Recently in Other... Category

Lovely place and great people. Passed through there several times on my way to adventures and would not mind spending a month or two visiting. Unfortunately, this is not a well-run Nation. This latest example from the Washington Examiner:

Puerto Rico fires emergency director after finding warehouse full of wasted Hurricane Maria aid
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez has fired the island’s director of emergency management after officials found a warehouse full of emergency supplies dating back to 2017's Hurricane Maria.

Vasquez dismissed Carlos Acevedo on Saturday and gave officials two days to investigate why the wasted supplies were forgotten. The warehouse was initially investigated for damage following recent earthquakes in the area, and investigators found thousands of items of supplies, including food, water, diapers, and medicine that were intended to help those affected by Hurricane Maria years ago.

I love that she gave them two days to respond. No chance for them to kick the can down the road and gracefully retire on full pension six months later. And this is just the latest:

Nearly 3,000 people reportedly died because of the hurricane and its lasting effects on the island. Mass protests in Puerto Rico in the hurricane’s aftermath led to the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rossello in July 2019.

In September 2018, hundreds of pallets of water were found abandoned on an airstrip. The water had gone bad sitting in the sun for months, while many in Puerto Rico lacked access to clean water. A month prior, a local radio station found crates of food, water, medicine, and other supplies left to rot in a state elections office. By the time the discovery was made, rats and other animals had already broken into the supplies and torn through trailers full of aid.

I get it. It is easy to get overwhelmed and lose traction. At that point, you need to recognize your problem and call for outside help. There is no shame in that. Some of the CERT and FEMA drills cover just those situations. I am saddened to realize that this could have been prevented had #1) - these people taken their responsibilities more seriously and #2) - they had spent 20-50 hours in a classroom covering some of the basic FEMA course materials. Available for free online. Great stuff. Start here: Emergency Management Institute. This series is incredible if you are working with CERT or Amateur Radio groups: ICS Resource Center This group too: National Incident Management System (NIMS)

These are all free, self-paced study and invaluable in a crisis. The best definition for "Emergency" that I have heard is that it is "an incident that outstrips your ability to cope". A couple of tens of hours spent getting CERT training or with these online classes would make your average emergency a lot less of a crisis.

Not one I would like to undertake but for sheer balls, this is one for the record books. From Associated Press:

6 men become 1st to cross perilous Drake Passage unassisted
As freezing water thrashed their rowboat in some of the most treacherous waters in the world, six men fought for 13 days to make history, becoming the first people to traverse the infamous Drake Passage with nothing other than sheer manpower.

They dodged icebergs, held their breaths as giant whales breached near their small boat and rode building-sized waves while rowing 24 hours a day toward Antarctica.

The team of men from four countries finished crossing the Drake Passage on Wednesday in just under two weeks after pushing off from the southern tip of South America.

A bit more about the conditions on board:

Besides the threat to their lives, the men labored under grueling conditions. Their 29-foot (9-meter) rowboat, named the Ohana, had to be in constant motion to avoid capsizing. That meant three men would row for 90 minutes while the other three rested, still cold and wet.

“You’re rowing inside an open hold, 40-foot sea waves are splashing in your face, near-freezing water is splashing over the bow,” said 34-year-old Colin O’Brady of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, one of the six men on the boat.

“It was quite harrowing,” O’Brady told The Associated Press on Thursday in his first interview after the journey. “By the end, we all lost a good amount of weight and were delirious from the sleep deprivation.”

O'Brady has done some other truly epic adventures. The adventure was covered by the Discovery Channel

Heh - a meme and a visual trope

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Climate change is pure propaganda: about 10% science and 90% the sun.

A new Christmas accessory

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From America's Newspaper of Record - the Babylon Bee:

New Greta On The Shelf Doll Will Track Your Climate Sins

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A fun new "Greta on the Shelf" doll will watch you every day and fly back to the UN each night to report your climate sins to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The doll is equipped with eye sensors programmed to detect activities that are harmful to the environment.

"Greta sees you when you're sleeping, she knows when you drive your SUV to the store instead of taking public transportation," the manufacturer said. "She knows if you've been bad or carbon-neutral, so be carbon-neutral for goodness' sake!"

One couple in Portland proudly displayed their new doll and lectured their children on the true meaning of Christmas: fighting climate change. "We're gonna play a fun game for the holidays this year -- try to be good little carbon-neutral children, or Greta will tell on you!"

