Tuesday, December 31, 2013

31 December 2013 Before the Midnight hour

Cassi Creek:  Located in the Eastern Time Zone (U.S.)
          The celebration for entering 2014 C.E. has already ended in many nations. The video showing the Sidney Australia fireworks was fascinating.
          I managed to sleep in until 0730.  Following morning chores, Gloria and I drove to Greeneville to pick up medications.  I managed to get a haircut and we made a quick tour through a grocery store for odds and ends. 
          I had thought to avoid battery changes for the components of my weather station in a cold and windy situation.  However, the rain gauge has been showing a bad battery indicator for the last week.  So I stood on the deck with fingerless gloves removing and replacing tiny, non-magnetic screws into a battery compartment that drives the rain gauge’s electronics.  The warning has changed to a “battery OK” indication. 

          This has been another year that has seemed to fly by despite the changes in situation that affected our extended families. 
          My hearing continues to deteriorate.  Parkinson’s is settling in with an array of symptoms that I hope can be alleviated or forestalled. 
          Gloria and I have been a couple for 21 years now.  I couldn’t be happier about that. 
Happy 2014 to everyone who’s ever looked at, and returned to this blog.

Monday, December 30, 2013

30 December 2013 Goin’ down the road feelin’ bad

Cassi Creek:  The Congress has seen fit to eliminate a large portion of the social safety net by reducing food stamps and unemployment benefits to a portion of the population already struggling to meet its bills and keep food on the table with a roof over it.   What comes to mind is a timely resurrection of a song Woody Guthrie sang in the Dust Bowl Days.

Going Down The Road Feelin' Bad, also known as the Lonesome Road Blues, is an American traditional song, "a white blues of universal appeal and uncertain origin" (Ralph Rinzler, quoted on Erbsen 2003, p. 118). It was recorded by many artists through the years; the first known is Henry Whitter in 1924 as "Lonesome Road Blues". Others who made cover versions include Cliff Carlisle (also as "Down In The Jail On My Knees"), Woody Guthrie (also as "Blowin' Down This Road" or "I Ain't Gonna Be Treated This Way"), Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Roy Hall, Elizabeth Cotten and the Grateful Dead.

The following are the lyrics as performed by The Grateful Dead:
Goin' down the road feelin' bad. Goin' down the road feelin' bad. Goin' down the road feelin' bad. I don't want to be treated this away.
Goin' where the climate suits my clothes. Goin' where the climate suits my clothes. Goin' where the climate suits my clothes. I don't want to be treated this away.
Goin' down the road feelin' bad. Goin' down the road feelin' bad. Goin' down the road feelin' bad. I don't want to be treated this away.
Goin' where the water tastes like wine. Goin' where the water tastes like wine. Goin' where the water tastes like wine. I don't want to be treated this away.
Goin' down the road feelin' bad. Goin' down the road feelin' bad. Goin' down the road feelin' bad. I don't want to be treated this away.
Goin' where the chilly winds don't blow. Goin' where the chilly winds don't blow. Goin' where those chilly winds don't blow. I don't want to be treated this away.

Others may choose to express their concern in more graphic manner. 
Of course, the GOP and its factions see no problem in deepening the pool of unemployed, homeless, hungry Americans.  If the Tea Party fanatics were unable to blow the economy out of the water in 2013, they have no problem taking a longer, more painful approach that is intended to eliminate any and all social safety nets currently in place.

Enjoy the music.  It won’t ease the financial woes but it can keep you dancing.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

29 December 2013 Season of discontent

Cassi Creek:  The winter solstice is behind us and winter is officially upon the land.  We’ve enjoyed the 2nd wettest December on record.  The aquifers should be filling up as we receive still more rain.  This is quite important for people with wells for water. 
          Now we need to find some means to stop the use of Fracking.  There are far too many reports of family wells and municipal wells become polluted with waste fluids pumped into hydrocarbon bearing rock formation.  The sight of flames emanating from a garden hose or kitchen faucet should be sufficient to convince anyone that the process is neither safe nor well designed and controlled. 
          While fracking continues under full governmental neglect, so too does mountain top removal mining.  The topography is being changed at a furious rate.  While the practice continue to expand, it actually requires fewer employees than underground mining to produce the same amount of coal. 
          We have every reason to protest this destruction of the environment.  Formerly, we referred to “the winter of our discontent.”  Now, we have cause to voice our discontent in all season.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

28 December 2013 more cold, rain, and snow

Cassi Creek:  Yesterday was sunny and clear.  Today, gray damp and heavy clouds promise to drop more rain over the weekend   Snow may sneak into the picture.
          There’s a nearly solid block of rain showing up in the Deep South and sliding up toward us.  We’re ready to bunker in and spend the weekend in domesticity.  We’ve topped off the pantry, reefer and freezer. 
          The television offerings are the typical end of the year stories cycled and recycled.  We’ve sat through a number of bad movies offered by Comcast at no additional charge beyond our monthly penance.  Perhaps we’ll find something of higher quality, something that wasn’t intended to release directly to cable TV, if we broaden our search a bit.   Most likely, we won’t. 
          I slept in until 0800 this morning, a rare treat for me.  With the prediction of rain, I moved about two-three nights of split oak from the tarp-covered outdoor rack onto the covered deck area to assure some reasonably dry wood for the stove.  I’m always amazed at how dense hardwoods, oak, hickory, and ash, are when lifting and carrying them about. 
          Time to lay tonight’s fire and take some of the chill off the house before the rain arrives. 


