Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Saturday, 20 October 2012

What were You doing in 1968?

We're volunteering to drive voters to the polls on election day and during the shortened week of early voting....The recommendation from the Democrats is to vote "NO" on all 12 constitutional amendments.

Romney was in France in 1968 doing his missionary work. He was driving a car with 6 passengers, including Mr. and Mrs. Leola Anderson. Ms. Anderson was the 6th person in a car with only 5 seat belts. Mrs. Anderson was killed but all the other passengers survived. Romney was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken arm.

 Daily Kos has written a detailed narrative about the cover-up of the accident. The point of the story is that Romney may have been negligent in driving, that he may have caused the accident, and that there may have been a cover-up of the story to preserve his father’s good name. Romney’s father suggested that the priest driving the other vehicle was drunk, and crossed into the oncoming traffic, and thus, was responsible for the accident.

You have to ask yourself what this person was doing in France at age 21 in 1968 during the Vietnam war on a sniveling draft-dodging student deferment trying to bring Mormonism  to the French. Personally I was flying missions and watching  many men in my squadron die from violent aircraft accidents in Vietnam....and what about the French? How would they feel about a clueless young boob wandering around pounding on about the Ugly American....

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don't they help themselves, oh
But when the tax men come to the door
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes
-Credence Clearwater

This is the guy that walked a blind teacher into a closed door and thought it was a really funny joke...He also was a bully who organized a mob to cut the hair of one of his classmates...and he's a dog lover..

 Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they're red, white and blue
And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"
Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord
-Credence Clearwater

Is Mitt (Willard) exactly what we need as the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military force that he world has ever seen?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Lesser of Two Weevils

Sarasota, Florida

It's that season again and one is tempted to get out of the pool, stop lifting weights and write a political blog.

Probably my time would be more profitably spent of pelicans on the beach....They've gerrymandered my voting district way out of town, adopted strict picture ID rules and shortened the early voting places and days dramatically. That should cut down on the riff-raff vote. There are two pages of nearly incomprehensible constitutional amendments on the ballot which should slow things to a crawl on election's all shaping up to be what we used to call a cluster-something-or-other....

I read recently that Mr. Romney locked a significant portion of his wealth into a "blind trust" for his wife in 2009 and gave it to a hedge fund that bought control of Delco for 67 cents a share.

Since Delco was the only source of steering wheels and columns for American Cars the subsequent threat to shut down all American auto production at the height of the crisis of the great recession was extremely effective.

Delco stock went to about $25 a share. The Bailout was very profitable for Romney's hedge fund. Perhaps this is why he has refused to release his 2009 tax return. His $115 million profit at the government trough might raise some eyebrows...

25,000 Delco employees lost their jobs when 27 of the 28 Delco plants in the US where closed and sent to China.

Delco reincorporated on the Isle of Wright or one of the other English Island tax havens that offers complete banking secrecy. All this is perfectly legal and demonstrates the real character of Mr. Floppy. You get the leadership you deserve I suppose...

There was a movement in satarted in 1977 by the Raelians called geniocracy. The term geniocracy comes from the word Genius and proposes a system that is designed to select for intelligence and compassion as the primary factors for governance. While having a democratic electoral apparatus, it differs from traditional liberal democracy by instead suggesting that candidates for office and the body electorate should meet a certain minimal criterion of problem-solving or creative intelligence. The thresholds proposed by the Raëlians are 50% above the mean for an electoral candidate and 10% above the mean for an elector.

So the Raelians requirement of 10% above the mean for electors would be an IQ of about 110 and  50% above for candidates would be maybe an IQ of 120 or so. While that would be an improvement over the current situation where any genetic miscreant can vote or hold office, it falls very short of my own suggested combination IQ and education requirement.The Raelians are also in favor of topless rights for women and have established embassies around the world for space aliens. They believe that humans were "seeded" on Earth by these aliens (who are due to return shortly). 

Time to quit writing and get back to the pool....

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Meat Cove

Off the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

Meat Cove is on the northern tip of the Cape Breton Island/Peninsula. It has a population of about 100 and is the most northern community in Nova Scotia.

This is probably about as far north as we get on this trip which began, as always, on April 1st. It's the turning point, tipping point...the end of the line. Mrs. Phred and I drove yesterday from our campground in Cheticamp, up into the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada and took a short hike. We decided to disconnect the Toyota for the drive here today because of the steep upgrades and downgrades. The RV could handle most of the 18 degree downgrades in 1st gear without hitting the brakes unless there was a hairpin turn.

Meat Cove is accessed by a long dirt road with spectacular views of the rugged coastline. We saw a few whales off the road. The place got its name from fishermen who landed to hunt moose and replenish their larders. An alternative story is that fishermen could smell meat cooking as they rounded the cape.

We have a kayak trip lined up in the morning and whale watching on a Zodiac in the afternoon.

The campground (Hideaway in South Harbor)is very nice, with good Wi-Fi, electric, water and sewer. They sell lobster and oysters in the campground office and have a book exchange. We didn't like the Cheticamp campground so much. It seemed overcrowded and cramped. Many Canadian campgrounds are mostly full of local residents who park their trailers for the summer season (like we do in the winter in Sarasota).
Hideaway is the only campground on the tip of the peninsula that can accommodate large RVs, but they have everything here including tent camping and it's nicely wooded and uncrowded.

I listened to a Canadian Official on the radio today who said that Canada makes more of its GDP from tourism than the next three sources combined (fishing, agriculture and oil). They're putting 1/2 billion into upgrading the ferry service from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland.

