Saturday, April 30, 2011

30 April 2011 Blessed 60 cycle hum!

30 April 2011 Blessed 60 cycle hum!

            Shabbat Shalom.  Last night the candles were particularly beautiful.  For part of the evening, they were the only light in the house. The small flames amplified by the color of the room shone with the warmth that defines a home.  They always shine in that manner but we were more aware of the light last night. 

            I woke up at 0630 hearing 60-cycle hum quite clearly.  This was, of course, impossible as the generator was still off for the overnight watch and there were no magically powered appliances humming away.  Just to be sure that I hadn’t made a mistake in powering down last night or that the power elves had not been by while we slept, I went out to reset the main breakers on the service box.  No numbers leaped out at me, thus no power from the grid.      At 0730, I fired up the generator and read the paper by the sunlight coming through our front windows.

            We had to go to Greeneville to pick up meds, a battery for the riding mower/generator duo.  We left home about 1045, ran our errands, had lunch out, and returned about 1330.  The power meter announced a visit by the electron elves.   We spent an hour powering back up, setting clocks, redoing answering machine messages, and trying to reconnect the landline, cordless landline handsets, and the fax into the single phone jack in the house.  Currently the hard-wired landline works, as it has all throughout this event.  The cordless sets are re-charging their internal batteries and remain useless. 

            We’ll be able to cook indoors tonight. 

            At ca.1615 the cable TV hook-up, and with it, the internet was restored by another set of hard-working elves.  We seem to be intact, and back mostly where we began. 

            I’ve made some repairs to the generator, installed the new tractor/mower battery, topped off gas tanks, taken down the tarp protecting the generator from rain and stored it. 

            For us, most of the disaster is over.  Other than a few hasty meals, two nights without AC to screen pollen and aid sleeping, and the consumption of a lot of over-priced gasoline, we were hardly inconvenienced at all.   Our neighborhood suffered a death; a nearby community lost 6 members.  Many people in our counties are homeless, possession less, and have no idea what to do tomorrow or even tonight. 

            The response by public safety officials and workers was tremendous.  So was and is the on going clean up and repair process that continues all around us.  The work crews have been at it around the clock and they deserve high praise. 

            Fortunately, I’ve not heard of any looting taking place here as is reported in Alabama. I want to try to find local news archival files to see what has been taking place around us and what actually took place on 27 and 28 April in my corner of the world. 

            Dinner is planned.  We’ll spend a comfortable night at home and reflect upon our good fortune.  The appliances that we count upon for comfort, food, water, etc., are all behaving as designed, filling the air with the quiet background 60-cycle hum. 

29 April 2011 Aftermath random thoughts, odds and ends

29 April 2011 Aftermath random thoughts, odds and ends

            There are signs east & west of us, big flashing light highway construction signs, reading: “Caution Disaster Area!”  That's for the drivers and sightseers who miss the meaning of the broken trees and the metal roofing crumpled up like used Kleenex.

            The Nolichuckey Volunteer Fire Department on TN 107, just 3 miles north of us has a parking lot absolutely filled with Police, Sheriff’s Department, State Troopers, Fire Departments from all around the region, power board trucks, cable trucks, phone trucks, and volunteer groups to feed the men and women who come with the trucks.

            We live on a dead end road that connects to a sort of circular path to TN 107.  Normally, the three-mile trip to 107 takes 5-7 minutes.  Yesterday morning the first trip around the circuit took 45 minutes.  The next took an hour.  Last night's trip to get more generator gasoline took 40.  This is due to broken power poles, broken trees, broken houses, wires, cables and other debris blocking the road.  Later it also is due to the power crews and other response teams.  Last night, sightseers were evident. 

            On the three-mile trip out, for the last two miles, there were no intact power poles.   The nearest major damage is about 0.2 miles plotted on a map. 

            We are creatures of routine.  Thursday is trash pick-up day.  When I took Loki out yesterday morning, found no visible damage from the front deck, I took the trash to the road.  After the first trip out, I realized that there would be no normal Thursday trash pickup. 

            These tornadoes, the second may have been the worst, I haven’t seen the reports yet, went up and down valley walls, crossed water,  crossed a major river, tracked up hill and down.  They demonstrated that all the old myths about some geographic feature turning them away or preventing them are not true.

            These were predicted two – three days before they happened.  The atmosphere was nearly perfect for such an outbreak.  It happened as predicted.  I watched the super cells slide up and by us until the 2305 storm took that ability.  Now, without power, without computers, and outside information, I have no more idea about what is coming up tomorrow than did people forecasting storms in the 1950s.  When the satellites, computers, and Doppler radar vanish, we're all reduced to looking at the sky and hoping.