Friday, December 27, 2013

27 December 2013 Nailed retread to my feet and prayed for better weather

Cassi Creek:  The weather seems to have stabilized a bit.  The upper daytime temperatures are running in the high 30s to low 40s.  Nighttime lows are dropping into the low to mid 20s.  There is another prediction for rain moving in on Sunday.  Otherwise, we have no terrible weather forecast to move into our region. 
          The deck and steps have their annual winter algae infestation.  Combined with condensation dripping off the roof and gutters, these results in treacherous footing.   Retreads might well be indicated.  Actually, heavier boots with a more aggressively treaded sole are in order and I have those in the closet.  If there is sufficient condensation or heavy enough frost, the mixture of algae and ice is a booby trap that can’t be seen in dimmer light conditions.  I took one fall last winter and re-acquainted myself with the laws of physics and the velocity of falling bodies.  I have cable devices to wear in lieu of crampons.  They work when I wear them. 
          I had fun looking backward at Pogo comic strips yesterday.  Walt Kelly was always fun to read and I agreed with much of his political position. 
          Dinner last night was beef short ribs braised with red wine, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and served atop kasha with quinoa/corn shell pasta.  A bit of ketchup and Dijon mustard and a topping of plain Greek yogurt brought it into the ersatz Stroganov category.  The market had these labeled as beef spare ribs.  They were priced about half/lb less than the correctly marked short ribs.  We’ll get two meals out of the package.
          Bright, sunny, and chilly here.

I wonder what percentage of the populace knows what retreads are.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

26 December 2013 Pogo rises from the swamp

Cassi Creek:  Some bits of nonsense make more sense than not.  This little gem turns up now and then.  These days, it is barely known beyond the first verse.  The numbers of folks who recognize the fragment and know the source are declining. 
Given the number of words below not contained in a standard English dictionary, I have suspended proof reading for the day.  I leave it up to any reader who may happen by to decide if the obvious nonsensical text is from Walt Kelly’s genius or from my Parkinsonism. 
In all its annual glory…
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!
Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!
Hunky Dory's pop is lolly,
Gaggin' on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!
Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!

For my friend Julius, who broached the subject of Latin, enjoy!

Omnia Romae cum Deck Charlie,
Walla Walla: Wash, An, Kalamazoo!
Nora scriptor freezin, ad trolley,
BRASSICA refer-garoo Swaller pupa!

Non nos habuerunt hydria
Puer cum videret Lilla Iuvante sequi, Louisville Lou?
Et non diligis: quin Trolley Molly,
Boola boola Pensacoola LESSUS,

Wows cortice omnes arcus eius stultitia,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' 'da, etiam illis adtenuatus amor!
Asinus acerbum rudit a exsultans cantico,
Oryx illaqueatus, cantaloupe, lope tuam,

RECTUS Dory lolly acerbum est,
Gaggin, in plaustro, uolens, ire per stultitiam:
Chollie Collie latrat est Barrow,
Harum scarum, quinque a, metus adferent illis adtenuatus amor!

Phasellus nec sapien quis nostrum scyphi in hordei,
Hinky DINK in dinky, Polly voo!
Gelidus duc Chollie nomen est,
Congruenter ad pompam gelida Chollie sententia heus!

Wows cortice omnes arcus eius stultitia,
Duplex bulla, toyland Væ Præcipiet, et lavabunt id, subtegmine,
JACTATIO Collie maris in melon,

Stagnet, commaculare, Scrabble, Scripta iaculeris? RAPIO, RAPIO, RAPIO,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

25 December 2013 Three wise dogs

Cassi Creek:  This is the funniest bit of nonsense I’ve seen in some time. 

Today it is cold, sunny, and I keep dropping things on already injured parts. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

24 December 2013 Let the rest of the world go by

Cassi Creek:  About 0630 I managed to kick a chair leg in the dark.  Result?  Broken 5th toe right foot.  Moving on with my usual grace, I then kicked another chair leg and stepped on the dog’s foot.  No further damage for me and the dog didn’t have much to say.
          By 0900, I was experiencing some pain from the broken toe.  As it was time for the hike with Mike, I layered up and headed off across the deck, which had developed a layer of sleet since sunrise.  The hike was windy, cold, and had periods of snow and snow pellets that added to the fun.  Loki dutifully made the march with me, probably assuming she would have to drag me home. 
          It’s time to buy her a winter/rain coat.  She spends most of her time indoors and is at least 11 years old now.  The neighborhood dogs may hound her about it but she needs some protection on these cold morning hikes.
          Gloria and I drove into Jonesborough and then Johnson City for some shopping that would normally take place on Wednesday.  We left at 1100, were home by 1400.  We were unable to find a local Chinese restaurant that will be open tomorrow.  How far from civilization we are!
          I’ve dragged in a couple loads of really heavy oak for the stove.  It’s burning well and I will keep it going tonight. 
          For those who partake, Merry Christmas.  For those who don’t, have a great day.

