Tuesday, April 30, 2013

30 April 2013 The eyes have it.

Cassi Creek:   ophthalmology appointment today.  Intra-ocular pressures are all right.  There is some apparent cellular debris building up on my intra-ocular implants.  The plan is to have the ophthalmic surgeons remove it with a YAG laser.  That will happen sometime after a July consult.  I’m looking forward to the procedure.  There is sufficient deposition that it is affecting distance vision.

Too many people with too much money
A fight at 23,000 feet? Climbers accuse Sherpas of Mount Everest attack
By Manesh Shrestha and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 6:24 AM EDT, Tue April 30, 201

          This is, to me, unthinkable.  On the early successful Himalayan expeditions, Sherpas were valued as guides and climbing partners.  There were some Sherpas who worked on as high altitude porters but they, too, were respected for their knowledge and ability.
          The ascent of Everest was once a highly coordinated almost military in nature, undertaking.  Climbers on the teams were selected by expedition leaders based upon personal knowledge and abilities.  Teamwork was stressed and it was understood that placing one pair of two on the summit was a team mission. 
          Now, the commercial guide services are selling the opportunity to be dragged up the mountain in order to claim a successful climb.  The Sherpa teams are doing the grunt work, forcing the route and stringing rope lines for the tourists to use to pull their selves up the route.  They get the bulk of the danger and none of the glory. 
          It is time to return high altitude mountaineering to its 1950’s-60’s form. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

29 April 2013 No sequester for Congress

Cassi Creek:  I doubt that this little exercise in rewarding their selves for selling out truly surprises anyone of normal intelligence.  That should eliminate those citizens who would have preferred Sarah Palin as POTUS to Barak Obama.  It should also remove those who believe in Leprechauns, Munchkins, and the conspiracy theory which claims that every Jew who worked in the WTC was out sick on 11 September 2001, and that the current iteration of the NRA is truthfully interested in anything beyond ramping up fear in order to sell more guns and ammunition.   (Diagram that, English majors)
          Congress has obviously been swamped with complaints from airline that are unable to schedule, and actually launch, as many flights as when there was a full complement of ATC’s in the towers and regional centers. Not only are the airlines upset, those citizens who must travel as part of their jobs are unable to move about for meetings and other business-related functions are furious at the increase in delays. 
          Congress must have looked at their list of complaints voiced by the lobbyists and other influence peddlers who must now face the same delays as those faced by the common people.  Even more upsetting to Congress must be that they, too, are now subject those same safety requirements which limit their ability to fly and arrive in a timely manner.   Reality bites!
          Congress, of course, is not going to suffer for long if they have the means to remind the voting public who they are and how important they are.  They already have reserved parking slots at Washington National Airport.  I believe they have a separate lounge area to keep them from encounters with average citizens who must now face even more certain delays.  For many members of Congress, some corporate backer is more than happy to send them home and bring them back on a private aircraft.  After all, they are Congress, they are important.
          Congress looked at the displeasure created amongst its financial supporters as well as that it carelessly inflicted upon itself by allowing the sequester to proceed rather than actually performing the job they were elected to perform.  Congress voted to restore funding for ATC’s.  The corporations are now happier.  Congress is now happier.  Having fixed the problem for those who fund their reelection coffers, Congress declared a recess for this week  It was a dirty job, but they were happy to do it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

28 April 2013 Oreo cream sandwich chocolate-covered cream-filled cookie blues

Cassi Creek:  I’ve loved this song since I first heard it over 25 years ago.  I initially thought it was a cover by Dave Van Ronk.  This link leads to a Lonnie Mack performance with Stevie Ray Vaughn sitting in.

          The wind came up yesterday evening.  We clocked nothing higher than 7.5 MPH.  From the sounds filtering from outside, we could estimate the wind to be gusting at 25 MPH.  “The wind in the wires made a tattle noise…”  Loki was uneasy all evening.  At some point between 0200 – 0300, several branches were blown off the nearest tulip Poplar.  No other apparent damage that we can see this morning. 
          The audible clues to wind velocity are all we have to work with after the computer is closed down for the night.  The weather station stores data for the overnight period and feeds it upstream to the computer on power-up.  No data is lost.  The sound of wind spilling over the ridge and down through the Cassi Creek valley is a physical and Psychological force to be reckoned with in the dark confines of the valley.  Taller trees fare worse than shorter ones.  The wind40-50 feet above ground level is much stronger and can vary greatly in velocity.  Strong winds disturb sleep.  Last night was no exception.
Also in today’s listening queue is a track of Janice Joplin joining the Grateful Dead in performing Love Light.  It’s a very rare performance.  Janice and Pig at their best.

