Thursday, May 31, 2012

31 May 2012 Shorten it up all around

          That’s normally what I tell my barber as I sit down in his chair. 
          Given the continually decreasing amount of hair that still obscures my scalp from view, it probably won’t be long until I switch to a crew cut.  I don’t have any appreciation for hairstyles that require gels, spay, mousses, or time spent with a mirror, brush, and comb.  My hair has always defied style.  It is fine, oily, and disobedient. 
          I grew up in the Wild Root Crème Oil/Brylcreme/Butch Wax era when hair was held in place by layers of grease and/or wax.  It was actually some relief when the weekly buzz cut for soldiers was the standard of appearance.  Those creams and waxes were expensive and could ruin clothing in minutes. 
          When I worked behind a microscope, I found that I needed a haircut when my hair began showing up in the ocular fields.  Now, it is age that determines how I wear my hair and, to a degree, when I have it cut. 
          The lawn is in need of mowing again.  It is hot and humid today, and there is a lot of trimmer work that should be done.  It would be great if I could walk into the house and say, “shorten it up all around!”

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

30 May 2012 Do I watch or do I listen?

          One of the better things about living here is the opportunity to see excellent musicians in small – really small – venues.
          I hold some conceit that I am still a musician.  In the past, if handed a guitar, I could coax some sort of sound from it that did not set dogs howling in two neighboring counties.
          When we see a performer of merit at “The Down Home” in Johnson City, the opportunity to grab a front row seat for an acoustic performance is as easy as showing up before the scheduled start time  and choosing which table or boot to occupy.  At these shows, the front row tables brush the stage.  There is no tower of speakers and electronics obscuring the view.  This affords a great opportunity to learn by close observation.  I can hear those riffs, intros, bridges, and other unique touches that I associate with particular musicians. 
          We are quite fortunate to have seen some excellent performers, Sonia Rutstein, David Gans, Doc Watson, and others, at such venues.  I wind up dealing with a dilemma.  Do I lean back, nurse my drink, and enjoy the entire musical experience, sight, sound, and ambiance?  Or, do I take advantage of an increasingly less available opportunity to sit angled forward, vision locked onto the musician’s hands and the fret board, letting the music dive down into that area where it becomes nearly lost in background clutter?  Do I wear my hearing aids and hope to separate the music from the even louder clutter?  Do I buy the studio CD, loaded with a thousand edits and overdubs, but which still may have the particular segment of instrumental music that I want desperately to figure out and to be able to replicate with my hands, my fading abilities?
          The answer was always simple before a careless Florida driver rearranged my abilities.  I watched the performer’s hands.  I could find some bit of recorded music that would have the desired riff or learn from. 
          Now, I have little hope of learning to play that elusive bit, little likelihood of teasing that sound from legal or illegal recordings, and the voice I hear sounds less like me and more like one of Leonard Cohen’s midnight mission choir singers.  So now, we try to find a table that lets us both stretch our legs out and listen to the music we came to hear.  Someone else will have to puzzle out those mysterious phrases and stare at the musician’s hands.  That was a hard decision to reach.  I keep hoping that the hand exercise devices VA bought for me will reverse sufficient damage.  I keep hoping.          

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

29 May 2012 If the shoe fits, you’re fortunate.

 worn size 12 boots and shoes since I was in junior high school.  My foot is also narrow by American standards.  I spent most of my first 45 years in boots.  The next 10 or so years I spent in running shoes, sandals, or sloppy fitting boat shoes.  The resultant feet do not present choice in footwear. 
          My old companion, New Balance 941 shoes, purchased in Bradenton FL ca 1995 are beginning to fall apart at the seams.   The mid and inner soles are compressed to the point that they provide no cushioning effect.  Clearly, the time has come to break down and buy new shoes. 
          Gloria had an ophthalmology appointment in Johnson City this morning.  Since we knew that she would be unable to drive home safely, I drove her into town.  After her appointment, we went to the local outdoor sports outfitter, Mahoney’s. 
          I made my way to the shoe/boot wall and asked the sales associate for “Size 12, Gore-tex, cross-trainer that can withstand 2 miles/day on pavement.  Oh, yeah, throw in a narrow heel, high arch, and a European toe box. “
          If the sales folks don’t immediately hear a page to the offices, I begin to dare to hope.  Normally they don’t stick with me past “Size 12.”  Today I was presented 5 pairs of shoes to try on.  Three had insufficient toe room.  One was uncomfortable at the ankle.  And the last one was “just right!”  Well, the last one had possibilities.  So I asked to try it in a 13.  Amazingly, the 13 fits.  I’m wearing it around the house tonight.  I have to be at VA on Friday PM.  I’ll know by then whether or not the new shoes remain with me. 
          There is line of thunderstorms building to the southeast.  Another line is building to our northwest and sagging to the southeast.  It may be a noisy evening.  The pool needs water, and dinner is to be leftovers.  An inch of precip would be tolerable.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

