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Aug
01

Patrick Henry is most famous for his “GiveMe Liberty, or Give Me Death ” speech. Noble words indeed.

 

Give Me Liberty or Give Me a Sleazy Lawyer

When I was a kid, I recall having read about how the great American patriot,Patrick Henry, when he was practicing law, was once able to get off a client through the most unsavory and backhanded manner. Somehow that story stuck in my head like a loud bullfrog, for it is not everyday that you come across one of our”Great Patriots” being revealed in such unglamorous light. However, when I went to try and find the story online, my search efforts always came up empty. That is until just recently, when I was finally able to locate the story online.

Swine were a mainstay of the Colonial diet

 

Mr. Henry Promises To Kiss the Bible

As it happens, we are told that this story was widely circulated around Lynchburg, Virginia (where Henry practiced law) and that it went something like this.

One day a man approached Patrick Henry because  he had been accused of stealing a shoat (pig). He then asked Patrick, if the lawyer could please arrange to have the charges dismissed. Immediately, Mr. Henry asked the thief if he had taken pig. As it turned out, the man had not only acquired the swine through theft, but, he had also dressed the carcass and hung it in his smokehouse.

At this point Mr. Henry told the thief to split the pig lengthwise and put half in Patrick’s own barn. The thief complied and so when Patrick Henry went in front of the judge to defend the man he stated; “Your honor, this man has no more of this stolen shoat than I have, if necessary I’d kiss the bible on this.”

Not surprisingly, the thief was cleared and Patrick Henry went on enjoy a lot of free pork.

Lawyers Arguing, drawing by Honore Daumier

 

The American Legal Practice Today

Though this satirical depiction was done in France, several centuries ago, the legal practice seems unchanged over time. The current year, 2021, seems to be a particularly bad time to be practicing law, as law suits are running rampart, but good legal advice seems in short supply. Perhaps, things will get better in the future, but this seems like a long short, as legal woes exist everywhere you turn.

This trespassers may soon be in need of good legal advice.

 

January 6 in Our Nation’s Capitol

The failed insurrection that occurred on January 6, 2021 may be a gold mine for those in the legal profession. All kinds of legal advice will be sought by those being prosecuted by the DOJ and FBI. All kinds of representation will be needed, even the sleazy kind, which can get a man off for stealing a pig – or worse, as may be the case here.

Jul
18

Before vaccinations there were inoculations

 

Colonial Medicine

The current controversies surrounding Covid vaccinations are nothing new, for back in Colonial times the introduction of smallpox inoculations caused quite a stir. The year was 1721, a massive smallpox outbreak was underway in Boston, when the Reverend Cotton Mather had a bomb thrown through his bedroom window with a nasty note attached.

The reason for the act of vandalism was that the good Reverend was advocating a new medical procedure called, inoculation. Although the procedure had been tried successfully in Europe, Americans were new to the process. In fact, the idea of pricking someone’s skin with a needle containing a milder variant of smallpox was considered ludicrous by many and so when Mather became one of the first in the colonies to support the idea, he was meant with strong ridicule including acts of violence like the one mentioned above.

In Turkey, a form of inoculation, called Variolation, had been practiced for many centuries before being discover by the West.

 

History of Inoculation

According to Science in the News (Harvard Univ.) Mather learned of the inoculation procedure from one of his West African slaves, who claimed that it was the Turks, who had treated her and many of her fellow Africans with the scratching technique.

After collaborating the story with several other slaves from the same region, Mather became convinced that the treatment had merit and should be tried in the Colonies. To say that the idea of purposely infecting someone with a milder case of the disease was meant with intense resistance is probably a huge understatement. 

Drawing electricity from the sky, Benjamin Franklin was always one to experiment with new scientific ideas. He was also a great believer in inoculations and helped to establish Philadelphia as a center, where this controversial practice could be performed.

 

 

The Resistance Changes Colonial Society

So strong was the resistance to this new medical treatment from the Arab World that it created new pathways of dissent that quickly lead to the establishment of the free press in America.   

In an article published by The World, an offshoot of Boston Public Radio, the idea is put forth that negative reaction to smallpox in 1721 and beyond, directly lead to the establishment of the Free Press in America.

One of the first subjects of contention was the variolation treatment, which was thoroughly unpopular almost everywhere, despite successful efforts by one, Dr. Boylston, to prove that this early form of inoculation worked in reducing the severity of the dreaded disease. It is quite plausible that many of the firebrand newspapers of the 18th century would have developed much slower, if not for the raging debate, which raged in the decade, beginning in 1721.

For many years, it has been observed that milk maids and other dairy workers have often been immune to smallpox. painting by Bernardus Blommers.

 

Smallpox Vaccinations Arrive

By 1810, a very basic vaccine for smallpox had been developed and put into use. The actual testing of the vaccine dates back to 1796, when, Dr. Jenner, a British physician, successfully injected patients with an experimental vaccine that produced lifelong immunity against the dreaded disease.

In the 20th century, various world health organizations, would spearhead, a global outreach effort that successfully eliminated smallpox from the planet. Since the pox has been eradicated, smallpox vaccinations are no longer acquired, although the supply of vaccine is  maintained in case of another outbreak.

Today, 2021, conflict over COVID vaccines is dividing our country (the USA)

 

Tempers Flare Today

Currently, in 2021, strong opinions exist on both sides of the vaccine debate, concerning whether a COVID-19 vaccine is safe or not. In some ways it is reminiscent of the debate that raged in 1721 and in other ways, the current struggle differs significantly, especially in the way that the country is almost evenly divided on the subject.

Jul
15

In 1751, George Washington stayed in this island house, while visiting the Bardados.

 

George Washington Visits Barbados

In 1751, Barbados must have seemed like a very strange place, to the young Washington, when he visited the remote and lush Caribbean Island. George didn’t travel to the region to sample the rum (or the local ladies), but instead, he made the long sea voyage to help convalesce his older ailing brother, Lawrence. The trip did not go well, for George came down with smallpox. After recovering from the dreaded disease, George returned solo to the Colonies, only to learn of his brother’s death, shortly after he arrived in Virginia.

The Careenage is an 1848 oil painting of Bridgetown, Barbados, completed by British painter, Percy William Justyne, in 1848

 

 

A Lush, Green Tropical Isle

In 1751, Barbados was a prosperous British colony and Bridgetown was a thriving port city, much larger than anything George had seen in Virginia. From his sparse writings of the time, Washington was quite impressed with the natural beauty and agricultural wealth of the British colony. He might have enjoyed the island more if he hadn’t come down sick just two weeks after he arrived.

Today, visitors to the George Washington House in Barbados can sample a typical dinner from the Colonial era without much risk of smallpox.

 

 

 

 

Washington Meets an Island Doctor

After George became ill with smallpox, he was treated by a Dr. Lanaham. All we know about Dr. Lanaham is that he was a third generation Barbadian, originally from Great Britain, and that he successfully nursed the young man back to health. At the time vaccines did not exist and inoculation, injecting somebody with a milder strain, was highly controversial.

Back in 1776, smallpox was usually referred to as the “Cow Pock”.

 

Biological Warfare in 1776

As the Revolutionary War unfolded in late 1776, the British command had a not-so-secret trick up their sleeve. It was the intentional spread of smallpox among the civilian population living along the Eastern seaboard. What the British did not know was that the American commander-in-Chief had already had the disease and so he would be immune to any potential outbreak. Nonetheless, a large outbreak among Washington’s troops would have been devastating.

In 1777, the newly-formed US Military undertook a controversial medical procedure. They inoculated their troops with smallpox.

 

Inoculation vs. Vaccination

When first introduced to America in 1725, the concept of inoculation met with strong, sometimes hysterical resistance. The idea of purposely infecting someone with an active, but milder version of smallpox, was met with stiff resistance and on rare occasion the protest turned violent. By 1777, the idea of inoculation had taken root on this side of the Atlantic, but still the controversial process was distrusted by many. Despite the unfavorable opinions, Washington and his military staff decided on inoculating all new recruits to the Continental Army. This radical decision may have helped save his troops, as well as paving the way for other medical advances.