            I'm reduced to feeding a generator and flipping switches to route power to refrigeration or pumping water.  Can't have both without compromising the generator.  Illumination is costly in terms of generator power.  Headlamps are much less costly.  The generator eats 25 liters of gasoline for 8 hours of power and noise.  In VietNam, one term for the CONUS was “land of the all-night generator.”   We don't run it all night here.  Too costly, too noisy, Can't leave it running without attention.  I listen for changes in sound to tell me about problems.  I'm tired of its noise and expense.  But it’s saving our perishable food and providing us with water.  I can live with the noise a bit longer. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

28 April 2011 27 April 2011, part 2 Super cells sliding by


            About 1900 the first warnings that concerned me were posted.  A line of separate and entrained super cell thunderstorms moved into the Chattanooga area.  They were the lineal descendents of a cell that hit a hospital in Alabama.  By sundown, the cells extended into N.E. TN and their proximity and severity increased inversely to the remaining daylight. 

            The winds that seem calming, benevolent, and cooling during non-storm days are now insistent upon our attention to their flow and alterations in flow.  They must be listened to tonight and they bring concern from all quarters.  In the absence of daylight and with no early warning system beyond the NWS radar feeds and the local TV stations, it is a night to listen intently.

At 2200, the line of unconnected super cell storms reaches from Kentucky and Virginia, through Tennessee, all the way south to Birmingham.  They’re spaced just far enough apart to not dampen each other out and the current warnings attached to them in our locale last until 0200 now.  Sundown was two hours ago but they still have an immense energy reserve driving them. 

As it turns out, I could have made my 1340 history class and still faced only high winds on the journey home.  But, honestly, allergies are leaving me very tired and I wasn’t up to sitting in class taking notes today. 

I’ve been listening to the wind, watching radar feeds, and measuring map views against reality.  The last two hours have seen the super cells go sliding by just barely to the northwest of us.  The western sky is lit by nearly constant lightning.  The wind carries raindrops but it is not yet raining on us.  One of the signs of tornadic activity is continual lightening.  For all its beauty and power, I’m not at all pleased to see it. 

The tracking pattern has shifted a bit and the next cell may not skirt by us.  The distant thunder is growing in volume.  The dog is quite edgy but not frantic.  I managed to take her out for her night walk. 

28 April 2011

The next cell did not skirt by us.  It hit to our SW and left a trail of death and debris.  Our home escaped damage.  We huddled in the interior bathroom – would have done little good.  The real damage becomes evident about 1 mile toward highway 107.  There was a fatality, a man we'd never met.  He lived in a singlewide simply vanished.  So did his restored car.  For the next mile, the damage follows the normal pattern of random destruction and capriciously spared property.  In this instance, devastation is predominate.  Entire wood and masonry homes have vanished.  Hundreds of trees are broken and flung about. The storm touched down around Camp Creek with several fatalities happening there.  Then it tracked in our direction and only the mysteries of fluid mechanics kept us in the unharmed column.  The nearest damage is ca. 0.3 Km down valley. 

Power lines, poles, and transformers are down everywhere.  I doubt we will have power before Monday.  We do, surprisingly, have a working landline.

The surrounding fields and woodlands are filled with debris, broken trees, broken homes, and lost dreams. 

There were two tornadoes that came through our area. I watched the first approach, heard it pass nearby, and waited until it had time to pass before breaking cover.  The second was announced on the NWS radio, just in time for me to get Gloria out of bed and under cover.  I also heard it go by.  The early thought is that these were in the EF-3 - EF-5 intensity range.  We are all lucky to be here today. 

Mike and I toured the roads in this morning, returned to the house, got Gloria and left for Breakfast.  The diner was full of people with no power and stories of their night.  Everyone was amazed at the extent of damage.  One of the reasons we settled on moving to this area was the very low frequency of tornadoes.  It appears that low value is creeping upward.  This year has brought three close enough to hear in transit. 

The generator is running, we have either water or fridge and freezer.  I’d love a hot shower.  I’ll be nursing the generator for the next several days.  I have to replace its battery tomorrow and fill up two 10-gallon tanks with gasoline. 

I don’t know when this will be posted.  I have no internet, no cable, and no wi-fi.  So much we take for granted is so easily gone.  We have dry place to sleep, all our possessions, all our friends and neighbors.  I’ve had about two-three hours of sleep since Wednesday morning.  I’m going to enjoy sleeping tonight. 

I don’t know what prompted me to begin this entry last night. I’m glad I did.  When I powered up my notebook this afternoon, the last radar scan, taking place as I slammed my notebook into a backpack and ran for cover, blazed out at me.  I don’t want to see that pattern ever again.  I’m glad I spent the evening watching the super cells slide by.  Yesterday set a new record for tornadoes and tornado-caused deaths. 