28 May 2012 Where have all the soldiers gone?

Cassi Creek:         The old song bemoaning the cyclic inevitability of war gets trotted out, now and then, by an oncoming generation that responds to the message as if they were the generation that discovered the cycle. 
          The truth is that the nature of American military service and warfare has changed so much that it becomes easy for them to imagine that they did just make that stunning discovery.  
          I’m 64, an early Baby Boomer, VietNam Veteran.  I have ancestors who served in the American Revolution.  Most likely, I had ancestors who fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War.  It is certain that many of my forebears fought in The Civil War and the Spanish American War.  I didn’t know any of these combatants, but I knew of them and considered their service to be normal behavior.  I knew my family members who fought in WWI.  As with most of my generation, my family served in WWII and Korea.  This pattern of service was one of the things that made us Americans, one of the things that made us a strong and mostly cohesive nation.  Nearly all Americans could claim to know solders or former soldiers as part of their family.
          With me,  with my generation, the pattern of national service halts. Now, most Americans have never worn the uniform of the United States.  Now, most Americans don’t really know anyone serving in uniform.  The military, all volunteer now, has become a group apart from most of the nation.  The Washington Post carried the article, linked below, delving more deeply into the military now becoming a separate entity, differing greatly from the rest of the U.S. society and culture. 

            “Does military service still matter for the presidency?

By John NaglPublished: May 25

            “In every presidential election since 1992, the candidate with the less distinguished military résumé has triumphed.
            “Bill Clinton defeated war heroes George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole; National Guard pilot George W. Bush beat Vietnam veterans Al Gore and John Kerry; and Barack Obama was decisively elected over John McCain, who had displayed extraordinary valor during years of captivity as a Navy pilot in North Vietnam.”

John Nagl MAY 25
The connection has been severed.
            “In 2012…, For the first time in modern American history, neither major candidate for the presidency has any military experience.
            “This is a dramatic change. The crucible of combat not only created these United States but has also given us many of our most successful presidents…
            “ there are costs to this all-volunteer military that are not immediately apparent, even on this weekend dedicated to remembering its sacrifices. The disconnect between those who give the orders and those who have no choice but to follow them has never been wider; all Americans salute the same flag, but only a few carry it forward against enemy fire. The military has become a caste apart from the nation it protects, with many of its fighters the sons and daughters of military leaders — a family business that asks much of a few. Service academy alumni journals are full of photos of multi-generational family reunions in combat zones, while most of us do no more to support the troops than stand, remove our caps and cheer when they present the national colors before a baseball game.
Now, nearly 30 years into this experiment with an all-volunteer force, and more than a decade into America’s longest war, the nation will elect a president who has not known the tender courtesies of a drill sergeant at oh-dark-thirty in the morning...”
Cassi Creek:         Not mentioned is the development of a peripheral industry, private security and private armies.  While these mercenaries have ostensibly been used to pull only non-combat duties, they have migrated into security positions that should, to my way of thinking, be pulled by our official armed forces.  These private armies are paid a great deal more than our troops are paid.  That should be reversed at the very least.  The loyalty of mercenaries is always suspect.  Their passports may say U.S. but their job description indicates available to the highest bidder. 
          This is what it has come down to on Memorial Day 2012.  We have a government sanctioned three day weekend to keep us from remembering those who died in service so deeply that we don’t flock to new car sales and to tourist attractions.  Our glorious dead are afforded a prayer or speech by the next round of aspiring politicians, to let the voters know how much they care.  That small percentage of troops on active duty have a war winding down to contend with until the next war comes around.  Meanwhile, the reason for the holiday is lost in the official beginning of summer.  As fewer and fewer Americans serve in uniform, the reasons and traditions that honor men and women who heeded the call to duty will be forgotten by most of the nation, and fewer and fewer will be able to remember knowing a family member who wore the nation’s uniform in time of war.

