Sunday, December 27, 2020

December 27

Greetings Earthlings!  How are things in the waning days of the disastrous year that was 2020?  We wonder how much more damage the orange ectoplasm can do with his 25 or so remaining days.  I guess the government shuts down tomorrow at midnight if he doesn't sign the bill, so there is that.  And there are all of those people losing unemployment benefits, protection from eviction, and food support.  The ectoplasm is doing a pretty good job of ruination.  That appears to be his core competency.

The day of Christmas Eve was cold, and windy.  We went for a cold walk in the afternoon.  I should have worn a scarf to keep the cold air from running down my neck.  We did have some good clouds.

The sun setting on Golden Gate was, golden!

Christmas Day began with clouds and gloom.  Then the clouds departed and it was a gorgeous day.  We got the bikes out to begin the war against excessive calories.  So far I think we're still losing.  What is it about stuffing that makes one eat too much of it?


The Verdin is on the feeder.  The male hummingbird is not happy about this.  Look at his little clenched feet.  As time passes they appear to be reaching detente.  The Verdin gets to eat on one feeder, and the hummer goes to the other feeder.  I don't like it when the Verdin sits on top of the feeder instead of the perch, because he poops on it.  That merits a sock thrown at the blinds to make him leave. 

We're getting a little stir crazy.  December 22 was the last day we went anywhere.  That was the final grocery shopping before Christmas.  Since then we have been in the house or on the bikes.  I am truly grateful for the fact that the weather has been mostly good.  That all comes to an end Tuesday, but really one should not complain.  On the covid map I saw this morning, Arizona is the same deep red as California - so it does give one pause about going anywhere.

In other news of the terrible, migrating birds are dropping out of the sky in droves.  They're starving to death.  They're so hungry that their bodies have cannibalized their flight muscles.  This is not good.  More can be read here.

We have seen a few birds locally.  What we're not seeing are bugs, so we wonder what they are eating.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Day

 Merry Christmas!  

It's been an unforgettable year - here's hoping the next one will be better.


 

Monday, December 21, 2020

It's the Winter Solstice

Greetings on the shortest day of the year, which due to remarkably bad planning on our part 35 years ago is our anniversary.  Getting married was sort of an impulse decision, we'd already paid for a ski trip in Utah, so we decided to make that a honeymoon.  A judge friend of Jim's said the words and it was done.  It's too close to Christmas.  Back in the day when Christmas was a thing, we invariably forgot about the anniversary part.  

Who knows the name Katalin Kariko?  Like so many women who were critical to scientific achievements such as Rosalind Franklin (DNA crystallography), or Vera Rubin (discovered evidence of dark matter), or the ladies of Bletchley who broke the German codes, or the ladies who did the computations of orbital mechanics for personned space flight, I feel like Ms Kariko and her contributions to mRNA science are being overlooked.  She worked on it for decades.  Now she works at BioNTech and they do know what she did for the science.  I'd like to see more in the media than the husband and wife team who made the vaccine.  They stood on her shoulders.  You can read more here and a better article is here.

It was another good day, it hit the upper 70's.  While we were riding, it was windy, but as soon as we got home it stopped.  Funny how that works.  This is a cholla, he drops pups in the desert.  Some root and live, many don't and die.  This has been a tough year for the desert.  Monsoon was a bust, and in December we've had one day of rain.  December is generally wet.

Tucson is in a caldera.  Because of all the volcanoes that used to be active, we have a lot of different rock.  I need to hire a geology student to come out and explain what we're seeing.  There is a lot of rock like this that is easy to break.   You see it in ridges in the dirt. 

Here we see one of the ridges.

Bow hunting season for deer has started.  We're seeing hunters in Tucson Mountain Park with their bows.  It's still a mystery to me how they find a deer, sneak up on it, kill it, and then get it out of the park.  Deer are heavy.  We're wearing brightly colored jerseys on the bikes, so we don't look like prey.

The orange ectoplasm continues to insist he won by a landslide.  AG Barr has said no to seizing voting machines, appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the election fraud, and appointing a special prosecutor to torment Hunter Biden.  He's leaving in two days, it's easy to be brave.  The new budget has $2Billion for Space Force while children are going hungry.  There is something seriously wrong with Republicans' priorities.  This week VP Pence announced that members of Space Force would be known as Guardians, which immediately unleashed a torrent of Marvel memes on twitter.