27 april super cells sliding by

            About 1900 the first warnings that concerned me were posted.  A line of separate and entrained super cell thunderstorms moved into the Chattanooga area.  They were the lineal descendents of a cell that hit a hospital in Alabama.  By sundown, the cells extended into N.E. TN and their proximity and severity increased inversely to the remaining daylight. 

            The winds that seem calming. Benevolent, and cooling during non-storm days are now insistent upon our attention to their flow and alterations in flow.  They must be listened to tonight and they bring concern from all quarters.  In the absence of daylight and with no early warning system beyond the NWS radar feeds and the local TV stations, it is a night to listen intently.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

27 April 2011 Too Late To Bunker In

      At 0425, the Morristown TN office of the NWS issued a special weather statement.  The outlook is for severe thunderstorms this morning followed by the coalescence of scattered super cell thunderstorms into a squall line that is expected to generate large diameter hail and some long-lived tornadoes.  Our area of Tennessee is included in the alert area. 
            By 0830, there have already been at least 5 tornadoes on the ground in an area reaching from Alabama to Indiana. 
            I drove into town this morning with 20-30 mph crosswinds.    The high number of tractor-trailers was rather worrying as the wind was pushing both lanes of traffic together. 
            I’d checked the regional radar prior to turning off my computer at home.  I attempted to check it again when I arrived on campus but the continual connectivity problem in Hutcheson Hall prevented me from connecting to the university wi-fi net.  That really should be repaired.  No classroom dedicated to hard science should be a net dead zone. 
            I wrote my last Volcanology exam this morning.   In retrospect, I learned a bit from the class, and made some connections to other physical sciences.  I might have studied a bit harder but I don’t feel that I wasted the class time. 
            I have two more Roman history classes, today and Friday.  I chose to skip today’s class so that I am home when the squall lines approach.  I’d prefer not to be on one of the blind-curve reaches of the road home during a thunderstorm.   I’ll skip Friday’s class as well.  I’ve actually enjoyed this class quite a lot.  I’ve made my excuses to the professor and thanked him for the opportunity to audit. 
            It feels good to be done with this semester.  I may get to sleep in a bit later after tomorrow – Thursday mornings require hauling the trash to the road. 
            I bought two sandwiches at Earth Fare for dinner tonight, hedging against power loss.  I bought a gallon of strawberries at Larry Thompson’s produce stand as well.  We’ll freeze some for the winter months.  The rest will be consumed by week’s end.  These are wonderfully sweet berries, locally grown for consumption here.  The growers had some hail damage earlier in the week.  For that reason, I bought a bit more than we needed.  The storms today could wipe out the rest of the crop. 
            Now there’s nothing left to do today but wait out the weather.  Our proximity alarm, Loki, seems to be registering any major disturbance as of yet.  I think I’ll nap until she begins pacing.   It could be a long night or it could be just a bit wetter and noisier than normal. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

26 April 2011 Microwave goodbye as you drive away

            We’ve been waiting, more or less patiently, for Panasonic to provide us with a new microwave to replace the damaged in shipping unit that we have been using.  The expected delivery date was yesterday.  Yesterday evening we received a call from a trucking firm, announcing that we were scheduled for a delivery.

            They called again at 0630 this morning.  Fortunately, depending upon one’s degree of wakefulness and energy, I’ve been up since 0500, when my allergy meds wore off and suggested that there would be no more sleep prior to the alarm’s bleating.  This call announced that we’d be getting a third call and a Panasonic Microwave. 

            As promised, about 1030 the actual delivery driver called for directions.   Since he would be driving a full-sized tractor-trailer, we had to arrange a meeting site and time.  We did. 

            When the 4th call announced his proximity, I drove to the meeting site, a vacant church parking lot, which featured sufficient room for him to turn around. 

            The microwave box was sitting alone and un-secured in the trailer with nothing else within a five foot radius.  Common sense kicked in and I looked at the box for damage.  Two major gouges were immediately evident.  The driver opened the box, we looked into it, and a huge dent looked back at us.  We packed it up at that point.  The overhead glare on brushed aluminum made cell phone photos impossible.  I refused the shipment and drove home. 

            Gloria promptly emailed our Panasonic contact person.  She called us this afternoon. 

            I described the damage, indicated my refusal, and suggested, strongly, that it seemed to be warehouse damage, as both units have been similarly damaged.  I also suggested that the next unit be sent by a small truck carrier like UPS. 

            The initial Panasonic response tended toward a refund.  We stressed our approval of this model and its un-available status locally.  There will be another unit shipped to us.  How and when it arrives remain to be seen. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

25 April 2011 How do you get to Strawberry Fields

The morning began with a per-alarm realization that I had failed to include the bibliography in my Volcano logy presentation documents. I let the alarm jar me into action and managed to get it added, copied to backup, e-mailed to the student in my group responsible for compilation, and then began my morning routine.

