice Harry


The National Day of Prayer Task Force’s mission is to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family.

Our Vision and Values

In accordance with Biblical truth, the National Day of Prayer Task Force seeks to:

Foster unity within the Christian Church

Protect America’s Constitutional Freedoms to gather, worship, pray and speak freely.

Publicize and preserve America’s Christian heritage

Encourage and emphasize prayer, regardless of current issues and positions

Respect all people, regardless of denomination or creed

Be wise stewards of God’s resources and provision

Glorify the Lord in word and deed

Who We Are and What We Do

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.”

What we really do.

DOJ To Appeal National Day Of Prayer Ruling

April 22, 2010 - 12:16 PM
by: Mike Levine

The Justice Department says it will appeal a federal judge's ruling that deemed the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

In a "Notice of Appeal" filed in the Western District of Wisconsin on Thursday, Justice Department lawyers said that, on behalf of President Barack Obama and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, they were asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to overturn the judge's ruling.

In a 66-page opinion issued April 15, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said the holiday violates the "establishment clause" of the First Amendment, which creates a separation of church and state.

"I understand that many may disagree with that conclusion and some may even view it as a criticism of prayer or those who pray," Crabb said in her opinion. "That is unfortunate. A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message itself is harmful, unimportant or undeserving of dissemination."

The opinion came in a case filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of self-described "atheists" and "agnostics."

Crabb said her ruling was based on "relevant case law," and it did not prevent religious groups from organizing prayer services or prevent the President from discussing his views on prayer.

"The only issue decided in this case is that the federal government may not endorse prayer in a statute," Crabb said.

Within hours of the ruling, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee urged the Justice Department to "immediately" file an appeal.

"The decision undermines the values of religious freedom that America was founded upon," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Tex., said in a statement. "What's next? Declaring the federal holiday for Christmas unconstitutional?"

Crabb said the ruling would not have any effect until any appeals are exhausted.

She insisted her ruling was not a judgment on the value of prayer.

"No one can doubt the important role that prayer plays in the spiritual life of a believer," Crabb said in her opinion. "In the best of times, people may pray as a way of expressing joy and thanks; during times of grief, many find that prayer provides comfort. Others may pray to give praise, seek forgiveness, ask for guidance or find the truth. ... However, recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic."

The National Day of Prayer was first established by Congress in 1952, with a more specific date for the holiday set in 1988. It is now observed on the first Thursday in May.”

The National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and was rightly found to be so by the judge who made this determination.

Despite the protestation otherwise this is an event held by and for evangelicals. I know of instances when synagogues attempted to take part in the proceedings and were refused participation because they were not Christian. Somehow this does not seem to me to be respectful or inclusive of all citizens.

The concept of repentance and intercession for a nation is frankly repellant. To accept such as valid would mean that there is direct intercession in the affairs of state by deities. No amount of prayer, personal, institutional, or nationwide has causative effect on other nations bent upon doing violence, upon natural disasters, epidemics, adverse weather, climate change, geological threats, or football games at Texas high school stadiums.

As with far too many things, this “prayer event” is about gaining and focusing political power by playing to an evangelical and fundamentalist voter base composed of people who are all too willing to suspend belief and proclaim miracles instead of looking for actual causes. We finished with the idea of “Divine Right Monarchs” in Europe but a large portion of our population seems willing to accept “Divine Right Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, and local officials who use religion to ride into office.

Do take a look at the third link above, the one for the store. They have a lot of really unnecessary things to sell you. The National Day of Prayer foundation wants your money. After all, they have a C Street apartment house to maintain, Senators and Congressmen to house, bribes to pay out to settle disputes about marital affairs and infidelity.

This renews the dispute about whether or not this is a Christian nation. Nations that behave in a truly Christian manner provide housing, food, education, and healthcare for their citizens. They are socialist to communist in nature. They practice no arts of war, so they don’t exist very long. If our founders had wanted another divine right ruler they would have prayed for one rather than elected one. Or, perhaps they grew tired of praying to be free of one or more and realized that religion and statecraft no longer go hand-in-hand. We currently have Sarah Palin proclaiming that God chose her instead of John McCain. She’s using religion as a wedge to fragment the nation while Mike Huckabee makes repeated attempts to convince us that we should replace the Constitution with the King James bible. We may need a reservation for people like them and the owners of the National Day of Prayer Foundation; some place where they can pray to their heart’s content without harming or annoying anyone else. But they’d better be given a large reserve of food. I doubt they will be dining on largesse from above in these times.

I generally appreciate Harry Truman’s presidential actions. But signing off on this was a national blunder. Take time to drop a note to the White House suggesting that they not support the national Day of Prayer, because it is really a national day of exclusion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

21 April 2010 But the forecast said…

21 April 2010 But the forecast said…

This morning began as a cloudy day with intermittent rain showers. Never mind the gloom; whippoorwills were back on our property as I dragged Loki outside and up to the road to retrieve the newspaper. It was becoming light enough that surprise bear encounters were unlikely.

The forecast called for highs around 68°F and partly cloudy skies. Planning for that, I left the house lightly clad, and had to go back inside for a rain jacket. The outside temperature never exceeded 51°F on the drive in and most of the way was graced with rain. I make this mistake, under-dressing for the real weather, about once or twice a year. Normally, I wear and carry more than is necessary. My hands are still thawing out from the outside air blown onto them by the defroster in the Pathfinder. It worked well in Florida, they told us at the dealership. In fact, we didn’t ever use it for the first four years after we bought the Pathfinder. It was only during our 2005 trip to VT that we first needed to use it. We’ve gotten used to cold hands when the windshield fogs up. I have gloves with me today but was in too much of hurry to dig them out.

I’m wondering if any of my CSI class team mates will show up this morning. I e-mailed them a link to the pictures I posted for their benefit on Friday. Today is Wednesday, and I’ve yet to hear from anyone in the group about photos, measurements, or anything else. At this point, I’m somewhat annoyed. I have enough measurements to complete the project. They have no photos to submit if I choose to dump this project. I can heavily damage their grade for 1/3rd of the class by simply doing nothing. As a “special student,” auditing the class, I don’t get graded and really have no obligation to complete any exams.