"How dare you!" the doll chanted as the kids of the household left the door open while the heater was on. "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood." The doll then blasted off toward UN headquarters using its jet engines to report on the naughty children, who will receive coal in their stocking. They will be snitched on again, however, if they burn the coal for warmth.

I can see Alexa doing this - why I do not have one and never will.

From its YouTube channel:

The 11foot8 bridge is a railroad trestle over Gregson St in Durham, North Carolina and it has earned a reputation for for its rigorous enforcement of the laws of physics. No truck taller than 11 feet and 8 inches will pass under this stubborn piece of infrastructure. Period. On this channel we document the various attempts of hapless drivers trying to get past this bridge. Some try to be sneaky, some try to be quick, some try to argue, but the bridge always wins.  There is a reason why the locals call it the "canopener!"

Last month, the railroad raised it to 12 foot 4. Two days ago (11/26/2019) It claimed its first victim:

Here is a nice story about the guy who films this bridge - from Duke University

THE DUKE EMPLOYEE BEHIND THE ‘CAN OPENER BRIDGE’ CAM
Jurgen Henn was a few weeks into starting his job at Duke when he heard a sound that nearly knocked him out of his seat in his Brightleaf Square office.

“There was this incredible crashing noise outside,” said Henn, an IT manager for the Center for Autism and Brain Development in the Duke School of Medicine. “I wandered down to see what happened. A tractor-trailer had gotten stuck underneath the railroad bridge.”

In 2008, Henn set up a camera on the second floor of Brightleaf Square and one outside of Morgan Imports to capture vehicles getting stuck or damaged trying to pass under the 11-foot-8-inch train trestle, known as the “Can Opener Bridge,” at the intersection of S. Gregson and W. Peabody streets in Durham.

The bridge has a website here: 11 foot 8 but the YouTube channel gets updated more frequently.

Dumb and Dumber

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From The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys:

REAL MEN OF GENIUS: LADDER EDITION

This is the dumbest thing I can imagine. No, not the lavender truck. That’s garden variety dumb. No, not the man holding the ladder. Gravity, leverage, fulcrums, friction, it’s all mysterious to him. But most people are like that. He’s nothing special. The guy in the bucket, sort of helping, but not really helping at all, is unexceptional. Most people just stand aside and let other people hurt themselves if they’re bound and determined to try. The man descending the ladder is a dope, of course, but he’s not the dumbest person involved here.

No, the dumbest thing in this video is the guy holding the camera vertically. The rest is conversation.

So true. Even in this day and age people still do not shoot their videos in landscape. They watch them in landscape, they just do not shoot them in landscape. Talk about bonehead...

And she is back in the hospital

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg - from USA Today:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, four-time cancer survivor, is back in the hospital
Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a four-time cancer survivor, is back in the hospital after experiencing chills and fever Friday night.

Ginsburg, 86, was first admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington before being transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for treatment of any possible infection, the court's press office announced Saturday evening.

She was treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids and thereafter improved, the court said. She hopes to be released as early as Sunday morning.

I would not wish anyone ill health or a terminal illness but when she passes, this will be an incredible chance for the Supreme Court to return to its conservative roots and to cease legislating from the bench.

I still find it mind-boggling that she did not retire during Obama's reign - it would have been a shoe-in for another, younger liberal justice.

California infrastructure

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A couple of stories. First, the Los Angeles Times:

California suffered widespread cellphone outages during fires. A big earthquake would be much worse
When Ted Atz, a 75-year-old retiree in Marin County, learned that his power would go out during the Kincade fire, he texted his loved ones that he might lose cell service.

He was right. For four long days, Atz couldn’t make or receive calls. He’d drive around his hometown of San Anselmo, hoping to find better reception. He had no luck and was frustrated by the knowledge that if he suffered some kind of medical or other emergency, he couldn’t reach 911.

“I would have liked to let family know that I was OK,” Atz said.

Most cell sites have about three days of backup power - after that? Pffffttttt... Seems in Ted's case, the local site did not even have that. (cough... amateur radio... cough...)