The drive in to town was uneventful until I passed the county road that leads to our favorite farm produce stand. Thompson's strawberries are available. The rest of the day becomes shaded by background planning on how to bring some home for dessert tonight. I need to get cash, a container to transport them from the stand, as well as get some mushrooms for tonight’s ersatz Stroganoff over Matzoh strands.

I'm running out of ideas for Pesach meals. The bested meals of the season have been one meal of braised short ribs and two dinner soups. We've eaten the obligatory fried matzoh twice. I have no real idea how many boxes we've polished off this year. ed

The strawberries couldn't have made their appearance at a better time. Today's “group presentations” can only be described as beginning at the clusterfuck level and getting rapidly worse.

The first group, assigned 15 minutes, took 25 minutes to read their papers, poorly for the most part, while pointing out sentences in PowerPoint slides – the modern filmstrip. The instructor said nothing to them.

The second group, mine, began in the same manner with members 1 & 2 reading and paraphrasing. Member 3, the kid who is always 20-30 minutes late, had the 3rd slot. He made no attempt at reading his work, just pointed at a slide and muttered various non-connected phrases about nothing germane to his topic for 11 minutes. The instructor said nothing.

The 4thack slot was mine. I opted for brevity, made no pretense of reading anything, made my points and sat down looking un-practiced but ethically enabled. Slot 5 reverted back to standard form and took 6 minutes. The instructor said nothing.

Group three was missing one person of their five. They took 20 minutes after the formal class period ended.

The projects must now be laced together and submitted in some semblance of a coherent paper. The student in my group responsible for that task feels my paper is far too long. I told him to remove what ever he felt he needed to. I have no grade dependent upon this project. What I submitted was adequate, accurate, and met the letter of the assignment as well as the spirit.

No, I do not work and play well with others. They should all be sent to bed with no dinner and no cell phones, computers, ipod, ipads, or any other electronics.

It is only a paper that receives no grade, generates no real value beyond reminding me that academic life was not one I felt any calling to join. While I love history and some other disciplines, I love them far more for the love of learning, the hunger for knowledge which my mother instilled in me from my earliest years, than from any desire to teach and do required research and publishing at a university level. As for k-12 education jobs, I'd sooner go back into the army with no hope of leaving the service.

Gloria and I shall dine in semi-kosher manner and feed each other fresh, delicious,stawberries tonight. Life is very, very good.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

            Three history lectures, one group presentation, and one geology/Volcanology exam remain before the formal onset of final exams.  Six hours of classroom presence leads to a pair of examinations that I won’t write. 

            Since I began auditing classes, I’ve written all the interim exams because it gives me a mechanism to measure whether or not I am actually learning new material while attending these classes.  Since the final exams are used to determine a letter grade for credit assignment toward graduation and since there are no grades and/or credit hours assigned to auditing students; there is little need, as I see it, for me to take the finals.  No formal reporting mechanism exists to inform auditing students of their final performance.  I don’t want to spend the gas money and time required to track down an instructor to discuss a final exam that has no official weight. 

            I’ve audited 6 classes now.  The first two were less than satisfying, one because it was a poorly taught survey course that provided very little information not available to a diligent recreational reader.  The other suffered from lack of student participation and from poor teaching practices.  Two others fell on the median.  One instructor knew the material to the point of being bored teaching to the masses.  Another tried too hard to be a friend rather than a teacher.  Two of the history classes were taught by men who truly love their subject and who can convey that subject matter to anyone who will listen and read. 

            I’ve learned something new from each class.  I’ve read diligently, listened and taken notes in classes, and showed up prepared for the classes.  But I will admit that maintaining a high level of interest became problematic in one class, and somewhat difficult in another. 

            I’ve also discovered that I don’t like being assigned group projects.  These inevitably result in part of the group picking up the work not completed by the remainder of the group.  Living 28 miles from campus, I find myself unwilling to accommodate the social and work calendars of other by making extra trips into town to spend 5-10 minutes discussing who will do what, when.  I never really got good marks for “works and plays well with others.”  I see no reason to become well socialized now. 

            I’m looking at the classes to be offered during the fall 2011 semester.  Nothing really seems to demand my attention.  I may look into obtaining an amateur radio license in order to use in the Sky Warn program.  