Gone to grave yards everyone!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

27 May 2012 And we have ignition

          The pool is officially open, I guess. The pool heater lit off this morning like a jet engine igniting.
          Gloria spent the last several days trimming and cleaning the pool area.  The water is probably as clear as our existing filters can make it.  The solar blanket might deliver a few more °F to the water, but by this time tomorrow, the propane heater will most likely take it up to operating temperature.  
          Memorial Day is upon us.  The nation now celebrates the beginning of summer with automobile sales, automobile races, and an unhealthy fascination with acquiring a suntan.  Beer sales ramp up in synchronicity with DUI arrests. Only peripherally do most of the citizens recall the occasion for the three-day weekend. 
          There was an article in the local newspaper praising the local VA hospital.  Overall, I’ve received adequate to good care in the VA healthcare system.   The waits for services and routine examinations are no longer than most patients experience in the Insurance-controlled quasi-private system and much shorter than the waits experienced by patients with no insurance or with highly restrictive policies.  I’m happy to have VA as an option in healthcare delivery. 
          Of course, the price of VA care can be enormously expensive.  We should never forget that, and those who pay the highest cost.  For some reasons, car sales and car races just don’t indicate to me that the public understands the real price. Or the real reason for the day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

26 May 2012 I don’t think in pictures

          Yesterday was spent running errands in 90 °F weather.  Well, 88 + weather.  Errands mostly completed, it became time to put the pool sweep, an evil-minded device, into service again.  This is always problematic.  We are wrestling with an antiquated, increasingly crumbly conglomerate of PVC pipes, an over taxed pump that must now run 24/7 for the season, and the occasional animal that thinks it can swim all night long. 
          At 1700 yesterday, we tied in the new pool blanket.  After running the sweep until it became cantankerous this morning, we put the blanket into use.  The solar heat should now bring the water temp up to the point where the gas heater becomes more cost-effective.  The last remaining quirk, that we are aware of, is obtaining sufficient clarity for the heater optical sensor to keep the gas valve open.  We’ll probably try for ignition on Monday. 
          As for pictures, my cell phone captures images quite nicely.  The problem still remains what photos go where.  I’m uncomfortable with cloud storage and I don’t intend to share much of anything to Google circles.  The Nexus was developed with no option for exporting to my local computer files.  I may need to rent an illiterate high school dropout for lessons in communicating by photos and consensus thinking.

Friday, May 25, 2012

25 May 2012 Just one of those things

25 May 2012        Just one of those things
          A trip to the moon on gossamer wings
          Most days I sit and stare at my monitor and eventually write something that has little social, economic, or cultural import.  Today, what appears apparently has less import than ususal. 
          Just one of those things.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

24 May 2012 Our chart can beat your chart

Prepare for the onslaught of political lies on television.  Prepare for the deluge of robo calls on cell and landlines.  Prepare for mailboxes to be filled with glossy requests for votes and for money. 
          “Prepare for “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
And prepare for graphs and charts.
Some ad agency is currently hunting for the master chart, the one  that will nail an inescapable image to the forebrains of the teavangelist and GOP voter base. 

Read caarefully!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

23 May 2012 The only truth I’ve heard from the GOP since 2000

Cassi Creek:         Normally, even the most bitterly waged political campaigns have some fragments of truth in their propaganda output.  The nature of such endeavors is that a small amount of truth leaks in despite the worst efforts of the speechwriters and ad agencies to remove all truth from the battlefield. 
          The 2008 campaign was based upon an attempt by the GOP and the teavangelists to convince their bases that Barak Obama fails to meet the Constitutional requirement that he be a native-born citizen – having one or both parents citizens of the U.S., and/or being born in the U.S. 
          The teavangelists, already pumping out lies about the tax structure and health care proposals, was quite happy to amplify the number and intensity of lies spread concerning the “birther” insanity.  According to the most extreme “birther” proclamations, Obama was born in Kenya but false newspaper announcements and a falsified birth certificate were somehow created and placed into the archives of corporate and governmental entities in order to create a false claim to citizenship for Obama.  This amazing bit of conspiratorial planning then paid off in 2008 by allowing a “secret Muslim, foreign born, non-citizen” to be elected as POTUS. 
          This bit of conspiracy supposedly took place before Obama was even conceived.  As far-flung as this was, it attracted millions of idiots willing to believe it and to trumpet it during the 2008 campaign.  It is now being dragged back onto the platforms at nearly every opportunity to use it against Obama. 
          I find it impossible to understand the intellectual vacuum that allows anyone to find such a lie plausible. I find myself wondering if this somehow allows the GOP/teavangelist base to ignore the hatred and racism that are really at the heart of the anti-Obama campaign.  The GOP/teavangelist base denies any racism and bigotry in their efforts to defeat and delegitimize Obama.  Yet, there have been decidedly racist signs at teavangelist rallies and frankly bigoted campaign speeches by several of the GOP candidates. 
          There is, however, still one shred of truth evident in the anti-Obama efforts.  Senator McConnell has promised every conceivable effort by the GOP/teavangelists to make Obama a one-term POTUS.  During the last 3 years, it has become all too evident that they will destroy the country if that is how they can defeat Obama.  We need to accept this promise as true.  They fully intend to obliterate the social safety nets, destroy the schools, and wipe out the economy and the middle class in order to sink Obama. 
          Wonder how deluded the teavangelist have become?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