This from Glen Reynolds - Law Professor and Instapundit:

Working With the System
We worry about terrorists, and rightly. But even without terrorists, things go wrong. SARS brought a major chunk of the global economy, and global transport network to a halt. The Great Blackout left 50 million without power for reasons still not entirely clear. The heat wave in France produced over 10,000 deaths. And the former Soviet Republic of Georgia suffered its own blackout, affecting millions -- though that one, like the great blackout in Memphis earlier this summer that left over a million people without power, some for weeks, got less attention because media people weren't affected directly.

And the meat of the matter:

But it's clear that this stuff matters. In particular, the cell-phone industry has dropped the ball. The cellphone network isn't just a luxury for rich guys and soccer moms anymore: it's a vital part of emergency infrastructure.

Unfortunately, according to an article in Newsday, it isn't up to the job:

Less than two years after the cellular network faltered following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the cellular system -- which the wireless industry promotes as a safety net during emergencies -- choked again.

The system broke down as a flood of nervous callers overloaded the network for some carriers; there wasn't enough capacity to handle the excess calls. Complicating matters, many cellular sites, which depend on electricity, had inadequate backup power.

Cell-phone carriers say the electrical outage was an event they couldn't possibly foresee.

I don't think that's much of an excuse, and I think that cell-phone technology is mature enough that it's fair to start expecting the kind of robust reliability that we've seen from landline services. This is too important to ignore.

And this from Glen at Instapundit:

SOME KATRINA LESSONS:
We’re going to see a plethora of commissions and inquiries (most about as useful and non-partisan as the 9/11 Commission), but here are a few lessons that seem solid enough to go with now:

1. Don’t build your city below sea level: If you do, sooner or later it will flood. Better levees, pumps, etc. will put that day off, but not prevent it.

2. Order evacuations early: You hate to have false alarms, but as Brendan Loy noted earlier, even 48 hours in advance is really too late if you want to get everyone out.

3. Have — and use — a plan for evacuating people who can’t get out on their own: New Orleans apparently had a plan, but didn’t use it. All those flooded buses could have gotten people out. Except that there would have had to have been somewhere to take them, so:

4. Have an emergency relocation plan: Cities should have designated places, far enough away to be safe, but close enough to be accessible, to evacuate people to. Of course, this takes coordination, so:

5. Make critical infrastructure survivable: I think that one of the key failures was the collapse of the New Orleans Police Department’s radio system. Here’s the story on why:

Infrastructure needs to be robust and bomb-proof. I will be running the Camano Island node of the weekly state-wide emergency net this coming Tuesday (I do it once/month; the net is every week) Even if. ESPECIALLY IF there is no emergency. Practice, practice, practice.

That way, when the shit does hit the fan, our actions will be second nature.

Not surprised - this is Amtrak after all

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Our crumbling infrastructure - dams

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Associated Press has been covering this very well recently. First a highlight on California and now this on our dams:

AP: At least 1,680 dams across the US pose potential risk
On a cold morning last March, Kenny Angel got a frantic knock on his door. Two workers from a utility company in northern Nebraska had come with a stark warning: Get out of your house.

Just a little over a quarter-mile upstream, the 92-year-old Spencer Dam was straining to contain the swollen, ice-covered Niobrara River after an unusually intense snow and rainstorm. The workers had tried but failed to force open the dam’s frozen wooden spillway gates. So, fearing the worst, they fled in their truck, stopping to warn Angel before driving away without him.

Minutes later, the dam came crashing down, unleashing a wave of water carrying ice chunks the size of cars. Angel’s home was wiped away; his body was never found.

State inspectors had given the dam a “fair” rating less than a year earlier. Until it failed, it looked little different from thousands of others across the U.S. — and that could portend a problem.

A more than two-year investigation by The Associated Press has found scores of dams nationwide in even worse condition, and in equally dangerous locations. They loom over homes, businesses, highways or entire communities that could face life-threatening floods if the dams don’t hold.

A review of federal data and reports obtained under state open records laws identified 1,688 high-hazard dams rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition as of last year in 44 states and Puerto Rico. The actual number is almost certainly higher: Some states declined to provide condition ratings for their dams, claiming exemptions to public record requests. Others simply haven’t rated all their dams due to lack of funding, staffing or authority to do so.

Much much more at the site. Sobering. Associated Press also has an interactive tool here. but it is taking a long time to load. I will try again later this afternoon.