          Last night I fixed shrimp and grits for dinner.  Tonight will not be nearly as much of a gourmand meal.  I will thaw some beef short ribs for tomorrow.
          Other retrievals from the past include Dave Van Ronk, Judy Henske, and the Chad Mitchell Trio.  The Folk Revival never ended for Gloria and me. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

27 April 2013 When there was no OSHA

Cassi Creek:  In the early 1970’s I returned to university to study what was then known as “Medical Technology,” later called Clinical Lab Science.  The program required a heavy biological science curriculum like a pre-Med curriculum.  However, it had been captured by the college of education and thus included a minor in education.  There was an absolute disconnect between the allied health students and the Ed school as they insisted we had to take courses that did not mesh well with our core curriculum. 
          I recall being asked to stop a lesson plan presentation, which was to be drawn from our primary concentration.  While all the kids wishing to become teachers had presented lesson plans that dealt with primary or secondary education course, I decided to do a presentation on collecting the necessary samples for a dark-field examination.  For the non-clinical and the younger clinical, that requires scraping syphilitic lesions. 
          Once in the actual clinical rotations we began to amass the minutiae of laboratory studies as performed in the late 1960’s.  We learned to prepare reagents that were not commercially available.  That included biological reagents as well as non-biological.  One of our Pathology Department heads insisted that the reagent for Prothrombin Times be made from cadaver brains.  Microbiological media was cooked in an in-house kitchen rather than bought from media manufacturers. 
          Pipetting was done with glass pipettes and mouth suction.  This included biological materials and all manner of chemicals including acids, bases, and even ether.  Chemistry assays were set up individual tubes along with controls and standards then reagents were pipetted to each tube while watching a stopwatch.  Enzymes were notoriously difficult and as students, we often set them up in duplicate hoping to get a valid result. 
          The chemistry section had a Technicon 6-60 which incorporated a flame photometer.  To comply with fire codes the gas feed line ran from the analyzer across the floor, out a window, and down three floors to a large tank chained to the outer wall of the hospital.  The flame photometer used acetylene and air.  Each morning, the students assigned to that bench were sent down the hall to light the instrument and obtain a stable flame while the actual lab employees waited down the hall, behind fire doors, for the students to report success or for the report of an explosion. 
          In my rotations, there was one other male student.  Both of us were recently returned from VietNam.  For some reason we became the default team to bring up the 6-60 if we were assigned to any of the Chemistry benches.  We once told the lab administration that we wanted flak jackets and steel pots when we had to bring up that instrument. 
          Radioactive tracers were being phased in for the earliest actual thyroid function tests.    Those, too, were handled manually through preparation and analysis.  That also included mouth pipetting. 
          In those days we ate, drank, and smoked in the labs.  Only the presence of highly volatile flammables stopped us from smoking.  Those reagents were often used in volumes sufficient to generate a fuel-air ratio that was ripe for detonation.  That would also have scattered biological materials –often samples for parasitology studies – throughout the lab. 
          We worked bare handed for the most part.  There were no facemasks unless we were working with Tuberculosis,  histoplasma, coccidiodes, or blastomyces.  I did manage to infect myself and possibly the other students in a microbiology class with the 1968-69 strain of influenza.  I was pipetting a suspension of 10 x 106 in saline, by mouth of course, when I sneezed.  Instant infection.  There may have been some protective immunity as a result of having had this same strain in 1969 while in VietNam.  If so, it was minimal. 
          There were no routine tests to identify the viral agent causing hepatitis.  Hep A and B were diagnosed primarily by history and disease course. 
          I survived a 33-year career in clinical laboratories of various size and function without acquiring any systemic pulmonary infection or any form of hepatitis.  I’ve watched the safety practices change for the better as OSHA and other regulatory agencies took notice of clinical labs. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

26 April 2013 Coax the mower

Cassi Creek:  The riding mower and string trimmer are back in service and the blisters incurred while convincing the trimmer that it could return to useful service are essentially healed.  Now it is time to bring the self=propelled Toro back to life.  It serves to cut those parts of the lawn that are too uneven and rock-filled for the riding mower while too large for the string trimmer.
          Today seems to be the chosen day for the Toro.  The forecast is for sunny and 65.  Tomorrow and Sunday promise rain and possible thunderstorms. 
          Today was the approved day.  Everything started up easily today and I managed to get through what I needed to accomplish. 
          Got sad news about an older friend.  Got good news about two friends who are back together. 
          Dylan is playing in Asheville next Tuesday.  Tickets are reasonably priced.  However, I have ophthalmology appointments Tuesday afternoon, which will, no doubt, result in dilation of my eyes.  By the time I would be able to see normally, in order to drive over, the show would already be in progress.  This is one reason I normally want early AM appointments for anything at VA.  The wait and travel times can blow the best parts from a day.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

25 April 2013 Print this!


Troubleshooting network and printer problem.  Film at eleven!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