Monday, December 23, 2013

23 December 2013 No rainbows here

Cassi Creek:  This morning dawned cold, damp, and gray.  Obviously, there was a sunrise.  I however did not see it.  I took Loki out, grabbed the newspaper, and was back inside before the sun crested the eastern valley wall.  I haven’t seen the sun since last week.  Fortunately, the forecast winds blew elsewhere.  We had to deal with them Saturday night driving into and home from Jonesborough.  I’d estimate the gusts at 35 MPH over steady winds of 15-20 MPH.  They were predicted to reach gusts of 50 MPH and continue into yesterday morning.  That may have been the cause of our power outage yesterday AM.  We seem to have avoided any wind damage. 
          Today’s hike with Mike was more of slog with the dog.  The rain returned when we were about 300 meters down valley.  It continued, a cold mist, interspersed with larger drops, covering my sunglasses with droplets and smears.  The rain has been almost a constant since sometime Sunday morning.  As of this morning, we’ve logged 2.75 inches.   This was a put your head down and push through it sort of road march that reminds me of basic training and other excursions.  The roar of the creek made it hard to here either on-coming traffic or Mike.  The people driving this road seem to have never been taught that drivers should slow down on wet roads. 
          Today, we’ve a lot of chores lined up.  Dinner will probably consist of soup and salad.  We had a Massaman Thai curry with shrimp for dinner last night.  I may make chili tomorrow. 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

22 December 2013 Creek done rose

Cassi Creek:  Yesterday the creek was clear, flowing at normal speed, and confined within its banks.  It could be safely waded.  We’ve received 1.45 inches of rain in the last 24 hours, almost all of that after midnight.  The creek is high, dangerously fast and looking for low banks to expand outward.  It is, as the saying goes, risen or rose.  As a side effect to the large amount of rain we’ve received, it is also too wet to plow.  I had no intention of plowing so that facet does not overly affect my plans for the day.  The soaked soil and high winds may cause problems with trees.
          The winds have abated and I don’t believe we had any damage. The rain continues to fall with no probability of ending until tonight or tomorrow morning. 
          We discovered yesterday that Church’s Gutters left more undone than we knew about.  Thirty feet of leaf guard was not installed.  The cost to finish what they did not will run over $300.  Another low-bid local contractor bit us on the ass.  The cost of taking them to court is about $200.  While we would certainly win the case, Church has nothing of value and we suspect neither money nor a business still functioning.  He’ll skate by because we can ill afford to throw more money after him.  It needs to go into our home repairs. 
          We met some interesting people at the contra dance last night.  We’ll pursue the acquaintance and see where it goes.  They seem to share our concerns and values.  They moved here from New York and seem to be a blue dot in a pool of red that is NE Tennessee.  We need more of those dots.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

21 December 2013 Princess Winter – Spring - Summer – Squall

Cassi Creek:  in the spirit of the season, “the weather outside is frightful.”  
          The mid section of the country is being afflicted with heavy rains, freezing rain, sleet, and snow.  Travel is something to avoid.  A strong cold front is moving across the nation, delaying flights, destroying traction, limiting visibility, and dropping temperatures into the cellar. 
          This storm has characteristics of winter and spring storms.  The temperature gaps across the front are huge.  Single digit temperatures appear NW of the front and 70°F + temps are evident to the SE of the front.  The stage is set for severe thunderstorms, torrential rains, and tornados. 
          Currently, on Cassi Creek, the temperature is 70°F.  Winds are clocking at 17 mph behind the house while the flag suggests the velocity just about 30 feet higher is around 25-30 MPH during the gusts that are blowing through here. 
          Stepping outside, the roar of wing higher up the valley walls is constantly present.  The temperature and humidity suggest severe spring storms.  The dog is somewhat edgy due to the wind, but likely no more so than am I. 
          At 1205 the outdoor thermometer reads 74°F.  We stand a chance to set a new high temperature record for the day. 
          The thunderstorms are forecast to reach us about midnight.  Tomorrow we should have them with us much of the day. 
          The gutter company we used has not completed the work they contracted to do and what they did doesn’t appear to be done that well; something that had to be discovered during rain.  Further, they created some leaks in the roof over the front deck and steps that allow water to drip downward and freeze on those surfaces.  Highly dangerous as it can be hard to detect and avoid. 
We have someone coming this afternoon to look at the previous gutter replacements and to estimate needed incomplete and badly done work.  We’ll probably have to replace more of the new gutters. 
          Going with the low bid and looking for local trades people doesn’t seem to be a safe course to follow here.  Every time we’ve followed that guideline, we’ve come to regret it. 
          The title refers back to early children’s programming of television.  Some of us will understand the reference and how it applies to today and tomorrow.  If you need help, “ telecast on the NBC network in the United States from December 27, 1947 until September 24, 1960.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

20 December 2013 Listen! Up in the sky!

Cassi Creek:  memories of long ago battles and units I’d forgotten about – if I ever knew of them. 