I love pigs

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Friendly, intelligent and... BACON - from The Telegraph:

High on the hog - wild boar dig up and destroy £17,000 worth of cocaine stashed in forest in Tuscany
Wild boar in Italy have no shortage of enemies, from farmers and vineyard owners to motorists, but to that long list can now be added drug dealers.

A gang of dealers in Tuscany was left aghast after discovering that a stash of valuable cocaine they had carefully buried in the woods had been dug up by a herd of snuffling wild pigs.

With their powerful snouts, the boar managed to rip open the waterproof packages in which the cocaine was kept, scattering around €20,000 (£17,000) worth of the white powder across the forest floor.

The unusual drug “bust” came to light when police tapped the telephones of a suspected drug trafficking gang - an Italian and three Albanians.

One of the men was recorded furiously reporting the loss of the cocaine to a fellow gang member, telling him the drugs were ruined.

It is not known what became of the boars or what effect the cocaine had on them.

Pigs are routinely trained and used to sniff out truffles. Maybe they can be an alternative to drug-sniffing dogs.

From the internet

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If this was my front door, I would be staying home today - uggghhhhh...

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The taxpayers speak - higher education

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Good news from USA Today:

States are cutting university budgets. Taxpayers aren't interested in funding campus kooks
Times are bad for higher education, and higher educators are beginning to notice it. But the industry’s problems are mostly of its own making.

The latest "cri de coeur" comes from University of North Dakota’s Sheila Liming, who writes, “My University is Dying; And soon yours will be, too.”

She notes: “Starting in 2016, our state university system endured three successive rounds of annual budget cuts, with average 10-percent reductions resulting in a loss of more than a third of the system’s overall funding. Additional cuts, even, were on the table this past year. And while our state legislators ultimately avoided taking yet one more stab at the dismembered body of higher education, there has been no discussion of restoring any of those funds.”

And a bit more:

The ultimate reason for the cuts is that taxpayers in many states no longer think higher education is worth the money.

Faculty members, and the administrators who are the real power in universities nowadays, dismiss this as ignorant anti-intellectualism. But is it?

Exactly - we read the stories about the craziness on campus; the little entitled snowflakes and we realize that it is our tax dollars that is subsidizing this. No more classes for lesbian underwater basket weaving. I would cut any program with the word "studies" in the description. Put the money into the trade schools - much better spent and a better return.

And another record gets shattered. From The New York Times:

Eliud Kipchoge Breaks Two-Hour Marathon Barrier
On a misty Saturday morning in Vienna, on a course specially chosen for speed, in an athletic spectacle of historic proportions, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran 26.2 miles in a once-inconceivable time of 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds.

In becoming the first person to cover the marathon distance in less than two hours, Kipchoge, 34, achieved a sports milestone granted almost mythical status in the running world, breaking through a temporal barrier that many would have deemed untouchable only a few years ago.

Kipchoge, an eight-time major marathon winner and three-time Olympic medalist, pounded his chest twice as he crossed the finish line in Vienna’s leafy Prater Park, where the majority of the run had unfolded on a long straightaway of recently paved road, with roundabouts on either end.

Unfortunately:

For all its magnitude, the accomplishment will be regarded largely as a symbolic one. The eye-popping time, which was 10 seconds quicker than the 1:59:50 time Kipchoge and his team had set out to achieve, will not be officially recognized as a world record because it was not run under open marathon conditions and because it featured a dense rotation of professional pacesetters.

Bet that will be taken care of the next time he tries to run. He was running an average of 4.6 minute miles - amazing performance. 13.1 miles per hour. That is about my speed on my electronic bicycle on level ground - he was doing this while running.

From the US Department of Justice:

Drexel University to Pay $189,062 to Resolve Potential False Claims Liability
United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Drexel University has agreed to pay the United States $189,062 to resolve potential liability under the False Claims Act for a former professor’s use of grant funds towards “gentlemen’s clubs” and other improper purchases.

For ten years, the head of Drexel’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa, submitted improper charges against federal grants. The majority of the charges were made to gentlemen’s clubs and sports bars in the Philadelphia area.

The government’s investigation began in 2017 after Drexel voluntarily disclosed the improper charges to eight federal grants for energy and naval technology related research that it received from the Department of the Navy, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. After an internal audit in 2017, Drexel discovered that between July 2007 through April 2017, Dr. Nwankpa submitted improper charges against the federal grants for items such as personal iTunes purchases and for “goods and services” provided by Cheerleaders, Club Risque, and Tacony Club.