24 April 2013 I lift my lamp…

“The terrorist next door

By Ruth MarcusPublished: April 23
The bomber went to prom.”
Cassi Creek:  Once upon a time “The New  Colossus” spoke for the millions who left the poverty and residual feudalism of the Balkans and the Caucasus’  Those who were persecuted for their religious faith had no desire to see that practice carried to a new nation.  The fortunate who made the voyage into the 19th and 20th centuries arrived intending to become Americans, not hyphenated-Americans. 
          The ancient genocidal feuds between Christians and Muslims helped fuel the immigration.  It seemed that the hatred was left in the old world nations that have flickered in and out of existence as the borders and the dominant powers shifted.  With the beginning of WWI and the end of WWII came another wave of immigrants who were not as driven by the new opportunity as they were by their displacement after the wars.  They landed here but became hyphenated. 
          The domestic spawned terrorists are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation immigrants.   What brought their parents and grandparents here is missing.  The realization that religion should not generate wars was never hammered into their DNA.  As a result, they are easily radicalized by various forms of media that urge them into religion-driven conflicts.  The U.S, while it protects their rights and freedoms as immigrants and citizens, has become the modern demon that those who sell hatred can point to as the source of all evil. 
          Still, the lamp is still there in New York Harbor.  Emma Lazarus’ words still ring loudly.  The vast majority of those seeking entry believe in the same golden land that lured many of our families.  It’s the renewed growth of religious hatred that has rebounded in today’s world we must avoid.  There is no more justification in Islamic jihad than there was in the “kill a commie for Christ” campaigns of the Cold War.  We’ve allowed the old hatreds a new resurgence.   How effectively we can weed them out will determine the cost in lives.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

23 April 2013 Slow decay

Cassi Creek:  In years past, I played a lot of Gordon Lightfoot music.  He wrote melodic lines that I could approximate for a vocal range similar to mine.  In those days, I had no realization of how my hearing deficit had already damaged my ability to pick up lyrics and melodies in a single hearing. 
          When I stopped playing Lightfoot’s music for that of other singer-songwriters works, I noticed that it was more difficult to add to my catalogue of music.  Twenty years ago, I had to admit I could no longer tune a guitar without an electronic tuner.  After my spinal surgeries, playing guitar became more difficult.  With the apparent onset of Parkinson’s I let pain and difficulty derail playing music again.  Since VA began treating me for Parkinson’s I’ve recovered a bit of ability.  I am recovering a little left hand dexterity and some strength.   I can’t stop the decay but I may be able to delay it a bit longer. 
          I doubt I will bring much, if any, Lightfoot back into my catalogue.  He remains the only major performer I’ve ever walked out on during a performance. Gloria and I were given tickets to see him perform in Sarasota FL.  We were thrilled to be able to attend.  Unfortunately, his first set seemed to be nothing but songs about recovering from alcoholism.  It was like attending a musical AA meeting.  We both recalled him as a tremendous talent but that talent was invisible there and then.   
           Many musicians and singer-songwriters succumb to the worst aspects of touring.  For many who do, they are writing a medical history that is likely to shorten their lives and their abilities to perform.  There are lots of musicians who are caught up in their own pattern of slow decay.  I wish them well.

Monday, April 22, 2013

22 April 2013 Conspiracy theories – one from column A two from column B

Cassi Creek:  With the return of spring, these mountains are greening up.  The Japanese Knot Weed some idiot brought onto our property is growing at a rate that can almost be tracked by minutes.  We’ve chopped, stomped, beaten, burned, and poisoned various areas that are infested with it, all to no avail.  It might succumb to a herd of goats.  But we don’t need goats to tend and to herd.  With the number of dogs running loose at all hours of the day in this valley, we’d wind up patrolling and herding under arms.   Not something to endear us to valley residents and not something to provide a good sleep pattern.
          Also increasing exponentially, conspiracy theories about the Boston Marathon bombing.  I did the morning Hike with Mike this morning.  He believes that the identified bombers are part of a 12 person secret cell that has been in the nation for at least a decade. 
From MSN
Rumor: Boston bombing was 'false flag' government operation
Report claims anonymous source says FBI searching for 'sleeper cell' linked to Tsarnaev brothers.
Consensus opinion labeled missing Brown University student as a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Conservative sites have been abuzz over claims that the Saudi student is to be deported.
          These are only a few of the current crop of insanity accepted as true by people who look as if they are mentally competent and able to discern outright lies from truth.  Reality is becoming more and more what is scripted for television shows and what is intentionally distorted for the backdoor purposes of political and corporate lobbyists.  One might note that while thousands of people accept the rumor that Obama ordered the Newtown murders to assure his re-election, the NRA has done nothing to convince it’s most rabid members that the rumor is frank bullshit.  It does not even point out that Newtown happened in December, after the 2012 presidential election.
          It is only mid-April but these conspiracy theories and rumors are the noxious weeds in the fields of truth, the kudzu poised to choke out reality.  It is becoming more and more apparent that a terrifyingly large segment of our population is now demonstrating its inability to think logically.  These are the target demographic for the GOP and the tea party/evangelicals.  These are the people who prove the old advertisement line, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  Just how much we as a nation are wasting would have been unimaginable only two generations ago. 
          Watching a reality program last night, I saw 9 of 10 participants miss the question, “who said,”Ich bin ein Berliner!”   Missing that would be the equivalent of my failing to know who said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” 
          “Trouble, right here in River City”

Sunday, April 21, 2013

21 April 2013 Dining at The Dining Room

Cassi Creek:  We decided to enjoy dinner out last night.  Since we were scheduled to attend a dance about 2 blocks distant from The Dining Room, we took advantage of the proximity.  The Dining Room has become one of our favorite places to eat.  They serve Cuban cuisine that would be stand out quality in Miami or Tampa. 
          We met some other customers who may drop in at a Contra Dance night.  Another group of diners did wander up to watch the dance. 
          The rest of the evening was in keeping with the early part.  The drive in was easy and there were many blooming redbud and dogwood trees to see along the road.  Spring in this region is a visual treat.  The pollen from all the flora is far less a treat.  More tomorrow

Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 April 2013 Agent Orange Agent White – one of those will work just right

Cassi Creek:  Clear, cool today.  Frost warning for tonight into tomorrow.
Lest we forget or allow others to revise our history

          Looking at the photographs, I am once again reminded of how young men became instantly older in such a short time.  I aged a century overnight at Loc Ninh.  All I lacked was the gray hair.  Today, what hair I retain has caught up with the rest of me. 
          Agent Orange will probably be the primary finality for those who made the round trip. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

19 April 2013 “ Listen my children and you shall hear”

Cassi Creek:  I’ve spent the morning troubleshooting Weather Underground.  It is receiving data uploads from my weather station but refusing to display my Current data.  To add to the frustration, the Wundermap feature shows current feeds and the history for today is updating.  I simply can’t generate current data for the station KTNCHUCK4.  Since that is the designator for my station on Cassi Creek, it puzzles me that another local station KTNCHUCK5  is displaying its current data and filling in for my station. 
          It’s been raining off and on today.  Fortunately, got most of the mowing completed yesterday.  The ribs for last night’s dinner went onto the grill at 1400 and were smoked for 4 hours.  They were excellent, picture perfect, and the dry rub I used contained no sucrose or any other form of sugar. 
          0.75 inches of rain have fallen between 1200 and 1400.  The local squirrels are tormenting Loki by eating from the platform bird feeder.  She wants to chase them.  She has yet to catch one when we decide to let her out to chase them.  If she ever catches one we’ll have to let her have it. 
          The news from Boston is disturbing.  If the bombers were or are naturalized citizens, what reasoning led them to plant the bombs along the marathon route?  Were they radicalized before immigrating?  Did they become radicalized once they were here?  Does this count as domestic or foreign terrorism, or is it both?
Shabbat Shalom

Paul Revere's Ride

  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon, like a prison-bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified 
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street
Wanders and watches with eager ears, 
Till in the silence around him he hears 
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet, 
And the measured tread of the grenadiers 
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the church,
Up the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead, 
In their night-encampment on the hill, 
Wrapped in silence so deep and still 
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread, 
The watchful night-wind, as it went 
Creeping along from tent to tent, 
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!" 
A moment only he feels the spell 
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread 
Of the lonely belfry and the dead; 
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent 
On a shadowy something far away, 
Where the river widens to meet the bay, --
A line of black, that bends and floats 
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride, 
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride, 
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side, 
Now gazed on the landscape far and near, 
Then impetuous stamped the earth, 
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search 
The belfry-tower of the old North Church, 
As it rose above the graves on the hill, 
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height, 
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns, 
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight 
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village-street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, 
And beneath from the pebbles, in passing, a spark 
Struck out by a steed that flies fearless and fleet: 
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light, 
The fate of a nation was riding that night; 
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight, 
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders, that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock, 
And the barking of the farmer's dog, 
And felt the damp of the river-fog,
That rises when the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington. 
He saw the gilded weathercock 
Swim in the moonlight as he passed, 
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare, 
Gaze at him with a spectral glare, 
As if they already stood aghast 
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When be came to the bridge in Concord town. 
He heard the bleating of the flock, 
And the twitter of birds among the trees, 
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British Regulars fired and fled,--
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard-wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,-- 
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

18 April 2013 Androgynous Ammonia

Cassi Creek:  from an on-line friend, Ed Uthman, M.D., the following was in this morning’s news
          “KPRC reporters may have gotten a whiff of the toxic fumes in West. One reports that the chemical plant manufactured "androgynous ammonia." Another said the various injuries "run the gambit..."
          English as a language offers the user an immense capability to communicate accurately with others.  Probably no other modern language has such a large pool of words to make use of. 
          Sadly, the misuse of language is rampant in today’s United States.  A nation that offers free public education is producing, and graduating, students who are barely literate in their primary language.  A brief period spent reading a newspaper or watching television news will provide many misused words and misunderstood concepts. 
          Given the misused words above, One might postulate the existence of a galaxy known as Androgyna.  All of its stars would evince a great similarity, with any humanoid residents appearing rather like Tim Curry’s Dr. Frankenfurter.  If any canines kept them company, they would most certainly be gamuts. 
          Which brings us to the great damage that is done by the “Common Spell Checker.”  This feature is found in all modern offices, most schools – especially of journalism, most newspapers and newsrooms, and even in urban and rural homes, It is most commonly overlooked in homes and most commonly misapplied in news media offices and studios. 
          After tossing off this brief trireme I ran my own copy of “spell check” 
If my soul purpose was to point out that English is being badly abused by much of the popular, it is easy enough dun.
All the errors are spelled correctly and were not flagged as errors by Microsoft Word.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