22 May 2012 Better safe than scattered

A US Airways jetliner en route from Paris to Charlotte, North Carolina, has been diverted to Bangor, Maine, for a "security issue," airline spokesman Andrew Christie told CNN.
A Transportation Safety Administration statement said the plane has landed safely in Bangor.
"TSA is aware of reports of a passenger who exhibited suspicious behavior during flight. Out of an abundance of caution the flight was diverted to BGR where it was met by law enforcement," the statement said.
Al Qaeda bomb maker known for "brutality"

This undated file photo released Oct. 31, 2010, by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior purports to show Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. (AP Photo/Saudi Arabia Ministry of Interior)
(AP) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri has built a reputation as al Qaeda's bomb-making savant one potential near miss at time: Explosive-rigged underwear aboard a Christmas flight to the U.S. in 2009, printers fitted with high-grade explosives the next year and now possibly a metal-free device that could avoid airport detectors.
Before those failed attempts, he staged an even more audacious attack: Turning his own brother into a suicide bomber in a mission that injured Saudi Arabia's top counterterrorism official and was later decried by the U.S. State Department for its "brutality, novelty and sophistication."
Cassi Creek:  This type of event, a plane diverted from its original flight plan is going to become more common as the drive by Muslim extremists to down another U.S. aircraft becomes stronger.  The hatred of the U.S. by Al Queda in Yemen is perhaps greater than that displayed by bin Laden’s original gangs of terrorists. 
          There will be no negotiations with this band of murderers.  There will be no intercession by more moderate religious leaders.  These fanatics believe their orders come from Allah and that the higher the death toll they create, the greater their reward in their imagined after life.  There is no way to reason with religious fanatics who believe they are commanded by a deity. 
          The complexity of this designer’s bombs has become greater over time.  Our public announcements, when we locate one of his bombs, tells him more about how we are blocking his goals.  It would be better, in my opinion, if his bomb carriers simply vanished, providing him no feedback. 
          Until we can locate and execute this terrorist our passengers and planes will be at increased risk of assassination.  I have absolutely no qualms about using every means at our disposal to eliminate this.  Nor should Obama.  Every terrorist removed lessens the risk to U.S. and other country’s air passengers.  Every terrorist removed should translate into votes for Obama in November. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

21 May 2012 Macaroni and cheese for Congress

          The preparation guide on a box o macaroni and cheese, or any other pre-prepared box meal is written at about the 3rd grade level.  Two reasons for using such non-demanding language come to mind. 
          First, the packages are often designed to be reconstituted and microwaved by elementary school – aged children, who may just be acquiring language skills.  This allows a child to prepare an after-school snack.  It may also allow a child to prepare dinner for his self and perhaps siblings and/or other family members. 
          Secondly, many adults lack basic reading skills and may not be capable of reading at higher levels.  This is pathognomic of a failing educational system. 
          Given that their constituencies are often unable to hear and understand a logically presented explanation of a particular bill, as introduced for consideration by the entire body; there is no emphasis for the individual legislators to write or speak at a level anywhere above junior high school levels. 
          This lack of overall literacy for citizens of the United States is shameful.  Much of it can be laid at the feet of the recent crops of PhD educators – the people who write the books about how to teach and then sell the books with built-in philosophies of education to local school boards that fail to understand the professional jargon and statistics used in the sales pitch, and thus allow the miscarriage of education to continue. 
          Recent education theory, that used on the boomer spawn, has little to do with teaching subject matter and far too much to do with “self esteem.” 
          In many of these philosophies, the teachers are to spend the early years developing their students’ self-esteem – when they have sufficient self-esteem they will be comfortable trying to master subject matter that should have been locked into their growing brains in first grade.  Every student is treated as if all are equal in skills and abilities.  That is, quite frankly, bullshit.
          We older boomers were expected to develop our self-esteem, if we did, from our own accomplishments.  Those of us who learned basic skills quickly were placed into higher performance level classes.  Those who did not migrated to lower level classes.  We knew that we weren’t all equally capable in various subjects and skills.  We still know that.  We don’t expect all of us to be equally skilled or adept. 
          Over the last two generations we’ve watched the levels of academic competency displayed by American students, decline with respect to students in other industrialized nations.  Such a decline will continue until we return to schools that demand excellence as the minimum standard of performance. 
          Our voter base has been formed from that dumbed – down pool of academic failures with high self-esteem.  So have our legislators.   If they have no need to use higher-level language skills with the voters, then there is no need to use it among peers. 
          One of the gravest injuries to our system of government is this decrease in language skills.  It has reached the point where no legislator drafts a bill.  His or her staff contains clerical workers who have mastered the legislative jargon and translate ordinary English into Legislaturese.  In the worst cases, Congressional offices fall back upon “mac and cheese” legislation.  The lobbyists and corporations write the bills so that the legislator need only add water and microwave. Next generation, like the boxes of macaroni and cheese, we’ll see printed words replaced with pictures. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