I m always amazed at people like this - they will be found out. Just a matter of time. They act as though they can keep running this scam forever - no exit strategy.

From local station WKYT:

Deputies: Intoxicated Mt. Sterling man arrested after trying to smoke gravel
A Mt. Sterling man is behind bars after authorities say he was staggering along a highway while trying to smoke gravel.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office announced 52-year-old Kenelm Davidson was arrested Wednesday after deputies received a complaint of a man being intoxicated on U.S. 421.

Deputies say they saw Davidson staggering in a parking lot when they arrived, and he was trying to smoke gravel.

Davidson was charged with public intoxication of a controlled substance.

He just wanted to get a little stone-d...

Today's Dilbert cartoon:

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Didn't have a crane?

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How not to unload a rail car:

That will require some work to clean up. The drivers forgot that their front wheels were up on the ballast. Should have tipped their forks back (and pulled out the side rails on the car). DOH!

36 years ago today

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Stanislav Petrov should be a household hero. From The Washington Post:

I Had A Funny Feeling in My Gut
It was just past midnight as Stanislav Petrov settled into the commander's chair inside the secret bunker at Serpukhov-15, the installation where the Soviet Union monitored its early-warning satellites over the United States.

Then the alarms went off. On the panel in front him was a red pulsating button. One word flashed: "Start."

It was Sept. 26, 1983, and Petrov was playing a principal role in one of the most harrowing incidents of the nuclear age, a false alarm signaling a U.S. missile attack.

Although virtually unknown to the West at the time, the false alarm at the closed military facility south of Moscow came during one of the most tense periods of the Cold War. And the episode resonates today because Russia's early-warning system has fewer than half the satellites it did back then, raising the specter of more such dangerous incidents.

As Petrov described it in an interview, one of the Soviet satellites sent a signal to the bunker that a nuclear missile attack was underway. The warning system's computer, weighing the signal against static, concluded that a missile had been launched from a base in the United States.

Petrov decided that this was a false alarm and did not push the button. The cause?

According to Petrov and other sources, the false alarm was eventually traced to the satellite, which picked up the sun's reflection off the tops of clouds and mistook it for a missile launch. The computer program that was supposed to filter out such information was rewritten.

Shades of Dr. Strangelove...

Emergency preparedness kits

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Amazon has a nice selection.

Remember, it is not "if".  It is "when".

Two lists - some excellent information

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As a budding videographer, I found this interesting:

24 Life Lessons for Filmmakers from Werner Herzog

And for fun - watching television:

The 50 Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch

Lots of good stuff in each list.

Heh - the New York Times

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From Slate:

At the New York Times, Bedbugs
While staffers at the New York Times headquarters already suffer the indignity of having to go to work every day in Times Square, the injustices apparently do not stop there. At noon on Monday, the Times sent out the following email to its New York employees:

Dear Colleagues,

During an extermination sweep of the newsroom over the weekend, we discovered evidence of bedbugs in a wellness room (02E4-253) on the second floor, a couch on the third floor and a booth on the fourth floor. These specific areas were then swept by professionals and found to be otherwise clean. In an abundance of caution, the second-floor room has been temporarily closed, the booth has been blocked off and the couch has been removed to be treated and professionally cleaned.

Additionally, evidence of possible bedbug activity was found in a few personal lockers on the third floor. Individuals associated with those lockers have been contacted and treatment is underway.

We continue to monitor the situation and, as a precaution, we intend to sweep all New York Times-occupied floors. We will provide updates as they become available.

If you have any questions, please contact Pat Whelan from Facilities at [redacted].

Building Operations

They are the editorial staff - that would explain a lot.

Yikes - radiation in Russia

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No real details as yet but this from Reuters:

Russians rush to buy iodine after blast causes radiation spike - reports
Residents of two northern Russian cities are stocking up on iodine that is used to reduce the effects of radiation exposure after a mysterious accident on a nearby military testing site, regional media reported.

The Ministry of Defense has given few details of the accident, saying only that two people were killed and six injured by the explosion of a liquid-propelled rocket engine at a test site in Russia's north.