            Last night’s dinner was beef and white bean soup with escarole.   There were no leftovers.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

            In the course of half an hour, a “No-Fly-Zone” has been established around St. Louis MO.  This event required no overseas deployments, no U.S. Navy fleet re-deployments, and no thousands-mile long mid-air re-fueling mission to ferry single-seat attack and fighter resources from one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean.  No Tomahawk cruise missiles were used at 1.4 Million each.  No bombs, smart, average, or dumb, were dropped on civilians and non-combatants. 
            The region is closed to all air traffic, be it civil, commercial passenger, or military, until further notice.  Any attempt to fly out of Lambert International Airport (STL) today will likely lead to massive FOD and a blocked runway.  The length of out of service time is indeterminate. 

            There is, however, massive collateral damage.  The towns, subdivisions, and cities that make up north St. Louis County look like a tornado aftermath.  There’s every reason for that.

Tornado closes St. Louis airport, damages nearby cities

By the CNN Wire Staff

April 23, 2011 10:53 a.m. EDT

There are some rather large manufacturing facilities in the Lambert vicinity including a Boeing facility for F-15 and F/A-18 military aircraft.  This facility dates back to the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation.  McDonnell later merged with Douglas and was finally acquired by Boeing.  Some of the best military aircraft this nation has flown, as well as the Mercury and Gemini capsules are St. Louis products.  The “Spirit of St. Louis is rooted in exploration, including aviation. 

St. Louis and its suburbs are some of my favorite cities.  The history of the American westward expansion began there.  The Louis and Clark expedition, the American fur trade, the great rivers and the Great River Road all lend character and history to St. Louis.  It has one of the top zoos in the nation and traces its existence as a city to the French Colonial period. 

It has a phenomenal Italian food presence, lots of really good kosher delis, and many of my favorite fast food franchise, Steak and Shake. 

Though the outlook is rain-soaked and grim today as people and corporations begin the long slow recovery, St. Louis will be flying high again. 

The question of the day becomes how we use the forces of nature to enforce no-fly zones rather than risk the lives of our men and women in uniform and waste billions of dollars on a program that the Arab League nations want done but lacks the capability and will to carry out for their selves. 

In the recent past we’ve seen airports shut down due to Blizzards, heavy snow falls, and volcanic ash.  Thunder storms generate short-term closures almost daily.  Fog grounds many flights.  Tornado warnings over Libya, Syria, and other trouble spots may be next to impossible to generate.  Is eliminating the tribal nature of such countries likely to be any easier than acquiring a localized weather control?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Patients Are Not Consumers
Published: April 21, 2011
But something else struck me as I looked at Republican arguments against the board, which hinge on the notion that what we really need to do, as the House budget proposal put it, is to “make government health care programs more responsive to consumer choice.”

Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough.

What has gone wrong with us? “

Before you start yelling about “rationing” and “death panels,” bear in mind that we’re not talking about limits on what health care you’re allowed to buy with your own (or your insurance company’s) money. We’re talking only about what will be paid for with taxpayers’ money. And the last time I looked at it, the Declaration of Independence didn’t declare that we had the right to life, liberty, and the all-expenses-paid pursuit of happiness.”


Patients don't behave as or respond like consumers.  Despite the shift to corporate medicine, driven by an infernal over-abundance of MBA graduates who believe otherwise, patients present with their own unique diseases and disorders, in various stages of illness, and then respond to treatment or fail to respond to treatment despite the best efforts of physicians; and despite the proclamations of MBA corporate officers.  

             Consumers sometimes know what they wish to purchase.  They have some control of the financial and property aspects of the purchase they initiate.  They can change their minds, choose another product, and decide to do without the item in question.  Patients have no choice in many cases.  They can't change environmental, physical, contagious, or genetic factors other than those factors that are behaviorally linked to their illnesses.  What they are diagnosed with is what they get at the door. There is no negotiation, no alternate diseases, and no second choices. 

            Patients walk in the door with the damage underway, unable to alter the realities of the situation.  Illnesses and injuries happen regardless of staffing, weather, convenience, and affordability.  They do not dance attendance to MBA business plans. 

            The GOPer/teavangelists who are intent upon dismantling Medicare are too young to recall how medicine was practiced before Medicare.  Seniors worked as long as possible, particularly if they had the rare job with health insurance benefits.  No insurance company wanted to insure seniors.  Seniors got sick or were injured.  They died quickly, or slowly, but mostly they died without benefit of long-term life-support.  Organ transplants were for the very wealthy and for patients on surgical teaching services.  Death was the outcome for far too many people with no means to pay for expensive and long-term care. 

            That is what will happen if the bastards succeed in dismantling Medicare.  The vaunted vouchers that are supposed to be handed out like promotional coupons at a fast-food shop will fall short of meeting the cost of health insurance for seniors.  Most of us will not reach retirement age without acquiring some disease or injury that makes us too expensive to insure.  The insurance companies will demand far more than Congress's MBA advisers and lobbyists will tell Congress it should cost to adequately insure a senior citizen.  The insurance companies will reap huge profits for writing policies that cover next to nothing.  Seniors will either deplete their savings to deal with health care costs, or will simply be unable to obtain care and will then die according to the teavangelist plan.  

