Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Ear, People and Internet Privacy

We saw the ENT again this morning.  It’s good news, bad news.  My ear is totally dry, so it’s not weeping anymore.  I was successful in keeping any and all water out of it since I saw her last.  The bad news is that she aggressively powdered my ear last visit.  The remaining powder has caked and hardened itself onto my ear drum.  She said I could just leave it there, but it kind of gives me the willies to have a pile of caked powder sitting on top of the perforation in the ear drum.  So she gave me two samples of an ear drop which allegedly will not feel like flaming pokers if they get into the middle ear.  I am to use them twice a day for two days, and then return on the 12th of June. 

Hopefully the drops will loosen the powder and she’ll be able to get it off the ear drum.  Today she was afraid to apply too much force for fear of tearing the ear drum, and then, of course there was the whimpering coming from moi.

People are so interesting.  There is a teeny tiny travel trailor across the street from us.  The man is about 6 foot 5.  I don’t know where he sleeps.  Plus, they are traveling with a Great Dane and standard Poodle.  I don’t know where anyone sleeps! 

And then there is this.

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That’s an enormous 5th wheel, notice the triple axles.  He has a full on tractor trailer with a sleeper, and a smart car on the back.  Talk about difficult to park. 

And then there is internet privacy.  Without much coverage or fanfare, the Republicans have voted to allow ISPs to sell your personal data.  Their justification for this perfidy and malfeasance goes like this.
An opinion piece under Flake’s byline appeared in the Wall Street Journal on March 1, saying the rules took away “consumer choice” because people’s browsing histories could not be used to offer them “innovative and cost-saving product offerings.” The column said the rules would “create confusion” among customers because the FCC and FTC would regulate different parts of the “Internet ecosystem.” The same arguments and similar phrasing were used in a letter the industry coalition sent to Congress.
What Flake didn’t mention was the amount of money that flowed to him after he agreed to sponsor the bill.   The Washington Post covered vote and the background.  The article can be found here.

So, we continue to be amazed at the rabbit hole down which current politics take us.  And don't forget covfefe!

Boise

When we were here in 2014, we could not for the life of us understand why Trader Joe’s had located in downtown Boise.  It’s the state capitol, people come to work during the week and then they go home.  Usually TJ’s is closer to urban or suburban density.  Sunday, after watching racing for awhile, we drove back into downtown to walk around.  The route GPS gave us was different than the previous one taken, and now we understand the TJ thought process.

Boise is having a building boom downtown.  Actually it’s everywhere, but in the downtown core they are building up, rather than out.

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These will be apartments.

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This is interesting.  The Jump is a community center of sorts.  They hold classes in making stuff, coding, things like that.  They have a lot of parking, as well.

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In the back of the parking garage is a slide for the kids.  I would really like to know how hot this thing gets in the summer.

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This is a climbing thing, also for the kids.  Note the enormous building in the back.

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Then we started seeing young women wearing (to my eye) unusual clothing.  But hey, I’m old, what do I know about fashion?

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Nope, this is definitely odd seeing someone wearing a furry animal head in Trader Joes, with a companion wearing an ankle length duster.

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It’s because of this.  Four days of Anime!  I always think of Boise as sort of a meat and potatoes kind of place, but this conference has been going on since 2002.  Color me surprised.  Some of the costumes were phenomenal, but I was too slow with the camera.  We saw one young woman dressed all in black, carrying a sword and a silver helmet.  She was magnificent.  We should have gone around the block and asked for a photo.

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The two ladies on the right twigged to my camera poking out of the truck, they have excellent situational awareness.

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I holllered at them to shoot a hip and they did this.  They were very good natured about being photographed.  The red head is taking a bow.