That's it! That's all I've got.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Pay Off

After enduring the hottest summer ever, we got the pay off today.  No wind, blue skies and 72 degrees.  It was just wonderful.  The summer was so terrible because monsoon failed.  All of the moisture from the gulf went east into New Mexico.  Without monsoon in July and August, to cool things off, it just kept getting hotter.  It was really hot.  Anyway, it was such a comfortable day for a bike ride, we just loved it.  This is from one of the dirt trails we ride.

More sky, gratuitous picture of a palm tree.

The front gate with a Christmas wreath.  It's labelled for indoor use only, so if rain is in the forecast, it has to come in.  I like it, it's shiny and cheerful.

This is the decorative item over the gate.  It mimics a church arch, there should be a bell in there.


Looking out to the west, sitting on the patio.  It was weird, right after I took this clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped.  Not complaining, not after what New York and the rest of the east are dealing with.

I swiped this from the internet.  You have to really want to eat out to do this. 

The orange ectoplasm lost two lawsuits in Georgia today - that was good.  There is some confusion over how many Pfizer doses have been shipped, whether or not there are hold backs, and where they're supposed to go.  I guess it was too much to ask for enough people in the administration to pay attention to vaccine shipments.  Moderna's vaccine was approved, so there will be more coming on line.

I read a lot of blogs, and I frequently read the comments left on said blogs.  I was astonished today to read three comments saying they won't take the vaccine; there's no point since masks will still be necessary, Biden will get the credit instead of the ectoplasm, the virus is a hoax and the vaccine won't prevent it, and etc., and etc.  This is very disheartening.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

We're Coming to the End of Things

 It feels like maybe the election will be over soon.  The Electoral College voted, there were no faithless electors.  Today Mitch McConnell asked the Republicans to please not challenge the vote on January 6, because then they would have to vote to support the election of Joe Biden and it would cause them to appear "anti-Trump."  One does wonder how a former reality TV star holds this much sway over a political party.  They should be anti-Trump.

AG Bill Barr is out as of December 23.  He will not be missed.  The Supreme Court declined to hear a case from Indiana which sought to limit same sex marriage.  That was a surprise.  

Mayor Pete of South Bend, Indiana has been named by President-Elect Biden as Secretary of Transportation.  Yea to the Mayor!

We are still in Covid staying at home.  Our esteemed governor will not call for a lockdown, despite the public health officials saying that we are heading off a cliff again in terms of case numbers and staffed ICU bed availability.  We're learning to grocery shop really quickly.

I took this last Friday.  It was a pretty good sunset.


This is my neighbor's lemon tree.  It looks like it's going to be another good year for lemons.  They don't use them (!) so they're all for me.  I juiced and zested a ton of them at the end of March when they were ready to come off the tree.  The fruit cycle is a mystery to me, my tree is just about done producing lemons, and this tree will be ready in the spring.

My lemon tree does not look good.  I think the deer are chewing on it.  I hope it's deer and not illness.

NYT did an interesting article on how the mRNA vaccines work.   It's a lot of words, but it's a good explainer.  Or you could just read this tweet.

There is a hysterical video of the orange ectoplasm being removed from the White House circulating on twitter. You can view it here.

Other than this, I have zippity doo-dah all to report.


Friday, December 11, 2020

The Day in Screen Scrapes

 Well.  Today has been interesting.  Much has happened.

This morning, there was this headline.  FDA had planned to release tomorrow, but the orange ectoplasm wanted it today.  Way to establish credibility of the science!

The orange ectoplasm got a magazine cover - in Germany.

The ectoplasm did not make ectoplasm of the year in Time magazine.  These two did!  Yay Biden/Harris!

Finally, the lawsuit filed by the Texas AG seeking to over turn the election results in four swing states, signed on to by 126 or so Republican congressworms, a few state AGs and a partridge in a pear tree was dismissed by the Supreme Court nine to zip.

It was a bad day in the ectoplasm neighborhood.  That's it!  All I have is schadenfreude.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Return of Spam and Birds on the Feeder

I saw this article on Slate today.  The subject hasn't gotten much attention in the press, actually this is the only reference I've seen to it. Basically, the Supreme Court appears to want to limit restrictions on spam phone calls.  Yup, they seek to enhance our lives by allowing MORE SPAM.  Below are three paragraphs.  The article is not long and is worth reading because it sheds light on the convoluted wrong-headed thinking we're going to be stuck with for the next few decades.