Jun
27
Around 1830 the great Japanese artist, Hokusai, published this woodcut of a Tsunami wave with Mt. Fuji clearly visible in the background.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Over the years, tsunamis have shaped the national character of Japan.  Often they follow a big shaking from a nearby earthquake, but on rare occasion, the mighty wave can mysteriously appear, when there is no obvious source. We now know that a tsunami can be generated by a distant quake and then travel thousands of miles across open seas and hit unsuspecting residents in far-off lands. This natural phenomena is called an “orphan” tsunami and is precisely what happened to  Japan and other sites around the Pacific, when a 9.0 earthquake occurred off the coast of Oregon and Washington in January 1700.

This Alaskan village is typical of many Native American communities found around the Pacific Northwest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Japan

In Japan, the 1700 tsunami was reported to be 6 to 10 feet and though the wave of water did considerable damage, the lost of life was minimal. On Vancouver Island, residents were not so lucky, as whole Native American villages were wiped out by a much larger tsunami (perhaps 50 feet high) that arrived in the middle of the night without any advanced warning. What is so disconcerning about this whole scenario is that the Cascadia fault has a pattern of producing a major 8.0 shaker every 200 to 900 years. With the last one being in 1700, we are now well into the danger zone for another big one.

Life on Planet Earth depends on the daily sun exposure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra-terrestrial Threats

Not all disasters originate on Mother Earth. For example, the Sun, which just happens to be our nearest start, is a constant source of life and energy for our orbiting planet. On rare occasion, this giver of life can turn destructive. This happens when sunspots on the sun’s surface explode and  send energy bursts into outer space. Most of these energy bursts are sent harmlessly into outer space, but it can happen that a very strong flare finds it way to our planet. The worst case scenario could produce a solar storm that knocks out portions of our power grid. The last time this happened was in 1859, when an unusually strong energy burst did substantial damage to the existing telegraph system. It has been speculated that such an event today would certainly cause catastrophic destruction within our satellite communication system. Some scientist fear that the current solar cycle, which we just entered may produce a solar storm matching the one that occurred in 1859.

The Sanriku earthquake of 1896 (*.5 magnitude) produced an unusually large and destructive tsunami

 

Japanese Earthquakes of 1896 and 2011

Recently in March 2011, northern Japan experienced an unusually large (9.0 magnitude) earthquake that came with a huge destructive and deadly  tsunami. In many ways, this was a repeat of the 1896 earthquake, although the tsunami associated with that particular disaster was unusually large. Despite a history of deadly earthquakes and a disaster preparatory system that is one of the best in the world,  this cataclysm overwhelmed the northern regions of the Pacific Island nation, taking more than 10,000 lives in the process.

All in all, this illustrates the possibility that being prepared and informed is not always enough, as these great events may have things in store that we never expected.

 

In the early nineteenth century, the eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia created the year without summer in North America and Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Conclusion

Looking back at our brief human existence on the planet, there appear to be many recurring trouble spots that might recreate past disasters.  Volcanic activities at places like Mt. Ste. Helens (US), Katla (Iceland), Mt. Vesuvius (Italy) and Krakatoa (Indonesia) are some of the most prominent names that stir collective memories.

Often volcanic activity occurs in areas that are also eartquake prone. A quick study of plate tectonics might help explain this geologic phenomena. Anyway, New Madrid (US), San Francisco (US), Tokyo(Japan) and Taipei (Taiwan) are just a few places that conjure up historical catastrophes that have become part of our human experience.

 

Jun
06

Enlightened individuals have been gazing at the stars for eons.

Stargazing Over the Years

Everybody likes to stargaze. Possibly, this is a popular trend that dates all the way back to the time when man first emerged from the cave and began to build shelters on the open land. And as a corollary, it can also be said that the human population seems to enjoy finding meanings and prophecies within the movements of the celestial bodies. Even today with the advent of satellites, manned space flight and space probes that have reached far out within our own solar system, there still seems to be a strong interest in how extra-terrestrial bodies might affect our own planet.

Out In Space, digital art by H. Bauhaus

Out In Space, digital art by H. Bauhaus

Supermoons and More

We already know that the moon affects our tides, not only in a monthly cycle (28 days actually), but there appears to be some variations linked to those times when the moon passes closer to the earth, as well as the spring and fall equinoxes. And then, there is the sun, which not only gives us daylight, but also a whole bunch of solar activity that goes under the labels of sun spots, sun flares, CMEs and solar storms. Not only that, we also know that the sun has eleven year cycles (or thereabouts), where these effects upon our planet wax and wane. These are respectively referred to as maximums and minimums. Currently, we just went from a minimum to a maximum, which means we can expect more sun storms in the near future. This in turn could affect weather patterns, communications and possibly geological activity. The jury is still out on the last one.

The SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory)spacecraft has been successfully sending back data from its solar observations since the mid1990s.

 

Tying It All Together

In recent years, there have emerged a small group of internet content providers, who react to the daily astronomical data that is put out by NASA, as well as the general trend in active volcanoes, current earthquakes and short range weather patterns. These observations include things like solar wind speed, the Schuman Resonance and the release of earthbound solar flares. In theory, when all these variables increase at the same time, there is an effect felt on earth, not only by the physical elements, but by the human population as well.

Our understanding of the heavens continues to advance, even though there is a lot we don’t know.

 

The Skywatchers

On You Tube there are several users, who make it a daily habit to observe the data on natural phenomena, both earthbound and extra-terrestrial and then try to surmise how these events might effect out daily lives. You can find them easily, as they go by such colorful handles as TheEarthMaster,  Evolution Crisis, Morning D.E.W., Earthquake Today News, World News Report, Suspicious Observers and World News Report Today, just to name a few. Take your pick, add a few grains of salt and follow the story.

P.S. Don’t forget Dutchsinse, the granddaddy of all these channels.

Planet Mercury is the planet located closest to the Sun, and as a result it is the hottest of all the planets.

Mercury in Retrograde

Just recently, one of these observers put forth the idea that when the planet Mercury is in retrograde, there is in an increased chance of seismic activity (especially earthquakes) on earth. This period begins today (June 6, 2021) and lasts until June 14th of the same year, an expanse of about 8 days. With today being the first day of Mercury in retrograde, the results seem in line with the prediction. There is a definite uptick in the number of earthquakes, even though the earthquakes are all very small, as there hasn’t been any major shaking going around. What is happening is that the increase is in smaller quakes (Magnitude 4.9 and smaller) and of particular note are the swarms of small earthquakes, wherever they may occur. Today, the hot spot for such events is the Salton Sea in Southern California, where the swarm numbers in the hundreds with the biggest being 5.3 on the Richter Scale.

However, earlier this weekend, there was a sizeable swarm just off the coast of Oregon. It will be interesting to see how this prediction turns out, while it should be remembered that a large increase in quakes does not necessarily support the hypothesis, nor is the opposite necessarily true.

May
26

 

A desert thunderstorm sometimes brings rain

Crazy Weather

I live on the edge of the Salt Lake Basin. It;s called a basin cause no water flows out… just in. So when a rain storm arrives, it’s big news. When two such torrential storms show up within in a day of each other, it is worth noting. Add a snow event in the Wasatch Range that went all the way down to 8,000 feet (it’s now almost June) and now you have some very unusual weather patterns to say the least. More about the weather later, but more importantly, there is another Supermoon just around the corner.