Nacht vexen!
          The nature of the Soviet Union in WWII was such that it was willing to use fighters of both genders to repel then Nazi invasion.  While the armies of Western Europe, Great Britain, and the U.S. used females only for rear area duties and to free up men for combat missions, the USSR used women in most combat capacities. 

American women were used to ferry aircraft to Europe from the CONUS.  I’ve met several women who flew those missions. They were a very small but important force for opening service opportunities for women.   70 years later the U.S. is still limiting access for women to some types of duty in our armed forces.  We have seen women in aerial combat since the Gulf War.  Other opportunities for women to serve at the upper and outer levels still remain blocked or delayed.  Though the Soviets fielded the first female combat pilot in 1939, the Soviet Army no longer exists.  While our military has lurched forward, slowly making improvements for women, the Russian army has regressed as Russia turns back to the sexism of earlier years.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

19 December 2013 We can’t run or hide

Cassi Creek:  

Even the cultural myths can fall prey to technology.  The choice between birds and power is easy comared to the choice between Christmas lights and on-time delivery of presents.

This would be funny if it weren’t so true.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

18 December 2013 As time goes by

Cassi Creek:  The fundamental things apply as time goes by….
21 years ago at the beginning of a long hard winter, I stepped off a plane and into a terminal at Washington National Airport.  It was a dull gray morning, a sky that showed no promise of improvement, a sky that overcame any brightness in the terminal. 
          Then, there was a smile that had no equal and the terminal was flooded with brightness.  That was my first glimpse of Gloria.  That smile changed my life radically and irrevocably.  The direction of my life and the way I viewed life were abruptly swiveled 180 degrees from their prior vectors.
          Nothing has ever been the same since I stepped off that plane and into a new existence.  Now, I see that smile every morning, every night, and many times during the course of each day.  And, it never fails to light up the room. 
          The years since we first met have flown by, as time seems to compress in good times.  These are the years I’d slow down if I could.  That being impossible, I’ll enjoy them as they carry us downstream together.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

17 December 2013 Ever silver lining

Cassi Creek:  ordered firewood this morning.  Delivery expected at 1700.  That’s great service at a reasonable price. But no good deed goes unpunished and no reward comes without a downside.
            In all likelihood, I will have to shorten the logs to fit our stove, and further split them down in size for better ignition and stove function.  Not looking forward to that.  At least, the splitter is better than splitting with a maul, wedges, hammer, and ax.  The chain saw works well but the vibration is a problem while cutting and for some days after. 
          Light a candle curse the glare.!  We will get by!


Monday, December 16, 2013

16 December 2013 Bleak and bitter December

This anniversary might as well have no marker and no memorials.  The opportunity to bring about meaningful changes in American gun laws and arms dealing has once again fallen prey to the fear mongering and blatant lies promulgated by the NRA and its GOP/teavangelist minions. 
          Yet, we must be honest in our post mortems of gun related murders.  The latest shooter, in Centennial Colorado, obtained his shotgun and ammunition by entirely legal means.  Further, he was not under treatment for any form of mental illness that would mark him as a potential mass murderer.  The difficulty in predicting which teen or young adult will suddenly convert from a normally moody or angst-ridden teen into a calculating killer is immense.  We simply have no way to separate most of the potential murderers from the pack of video-gaming gun-owning people who don’t decide to shoot up a building full of unsuspecting innocents. 
          The mass marketing of guns in America is a major obstacle in preventing some, but not all, such events.  The majority of Americans would agree with and support limits on magazine capacity and requiring background checks for all gun sales.  Most of us have no problem with closing gun show loopholes.  However, the NRA does and the help of a Congress greedy for campaign funds, they have managed to block any meaningful efforts to decrease gun-related murders in 2013.

Yes, there are prisons, many owned and staffed by corporations.  They are competing among the prison industry to find the cheapest level of funding required to maintain these American gulags.  There is still much they may borrow from the Russians and third world nations concerning penal systems.  Never fear, those methods will likely be imported to our corner of the globe.
          Yes, there are also workhouses.  They include Wal-mart and the various fast food chains.  Like Dickensian workhouses, these too ensure that the workers will never be paid enough to escape their poverty.  Ghosts of Christmas past don’t trouble me but we have every reason to worry about the all too real future.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

15 December 2013 I was so much older then

Cassi Creek:
 I spent a lot of time in my youth wishing I were older.  I was not alone in that practice.  Nearly everyone I knew was doing the same thing.  We all thought, or seemed to, that adding a few years would solve many of our problems. 
          The passing of a few years left me physically older and mentally ancient.  It was very common to hear troops in VietNam proclaim, “I’m too old for this shit!”  As physically young men, they were most sincere in their resentment of the risks they faced on a daily basis that twisted and tore at them internally until they were mentally centenarians.  The changes could occur over time or in a matter of minutes.  They saw and did things that bled any remaining youth from them. 
          21years ago I got some of those lost years back; in a fashion, and with some help.  Life can screw with us in a manner we never expect.
          Now I find my mind tacking in one direction while my body adds a new set of challenges, forcing me down a different pathway.  See above, life can screw with us…
          Now, instead of muttering,” I’m too old for this shit!” I find myself proclaiming, “I’m too young for this shit!”  Guess Dylan penned”My Back Pages” for more than just himself.
Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then

I’m younger than that now
A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Copyright © 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music


Saturday, December 14, 2013

14 December 2013 flags in space guns in school

Cassi Creek: 
China  drops a rover on the moon.  The Chinese intend to have a viable space program rivaling the former programs of the U.S. and the USSR during the Cold War.  There is increasing tension between the U.S. Navy and the People's Liberation Army Navy.  The latest incident seems highly suggestive of the games of Chicken our ships and planes used to engage in with Soviet Forces.

