Friday, February 28, 2014

28 February 2014 GOP loves veterans

Cassi Creek: 
…”Democrats pointed to statements from several major veterans groups and AIPAC, the influential pro-Israel lobbying group, urging Republicans not to push for a vote on Iran on this bill.
The $21 billion bill, which was written primarily by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who chairs the veterans committee, would improve veterans’ access to health care services, and expand educational and job training programs for vets. It also aims to reduce the giant claims backlog the Department of Veterans Affairs currently faces.
Sanders argued that “we still have a very long way to go” to meet the needs of older veterans as well as the thousands of service members recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. “
“Please do not inject extraneous issues in here for totally political reasons. I think that’s unfair to American’s veterans,” Sanders said during a floor speech this week. “Let’s not kill this bill because of the same ol’, same ol’ partisan issues that we face.”
Republicans cited several concerns with the bill, including its funding - money originally intended for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also complained the bill would open the VA’s health services to any veteran regardless of whether their disability was service related or if they had private insurance to cover it”…
Members of Congress with military service: “At the beginning of the 113th Congress, there were 108 Members (20% of the total membership) who had served or were serving in the military, 10 fewer than at the beginning of the 112th Congress (118 Members) and 12 fewer than in the 111th Congress (120 members). According to lists compiled by CQ Roll Call, the House currently has 88 veterans (including 2 female Members, as well as 2 Delegates); the Senate has 18.
These Members served in World War II,30 the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, as well as during times of peace. Many have served in the Reserves and the National Guard. Eight House Members and one Senator are still serving in the Reserves, and six House Members are still serving in the National Guard. Both of the female veterans are combat veterans. The number of veterans in the 113th Congress reflects the trend of steady decline in recent decades in the number of Members who have served in the military. For example, 64% of the members of the 97th Congress (1981-1982) were veterans; and in the 92nd Congress (1971-1972), 73% of the Members were veterans.
For summary information on the demographics of Members in selected past Congresses, including age trends, occupation backgrounds, military veteran status, and educational attainment, please see CRS Report R42365, Representatives and Senators: Trends in Member Characteristics
Since 1945, coordinated by R. Eric Petersen.

I sent the following message to our GOP legislators this morning.  I may get a short note back from Phil Roe.  I will get only form letters back from our two Senators who never wore the uniform.
“ I regard the failure to pass this bill as a direct display of how little concern for veterans and active duty troops actually exists in the ranks of the U,S. Senate.  The GOP is quite willing to deploy troops into ill-advised and even fraudulent wars, paying trillions of dollars to wage these wars.  The GOP members of the Senate are willing to spend billions on weapons systems and for private contractors, but are almost entirely opposed to providing any care for the veterans of the wars they fund and otherwise support.  The amount of money spent paying off Iraqi and Afghani politicians, alone, would make a major difference for our veterans.  So would the money paid to Halliburton, Blackwater, and other private contractors. 

Neither Senator from Tennessee has served in the armed forces, much as is true for most states.  I will vote against any national or state candidate for office who does not support increased benefits and services for veterans. “

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

26 February 2014 To be continued

Cassi Creek:  Dental visits today for cleaning.  In the process, one filling somehow dislocated and another expected to flee its mooring.  Scheduled replacements.  Yippee!
          Excellent lunch out at Ming’s Asian Cuisine.  Groceries rounded up and back to base by 1530. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

25 February 2014 mutterings

Cassi Creek:  The day comes with the prediction of yet more snow.  The  wood stove has been consuming wood, converting it into ashes, since 1800 yesterday.  I’ve kept it going at a low level but it has just been fed and encouraged to burn more aggressively and efficiently. 
          Tonight, we venture back beneath the polar air mass that’s plunging south.  The temps have been tolerable for the last week.  That changes tonight.