During an eclipse the moon turns a rose color

 

Super Flower Blood Moon

The next full moon on Wednesday May 26, 2021, will be known as the Super Flower Blood Moon 2021. Sounds ominous for sure, but anyway, let’s examine what is really going on. First of all, Wednesday’s full moon is also known as a Super Moon, because it will pass closer to the earth than a normal full moon. As a result the celestial body will appear brighter and bigger than normal. These observation are not an illusion, they can be measured with the correct scientific instruments. With the upcoming closer passage, there could be higher tides and more coastal erosion.

Finally, the “Blood” handle comes from the fact that this full moon will coincide with a lunar eclipse. Such an event will turn the moon a rose color that to some may resemble the hue of human blood. Though this extraterrestrial event may look fearsome, it is a natural occurrence, which poses no threat to life on earth. Through the ages, lunar eclipses have terrorized human populations, but as of yet, no major catastrophe has been connected to such a happening.

Finally, the flower term is attached to any full moon that occurs during the month of May, for in the Northern Hemisphere, May is the time of year when flowers most readily bloom.

In the last week of April,(2021) a “pink” super moon will appear.

 

 

Super Moons

Just last month, another Supermoon occurred. At the time, citing limited scientific, I speculated to possible earthquakes that might accompany the moon in its perigee. Sure enough, a 6.4 shaker in India, landed right on the full moon and a couple of days later a slightly bigger quake hit Japan. By no means is this geological proof that Supermoons and earthquakes are related, but these unusual earth events do warrant a continued watch on the subject.

The sun

 

Space Weather, An Unknown Wild Card

For those of you who follow Space Weather, you are probably already aware that the sun is undergoing major changes. This newly developing situation underscores the scientific reality that the sun is currently undergoing a major shift from a minimum amount of earth-directed activity to a maximum cycle. So even if there is a provable increase in geologic activity in the course of the current Supermoon, this uptick could be attributed to the sun’s activities.

All hell has broken out in the Congo Republic as the Nyiragongo Volcano erupts.

 

 

What To Expect on May 26th

It is conceivable that a Supermoon event could cause a spike in earthquakes around the globe. As of May 25th, we have seen an increase in volcanic activity at places such as Mt. Etna in Sicily, Stromboli Mountain  on the Eolian Islands in Italy and tragically at the Nyiragongo volcano in the Congo, where there has been loss of life from a simmering volcano that suddenly became red-hot active. And finally on May 26th, the day of the Super Moon perigee, the Great Sitkan volcano in the Aleutians returned to life. However, all of this increase in geologic activity proves nothing, as a sophisticated statistical analysis of earthquakes and volcanoes is necessary to further substantiate these speculations.

Besides the premise of this article stated that Supermoons were possibly related to earthquakes, not volcanoes. Nonetheless, there are two more Supermoons that will occur in 2021, so there will be more opportunities to study this possible scientific linkage of Supermoons to earthquakes and perhaps volcanoes.

May
09

Travel Plans Changed

To say my travel plans to venture forth from Durango, CO (not Mexico) to Salt Lake City went astray would be an understatement. However, I must confess I did make it to Utah’s Mormon capitol, where the state capitol and the religious center are distanced by just a few city blocks, (forget separation of state and religion) in one piece.

Changes at Amtrak

Just like I always do, I waited until a few days before my travel date to book my train ticket. But when I finally got around to it, much to my surprise, things at Amtrak had changed. No longer did the Southwest Chief run on a daily basis. Now instead of an once-a-day service, Amtrak only ran the Windy City to Frisco route, twice a week. Bummer! Now I had to spend two days in Grand Junction, waiting for a train.

Well, things could be worse, so I decided to make the train reservation anyway, even despite having to spend two nights in GJ. Only problem, Amtrak was no longer accepting my Visa card. Very strange indeed, as everywhere else still accepted my card, a list which included Expedia, Greyhound, a Super 8 Motel and a long string of convenience stores.

 

A Turn to Greyhound

So next I contacted Greyhound. Sure enough, they had a $59 ticket going from SLC to GJ. Great, only problem was that I was going from GJ to SLC, And No such luck, for a cheap Colorado to Utah ticket did not exist. Instead, I would have to ride for an extra 16 hours and pay an additional $70 for my privilege to visit Brigham Young’s sacred dream.

Not only that, but also, the bus would go first to Las Vegas, where after a four hour layover, I would board another autobus that ran from the Sin City to the Mormon stronghold. Not the best option, but I decided to take it anyway. My reasoning told me that I would break even since the $80 dollar difference would be approximately equivalent to the price of one weekend night in a motel room, which I would’ve had to pay if Amtrak had been running daily. So I bought the Greyhound ticket online and let the email suffice as my bus ticket. Welcome to the 21st century.

Leaving Grand Junction

Except for a meager airstrip situated in the middle of a cattle ranch, Durango, Colorado has one real public transportation connection with the civilized world. And that my friends is the Roadrunner Bus Line, a Native American owned business that runs daily across ten thousand foot mountain passes to the thriving metropolis of Grand Junction, where one can catch trains. planes and buses that service modern civilization.

To say that I was a bit nervous about riding the Roadrunner was an understatement, for the last time I road this bus line, the Coyote won. To be more exact, it was May 1st, two years ago, when I last rode the Durango-Grand Junction route. Weather in May in Colorado can be unpredictable, as my bus trip through the Uncompahgre Mountains was about to prove. The first leg of the trip through the canyonlands of Cortez and Mancos was accompanied by scattered rain showers, but as the big rig ascended through the mountain towns of Dolores and Rico, the sky was now throwing down an intense snow storm.

We would’ve made into Telluride, except for a semi trailer carrying hazardous waste that hit the bus head on, sending the dozen passengers flying around the inside of the vehicle like Keno balls in a glass globe.

Fortunately, no one was hospitalized, but still, my injuries required over 10K in medical bills and a 5K settlement. However, Lady Luck must’ve been with me on my most recent sojourn, for I arrived in GJ in one piece, only to find that the Greyhound station had been closed down and so we were deposited at the local outdoor transit center for a four hour wait for the “Vegas” bus.

Road to Black Dragon Butte

No restrooms at the transit center, but there were a couple of plastic outhouses at a nearby public park. Even the homeless crowd that frequented the green space were polite and posed no physical threat to the few travelers that ventured over to the city property.

The bus to Los Angeles was only five minutes late and only about half full. Even the stench of body odor was manageable except maybe for the faint of heart and so the bus pulled onto the westbound interstate and soon gained highway speed. A rest stop occurred at Green River, Utah, where by some miracle a cleaning crew boarded the bus and actually did their job. And so we left this desert town with a clean interior.

A half an hour later we were all once again flying down the highway towards Capitol Reef, an out-of-the-way red rock national park. As the bus whizzed through the scenic natural areas, the setting sun lit up the grotesque, geological formations like Da Vinci’s paintbrush. From the back of the bus, sweet soulful sounds carrying through the interior and the driver, a lady POC driver with long blonde braids, either couldn’t hear the music or didn’t care. I suspect the latter. Just about this time the bus passed underneath Black Dragon Rock, a towering sandstone monolith, that more than lived up to it’s taunting name in the waning daylight hours.

The sunset that ensued was one of the strangest that I have ever witnessed. The sky turned a crimson red and served as a spectacular backdrop to log lines of treeless rock ridges and dark whispers of clouds, which hugged the horizon. Darkness finally put an end to Nature’s grand display, but in the darkness the music continued softly in the background.

Las Vegas at Night

The Bright Lights of “Lost Wages”

Gradually, darkness settled in and after an hour or two of night time cruising, we encountered the bright lights of Las Vegas, a virtual nocturnal mirage shining in the desert. Right away, I noticed that something was amiss. Instead, of heading for the old downtown station, the bus driver  by-passed Fremont Street and the Strip and parked the big rig at a brand new transit center, situated well south of the famous “Vegas” sign. Next up, a four hour wait at a sterile transportation hub. Well at least, I didn’t have to worry blowing wads of “moolah” at the Binion.