17 April 2013 Let the rest of the world go by

Cassi Creek:  Once upon a time, we had the luxury of being separated from most of the world by the oceans that defined our continental land mass.  We were relatively able to maintain political neutrality when other nations decided that the failure of diplomacy left war the only option.
          Along with the steam-powered, coal-fired engines that drove our railroad trains, we developed steam-powered ships that could cross the oceans more rapidly than ever before.  With the introduction of trans-oceanic telegraphy, telephony, and radio; our secure and might Fortress America began to develop chinks in our protective walls. 
          By the onset of WWI, the industrialization of warfare was carving out larger chunks of protectionism.  The brutality of un-restrained submarine warfare made Germany an international villain.  We gave up our neutrality to join the effort to defeat Germany. 
          Industrialization continued to provide ever-quicker communications with people on other continents.  The horror of Germany’s submarine warfare in the WWI Atlantic was replaced by the unimaginable, genocidal sub-war waged in all of Europe to some degree and in Germany and Eastern Europe as national and cultural policy.  We lost more of our isolation in winning WWII.  We’d have lost more if we had lost the war.  IN our Pacific war against Japan, we turned to the same unrestricted submarine warare than we had so strongly condemned when practiced by Germany less than 20 years earlier.
          Even during the Cold War with the USSR, we retained some residual ability to hide behind distances. 
          In 1993, the initial WTC bombing was the two-minute notice.  War had arrived on America’s shores but we largely ignored the fact.  2001 backed us into a corner and slapped us into minimal awareness.  We could no longer deny that foreign powers were waging war upon us.  Nor could we deny the existence of domestic enemies who are as equally willing to kill Americans as any Jihadist. 
          Today we are faced with the same future already expected in other nations.  The cultural, social, and religious wars that have cost so many lives in other nations have surfaced in the U.S.  Boston is yet another notice that we can no longer use distance as a protective shield.  It is a difficult lesson to learn and as a nation, we have yet to understand all that it is teaching us.  

"We'll build a sweet little nest, somewhere in the west, and let the rest of the world go by"

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

16 April 2013 we can run but we can’t hide

Cassi Creek:  We are safely distant from the horror that rocked Boston yesterday, or so we believe.  Our locale is unlikely to become a target for international terrorism.  That is something to be grateful for.  If this area sustained mass casualties such as happened yesterday in Boston, every emergency room between Bristol and Memphis would be overwhelmed. 
          While there are few places large enough in TN oattract foreign terrorism, there are few places small enough to be without some hate group or another.  Some locales have multiple groups.
 http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map#s=TN   TN has anti-Islam groups, white separatists, black separatists klans, neo-Nazis, anti-immigrants, and Chrstian Identity groups.  Those are the top of the compost pile.  We also have any variety of political reactionary you can name. 
          While we are not the most heavily infected with the seeds that spawn domestic terrorism, we are not without risk.  The easily availability of firearms makes some sort of ambush or assault more likely than it should be.  The local population’s predliction toward listning primarily to Fox News as a source of pseudo news. Is likely to suggest local targets. 
          My first thought yesterday was to blame domestic or foreign-borne young immigrants to be the Boston murderers.  Today, no group has claimed the credit for Jihad; no military unit has firmed up a link to Africa, the Arabiann peninsula, or any other Islamic source.  The Obama admin has maintained a careful reistance to labeling the event as “terrorism” and linking it to Benghazi.  That’s OK, my walking partner Mike has already inked the newer update to another go-round  by the teavangelists to bring the Ben Ghazi event back to life.  That’s a good indication of what they really want, any excuse to damage the Obama Presidency.    When those GOP bastards can resurrect the four who died three, they may have the proper platform to use.  Until then, let them shut up and at least pretend that they care about anything beyond enriching the already super rich and keeping their seats in Congress

Monday, April 15, 2013

15 April 2013 No easy answers

Justin Bieber on Anne Frank: It is even worse than you think
Posted by Alexandra Petri on April 15, 2013 at 7:48 am
“Mary McGrory once said that “to be a celebrity in America is to be forgiven everything.”

Justin Bieber treated Anne Frank like a kid. Where’s the harm in that?

One newspaper, two columns, two hundred answers, maybe more. 
I find the comment by Beiber tasteless, repugnant, and suggesting that the pop culture performer knows little of history and has no probability of becoming better informed. 
          Alexandra Petrie wrote what I might have written if I knew more about Beiber.  I don’t, know more about him; have never listened to more than a few seconds of what he presents to the mob of PR pumped pre-teens.  I am not at all likely to expand either knowledge or appreciation of him, or any other performer of a similar nature.  I appreciate musical talent.  I have no use for musical hype. 
          Richard Cohen voices a different view.  He may well be correct in believing that Anne Frank was, like many young teenaged girls, then and now, attracted to popular culture performers, actors, etc.  However, growing up in Nazi-occupied Europe as a Jew, being captured and shipped to a death camp would tend to lessen the energy and interest in shallow entertainers so that such energy and interest could be focused upon daily survival.  I think Cohen is in error. 
          It’s academic.  We don’t have to afford pop culture performers any credence about anything that doesn’t involve their own egocentric existence.  In most instances, they make that both easy and the correct behavior toward them.  Petri’s closing remarks about Beiber seem to be appropriate.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

