Tuesday, May 31, 2011

31 May 2011 May Abruptio

            Last night was rough.  Neither of us was able to sleep more than 2-3 hours.  Today is hot, sticky, and half way  over. 
            To be continued next month.

Monday, May 30, 2011

30 May 2011 We’re just here to support the troops

Make that raise money for our campaigns
 “Palin’s arrival at the event around 11:30 a.m. caused a huge commotion that event organizers struggled to contain. Photographers swarmed her; young men in suits hung around the press pack asking Palin to sign copies of her books. Rolling Thunder security yelled at press and fans not to touch the expensive bikes.
“I’m very not appreciative of the way she came in here,” Ted Shpak, Rolling Thunder’s national legislative director, said of Palin’s arrival. The former governor came in the front of the Pentagon’s north parking lot, where event staff and press were assembled. “If she wanted to come on the ride, she should have come in the back.”
“I don’t think she thinks the rules apply to her. She doesn’t need to have the traditional trappings of a presidential campaign,” Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, said Thursday on Fox News
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/55878_Page2.html#ixzz1Nqqk8x8G
Cassi Creek:  This seems to be exactly the situation.
                She never intended to play any sort of support role, to actually honor fallen and living veterans, KIA or MIA troops.  If she had, she would have ridden in the pack like anyone else.  Instead, she intentionally created a media clusterfuck that had no purpose beyond announcing her presence in yet another situation where she had no purpose, had nothing appropriate to say, or had any comprehension of what the event was meant to be.   She only cared to play her middle-school clique queen role, dominating the social scene for nothing but ego-gratification.  She doesn’t differentiate, is no t equipped to separate the election of a citizen to the office of POTUS from a middle-school student government popularity contest. 

 Palin has repeatedly placed her own ego above ethics, above filling any job that she has ever been assigned to or elected to carry out.  She refused to prepare for the VP debate in 2008, and instead attempted to behave like a high school proto-hooker.  She failed to study history so she lies about what she can and makes accusations of bias when anyone corrects her. 
                She will try to run for POTUS.  She’ll try to split the party and ride in on the teahadist/teavangelist base.  The only way to stop her is for the GOP to tell her and the teavangelists that the campaign rules apply to her just as to every other citizen.  She should not be allowed to wink and jiggle her way into the nomination.  Nor should she be allowed to spread her anti-intellectual, anti-science, teavangelist brand of religion and hatred across the nation without opposition.  It’s up to the GOP fat cats to slap her down.  The base voters are too poorly informed, too poorly educated, and too besotted with her middle-school personae to fill their roll in the electoral process correctly.
                Meanwhile, back in Tennessee:
Congressman David Phillip Roe 1st TN (R) publishes his Memorial Day Remarks:
Mr. Roe served two years of active duty, most likely to repay the Army for helping him with medical education expenses – a very common use of federal funds to benefit an individual that he apparently found acceptable in the 1970s.  As a physician, he spent his duty hours in a hospital with very little personal risk. 
            Today’s official statement includes these words:
As a veteran and a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I will continue to support legislation to better the health and the well-being of our service members.  Last Congress, the House passed a resolution I introduced urging all Americans and people of all nationalities to visit the national cemeteries, memorials, and markers on Memorial Day.  It is important to remember and visit the graves of our fallen veterans.
To help protect the sanctity of the final resting places of those who served, I have cosponsored H.R. 430, The Lance Corporal Jeremy Burris Act.  This legislation will criminalize any act of vandalizing a veteran’s gravesite.  It is our duty to protect the sacred resting place of our fallen heroes. “
            His expression of concern for our troops boils down to encouraging people to visit cemeteries and other monuments, and sponsoring a bill to make vandalizing a veteran’s grave a federal crime.  The latter action is exactly the sort of duplicate and less than necessary regulation that the GOP hates so much, unless it is their redundancy for political purposes. 
            Mr. Roe actually had a real chance to serve our troops and turned it down.  On 26 May 2001, Congress voted to refuse a $100.00/month increase in pay for troops under hostile fire or in imminent danger. The bill would have raised the benefit from $225.00/month to $325.00/month.  That extra $100/ month is a miniscule amount to begrudge the men and women who actually pull duty in places where people wish to kill them. 
            Mr. Roe, who proclaims his concern for troops and veterans so loudly, voted against the $100/month increase. 
            I wonder if Mr. Roe will be so willing to place his vote in opposition to the next automatic Congressional Pay raise.  I’m sure that a lot of men and women in units deployed into combat zones would love to be able to return his concern.
            Not surprisingly, Mr. Roe also voted  to derail a bill allowing gays to serve openly in our /armed forces, voted against speeding up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and to spend additional billions for an alternate f-35 engine that Sec of Defense Gates has said is neither needed or wanted. 
            His concern for our troops seems to be like his concern for the ecology of Tennessee, secondary to the party line and to the demands of lobbyists and corporations. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