Iran launches monkey #2  Iran claims to have launched and recovered a second monkey as part of its space program.  This is disturbing since any rocket capable of orbiting a satellite or a capsule containing live animals or humans is capable of delivering military payloads to any place on Earth. 

Meanwhile, back at the NRA – Yet another school shooting took place in suburban Denver yesterday.  The shooter was an athlete, achiever, Boy Scout.  Where did he fall on the NRA’s ever-shifting good guy/bad guy scale?

Friday, December 13, 2013

13 December 2013 The universe has certainties but you won’t like them

Cassi Creek:  The link below leads to a compilation of things learned by repeated observations yielding replicable data.  Thanks to Dr. Ed Uthman for initiating the process, and to the other contributors who both supported Ed’s conclusions and recorded their own.
Lenon’s laboratory triad:  Anything submitted for analysis that can be misidentified will be.  Instrumentation breakdowns occur most frequently on the Friday of a four day holiday weekend.   Administrators never understand that non-factory Instrument service contracts will result in longer and more frequent downtimes.
Also, note Lenon’s law of negative expectations:
  If it is good, and someone mentions it, it instantly stops; if it is bad and someone mentions it, it begins immediately.
The morning has been cold and mostly sunny.  Moved wood up to the deck to have it under cover when the forecast rains begin.  The morning hike with Mike was worthwhile exercise.  Nothing of consequence took place.  There was limited conversation but I avoided his comments about things he heard or saw on Fox News.  It was a good day to avoid his 2nd Amendment/NRA bias.
          The House has recessed and is now spending lobbyist dollars on trips and travel that they can’t afford on their actual salaries.  They won’t work anymore until sometime in January.  The Teavangelists will continue behaving like they have been, unattached to reality.  The chronic unemployed need to camp out in Congressional offices and remind the Congress that they were elected, not sanctified. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 December 2013 Drone wars under way

Cassi Creek:  The drone wars have already begun.  They hinge around the ability to collect information from protected spaces by deploying highly capable unmanned aircraft able to mine information by means of multiple sensor platforms.    The U.S. has been in the lead developing these platforms but the technology that enables stealthy flight  is not a secret.  Once anyone builds a stealth platform, the physics have been broadcast to any military or civilian agency that is willing to invest the time and money. 
          These spy platforms are not truly drones.  They are capable of automated linger and look patterns, programmed penetration flights, and human directed and controlled hands-on missions.  The term drone initially referred to an aircraft used for target purposes by manned aircraft. 
          The expense of these programs must be weighed against the cost in lives and hardware that would result if we flew these missions using humans in the cockpit.  The hardware is horribly expensive.  Pilots and aircrew are even more expensive and take longer to replace.  The nature of the control programs that are being used by trained pilots to fly UAVs remotely is approaching the point where UAV controllers may not need to be trained pilots. 
          The current state of technology allows middle-school kids to build or buy small remote-controlled aircraft.  They have limited lift capacity, limited loiter time, limited range, but can easily be equipped with cameras and transmitters.  The potential for neighborhood espionage now must be considered as well as the ongoing data mining taking place by NSA and other agencies targeting Americans and other nationalities.  The potential court cases stemming from shooting down the kid next door’s  camera-laden drone are going to be fascinating as we throw away more and more of our privacy.

U.S. seeks spy edge with stealth drone
CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
It looks like a bat, sweeping, turning. But it’s actually the new super-secret Air Force stealth drone.
CNN has learned this unmanned spy plane is designed to fly for up to 24 hours behind enemy lines in countries like North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

11 December 2013 Strange light in the sky

Cassi Creek:  Clearing skies last night dropped the bottom out of the thermometer.  Woke up to 20 °F temp that  has now rebounded to 34°F.  Made the hike with Mike this morning. Dropped about 5 minutes off the regular time for the round trip.  It was cold, sun not yet topping the eastern valley wall.  Neither of us had much to say this morning.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10 December 2013 still more cold rain and snow

