Friday, March 28, 2014

Well, That Was Weird

Granted, I'm really tired.  Two weeks ago a major project started for which we invited participation from the public and other agencies US-wide.  The response has been enthusiastic and the data has been rolling in at a much higher than normal level.  And there's just little ol' me peddling as hard as I can to try to stay ahead of it.  Or at least not completely drown under it.  Long days without much in the way of breaks.  And an inability to disconnect my mind at the end of the day - the brain is still skipping around, thinking about what needs to be done, things I need to look at, stats I need to provide.  So I turn out the light and BING! I'm staring at the closet door and wishing Perry didn't feel that he has to plant his fat furry self in the exact spot I want to lay.

Last night was the same thing, splat into bed and then a racing mind.  I had turned out the light and I was thinking about some information I wanted to winnow out from some files I created during day when suddenly, as clear and sharp as a bell, I heard "Mommy!".  Huh!? Sounded like it came from right inside the house, on the front side. I sat up and listened.  No repeat.  I checked the front and the yard.  Nothing.  The back. Nothing.  And of course now I was full of adrenaline and a lot of tossing, turning, and further listening followed.

Most likely explanation is that I had actually gone to sleep and it was part of a dream.  But jeepers that was freaky.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Who's Next?

Since the Crimean situation reminded me of Hitler's grab of the Sudetenland, I did a little research and put together a map.   Red, of course, is Russia.  Yellow is surrounding countries with a population that includes more than 10% ethnic Russians.

Like Ukraine, Moldova has problems - ethnic Russian Transnistria has been trying to completely separate itself from the more Romanian-influenced Moldova for decades.

Putin now knows that zip will happen if he stomps through an independent country.  And I'm sure he sees Transnistria as a bit of Mother Russia whose people are crying out to return.  Wonder how long until the small Russian force based in Transnistria expands and it is formally annexed to Russia?  And the need for a direct connection to Transnistria gives Putin a reason to snap up a swath, if not all, of Ukraine?

And then there's that little bit of Russia separated off over to the west on Baltic Sea - the Kaliningrad Oblast.  Two countries with high ethnic Russian populations plus Lithuania stand between the rest of Russia and Kaliningrad.  Wonder how long before Russia decides that they need more direct access to their property and create a new connection involving pieces of those countries?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fun, In A Chilly Sort Of Way

Somebody over at put together a map that shows the differences from norms for a few major cities and then plots them where their 2013 - 2014 temps put them.

I find it interesting that D.C. moved south, but into a more mountainous area.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gooey Ducks

I've been to Los Angeles only a couple of times, once for a conference and then just passing through. Let's just say I wasn't impressed and have no particular desire to return. Well, actually, I a swallowed the cost of a pre-paid hotel night in order to get out of there.  But I did get to visit two interesting places during my longer stay: Will Roger's home in Santa Monica and the La Brea Tar Pits.

Will Roger's home is simple and pleasant and one has to smile at the fact that his stables were way larger than their house.  The flowers in front were full of hummingbirds, and the air smelled faintly of eucalyptus.  La Brea was fascinating - most of us don't have to put cones out to warn that tar is seeping up through our front yard in spots - but I'd be disinclined to live in the area if only because the air reeks of tar.(And it's in Los Angeles, which in turn is in California, which I wouldn't live in if you paid me.)

The tar pits have popped back up in the news again due to their proximity to a recent pretty cool discovery.  During test excavations for a new subway station across the street a treasure trove of fossils from different eras than that of the neighboring tar pits was discovered.  The tar pit fossils range from about 10,000 to 45,000 years old:  this new deposit is ranging from about 50,000 to 300,000 years old, with an intriguing 2,000,000 year old sea lion fossil in a rock mixed in just to make things even more interesting.  The finds include starfish, snails, small clams, and the not-so-small geoduck ("gooey duck"), which I think I first heard of courtesy of a "Dirty Jobs" episode.  Personally, I prefer steaming littlenecks, but there you go....

Why is this interesting to anybody but us fossil geeks? Well, I wonder if people will process a bit of information this presents.