Monday, February 24, 2014

24 February 2014 Promise them a homeland, don’t let them enlist

Cassi Creek:  The Great War is still unfinished.
 In November 1915, The Jewish Chronicle reported examples of recruiting officers saying, “Lord Kitchener does not want any more Jews in the Army.”  Before the end of the Great War, the Balfour Declaration promised those unwanted Jews a homeland in what became the Palestinian Mandate. 
            Unfortunately, someone else promised the same real estate to the Arabs who were caught in the demolition of the Ottoman Empire.  Thus, the twice promised land, and the political and religious struggles still taking place in the Middle East today. 
            Cohen’s article provides familial and personal viewpoints.  The rampant anti-Semitism of Europe also remains unresolved.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

22 February 2014 loaded, of course

Cassi Creek:
          It should come as no surprise that Putin and underlings chose to add a police force of Cossacks to the “ring of steel” thrown around Sochi. 
          Putin is a linear descendant of the older rulers of Russia, tsarist or bolsheviki.  The way to the hearts and minds of Russians has always centered on a tribal or political force willing to cut their way to the heart of what troubles their masters.  A cavalry charge against un-armed civilians, massed small arms and artillery directed into un-armed civilians, and the random pogrom to satisfy both political and religious masters. 
          Sochi finds the Cossacks displaying their legendary brutality by physically assaulting women members of a punk-rock band that has the temerity to offend Putin. 

          Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Texas governor candidate brings Scum-rocker Ted Nugent onto the campaign stage to stir up hatred against a woman who has the balls to run against him.  When Nugent spews hatred, misogyny, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, and any other vileness he can mouth, he is quickly disavowed by most of the reactionary rightwing of the Texas GOP.  Of course they knew he was loaded, They just never realized how far out of social and cultural normalcy and reality he is.  Now there is a major effort to get him out of the state of Texas and out of the public’s eye before he says something even crazier. 

Last call for Lancasters – a great deal of technical and organizational information about the Lancaster bombers flown by the RCAF in WWII.  This will certainly be boring and of little interest to most people.  However, it’s the sort of historical information I find fascinating.

Friday, February 21, 2014

21 February 2014 storm cells that pass in the night

Cassi Creek: 
          The cold front that slashed across the central U.S. yesterday threw a large squall line out ahead as if deploying skirmishers in a massive battle.
          There were several tornado warnings that caught my attention.  Throughout the day, various forecasts and updates were issued, all predicting that we would meet and greet violent weather in the late night/early morning hours.  Where we live, that’s like flying blind.  The valley walls deflect thunder and some winds until that particular cell drops into our laps.  Then we hope for a benign outcome.
          The predicted arrival time at our location was 0200. 
          We prepared for the winds as much as possible, did a little bit of security/gathering, and dropped off to sleep at about 0100. 
          The weather radio squawked at 0310  - severe thunderstorm, not us but close, 0325 – tornado watch #9 expanded to include us, 0355 – Severe thunderstorm , not us, 0415-severe thunderstorm, not us. 
          Prior to and during these alerts, we heard no thunder, saw no lightning, heard no rain.  After the 0415 alert, we heard rain rattling on the metal roof several times but no other disturbance took place. 
          This morning, the temperature has dropped markedly, there is blue sky, and the cold weather is due to return. 

          Somehow, we were not heavily affected by the spring portion of this storm.  That’s good.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

20 February 2014 miserable season

Cassi Creek:  We’ve set a new temp record for high temps on this date.  We’ve logged 74°F.  Last week on this date almost everything was closed down because of 8-10 inches of snow. 
          The frontal map shows a couple of classic winter > spring boundaries that are forecast to initiate squall lines as they move eastward.  The NWS has predicted severe thunderstorms, high line winds, and possible tornadic storms. 
          Our portion of this is slated to arrive after midnight and to last until about 0500.  That should make sleeping more difficult. 
          Winds are clocking about 5-15 mph currently and are predicted to increase to 20-30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. 
          I managed to take down a couple branches that Gloria wanted removed about an hour ago (1400).   The chain saw started right up and ran well.  But my left arm and hand are still reacting to the vibration. 
          The forecast is for cooler weather next week.  I guess the new load of firewood isn’t going to be wasted.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

19 February 2014 Change the season

Cassi Creek:  It doesn’t matter what the calendar says.  It doesn’t matter what the national weather service says.  It doesn’t matter what some rodent in PA says.  Winter is over, Spring is here.
          It arrived this morning with the announcement of a tornado warning at ca. 0600.  We were already having thunderstorms that began sliding through about 0300.  When the weather radio woke me up with a severe thunderstorm warning, I silenced it after hearing the list of counties affected.  Thus, I failed to hear the follow on tornado warning. 
          When I brought up the computers at 0640, there was a small tornado-warning polygon aimed at us.  Fortunately, it was a Doppler detection that produced a definite vortex but no funnel or tornadic damage. 
          The resulting anxiety about time, duration, and location, made short shrift of any further slumber.  Loki was horribly anxious.  She’d been pacing and trying hide beneath the bed since about 0430. 
          So much for worrying about snowfall. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