Cassi Creek:  The rain and mist continue.  The creek is high and loud but not muddy.  That is something to be happy about.  Just now, 1045, large flakes of snow are falling along with the rain.  The NWS was correct in their hazardous weather statement. 
          I’m hoping for a dry period when I can check the lamps in the well filter shack.  I also need a two-three degree temperature drop to activate the thermostatic switch that controls them.
          Normally I don’t worry about it being overcast but the long duration of this series of fronts in combination with the weather related pain that they have caused, are becoming annoying.  I take my pain meds, and try to time tasks and activities to apparent peak levels of the various meds.  For instance, I want to minimize the effects of my tremor when I am cooking or prepping for meals.  I need to be certain of every knife stroke and every pan movement.  I work more slowly now than I have been accustomed to working.  Better to be an intact home cook than to be missing bits and pieces because I was trying to work with my former speed.  I’ve been lucky over the years and all my digits are intact.
          Intact, however, does not include prior grip strength and dexterity.  Those were measured during the neuro-psych exam and reported as decreased.  That is hardly surprising, as those parameters have been markedly decreased since 1998.  At least, I’m consistent.
          It is easy to watch the creek race by as the knotweed in the pit is mostly broken down for the season.  It is amazing how much water flows by us and at what velocity.  The noise of passage is loud enough that even I can hear it rush by and move the larger rocks along the creek bed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

9 December 2013 Algae Algae oxenfree

Cassi Creek:  The deck and steps have taken on a decidedly green layer of color and slickness that require care when walking on them.  The Pathfinder and Tucson have been de-algaenated but will soon be showing a green rebound.  The riding mower and log splitter exhibit the same decoration.
          I’ve never seen this level of airborne algae infestation anywhere but here and in rain forest.  It has been raining rather steadily since Friday.  The creek is high, fast, and becoming higher and faster.  The entrainment of rain along the front hammering the eastern U.S. promises more rain before a possible change to snow on Tuesday or Wednesday. 
          When the rain cells slack off mist and fog remain.  Given the forecast temperature drop, There is not too much risk of freezing rain or ice tonight . 
          We’ll light the wood stove tonight to drive out some of the damp feel that has invaded the house.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

8 December 2013 Tiny bubbles

Cassi Creek:  We are fortunately and well positioned beneath the southern edge of the winter storm system that left Texas for the Mid-Atlantic and North East.
          Expanding the radar image shows us to be much too close to the bands of freezing precipitation that are likely to cause heavy ice damage.
          I don’t pretend to understand the fluid mechanics that drive our oceans and our atmosphere.  I can take small bites of it from time to time and seemingly fit them into the various maps and projections. 
          In today’s small bit of probably misinformation, it seems that the various high and low pressure centers of rotation and frontal formations are sort of like bubbles that migrate along the jet streams, spinning off smaller bubbles that directly affect localities.  Some bubbles bring good, some bad weather. 
          There is no correlation between fluid mechanics and Don Ho’s song

Saturday, December 7, 2013

7 December 2013 Counting down the numbers.

Cassi Creek:  The Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association disbanded at the end of 2011.  The members were becoming unable to travel to Pearl Harbor for the annual commemoration.  While I was unable to find exact and accurate numbers, the estimated number of survivors is about 3000. 
          Given the rate at which WWII veterans are dying, I would assume that by 2021 there would be no more Pearl Harbor survivors living. 

          Last year, the local newspaper made no mention of the attack upon Pearl Harbor.  This year, there was a comparison to the WTC/Pentagon attacks of 2001.  As the years roll by, the emphasis provided by, our vantage points adjust how we view our history.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

6 December 2013 Watch this space

 Something may or may not occur in this space.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

5 December 2013 But he has a great personality

Cassi Creek:  I began this journal, blog, or call it what you will in 2009.  At that point in time I was returning to school in order to audit classes.  Among other things that surfaced was the seeming difference in the behavior of students in my undergraduate years compared to today’s undergraduates. 
          We took copious notes during lectures.  Today, the students expect to have power point slide shows prepared for them to view when they aren’t playing online games, or  engaged in some other on-line activity.  We were adept at the use of a card catalog for research purposes.  Today, search engines replace those long silent drawers of cards. 
          We assumed that everything in the textbooks, everything in the lectures, and all lab procedures and results were likely to be on an exam.  Asking” will this be on the exam?” would have been ignored by even the newest TA. 
          To this date, I’ve not missed a day in adding some bit or piece of trivia, opinion, or other useless verbiage to these files.  I do it partly as a means to assess how my response to medication is progressing.  Based on the tremors present today, I’m having sort of a less effective day. 
          The news yesterday was encouraging, there may be less deficit present than I expected to find.  I may be encountering normal aging along with Parkinson’s.  The least encouraging results yesterday put my frontal lobe performance at the overall mean.  Not where I’d choose to be if I had the option, but I don’t, and it could be much worse. 

          As for the personality assessment, I have no idea what that will indicate.  I’m not suicidal, an alcoholic, likely to start physical encounters for thrills.  I seemed to fall outside the target population the survey seemed designed to identify.  I’ll get a copy of all this since my last neuro visit the next time I go to VA.  Until then…

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

4 December 2013 Neither a mad dog nor English

Cassi Creek:  ran a battery of neuro-psychology studies today.  Essentially this will establish the baseline that can be used to determine whether or not I develop dementia and with what rapidity. 
          The entire process was reminiscent of the College Boards we took as kids.  Shape a is most like shape….
The next number in the series is (pattern recognition and spatial relationships.) 
There was a marked decrease in grip an dexterity  - left weaker than right, that has been present since 1998. 
          The evaluators seemed please with the results as they plugged them into the statistical manipulator and compared my results to the subset of the populace who have undergone these batteries at VA. 