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So, Boise is changing in the core.  The suburbs continue their sprawling path involving the digging up of fields of good dirt to erect housing developments.  Traffic in the Garden City, Meridian, and Eagle ex-urbs is fairly horrific.  Given the number of new developments going up, it will only get worse.  Zoning restrictions appear to be minimal with subdivisions placed next to cow pastures which front on to hospitals.  One of the reasons we travel is to look for the final resting place, which is where we will live when we are too old and rickety to travel.  Boise is off the list.  Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter.  There is a lot of medical here, between St. Alphonsus and St. Luke, but getting to it would be an exercise in frustration with all of the cars.

We stayed at the Hi Valley RV park, which I previously reviewed.  It’s still nice, still well cared for, and we would come back to this RV park. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Car Races Today

Today was the Formula One race in Monaco.  It’s my least favorite F1 course.  It’s really narrow, passing is virtually impossible, so it’s basically a parade.  A bad pit stop can affect the course of the race, but it’s pretty much decided by pole position.

However, there are occasionally interesting crashes – like this one.  When the camera first cut to this, it took the commentators a moment to figure out what they were seeing.  It’s a car up on its side.

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One of the track workers is talking to the driver, who is fine.

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Replay shows us that Jenson Button hit the other car and flipped him up on his side.

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Look at his left front wheel, he’s done for the day as well.

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It was a sad race for us.  We’re fans of Mercedes, who were not on the podium in any position.  Ferrari is just eating everyone elses’ lunch this season.

Then we turned our attention to the Indy 500.  Those cars are not as safe as F1 cars IMHO.  I don’t follow Indy car racing, so I don’t know the drivers’ names.  The top car went airborne.

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Notice that the car is upside down, and the driver’s head is moving toward that low fence.

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This guy is lucky, two or three more feet on that trajectory, and he would have died from hitting his head on the wall.

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The car righted itself before hitting the ground.  The drivers do have strong safety bucket around them, but their heads are really exposed.  This was an impressive accident.  Happily, everyone walked away from it.

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Diversity has come to the Indy 500!

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Spring of my Discontent

I went back to the ENT physician's assistant yesterday.  It was a disappointing visit.  Although the fungus is gone, the ear is still weeping.  Worse, the perforation which used to be between 7:00 and 8:00 now stretches from 7:00 to 9:00.  She offered faint hope that it might shrink as the inflammation decreases, but I am not holding my breath on this.  There is also something in the center of the eardrum.  It's either an indentation or another perforation, she can't see it well enough yet.
So, she powdered me again with the steroid/anti-fungal/drying agent, and we will go back on Wednesday.   The next step will probably be antibiotic with steroid drops.  This fills me with dread because the drops will go into the middle ear which feels like a hot poker has been inserted.  This delightful feeling lasts for hours, so with a twice a day regimen, most of the day is spent on the couch suffering.

Traveling this year has been extremely aggravating.  I realize this is a first world problem, and I should be smacked for the whining, but whine I must.  Winds in Jensen curtailed any hope of road riding.  We came to Boise to ride the Greenway.  It's under water.  Yesterday we wondered what's happening to the Wood River trail in Ketchum.  It's also flooding.  Worse yet, almost every mountain bike trail in the area is closed due to recent rains.  So, that's disappointing. Perhaps there will be hiking.  Our time in Ketchum will be cut short as it is, due to the wretched ear.

And then there is the RNC.
On Friday, the Republican National Committee, which handles national fundraising and campaigning for the GOP, filed a public comment supporting a proposal currently awaiting judgment by the FCC, Recode’s Tony Romm reported late Tuesday. The petition, filed in March by the marketing firm All About the Message LLC, would permit private companies and political organizations to deposit automated messages into consumers’ voicemail inboxes without causing the cellphones themselves to ring. If the FCC rules in its favor, the proposal would move “ringless voicemail” robocalling technology from a regulatory gray area to legal fair game, potentially opening the floodgates for telemarketers and political organizations to inundate Americans’ voicemails with messages hawking products, services, and candidates for office.
Can you believe the perfidy of this?  They want to flood your inboxes with their unwanted solicitations.  Deleting voice mail now takes forever since Verizon started reporting the number that left the message, its duration and other un-needed information.  They're trying to make you sign up for visual voice mail, which costs money.