29 May 2011 28 May 2011 outside the dance floor

            Saturday evening in the town of Jonesborough, TN. The nation is midway through the Memorial Day weekend celebration. We've driven into town to a contra dance. Gloria is dancing and socializing. I stationed outside the dance floor, taking entry fees from other dancers as they arrive.  The pay gate seems to elicit rather more rudeness than one would expect. 
            This particular gate, a long table at the side of two outward opening doors, is already laden with dance flyers.  Then the necessary sign-in sheets, fees schedule, and workspace are crowded into the remaining surface area.  The fees are posted in the newspaper articles and have not changed since January.   Other than first time attendees, everyone should know what it will cost.  Yet 50% or so will wait until they are at the front of the line to begin retrieving their money.  This creates a delay in the process and causes a pile-up in an already narrow entry lane.  Others seem to feel that the table is intended for them to dump everything that they are carrying in order to begin searching for money.  Invariably this mixes all the fliers up and scatters them.  All too often, they fail to pick up all their belongings.  Then they return later expecting me to recall them and what they left.  Invariably at least two people tonight will walk away leaving their 32 ounce soda cup behind.  It’s empty so they are too busy to carry it with them and dispose of it properly. 
            The entry lane is a magnet for conversations that would be better moved to other areas of the venue.  I fail to understand how anyone can be comfortable in a tightly compacted traffic path, obstructing the normal flow and causing a pile up to develop all around. 
            The dance continues inside the hall.  The push of people paying to enter is accompanied by questions I can barely hear.  “Did my husband/wife pay for me?”  “Where’s the bathroom?”  The crowds noise from inside and out makes the music little more than a distorted jumble.  The few times I’ve been inside, it has been very difficult to hear music over crowd noise. 
            We opened the pool Tuesday, only to discover a flaky ground-fault outdoor dual receptacle, which prevented the pump running. No pump, no filter. In pursuing that problem, Gloria noticed a sooty stain on the power switch for the pool heater. A closer look revealed a switch that was completely fried, mostly incinerated and crumbling, we, the pool service company, and the electrician all believe that it is the result of some manner of lightning strike. We had it replaced Tuesday and the GFI switch worked as well when the electrician laid hands upon it.
            Wednesday it rained, Thursday it rained, heavily. We had severe thunderstorms.  Just north of us, there was a radar-defined tornado that generated warnings for 2.5 hours.   The 0.75 inches of rain requires a re-balance of the pool that is already notoriously slow to clear in the spring. 
            After three days of following the regimen suggested by the pool service, I give in.  Gloria has added the clarifier that she has wanted to add since Wednesday.  We’ll see what transpires.  In the mean time, I have brushed the pool down twice a day, back-flushed, added more water to replace that removed by back flushing and evaporation.  The solar blanket went on yesterday despite the lack of water clarity. 
            Last night, about 2245, the upper field across the street was visited by members of the family that bought it. They’ve done nothing with it but race dirt bikes, hold loud parties, and start a forest fire.  Their presence was announced by a bass speaker that we could hear inside with our windows closed, the AC on, and the TV on.  I decided to go up and ask them for quiet.  As I was pulling on boots, they left.  Unfortunately, at 0315, ca, they returned with full bass and chainsaw.  I dragged out of bed and walked up the road.  Fortunately, they responded to a request for less noise.  I thanked them and tried to regain fractured sleep. 
            Today’s newspaper did not arrive.  It will not arrive.  I refuse to waste half a gallon of gas driving out to the highway and back to buy a copy.  We’re both fed up with the paper delivery.  It’s not that good a paper but the political news – local and regional- can be important.
            Dinner tonight will be smoked/grilled bratwurst and grilled romaine Caesar salad.  Hopefully, our dessert will be a quiet evening.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