Red Rock Cliffs in St. George, Utah

 

 

 

 

From Vegas to Salt Lake City

Perhaps living in a red rock desert town can be sort of hard  core, gasoline-powered trips through this part of the country can be a lot of fun. Even though the 15-passenger van seemed like a cheap replacement for Greyhound’s 50 passenger extravaganza, the journey across southern Utah was quite beautiful and peaceful. We even had a genuine Utah doctor as a driver. If you are wondering how a qualified medical personnel became a bus driver, the correct answer is for health reasons. Seems that in later years our skillful navigator developed health problems and so had to find a sitting job. Thus he became a driver.

The Mormon Tabernacle dominates the downtown Salt Lake City skyline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Connection

Finally, at four in the afternoon, I arrived at the SLC Airport, only to find that the airport was experiencing a vast facelift, forcing me to take a shuttle, just to get a local train out of the place. By the time I arrived at my place to stay, it was going on seven. The Hindu employee at Check In demanded an extra $100 deposit, which facilitated an emergency trip to my bank ATM, but I got registered without any other mishaps.

The final surprise came when I opened my door to my rented room. All indications pointed to a dive, especially the hallway, which was a total mess due to remodeling efforts. A small Spanish-speaking crew still toiled away at the endless task, even though dusk fall for a Saturday night was about to commence.  So, when I slid the entry card across the magnetic strip that allowed me to enter, I was pleasantly surprised. What I saw in front of me was a clean, well-kept room that proved to be bug-free. I slept well that night, with the pleasant dream that things always work out in the long run.

May
03

Highway 550 as it passes through Trimble and Hermosa, Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empty Trails

On this past Saturday, (May 1st) I went hiking on Animus Mountain, which is located on BLM land just outside the city of Durango, Colorado. To my surprise, this normally crowded trail was nearly deserted. After climbing the switchbacks, which lead to the plateau summit, I turned around and returned to my rented room and turned on the TV. It was at this time I learned about the woman, who just the day before had been mauled by a black bear, only five miles away in a place called Trimble, Colorado.

By Saturday, the gruesome death had become a national news story. A sow and her two cubs had already been tracked from the site of the attack and killed. Local media updated the story, by placing the tragedy at a hot springs, situated on County Road 203 near Trimble.

At the time of this writing, (Monday afternoon), the name of the victim has yet to be released to the general public, though other details have emerged, such as human remains have been found in the bodies of the mother bear and one of the cubs.

Highway 550 near Red Mountain Pass (elev. 11,018)

 

 

 

 

 

About the Area

The tiny town of Trimble sits on Highway 550 near the beginning of the San Juan Scenic Byway and Skyway, which runs from Durango across Red Mountain Pass to Ouray, Colorado. This popular mountain road is very popular with motorists, especially during the warmer months, when traveling conditions are at their best.

Furthermore, Trimble sits in a large basin with tall, mountain ridges that line the east and west sides of the river valley. Human settlements are sparse, while large forests and mountains dominate the landscape. The tiny village of Trimble lies within the boundaries of the San Juan National Forest, a vast wilderness area, noted for its spectacular fall colors of the Quaking Aspen. Viewed from nearby Animus Mountain, the tiny hamlet is truly a tiny island in a sea of forest green.

Some of the San Juan Mtns (Silver Mtn, and Lewis Mtn.) as seen from Animus Mountain near Durango.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear Attacks Are Not All That Common

Even though, this is the second major bear attack in the West for 2021, bear attacks are not all that common. For example, within the state of Colorado, there have only been three human fatalities from bears in the last sixty years. By chance, the last attack occurred just across the San Juan mountains in Ouray, Colorado in 2009. So therefore, it seems possible that in recent times bear attacks may be on the rise, especially, as modern housing, expands into the vast wilderness areas of the West. Still, most attacks occur in wild outdoor settings with fishermen and hunters being the most vulnerable.

If one stands on Animus Mountain and looks north along Highway 550, there are are several housing sites that stand out, as they are perched along a lengthy ridge that runs high above the Animus River Valley, where you find a few small settlements like Trimble.

To the average American, bees are a greater threat than bears.

Bees Are Still the Biggest Killers in the US

Of all the animals that one might encounter in the US, mosquitos are the biggest killers, but only because they transfer deadly viruses and bacteria between humans. And another big indirect killer is the deer, but since most deer deaths are the result of an automobile accident, these unfortunate events can’t be considered attacks.

If you are looking for more direct killers, you might try bees, dogs and cows. According to Business Insider, these animals pose the biggest direct threat to the human population, excluding, (of course other humans). Next we come to bees and other stinging insects, which all total kill about 100 people a year compared to dogs, which do in about 30 and cows at 20.

Next up would be snakes, especially poisonous, who each year are responsible for about a dozen deaths per year. After that we have spiders, who are responsible for about seven fatalities per year. 

After spiders come bears, but annual totals are much lower, generally amounting to only one or two. After this come more large animals. In decreasing order they are alligators, sharks, and mountain lions. Though a death by one of these predators often makes the headlines, they are surprisingly rare. Likewise, the tiny scorpion, which also averages less than one death per year.

Outdoor enthusiasts are the most likely people to have a serious bear encounter

 

 

In Conclusion

Though there are many dangers around the house and farm, bear attacks are limited to parks and the occasional remote rural outpost. With more people building in wild places, bear attacks could be on the rise (two deaths already in 2021), but probably not by much. The greatest groups at risk for these horrible happenings are hunters, fishermen and campers, though as this death proves, others in the outdoors should take heed.

Apr
22
Icelanders check out their newest volcano.

Earth Day 2021

April 22, 2021 is Earth Day, an annual event that goes back to the early 70s, when Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin conceived of the idea and President Richard Nixon signed the recognition of April 22 (1970) into law. A lot has changed since those days, most notably the unrelenting partisanship, which presently haunts our nation’s capitol and most importantly, a planet, whose environmental health seems to be on the decline.

This 1577 engraving by Johannes Wierix depicts three whales beached on the coastline of Holland in the 16th century.

 

 

On the Ground (or Shoreline) in 2021

When discussing Earth Day, it is hard to know where to start, for there are so many problems that need to be addressed. Today, air quality and water quality propose a host of problems as do warming sea temperatures, plastic pollution (especially in an aquatic environment), endangered species and toxic wastes. To make matters worse all these areas of concern appear to be getting worse instead of better, despite the best efforts of national governments and private citizens. Also of concern are a surprising number of active volcanoes, which may or may not be in some way associated with warming conditions. Nonetheless the plethora of volcanic activity in 2021 seems unprecedented and may in some way underscore the severe problems we face.

Take the issue of beached whales. Even though we know that this biological phenomena is nothing new, many of the beached whales that are dissected and examined today, show accumulation of huge amounts of ingested plastic.  Though determining the cause of death may be difficult, it remains clear that there is a huge amount of plastic waste floating around our oceans, which cannot be beneficial to salt water environments.

Early in 2021, Mt. Etna in Sicily underwent over a dozen spectacular eruptions. Presently, these eruptions have stopped and fortunately property damage was minimal and personal injury almost nil.

 

Active Volcanoes

The video at the beginning of this post is most informative as it shows multitude of Icelanders, traveling to an active, but non-threatening volcano to observe Mother Nature’s powerful forces. As the crowds grow in size, the event seems to be morphing into a giant social affair, where the visitors partake in many group activities including picnics, portrait taking  and general all-around chit-chat.

Over the centuries, Iceland has experienced some deadly eruptions, most notably the Laki eruption in 1783, which killed one quarter of the island’s population and also did much damage to Europe via heavy clouds of sulfur dioxide, which descended on many countries. With that in mind, today’s showy display of lava flows seems mild in comparison. No wonder Icelanders treat the current eruption like a big party.

La Soufriere volcano on Saint Vincent Island (Caribbean) has been very active in April 2021, causing many evacuations and emitting tons of ash.