It's Memorial Day Weekend.  There is a B-17 flying in the area, her name is Aluminum Overcast.  It's pretty cool to hear that engine overhead.


World Center for Birds of Prey

Wednesday was windy.  A dry cold front moved through the area.  So we decided to go out and wash the RV.  It looks so much better.  After washing the bus, we thought we would go to the World Center for Birds of Prey

This is Wally, a Eurasian Eagleowl.  He’s huge.

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This is Morley, the Gyrfalcon.  They come in a variety of colors.

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The center gives a talk four times a day.  This is Steve, a volunteer.  Interestingly enough, Steve has been going to the same RV park we go to in Tucson for about six years.  He’s in the pet section so our paths have not crossed.

Pergrines are such neat birds.  They can hit 240 mph in a dive.  Their wings are swept back, unlike those of hawks, so they can’t ride the thermals.   They don’t have enough lift.  Females are larger than males by about a third.  The first week the chicks have hatched, mom has to incubate the eggs and defend the nest.  Her larger size is an advantage.  As the chicks mature, it takes both parents to keep them fed.  In the winter, most of them migrate to Argentina. 

Peregrines in New York City have started not to migrate.  They have a constant source of pigeons to eat, so there’s no reason to leave.  There is pair living in Boise.  Their last clutch had three babies.  When the first fledged, it flew into a window of another building.  It was stunned, but not seriously hurt. The second fledged, and was hit by a car, landing in a street.  It happened that there were bird watchers on scene waiting for the fledge, so they ran out, stopped traffic, picked up the bird and called Idaho Fish and Game.  They kept the baby over night and in the morning they took the elevator to the 14th floor where the nest was and put him back in it.  The third fledged, ran into wires and died.  Babies don’t have a high survival rate, most do not make in through the first year.

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There is a bald eagle in one of the outdoor enclosures.  They’re tough to photograph due to the bars and the low light.

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The center also raises California Condors.  In 1992 there were only 22 birds left.  They were captured and breeding programs were started.  Their survival is still precarious, but the numbers are on the rise. 

If you’re in the area, it’s worth going to.  In the fall they also do free flight outside.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Day 127

The Washington Post has a tag line that says "Democracy Dies in Darkness."  This is true.  Without a free press, how do we know what our politicians are doing?  The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, the NSA's scooping up of phone data; all brought to light by a free, hopefully unbiased, press. 

In the past, the FCC limited the number of television stations a company could own.  Under the current administration, these rules are being relaxed. Sinclair Broadcast Group is buying Tribune Media Company.  Currently, Sinclair reaches 38% of the country with its conservative broadcasting.  When the Tribune acquisition completes, they will cover 72% of the country.  Think about this, 72% of local news will be controlled by a right leaning company.  New York Times also did a piece on this, which can be found here.

After Greg Gianforte attacked the liberal reporter, a local Montana station being acquired by Sinclair did not not report on the incident Wednesday night.  KECI did not cover it.  Everyone else covered it, but not them.  After Twitter erupted, and the recordings of the assault were played on the Today show the next day, they finally put it on the air.

KOMO, a station in the very left leaning Seattle area was acquired by Sinclair in 2013.  Current rules say that a single owner may own two stations in an area, provided the two are not rated in the top four.  It appears that Sinclair is going to be allowed to buy KCPQ, which is also a top four rated station in the Seattle market. So now we have two right leaning, Republican boosting stations in a single market.