Although the ministry initially said no harmful chemicals were released into the atmosphere and radiation levels were unchanged, authorities in the nearby city of Severodvinsk reported what they described as a brief spike in radiation. No official explanation has been given for why such an accident would cause radiation to spike.

A couple of days until we get the full story. Prayers going out to the injured and their families.

As the nation sobs - Tennessee

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From Knoxville station WVLT:

45,000 barrels of Jim Beam bourbon destroyed in massive blaze
Woodford County Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler tells WKYT two barrel warehouses at a Jim Beam aging facility caught fire around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Chandler says one warehouse initially caught fire with flames spreading to the second structure.

Crews were able to put out the flames in the second warehouse. Flames were still visible in the first warehouse five hours after the fire started.

Chandler says approximately 45,000 barrels of bourbon were in the warehouse that was still burning. He speculated crews could be on scene until late Wednesday night.

Quite the loss. Glad that nobody was injured. Lightning is suspected.

Stupid criminal

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Sounds like a classy citizen - from Birmingham Alabama:

Skull found in yard belongs to man electrocuted while stealing electricity, sheriff says
A skull found in the front yard of a Calhoun County home early Friday has been identified as the resident who authorities say died while trying to steal power.

Sheriff Matthew Wade identified the victim as 56-year-old Randall Stephens. He was released from the Calhoun County Jail on May 16, where he had been behind bars since October 2018 on drug and gun charges. At the time of his arrest last year, the sheriff said, Stephens was receiving power by illegal means.

The rest of Mr. Stevens was found about 1,000 feet away at the bottom of a ladder leaning against a power pole. I am guessing that that his skull had been some critter's chew-toy. Electrocution is not a good way to go - hurts all the time you are dying.

Quite the climb - El Capitan

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From Outside Magazine:

A 10-Year-Old Just Climbed the Nose
Selah Schneiter, 10, is small for her age, weighing just 55 pounds and standing four foot two. She loves math and playing guitar and is “silly and plays make believe,” says her mom, Joy.

She is also the youngest documented person ever to climb the 3,000-foot Nose route on Yosemite’s El Capitan. Selah topped out the famous line at 5:45 p.m. on June 12 after a five-day push with her dad, Mike, and his friend Mark Regier.

“I was scared just sometimes,” she said at the top. “I thought it was really fun.”

Quite the haul - 31 seperate pitches.

Two offerings from Amazon

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Very interesting - first, from Market Watch:

Amazon is selling entire houses for less than $20,000 — with free shipping
Residential builders have found a new home: Amazon.

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Prefabricated and modular housing — with homes prebuilt in factories — is having another moment. From 2013 to 2018, industry revenue grew an annualized 8.6% to nearly $10.5 billion, including growth of 4.1% in 2018 alone, according to research firm IBISWorld.

Previously associated with Dwell and other shelter magazines and websites, these often-tiny homes have now hit Amazon in a big way — and are apparently selling out there. Indeed, multiple news outlets, including real-estate sites Curbed and the Real Dealreported that one 172-square-foot, $7,250 prefab cabin, which the manufacturer claims can be built in eight hours and ships free from Amazon, had sold out. (Reports that the home was back in stock followed, as did some consumer warnings and social snickering.)

The second offering makes a lot of sense - from CDL Life (CDL = Commercial Drivers License):

Amazon’s new freight brokerage platform is reportedly undercutting prices by up to 33%
Amazon has released a trial version of its new digital freight brokerage platform that is threatening to turn the trucking industry on its head.

Amazon has quietly launched the beta version of their freight brokerage platform at freight.amazon.com. The website offers few details about the platform but promises to allow users to “tap into the scale of Amazon as we extend our carrier network to give you best-in-class service at great rates.”

The two Amazon sites are: Tiny house and Amazon Freight
Amazon Freight is just doing full loads for now. Still need to go with traditional brokers for LTL.

Another quote

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"If you don't know what your top three priorities are, you don't have priorities."
--Donald Rumsfeld

UPDATE BELOW

No idea who and where but sheesh...

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Found it - Tommy Fung from Hong Kong. Nice work! Good article (and lots of images) at Design you Trust.

Great cartoon from Michael Ramirez

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Found this bit of news at Breitbart:

Twelve French Churches Attacked, Vandalized in One Week
A dozen Catholic churches have been desecrated across France over the period of one week in an egregious case of anti-Christian vandalism.

