Sunday, February 26, 2017

Doing Time with the Plague

Greetings Earthlings! I am slowly returning to the land of the living.  What ever the heck I caught last Friday has been the second worst thing I can remember catching.  The pneumonia was worse, but this was a very close second.
I have not done much of anything except lay on the couch.  We went for a drive Wednesday to see if we could locate an entry point for a mountain bike trail (the Honey Bee) we were interested in.  It's really pretty up in Oro Valley.  The mountains are just lovely.

We made a stop at the Honey Bee Canyon Park to see if the entry point might be there.  After wandering around for about 15 minutes, I got tired and we abandoned the search.

We found an entry point later by the Methodist Church.  Mark says we're going to have to download the mtbproject app to have a map, because nothing out there is signed, and there are many opportunities for being lost.

Thursday we broke down and went to the doctor.  I got more antibiotics and some Prednisone to help with the swelling in my sinus cavities.  I hate Prednisone.

Friday I was better, so we went out to Gilbert Ray for a happy hour at Mark and Bobbie's site.  They have excellent real estate.

It was really nice to be out of the RV and talk to other people.  It's been awhile since we've seen members of the hiking consortium.

Today was a long visit to Barnes and Noble.  Jim's Nook can no longer download anything.  After a couple of hours of factory re-setting and attempting to reload the library, it was clear that it's a dead electronic.  So now he has a new one.

We saw this on the way out of the RV park.  That is a very big truck on a narrow street, about to extract an old park model.

Today is the last day of the Prednisone the doctor prescribed Thursday, I quit.  Did you know that Prednisone causes insomnia?  After nine days of not sleeping due to coughing, then because I couldn't breathe, now steroids are keeping me up.  Steroids! Hopefully a couple of more days and this will be over.

Other than this, I have nothing of interest to offer.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Madera Canyon and Illness Comes to Visit

Friday was the last good weather day.  In all of the years that we've been wintering in Tucson, we have never been to Madera Canyon, so we decided to go there.  First we went to the top parking lot, it's at about 5900 feet, and the trail ascends to 7900 feet.  After about 100 yards of that, we decided we would get back in the truck and go to a lower altitude.  Between the wind and the lapse rate, it was really cold.  We went to parking lot C, which is the lowest lot.  With the benefit of hindsight, we should have gone to B.  Leaving C, the trail goes straight up, and there are a lot of rocks on much of it.  I don't like these rocks because they roll under your feet.  If you go, and get a map, all of these parking lot designators will become clear.

It's a pretty area.  There are a lot of trees.

There are mountains.

Eventually, there were overlooks.  See the blue off to the left?  That's what in all of those mine tailings.

We took the Bog Spring trail.  This would be the spring.

There is a nice looking stand of sycamore trees at the spring.  It's unfortunate that the light wasn't better for photographing.

I took this driving back down the big hill.  You can better see the wall of tailings with the water inside.

Elephant Head.

More grassland.

This is an old helipad.  It was used for the Titan Missiles.

More views of the mountains.

It's pretty out there.  At present it's mostly brown grass land and dormant trees, but it has its own serene beauty.

Coming back from Madera, I could feel myself getting sick.  By the time I got home I had the burning throat, the coughing up of material from the lungs and the burning eyes.  The timing on sick was good since the weather the last two days has just been awful; it's windy, cold and wet.  The rain just started up again.

It's really tragic how bad the weather was, because this was the weekend for 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.  It's a mountain bike race up near the Biosphere.  It's north, and higher in elevation than Tucson, they got way more rain than we did.  It's surprising to me that they have the race this early in the season.  Here is a picture of Lance Armstrong who did the event with George Hincapie.

He's looking slightly hypothermic.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Animals and Politics (sorry)

Here are some nice animal pictures from yesterday's ride.  The road runner was interesting, he sat on the post and made a sort of cooing noise.  We've never heard a road runner make any sound before.

The round tailed ground squirrels are now out and about.  They are one of the cutest animals on earth.

Ok that's it for the nice things that we've seen.

On the news tonight, a couple of Trump supporters were talking about how impressed they were by all that the president has accomplished during his short tenure.  Other than repealing the section of Dodd-Frank that required reporting of bribes paid by oil companies to despots, or allowing the coal mining companies in West Virginia to dump mining debris into the streams and rivers; I can't really think of much that he has accomplished.  Oh, and there is that whole tarnishing the image of this country. This allegiance to the administration is just baffling to me.  I look around at people going about their day, and I wonder why isn't their hair on fire?

I can't even discuss the press conference yesterday.  Have you ever seen such a tragic performance?