This is how bad it is.
They are called “must-runs,” and they arrive every day at television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group — short video segments that are centrally produced by the company. Station managers around the country are directed to work them into the broadcast over a period of 24 or 48 hours.
Since November 2015, Sinclair has ordered its stations to run a daily segment from a “Terrorism Alert Desk” with updates on terrorism-related news around the world. During the election campaign last year, it sent out a package that suggested in part that voters should not support Hillary Clinton because the Democratic Party was historically pro-slavery. More recently, Sinclair asked stations to run a short segment in which Scott Livingston, the company’s vice president for news, accused the national news media of publishing “fake news stories.”
KOMO journalists were surprised in January when, at a morning planning meeting, they received what they considered an unusual request. The station’s news director, who normally avoided overtly political stories, instructed his staff to look into an online ad that seemed to be recruiting paid protesters for President Trump’s inauguration. Right-leaning media organizations had seized on the ad, which was later revealed as a hoax, as proof of coordinated efforts by the left to subvert Mr. Trump.
This is not unbiased reporting, this is fake news and it's going to be everywhere.  I consider Fox to be fake news, you may not, but I do, especially Hannity.  Now, local news is going to be controlled by an unabashedly conservative media group.  What could go wrong?

I find this to be extremely upsetting. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bogus Basin and Sheep

“Weight lifing” on the steep mountain bike trails at Eagle MTB park was just not working for us this morning.  We decided to drive up to Bogus Basin and do a hike we did in 2014.  On the way up we were over taken by a police car.  We saw them later stopped on the road.  We asked if someone had gone over the side and they said yes. 

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This picture does not really do justice to the steepness of side of the hill.  The two police officers were preparing to set off down that hillside into a ravine to go look for a crashed vehicle.  We could not believe they were going to do it without climbing equipment, that’s really fire department work.  Anyway, they told us to move along so we did.  When we went home, no one was there, so there’s no telling what happened.  Hopefully the police didn’t break a leg on that hillside.

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We drove all the way to the top, parking at the Pioneer Lodge.

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See the trail on the far left side of the photo, sort of in the middle, top to bottom?  That would be the desired trail covered in snow.  There would be no hiking from that parking lot today.  Those two were on their way down, they’d hiked up and skied down something.

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We hiked Sapper’s return.  It’s like a cat track.  It was a pleasant walk, not too wet, not too steep.  I think those green plants on the left are skunk cabbage.

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We stopped at a trail head to see if anything looked rideable (no).  They had some literature up on the kiosk about the sheep that would be in the area twice a year.  One should not ride through a flock of sheep, one should dismount and walk through them.

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The sheep herders travel with Great Pyrenees dogs to guard the sheep.  If the dogs approach, one should put the bike between you and the dog.  One should talk to the dog so it knows you’re human.  It’s interesting to see that sheep still migrate seasonally.

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What is missing from the top of this hill?

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The Simplot mansion is gone.  It was demolished in 2016.  The Simplots had given the house to Idaho for a governer’s mansion.  Idaho gave it back because they couldn’t afford it.  The Simplots didn’t want to live there, or maintain it, so it was demolished.  They do want to keep the land, and that flag flying.  You can read the article here.

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That’s it!  That’s all I have to report from Boise.

Monday, May 22, 2017

More in Boise

Sunday we drove in to look at the capitol.  We figured (correctly) that there would be less traffic on a Sunday morning than during the week.  Here is the dome and the columns out front.

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The top of the dome from inside.

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On the basement floor there are many informative things to read about the history of the state.  We found this to be amusing.  One wonders how they determined which Indians were to be disenfranchised, and were there that many Mongolians that they needed to be kept out of the voting pool.  In 1890 the LDS gave up plural marriage, and Idaho gave them the vote in 1895.

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Isn’t that a beautiful thing?  I love old stuff that still works.

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Boise has commisioned public art on their utility boxes.  The painting does add a touch of cheer to the sidewalks.

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After the capitol we walked down to the Basque Block.  The Basques are an interesting people.  Their language is completely distinct from all other languages.  Many of them migrated to this part of the country and worked herding sheep and cattle.  Boarding houses were built for the men to live in during the winter.  This is one of the two surviving buildings.  The block “preserves the Basque heritage” with a number of restaurants and a museum.  You can read more here.