 

On the Other Hand

Since currently, there are numerous volcanoes in an active phase, it is not hard to find an active eruption that is causing major devastation. Such an example is the La Soufriere volcano, pictured above. So far, no loss of live has been attributed to this ongoing event, but disruption of lives and livelihood is immense in the immediate vicinity. Furthermore,  the large quantities of ash and sulfur gas will likely affect distant weather and health for months to come.

Air pollution in Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scientific American Climate Emergency

Just recently (April 2021), the well-respected science journal, Scientific American, declared a planetary Climate Emergency.  Spurred on by an increasing number of international disasters like floods, wildfires and hurricanes, the magazine has gone on to state “we are living in a climate emergency and we’re going to say so.”  In the same article, the magazine goes on to say that 13,000 scientists agree with them on this analysis of our current situation.

Watching the Volcanoes

Most earth scientists will more than happy to state that today’s volcanic activity is probably not that much out of the ordinary. That is because geologic events are viewed in centuries, millenniums and eons, instead of days, weeks, months and years. So even if a climate emergency is kicking off extra eruptions, it takes a prolonged look at geologic history to accurately access all this data. The problem here is that this kind of analysis has no mechanism for calculating dramatic short term changes.

We could be experiencing unusual weather events related to increased volcanic activity and yet many in the science community would not see anything out of the ordinary.

A super typhoon viewed from space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracking Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters

One thing that is prevalent today that wasn’t around when Earth Day began is the internet. And on the internet you will find much helpful info on the tracking of major storms, space weather updates, the location of volatile volcanoes and the frequency and strength of recent earthquakes. Even though all this data can make disaster sleuths out of ordinary citizens and also enhance our understanding of Planet Earth, when it comes to predicting what will happen in the future, anybody’s guess seems as good as the experts.

In the last week of April,(2021) a “pink” super moon will appear.

 

Where Do We Go from Here

Right now, it seems to be a race as to whether the collective efforts of mankind or the workings of Mother Nature will be more important in relieving destructive environmental effects upon Planet Earth.  Though our knowledge is increasing, our ability to work from this knowledge does not seem to keep pace.

 

 

 

Apr
16

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Details

Tomorrow, the 17th of April in 2021, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and husband of Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest. The funeral will take place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where he will be interred in the Royal Vault. Due to Covid restrictions only 30 mourners will be allowed to attend in person, but the historical event will be broadcast live on TV, where a huge worldwide audience is expected to tune in. In the States, the funeral procession and service will take place in the normal hours of a Saturday morning, so video attendance in this country could be quite high. One side note of interest is that the hearse will be a custom Land Rover that the Prince helped to design.  And one notable absence will be Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, who will not attend because she is pregnant.

During WWII, Prince Philip served in the Mediterranean aboard the HMS Valiant

 

The Waning of the WWII Generation

With the passing of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth will be the only major living British Royal, who lived through WWII. Today, it might be hard to explain how important this experience was, for the impact of repeated bombings of Britain by the German Luftwaffle has forever shaped the post war attitudes of not only the Royal family, but also, the country as well.

To further complicate the story, both Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth, who as mere youngsters, had to deal with the Nazi leanings of at least one member of the Royal family. Both Philip and Elizabeth would grow up to be strong leaders, but each one must have experienced some trying times during the turbulent 30s because of these divided loyalties.

Front and center in this story is Edward VIII, who became king for a year in 1936 and is now notorious for his support of Adolf Hitler and his admiration of the Third Reich. Third Reich exposure became even a bigger problem for Prince Philip, who had the misfortune of having three of his four sisters marry prominent members of the German Nationalist Socialist Party. All the sordid details for this story are way too long for this short article, but it might be safe to say that British royalty was strongly tested by Nazis before and during WWII.

Wolfsgarten is a royal hunting estate near Frankfurt, Germany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Book Project

Over the course of his lifetime, Prince Philip wrote fourteen books. Of concern here is the one that he was helping to write at his time of death. Don’t know if a title has been selected, but the subject was Wolfsgarten (Wolves garden), the elegant hunting estate that his sister’s family owns near Frankfurt, Germany. This final book project, for which Prince Philip wrote the introduction, could present some sticky problems for admirers of the royal family.

Wolfsgarten as seen from the ground

P.S.This blog has also appeared at http://yeyeright.wordpress.com

Jul
22

The Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918, 1919 and 1920 produced illness rates and death counts unheard of in the 21st century

 

About the Spanish Flu

Almost exactly 100 years ago, the Spanish Influenza swept the world and created death tolls well into millions. Today’s numbers seem pale to what happened just as WWI was drawing to a close.

By modern estimates somewhere between 50 and 100 million people died, when the worldwide population was  approximately 1.2 billion. This translates out to a death rate in the range of 4.2% to 8.3 %.

Though the worst is yet to come, it is hard to imagine anything like that happening today.

During the Spanish Flu Pandemic, on the worst of days, bodies piled up like cordwood.

 

 

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Today, COVID-19, which is caused by a coronavirus, is causing a lot of pain of misery all around the planet. It is hard to imagine how we would react today, if our current outbreak was even half as severe as the one that began in 1918 and lasted for two years.

 

 

The Seattle Police are pictured here in uniform and all wearing a mask.

 

 

Masks Were Worn by Almost Everybody

Perhaps, not at first, but by time the second and third waves hit, it did not take a big PR campaign to get everyone to wear a face mask.

 

 

Then as now, health care workers took their jobs very seriously.

 

 

A Different Era

The Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 and 1919 came at the end of WWI, so it is more than likely that all the energy and effort that went forth into the war effort was easily channeled into fighting the new and deadly pandemic. Even so, dealing with tens of millions of dead any many more, who were sick from the virus, is hard to fathom today.

 

 

Death tolls from country to country varied, but so did the populations.

 

Comparing the Two Outbreaks

Though the numbers on this chart may seem to vary by a lot, it is important to note that the populations of each nation listed, also varied. For example, today Canada is 10 times smaller than the US and Australia is almost 20 times smaller in its population. So when you take into account the different population size of each nation, the death rates are really much closer.

Compare that to today, where we have a great variation in death rates among different countries. Take the case of Taiwan, South Korea, Cuba, Costa Rica and Rwanda, which all have extremely low death rates. In contrast, other bigger nations such as the U.S., Brazil and India, have staggering body counts and even when broken down to actual death rates, these places are suffering immensely, while other places seem to have completely avoided the calamity. It is hard to pinpoint the reason for these discrepancies at this point in time, but I’m sure that these two outbreaks will be studied extensively in the near future.

Jul
05

In this whacked-out scenario, pandas have taken to wearing masks in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19

 

Pandamonium

Back in early February I made this drawing poking fun at the Corona Virus that was just starting to cause problems in China, especially within the city of Wuhan. Now, some three months, we have a worldwide pandemic with this disease that is wrecking havoc in such civilized countries such as Spain, Italy, the UK and our very own USA. It hasn’t progressed to the point where pandas near face masks, but the extent of the global spread is quite troubling.

To buy coffee mugs, T shirts and bags with this image go here

 

Jun
27

According to the artist, Milton Glaser, this image of Dylan with wild free-flowing hair was not inspired by psychedelics.

Milton Glaser Dies

Overnight, Milton Glaser, the renown commercial artist and illustrator passed away at age 91. Not only does he live behind a wife and many family members, but also a huge collection of graphic designs and posters that have on occasion been displayed and purchased by major museums and galleries.

Perhaps, Milton is best known for this memorable 60s portrait of Bob Dylan. Nonetheless, the NYC artist also gave the Rolling Stones, their signature tongue and lips image and furthermore, he created the I heart NY icon that both the city and state have adopted.

A retrospective of Glaser’s work can be found in this book, along with a bit of his philosophy.