18 February 2014 Cable makes it all better

Cassi Creek:

As far back as I can recall, the cry for cable television has promised the consumer greater viewing options, better availability, and freedom from commercials. 
          A quick visit to rural America will show availability is limited in many regions of the nation.  The presence of satellite dishes delineates areas that are considered too expensive to reach with the cable networks.  Satellite television is subject to interruptions due to rain, snow, wind, etc.  In our case, the surrounding valley walls are so steep and high that satellite is not a viable option for us. 
          The promised freedom from commercials has never materialized.  I would be willing to bet that the number of commercials/hour of cable television exceeds the number previously found in broadcast television. 
          Viewing options are a joke.  Our monthly bill includes many channels that we do not want and will not watch bundled with one or two channels/bundle that we do watch.  We are routinely billed for athletic games, religious broadcasts, and shopping channels that we do not wish to watch or pay for.  We don’t want the music bundles either.  We’ve expressed our discontent about this larcenous process to many cable providers over the years.  None of them is concerned about our wishes and none of them will make any pretense of changing to a cafeteria selection process. 
          We’re willing to pay for what we watch.  We’re unwilling to pay for things we don’t watch. 
          Now we find com-cast and Time-Warner planning a merger.  They frankly admit that consumer costs for cable, internet, and voip telephony are going to rise.  They won’t admit that the quality of service is most likely going to decrease. 
          I dislike the idea of yet another monopolistic merger by corporate America.  I’m going to contact my Congressman, who will, of course, reply by form letter telling me why he is voting against the concerns of the consumer and for those of the corporations. 
          What it comes down to is this.  Like many other Americans, I hate the cable/internet providers that have become a necessity for much of life in today’s world.  I assume they are going to lie to me.  I assume they will ignore my wishes.  I’m going to do what I can to fight them.  I’m going to begin with an attempt to require them to unbundle all their programming.  I know this is an uphill, most likely futile undertaking.  But I’m tired of being held hostage by cable/isp companies.  Please join in.  If they’re going to merge, the least we can do is jam up their operation so that they have to market to our wants rather than theirs. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

16 February 2014 Snow melt creek rises

Cassi Creek:  We’re experiencing a bit of warming.  The show cover on the roof is  melting and/or sliding off.  The creek is still well behaved and confined within its banks.  The snow melting at higher altitudes should begin to show up tonight or tomorrow. 

          Beyond that, still need firewood.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

15 February 2014 Original soundtrack by Bosch

Cassi Creek:  The snow forecast to arrive yesterday evening did not arrive until this morning.  So far, a bitter wind has carried about ½ inch of granular snow our way.
          Loki has been particularly vocal today.  She announced that squirrels had occupied the back deck at 0730, even though they were all on the deck rather than the platform feeder.  Her self-defined game seems to have changed.  Whether this will be a permanent change remains to be seen.  Dog rules can change abruptly. 
          An earthquake of 4.1 magnitude occurred near Edgefield S.C. about 2230 yesterday.  For some, the earth really did move last night.  We neither heard nor felt this one.  We did hear an as of yet unexplained noise about 1230 today that could have been a tree falling or a low order detonation of the sort that suggests an organic chemistry reaction has gone violently exothermic. 
          We’re still waiting for firewood delivery.  The heavy snowfall has probably prevented many wood sellers from bringing wood out of their lots. I keep trying to eke out the last wood we brought in. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

14 February 2014 Just in time for the weekend

Cassi Creek:  The sun is actually shining  overhead.  Temperature is 42°F.  The snow is melting although the road is still icy and there has been little traffic other than the mail carrier. 
          Of course, today’s forecast includes a winter storm warning for tonight and tomorrow.  This forecast includes the probability of sleet and perhaps some icing. 
          There were two deer on the south end of the property this morning.  These are the first two we’ve seen on our land. However, Gloria has noticed deer scats last year as autumn ended.  Loki alerted to them when she was peering out the window.  When Gloria took her feeders outside to hang, Loki pushed past us both and headed off into the woods in search of the deer.  Took a while to bring her back.  Between the snow-covered ground and the new animal scent, she felt she should be allowed to wander independently. 
          Rib-eye steaks and roasted asparagus for dinner last night.  Cheesecake for Gloria.  She had a good birthday. 
          Still waiting on the next load of firewood. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