It may be that none of them have even bothered to look for e-mail about this class. National news items broadcast over the last two days indicate that teen-agers only communicate by text message. Neither Gloria nor I use text messaging or IM at all. We see no reason to pay for individual messages, outgoing or incoming. We still use cell phones for verbal communication. And since our home is located in a very spotty to no service area due to the location and terrain, we still use a land line for our primary phone service. How quickly technology outdates us. When Gloria and I met online and married it was still an uncommon occurrence. Now, it seems verbal communication may be, for the time, passé. I’ve sent three text messages that I can recall and those all happened in Vancouver when we were trying to meet my older son for dinner.

Part of the problem with text and instant messaging, for me, is that it all too often takes place in situations where the sender and recipient should be doing something else. I watch students serve their cell phones while professors attempt to lecture, pretending that they aren’t being ignored by students passing electronic notes. Frankly, it is rude. It is rude when it happens in business meetings, in classrooms, in checkout lines, and almost everywhere else.

I stuck my head into the CSI classroom in passing today. Didn’t see anyone from my group. I guess they don’t bother with low-tech common any more. Too bad. They probably all under-dressed for the weather, too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

20 April 2010 It’s hard to take you seriously when…

20 April 2010 It’s hard to take you seriously when…

Sexy Women "Cause Earthquakes"

Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, who is based in Tehran, as said that women who sleep around and wear revealing clothing are to blame for earthquakes, the Guardian has reported.

According to Sedighi:"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes,"

From via

Granted, Gloria has shown me the far edges of the universe, moved the stars and planets around me, and the earth beneath my feet. But earthquakes are caused by movement of the earth’s crust; not by defiance of religious tenets laid down by men who regard women as property. If the Tehran resident cited above was at all correct, the tides would be greatly amplified and the planet’s crust would never have become stable enough to allow building thatched huts. Sedighi sounds as if he’s been rejected by one or more Iranian woman who refuses to accept the blame for his lack of social graces.

It must be a bitter thing to wake up and find that your religious lock on sex and marriage has been altered drastically; dragged from the 15th century into the 20th century, having only a hundred years or so to reach the social and political structures of the 21st. Women may be the necessary agents of reform for Islam. It will have to begin in nations like Iraq, Lebanon, and perhaps Iran; where women once knew much greater personal freedom and were able to obtain educations that opened the world to them. While there are many women from Western nations trying to bring equality, education, and modernity to the more backward nations, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and others; the real opportunity for change will only begin to manifest when other Moslem women bring it into the more backward corners of the Islamic world. I’ve said, often, that Islam is in dire need of a reformation to change it from a faith for 8th century nomadic tribes into a faith that recognizes the world has changed under it since the camel got his hump. That reformation is not going to take place if Islam waits for its imams and mullahs to bring it about. It is more and more evident that any reformation will have to be torn from the histories of other faiths and blended skillfully into something that no longer allows mercy killings, mutilation, denial of education, marriage to children, and that no longer views half the world’s population as infidel and approved targets for violent jihad. Men who have yet to leave tribal culture behind will not willingly embrace religious reformation; they have too much to lose in terms of tradition, culture, and power. But women, who have next to no possessions and no positions of power, have much to gain. Perhaps this is the decade that the green revolution will explode in Iran and then sweep throughout Islam, reforming a religion in great need of change. We can all hope for it; the entire world will benefit when the earth moves in Tehran for the same reason it moves in Chucky.

Meanwhile, in cartoon land:

“On Sunday, posted an entry that included a warning to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that they risk violent retribution – after the 200th episode last week included a satirical discussion about whether an image of the prophet could be shown. In the end, he is portrayed disguised in a bear suit.”

That’s right! The creators of South Park have been threatened with death for defaming the prophet Mohammed. Unlike the Danish political cartoons which were responsible for staged riots in parts of the Islamic world because someone dared depict the prophet with a human face; South Park depicts Mohammed in a bear disguise.

I’m guilty of watching that episode – just try to prevent me after that sort of idiotic response. And I must admit the disguise was effective. Without be made aware of Mohammed’s guest appearance by the script, I’d never have known that the character on my television was somehow possessed of a direct connection to a supreme being. Really good disguise, guys!

Honestly, I understand the tradition of “no graven images” for supreme beings. It gets around that messy problem of what does a supreme being really look like. It places an element of mystery into the liturgy and ritual that only specially designated people may deal with, such as the entry of the Kohen Gadol into the Kodesh HaKadashim on Yom Kippur. And it provides a line of demarcation for the believers.

While Islam’s prohibition against images of Allah is consistent with those of Judaism’s imageless deity and Christianity’s; the prohibition against depicting Mohammed is rather incomprehensible. According to the history of Islam, Mohammed was human in origin and exit. To me, there is no sense in banning his depiction. In fact, such a ban would seem to me to approach deification of Mohammed, a thing to be avoided for the faithful.

What this rabid, fundamentalist, murderous objection to images of Mohammed brings about is a view of Islam that suggests it has yet to leave the days of tribal warfare that existed at its founding. The use of murder to enforce religious purity left Judaism millennia ago and Christianity, more or less, with the Inquisition. Islam has not ruled out human sacrifice, it has merely put a mask on the matter. Honor killings, stoning, and such primitive practices still exist today in nations that control nuclear power and weapons. It would seem to be possible that some fundamentalist might decide his nation was in need of carrying out an honor killing and that nuclear fire was the weapon of choice.

When religious leaders can call for international jihad over a political cartoon, or worse, over the concept of a man in a disguise, it is hard to grant that religion any real merit. If Islam wants my respect, it has to undergo drastic reformation from within and without. Until then, the 200th episode of South Park should be televised every day and the Danish editorial Mohammed cartoons should be printed weekly in every newspaper, especially those in Moslem nations.

There have been many images of Mohammed produced over the centuries by various artists. Some are favorable, others not. I can’t think of too many riots caused by these works of art and some of them from current times seem to be well accepted.

Medieval and Renaissance Christian and secular artists had no religious restrictions regarding depictions of Mohammed, and were free to show his face and body in their entirety


Mohammed Image Archive   European Medieval and Renaissance Images

Paintings and Images of the Prophet Muhammad

From the art of Islamic or Muslim cultures

Monday, April 19, 2010

19 April 2010 Same date different memories & values

19 April 2010 Same date different memories & values

In Oklahoma City the citizens are remembering the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the Murraw Federal Office Building by Timothy McVeigh. Adults and their children were killed or injured by the detonation of truck bomb. It is recalled as the largest act of domestic terrorism on U.S. soil. McVeigh was a militia member, a former enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army, and was executed for his actions.