20 May 2012 All’s well in dog world

          Thursday morning I drove Gloria to Tri-Cities Regional Airport, to board a plane for St. Petersburg/Clearwater.  She was making a weekend trip to visit an on-line friend, and to recuperate a bit from the last month’s medicine show.
          When I walked into the house alone our dog, Loki, started looking for her.
          Loki was a rescue dog who took some time to decide that she belonged in our pack.  In some ways, she is still puzzling out that decision.  For instance, she will display a desire for contact but she is still hesitant to make first contact, and never seems to lean on me.   She is, I believe, more strongly attached to Gloria than she is to me.  That’s not a problem.  She’s part of the family and knows it now. 
          When Gloria and I are both home, Loki likes to stay between us whenever possible.  This causes some interesting traffic patterns as we try to avoid tripping over her.  She will move when told to move; but she will wait until the very last second before getting out of the way. 
          Loki had no idea where to park this weekend.  She wound up lying nearer to me than normal.  Each time I went outside and then came back in, Loki looked for Gloria.  She wasn’t despondent, but something wasn’t right in her world. 
          Gloria flew back this morning.  Her flight was slated to arrive at 0900.  This meant rolling out at 0500 in order to care for her iguanas and for Loki.  I had the alarm set for 0500 but woke up at 0445.  There was no point in trying to sleep any later.  I got to the airport with about 30 minutes to spare. 
          When we walked in together, Loki made her pleasure known instantly.  She has a “happy/excited” dance behavior she displays when she is very pleased.  Gloria got three repeats this morning. 
          She didn’t see them, but I was doing repetitions to my own “welcome home! Routine as well.  Loki may be a better dancer than I, but I’m more thrilled to have the pack intact.
          Since returning home, I’ve scraped down and backwashed the pool, marinated some lamb chops for the grill, sprayed the pool shed for spiders, and now I’m ready to pile up for a while.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

19 May 2012 Somethin’s tricklin’ here, What it is ain’t exactly clear

          Despite the 8 years of Reagan and the 8 years of Bush II, the GOP/teavangelist base has yet to realize that nothing will ever trickle down to the working class and former-middle-class citizens that isn’t yellow in color.  Once again the promise of pie-in-the-sky and table scraps from the left over’s of the wealthy seem to be enough to convince that base that prosperity is just around the corner.  They choose to believe that when Wall Street has glutted itself sufficiently, it will begin to share with the rest of us.  I’ve never known Wall Street – by any name, in any era – to become sufficiently glutted.  Waiting for that to happen is only slightly less probable than the arrival of an undocumented citizen of Imperial Rome into the rotunda of a Jackson County Missouri building. 
          Keep standing there with your hats, waiting for those discards and hand-me-downs to show up at your doorstep.  The folks you’re going to choose to represent you don’t know you, don’t care about you, and serve only their selves and their much wealthier masters. 
          I began the summer ritual- scraping down the pollen, dust, leaves, and other detritus that migrates rapidly from where it did belong to the surface of our pool.  From the surface, it finds its way to the bottom.  The person who designed the pool area planted permanent structures and large plants much too closely around the pool.  Fully one third of the deck has bushes and vines that grow exponentially and wait for a chance to impede the long pole, brush, and basket.  That seems to be a pattern here with trees planted too closely together or too closely to utilities structures. 
          We’ll let the pool warm up and clear before we put the new solar blanket over it. 
          Interestingly enough, a large shipment of lidocaine ointment arrived today.  It is intended for my shoulders.  VA won’t spring for trans-dermal patches that might help me more. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