The case in question is relatively sleepy, with no protesting crowds or eager reporters waiting in the wings. Facebook v. Duguid asks whether a 29-year-old law, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, applies to all telemarketing calls or only governs calls made using technology that was available in 1991 when the law was originally passed. This seemingly small point carries widespread consequences. If Facebook prevails, telemarketers everywhere will be freed from the TCPA’s most effective restrictions, which ban live calls to your cellphone. This means more spam calls (and you thought it was bad already).

But perhaps more relevant to the future of the court is the ideological battle raging beneath the surface in Duguid. Everyone involved agrees that the operative sentence in the TCPA was poorly drafted and is open to multiple interpretations. It says the law applies only to telemarketing devices that can “store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator.” As one judge concluded after struggling with this language, “Clarity, we lament, does not leap off this page of the U.S. Code.” If you prefer to look solely at the grammar of the sentence (what could be called the grammatical view of textualism), the TCPA would restrict only devices that produce or store numbers using a random number generator. But that makes no sense—how can a number generator “store” anything? Meanwhile, if you choose to read the sentence in context (the contextual view of textualism), the law would apply both to devices that produce numbers using a random number generator and ones that store numbers generally.

Six months later, it appears very likely that many of the justices who endorsed the contextual approach in Bostock will flip to a strict grammatical view in Duguid. The appearance that policy preferences may be driving that migration undermines one of the principal rationales Scalia theorized for textualism: that it offered a neutral benchmark for judicial decision-making. What we saw taking hold on Tuesday looks far more like a regressive variant of judicial activism. If so, the TCPA’s junk call provisions may be the first of many cherished protections whose reach is diminished under this new flag of textualism.

So, there you go.

I have spent the better part of the afternoon in my recliner throwing my socks at the window blinds.  Why, you wonder?  There is a Verdin attempting to feed from the hummingbird feeder. The male, very territorial, hummer comes and buzzes him, but the Verdin will not leave.  So I throw the socks to rattle the blinds and he flies off, but he comes back.  After the level of the sugar water goes down a little he can't drink, but until then he'll return. 

We don't have the Annas hummingbirds that we did at the Rincon RV park.  We have Black Chins.  They're sort of a drab looking hummingbird.  The male is hysterical.  If we walk out the front door he buzzes us.  He flies around my head.  We walked across the street to get the mail, and on our way back he flew at us in the driveway.  I guess this is his house and we're merely here to feed him.  Here he is in the palm tree protecting his territory.

It did rain starting last night, through the night and off and on all day.  It's cold, too.  OK, it's 57, but it feels cold because of the cloud cover.  Rain is good, we need more.

This is from Nextdoor.  This person is not the only one to hold this view.  It's disheartening.

So, the US enrolled 30,000 people in stage three trials, and they all died, and nobody noticed?  It's an amazing statement here.
 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Rant and Some Scenery

Aaaaaaargh.  I truly have hate in my heart for many red states.  The Texas AG, Mr. Paxton, who has been under investigation for multiple crimes for the past five years has filed a lawsuit with SCOTUS to overturn the election results of four swing states.  Today, seventeen red states have signed on as amici curiae in support of this.  Think about it.  Texas wants to disenfranchise all of those voters in the swing states because he doesn't like the way they voted.  To its credit, Ohio, is not participating in this charade.  Maybe California would like to challenge the way the Texans voted.

What else am I pissed off about?  Well there is the gestapo-like raid on Rebekah Jones' home by Florida police.  The warrant to enter the home was signed by a judge appointed 30 days ago by DeathSantis.  Said judge was in civil court, signing off on a criminal warrant.  The police took all of her computers.  DeathSantis is mad because she has continued to post current Covid numbers even after firing her for doing her job.  They're trying to charge her with "hacking" a system that is available to the public.  I hope she's able to sue everybody.  More is here, including her video of the police. Update to post 12/11/2020:  Apparently the police did not have the warrant in hand when they entered the house, it came three hours later.

Meanwhile, in Idaho, public health officials' homes are being surrounded by people who think Covid is hoax.  They're banging on the doors, scaring the kids, shining lasers through the windows and banging garbage cans to make noise.  All of these people who end up with Covid should not be allowed in a hospital.  More is here on this subject.  In general, if you don't mask, wash hands, and distance, then I think no health care for you. 