In Washington D.C. the 2nd Amendment March is taking place. This is apparently a gathering of gun owners and enthusiast who are concerned at supposed erosion of 2nd amendment rights. These demonstrators have to march without firearms as they are prohibited in the march area. There’s a bit of irony to that situation.

Also marching today, in Virginia, are other gun owners. A “Restore the Constitution Rally” is scheduled to take place in Fort Hunt, run by the National Park Service, and to Gravelly Point on the banks of the Potomac River, as near as they can bring their firearms to the national capital. This group of protestors is more alarming than the 2nd Amendment March – which disavows all connection with the group in Ft. Hunt despite sharing two speakers. Some of them are former or active cops or soldiers who have decided to collectively use force of arms to prevent the implementation of civil or military orders they believe unconstitutional. Other participants are members of various militias, various gun activist groups, and some calling frankly for violence in order to “defend their Constitution”. “Retake their nation,” “defeat socialism,” and restructure the government as they believe it should be.

The Ft. Hunt band is not a benign group of target shooters, hunters, or even gun collectors. They are potential internal terrorists in the manner of McVeigh or Rudolph. They’ve collectively decided that they know what the Constitution’s framer meant it to be. They seem to be strongly related to the Christian Identity movement, as hateful and racist a movement as this nation has ever known. They are not people I care to have living nearby.

Also in today’s history is the Gregorian calendar’s anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt in 1943. On Erev Pesach the Nazis assayed to remove the remaining 50,000 or so Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto by means of force. They marshaled Polish and Baltic auxiliary troops and police to enter the ghetto under the oversight of the SS. Expecting no resistance, they marched into the ghetto to a central location, to be met with a hail of bullets and Molotov cocktails. A second attempt on the following day was also repulsed by Jews who chose to fight for life rather than surrender for transport to Treblinka and extermination.

The Germans were forced to level the ghetto with artillery and aerial bombardment. Even after that the Jews inside continued to resist. Ghetto fighter leaders begged for help from Warsaw and the Polish nation’s underground. None came. The ghetto held out for 43 days, longer than the nation of Poland in 1939. Some survivors made it to Israel after WWII and lived together on a kibbutz. They are a shining example of men and women who take up arms for the right reasons. They fought in defense of others and in their own defense; not worshipping their weapons or their willingness to fight. They are rightfully recalled as heroes, as patriots for a nation that came to exist only after years of further struggle.

The various militias in America, the “oath keeper” group that will be calling for violence today at Ft. Hunt; are not patriots, not heroes, and should be closely watched by local, state, and federal police agencies. They have the right to assemble, to carry their firearms, and to proclaim their dissatisfaction with our nation and our government. That right was secured for them in 1775, 1812, 1865, and 1945 by men who knew they needed to answer the call to arms issued by the duly constituted authorities, not by demagogues and hate mongers. There will be no real heroes or patriots at Ft. Hunt today. There will be an abundance of demagogues, hate mongers, bullies, religious fanatics, and potential assassins and bombers.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

18 April 2010 They don’t pay their fare share of taxes

18 April 2010 They don’t pay their fare share of taxes - They're cheating honest conservatives!

“Still steamed about taxes? Now read this

By John Farmer April 18, 2010, 7:10AM

Now, about that 47 percent who pay no income tax. Who are they? Overwhelmingly, they’re individuals and families with little income or retirees and widows living on Social Security. (Try living in New Jersey on even $50,000 a year with a family of four.) They may pay no federal income tax, but they are liable for Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes and, of course, and for state and local taxes.

Bottom line: the real percentage that pays no taxes at all — income or payroll — isn’t 47 percent but just 13.4 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center. But 47 percent makes for a better story, doesn’t it? And for more outrage.”

“Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax

Recession, new tax credits have nearly half of US households paying no federal income tax

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it's simply somebody else's problem.

About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That's according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization…”

“Our view on financing government: When 47% don't pay income tax, it's not healthy for USA”

“Contrary to what you might have heard on talk radio or TV, it's not quite that simple. What's true is that the Tax Policy Center, a well-regarded think tank, calculated that 47% of Americans would owe no federal income taxes for 2009, up from the usual 38% who typically owe no income tax on April 15. Most still pay Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, sales taxes and property taxes (if they own any property).

So they're paying taxes, but the fact that 47% pay no federal income tax is nonetheless disturbing — not for what it says about the non-payers but for what it says about the nation's broken tax system and how hard it will be to fix it.

The people who pay no income tax aren't freeloaders or evaders; virtually all are simply doing what the law allows. That there are so many of them is the result of decades of deliberate, bipartisan tax policy.

That includes an appropriately progressive income tax that levies a heavier burden on better-off taxpayers, and little or none on those with the smallest incomes. It includes tax credits such as the ones that reward people for having children and help lift some people above the poverty line by rewarding them for working. And it includes President George W. Bush's tax cuts, which removed 5 million people from the tax rolls while giving big cuts to upper-income people as well.

More people owe no income tax this year because the recession has cost many people their jobs, and the tax cuts in the stimulus act — an idea conservatives preferred to spending programs — were potent enough to help push some people's tax liability to zero. Once the stimulus expires and the economy recovers, the number of non-payers should fall back toward the typical 38%.”

One of the forums I monitor and sometimes participate in was collectively outraged at the idea that there are private citizens who pay no income taxes. Be aware that this forum is publically to the right of Fox News in all matters. Comments from this forum ran the gamut of expected standards. “They’re lazy. They’re free-loaders They’re socialists who will destroy the country They’ve never worked in their lives and won’t have to as long as hard-working, God-fearing real Americans support them. They should be allowed to starve to death, die of disease or injury for failure to have more income. One commenter suggested complete disenfranchisement, removal of all safety nets, and execution by burning.

At the core, is their fear and anger that someone might be taking something from their pockets to allow someone else to live. They, for the most part, are in synch with the Tea Party mobs, find Palin to be worthy of office and adoration, and see no connection between the outsourcing and off shoring of American jobs and any decrease in the number of tax payers.