            Patients are not consumers. 

            I agree with Krugman.  Not all health care costs should fall to the federal government.  Long-term life-support for patients unable to breathe and maintain circulation on their own should not be provided by Medicare.  We need to recall that sometimes the only certain outcome is death.  We need to return to the practice of hospice care for terminally ill patients who have no hope of recovery.  In addition, we need to stop over-utilization of high-end diagnostic equipment once a diagnosis is certain. 

            Patients are not consumers; physicians are not car-salesmen.  MBA's are not needed in the delivery of health care. 

            Perhaps it is time to treat Congress like the used-car salesmen so many of them seem best suited to be.  But I'll settle for treating them like poorly performing employees this year and suggest a national petition drive to introduce a bill making it impossible for Congress to set their own salaries and benefits.  We can begin by removing the automatic raise component that they designed to avoid having to publicly vote for their own raises. Yes, that's a good start

Thursday, April 21, 2011

21 April 2011 Nobody knows - there are some things you can’t make a pig do

            It’s an easy punch line to a joke repeated endlessly in Colorado.    Coloradans, at least most of the natives I knew have little use for Texans.  The coincidental fact that they don’t have much use for any non-natives moving in is easily ignored.  For the purposes of this entry, we will ignore any anti-newcomer/tourist animosity that does not center on Texas. 

            Colorado-Texas Tomato War was a protest in Twin Lakes, Colorado organized in 1982 by Taylor Adams against Texans in Colorado whom she felt were constantly trying to change the environment of the state. It is considered the source for the bumper sticker "Keep Colorado beautiful: put a Texan on a bus.  

            Leadville Colorado may hold the record for then number of Texans killed as a result of over-loading small aircraft.  The supposition is that the practice of over-loading planes and then relying on an extra-long take-off roll and a long, slow climb to achieve the necessary clearances to maintain uninterrupted flight works in the flat lands of Texas but not in the 10,300-foot altitude of mountainous Leadville.  The error in flight planning is often lethal.  Its basic physics that causes the problem and that doesn’t change when one crosses into Texas. 

            The last time I was nearly shot by an idiot hunter involved Texans hunting elk in Colorado.  They missed my head by 2-3 inches, ignoring the hunter orange cap and vest that I was wearing   When I confronted them they seemed to be quite proud of their unsafe behavior, claiming to “do it all the time back home in Texas.”  This lead to my explanation of the term “recon by fire” in terms that made it perfectly clear that they had nearly drawn return fire, and that only the poor field-dressed weight of Texans stayed my finger on the hair trigger of the rifle I was using that day. 

            Only in Texas have I had luggage permanently lost on a non-stop flight. 

            I spent what felt like a year during one summer in Texas at Fort Sam Houston. 

            Now Texas is exporting teavangelists, textbooks for the Christian right, substandard education, and Congressmen determined to obliterate Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Planned Parenthood, and NPR.  These same Congressmen are guilty of doing nothing to require oil companies to clean up their acts in order to prevent more well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico.  They have, however, voted to continue tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy and to continue paying oil companies to plunder national resources while making record profits. 

This link leads to yet another reason to return Texas to Mexico.  Imagine the upset in the teavangelist populace as they deny any racism at the core of their party philosophy then!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

20 April 2011 And Texas needs rain!

            The state of Texas is in flames.  This has nothing to do with the normal inflamed condition of Texans engaged in dealing with the world beyond Texas's borders. It has to do with current weather and long-term climate that has reduced much of the Texas land area to a conflagration waiting for a spark. 