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This was a surprising marquee.

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We drove out the other side of Boise in search of dry sections of the greenway.  There is a really cool stretch of amazing homes in south east Boise.

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This one is for sale.

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Still wet!  There is a work around to this section of water, other than riding through it.  This is pretty far from the RV park, so it’s doubtful we would drive out this far to get on the other side of the water.

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Today we rode up to the Eagle Bike Park.  As is so often the case, our conception of what constitutes a green trail is different from the person’s who colored the maps.  Trails are very hard packed dirt, with some sand.  There are ruts from water run off.  In most places the single track is wide enough.  There was one hillside traverse I declined because it was too narrow and too side hill.  The trails are steep.  There was a fair amount of hike a bike.  The initial pitch up was about 18%.  We decided to look at this less as peaceful riding through scenic vistas and more like weight lifting.

The first time we came down the hillside, Jim decided to ride a “green” downhill course.  Hah!  Double HAH HAH HAH!  He had to dismount three times because it was so steep.  At one point he could feel his back wheel coming up, so stepping off seemed prudent.  He also flushed some sort of large bird from the bushes.  I went down the 18% section (with jumpy things) and that was sufficiently thrilling.

See the jump mid photo?  We ended up approaching that from the bottom on a different trail and riding down under the jump.  It’s the Stormin' Mormon trail.  The bottom half is fun, it’s bermed, and the jumps are not extreme.

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Looking up from the parking lot – key word is up.  Given the topography of the land, and where the open space is, it’s all going to be up.

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The new Dish receiver was supposed to be here Friday, today at the latest.  I called last Tuesday to verify it was in transit and was told that it was.  So I called today to inquire since it did not arrive.  IT NEVER SHIPPED.  The technical support person just did not order it.  The person who verified it was on the way Tuesday flat out lied to me. When talking to them today, a little bit of anger leaked out of my voice, maybe just a touch.  We don’t have that many more days here, and the people who do installs are really busy. We may end up having to take it with us to Oregon and getting it installed there.  We have an over complicated system that has a/b boxes and wires going everywhere and I do not want to touch anything in the cabinet.

My ear is better.  When I push up from the underside, I don’t hear fluid moving around.  The pops and crackles have stopped, as have the momentary periods of being deaf.  So, perhaps there is progress.  I am back to showering with the ear plug AND the plastic cup over my ear, trying to keep it dry.

So, that’s it from Boise.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

In Boise

The drive from Brigham City to Boise is pretty in places.  It’s all freeway.  It’s a long drive, but there’s no drama.

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There’s one little climb, which got us high enough to see snow and fog.

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Eventually, you come back down into mass agriculture.

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It’s good that we came to Boise.  It’s a larger city with better medical people.  The two treatments of Gentian Violet did exactly nothing for the fungus. I was able to see a physician’s assistant in an ENT office who spent time suctioning out my ear and then dusting it with steroid/anti-fungal/drying agent powder.  That was yesterday.  It’s better today, but it’s still wet in there.  I’m supposed to go back again next Friday, but I may go sooner.  This really needs to be resolved before it makes its way into the middle ear.

One of the reasons we came to Boise was to ride the Boise Greenway.  It’s under water!  There is so much run off from the mountains that they’re having to release a lot of water.  This is a low point in the trail.

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The river is running really fast. 

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This is the entry to an RV park along side the river.  The park is dry, but there’s a lot of standing water.

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We are liking Boise so far – but it’s early days.  Today we rode on the road, it’s hilly here!  I think we did more climbing today than we did all winter in Tucson.  There are bike lanes on many roads.  Although Jim was almost taken out by a teen-aged driver on the way back.  Monday we are going to check out a mountain bike park just up the road from here.  There are a lot of trails that are signed as green (easy) so maybe we can ride there.