I’ve made no comment on that forum concerning this loss in taxpayers. My political position is far different from the common position and I’ve tired of the effort to introduce any variance into the forum on this matter or many others.

This forum is not unique. We’ve all seen recent television programs filled with red-faced white males screaming about free-loaders, demanding “Our country back, now.” We’ve heard one set of GOP sponsored lies after another splashed across television s in an attempt to make us think that people choose to earn so little as to have no tax liability. We’re supposed to believe that the bulk of these non-payers are lazy, non-white, non-conservative, intellectuals, non-Christians, or some combination of these markers.

But what is overlooked is the current reality of taxation.

There are millions of Americans who have lost their jobs, and thus, their income during the last decade. Odds are they didn’t earn enough to pay taxes last year... This 47% figure includes many older Americans living on Social Security &/or retirement benefits, a fixed income – for which they’ve already been taxed. This is often going to mean that those individuals fall below the current poverty line. If they choose to try to find work to supplement their Social Security benefits they run the risk of having those benefits decreased or cut. These retirees are either older, physically disabled, or perhaps both. There are many single mothers raising children who have limited incomes. Granted, many of these could have prevented having children – although the same people railing against this sub-population also rail against teaching or providing birth control to students or to people trying to avoid pregnancy. Many of the non-payers are the under-employed, working one or more part-time entry level jobs at minimum wage for large employers who provide no benefits to part-times and hire no full-time employees in order to maintain higher profits. Many of them are students, working part-time or full-time while simultaneously attending school to learn a trade or obtain a degree. There are families with children who take advantage of every tax credit and loophole they can find to reduce tax liabilities. If it means they pay no taxes, Congress wrote those loopholes and called for those credits, not the average tax-liable citizen.

Yes, there are people who take advantage of the system. There are people who find ways to avoid working. But they are not the majority of non-payers. They are the target population, chosen by the GOP and Tea Party propagandists to use to incite anger in those people who do have to pay income taxes. They are the scapegoats; the socialist, elitist, intellectual, lazy, pretenders, faking injuries, illness, and the outsourcing of their jobs in order to live from everyone else’s pockets. And just as Goebbels lies were ingested readily in Nazi Germany’ so are the Ad agencies television spots in today’s troubled economy.

This is yet another page in the GOP play book. Rather than admit that people who have no jobs, earn no money, and thus pay no taxes on income; they choose to fabricate a mythical “they” who are added to the pool of those held up as the cause of economic troubles in America. No GOP ads target the bankers and industrialists whose policies and practices took jobs offshore in order to increase profits, or who sold worthless investment paper to each other and to countless private investors, knowing that there was no real value to such paper once the investment houses had reaped their share.

I started work at age 14 in a medical laboratory. I have worked all my life until I was injured and rendered both un-employable and un-insurable. We watched our reserves melt away while insurance companies and the Social Security Administration delayed determinations for 3 and 4.5 years respectively, despite the initial finding by the neurosurgeon chosen by the insurance company, and by subsequent physician they sent me to, that I was disabled. We were lucky that we were able to outlast the planned delay strategy.

I would prefer not to be disabled, would prefer to be able to earn what I once earned. I’d like to have the insurance coverage I once had. But I’m well aware those options in a rear-end automobile collision. I’m grateful I have what income I do have. I paid FICA insurance payments all my working life. If I try to earn supplemental income, then those benefits will be decreased markedly. I can’t make enough at minimum wage to compensate for what I would lose. And there are many people out there in the same situation; they opt for the certainty, as little as it may be when weighed against food, medicine, and shelter, over the possibility in a part-time income source that will never pay the bills.

The non-payment issue will be brought up again and again to deflect inquiry away from corporations that pay little or no taxes, that shelter their money off-shore. It will surface when it is time to renew banking regulations, and when it is time to look at executive salaries that are in no way justified by their talent or skills. And it will be brought up to prevent any attempt at revising or rewriting the tax codes. There will never be a tax code that is fair to every citizen of this nation. There will never be full employment or full employment at a livable wage in this nation. Some people will always earn too little to have to pay taxes. If you are one of them, I understand your position and wish you good luck in avoiding further injury, illness, under, or unemployment. If you make enough to be liable, I wish you good luck as well. The distance between you and me can change in an instant. Mine did.

Yes, there are some people who work the system. I dislike them as much as you. But there are far more simply trying to squeeze out another month’s bills from the little that comes in. Don’t let the television and radio demagogues, ad agencies, and the career politicians lie to you and divide Americans into warring factions over this. Think about the people you know who work hard every day and take home a steadily shrinking paycheck. These are the folks who are being painted as tax cheats. They’re not. They’re your friends and neighbors, your mechanics, your day care workers, teacher’s aides, librarians, grocery baggers, and a host of others you see and interact with every day. They’d all like to make enough money next year to actually have at least a small tax liability. Just ask them.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

17 April 2010 Crime scene sketch in progress.

17 April 2010 Crime scene sketch in progress.

Today’s post will be very brief.

I’m working on a crime scene diagram and notes for my CSI class. The three people who didn’t show up for the planning session did show up on Friday so that they get credit. I down loaded a CAD type program to make the formal site sketch. I received a trial copy with my text book but I’m unable to install it as it locks up my computer.

I shot about 30 photos which I have made available to my classmates. They have been notified by e-mail that the can access them for their reports. I’ve also notified them that I will not be at the planned follow up session on Monday as I will be having the Pathfinder repaired in Greeneville. I had one opportunity for the repair on Monday at 1100. Otherwise there will be a 10 day delay in replacing an O2 sensor. It is ill-advised to travel far without replacing this part.

So far, I’ve heard nothing from my classmates. This could be interesting as every one of their grades depends upon my participation.

We’re going into Jonesborough tonight to work the gate at a Contra dance.

Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, April 16, 2010

16 April 2010 How deep the glacier how high the sky

16 April 2010 How deep the glacier how high the sky

“A Tale of Two Volcanoes


Published: April 15, 2010

Sandisfield, Mass.

IN planetary terms, it was just a tiny pinprick that opened up last month underneath the Eyjafjalla Glacier in southern Iceland, when a long-forgotten volcano started to erupt again after a quiescence of nearly 200 years. But insignificant though the rent in the planet’s fabric may have been, uncounted millions have been suddenly affected by it…”

Oh, to be in Iceland now that spring is here!

