Friday, January 31, 2020

It's the End of the World

as we know it, and I feel fine. I think R.E.M said it best.  It really does seem like the world is imploding in upon itself.

Today is the day that the UK leaves the EU.  Preliminary trade discussions with the US have begun.  The US wants to flood their markets with cheap agricultural products.  I'm so sure the Brits will enjoy our giant chlorinated chicken breasts that taste of nothing.  They're also going to enjoy more expensive drugs.  US pharmaceutical companies currently have to lower prices to sell in the EU.  Once the UK is out of that herd, they'll be at the mercy of US corporate greed and avarice.

This image has been around for awhile, it's still relevant.

Last Wednesday Alan Dershowitz said:
If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.
The Senate Republicans fell on this argument like a pack of wild dogs and embraced it.  So now the president has carte blanche to do any damn thing he wants to get reelected.  Today they're having a four hour debate on witnesses, it's a foregone conclusion.  There will be no witnesses and they'll acquit.  Apparently it was just too arduous to give the appearance of impartiality.

Here is Lisa Mukowski's rationale for not voting for witnesses.  The process is flawed so she can't vote to do the right thing. I hope they all are voted out of office.

Yesterday the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a very bad thing.  I can't remember the exact term they used.  They have confirmed person to person transmission.  CDC is still disputing transmission can occur before symptoms appear.  The symptoms would be sore throat, fever, cough; your basic flu and cold signs.  The administration responded by forming a coronavirus task force.  In May 2018 the following occurred.  (This article is behind the WAPO paywall.)

The top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic has left the administration, and the global health security team he oversaw has been disbanded under a reorganization by national security adviser John Bolton.
The abrupt departure of Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer from the National Security Council means no senior administration official is now focused solely on global health security. Ziemer’s departure, along with the breakup of his team, comes at a time when many experts say the country is already underprepared for the increasing risks of a pandemic or bioterrorism attack.
Ziemer’s last day was Tuesday, the same day a new Ebola outbreak was declared in Congo. He is not being replaced.
Collectively, warns Jeremy Konyndyk, who led foreign disaster assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Obama administration, “What this all adds up to is a potentially really concerning rollback of progress on U.S. health security preparedness.”
“It seems to actively unlearn the lessons we learned through very hard experience over the last 15 years,” said Konyndyk, now a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. “These moves make us materially less safe. It’s inexplicable.”
FIFTEEN YEARS of learning how to coordinate across the many agencies that are involved in pandemic response or bioterrorism  has been flushed.  The replacement is a task force - newly formed and probably without any experience of managing a pandemic.

That lack of experience is sort of like Jared Kushner who read 25 books on Israel, which qualified him to develop a one sided peace plan that the Palestinians will never accept.  If I read 25 cardiology books, may I operate on your heart?

So yes, things from my wheel house are looking somewhat grim.  How is your day going?

Update to post 2/11/2020:

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


I have scenery but few words.  Monday there was riding of mountain bikes on the extremely benign and not dangerous trails in the Tucson Mountain Park.  I'm riding better than I was, my uphill starts are improving, which is good because just about everything is uphill.  These were taken out by the Starr Pass trail that goes into another section of TMP.  We used to hike there a lot before we bought the house.  It's pretty, we should go over there some.

Today we hiked up to a bench some of the neighborhood men built high on a hill side.  A neighbor wants Jim to show him where it is, and so we needed to refresh our knowledge of where it is.  It's a very steep hike.  Coming down parts of it are not much fun, too many loose rocks.

While standing at the bench panting, we figured out how to use the panorama setting on Jim's phone.  This is what you see looking out towards Tucson.

So that's what I've got.  Pretty pictures in response to all the misery and malfeasance in the world.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Friends Come to Visit Us

Jim and Kim visited us last week from the dry side of Washington State. The wet side has not seen the sun since December 1. Is that sad or what? Anyway, the weather here started off not great for their visit but steadily improved. I, of course, took no pictures of people, just food and scenery. 

It's probably just as well after reading this oped from WAPO.  It's about a new facial recognition software suite using artificial intelligence.
More than 600 law enforcement agencies use the company’s tool, which depends on a database of more than 3 billion images gathered from millions of websites, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Also using the tool are private citizens, which is the really atrocious part of it all.  The software delivers names, addresses, phone numbers and more.  It's a great way to stalk an ex-lover.  Anyway, I'm thinking fewer pictures on the interwebs would be good.

Back to Kim and Jim.  We went to El Guero Canelo on 12th Avenue for lunch one afternoon. 

What could be better than a grilled bacon wrapped hot dog on a soft sweet bun?

There was a sunset at some point.

Saturday we went to Saguaro East National Park.  It's just lovely out there.