CBS is reporting the following:
“Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed. These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy. … Two sources also told CBS News that Ambassador Kristie Kenney, the Counselor of the State Department and one of the last remaining senior officials, was informed that she will be let go. She is a career foreign service officer who had served as an ambassador under Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton.”
Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week.
“Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — who has no regional expertise or diplomatic experience — had a greater role in the meeting than the Senate-confirmed secretary of State. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon was on the official schedule to take [Tillerson’s] place but was then shut out of the White House meeting.”
Because of the absolute plethora of other things to say about politics in this country, this did not get a lot of coverage, and it should.  Foreign policy is going to be run by a 30 something with no political experience, an ex oil executive, and that man.  If this doesn't scare you to death, I don't know what it will take.  Additional words on this subject can be found here.

At Boeing in South Carolina the president orated about keeping the jobs home - we're keeping the jobs here.  Check out this diagram. This is how manufacturing works.  Nothing he says is going to undo this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tardigrades, Verizon and the Usual

Did you all go look up tardigrades?  If not, then you should.  They're amazing animals.  From wikipedia we learn the following.
Tardigrades are the most resilient animal known: they can survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms. They can withstand temperature ranges from 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) (close to absolute zero) to about 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C), pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space. They can go without food or water for more than 30 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce.
They're about one millimeter in size.


Yesterday was an extremely aggravating day, we started looking at the new data plans from Verizon.  Verizon is just the spawn of Satan.  The data plans used to be S,M,L or XL.  We were on the XL plan which gave us 22 gig of data which was accessible by the two phones and the mifi hotspot.  THEN Verizon went to 2,4,8 gig plans or "unlimited" data.  Unlimited is so misleading.  High points of the unlimited data are as follows:
  • The phones get unlimited data, up until 22 gig then they get throttled.
  • The mifi hotspot can have 10 gig of data for the laptops at 4G speeds, then it's throttled to 3G speeds
  • The two phones can each tether 10 gig of data for the laptops at 4G speeds, then they're throttled to 3G speeds 
  • Oh yes, and the $10 discount for autopay - you have to let them bill your debit card or checking account directly.  They don't want to pay the credit card fee.  I am so sure I will give the evil empire my bank routing number!
So, you no longer have the nice big pool of data, you get little pools of data for each device.  It's just such a pisser, I hate this new plan.  We have had very little luck using the phones as hot spots for the laptops.  Given the number of videos that websites are forcing on the consumers, 10 gig of data won't last very long.

In other news, there has been hiking and biking.  We saw deer the other day in the Tucson Mountains.

Politics, as usual, are making us crazy.  The Russians are deploying land based cruise missiles,  their planes are buzzing US ships, a spy ship is parked off of Connecticut and all that man can do is talk about his electoral college numbers.  There has been zero response to these provocative actions.  Has that man said one thing about the damage in California due to flooding, or storm damage in the South East?  No, too busy playing golf in Florida.  It's going to be very interesting to see what comes of the investigation into Flynn and what did the president know and when did he know it.

WTF Just Happened Today is having a fund drive.  It's costing him money out of pocket to host the website and pay for Mail Chimp; not to mention the six hours a day he puts in to the site, in addition to his day job.  If you like what he's doing, slip him a few dollars would ya?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Happy Valentine's Day to you all.  In these strange days that are upon us, I hope you're with your favorite person.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hot Riding, Net Neutrality and the Shadow President

Today was hot. Really hot.  Ok, it was in the mid-80's but it seemed really hot.  We rode the 32 mile loop that goes through the University.  It's such a bummer when we hit campus on the hour.  All of the students are on their way somewhere, while looking at their phones.  It's terrifying.
The Rillito River was very interesting today. Parts of it were wet.  Interestingly enough, there was no water flowing over El Camino de la Tierra, as it has done in the past.  There was a little water fall just up the trail.  We could not figure out why some stretches were dry and some were wet.

Anyway, I'm glad we rode, even though we are now somewhat fried. If we don't get out in the heat, we won't acclimate.

Who remembers Net Neutrality?  The fight to maintain it during the Obama administration resulted in over four million calls to the FCC exhorting them to do the right thing - which they did.  However, the new administration has already undertaken the roll back of that policy.  Instead, there will be fast lanes for big spenders and slow lanes for the rest of us.  About a week ago Ajit Pai was appointed as head of the FCC.  He is a long time opponent of net neutrality.  One of his first actions was to ban subsidies to nine small ISPs who delivered internet to low income customers.  Pai is also taking steps to increase the costs of cable and satellite service.  This won't be good. More can be read here.