This is a great tale to explore, reminding us of how little we are in comparison to the power resident in the interior of this planet. I’m going to hope for some sunset and sunrise changes that will mark the ash plume’s circumnavigation. I’m also going to look up some of the paintings from the time.

Hopefully this eruption will diminish and re-seal its vent before the ash cloud becomes large and diffuse enough to create another example of atmospheric cooling such as that we noted after Mt. Pinitubo erupted or Mt. Tambora.

“The Year Without a Summer (also known as the Poverty Year, Year There Was No Summer and Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death[1]) was 1816, in which severe summer climate abnormalities destroyed crops in Northern Europe, the Northeastern United States and eastern Canada.[2][3] Average global temperatures decreased about 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F),[4] enough to cause significant agricultural problems around the globe.

Historian John D. Post has called this "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world".[5]

Most consider the climate anomaly to have been caused by a combination of a historic low in solar activity with a volcanic winter event; the latter caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped off by the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815, the largest known eruption in over 1,600 years.”

Just to keep things in proportion, on the way home from class I noticed a “service engine soon” light/alarm in my Pathfinder. I was able to get into a local dealership this afternoon. I go back Monday morning to have an O2 sensor replaced. I’ll miss class rather than delay service until the 26th, the next available slot.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

15 April 2010 short rounds

15 April 2010 short rounds

“Russia suspends adoptions to U.S. families

By Philip P. Pan

Washington Post Foreign Service

Thursday, April 15, 2010; 11:38 AM

MOSCOW -- Russia said Thursday it has suspended all adoptions of Russian children by U.S. families until a bilateral agreement can be reached to ensure their well-being. In making the announcement, the government was following through on a threat it made last week after a 7-year-old boy was sent back to Moscow alone by his adoptive mother in Tennessee…”

Frankly, this does not bother me at all. There are thousands of children in the U.S. in need of adoptive homes with families to care for them. There is no need to look outside our borders for such children. I am told that it is easier to meet requirements for adoption in foreign nations such as Russia and/or China. We should not accept any less stringent requirements for families or individuals pursuing a foreign adoption than we should for the adoption of children already in the U.S. If the intent is to provide a suitable home for a child, rather than to satisfy a biological imperative, there should be no reluctance on the part of would be adoptive parents to submit to the more stringent requirements. After all, these adoptive parents do want what is best for the children, don’t they?

Former astronaut Neil Armstrong criticizes the president for proposed revisions to the U.S.' space program

“Former astronaut Neil Armstrong has issued a strongly worded rebuke of President Barack Obama, criticizing the president for proposed revisions to the U.S.' space program.

Armstrong, along with astronauts James Lovell and Eugene Cernan, called the proposal “devastating” in a letter obtained by NBC News. Read below for the full text:

"The United States entered into the challenge of space exploration under President Eisenhower’s first term, however, it was the Soviet Union who excelled in those early years," the letter begins."Under the bold vision of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and with the overwhelming approval of the American people, we rapidly closed the gap in the final third of the 20th century, and became the world leader in space exploration. ... “

I agree with Armstrong. We’ve always been one of the leaders in aerospace R&D as well as in the exploration of space by alternate means. For us to voluntarily surrender a position of leadership that provides immensely valuable spin-off benefits, to back down from a position that provides not only military but civil primacy, is foolish and will result in loss of technical advantage compared to other nations. Obama is wrong. Space exploration may be expensive, may not pay off immediately, and may not play well with minorities and un/underemployed. It is, however, worth every penny we’ve ever spent or will spend. To fully understand how the universe works, we have to leave the ground and explore outward.

Bishop blames Jews for child molestation scandal

"Don't believe that Hitler was merely crazy," says Italian Catholic leader Giacomo Babini

“We're living in the Age of Globalization, and it seems that chutzpah, like latkes, isn't just for Jews any longer. Last week, retired Bishop Giacomo Babini of the Italian town of Grosseto told the Catholic Pontifex website that the Catholic pedophile scandal is being orchestrated by the "eternal enemies of Catholicism, namely the freemasons and the Jews, whose mutual entanglements are not always easy to see through… I think that it is primarily a Zionist attack, in view of its power and refinement. They do not want the church; they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God-killers."

There should be no doubt that a deep undercurrent of anti-Semitism existed in the Vatican during WWII and still exists today. This hateful slander comes from the same wonderful people who brought the concept of “ghetto” into being, who cooperated eagerly with the Inquisition, who tried and killed people who refused to ignore the truth found in science for the myths found in fundamentalist religion. The Roman Catholic Church may have officially absolved Jews of the execution of Christ. But they obviously have not convinced their official representatives of Jewish innocence. Nor have they wiped our anti-Semitism among their clergy.

While people of all faiths can be found engaging in aberrant, immoral, and illegal behavior, the Roman Catholic Church excels above the rest at hiding the crime and protecting the criminals. Blaming the current scandal on Jews and Masons is wrong and untrue at every level. The various nations of the world need to collectively state that Civil law supersedes Cannon law in all instances, that there will be no protection for clergy of any faith who abuse children. Tax exempt status should be removed from any religious body covering up such crimes. No clergy should be immune from arrest and prosecution.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

14 April 2010 Halt! Who goes there?

14 April 2010 Halt! Who goes there?

I’ve become used to using the time between scoring a parking spot and the start time of my first class for tracking down Holocaust information sites. I’ve been using the ETSU network as a portal for internet access while on campus.

Today, I was presented with inability to log into the network. I was prompted to change my password, as the one I was using had timed out in the campus network. I generally have no problem with such things. I entered a new password, confirmed it, and was promptly refused access. Backing out and attempting another password exchange did absolutely no good. I’m now required to contact a network administrator to resolve the problem generated by the network’s failure to recognize my laptop. That means a trip up to the student center to wait in line at a help window so that someone 1/3rd my age can visit the inner workings of my computer and re-introduce it to the network.

One of the students in the Holocaust class asked me if I liked the class. She got more response than she anticipated. She happens to be one of the women who have routinely spent the periods when portions of Shoah were being shown in play on Face Book. I pulled no punches. I told her I thought that such behavior showed a degree of disconnection from the Holocaust that made me very uncomfortable. I told her that I had expected and hoped for more interaction from the students, more involvement with the course material. And I expressed concern for increasing anti-Semitism in the U.S. I wonder how long it will take for that to make the rounds of her half of the room.