We used to ride our road bikes around the eight mile loop.  This sign is not kidding, there is a steep down hill followed by a 90 degree right hand turn.

This cactus has a lot going on.

The grey stripe mid photo is a water course.  It's hard to see, but there is free water on the rocks, making its way downhill.

It was a fun visit, unfortunately they had to go home.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

As Seen on Weather Underground

This is what happened in Newfoundland.  They had a snow bombogenesis event, aka a bomb cyclone.  I wonder where they will put all of that snow.

That's the view from someone's garage.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Two Sunny HIkes and House Finches

Friday and today were just glorious days.  I love the sky in winter, it has that deep blue color to it.  By April it will be washed out and drab.

Friday we did our new stair master trail and thoroughly exceeded our aerobic thresholds.  It was good.  It's as difficult as the trail up to Golden Gate, but the surface is better and easier on the feet.

This was taken from the John Krein trail.  That peak over on the right is on our list for this year.  Standing up there is very lovely.

Today was a day for contrails.   They're  faint, but you can see four contrails next to each other.  They were too high to identify the planes, but Jim suspects they're large and military.  Fighters don't contrail that much, so multiple engines are likely.  Commercial planes don't fly in a formation like that.

We hiked up the trail that goes towards Ringtail Ridge.  It's another stair master trail.

Here is an interesting article about birds.  It's about urban bird feeders and how they affect birds' development.  I've cut and pasted a paragraph from the article.
So when one of Badyaev’s undergraduate students, Clayton Addison, noticed that the male finches on campus in central Tucson were not singing a rapid trill that’s essential for attracting females in the nearby desert, the lab was able to dig into the data for answers. Comparing the beak sizes, bite forces, and diets of the two populations, the researchers showed that the urban finches rely so heavily on feeders that their beaks have adapted: they’ve become longer and deeper to accommodate the sunflower seeds typically on offer, which are much larger and harder than the small cactus and grass seeds that rural finches eat. This adaptation has altered not only how urban males sing, but also what urban females prefer in a mate. It’s a pattern that Badyaev has since found in other places where finches live in the shadow of humans, the same large beaks arising from a surprisingly diverse array of developmental pathways. Such varied routes to an identical end—a beak strong enough to crack sunflower seeds—may be one way that nature hides variability from the swinging axe of natural selection.
We had house finches at the RV park where we used to stay in Tucson.  I've heard them sing this song, it's kind of sad that the urban birds won't sing it anymore.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Sunset in January

The weather was not great today.  It started out very cloudy, got more cloudy and colder.  Then it rained.  However, it cleared a little as the sun was setting and we saw this.

I took this through a window, so it's not great, but the sun hitting the mountain was really pretty.

These are looking west, I was forced by the beauty to go outside with the camera.

It's always amazing how the light and the color will change over time.

That it!  All I have is the setting sun.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Second and Third Weeks of January

Greetings Gentle Readers.  How is your January going?  The GPNW is in the grips of snow and ice, followed by 60 mph winds coming through the passes in the Cascade foothills.  They're pretty sure they're all going to die.  Port Angeles got 21 inches which is a fair amount of snow for the area.  Puget Sound tends to have a moderating influence on the climate, except when it doesn't.

1/16/20 Update to post:  Well things are dire for people living between Gold Bar and Skykomish.  The road (US2) is closed because of heavy snow and fallen trees.  They don't have access to power or water.  There is a volunteer effort to bring in wood, propane and gas.

I had an interesting and very painful event last Thursday at 3:48 am.  I woke up, rolled over and up onto my left elbow so I could get my flashlight to find my glasses and head for the bathroom.  Immediately I was overcome by the worst pain ever in my life.  My first thought was that I had torn my rotator cuff, or pulled a tendon off a bone.  How can something so insignificant cause so much pain?  For several hours I did not have the use of my left arm.  It improved a lot during the day, but was still pretty painful.  We headed out to the Tucson Orthopedic Institute for their evening walk-in clinic.  That service is such a gift, getting an appointment there during the day takes weeks.  Exams are generally not all that rigorous, but they can segment things into "this is bad" or "or this is not so bad."
Apparently the structure of the shoulder is happiest when your arms are down.  Putting your upper arm 90 degrees to your body and then putting weight on it is not an approved activity.  I've been doing it for decades, but apparently the shoulder had reached its limit.  The subdeltoid bursa and one, or both, of the tendons attaching the biceps muscles are aggrieved.  So there is taking of more Aleve and physical therapy. 

I still haven't called the physical therapy office, I'm hoping it will go away if I ignore it.

Anyway, there were some low impact walks in the desert.  We saw deer.