28 May 2011 No, I don’t think so.

For some war dead, Arlington’s gates are closed

We know the risks. We have no sense of entitlement. We want no special benefits and don’t feel we deserve medals. But should we give our final measure to our country as a result of direct enemy action, I think we should be eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.”
“Marc Chretien, a lawyer and a former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, served for more than five years as a senior adviser with the State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan. He expects to deploy to Afghanistan again late this summer.”
            Sorry, Marc, I strongly disagree.  Arlington was established to honor those who died in the uniform of our nation.  If it is opened to civilians, we’ll see mercenary contractors demanding burial alongside those who chose to answer the call of duty to an often-ungrateful nation. You and your colleagues have the option to serve in uniform rather than in a civilian capacity. 
            You deny asking for special benefits.  However, you are doing exactly that.  Arlington burials are highly restricted.  Even many who served in uniform are denied internment there due to lack of space. Therefore, the use of that limited space should remain focused upon those who served in the armed forces. 
            While you were, and will be, placed at risk of violent death or long-term injury by reason of your employment with the State Department, your level of compensation is certainly higher than that of the young Marines who we send out to such tasks.  In many cases, a dedicated cemetery and a too small insurance benefit is all they wind up with.  If you want Arlington, stay in uniform.   Best of luck in your next posting.

Friday, May 27, 2011

27 May 2011 How to incite a 2nd Civil War

"I think my problem is that I do have the fire in my belly," Palin said in a recent interview on Fox. "I'm so adamantly supportive of the good traditional things about America and our free enterprise system and I want to make sure that America is put back on the right track and we only do that by defeating Obama in 2012."
On her Web site, Palin wrote: “I’ve said many times that America doesn’t need a ‘fundamental transformation,’ instead we need a restoration of all that is good and strong and free in America! So, together let’s prepare ourselves for the days ahead by reminding ourselves who we are and what Americans stand for.”
“Earlier in the week, Real Clear Politics reported that a full-length documentary by conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon charting Palin’s political rise in Alaska will debut next month in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina — the four opening states of the presidential nominating process.
Cassi Creek:  
            The reported itinerary for Palin’s bus tour includes Civil War battle sites.  Leaving out Gettysburg, this takes her into the old Confederacy states.  She will treat history and politics as she did in 2008, spew hatred and lies while amplifying the GOP’s southern strategy.
            The thought of Palin using Civil War battlefields for political purposes bothers me to my core.  The war was fought for the worst and best of purposes.  It divided this nation in a manner that left it intact but still divided.  The old Confederacy, today’s red states, still insists that the war was fought to defend and preserve “state’s rights.”  In truth, it was fought over the economic system of chattel slavery and the abolition of that practice. 
            Given the apparent racism and bigotry demonstrated by the Tea Parry mobs and the GOP, the base voters attracted to Palin will be the same people who urged violence and hatred of minorities at her appearances in 2008, while she did nothing to squelch such behavior.  Her campaign tactics of casting herself as the victim will further attract a populace that sees its failure to thrive in a changing social and cultural environment as an attack upon their demographic.  She will use twisted history to re-ignite the same ugly forces that led to the formation of the KKK and the enforcement of Jim Crow laws and other means of segregation.      Her lack of ethics, her lack of knowledge about the foundation of this nation, and her willingness to incite anti-intellectualism will lower the caliber of voters that she attracts.  The use of Civil War battlefields to essentially re-enforce the post-war hatred that has troubled this nation for over a century is wrong.  Her presence at such places is wrong.  Her candidacy for any national office is wrong. 
            Jack Cafferty, commentator for CNN has this to say: “I would also recommend "The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power" by investigative reporter Geoffrey Dunn. This book, which I have read, chronicles a lifelong pathology of deceit and makes the claim that she's lied about almost everything her entire life.
There's also some juicy personal stuff in there.
The book is well researched and should be required reading for anyone considering supporting a presidential run by this woman.”
I plan to read it.  I hope others will too.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

26 May 2011 No news can be good news

            This morning arrived at 0515.  Unable to get back to sleep, I got up and got dressed. 
            So far, today I’ve taken 5 trips to the mailbox looking for the morning paper.  It arrived at 0930 today.  We’re having a harder and harder time justifying our subscription when it can be late or missing 7 out of 7 days]
Geoffrey Dunn (Author)
            Hike with Mike was uneventful.  I admit to dodging the frequent 2nd Amendment misinformation, claiming that Obama plans to abolish the possession of firearms by some under the radar means.  
            I avoided, also, mentioning my next up non-fiction reading project.  I’m waiting for the library to get The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power [Dunn). 
            Jack Cafferty mentioned the book yesterday on CNN.  I’m eager to get this one and compare it to the bullshit that will pour out of the “Palin movie.”
            My mother was in Sedalia MO yesterday when two tornados hit.  She returned home with no problems.  Today the line of thunderstorms has moved up against the Appalachians and is currently sliding by about 30 miles to our west.  I expect that to change as the afternoon and evening wear on.  
            Grocery shopping today, pantry refilled.  Spaghetti Bolognese tonight. 
            It is 1515.  I need a nap before dinner and storms. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