13 February 2014 Snowed in but not under

Cassi Creek:  Snow began falling about 1230 yesterday.  By 0700 today, we had 8 inches of wet, heavy snow.  I scraped and shoveled the decks and stairs about 0800.  Now, at 1211 the total for this storm at our location is 10 inches. 
          Today is Gloria’s birthday.  We have tickets for a local theater production in Jonesborough tonight with dinner reservations preceding.  The morning’s concern had been whether or not to run snow-packed and potentially black ice – covered roads to get to Jonesborough.  The theater provided the answer to that question.  Tonight’s production is cancelled for safety reasons. 
          I have back up comestibles for dinner that should be an adequate substitute for the Cuban meal we had planned. 

          All in all, we have not been subjected to the icing conditions that have been such a problem for other locations this winter.  There’s reason for gratitude.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

12 February 2014 Frost’s view differs

Cassi Creek:  The portion of the major winter storm aimed at us has arrived.  We are seeing snowfall of about 0.5 inches/hour currently. 
          I’m hoping that the load of firewood I ordered yesterday will arrive.  There was no guarantee that it would, only a promise to deliver it as soon as possible.  We’ve used all of the last load except for a small amount cut into workable lengths and brought up under the rear deck overhead.  I have about one night’s worth of wood indoors.  Once we light the stove today, we’ll keep it going as long as possible. 
          The major concern now centers on power continuity.  It’s been several years since the power company contractors have done any maintenance trimming along the road.  There are several large trees that are at risk of falling and taking out power lines. 

          Robert Frost may have enjoyed the vista of snowy woods under a darkening sky.  I don’t find it quite so calming.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

11 February 2014 Rep Roe says cut spending.

Cassi Creek:  In an e-mail broadcast Rep Phil Roe (R) 1st TN wrote
“…Since becoming the majority in 2010, House Republicans have fought tirelessly to rein in wasteful spending, and we’ve been successful, particularly on the discretionary side…”

          Daily Kos Nov 15, 2013 - House Republicans take 47th vote to repeal Obamacare...
          The cost per House of Representatives voting to repeal or not repeal is ca. $1.45 million per vote.  Thus, the GOP, in repeated attempts to overturn a legally enacted law has topped $68 million. 
          Mr./Dr/Rep/Roe, since you supported and took part in the chain of “symbolic votes”, how can you make such a claim? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

10 February 2014 “ The sky is gray and white and cloudy.

Echoes and it swells, from Tolstoy to Tinkerbelle”
Cassi Creek:  Simon and Garfunkel , from a time now distant.  Folk-Rock, as defined and delivered by singers and song writers who had to make the transition from the purity of old timey songs and instrumentation, to the material that would be commercially viable to an audience that expected songs to be 2.5 – 3.0 minutes in length and imminently forgettable.
          “Down from Berkeley to Carmel.
          “ Got some pictures in my pocket and a lot of time to kill.”
Somewhat of an applicable song for the day. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

9 February 2014 Weather or not

Cassi Creek:  Is there weather if no weather station exists to record it?
          The PWS we installed in February 2009 has finally provided evidence that it no longer wishes to collect and transmit external data.  It has exceeded its one year warrantee by a goodly amount of time.  We’ve grown very used to having real time temperatures, winds, and rainfall totals available whenever we wish to see them.  Now, it is as if we have lost a essential data stream.  We really don’t want to purchase another PWS right now.  The best ones are far out of our financial reach while the entry level systems fail on a weekly basis – based upon prior personal experience.  You get what you pay for.