A quick trip to Google Earth and some rough measurements with the appropriate app:

That yellow line that I ran from the tar pits to the coast is nearly 9 miles long.  So let's step through this:  there's a large deposit of sea creature remains across the street from the pits.  Which means that the sea level was once high enough to cover that area and it did so long enough to create a thriving, life-filled environment.  Gasp!  But but but..."This was the moment the rise of the oceans began to slow and the earth began to heal" ... but but but ... these fossils show that the sea level dropped considerably in this area thousands of years before Obama was born in Kenya (oops, sorry) ... that sea level change is normal ... and that the Chicken Littles need to stop babbling about sea level change.  Because, like the climate, the sea level has been changing for upwards of 4 billion years and will continue to do so.

Some more info about the find here and here.  One of the scientists interviewed mentions that the sea once extended well into Arizona.  I wonder if anyone will put 2 and 2 together and get 4 or whether Common Core math will prevail.

And I notice that yesterday's little 4.4. shaker in L.A. has got people wondering about fracking.  Because Los Angeles normally doesn't get earthquakes...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Common Core

I've never been a math wiz.  I've had a career in a field that involves a great deal of math because calculators and computers can come up with the correct answer to problems involving annoying things like logarithms  more consistently than I can.  But I can do some basic math.  Can even do it in my head sometimes if you be quiet and let me think. 

If you asked me to divide 432 by 8 I could do it in my head and it would only take a couple steps.  But my way would be wrong even if my answer was right.  Because here is how Common Core teaches kids how to do that problem:

This was done by Dan Bongino's daughter, who, having learned to do it the easy way, is now utterly confused by being forced to do it the Common Core way.  I could see me getting a big, fat F if I had to do it this way because I can't even tell what "this way" is.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Raaaaaacist Post

In 1654, a Virginia court issued a ruling concerning the servant John Casor, who had, Anthony Johnson charged, been taken from him by Robert Parker:
 "The court seriously consideringe and maturely weighing the premisses, doe fynde that the saide Mr. Robert Parker most unjustly keepeth the said Negro from Anthony Johnson his master … It is therefore the Judgement of the Court and ordered That the said John Casor Negro forthwith returne unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson, And that Mr. Robert Parker make payment of all charges in the suit."
Casor was returned to Johnson, his slave for life or until Johnson chose to sell him, making Johnson the first to legally own a black slave in the Virginia Colony. The irony of this is that Anthony Johnson was a black man himself.

Johnson was born around 1600 in Angola, Africa, an area with tribes that had been active slave traders for centuries. As was common, he was captured by another tribe and sold to slave trader, eventually arriving In the Virginia Colony in 1621, where he was bought by a tobacco farmer as an indentured servant, which meant his obligation, while much like slavery, had a time limit on it.

When his period of indenture was over, Johnson received some recompense and became a well established farmer himself.

It seems that you can't turn around without some race-baiter calling someone who disagrees with them a racist. I've become convinced that to some people the fact that I breathe makes me racist. Along with that is a pervasive sense of entitlement. White people held slaves so white people are bad.  You are white so you owe me.  And, by the way, in the interest of diversity you aren't invited to the party.

A group of Caribbean nations are getting ready to sue European nations for reparations for slavery. I can understand reparations to the living who were harmed by an action, but the whole slavery reparation thing is in the same realm of ridiculous as "no whites allowed" is. Do the descendents of black slave owners like Anthony Johnson have a moral obligation to pay reparations to the decedents of black slaves? Does the white part of mixed-race people owe their black part reparations? The issue of reparations pops up In the U.S. periodically as well.  Some families, like mine, gave lives and blood for the North in that little disagreement in the 1860s that resulted in the abolishment of slavery. I rather feel that, quite aside from never having owned a slave myself, that alone wipes my line's slate clean and leaves us owing nobody anything. If we are going to get into descendents paying descendents for ancestral actions, maybe the Jesse Jackson owes ME.