14 April 2013 Eiger Eiger burning bright

eiger at sunset
“The Eiger is a 3,970 metres (13,020 ft) mountain in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. It is the easternmost peak of a ridge crest that extends across the Mönch to the Jungfrau at 4,158 m. The northern side of the mountain rises about 3,000 m (9,800 ft) above Grindelwald and other inhabited valleys of the Bernese Oberland, and the southern side faces the deeply glaciated region of the Jungfrau-Aletsch, covered by some of the largest glaciers in the Alps.
The first ascent of the Eiger was made by Swiss guides Christian Almer and Peter Bohren and Irishman Charles Barrington, who climbed the west flank on August 11, 1858. The north face, 1,800 m (5,900 ft) (German: Nordwand, "north wall"), was first climbed in 1938 by an Austrian-German expedition and is one of the six great north faces of the Alps

Cassi Creek:    The Eiger north face was at one time considered the most difficult climbing problem in Europe.  It has racked up a long list of climbers who felt that they could conquer the mountain, but who failed the test and paid for their miscalculation with their lives. . “Since 1935, at least sixty-four climbers have died attempting the north face, earning it the German nickname Mordwand, literally "murder(ous) wall" - a pun on its correct title of Nordwand (North Wall.
            Today, CBS’s “The Amazing Race” is going to put its contestants onto the Eiger Nordwand  While the equipment used to protect climbers today  is a quantum level above that of the 30’s or even the 60’s, the absolute difficulty of the various  Eiger routes has not decreased.  The Eiger is not a playground or test of courage for non-experienced or poorly experienced amateur climbers.    I’m rather horrified that CBS would put amateurs onto the Eiger North Wall.  There must have been some incredibly thick waivers signed for this season.
Below:  Eiger Nordwand

Saturday, April 13, 2013

13 April 2013 Dear Mr. Fantasy

Mr. President.  You have been trying to convince the GOP and its base that you are a capable and competent POTUS since your first election to in 2008.  Surely, you must recognize their plan to negate everything you propose and to attempt to repeal everything you manage to bring into being. 
          The GOP and its base will never accept you, will never work with you, and will never consider you a legitimate President.  Stop trying to placate them!
Stop trying to compromise with them!  Every time you attempt a compromise you wind up giving away more of the policies and practices that were the reason for your election and re-election.
          Social Security and Medicare are not things to bargain against the GOP’s intransigence.  Not only have you lost at every attempt, we citizens who have paid insurance premiums and who continue to pay premiums are losing.  Both these social safety nets are critical to the well-being of our senior citizens.   We can’t afford for you to bargain them away.  Enough is enough.  You were elected as a Democrat.  Behave like one.  Stop giving away our future to the ultra-rich and the corporations that own the GOP. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

12 April 2013 More than a touch of gray

Cassi Creek:  Another trip into Mountain Home this morning.  I need some medication changes and my primary care physician had an opening this morning. 
          Left home in rain and mist that was supposed to have cleared the area.   It rained on the entire route in and was still raining when I left Johnson City at 1200.  The first glimpse of sunlight appeared about 1315. 
          I also completed advance directives for the VA files.  We’ve already done this together.  Since I have shifted all my medical care to VA, it is wise to have a copy on file with them.  It takes only minutes to execute the document.  Having it on file can prevent all manner of end of life problems. 
          Current music playing in the house is a rare, very rare duet by Janice Joplin and Pig Pen of the Grateful Dead recorded 16 July 1970.  The rest of the Grateful Dead provide instrumental support to what may have well been one of the more licentious bits of music ever recorded.  You can find it at
Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

11 April 2013 Standing on the moon I see the battles rage below

Cassi Creek:  There is no proof that Iran and North Korea ate working in tandem to divert the attention of regulatory agencies and other nations from the two contentious nations. 
          There is also no proof that they are not working in tandem.  It would be to their respective advantages if one of the two behaves in a belligerent manner while the other quietly attempts to manufacture and test delivery platforms, guidance packages, and nuclear warheads.  North Korea’s nuclear program has produced and tested warheads with some success.  While they accomplished that, Iran was saber rattling in the Persian Gulf and making another round of threats against Israel and the U.S, U.S. military attention was drawn toward defending Navy ships and personnel from what were essentially practice runs to attack Nave ships with small craft swarm techniques, and from closing the sea-lanes through the Persian Gulf. 
          Now Iran must be at some crucial point in the development of the nuclear bomb they deny pursuing.  So it could well be that the PDRK is threatening to launch missiles so that attention is diverted from Iran to the PDRK. 
          It might be that there is more conspiracy and collusion than I have suggested.  Iran has a theater range launch vehicle and most likely the connective bus to mate a warhead and missile.  The PDRK warheads are believed to be too large to fit their current launch vehicles.  I can believe that these two nations are sharing information and perhaps even hardware in an effort to allow them both to become Nuclear-armed nations despite the non-proliferation efforts of numerous agencies, organizations, and nations. 
          This is, of course, all conjecture, surmise, supposition, and most likely entirely invalid.  As Toles points out so well in today’s cartoon, it may have some validity.  Either way, it is my concern that such interaction is taking place.  Others may find this evidence that I am somehow delusional.  The internet is a huge construct.  You are free to form your own opinion and dance to your own delusions. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