          For follow up on the medical marijuana rally staged yesterday, see below. 
Gloria got more on-air interview time with the local NBC station than anyone else, including the official organizers.  I logged a little bit of face time. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

8 February 2014 Ears are still ringing

Cassi Creek:         We met friends at The Down Home last night to see Sol Driven Train in concert.  The night began with Gloria and me dining at a new Johnson City Restaurant, Korean Taco House. 
          The venue is small seating maybe150.  The band began playing somewhat quietly.  The sound was a bit muddy with the vocals buried.  Sadly, it never improved.  The instrumental quality was excellent, with a great interplay between the trombone player and the saxophonist. 
          The 2nd set started off with the output to the hall far too high for a venue of that size.  From there it progressed to painful.  I’d go see them again but I’d want sonic valve earplugs.
          Today we attended a medical marijuana rally in Johnson City.  Turnout was about 200-250.  Gloria and I were both interviewed by local TV.  Her sign and my jacket both made the 1800 news cast.  We expect more film at 2300. 
          The crowd makeup was about 33% older, chronically ill, veterans, etc.  Another third would have been at home on Shakedown St.  The final third was comprised of relatively diverse people.  I came close to blows with an older woman who screamed in my ear intentionally.  Later she decided to insert herself into my interview.  I was annoyed and the reporter nonplussed.  Discretion kicked in and I said nothing to her. 
          The day was cold, topping out around 37 °F with rain and snow.  Not a great day for a rally and not a great day to encounter such rudeness.  There was an immense amount of screaming taking place as cars drove by and honked in support.  After last night, I found that physically painful today.  Getting old.
          We stopped by the Korean Taco House and brought home dinner tonight. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

7 February 2014 Tree top flyer

Cassi Creek:  another morning with a chance to sleep in was nice.  But I seem to be keyed to waking up about 0530 -0630 independently of opportunity to sleep. 
          About 0.1 inch of snow fell overnight.  It seems to have vanished now (1140).  That’s good.  Even that little bit of snow can cause people to do crazy things in cars and trucks.   Add the snow to the self-images that make every other driver here believe that they are qualified to drive NASCAR, and that the local roads can be used in lieu of a dedicated, enclosed race track.  It is easy to see how tenuous and dicey the roads may become.
          Stephen Stills sprang to mind today.  I was somehow reminded of FAC pilots I knew.  They were amazing fliers who provided on-site target definition, spotting and marking the actual targets, then doing real time BDA.  They flew tiny, unarmed aircraft low and slow, facing enemy fire and the hazards inherent in flying at such altitudes while keeping track of the ground, the enemy, our forces, and the fast-movers who had the ordinance.  We’d see them pop up over the trees, vanish below them, and worry until we saw them pop up again.  They carried no weapons except a personal weapon and marking rockets.

          Here’s what became of some of the pilots who served in RVN. 
The aircraft pictured in this video is a WWII era fighter.  But the flight levels provide some idea of the demands the FAC pilots faced daily

Thursday, February 6, 2014

6 February 2014 In the backwoods of Fenarrio

Cassi Creek:  We’ve used nearly all the wood we bought for the winter.  What wood remains must be split to smaller widths and cut to shorter lengths in order to fit into the wood stove.  I’m hoping for a slightly warmer, much less windy day when I can try to accomplish this.  I don’t really expect that I will have the luxury of those conditions.  I will still have to find some more wood.
          My home weather station is now over 5 years old and starting to protest continued demands that it monitor, record, and transmit what passes for local weather.  I’d rather not replace it right now.  I’ll keep coaxing it to function as long as possible.
          Monday, I was visited by what seems to be an enterovirus.  I have no idea where I acquired it – best guess is working the desk for the Contra dance last Saturday.  I was feeling rather worse than usual Monday afternoon but attributed it to making the hike with Mike in the rain.  Tuesday Am I managed the walk on a cold, foggy morning and barely made it home before full onset.  Tuesday and Wednesday, I was of little use to anyone.  I ate next to nothing.  Anyone who knows me at all understands the significance of this.  Eating is my cure all for almost any illness.  Today, I’m still feeling as if I’ve been prepped for endoscopy. 
          These community acquired enteroviruses sound reasonably harmless.  However, if someone becomes dehydrated, with altered electrolytes, the outcome can be much more serious.  I’m staying hydrated and keeping my lytes up.  Hope tomorrow is better.  At least, I’m regaining some appetite.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

5 February 2014 broken chain

Cassi Creek: 
          I began this conversation with myself in 2009 with the intention of adding some content to it daily.  I’ve managed to carry out that plan for the most part, even if some entries were nearly mono-syllabic. 
          Some how, I missed making any entries on the 1st and 2nd of this month.  Time to return to what I intended.  We’ll see where that carries. Us.

Monday, February 3, 2014

3 February 2014 Un-American Blues

I first heard this at the age of 17.  It rang true then and still  does.