 

 

 

 

A Simple Philosophy

Milton Glaser’s attitude can be simply summed up in three words. Art Is Work. This also happens to be the title for a coffee table-sized picture book that the artist put out in the year 2000. Whether you are a commercial or fine artist, this is wonderfully functional sentence describes just how any visual imagist should approach their craft.

Over the years, Milton worked on numerous art projects, mostly in the graphic design field. In no way should this diminish or reflect poorly on the man’s accomplishments. They are many and widely distributed in our visual world.

Besides his illustrations, Glaser made landscape prints specifically for the fine art market

 

 

Fine Art vs Commercial Art

When I was much younger, I often distinguished between commercial and fine art. My thinking, which was and still is quite prevalent, went something like this. Serious art work was considered to be fine art, while pictures made for commercial endeavors, like album covers, posters and book covers, were not considered as important.

The painting that freed me from this way of thinking was The Giant by N.C. Wyeth. Up until viewing this huge painting in person, I considered N.C. to be strictly a commercial artist, while his son, Andrew, and his grandson, Jamie, fell into the fine art category. However, after standing in front of the Giant, a very large oil painting, which was actually created to be a book illustration, I quickly realized that these distinctions were superfluous. For in the art world, there were images, created in a commercial vein, that were extraordinary in their presence. And on the other hand, there were many works of so-called fine art that seemed ill-conceived and poorly executed.

This 1975 likeness of Hermann Hesse is often viewed as one of Glaser’s standout pieces.

 

 

Illustrators Today

Thanks to the Pop art and especially Pop surrealism or Lowbrow Art, the illustrator or commercial artist is held in much higher esteem than in the days when Milton Glaser and associates first began their businesses in New York City. Today, many of our bestselling artists, like Mark Ryden or Todd Schorr got their start as illustrators.

Jun
20

Spiral Design

 

 

 

More Extraterrestrial Messages

Spiral designs are often attributed to Native cultures, but after extensive research and consultation, it appears that this particular design originates from extraterrestrials.

Much gratitude goes out to Dr. Bartholomew Tiddlywinkles of Beersheba State College, who helped me with a translation in this manner. According to the professor the message reads as such.

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

Oh my, the last thing I expected was a cultural criticism from those outside our planet.

Jun
11

Evening Shadows suggest a futuristic cryptic language in use

 

Binary Languages

Physicists, astronomers, rocket scientists and computers geeks often claim that binary codes are the universal language…and that all cultures within the vast universe can understand a binary language. This may be why, when NASA sent a probe outside our own solar system, all communication was in a binary system. That is to say all letters and words are created from using two symbols.

A Morse code receiver from the late 1800s

 

 

 

The First Binary Language

Most likely, the first language was Morse Code. This system of dots and dashes (often called dits and dahs) was created back in the 1840s. In essence each letter of the Roman alphabet had a specific code. Messages were sent from a simple telegraph machine by wire to a receiver, where another machine transposed the info onto paper strips.

This method lasted up until the 1890s, when radio signals became the transmission method for the dits and dahs. This pathway greatly enhanced the efficiency of the two symbol language and soon the code was being used around the planet by military, aviation and maritime units. Morse Code remained important through WWII, but since then it has faded away to almost nothing.

Over the years crop circles have become more and more sophisticated

Crop Circles et al

If Samuel Morse were alive today he might be quite surprised, even shocked to see how his archaic, binary language has morphed into an amazing world of high tech wizardly. This includes a belief that many that the simple dihs and dahs are the keys to understanding other life forms on other planets.

Apr
27

Recently, I visited Las Vegas and found that bikers had taken over the empty streets, as if living in some kind of weird sci-fi tale.

 

Defying All Stay-at -Home Orders

Currently, Utah is subject to a non-mandatory stay-at-home order from the governor. Since the state’s COVID-19 stats were so good (41 fatalities out of just over 4,000 infected), I decided to venture out and see how other nearby places were faring. Soon, I found myself in Las Vegas, which has been transformed to a virtual ghost town, especially along “The Strip”, where many of the big casinos are located.

The casinos of Las Vegas are all closed and locked up.

 

Lookin’ In Thru Locked Doors

If you walk along the strip, you will find  that all the casinos are closed. In fact, not much of anything is open along the famed miracle mile. And if by chance you are looking for a slot machine to play, there is nothing. Even those small rows of slots in convenience stores are out of service. In other words things are locked up tighter than a drum.

 

Here’s looking at an empty lagoon in front of the Venetia Casino.

 

 

 

 

Placid Waters

On the little bridge in front of the Venetia Casino and Hotel, there is a little station, where several security guards hang out. They haven’t got much to do. Just keep the occasional tourist from wandering too close to the closed-up business.

 

Fremont Street and downtown Vegas are closed up as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Politicos at Odds

Right now the mayor of Las Vegas is pushing the begin opening the city, while the governor of the state has taken an opposing tack. As the governor holds the higher card, it is likely that those wishing to visit Sin City will have to wait a bit longer for any approaching a normal Vegas visit.

 

 

 

Three angels at Caesar’s Palace signal the encroaching doom.

 

 

 

Is Las Vegas Dead?

Any pronouncement that Las Vegas is dead is most likely premature and inaccurate. The place is just dormant due to concerns over the spread of the Corona Virus. Though the popular place may be closed longer than originally thought, chances are very good that when it open, this vivant city will bounce back like nobody’s business.

 

Apr
23

Pink House on Mars – It is highly unlikely that the colonization of Mars would look anything like this.

 

 

 

Earth First

We live on the planet Earth. To put it mildly any attempt, successful or unsuccessful to colonize and inhabit the planet Mars, would be a high tech adventure to say the least. With our present technology, just putting a handful of humans on the red planet would be energy intensive. I can’t even manage what sustaining life there would entail.

Living in the Present

Right now, we, who live on planet Earth, have our hands full. Unbelievably, our biggest foe right now is a spherical microscopic object, called the Corona Virus. The little booger is everywhere, filling up our morgues and hospital and completely disrupting our way of life on a global scale. Once we get past this disease outbreak, just the challenge of cleaning up the planet, so that it is a better place to live is daunting.

A Profound Side Effect

Even though the coronavirus pandemic has killed oodles of people, crashed our stock market, put millions out of work and sent the price of oil into a nosedive, there has been one beneficial side effect. Our air quality has significantly improved. The changes in visibility among our largest cities, such as Paris, Tokyo, and Los Angeles has been dramatic. Our air is clean again. I guess this proves to say that you don’t realize how bad things are until something dramatic happens. How long this current situation will last is hard to tell, for in all probability that once the virus subsides and the world goes back to work, the smog will return.

See you soon, I hope.

 

Apr
09

This Corona Virus Not Wanted handbill has recently appeared all over the Salt Lake City area, courtesy of an anonymous cartoonist.

 

 

 

A Not Wanted Poster

Out here in Utah, the coronavirus has been a little slow to make its appearance, but that’s not to say the sometimes deadly micro-organism won’t show up in full force in the near future. Here’s one unnamed visual artist, who’s hoping it stays away. Definitely, a sign of the times.

Apr
08

A recent photograph of John Prine taken by Ron Baker

 

 

The Coronavirus Takes Another

John Prine died the other day. Ordinarily, I would not take note of the passing of another entertainment personality, but Prine’s death has taken on a special meaning, for he has died of complications caused by COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus disease.

John Prine’s View of Death As a Young Man

Back in 1978 John Prine penned his first view of dying. In a song, called Please Don’t Bury Me, John outlines, in a hilariously tongue-in-cheek style, what doctors can do with his body, if he should meet an early and untimely demise. This song was featured on the Sweet Revenge album and since then has become a genuine standard of the American Folk and Indie scene.  Here is a recent (2017) recording of John performing the song, along with Sturgill Simpson.