          “Keep doing what you’re doing.” 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

3 December 2013  Limited edition
Cassi Creek:  Little going on today.  Unlikely that I will resolve any internationally or nationally significant problems. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

2 December 2013 Gore-Tex morning

Cassi Creek:         The alarm, annoying and inevitable pulled me into sufficient consciousness that I could hear rain.  My immediate response was to slap the snooze button and hope that it would still be raining when the bonus time expired.  It was, but I shoved myself into vertical and staggered into the day.  B
          By the time I headed out for the hike with Mike, there was only slight mist and drizzle.  I was layered up under the new, replacement, shell parka and it kept me dry and warm.  I need to adjust the hood so that it doesn’t fall over my face.  Other than that, I’m happy with it.  I liked the configuration on the old Mt. Guide Parka better – pass through pockets can be quite helpful.  However, that model is long gone, Bean was nice enough to replace it and I can live with this new piece of gear. 
          There is hope and reason to believe that the work needed to get the house into more marketable condition will begin before  long.  Weather has not been conducive to some of the chores.  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 November 2013 Safer in Afghanistan than at Wal-Mart

Cassi Creek: From the safety of our home
Verify the incidents before passing the numbers on.  One of these is a reprint from a 2008 incident. 
          The insanity driving these and other such incidents escapes me.  No sale item is important enough to justify mob behavior.  No store that excites such behavior deserves to be in business.  If a rock band stirred up that number of injuries, or if its fans popped the doors, the cops would quickly marshal and arrests would follow. 
          However, our national value scheme is somewhat skewed.  It is apparently all right to get drunk and behave badly at franchise sports events.  It is also apparently all right to advertise sale items, knowing that the inventory will fall far short of demand. 
          Is it any wonder that Wal-Mart is so widely hated?

Friday, November 29, 2013

29 November 2013 Didn’t get nothing Had to pick up the garbage in the snow

Cassi Creek:  Yesterday didn’t quite go as planned. 
          After prepping the duck and getting the grill ready, I suddenly realized that my wedding ring was missing from my hand.  Instant anxiety! 
          The charcoal was already burning.  The wood stove had been cleaned, all the ashes removed to a galvanized bucket that lives outdoors.  The trash, including all the dinner prep trash and garbage, had been bagged and dragged out to the trash cart. 
          We spent 30 minutes or so looking at possible locations it might have found after dropping from my finger.  I went through all the gloves I had worn to clean the stove, bring in wood, and take out trash, to no avail. 
          The next step was to go through all the garbage in the trash cart.  We donned latex gloves and pulled every trash bag out for dissection and discovery.  No ring appeared, magically or otherwise.  After picking up the garbage in the snow – yes, we really did do that on Thanksgiving – we were at a loss.  I ran the garbage a 3rd time, hoping for some sort of magical outcome but knowing one would not appear. 
          Dinner was served, along with a surprise phone call from my older son, Joshua.  Unable to ignore the missing ring, I went out with a flashlight to attempt finding it by reflection.  Again, nothing.  By this time, I’m thinking metal detector and Gloria is pricing new wedding rings. 
          About 2100 I took Loki outside.  I put on a pair of gloves I’d worn and searched several times yesterday.  I decided I would set the alarm for 0 dark thirty this morning and dump all the garbage and trash onto a tarp in a last desperate attempt to find my ring.  On the way, back inside I felt something hard brush a fingertip I held that position until returning inside, let Loki off lead, and started exploring the seams and folds of my fold-back fingerless mittens, in a finger pocket between two seams was my ring. 
          Turned out to be a great end to the day.  I don’t know if the dump was closed or not.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

28 November 2013 Throw another log into the stove

Cassi Creek:  Temperature fell to 16°F last night.  There was light snow after dark and the deck and steps became icy again despite a dose of de-icer.  This morning I spread more de-icer on the deck, swept the snow off the grill, and am trying to decide whether to smoke the duck outdoors or roast it inside.  I’m making a cranberry-pistachio chutney to accompany a Chinese flavored duck, and Brussels sprouts with chestnuts.  I made a baked pumpkin custard for Gloria, yesterday, for her dessert.  I have a chocolate fudge pie in the freezer. 
          We’re running through a lot of firewood this month. 
Had a long, enjoyable phone call from my older son this evening.
Happy Thanksgiving to all
Chag Sameach


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

27 November 2013 Turkeys are hitting the ground

Cassi Creek Tradtional thanksgiving entertainment in these environs include the movie Alice’s Restaurant and the WKRP “Turkeys Away” segment. 
          Alices’s Restaurant is somewhat faded now that it is two wars later and lacking a national conscription-fed army.  The WKRP segment is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on television.  The segment is based upon at least one and possibly more actual publicity stunts which involved live turkeys and massive amounts of mainstreet damages. 
          You can find this bit at
For added cold war humor, see the tornado episode as well


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

26 November 2013 Early carols not so long ago encounter

          The season of Christmas muzak has descended upon us.  Every public or commercial building we enter greets us with treacle-laden renditions of seasonal songs.  The first day or so, it isn’t too hard to dial them out, letting them get lost in the constant buzzing, whining background that is always there. 
          However, each trip outdoors, be it for groceries or gasoline adds to the cumulative overburden of unwanted sound.  By the 1st of January, It has become sufficiently annoying that I’m looking for speakers to rep from th overhead.  So far, I’ve avoided such action.  That may, however, be due to my short stature than to my observance of any social contract. 