18 May 2012 So simple that only a child can do it

Cassi Creek:  The broadcast and cable news outlets yesterday were correctly, placing a proposed anti-Obama campaign before us; so that we may have some idea about the depths of hatred that are driving this campaign.  Officially, the Romney campaign refused to have anything to do with it.  Unofficially it has been the hidden blueprint used against Obama since he secured the nomination in 2008.
          The GOP//teavangelists have stitched together a fabric of lies concerning Obama.  He has been depicted as a communist (and simultaneously a fascist), a secret Muslim, a foreign-born non-citizen, and much more.  What they, the opposition, really want to say is “Obama is black”, and therefore we don’t want him to hold office and wield power.  He scares them.  They know he is infinitely intellectually superior to them and they can’t admit it. 
          Factor in the demographic results that made news yesterday and they will really unleash a hate campaign.  The nation’s birthrate data now indicates that the majority population (NB-1yr) is a former minority populace.  The United States is no longer going to be a WASP nation.  The world has changed beneath them and will never be put back the way it was.  The hate mongers can’t do shit about it!
          We’re going to be treated to all sorts of propaganda released by groups that “Just want to take our country back.”  They are serious about “back.”  They mean prior to the Civil War, prior to the 13th and 14th Amendments, prior to the lunch counter sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, and the voting registration summer of 1964.  They will use every lie they can put out to inflame hatred among the un-educated. 
          And here’s the good and bad; we have to let them lie. To stop them using public airways and the media outlets would make us the people they claim we are; the people they actually are.  But there is nothing to prevent us countering their lies with truth.  The same freedoms they use to destroy this nation can be used to destroy them. 
          It takes a lot of patience and a lot of determination.  It takes a thick skin and a lot of friends to prop us up when the road gets rocky and lonely. 
Southern Poverty Law Center is one of the bests sources available to find out whom these hate groups are and where   they are.  They’re all over, among us, but they can be beaten. 
          I’ve spent a lot of time this month breaking in a smart phone.  It will play music if I can convince it do play music.  It can serve as a video conferencing device.  It can do all manner of things that were once considered science fiction.  What it appears to be best at is trying to sell me movies, music, and other entertainment items that I have no interest in buying.  I have no need for a music service to sell me the latest popular music releases.  I have a carefully, lovingly acquired library of very good music that I love to listen to.  So thanks to all you folks who make it so easy to hand you money.  I’ll take a bit longer and puzzle out how to teach my smart phone what I know.
Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

17 May 2012 Looks like we’re in for stormy weather

          The GOP/teavangelists are winding up for a replay of the debt ceiling fiasco.  They are still playing in the racism sandbox, unable to support anything proposed by the man they consider a usurper and not suited to hold the office of POTUS. 
          This population of fools and clowns who support the current right wing members of Congress has been easily convinced that Obama is a Muslim, a socialist/communist/fascist, who is leading a war against Christianity.  It never fails to astound me how much misinformation the GOP/teavangelist voter base can be fed.  They are collectively shining examples of what happens when people are allowed to reproduce within a sharply limited gene pool.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

16 May 2012 Sashimi at sundown

          The alarm clock does not call me to manage an IV infusion.  We hope, most sincerely, that this round of medication has been effective.  Instead, 0500 announced that I was required to roll out and get into town for my semi-annual primary care visit.  So, I reset the alarm for another 12 minutes, burrowed back in, and then, allowed my personal guilt to force me into getting up and facing the day.  So much for grabbing an extra bit of sleep.
          I found some sashimi-grade tuna at the grocery store.  We’ll dine on sashimi, salad, and strawberries tonight.  The berry season is nearly over.  Then it will be a short wait until local corn is available.  
          Allergies are troubling this year.  I could buy OTC meds but they all dry my eyes to the point where I’m looking at the world through an overlay of old gas station maps.  I now look forward to the first hard frost of the year. 
          At the doctor’s office, I brought up the tremor and shaking that I’m finding more and more troubling.  It began around the same time as a medication change took place.  It was decided that we (read that as “I” would change to a combination statin to see if the symptoms changed for the  better, for the worse, or did not change. 
          Now I need to slice the sashimi, avoiding bits of me.    

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

15 May 2012 Corker already trying to cover up financial piracy

            “WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Congress will weigh in on the news that JPMorgan Chase lost $2 billion on complex trades intended to hedge against economic risk, and that the losses could mount.
            “The Senate Banking Committee on Monday announced future oversight hearings, including one that will look into the trading losses at JPMorgan Chase from a regulatory angle. Lawmakers plan to question regulators, not JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) officials.
            “Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, was the first to call for a hearing on Friday.
"Clearly the losses posted by JPMorgan are significant, and as policy makers we should understand in detail what has transpired," Corker said in a letter to Banking Committee chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat.”