In other news, do you wonder what Steve Bannon, the shadow president, thinks about?  This article will clear it up for you.  He's a fan of Julius Evola, who developed a world view called Traditionalism.  In this view he conceived a hierarchy where Sun People (those would be white people) would tell everyone else what to do.  Originally Evola was a fan of the Italian Fascists, but finding them to be too soft, he switched his allegiance to the SS.  Great!  Just who we need steering the log of state.

Every day we wake up and wonder what has the man done to us today, and everyday he does not disappoint.

If you need some new way to kill time on the internet, we're currently looking at Int'l Spectator on twitter.  They show some interesting images.

That's it - that's all I've got. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Shrimp Horror, Bike/Hike and the Eternal Quest

Gather around, maties, and I'll tell you a horror story.  I picked up a Bloomberg Businessweek magazine in the laundry room and read this article.  It's a fairly long piece, but I'll give you the highlights.
In China, pigs are raised using antibiotics.  Two of those drugs are carbapenems and colistin, which are antibiotics of last resort, used for drug resistant superbugs.  The pigs are raised in proximity to shrimp farms.  Workers hose out the pig pens and the water runs into the shrimp lagoons.  Since 95% of the antibiotics pass through the pigs unmetabolized, they now enter the shrimp.  Originally it was believed that people were picking up drug resistant bacteria through international travel.  Canadian researchers found that seafood from China is also a vector for these drug resistant bacteria.  So you think to yourself, well ok then, no Chinese shrimp for me!
Unfortunately there is a practice call trans-shipping.  Chinese seafood goes to other countries, where it's labelled as "Product of Malaysia" or "Product of Indonesia".  Sometimes Chinese seafood is labelled as being a product of a company called American Fisheries.  Lately, Chinese shrimp has been trans-shipped to Ecuador, where it's now labelled as being from there.
Inspection is inadequate, bad shrimp is still entering the country.
We have been buying frozen shrimp labelled as wild caught in the US, but who knows where it actually came from.  Since so much shrimp is processed by people held in slavery we've been buying it with just the heads cut off, doing the peeling and de-veining ourselves.  That has cut down on consumption for us.  I hate peeling shrimp!
So, that's my food horror story for you.

In other news, the weather has just been stellar lately.

Yesterday we rode up the trail through Christoper Columbus park and up to the top of Ironwood Hill.  We've made it into an out and back ride, since all of the roads one could take home from that side of the city are just in terrible condition.  The pain in one's hands from the pounding is non-trivial.

The search for new hiking shoes continues.  I always swore I would not wear Keens because they are less than attractive.  However, I'm desperate, so I ordered two pairs from Zappos.  The ones on the left foot will go back.  The sole is so stiff that I can't flex it, which causes a lot of heel slippage.  Plus they're waterproof and they're hot.  The ones on the right might be keepers.  The sole is slightly less stiff and they're not waterproof.  My initial wearing suggests that they might be ok.  I've ordered up a pair from REI, due to their one year no questions asked return policy.  One never knows until one has hiked in the shoes.

Today we went back out to the Tortolitas,  and hiked Lower Javelina.  I think this saguaro skeleton has sort of a Mad Max vibe to it.

How cool is it to be here and not in the GPNW?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Love, Automation and Bias in the Media

It was another glorious day in the Old Pueblo.  We are entering the season of love for the doves and pigeons.  This dove is really interested in the palm tree just off our patio.  I am really hoping they don't nest there.  Their calls are really tedious.

Speaking of tedious, the wood peckers have been the bane of my existence this year.  They start screaming at dawn, and they're spending a lot of time on my hummingbird feeder.  We really need more hawks in the park to eat them.

I found this article on King 5 today.  It's not about politics, so it's safe to click on the link.  There is a video in the article about how they are laying up carbon fiber to make wing stringers and spars for the Boeing 777X.  Stringers and spars used to be riveted aluminum.  Now they are carbon fiber.  The technology required is just amazing.  If you have sufficient bandwidth to watch a five-ish minute video, I highly recommend it.  Awhile back I also posted a Seattle Times piece on how the carbon fiber fuselages will be driving themselves into the autoclaves, which is also worth looking at.  This is amazing stuff.

There was an interesting article about what's happening at NBC.
It looks to a lot of people like NBC and MSNBC are shifting right in order to compete for the GOP audience and appeal to Trump himself. The Trump administration’s increasing comfort with MSNBC and NBC only reinforces this theory. But as Fox News could tell them, once you start giving in and moving to the right, you may have a hard time stopping.
To me, NBC was bias neutral reporting.  Apparently, they're decided to deliberately inject bias in to their reporting.  Isn't one Fox Network enough?  Do we really need another one?