10 April 2013 the melody and lyrics linger

Cassi Creek:  My next colonoscopy is scheduled for the end of December.  Yesterday the paperwork for the procedure arrived in the mail.  Today’s delivery brought the preparatory medicine.  I have to find some place to store two gallon jugs where they will not be damaged or forgotten. 
          The prep regimen at VA has changed markedly since my last procedure.  What was a single prep day, as recently as last spring, is now a 2.5-day regimen.  The final dose is to be ingested at 0200 before driving in for an 0700 appointment.  This could be a very interesting trip.  While the procedure does not worry me, the prolonged prep does.  More on this later.
          Pulled a burn permit this morning and plan on spending the afternoon tending the burn pile. 
          The riding mower started up with no hesitation this morning.  That pleases me.  The string trimmer and push mower are next on the maintenance schedule, followed by the generator.  If everything works, I’ll be very pleased.
          Spent some time yesterday on Pandora.com listening to folk singers from the late 50’s and 60’s.  I recall so many of the musicians and their groups.  Those days before music came to be delivered via ear buds or headphones that isolate the listener from most interactions with the rest of the locale, are long ago memories.  Part of yesterday’s listening was to remind me of songs I used to play and to encourage me to keep trying to find some more dexterity and muscle memory for my guitar’s fret board.  It may be that I put new strings on the old classical guitar that I bought while still in high school.  It was used when I bought it at Shaw’s Music.  Either it will have a well-seasoned sound or it will crack and crumble under the pull of the strings. 
          I once had a repertoire, or at least, a passing acquaintance with about 400 songs.  I imagine that many of those may be retrievable with the right encouragement.  We will see.  Currently 15-20 minutes at a time is about all I can mange before my left shoulder and arm give out.  My right hand is slowly recalling some old skills. Very frustrating when I recall how effortless it seemed before 2003.  Still, I’ve left the guitar cased and crying for attention for long periods and managed to bring the skills back.  Perhaps I can still repeat that effort.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

9 April 2013 Looks like we’re in for nasty weather

Snow, tornado threat mix in spring weather tango
By Ben Brumfield and Jim Kavanagh, CNN
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Tue April 9, 2013

CNN) -- Denver schoolkids got rare spring treat Tuesday -- a snow day. But for millions of others across the country, the weather may not be so delicious.
A storm brought biting cold, high winds and the possibility of several inches of snow to parts of Colorado, forcing the cancellation of about 465 flights at Denver's airport. While the Southeast and parts of the Northeast basked in sunny warmth, residents of the Central Plains braced for the possibility of severe storms, including tornadoes.
Central Oklahoma and parts of north central Texas were under moderate threat of severe thunderstorms, including the possibility of tornadoes, through Tuesday night.
About 2.6 million people live in the path of those storms, which includes Oklahoma City and Tulsa in Oklahoma and Wichita Falls in Texas, CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said.os: Weather

As weird as it might seem, its par for the course in spring, Jones said.
"Blinding snow and 40 degrees below average does not sound like spring in Denver. On the flip side, the 20 degrees above average forecast for New York City feels more like early summer," he said. "But the unexpected is what we expect in spring."
The snowstorm followed a bizarre weather day Monday in which emergency workers northeast of Denver responded to a wildfire, a possible tornado and a blizzard warning -- all within a 50-mile radius.”

Cassi Creek:  This morning there is a 60 °F temperature differential across the cold front moving out of the Rockies.  That degree of variation will predispose to blizzard conditions behind the front and thunderstorms with a marked potential for tornadic activity before the front. 
          The severe storms forecast center has plotted out the areas that are at risk for severe storms today, tomorrow, and Thursday.  We are at the forward edge of the potential severe storms as forecast for Thursday. 
          Obviously, we are concerned about the risk.  We recall the storms of April 2011 all too well.  Given the prevailing weather patterns our greatest risk may well occur after dark.  That increases the anxiety all the more.
          I think I can put the snow shovel away for the season.  It’s time to get the string trimmer out and to bring the mowers up and online.   I can hardly contain my excitement.

Monday, April 8, 2013

8 April 2013 “Shotguns full of silver, bullets made of glass”

“String barbed wire at your feet and do not let you pass!”

Cassi Creek:  The joys of rural life continue.  The pollen count and other spring allergens are challenging my immune system, and my ability to metabolize diphenhydramine HCL. 
          We appear to have been graced with a large, perhaps gestating raccoon.  It has decided that Gloria’s bird feeders are its favorite source of easy food.  Now that the humming bird feeders are going up, Gloria is less interested in having raccoons around.  I chased it twice yesterday evening.   I suspect it will be back today.  It looks as if it is time to bring the trap out again.  That creates a problem too, as it is illegal to relocate them after they are trapped. 
          The well continues to be cloudy and muddy.  We follow the procedures we were told would clear it.  This morning it was almost clear.  This afternoon it is turbid and muddy again.  We have a call in to the well folks.  There was a pressure loss that does not make us at all comfortable. 
          The Pathfinder threw another “service engine” warning Saturday evening.  I recall that about two weeks after  we replaced an O2 sensor two years ago, a warning appeared that was a non-reproducible catalytic converter alert.  I was hoping that this was a repeat situation.   Fortunately, it was.  No immediate need for repairs and no additional expense beyond gasoline today.  
          We will see what the rest of the day brings.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