“Why JPMorgan gets away with bad bets

By William K. Black, Special to CNN
updated 5:39 AM EDT, Tue May 15, 2012

“Editor's note: William K. Black is an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. A former senior financial regulator and a white-collar criminologist, he is the author of "The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One."
            “(CNN) -- JPMorgan Chase can be considered a systemically dangerous institution, which means that it is "too big to fail" because the government fears that its collapse would cause a global financial crisis.
It is simply irrational to allow such an institution to exist, especially when it can easily incur a $2 billion trading loss… “

Cassi Creek: 
          I saw Bob Corker being interviewed on CNN this morning.  Senator Corker was spreading a layer of BS that would fertilize 40 acres of corporate farmland.  His contention is that no one understands the financial maneuvers in question, so the Congress should hold another round of hearings until they do understand them.  He further stated that he doubts anything illegal took place and that no regulations should be applied to the banking industry and its billionaire CEOs. 
          The last round of attempts at banking and financial regulation, designed to stop such misdealing and borderline-illegal machinations, were first gutted and then blocked from implementation by the teavangelists. 
          Corker knows who pays for his campaign (and a lot of his exalted position in life.  Like a good little toady, he was out trying to raise the public’s level of confusion about the pirates of Wall Street.  He needs to be voted out of office.  He’s had sufficient opportunity to feather his nest with materials plucked from the savings and salaries of the former middle class.
          The very able and viciously insightful political cartoonists have been hard at work pointing out the failure of Congress to provide sufficient regulation and oversight to prevent the same group of thieves and pirates who brought about the last recession from causing yet another one that may well be more devastating to the world’s economy than their last masterpiece.

Monday, May 14, 2012

14 May 2012 Film at 2300

          We have a crowed schedule this week.   Sleep will lose out to all other concerns.  Every item on the calendar requires getting up at 0 Dark: 30
          I’m going to try for a nap this afternoon.  Rare event for me. 
          Choose your own film and watch it at your convenience.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

13 May 2012 And a side of Tzadzki

Cassi Creek:
          I’ve defrosted two lamb chops for dinner tonight.  These are from a local farm and have a bit more fat on them than I would consider acceptable if I were paying grocery store prices.  They beg an introduction to charcoal after some judicious trimming and seasoning.    The weather, windy with intermittent rain, suggests that unless I wish to serve cold and fat-laden lamb, it would be wise to cook indoors this evening. 
          I challenged the weather forecast yesterday in order to grill blue cheese burgers and fresh corn for dinner.  I won, barely.  I doubt that I would be as lucky today.
          We’re still in thrall to the IV meds schedule. By the time the morning dose in infused it is too late to crawl back into bed.  The afternoon dose leaves time for a nap but that time is best used to prep and cook dinner.  The night dose leaves no time for anything but trying to stay awake long enough to go to sleep.  However, we are fortunate that we can handle the medication.  It would be quite a lot worse if we had to take Gloria in for outpatient infusions on the same schedule.
          Enough elemental bitching.  Dinner beckons.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

12 May 2012 In the days of nose art

(CNN) -- As German Gen. Erwin Rommel chased British forces across the North African desert, a stray Royal Air Force fighter crashed in the blistering sands of the Egyptian Sahara on June 28, 1942. The pilot was never heard from again. The damaged Kittyhawk P-40 -- a couple of hundred miles from civilization -- was presumed lost forever.”
            “Until now!”

Cassi Creek:    There is a slide show attached to this article.  It is well worth the time required to view it and will tell you a great deal about the skill and abilities of the pilot.  Landing a warplane in desert sands without destroying the aircraft is no mean feat.  Yet, the article indicates he became confused and failed to follow his flight plan, which caused him to run out of fuel.  The big, three-bladed propeller demonstrates the forces involved in the final landing. 
            The Curtis P-40 KittyHawk was a signature airplane of WWII.  It was already becoming eclipsed by newer and more powerful airframes but saw service in all the theaters of WWII.  A moderately lengthy article about the history of the plane can be found at
These planes, if embellished beyond unit and service markings, often had shark jaw painted on the nose.  I’m curious as to how this one was painted.
            Nose art was very common on allied aircraft during WWII.  The paintings made aircraft more easily identifiable in combat, and were morale boosters in a war where most people served for the duration of the war.  The names of planes and the images used often were selected by the individual aircrew commander/pilot.  From the nose art, you might learn all manner of things about the pilot and crew. 

Notice the pin-up quality image, the crew’s names and rank, and each bombing mission they flew denoted by a yellow bomb painted on the aircraft. 

            Nose art endured through the Korean War but was far less common in VietNam.  Changing aspects of how war was carried out, layers of secrecy to prevent aircraft being identified for propaganda purposes and to prevent the North Vietnamese learning when air strikes were to take place, and the beginnings of political correctness applied to warfare were all factors in the demise of the traditions of nose art.