            Texas has a huge portion of Gulf of Mexico coast line, several rivers of note, and a climate pattern that subjects it to immense thunder storms, and hurricane-powered deluges.   The eastern part of the state has the swampy nature of Louisiana while the western edge is high desert.  Texas has a water distribution dilemma, as if the landmass has been tilted, allowing west Texas water to drain eastward. 
            Obviously there is no way to flatten out the area that is Texas in order to change the water distribution.  The aquifers involved are massive and located deep beneath the surface.  Centuries of rainfall are needed to replenish those sources of water.  There will be no refill process in Texas.
            A song called “The Merry Minuet,” written about the inability of people to co-exist, contains the source line,” and Texas needs rain.”  The preceding line, “There;s hurricanes in Florida,” sets the stage for the unhappy condition of the state of Texas. 
            Texas is often struck a glancing blow by hurricanes that enter the Gulf of Mexico.  Once in a while Texas receives a direct hit.  In either instance, Texas is the recipient of more water than it can store, re-route, or deflect from occupied parts of the state.  Unfortunately, this rain does not fall in West Texas. It causes floods in the Eastern and South Eastern regions of the state. 
            West Texas has the occasional blizzard, the random but rare ice-storm, and immense squall lines spawning tornadoes and torrential thunder storm rainfalls.  But these water sources come and leave quickly.  What they leave behind is too often only cracked mud and dead foliage. 
            That parched vista of dead and dying plant life is just waiting for the fuse to be lit.  when it happens, the grasslands and deserts of Texas are ready to keep the night lit up like images of a demonic inferno.   The good people of Texas at least part of them, are only too willing to believe that the current wildfires are some sort of biblical punishment,   And, as in the Dust Bowl days, there are sky-pilots eager to use climactic patterns to increase their take when the collection plates get passed. 
            The governor of Texas, a reactionary, courting big business backers and teavangelist voters, has previously threatened that Texas will once again secede from the communist-controlled U.S.  His assertion is that Texas can stand alone as a republic.  In light of the current fires, he has waffled and is begging the Federal government, that band of elitist, educated, secular, non-Christians for disaster relief.
            Texas probably needs disaster relief.  It certainly needs rain.  But given the political nature of Texas, given the way it is distorting history in its textbooks, and the voting habits of its citizens, I'm willing to allow them to leave the union.  Perhaps Mexico will take them back.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

19 April 2011 Listen my children...

            At Concord, and at Lexington, bands of Colonial militias ignored the rules of civilized warfare.  Refusing a set piece battle, they fired from concealment when possible and defeated a markedly outnumbered British force of trained soldiers.

Commanders and leaders

Lexington: 77[1][2]
Concord: 400[3]
End of Battle: 3,800[1]
Departing Boston 700[4]
Lexington: 400[5]
Concord: 100[6]
End of Battle: 1,500[7]
Casualties and losses
49 killed,
39 wounded,
5 missing[8]
73 killed,
174 wounded,
53 missing[8]

19 April 1943: 400-1000 resistance fighters began the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.  They managed to delay the Wermacht and Waffen SS for 27 days, proving to Poland, Europe, and the world that Jews were capable of fighting in their own defense.  Though doomed to failure by circumstance, their message was delivered.  Some resistance fighters survived the ghetto and immigrated to Israel after WWII.  Fittingly, the uprising began on the first night of Pesach (Passover). 
The battle sites at Lexington, Concord, and the Warsaw ghetto lead to demonstrations of the finest qualities of human kind. 
Sadly, other sites recall the absolute worst.
            1995 Oklahoma City OK: Timothy McVeigh chose to demonstrate his hatred of the United States government by blowing up the Murraw Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  There are many theories concerning this event that center around conspiracy theories, Christian identity and other militias claiming oppression.  The best place to look for explanations is the Southern Poverty Law Center. 
            Tonight we will be celebrating with braised short ribs and garlic-roasted Brussels sprouts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