Suzanne sent me a link to this website.  It's pretty good, and you can mention the website's name around your parents.  Since WTF Just Happened Today is doing such excellent summaries, I feel that I will start talking about things other than swamp thing.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Bike/hike and Tales from the Swamp

Yesterday we parked at the ball fields and rode up to Catalina State Park. It was a tired ride.  I was tired.  We actually stopped at a ramada before the turn off to the park.  It was a well placed ramada, since Jim had a flat that needed changing.

Today we did a short hike out of the Genser Trailhead to try out my new hiking shoes.  They will be going back.  They hurt the surgical site on my left foot, but mainly because they are too hot.  They are amazingly hot.  After about two hours the shoes were soaked with sweat as were my socks.  So, they have to go.  I really had hope for them.  The search continues.
On the way to the trailhead we saw three javalina.  They were strolling across the road into a wash.

The desert is greening up from the rains.

There were a lot of mountain bikes.  About twelve went by us, followed by three slower riders.  This section of the trail does not look like much, but it's a longish consistent rocky uphill.

Some of today's tales from the swamp:

Kellyanne Conway told us a story about the Bowling Green Massacre to explain why the president is so hard over on banning Muslims, to keep America safe and all.  Too bad it never happened.  

Apparently the president does not believe right wing Christian men can be as violent as he believes all Muslims to be.
The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters. The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States. [Emphasis added.]
This is in spite of the fact that since 2002 more Americans have been killed by right wing Christian terrorists than by Muslim extremists. Looks like it will be open season on Americans.  Salon has a statistics laden article on the subject.

Colin Kahl,  who served as a national security official under President Barack Obama,  fired off series of tweets arguing that while the Defense Department had discussed Yemeni raids with Obama in a general fashion, the specific raid attempted by the Trump administration was not brought up. Here are the contents of the tweets.
  • DoD worked up GENERAL proposal for OVERALL set of expanded authorities for these types of raids at end of Obama admin.  
  • The broad package was discussed in the interagency in the closing weeks of the Obama term. This particular raid was NOT discussed.  
  • Moreover no recommendation was made other than a recommendation to provide the next Administration with the necessary information.  
  • Idea was for next team to run a deliberative process to assess risks.  
  • And, critically, Obama made no decisions on this before leaving office, believing it represented escalation of U.S. involvement in Yemen 
  • And therefore should not be something he decided a few days before leaving office. Obama thought the next team should take a careful look
  • And run a careful process. From what I've read and heard, however, team Trump didn't do a careful vetting of the overall proposal or raid.  
  • Instead, Trump apparently had dinner with Mattis/Dunford and greenlit the op. 
  • I've heard there was a Deputies meeting the next day, but...
  • DC was brief and basically irrelevant since the decision had been made the night before.  
  • So, in a nutshell, Trump and his team owns the process and the ultimate decision--and the consequences. 
The administration should quit blaming their failures on Obama.  They need to take ownership, it's all on them now.

I have discovered a new website that is doing a very thorough job of reporting the day's events in the swamps.  I'm sorry if the name offends you, but it's a good read.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Something Good Happened on Day 13

Chaffetz backed down.  He withdrew the bill to sell all of that public land.  You can read the article here.
In the small hours of Thursday morning, US congressman Jason Chaffetz announced that he would withdraw a bill he introduced last week that would have ordered the incoming secretary of the interior to immediately sell off 3.3m acres of national land.
The fight is not over.  Returning to the states or selling public lands is a Republican party plank, so they'll be back.

Also, Chaffetz has not withdrawn the bill (H.R. 622) that terminates law enforcement functions of the BLM and Forest Service.  Law enforcement on public land would fall to local sheriffs.  This is not good.  Local law enforcement does not have the resources to cover all of those territories.  Keep resisting.

P.S.  I changed my timer to put me in sync with how everyone else is counting the days since the end of democracy.  So that's why the day numbers are different.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Riding and Day 12 in the Swamp

We did a fast ride this morning.  We picked up a chip in the windshield of the truck the other day.  The guy from Speedy Glass was due between 1:00 and 5:00.  We figured if we weren't back by 1:00 that's when he would show up.  As it was, he arrived at 3:30.  But it did make us pick up the pace pretty good. 

It was another busy day in the swamp.  I cut and pasted this off Twitter, it was a nice summation.

To be fair, the thing about the threat to invade Mexico appears to be fake news.  So, we can disregard that bullet point.  The following is why Dodd-Frank is important.

The west continues to be in an uproar over the thought of selling all of that land.  A good article can be found here.
It's just another day in paradise!

But wait!  There's more!  He hung up on the Australian PM!