            I wonder what images this latest flier carried on his plane, if any. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

11 May 2012 Once Upon An Enlightenment

Cassi Creek:  Over the last century, America has dabbled in establishing progressive forms of government.  We have elected leaders who understood the need for a social contract that provided safety nets for the poor and working class.  We have provided a free public education, public health networks, and unemployment and retirement insurance programs.  We did this while fighting two world wars, Vietnam, and the Cold War.  We did this while absorbing huge numbers of legal immigrants who came here wanting to become Americans. We did this while surviving a worldwide depression, a drought of legendary size and duration.  In addition, we did it while trying to overcome religious intolerance, racial bigotry, and cultural changes that broadened our acceptance of multiple minorities. 
          However, the need to discriminate lingers on in our population.  We find ways to exclude minorities from the full rights of citizenship.  We’ve allowed religious demagogues to fan the fires of intolerance, while weakening those progressive laws and regulations, which were always intended to strengthen the social contract.  The GOP/teavangelists have used their base’s collective disdain for and growing lack of education beyond 8th grade to demand that Congress pass a series of laws designed to formalize discrimination and bigotry in a manner that denies the former promise of America, the core of equal opportunity, that was the American dream.

To make matters even worse, the states which comprised the Confederacy during our Civil War, in concert with other states that preserve those same social, cultural, and political disgraces, have mounted campaigns to force the passage of similar laws, drafted and funded by corporate sponsors and churches, so that a stacked, and highly reactionary Supreme Court will ultimately find and rule for the return to pre-revolutionary conditions. 
          We are likely to replace the office of Attorney General with a Grand Inquisitor.  The purity tests are already being applied to GOP/teavangelist candidates during the 2012 elections. Can burning at the cross for heresy be far behind?

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10 May 2012 The answers I have yet to hear

Posted at 10:59 AM ET, 05/10/2012
No celebration for this lesbian
By Lauren Taylor
I’m a progressive, out lesbian, but I’m not doing a happy dance about President Obama’s support for gay marriage.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think we (the country, the society) should be giving rights, privileges and protections to anyone — gay, straight, bisexual or other — based on their sexual or romantic relationships. I think most of the rights and privileges gay men and lesbians are seeking by pursuing marriage rights should be granted to human beings because they are human beings, whether or not they find one person they want to spend the rest of their lives with.

Cassi Creek:  When I wind up indicating that I support gays, lesbians, and other minorities in their quest for the right to marry, it is certain that someone will proclaim that such action will, somehow, damage or de-sanctify marriage between two heterosexuals.  Generally they use “man and woman (or man and wife) depending upon their placement on the fundamentalism scale. 
          This always causes me to wonder what it is about such a coupling that harms what is felt to be a “traditional pairing.  No one in the opposing camp has ever offered me a rational and/or valid answer.  If pushed hard enough the religious far-rightist will sputter a bit, then hide behind a line or two in Leviticus, insisting that “God” wants it that way.  Convenient, and unproven; the supposed words of Moses, purportedly speaking for the mythical deity he encountered in a flaming shrub, are invoked as if such invocation is supposed to overturn reason, rationality, science (many disciplines) and automatically win any and all arguments. 
          I don’t accept the premise of biblical or papal infallibility.  I don’t believe that any religion’s sacred text is accurate in translation or free from political and cultural bias.  I don’t believe that two men or two women joining in legal and civil partnership damages my relationship with Gloria.   I find no reason to fear that any other couple undergoing a public or private religious service will cause any harm to the deep commitment to each other that Gloria and I share.  I don’t expect property devaluation, swarms of locusts, mysterious plagues, or armed invaders from a neighboring state, a competing theocracy, or a distant galaxy.  I don’t expect a mob of gay or lesbian parents trying to destroy the PTA.  I’m just not worried by a couple obtaining a civil partnership license at the county offices.  If “they” (any “they”) can afford a formal religious production number with attendants, parties, and a secret destination, more power to them.  They aren’t likely to lower my property values, although I may lower theirs. 
          Lauren Taylor doesn’t answer my question.  Her article does, however, suggest several reasons we should applaud such unions.  In my youth, inter-racial marriages were illegal and rare.  They happen every day now, in every state in the union.  The world is changing, the teavangelists and GOP don’t like that, can’t stop the loss of WASP power brokers and bankers who run the world.  There will eventually be unopposed pairing of gays, lesbians, and other minorities.  It will take time but it will happen because people manage to break the ice, bust the block, and teach the next generation that all humans deserve the same rights.  In the end, it will simply become standard practice.
          The answer to the question remains missing.  I’ve heard many Reponses that display fear, bigotry, lack of education, and religious brainwashing.  I don’t expect to hear an accurate one any time soon.