John Cabot possibly landed near Meat Cove on June 24, 1497. Cabot's birthplace and name are both controversial, he was most probably born in Italy. In Italy he is known today as Giovanni Caboto, in Spain as Juan Caboto and in England as John Cabot. Only one set of documents has been found bearing his signature. These are Venetian testamentary documents of 1484, on which he signed himself as "Zuan Chabotto", Zuan being a form of John typical to Venice. Apparently he got a commission from the City of Bristol and sailed to either Maine, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland in 1497. I was disappointed to learn that Cabot was not English. Apparently Phred Firecloud is the only great American Navigator and Billy Bligh is the only Englishman (other than Cook) worthy of the Navigator greatness appellation.

We're heading next to North Sydney where Mrs. Phred has lined up five days worth of activities. The ferry routes to Newfoundland (five or fifteen hours) depart from there. We're currently undecided about riding these further northeast.

We've had a few more electrical problems in addition to the broken rear-facing RV video camera. The automatic satellite dish seems to have gone on the fritz and and the taillight signals from the RV to the tow vehicle have stopped working. I have a spare satellite dish that I can aim myself as a workaround, but the problem with the taillights is a blown fuse buried somewhere deep within the bowels of the RV. We'll restrict our night driving until we can find a repair place.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Polders, Dikes and Windmills

Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

"A polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments known as dikes, that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually-operated devices. "

New Orleans is probably a good example of an American polder. I can't wait to use this word in scrabble.

There are seventeen very old windmills clustered around this Dutch polder.

Most of the windmills in Holland are now only monuments now that attract tourists from around the globe . We did spot a few turning, here and there Nowadays, they mostly use big diesels when the water needs to be pumped out of a polder.

There are, however, a great many wind turbines that produce up to 3 megawatts of power each when the wind is not too strong or too weak. Wind turbines produce about 6 percent of the countries total power needs.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Officer Crocodile Dundee

Shelter Cove, California 

You get a very strange feeling driving though the Redwoods. It's very dark down there at the trunk level.

But.....wait....Officers in Independence, Missouri, responded to a call on a Saturday evening about a large alligator lurking on the embankment of a pond. An officer called a state conservation agent, who advised him to shoot the alligator because there was little that conservation officials could do at that time. As instructed, an officer shot the alligator, not once but twice, but both times the bullets bounced off -- because the alligator was made of cement.The property owner told police later that he placed the ornamental gator by the pond to keep children away.

Policemen can be cruel to their own. The Officer involved is almost certain to be tagged with a humorous but non-flattering nickname. Maybe "Gators Fear Me" or "Crocodile Dundee".

We spent the day cruising the redwoods and the coastal mountain back roads. We had hoped to see some tide pools after our long mountain drive to Shelter Cove. None of our pictures of the coastal tide pools or redwoods were very good due to the rain and fog. .

We did get some good flower pictures. They grow well in the dank, moist climate that redwoods prefer.

My humanities professor call this type of image "Chiaroscuro"  which sounds a lot like something you need to make Cuban Spanish bean soup.


We see many medical marijuana stores in this area, even in the smallest towns. I look into the laws and find that I need a California drivers license to assuage my anxiety or treat Mrs. Phred's back pains.

I think all the hippies from the 1967 Summer of Love must have moved to this area. We see many older ladies with long braided gray hair. They seem happy and pleasant. Not overweight. The men have strange beards, long hair and odd pants. I want to live here with my people, but Mrs. Phred wants more from life....

 Happy Trails....

Monday, 1 October 2012

Bumpass Hell

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

The Lassen Peak Smelowskia grows only one place in the world. We only have time for one hike and it comes down to a choice between looking for this Polish sounding flower on a hike though the meadows between three high mountain lakes and a hike called "Bumpass Hell".

"Bumpass Hell" has a lot of fumaroles and other volcanic features. The Bumpass Trail is closed to us because of ice and snow. Here is a picture somebody else took of the volcanic cone.

 There's a third hike though a desolate area that includes an impressive cinder cone that also looks interesting. Unfortunately, the Bumpass trail is still covered with snow and fallen boulders on July 2nd.

The road though the park is about 40 miles. It climbs to 8,511 feet. The major hike is to the top of Mt. Lassen. The parking lot indicates that many young Californians are up for the 3,000 foot climb to the top.

Another Lassen viewpoint.

We do see a flock of Canadian geese and Mrs. Phred takes a two-mile hike around a pretty lake while I sit in the shade and read my book.

The last time Lassen erupted was 1915. It blew big chunks of hot rock and gigantic boulders 20 miles.

Lassen Peak was named after Peter Lassen, a blacksmith who guided immigrants though the area to the Sacramento valley in 1830. The trail was considered unsafe and was later replaced by the Noble Emigrant Trail.

The device above is an extremely accurate GPS used to measure the drift of the continental plates.

Mount Lassen has the highest snowfall in California, averaging 660 inches a year.

This log is about six feet in diameter. It's in an advanced state of decay, and, for all I know, it's been laying here 100 years. I count about 20 rings an inch and estimate its age as 700-800 years when it was toppled.

We did see one little fumarole.

Some Canadian geese were also enjoying the park.

Mrs. Phred asked me today if my "bucket list" included visiting all the American National Parks. I was a little offended and told her that my "National Park" List included visiting all the American National Parks. They can't all be Glacier or Yellowstone, but they are all unique places of natural beauty.