7April 2013 There's a metal flag beside me

Cassi Creek:  ""There's a metal flag beside me some one planted long ago; "Old Glory standing stiffly, crimson, white, and indigo, indigo."
In my youth, the Cold War between the U. S. and the USSR spun 0ff a sub-conflict.  In the pursuit of ever more powerful and more accurate rocketry, the contest began to focus on which of the two world powers could place a man on the moon and bring him back alive.
The USSR logged points for launching the first satellite, for the first man to orbit the planet, the first woman in space, and the first photos of the dark side of the moon. 
The U.S. began playing catch-up with the Soviets, betting on our captured Nazi rocket engineers against those captured by the Soviets.  There was tremendous interest in the space program that became even more intense after John F; Kennedy declared a national goal to be attained within ten years. 
Some of our German engineers became widely known.  They frequently appeared on Walt Disney’s television program to pump up interest.  They always displayed animations of a three-stage heavy lift rocket and a wheel-shaped space station. 
Those of us who are old enough recall the dismal series of rocket failures that took place before television cameras.  Unlike the Soviets our failures were, for the most part. Public.  All three major branches of our armed forces were trying to beat both the Soviets and each other into space.  Only after the Army launched Explorer did the consolidation of effort into NASA take place. 
            We made it to the moon in 1969.  The landing was timed so that it achieved the maximum news coverage.  We followed up with one aborted moon shot and four others, which went mostly as planned.   We haven’t been back since the Apollo program indeed.  The original metal flag still stands where it was planted. 
“A lovely view of heaven but I’d rather be with you”

Saturday, April 6, 2013

6 April 2013 Zero Elevation Load grape

Gettysburg forever

“…Obviously I’m working on a story, and here’s what I need to know: Why do battlefields have the power to entrance us? So maybe not everyone has that feeling. Maybe it’s just the buffs who stand there in a trance. I’ve often been struck by the way a Civil War battlefield is the very opposite of the Civil War itself. They’re so serene. They’re orderly. There are informational signs everywhere. I would not be surprised to learn that Gettysburg is a giant no-smoking zone (will check). But for those of us who have read a lot about these battles — and who know about the Peach Orchard, and Little Round Top, and Culp’s Hill, and so on — there’s something powerful about seeing the actual place, and just standing there. You think: This was the place. These were the rocks. This was the view. And all the smoke and dust and fire and blood and gore, you impose that yourself. Because it really happened. And ultimately it was really tragic.”
Cassi Creek:  Battlefields are haunting and haunted places. 
          The majority of visitors to historical battlefields in this period have never been involved in armed combat.  They may come alone, in small groups, or on tour busses, with guides who try to condense what should take days to experience into minutes. 
          The battlefield “buffs” tend to know the history before they arrive at a particular site.  They can generally match the current topography to the old maps.  They know where the various formations mustered and which paths they took when marched off into the active battle...
          There are facts and factors that tend to be universal within particular wars.  The hardware and the disposition of troops define the period of history.  As the tools become more deadly, the casualties become more numerous. 
          Artillery has been around since gunpowder became available.  Crew-served weapons, cannon, culverin, etc, require attention to detail.  Every preparatory step must be followed exactly to ensure the shot goes down range and that no spark remains in the gun to ignite the next powder charge prematurely.   Guns that have been fired repeatedly may become hot enough to cook off a round left in the barrel too long.  Artillery and infantry tactics from the earliest battles up to the American Civil War were fought in much the same manner.  Massed troops from one army were marched or driven into the opposing army’s lines.  Eventually one force defeated the other.  Individual weapons were edged, pointed, and brutal in nature and function.  The weapons  changed over the years allowing greater distances between the two forces at first contact.  However, then and now, technology and hardware do not capture and hold ground.  In the vast majority of battles, it has come down to infantry assaulting fixed positions. 
          Gettysburg is a prime example of the end of Napoleonic wars and the beginning of modern, mechanized wars.  Thousands of men contested for high ground in the face of withering rifle and artillery fire.  In many instances, the combat deteriorated to hand-to-hand, fighting with bayonets, using rifles as clubs when lacking time to reload.
          I am one of the people who stand and stares at battlefields.  I saw the cannon emplacements at Cemetery Ridge, at the Round Tops, It was impossible not to see the opposing infantry trying to assault uphill while the cannon above them blew the world apart around them.  It was impossible not to hear the order to crank the cannon down to zero elevation and to load with grape and canister rounds.  It was impossible to ignore the smells and sounds that are endemic to any battlefield.  It was impossible to avoid the continual cold shivers running down my spine or to ignore the dim ghostly images that were there to be seen and heard at Gettysburg and at every other battlefield I’ve walked. 
          The tools of war continue to change as technology evolves and expands.  The ghosts left behind by those tools never change in nature, only in number.