A Deadly Pandemic

As this worldwide pandemic makes it mark, the number of people infected is still climbing as are the fatalities. How long this will last is uncertain, but it is pretty good bet that life after the Coronavirus will be different from what it is now. With vast numbers of people worldwide advised to stay at home, viewers might want to take a few minutes to check out these two humorous takes on dying.

John’s View of Death As an Old Man

A couple of years ago, 2018 to be exact, John released his second take on dying, with “When I Get To Heaven”. In true Prine form, John begins this irreverent tune by shaking hands with God. To get the rest of the story, you’ll have to check out the video below. Contrasting this recent version with the one made 40 years makes for an interesting comparison with the recent version.

Mar
23

The owl is often thought to be the symbol of wisdom

 

 

Projecting Human Characteristics onto Animals

For ages, owls have often been seen as creatures of wisdom, This trend, most.likely extends back to the ancient Greeks, when Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, was often pictured with an owl. Today, many modern people still see the owl as being super-intelligent, though among the animal kingdom, there are many smarter birds, such as crows and parrots.

A Lightweight Bird with Superb Night Vision

An owl may not be able to mimic human speech, but its ability to see in the night is an extraordinary tool, allowing the creature to make out faraway objects extremely well despite the absence of almost any light. This would not be possible without a highly wired and oversized brain along with eyes that are huge in relation to the predators actual size and weight. You see, owls are mostly feathers, many having a body mass of only a few pounds.

Not All Cultures See Owls As Wise

In India, the owl often represents foolishness or ill-gained wealth. At times, the mysterious avian creature may be pictured with the goddess, Lakshmi. Lakshmi, by herself, usually, indicates wealth, but when accompanied by an owl, she becomes the symbol of corruption.

Then there are the American Indians, who on occasion may see the owl as a symbol of death, not necessary for the person, who encounters the night creature, but often for a loved one or close relative of the night viewer.

Mar
22

Reggae Loves Country

Back in 2014 a reggae singer, named Busy Signal (Glendale Goshia Gordon) performed this popular Kenny Rogers hit to a large Jamaican crowd. And don’t be fooled by Busy Signal.s respect for Country music. In reality, he is a street tough, Jamaican dancehall, reggae singer with a long line of savvy hits credited to his name. His live performance of The Gambler, though 100 per cent sincere is a bit of an anomaly. And don’t forget that Bob Marley’s first recorded hit was a C & W hit standard, Another Cup of Coffee. So all in all, Jamaican admiration for Nashville is real.

 

 

Breaking Even

Kenny Rogers died on Friday of natural causes. Not a bad time to pass on, considering that this Corona Virus thing is just really getting ramped up and nobody knows how bad things are going to get. Then there is the flip side, ole Kenny won’t be around to see how this pandemic ends. Just lucky I guess. For it doesn’t look good no matter how you slice the pie. Perhaps this is a good time to quote Mr. Rogers from his megahit, The Gambler.

“And the Best You Can Hope For Is To Die In Your Sleep”.

A Most influential Singer/Songwriter

Kenny Rogers first gained national recognition with The First edition, a kind of whacked out, Hippie, Acid-rock band that had a few big hits in the late 60s and even made it onto the Smothers Brothers Show. Below, you can see the band performing their big counterculture hit, Just Dropped In,.

 

 

Kenny’s Transformation

Even while still performing for the First Edition, Kenny’s transformation from rock to country was plenty evident. The song that did this was Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (1969). Released, after Just Dropped In, this pop hit, first penned and recorded by Mel Tillis in1967, hit a nerve among the general public that all but guarantied a crossover to Country & Western. The story about a disable Vietnam Vet and unfaithful love resonated all across the Billboard charts, even despite the fact that it had been recorded before by Waylon Jennings and Mel Tillis.

Kenny Rogers in 1997

 

 

A Nashville Fixture

Kenny Rogers released his first solo album in 1976, eventually becoming a stalwart of the Nashville music scene. Since then he has worked with such music legends as Dolly Parton, Lionel Ritchie and Dottie West. Kenny passed away this past Friday. His death was reportedly caused by natural causes, a coincidence that has allowed commentators to liberally quote from his classic song, The Gambler. Since Friday, Kenny’s death has been marked with headlines like Kenny Rogers Runs Out of Aces, The Gambler, He Finally Broke Even or the one I used in this article

Mar
15

The White House is a busy place with lots of hand-shaking and social interactions

 

 

The Story

Finally, on Friday the 13th, Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, relented and took a coronavirus test. Even though the results are supposed to be available in two hours, they were not announced till the next day, Saturday, and were declared negative. That is to say that Donald Trump does not have the COVID-19, the official name for the coronavirus disease.

Can We Believe the Results?

This administration and especially this president have been so full of half-truths, misdirected statements and absolute lies that sometimes it is hard to believe anything they say. Furthermore, if the president was to actually be sick, the White House staff might work hard to shield the public from the actual truth. Keeping all of this in mind, I still tend to believe that the president does not have coronavirus. Even after considering that the president is overweight almost to a point of obesity and his advanced age of 73 years, it might still might be that he has avoided the contagious disease that has struck other public figures. At least so far.

Donald Trump enjoys the game of golf, almost to a point of obsession

 

 

 

The Answer Lies on the Golf Course

This president spends an inordinate amount of time on his own golf course, usually at public expense. Though this may not be good for the well-being of the nation, it may be enough to keep Donald Trump reasonably healthy. Besides the physical assertion, the sunshine exposure Trump receives may be critical in keeping the president’s immune system functioning. I know this may sound strange, but exposure of skin to sunlight (especially in light-skinned people) plays an important role in strengthening one’s immune system.

The Science

The science behind this is both simple and profound at the same time. Succinctly stated, sunshine on the epidermis stimulates the production of vitamin D, which in turn is important in strengthening the body’s immune system. This will not make you resistant to epidemics like the coronavirus. It just improves your chances of fighting off minor infections.

Dr. John Campbell, an English medical instructor, explains the situation quite well in the following video.

 

Conclusion

If you are self-quarantined at home, you might want to consider spending as much time in the sunlight as possible. This would include going outside and getting some real exercise. Just avoid associating with other people. This is especially true if you are in self-isolation as a preventive measure.

For More Info go here.

Mar
03

Sign of the Times – this posted notice reminds WWI soldiers that there is an epidemic going that just might be more deadly than warfare.

 

 

The Facts Are Staggering

At the time the world had seen nothing like it. One third of the world’s population was infected with a death rate of between 2% and 5%. Today, researchers believe that the actual death toll could have been somewhere between 50 and 100 million.

Today’s Outbreaks Are So Much Smaller

Currently (2020), the world is all abuzz about the newest coronavirus, also called COVID-19. This disease, which now borders on becoming a world pandemic, is currently in 70 countries and has killed over 3,000….and it’s still growing as the respiratory ailment is about to hit the USA. Even the Swine Flu of 2009, only managed to run up a total infected in the 20% range (about 1 billion) with a resulting death toll of approximately 500,000. Still, this current outbreak is kind of scary in that so many nations (including the good ole USA) seem so unprepared to handle the outbreak.

This Epidemic Is So Small It Seems Almost Personal

As the news stories in the U.S. unfold, the individuals almost seem personal. Actual names aren’t used, but still we get personal information as to age, health condition, where the person lives, how many children they have and so. Sure sign that this is still in the beginning and unfortunately will get much bigger.

Want to Learn more about the gre.at Spanish Flu influenza?

Feb
22

George Washington was a remarkable founding father.

 

 

President’s Day Again

When I was a kid, we would always celebrate the birthdays of dead presidents individually and not as a group. Fortunately, not everyone of this continuously growing club, got a special Shout Out, but for those who did, February was an especially busy month, for it contained the birthdays of a two of the greatest, Lincoln and Washington. At the time, February also contained the birth date of the shortest-lived presidency of all times. William Henry Harrison, who only served 31 days before dying of pneumonia. Since then Ronald Reagan has joined this unique club, but despite Reagan’s current popularity, President’s day still seems to focus on Washington and Lincoln. Not surprisingly, this year’s President’s Day features a TV special on the life and times of George Washington, perhaps are most enigmatic president.