Lastly, there is the murder of Casey Goodson by the police.  He was shot in the back three times as he prepared to enter his home with a bag of Subway sandwiches.  He died in front of his grandmother and two toddlers.  This has to stop, police should not be murdering Black men because they can.  More on this here.

So, there is so much more I am pissed about, but I guess I will stop there. 

We have had some sunsets, not a lot but some.


We rode this afternoon, there was not a cloud in the sky, making us doubt the forecast for rain tonight and tomorrow morning.

Then, out of nowhere, clouds rolled in.  Currently it's getting darker, and the wind has picked up a little.  So maybe.

Ok, one more thing.  Yesterday was Safe Harbor.  All states have certified, some more than once.  ENOUGH with the stupid lawsuits that have already been dismissed because they're stupid.  Also, there is the fact that five early voting polling places in Black and Brown areas have been closed in Georgia.  The election official said it's because she doesn't have staffing.  Oddly enough, no polling places in the white areas have been closed.  Why don't they close some of them, and move the poll workers to the poorer areas.  In addition to not having enough polling places, there is virtually zero public transportation to get the voters to the ones still open.

This is funny, it's from twitter.


So, that's really it, that's all I've got.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

A Disjointed Post

Today was a halcyon day - warm with light breezes.  It was the kind of day we didn't have very frequently over the last two winters.  It's a La Nina winter, we're hoping for warmer weather and less wind.  One is not allowed to hope for no rain, since we're in extreme drought.

The bougainvillea seems to be shutting down for the winter.  Last year at this time, it was covered in blossoms, this year, not so much. 

The weight bench I ordered arrived.  It was a simple assembly.  I love it when vendors do their small parts like this.  They're shrink wrapped to the cardboard, and very clearly labelled.  The instructions contained not one word, only pictures.

 
The totally, and completely, fake Christmas tree.  This is year three for it, so far it has only dropped three branches.  Moving in and out of the box is hard on the wire.  The first year we had it, the lights on the top third wouldn't come on.  We add a string of lights to that section.  This year I had planned to replace it, but since we can't shop, we can't replace.

We put net lights on the palm next to the patio.  It may be the last year for it, it's getting tall and we hate ladders.

The rabbit has been back visiting us.  He's a cute bunny, he's also the reason why I can't have any flowers in the yard.

Rudy Giuliani has Covid.  Apparently there have been cases reported starting at the Gettyburg airing of grievances.  One wonders how many other people will get it.


Friday, December 4, 2020

The Opening of Christmas Season

Ho Ho Ho! We spent yesterday installing Christmas because it was too dang windy and cold to do anything outside.  There was even a wind advisory in effect.  Anyway, here is a really cute picture of the bears and the Department 56 village.  Notice how cute the bears are, and how tiny.  Someone stitched the bear parts, turned the parts inside out, and fully articulated the arms, legs and heads.  Cute, Cute, Cute.

 
That's it!  That's all I've got.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Flailing Continues

Well - it has been a day in litigation.  As of very recently ago, five new law suits were filed in Minnesota.  The campaign people for the orange ectoplasm are calling legislators in Michigan, telling them to send electors that will vote for the ectoplasm, rather than President Elect Biden.  The thrashing and flailing continues unabated.  Forty nine days remain.

Sidney Powell is one of the more delusional lawyers involved in these cases.  This was the argument she made in court today or yesterday.  They're all running together.  Anyway, give this a read and revel in the marvelous legal mind that is Ms. Powell.

Recall, if you will, that Chavez died in 2013.  I want to keep this as a momento of how crazy the cult is, and the steps they are willing to take to over turn this election.  Personally, I think it will be ok, but it would be nice if it would be over and these people would leave.

Ivanka was deposed yesterday by the DC Attorney General's office.  She's part of the investigation into excessive billing carried out by the Trump Hotel in 2017.  She'll look good in orange.

Today Angus linked to a youtube from 2010.  It was filmed in the National Building Museum.  It's a red brick facade with a Roman temple on the inside.  Annie Lenox sang there at Christmas, and she was, as always, breath taking.  The columns become visible at about 2:50.  Also visible, is footage of the Obama family, looking like normal people, out for an evening.  Seeing them, and thinking about the past four years and their awfulness made me cry.  Please let it be over.