Monday we got the mountain bikes out.  It was a perfect day.  It made it to 70 degrees and there was no wind.  We rode them up a trail segment of Yetman a couple of times.  There are few things that will tell you had bad your fitness level is as well as riding a grade on a mountain bike.  It's way more work than the road bikes on the flat trail.  Jim surveys the desert in all of its glory.

Yesterday we hosted the weekly happy hour.  Jim's menu was ambitious.  These are the shrimp that we peeled and deveined, skewered and grilled.  I am never peeling and deveining again.  They were good, and all were consumed.  Costco was out of the mini quiches, which are good, so we got tiny crab cakes which I did not think were so good.  I also made a delicious baked dip with parmesan cheese, mayo, sour cream and hearts of palm.  What could be better?  And there was the usual cheese, guacamole, chips and the like.  We over bought on crackers.  It was a good group, many people came and they ate all of the fattening food.  It was nice enough that people moved out of the house and into the side yard.

Today we cleaned.  The tile needed to be steamed.  Steaming beats a sponge mop any day.  Jim also painted.  That is the in ground trash can we don't use.  It's been looking pretty scabrous.  That's the lid in the closed position.

And here we are with the lid up.  There's a smallish trash can with a handle inside.  For the life of me I don't understand why these were installed.  Every house in the neighborhood has one.  I thought maybe it was to deter the javelinas, but I saw a post on Nextdoor that they have figured out how to open them and drag out the trash.  They are relentless little devils.

There have been a couple of nice sunsets.  It may rain tomorrow.  I can not complain about anything given the weather in the south.

In Virginia today, both houses of the General Assembly passed the Equal Rights Amendment.  It's unclear if this will propel it into the constitution.  It's mind boggling how many people do not want equal rights for women to be enshrined in the constitution.  Bastards.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Santa Cruz River

Yesterday was a good day.  We rode from the ball fields up to Twin Peaks road.  It's 20 miles round trip.  Going out we had a frisky little head wind, coming back was much easier and more quiet.  It's amazing how much noise a head wind creates in your helmet.  I guess it's because of all of the air vents.

The new overpass at Ina is open, and AZ DOT replaced the bike path.  Water is being released from the sewage treatment plants along the Santa Cruz, it's very deep under Ina, so they didn't do an underpass, instead you have to climb up, ride across the bridge, and the make a 180 degree turn to continue upon your way. This is the bridge, that's the water below.  The bike path is separated from the cars.  I would be happier if it was a couple of feet wider, but I did not get a vote.

The water is clean enough for fish to live in.  He's tough to see (look in the grass in the middle), but there is a man fishing down there.  He kept the fish so I suppose he's planning on eating him.

We saw a heron sitting in a tree.  They are fishing there, as well.

There are new paths in the area, and at least two new bike bridges.  Before we left for the summer, work was in process to connect Sunset to Silverbell over the Santa Cruz.  The bridge is complete so that also provides a new route for the bikes. Tucson continues to make good on their promise to build trails.  Once you leave the Tucson city limits, it becomes obvious that Marana does not share their dedication, the trail surfaces are just abysmal.

Here is an interesting article about the various water releases along the river.  It is a lot of words.  If you find your interest waning, scroll to the bottom where the pictures are.  They show the changes in the state of the river over time.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

First Post of 2020

Happy New Year!  I haven't blogged since 2019, sorry about that.  Given the things that are going on with the planet, such as the administration's attacks on science, clean air and water, their desire to BRING BACK ASBESTOS, the fires in Australia, the killing of Qasem Soleimani and subsequent destabilization of the middle east, to include Iraq voting for all foreign troops to leave and the US forces stopping the hunt for ISIS not to mention the president tweeting from a Florida golf course that he's going to bomb whatever he wants - anything I have to say seems somewhat irrelevant.  Having said that, I feel that ya'll will forget me if I don't say something.

This was the sunset New Year's day.  It was pretty.  We haven't had a good one since, no cloud cover to speak of.

This is something we see a lot in Tucson.  Apparently the police are not troubled by the practice of vehicles towing other vehicles with a flexible strap.  This is, however, the first time we have seen a pickup truck towing a motor home.  The white arrow is pointing at the strap.

Today was a glorious day.  It made it up to 70 and the winds were dead flat calm.  It was a gift.  We rode up to the ball fields and back. There's a pitiful lack of cross over between hiking and bicycling.  My cardio is absolutely better, but my pedaling muscles are still sad. 

There was not much photogenic on the trail, so the only picture I took today was of our bikes.  Mine is on the left.  The one with the gaudy lettering is Jim's.

I made boiled eggs in the Instant Pot.  They really are easier to peel than if you make them on the stove top.  Please make a note of it!