25 May 2011 How is a tornado classified?

            I’ve always wanted a storm shelter since my first fully aware encounter with a tornado.  I’ve never lived in a house that contained or allowed one.  I have experience building above-ground bunkers that would suffice in a small storm.  I don’t want to carve a hole into the house to allow taking shelter without going outside during a storm.  Nor do I want to move all the things we would need to be operational after a storm into a non-air-conditioned, high humidity bunker where many of them will be damaged by existing conditions.  Of, course, for storms at the upper end of the scale, only an underground shelter is going to be adequate. 
            Between the relatively high water table and the high incidence of boulders in the area we would have to use, it would be unwise to build an underground shelter.  Therefore, we will have to rely on the historical probabilities of such storms happening here in the near future for comfort.  That, after all, is one reason we chose this locale. 
            Considering how we might shelter involves knowing how much damage we would have to plan for.  We have a rough understanding of the Enhanced Fujita Scale.  But exactly what is involved in assigning each tornado its accurate assessment of strength?  Be prepared to know more than you care to know.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale
When the committee met to develop the Enhanced Fujita Scale (see original document) one point was made very clear: it must continue to support and maintain the original tornado database.; In other word, there must be some conformity to that of the F-Scale that is listed in the database. Other ideas were agreed to including:
  • Consistent Assessment of Damage
    • enhance description of damage with examples and photos
      • include not only structures, but also vegetation
    • base damage assignment on more than one structure, if available
    • develop a PC-based expert system
    • develop training materials
  • Data Collection
    • maintain current tornado database
    • surveys should include additional data
      • mean and maximum damage path width
      • basis for damage assignment
      • latitude/longitude of where the path began and ended
      • number of hours spent on the damage survey
      • names of survey team member(s)
When using the EF-Scale to determine the tornado's EF-rating, begin with the 28 Damage Indicators. Each one of these indicators have a description of the typical construction for that category of indicator. Then, the next step is to find the Degree of Damage (DOD). Each DOD in each category is given and expected estimate of wind speed, a lower bound of wind speed and an upper bound of wind speed.
Let's take the earlier example, a tornado moves through a neighborhood and walls are knocked down of an area of homes. Here the Damage indicator would be #2, One or Two Family Residences (FR12). The typical construction for this fits being a brick veneer siding home. The DOD would be a 8, most walls collapsed in bottom floor. Thus, the estimated winds would be 127 - 178 mph with the expected wind speed of 152 mph. Now, taking this number to the EF-Scale, the damage would be rated EF-3 with winds between 136 - 165 mph.

Enhanced F Scale for Tornado Damage
An update to the original F-scale by a team of meteorologists and wind engineers, to be implemented in the U.S. on 1 February 2007.

F Number Fastest 1/4-mile (mph) 3 Second Gust (mph)  EF Number            3 Second Gust (mph)  EF Number    3 Second Gust (mph)
0               40-72         45-78         0                65-85         0                 65-85
1               73-112       79-117       1                86-109       1                 86-110
2               113-157     118-161     2                110-137     2                 111-135
3               158-207     162-209     3                138-167     3                 136-165
4               208-260     210-261     4                168-199     4                 166-200
5               261-318     262-317     5                200-234     5                 Over 200
*** IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ENHANCED F-SCALE WINDS: The Enhanced F-scale still is a set of wind estimates (not measurements) based on damage. Its uses three-second gusts estimated at the point of damage based on a judgment of 8 levels of damage to the 28 indicators listed below. These estimates vary with height and exposure. Important: The 3 second gust is not the same wind as in standard surface observations. Standard measurements are taken by weather stations in open exposures, using a directly measured, "one minute mile" speed.