Sometimes, a decent parody will arise and alleviate a bit of the annoyance.  Those of us old enough to recall anything about the Kennedy administration not reserved for the annual November festival of what if and othe mourning, may recall this little gem.  It works best acappella.

12 Days with Khrushchev

On the first day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"Your wife's looking mighty pretty."

On the second day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"You must leave Berlin,
and your wife's looking mighty pretty."

On the third day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"Don't bother Castro,

On the fourth day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"Our power's growing fast,

On the fifth day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"We'll bury you,

On the sixth day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"Stop the U2,

On the seventh day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"We'll beat you to the moon,

On the eighth day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"We'll have Vietnam soon,

On the ninth day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"Isn't Congress sticky,

On the tenth day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"Please call me Nicky,

On the eleventh day we met, Premier Khrushchev said to me,
"How's Mississippi,

On the last day we met, Premier Khrushchev heard from me,
"Listen Mr. Red, we're still ahead,
Stop all your feigning, your power's waning, common Market's
You're losing Nasser, faster and faster, isn't that a gasser,
Don't feed me a con,
Put your shoe back on,
We won't leave Berlin, how's China, meeting will adjourn
Get your hand off Jackie's knee."

Monday, November 25, 2013

25 November 2013 visited by beasts

Cassi Creek  preparing for bad weather. 
          Today’s creature count includes one chipmunk, six squirrels, nine turkeys and one raccoon.  In addition, the monthly bug extermination took place today. 
          I’va a clear shot at the raccoon with either rifle or shotgun.  But there will be no trash pickup until Saturday.  That’s a bit too long to let something ripen in the trash can.  So It requires patience and planning to remove the creature.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

24 November 2013 Take off your old coat

Cassi Creek:  Shortly after we moved to TN, it became apparent that I needed to replace my Gore-Tex shell parka.  I had donated my 16 year old Marmot shell, a first generation product that had begun to leak badly, to one of the charity organizations. 
I found a great shell in the LLBean catalog, I bought the down vest insert for it the first winter we lived here.  I decided to hold on the shell.  By the next winter, I realized I needed the shell as well.  To my surprise, it was no longer listed in the catalog.  I called the company and they found one in the returns warehouse in the guide gold color I wanted.  I paid, it arrived here, and I have worn it through rain, snow, wind, and other foul weather ever since.
          Last Wednesday I noticed that the Gore-tex tapes around the water resistant zippers had begun to delaminate.  Every time I put the shell on, the damage became more apparent. 
          What to do?  I called LLBean and told them my favorite shell was failing in function.  They did what most companies don’t, offered a replacement  They are sending me the current analog to my Mountain Guide Jacket.  The color won’t stand out like the school bus effect Gloria laughs about when I wear my current shell. But the cayenne color should provide a moderate degree of visibility that may make it safer to walk around these roads in rainy, misty, or cold days. 
          The new one has shipped.  When it arrives, I’ll pack up the old one and send it back to LLBean.  They never questioned me about use or misuse, took my work for what I recalled paying for it, and demonstrated why I spend most of my clothing money with them. 
Gore-Tex – laminate (film)  at 6 years.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

23 November 2013 44 and getting colder

Cassi Creek: We’ve had slightly more than an inch of rain in the last 24 hours.  The temperature has fallen from 55 to 44 degrees since midnight.  The forecast calls for lows at about 20.  The continued drizzle and mist gives reason to be concerned about ice build up on trees and lines. 
          There is a wind chill warning in effect for tonight and a prediction for rain Tuesday changing into snow on Wednesday.  Typical Thanksgiving weather forecast.
          Quick trip to Greeneville and back.  The sky has become partially clear and the risk of ice seems to have vanished for tonight.  However, the NWS has this to say about next week
Tonight A 20 percent chance of snow after 1am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 21. North wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 31. North wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Sunday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 18. North wind around 5 mph becoming southeast after midnight.
Monday Partly sunny, with a high near 43. South wind around 5 mph.
Monday Night A chance of rain and snow before 10pm, then a chance of snow and freezing rain between 10pm and 11pm, then a chance of rain or freezing rain after 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Tuesday Freezing rain likely before 10am, then rain likely. Cloudy, with a high near 43. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Tuesday Night Rain. Low around 35. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Wednesday Rain and sleet likely. Cloudy, with a high near 38. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Wednesday Night A chance of snow, freezing rain, and sleet. Partly cloudy, with a low around 17. Blustery. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Thanksgiving Day Sunny, with a high near 38

Good week not to have to travel