17 April 2011 From hell with love

The existence of Hell, unproven and unlikely at best, is none the less a fabulous source of income for those who sell protection from being assigned to its nether regions.
There are many different depictions of Hell, One of my favorites is the world of horrors painted by Bosch. His visual creation may well match the verbal images found in Revelation. Both strongly suggest that the artist's and writer's rye bread may have been just a bit past its expiration date.
The Greeks who imagined a sacred mountain dwelling for their major deities chose the logical alternate for the after life. Rome, followed the Grecian lead. Many other cultures chose the good up – bad souls down model. The presence of tectonic activity in the breeding grounds for human civilization may have well contributed to the fire an brimstone imprint that continues even in the face of a well developed range of physical and biological sciences that preclude the existence of a subterranean Hell.
We've dug deeply enough, shot radio and sonic energy deep into the planet and tracked them. No line of scientific exploration suggests the validity of any theory of the existence of supernatural realm beneath the earth's surface.
Still, there are literally billions of people who will not only admit to believing in an afterlife including “Hell.”
It is easy to understand how the tribal leaders of primitive populations invented the underworld as a means of influencing behavior. Fear of eternal torment by supernatural creatures could be used to control undesirable behavior and to reinforce desirable behavior. As religion became mingled with civil authority, the role of priests became tied to enforcing civil as well as cannon law. This turned out to be a good thing for the priestly class as they could enforce donation from the populace on two fronts.
The great cathedrals of Europe demonstrate how much was given by people who were afraid to do otherwise. To the churches, it mattered not whether their share of the loot was generated by a love of faith or a fear of death; a civil requirement or fear of the supernatural fiends lurking outside the church walls to drag them kicking and screaming into the subterranean confines of the underworld. All too often, the underworld went no deeper than the dungeons and torture chambers of the local ruler or the local Inquisition.
The donors were right to be scared; they simply had the wrong ideas about who they should fear. The tons of gold on and in various cathedrals and artifacts in towns and villages so destitute that the inhabitants are all chronically malnourished shows us how effectively fear of Hell was wielded by the priests in the days of colonial conquest and forced conversions.
Today, we see just as much fear in people who should know better. Just look at the phone book of any small town or large city. Churches, cathedrals, store-fronts, and in-home religious stores predominate the yellow page listings. Every listing is a business masquerading as as non-profit house of faith, using fear of death and fear of Hell to milk money from people who can't or won't understand the truths taught us by chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, anatomy, geology,astronomy and the other sciences that collectively describe and define the reality of life and of the universe. eliev
Every week people who need the money to pay for food,housing, and education, place it into the hands of sky-pilots who tell them that their contribution will save them from Hell for another week. Part of it,depending upon the church, may wind up being used to convert happy non-believers into frightened believers, continuing the cycle of fear and ignorance. Other portions may wind up paying for immense buildings that serve as regional and national headquarters, keeping the noose around the necks of those who have been sold the myth of Hell at some local level, at an earlier age.
Hell is a great idea when used to scare the masses into contributing money to the priests. Obviously, the various religions have no interest at all in exploding the myths created by religious leaders millenia ago. Don't look for them to announce that they have decided to switch their emphasis to publiizing the truth about the universe. There's damned little money to be made in searching for truth as defined by science. Just ask any multiply-degreed NASA scientist. But there are still fortunes to be made peddling religious mythology to the poorly educated. There's not even the need for an education. Inquisitional minds don't want to know.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

17 April 2011 To waltz without matilda

The afternoon may go down as a huge comedic error.
The Contra dance society in Jonesborough TN has decided to host a charity waltz along with a cheesecake bake-off in order to send some financial comfort to Japan.
I'm quite willing to provide some financial and food support. I've crafted a Talisker and spices cheese pie, from a recipe found on line and modified heavily. It should taste quite good and leave no residuals to bring home. I'm hoping to taste the finished item.
The disaster looming over the afternoon is the waltz. A beginners' lesson is planned. I made a previous attempt at learning to waltz. It reinforced my belief that I was better suited to playing music than to dancing to music.
I suppose there is need for comic relief in today's world. I merely regret being cast in that role.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

16 April 2001There are 20 possible answers inside a Magic 8-Ball

 Will it snow tonight?
The question is valid. The forecast low for tonight is 36 °F. That is based upon the statistics for the regional data focal point, Tri-Cities Airport. We sit inside the foot hills of the Great Smokies, in a location that funnels colder air and weather downward, in our direction.
The average date for last freeze/frost is 17 April.

The graph shows that the average last snowfall takes place on 17 April. We've been here since October 2006. We've logged snow twice on 17 April. So the possibility exists that tonight/tomorrow may bring snow.
There is a Contra dance in Jonesborough tonight, ending at 2200. Although we will likely leave a bit before the end, it will be between 2200 and 2300 by the time we get home and drag Loki. There is a charity waltz event, dance and cheesecake bake-off, also in Jonesborough. Said waltzes will begin at 1200 and continue to 1600. By Monday morning I'm going to be wishing for a chance to sleep in. Unfortunately, the time spent with the string trimmer has caught up with me. I'm not moving easily or well.

Gloria baked a sugar-free sour cream -vanilla cheesecake yesterday to contribute. I baked a double crust cheese pie containing cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, chocolate, chili, and 10- year old Talisker single malt Scotch. Both of them look good enough to enter, and certainly good enough to eat.

It may not snow but rain has arrived, departed, and will probably return. We've logged 0.37 inches since midnight. We could use a respite to allow the aquifer and its catchment to store some of the water. We'll be wanting it as summer wears on. However, I'm happy that there is no dam or other containment upstream of us. That's one worry we are lucky to avoid.

There are many other questions I could have used to preface this entry. Lacking a “magic eight-ball” I went for the one with the highest likelihood of a correct answer.

In retrospect, perhaps I might well have begun with,”Will I ever begin to like Open Office?” I can see the little prediction window as the answer swims up toward the light. “

There are 20 possible answers inside a Magic 8-Ball One of them is bound to predict my future with Open Office.
It is certain
It is decidedly so
Without a doubt
Yes – definitely
You may rely on it
As I see it, yes
Most likely
Outlook good
Signs point to yes
Reply hazy, try again
Ask again later
Better not tell you now
Cannot predict now
Concentrate and ask again
Don't count on it
My reply is no
My sources say no
Outlook not so good
Very doubtful