Yes, the classroom is sort of divided now. I sit in the back seat of the middle row. To my right sit the fraternity and sorority students and most of the thinner students in the room. To my left, apparently the off campus students, with two exceptions, mostly obese, markedly heavier than me. Forward of me, in my row, an older male – retired, I believe – and an adult student from China.

I did hike up to the student center to have my laptop brought back into the fold. I was told that I should have changed the password in the D2L area of the network. Of course, it was impossible to reach that area until the new password was recognized. The young man at the help window reset the password from somewhere within the network. This may be an every three months annoyance.

Particularly frustrating, the report that I saw this morning indicating frequent password changes to be non-productive and cost-ineffective. While I want a tightly secured network, I want password control routines to be workable before they are implemented.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

13 April 2010 The genie refuses to return to the bottle.

13 April 2010 The genie refuses to return to the bottle.

By Jonathan Capehart
April 12, 2010; 6:00 AM ET

“'nuclear sword of Damocles'

"Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us." --President John F. Kennedy

Lawrence Bender, the Academy Award-winning producer of "An Inconvenient Truth," uses Kennedy's words at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, 1961 as the foundation of his new anti-nuclear proliferation documentary "Countdown to Zero." The film doesn't hit theaters nationwide until July 9, but I was able to catch a screening of it last week. My hope is that "Countdown to Zero" will do for nuclear proliferation what "An Inconvenient Truth" did for climate change. Americans, particularly those born after the fall of the Berlin Wall, need to understand how close we've come to and how close we remain to nuclear annihilation.

After seeing the film, I pray that the New START treaty between the United States and Russia gets ratified by the Senate and that the nuclear security summit that kicks off today in Washington leads to meaningful measures to keep materials for weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. In a post-9/11 world, where enemies of the West are actively trying to acquire them, that sword of Damocles is closer to our necks than we want to admit.

"Countdown to Zero" employs Kennedy's "accident," "miscalculation" and "madness" formulation to look at the three separate yet interlocking dangers posed by nuclear weapons. One potential "accident" occurred in August 2007 when a B-52 bomber flew from North Dakota to Louisiana with six warheads on its wing that apparently no one, including the pilots, knew were there.

A frightening potential "miscalculation" happened in 1995 when a U.S.-Norwegian research rocket was detected by Russian early-warning radars and had then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin handling his nation's nuclear football for the first time. Former CIA officer Peter Pry, who wrote about this incident in "War Scare," called it "the single most dangerous moment of the nuclear missile age."

And the film is replete with details on how vulnerable we are to a devastating attack by those hellbent on "madness." What's saved us thus far has been their inability to create or get their hands on highly enriched uranium needed to make a nuclear bomb. But former CIA operations officer Rolff Mowatt-Larssen delivers this bit of disquieting news in the film. "All the black market seizures that I'm aware of were caught by luck," he said.

Let's hope our luck doesn't run out.”

Those of us who are old enough recall Disney’s “Our Friend, the Atom,” as a promise of endless power to run the homes and industries of America. Those who haven’t seen the feature should watch it. Those of us who recall it at all should also.

Disney was instrumental in trying to convince the public that nuclear power was useful for something besides bomb construction. The analogy they chose, genie in a bottle, was appropriate if overly simplified. The narrating scientist in this segment was apparently one of “our Germans” with a mild accent. Nuclear power for commercial purposes did get a boost from Disney. It is still a viable source for commercial power but must be strongly secured against any attacks and monitored constantly for theft or loss of fissile materials.

Disney also dealt, a bit, with the concept of a “chain reaction”, the process that provides constant and controlled fission in a sustained manner to provide heat for conversion to power. That same process, uncontrolled in a fissile mass of sufficient quantity becomes incredibly dangerous, resulting in a melt down or an explosion.

We should also watch what happens without controls

Breeder reactors provide more fissile material for civilian or military use. Enrichment processes increase the ratio of fissile to non-fissile isotopes and are necessary to create weapons-grade isotopes.

The danger from nuclear weapons now does not lie in the militaries of Cold War enemies but in their storage facilities and in the intentions of rogue nations and terrorist groups. The stock pile of fissile material held by Ukraine is now to be removed from Ukraine. Canada and Mexico have also agreed to rid their nations of weapons grade isotopes.

There is every need for all the industrialized nations to work together to prevent the acquisition of such weapons by Iran, which funds terrorism, and which wants the international prestige that possession of nuclear weapons would convey in their region of the world.. There is also need to prevent black market sales of bombs or fissile material to terrorist groups, particularly Islamic fundamentalists. Pakistan is a potential conduit for such transfers to terrorists and is only on coup away from having a fundamentalist Islamic government in place. North Korea is so in need of currency that they will sell anything they can. The former Soviet republics are also potential black market routes for weapons.

The problem we face today is two-fold. We must convince other nations to cooperate with us in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons and in preventing their use by other states or by terrorist groups. This will require international cooperation at a level the U.S. has previously been unwilling to practice. And there is the second part of our problem. The GOP is likely to attempt to prevent the ratification of the newest U.S. /Russia nuclear weapons reduction treaty. They will doubtless claim it weakens our defenses and is “socialistic, communistic,” and “Un-American.” They will be less concerned with anything that actually might reduce the risk of terrorists obtaining and using nuclear weapons against us than they will be in trying to prevent anything being accomplished by the Obama administration. In plain words, the GOP would rather see a nuclear weapon used against this nation than to see the U.S. participate in a nuclear weapons reduction treaty and program. Think I’m wrong, watch the vote for ratification of the new START treaty. Believe me, I hope I am wrong.

Monday, April 12, 2010

12 April 2010 How many bishops can dance on a child abuse law?

12 April 2010 How many bishops can dance on a child abuse law?

Connecticut bishops fight sex abuse bill

From Jamie Guzzardo, CNN

April 11, 2010 10:30 p.m. EDT

The proposed change would put "all Church institutions ... at risk," a letter from Connecticut's Catholic bishops says.