And while the race hustlers make a good living off of white guilt and black enslavement is talked about and played off of endlessly there's a significant piece of slavery history that is completely ignored: at the time Johnson was suing for the return of his black slave, thousands of white slaves were being poured into the colonies in the form of Irish slaves. According to John Martin at Global Research:
"The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.
Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.
From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.
During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers."

I'm a descendent of English rulers AND several Irish lines.

 Great-great-great-etc. Grandpa Henry III of England.

So it makes me wonder: how much does the Plantagenet in me owe the Paddy? 


Like a butterfly, my grill emerged from it's cocoon last night....

Well, actually, we had high winds and the cover was ripped to shreds.  I still haven't looked  to see what I have to go fish out of the woods today.  But I'm taking this as a sign that when the temperatures go back up this weekend it's time to fire it up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Because Bad News Travels Faster And Further Than Good

I know that I don't have a ton of readers, but I thought I'd throw this out here just in case it can help a radio station I'm fond of.

I stream WCBM out of Baltimore while I'm working. I like the morning commentators and the staff.  Among other things, they are very pro-Israel and very hard on radical Islam.  This brings them to the attention of CAIR occasionally.  Recently, Nino posted a commentary on Islam at the WCBM website that resulted in one of CAIR's protest letters.  Unfortunately, it got out in the blogosphere that CAIR's pressure caused them to take the piece down.  This surprised me - they've not buckled to CAIR pressure before.  Turns out that, indeed, it's not true.  Here is the station's response to the accusation:

  Recently, Talk Radio WCBM reposted an article on our station website, by Audrey Russo. The article was entitled"Islam: The Only Religion That Tells Everyone On EARTH What To Do". Although WCBM was contacted by a local group and asked to remove the article, we did not comply with that request. Instead, all articles posted on expire after 48 hours and are not archived. WCBM believes in freedom of speech and as a talk radio station, we welcome dialogue and opinions from all perspectives.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Uhg. Grrrrr. Groan. Whine.

I make a fair amount of money.  But I don't have any money. Well, I have my thrift savings plan, which is like a 401K, but that's for retirement.  And a small emergency fund.  Other than that my money just seems to go away.  Part of that is that I'm house poor - I could do with about 300 - 500 sq feet less of house and the lower mortgage that would go with it but not much I can do about that now.  Even if I were inclined to move the market crash left me with property worth way less than I paid for it.  I'm not upside down, but I'd make about $1.99 profit if I sold.  And if you add in the thousands I've put into it - paving the driveway and redoing the drainage and landscaping and - well, I don't even want to think about that.

Anyway, my church has been offering Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University periodically and this year I decided to enroll.  Because I don't have much in the way of financial peace.  Or money for the guns I want or even to stock ammo the way I should.  Or the beach vacation I need (Yes, need.  I really really need sun and sand and ocean right now.  Or at least for my nose to not be cold.).  And then there's the fact that now my family lives way further away and there's a grandbaby, so there's new expenses.

The class is fun - Ramsey can make you laugh out loud.  We were singing the theme from "The Beverly Hillbillies" the other night.  But I hate forms.  I hate details that don't have to do with history or geology or biology or, well, I hate the details of anything having to do with finances.  I hate doing things like balancing a check book.  And of course the first thing you have to do for class is come up with a 0-based budget, a cash flow plan that accounts for every penny that comes in and goes out.  I've been horrified at how many things I don't actually know my monthly costs for.  Or how many details I'm still having to add to the list.  Fortunately I finally figured Excel out enough so that it will sum for me as I jigger numbers, but YEESH.  And YUCK.  And I'm not happy to figure out that my in-office day costs me $35 in gas and parking each week.  Guess I'll have to reconsider being tied to the train again. Man I hate that.

Then I got the bright idea to save some $ by doing my own taxes for the first time in 20 years so this afternoon I pulled out last year's forms to see if I could just step through it using this years numbers.  Ummm.  Where did she get that number?  And that one?  I have no idea where the amount that she put in "Points not reported to you on Form 1098." came from.  Maybe I just pay again this year and ask lots of questions.  This sort of stuff makes me swear.