First and Foremost a General

On the first segment aired, the History Channel and portrayed a young Washington, who wanted nothing more than become a military officer in the British Army. For better or worse, fate did not cooperate and so Washington was forced out of Great Britain’s military, eventually coming to fulfill a very important role as first General of the Continental Army. The fact that George and all the rest of the Continental Army succeeded is now the stuff of history, but no matter how you look at it, the Patriot’s victory is one of the most improbable events of all time. No wonder, so many of the Founding Fathers contributed their unlikely success due to the presence of a very benevolent higher being.

The Whiskey Rebellion

When Washington became president, he gave up his military colors, but not for good, because before long the fledgling federal government was facing a violent tax revolt on the Western frontier. So it seems that Western farmers were used to distilling their excess grain and selling off the finished product to make an extra buck or two. And as a result, they did not take kindly to a new tax on whiskey.

By today’s standards, President Washington responded in a very unusual way. He rounded thousands of volunteers and conscripted a few non-volunteers to go after the culprits of Western Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. In the ensuing standoff, the farmers backed down, but at the same time the federal government abandoned its notion to tax whiskey. At least for the near future. Nonetheless, the die had been cast, the U.S. was destined to be lead by a strong central government, even though we have governed by numerous Jeffersonian presidents, who favored a weaker central government along with stronger individual states.

Like Washington, Hercules, one of Washington’s slave was also an enigma. The president’s cook charmed Philadelphia with his culinary skills, had his portrait done by Stuart Gilbert and then abandoned Mt. Vernon during a joyous birthday celebration (for George), never to return again.

 

 

Washington Surprises Almost Everyone

Just before he died Washington decreed that all his slaves would be freed upon his death. Perhaps, he was tired of chasing down runaways and coming back empty-handed. However appealing this idea is, it is more likely that he saw the handwriting on the wall. Slavery could hold hold its enormous weight. The institution was bound to die. Unfortunately, it took fifty years and a bloody civil war for the nation to come to this way of thinking.

 

Want to read more, Check out these two articles about the Whiskey Rebellion and Washington’s Runaway Slaves.

Feb
05

This town is a bit like a ship out on the ocean, hence the term township.

 

 

Town

Te peaceful quiet of a town at night.

Feb
04

Two Pandas

 

 

 

Two Pandas

Jan
31

This 2013 fiery eruption of Vulcan del Fuego in Guatemala only resulted in the evacuation of several hundred people, who lived near the volcano. Then, in 2018, another blast killed 159 people.

 

Disaster Invites More Readers

There is no way around it, writing about the world’s volcanoes will attract the most viewers, whenever disaster strikes. Such is the dilemma for science writers as well as the scientists that actually visit and study these monsters. Recently, a rather small volcano in the Philippines sent my daily number of visitors off the charts. Now, some 10 days since the first ash cloud was emitted towards the heavens, my readership has declined back to normal numbers. No doubt though, that another fiery explosion will again send the daily number of visitors skyward, just like the tephra (volcanic debris), which is ejected from the mouth of the volcano. Such is life when you write, study or examine such things as earthquakes, hurricanes, flu epidemics or any other natural calamity that effects our precarious existence here on planet Earth.

 

 

In 1991, Pinatubo volcano underwent a very, large eruption that killed over 700 and left 200,000 homeless.

 

A Very Active Place

First of all, this kind of occurrence is no rare thing for this part of the world. That is because along with Japan and Indonesia, the Philippine islands are one of the most volcanically active places on the planet. Over the years, residents of these beautiful, tropical isles have most likely been more concerned the other major volcanoes, such as Mayon, Pinatubo or Balusan.  Though very active, Taal, is just one of 53 active Filipino sites and overall, it is one of the smaller volcanoes of the Philippines. What concerns scientists the most about this small peak, is its location in a much bigger body of water, Lake Taal, which once, many years ago was an explosive, giant volcano, capable of much local destruction along with world wide climate change.

 

PHIVOLCS

Fortunately, for the hundred and twenty million residents of the Philippines, there is a place of higher learning called the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Located in Quezon City, just north of the capital at Manila, this scientific research center has been busy lately, issuing daily updates on the Taal volcano and daily reminders that this volcano may not be done yet and that the alert level is still very high, registering a 4 on a scale of 5. Only recently, two weeks later, has the alert level dropped down to a level 3.

The Long Wait

Next comes the long wait, especially for those displaced by this most recent activity. Residents must remain away from their homes for days or possibly even weeks. And then, when they are allowed back into the volcano zone, there is no telling when Mount Taal will again start spitting lava and ash clouds into the atmosphere, again causing massive more evacuations and disruptions in the island life style.

 

For more info, you can go here or here or here or here.

Until we cross paths again.

 

 

Dec
29

This family really stinks

 

Family

This family of skunks really stinks. Pictured here are the papa, the mama and two little ones out for a stroll. They’re cute as can be, but don’t get too close.

Dec
21

Philosophy and Christian Belief have not always gone hand in hand, illustration by W. Ridgeway

 

Louis Jordan Spoofs Religion

If you haven’t heard of Louis Jordan, he was one of the more successful musicians of the 30s and 40s with his musical career lasting into the early years of the 50s. Louis was a saxophonist, who lead a five piece combo, known as the Tympany Five. He recorded numerous hits, many of which, are still covered today by Western swing bands. Anybody who follows the Country & Western band, Asleep at the Wheel, is most likely familiar with a whole bunch of Louis Jordan tunes.

Furthermore, Louis Jordan was a black musician, who was able to cross over to white audiences during the war years and the decade that followed. Some of his big crossover hits include Five Guys Named Moe, Caledonia and Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie. were just getting to know each other.

 

Louis Jordan was the bandleader of a piece piece jump blues combo

 

Old Man Mose

Old Man Mose is a Louis Armstrong song that Jordan covered and revised a bit with the Holy Roller routine. Having grown up in rural Arkansas, it is highly probable that Louis Jordan knew the Holy Rollers quite well. Nonetheless, he incorporates the rowdy antics of the faithful into a visual memorable presentation and lays the foundation for own religious number, Deacon Jones.

 

 

 

Deacon Jones

In 1945, just a year after he recorded Old Man Mose, Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five put out  Deacon Jones, complete with many of the same, wacky routines displayed in the earlier jump blues number. Those cray white-rimmed glasses are back along with a bunch of wild prancing around, plus some biting, satirical lyrics. The unusual combination produces barrels of laughs. Be sure to check out the white teenage audience, keeping in mind  that the year is 1945, almost ten years this same age group discovered rock and roll.

 

Dec
21

In Central Europe, spiders are often revered and thought to bring good luck.

 

 

The Much-maligned Spider

Hollywood has not been kind to the spider, for the eight-legged arachnid (spiders are not insects) has often been portrayed as a diabolical creature with a deadly bite. In reality, spiders are just the opposite, for they consume large quantities of insects and unlike their six-legged cousins, they do not carry any infectious diseases.

Yes, some spider bites can be fatal, especially if left untreated, but these events are quite rare. Overall, spiders do a lot more good to harmful.

Spiders in Europe

In many Central Europe nations, the spider web is seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. With this in mind, it is no big surprise that ornamental spider webs and even spiders can often be found hanging from evergreen boughs. Across Germany, tinsel is also often found on the “Tannenbaum”. Even more interesting is the origin of this shiny decoration, which is attributed to honoring a family of spiders, who long ago, came out at night and decided to decorate a lonely fir tree with their amazing webs. In the morning, the family awoke to find that once barren tree glistening in the morning sun. Since that beautiful morning, tinsel has been used as a Christmas tree decoration to salute the industrious spiders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out my article on Christmas Spiders here.

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