Enhanced F Scale Damage Indicators
NUMBER (Details Linked) DAMAGE INDICATOR                                  ABBREVIATION
1                                     Small barns, farm outbuildings                                     SBO
2                                     One- or two-family residences                                      FR12
3                                     Single-wide mobile home (MHSW)                             MHSW
4                                     Double-wide mobile home                                            MHDW
5                                     Apt, condo, townhouse (3 stories or less)                     ACT
6                                     Motel                                                                             M
7                                     Masonry apt. or motel                                                   MAM
8                                     Small retail bldg. (fast food)                                         SRB
9                                     Small professional (doctor office, branch bank)           SPB
10                                   Strip mall                                                                       SM
11                                   Large shopping mall                                                      LSM
12                                   Large, isolated ("big box") retail bldg.                          LIRB
13                                   Automobile showroom                                                 ASR
14                                   Automotive service building                                         ASB
15                                   School - 1-story elementary (interior or exterior halls) ES
16                                   School - jr. or sr. high school                                        JHSH
17                                   Low-rise (1-4 story) bldg.                                             LRB
18                                   Mid-rise (5-20 story) bldg.                                            MRB
19                                   High-rise (over 20 stories)                                             HRB
20                                   Institutional bldg. (hospital, govt. or university)          IB
21                                   Metal building system                                                   MBS
22                                   Service station canopy                                                  SSC
23                                   Warehouse (tilt-up walls or heavy timber)                    WHB
24                                   Transmission line tower                                                TLT
25                                   Free-standing tower                                                      FST
26                                   Free standing pole (light, flag, luminary)                      FSP
27                                   Tree - hardwood                                                           TH
28                                   Tree - softwood                                                            TS


A key point to remember is this: the size of a tornado is not necessarily an indication of its intensity. Large tornadoes can be weak, and small tornadoes can be violent. A good example of a relatively "small" tornado would be the Pampa, Texas tornado of 1995, which can be seen in Tornado Video Classics III. This tornado is pictured on the right side of the slipcase, shown here. Notice the debris in the air. Eyewitnesses to this tornado claim to have seen as many as 6 vehicles in the air at the same time when it passed over a parking lot. Another consideration is the stage in the life cycle of the tornado. A "small" tornado may have been larger, and is at the "shrinking" stage of its life cycle, like the Tracy, Minnesota tornado on one of our posters, and also our logo, seen on the navigation bar to the left if you are using our frames. Large tornadoes can also be strong and small tornadoes can be weak. The Fujita Scale is based on damage, not the appearance of the funnel. Storm spotters, storm chasers and other weather observers often try to estimate the intensity of a tornado when they are in the field, basing their judgement on the rotational speed and amount of debris being generated as well as the width. However, the official estimate is made after the tornado has passed. Personnel from the National Weather Service office that issued the warning survey the site to determine the F-Scale rating. Sometimes they call in experts from out of the area. Aerial surveys are occasionally done after violent tornadoes to determine the exact damage track. Insurance companies may also call in wind engineers to do their own evaluations, but the official rating is set by the NWS. A few of the things they all look for are:
  • attachment of the walls and floor to the foundation of the building
  • attachment of the roof to the rafters and walls
  • whether or not there are steel reinforcing rods in concrete or cinder block walls
  • whether there is mortar between the cinder blocks
After the NWS office does the survey, the official rating is recorded, and eventually posted at the SPC site. If it is a killer tornado we also post the rating on our site with the description of the event, and on our "all tornadoes" page. The NWS office may also write up a more extensive report, which may or may not be posted on the web. A good example of such a report would be the one done on the Florida tornadoes of March, 1998.
The Fujita Scale is very subjective, and varies according to how experienced the surveyor is. We have many readers who have tried to do their own "surveys" of tornado damage when storms have occurred in their area. However, the less experienced the surveyor is, the more likely he/she is to be awed by the damage, and the more likely they are to give it a high rating. Brian Smith of the Omaha, Nebraska area NWS office, a former student of Dr. Fujita and an expert frequently brought in to do site surveys, tells of hearing about a tee-shirt with the words "F-3 My Foot" printed on it.
Media hype and inexperience with tornado damage also plays a big part in exaggerated F-Scale claims seen on television or in the paper. A reporter may see a collapsed concrete block home and be very impressed, never noticing that there was no mortar between the blocks. They may be aghast to see a park whose trees have been leveled, but not know that the species had very shallow roots, planted in soil that was soft and soggy from torrential rains, and thus easily toppled. They may see a roof that had been blown a quarter of a mile from its house, and not know that the roof was attached to the house with only a few nails, and when lofted into the air, acted as a "sail." They may see a light post that is bent at a 30 degree angle and think that it must have taken a 600 mph wind to do that, not knowing that a van had been blown into the pole, bending it, then been towed off to help clear the streets. For some of the media, the exaggerations make for a better story than the actual facts. Fortunately, they often make up for this by printing helpful stories about aid available and inspirational human interest stories.

This should provide more information than many people would think necessary.   For tech geeks like me, it is only an introduction.  Next step for me will be:
A 95 page PDF file explaining the development and makeup of the Enhanced F-scale now is available, both here at SPC and from the Texas Tech server