Bishops: Bill would allow old cases with lost evidence, faded memories

Connecticut's Catholic bishops ask parishioners to oppose bill

Bill would rescind statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases

Older claimants would need to show substantial proof that they were abused

Hartford, Connecticut (CNN) -- A bill in Connecticut's legislature that would remove the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases has sparked a fervent response from the state's Roman Catholic bishops, who released a letter to parishioners Saturday imploring them to oppose the measure…

This is yet another in the continuing attempts by Roman Catholic Bishops to interfere in matters of civil law and politics in the nation and in its various states and territories.

Currently, the Roman Catholic church and its council of bishops has come out in favor or sanctuary for illegal immigrants, against health care reform, and has repeatedly tried to delay and prevent legal action against those priests who stand accused of child abuse. All of these actions take place under the auspices of an organization that claims tax-exempt status as a religious organization under existing U.S. tax laws and campaign laws. The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has a fortune in real estate holdings. Some of these date back to before the Revolutionary war.

I am opposed to tax-exempt status for any religious organization, local or national, that has real estate. I am vehemently opposed to tax-exempt status for any religious organization that interferes, or tries to interfere, in matters of local, state, or national politics; in matters of civil or criminal law; or in any matters of personal choice regarding public education, health care, etc.

The council of bishops has recently made an attempt to meddle in the national political battle centered around health care reform. They object to the potential public funding of abortion. They are, collectively, trying to impose Roman Catholic dogma on the entire population of the United States. This is in direct violation of the 1st Amendment’s prohibition of any state sponsored religion. They have no problem sheltering under the same amendment’s guarantee of freedom to worship as one chooses in this nation, but wish to deny it to everyone else by slipping in de facto recognition of a national religion.

The same council is repeatedly guilty of harboring illegal aliens in violation of immigration laws. The vast majority of these illegals are Latino in origin and are practicing Roman Catholics. Again, this is an attempt to create a de facto national religion by flooding the nation with more and more Roman Catholics with the intent of using this sub-populace when they are granted some form of amnesty. The same bishops are currently supporting illegal immigrants and Latino activists who demand open borders with Mexico and uncontrolled immigration along with access to publically funded education, health care, housing, and other benefits that rightfully should not be provided to non-citizens, and which particularly should not be available to illegal aliens.

As centuries of Roman Catholic priests and bishops have historically having made multiple oligarchies of Latin America to the benefit of the Vatican, the council of bishops here wishes to pursue a course of action that will eventually lead to similar third world status for the U.S. due to over population and other factors stressing social safety nets and our economy.

There is a long history of child abuse committed by priests subsequently being covered up by the church’s hierarchy. Priest know to be guilty of such crimes have been protected from prosecution by various means. They have been relieved of duty and then sent to other parishes, often committing the same crimes in their new parish. They have been protected from investigation and thus from any penalty under cannon law. The church has acted to avoid any civil or criminal investigation, trial, and penalty by persuading civil authorities that such charges were false. In short, they have used and misused cannon law to subvert civil law in this nation and in many others.

The truly hateful thing about this attempt to interfere in Connecticut’s legal code is resident in the history of the Roman Catholic Church declaring itself the source of ethics and judge of morality and behavior on the part of its members. It also tries whenever possible to enforce those same moralities upon non-Catholics. Yet the inner church is all too willing to allow complete abeyance of the very moral codes it claims to author and honor in protecting its priests who abuse its most helpless members.

There is no council of bishops with any moral or legal authority to call for the defeat of a law that might lengthen their church’s exposure to legal penalties or civil penalties as a result of clerical child abuse. Every parishioner receiving a request to oppose the bill should demand a public apology from all bishops involved. How long will it be before the Roman Catholic Church is selling indulgences again? How long until the high church hierarchy is secretly married?

How long will we tolerate religious leaders of any faith demanding Americans follow a public morality that they are unable and unwilling to follow?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

11 April 2010 Long John Silver they ain’t or Son of a new gun

Suspected pirates take shots at U.S. ship

People on a skiff shot at the USS Ashland approximately 330 nautical miles off the coast of Djibouti.

The Ashland shot back, the U.S. Fifth Fleet said. The skiff caught fire and the people abandoned the skiff.

The Ashland deployed rigid-hull inflatable boats to assist the six suspected pirates in the water near their skiff. They were brought on board the Ashland and received medical care.

There were no injuries to the Ashland crew and no apparent damage to the ship, the U.S. Fifth Fleet said

I’ve dealt with this topic recently. I am amazed that any group of pirates thinks that they can take on a U.S. Navy ship and capture or defeat it. Yes, there is a recent history of small craft loaded with explosives and crewed by would-be-martyrs doing tremendous damage to the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen. But since that time ROE’s have been modified to allow ships’ captains to defend their vessels effectively. Small craft are no longer allowed to close to within range where such tactics would be effective without being engaged.

As naval vessels have become more sophisticated in nature the type of ordnance organic to naval vessels has changed markedly. Warships in the 20th century’s major wars were gun platforms for ship-to-ship engagement, shore bombardment, anti-aircraft fire, and anti-submarine duty. The image of a warship bristling with guns is now obsolete.

Ship-to-ship engagements, should they take place, are now carried out using missiles. Missiles also serve as anti-aircraft weaponry, anti-submarine weaponry, and ship-to-shore weapons. Some ships retain the 5 inch naval cannon that is now the Navy’s heavy gun, suitable for any target within 23 miles range. There are also point defense gatling-type radar aimed and corrected anti-missile systems, and the venerable .50 cal machine gun is still very

much in use. But these changes leave surface warships less able to deal with small craft than they once were. A 5 inch cannon is not a good weapon to use when in port as the risk of damage to other ships and shore facilities is high if the round misses its intended target. The .50 caliber machine gun is effective against most small craft but not always immediately so. Again, targeting must be exact in order to avoid unwanted damage to other ships and shore facilities.

Thus, small craft become more useful in planning high speed runs against naval ships. Aided by the relative lack of armor in today’s warships, such tactics can, if deployed successfully, incapacitate or perhaps even sink a war ship. The increasing likelihood of pirates and terrorists having access to anti-ship missiles via contacts with sponsoring states or from arms dealers is cause for naval ships to strictly enforce proximity limits of approach by any unidentified craft and to open fire at the first sign of hostile intent.

The current practice of rescuing any survivors of boats or ships sunk in the act of attacking a naval vessel my provide some limited intelligence concerning backing, financial, and ordnance support but should never be carried out if doing so jeopardizes our naval ships.

There is a very promising system in research now to replace the current naval cannon. Electro-magnetic rail guns are a potential new main armament for our warships that show great promise.

Watch the videos. This is just a trial shot at partial power. The completed weapon could be truly amazing.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

10 April 2010 To bear or not to bear or through a head lamp dimly

10 April 2010 To bear or not to bear or through a head lamp dimly

Gloria’s niece, Diana, is to be married today. Gloria is enjoying her trip to Florida. I’m looking forward to her return.

Last night Loki wanted to stay out and sniff the air. I was not amenable to that as I suspect she smelled the bear. Bears are territorial and will adopt an area and repeatedly wander it. We’ve had at least three other certain bear visits in the last year. Normally bears, unless they have cubs, will show some reluctance to approach humans. Having cubs makes them very likely to contest for ground. Normally bears can be caused to leave by making loud noises such as metal on metal, shouting, and whistles. The Thursday bear seem to have no fear of loud noises. It also was not alarmed by my presence or Loki’s barking. This makes me think that the bear has been fed by someone local and has lost its fear of humans. I heard rumors last fall that a local family was leaving cookies and candy out for a bear that was visiting them repeatedly. It appears that this was true.

Last night, when I took Loki out at 2200, I was using rechargeable AAA batteries in my head lamp. I use this head lamp in order to have both hands free. This particular head lamp, a Petzl Tikka XP, gets a lot of hours from regular alkaline AAA batteries. I’m still trying to figure out how long the rechargeables will power a 1W LED. The lamp signals end of battery life by blinking off and on three times and then returning to full power on status. Normally, I’ve been able to get three or four more night dog walks from regular alkalines at this point in their power curve. Last night, I could watch the beam dropping in brightness as the batteries lost remaining charge.

Normally, this would just mean a walk back to the house with very little light to see the surrounds. Last night, the dropping battery power was concurrent with the deck lights timing out and turning off. They’re set for 12 minutes of light when activated by motion. The potential for another bear visit was quite forward in my thoughts last night. The time was about the same as Thursday night’s visit. There was very little natural light last night at 2200. The head lamp signaled “no more charge” at the farthest point in the driveway from the house. The rapid charge depletion limited the effective sight distance to about 10 feet, and that’s when the deck lamp timed out.

I eventually convinced Loki that it was time to return indoors. This morning I searched the grounds for more evidence of bear incursions. I didn’t find anything new, no footprints, no attack on the trash can. I took a fair amount of trash out to the trash bin this morning. Some of it will likely be interesting to a bear. The can was dented when a bear helped itself to trash during last summer’s bear visit. Since then, I’ve been using a length of shock cord to secure the lid. To my knowledge, it has not been tested by a bear yet. While I’m not eager to find out, it appears we may get a chance to test the efficacy of my “fix.” Bears have learned to open cars by jumping on them in order to obtain food and other items left inside. I’m hoping there is enough natural food for this bear. A bear with no fear of humans, accustomed to foraging in trash cans, is far more dangerous to have around than a normal bear.

Friday, April 9, 2010

First bear of spring addendum

Pictures may add value

The silver verticle bars in foreground are wind chimes ca. 18 inches in length.   Vertical porch railings ca. 40 inches.

9 April 2010 The first bear of spring – or – The bear will have to, I’m not inviting it in.

9 April 2010 The first bear of spring – or – The bear will have to, I’m not inviting it in.

I took Gloria to Tri-Cities Airport last night to catch a flight to St. Petersburg FL. Her niece, Diana, is to be married Saturday, on the beach at Long Boat Key. We had both planned to attend but animal care plans fell through.

The trip to the airport was uneventful but rainy. Once we got there, the tone of the evening changed. The counter person for Allegiant Air was singularly unhelpful when Gloria asked him to print a return boarding pass for. She tried to explain that she would not have access to a printer in Florida but he was unwilling to find any means to help her.

The airport has a snack bar/coffee shop type facility. We walked into it to check the menus for future reference. The sole person working there began yelling that he was closed. Gloria said, “OK, we just want to see the menu.” His repetition became louder, and more rude in tone. Finally I asked him what time he closed. We got an answer, more invective, and left.

We sat down to wait until she had to board. That wasn’t to be either. The airline paged all passengers with boarding passes to the gate. No plane there yet, but the lights in the terminal were going out. So I kissed her goodbye and returned home. It was foggy with drizzle all the way back.

Loki was unhappy that only I came through the door. I took her out about 2145. She wanted to go around back but I had her on a lead and kept her in the front yard. She ran in frantic circles sniffing until I finally brought her back in. Even then she wanted to go out back. As I was hanging up my jacket she lunged at the back door, barking loudly. I checked to see if, perhaps, a possum or raccoon had climbed onto the deck. I saw nothing at first then movement caught my eye and I realized that an adult black bear was happily eating something at the foot of the stairs to the back deck. I made as much noise as I could to; hopefully, discourage the bear from remaining and dining. Whistles, pounding on the window, turning on exterior lights, nothing discouraged a hungry bear.

It is a good thing I didn’t let Loki go around back. She’s never encountered a bear face to face and she’s brave enough to push her luck. I only had a sidearm and that would have been less than optimal if I had been required to separate Loki from the bear.

Gloria had several bird feeders and suet blocks on a line by the deck. Today there are two less bird feeders, a copper wind mobile has been damaged, and the suet block holders have been carried off. The bear, however, was not ungrateful. It answered an age old question. While I may still be uncertain as to the habits of some clergy, the ways of bears are no longer a mystery. There is shovel work ahead.

Bear encounters in the dark are not the best things to stumble into.

Tonight we can expect freezing temperatures. The well filter lamps need to be plugged in and returned to service. The drive in to campus was a visual delight, redbud trees blooming along the entire route, dogwood beginning to bloom, Bradford pears covered with white flowers, and a bright, clear blue sky with lenticular clouds over some of the peaks and high alto-cumulus chasing down the back of the cold front that blew through yesterday.

Gloria called me last night to let me know she had arrived and that her ride was waiting. She called again this morning, catching me just before it was time to leave. I’ve always enjoyed her voice over the phone. I’m reminded how lucky I am to not have as much hearing loss in those frequencies.