The recent spate of church profanations has puzzled both police and ecclesiastical leaders, who have mostly remained silent as the violations have spread up and down France.

Last Sunday, marauders set fire to the church of Saint-Sulpice — one of Paris’ largest and most important churches — shortly after the twelve-o’clock Mass.

Police have concluded that the fire was the result of arson and are now looking for possible suspects. The restoration of the church from the damage caused by the fire will reportedly cost several hundred million euros.

In Nimes (department of the Gard), near the border with Spain, the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants was desecrated in a particularly odious way, with vandals painting a cross with human excrement, looting the main altar and the tabernacle, and stealing the consecrated hosts, which were discovered later among piles of garbage.

Likewise, the church of Notre-Dame in Dijon, in the east of the country, suffered the sacking of the high altar and the hosts were also taken from the tabernacle, scattered on the ground, and trampled.

In Lavaur, in the southern department of the Tarn, the village church was assaulted by young men, who twisted one arm of a representation of the crucified Christ to make it appear that he was making an obscene gesture.

In the peripheries of Paris, in the department of Yvelines, several churches have suffered profanations of varying importance, in Maisons-Laffitte and in Houilles.

Although commentators have been reluctant to attach a particular religious or cultural origin to the profanations, they all share an evident anti-Christian character.

In recent months, anti-Semitic gangs have desecrated Jewish cemeteries, signing their actions with swastikas. In the case of the desecration of Catholic churches, the vandalism has spoken for itself: ridicule of the figure of Christ on the cross and desecration of major altars.

The Catholic hierarchy has kept silent about the episodes, limited themselves to highlighting that anti-Christian threat and expressing hope that politicians and police will get to the bottom of the crimes.

Reports indicate that 80 percent of the desecration of places of worship in France concerns Christian churches and in the year 2018 this meant the profanation of an average of two Christian churches per day in France, even though these actions rarely make the headlines.

Of course these actions do not get put in the headlines - that would detract from the progressive narrative that Islam is the Religion of Peace. It will take weeks before the cause of the fire is determined but if it turns out to be arson, the blow-back against their immigrants will be massive.

Here is the last thirty days of Peace wrought by the followers of Mohammed:

List of Killings in the Name of Islam: Last 30 Days - during this time period, there were 98 Islamic attacks in 21 countries, in which 501 people were killed and 496 injured.

Crap - Notre Dame Cathedral on fire

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Was listening to the news and heard this - from France24:

LIVE: Paris firefighters fear it may be impossible to save Notre-Dame from blaze
Firefighters are battling a massive blaze at the French capital's iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral, where flames and black smoke were seen shooting from the base of the medieval church's spire on Monday.

    • The fire chief in Paris says it's unclear if city firefighters will be able to save Notre-Dame Cathedral.
    • The spire of the historic Notre-Dame Cathedral has collapsed as the wooden structure supporting the roof was ravaged by the blaze. Flames have spread to one of the cathedral's two towers.
    • The 12th century cathedral was in the midst of a massive 20-year renovation project.
    • Due to the fire, President Emmanuel Macron has postponed a highly-anticipated TV address on the Yellow Vest crisis, and rushed to the scene.
    • Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said that workers are scrambling "to save all the artworks that can be saved".

From Reuters:

Fire devastates Notre-Dame, beloved architectural gem at heart of Paris
A fast-moving fire consumed Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday in a massive, roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, a searing loss for the city and for France.

Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area. Parisians watching from the other side of the River Seine gasped as the spire folded over onto itself and fell into the inferno.

President Emmanuel Macron said the whole nation was moved. “Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,” he tweeted.

A photo from the London Daily Mail:

20190415-nd.jpg

A tragedy for Western Civilization.

Now this sounds like a lot of fun

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From the Stanwood Camano News:

Cruisin' for a cure: Camano Car Guys ship ‘Miss Vicky’ to China for race
The Camano Car Guys gathered to bid Miss Vicky adieu on Wednesday, March 27, at Lee Harman’s home on Camano Island. She’s a 1931 Model A Ford Victoria.

Next month, shortly after she arrives in Beijing, Harman and his long-time buddy Bill Ward will join Miss Vicky and prepare for the Peking to Paris Rally cross-continental road trip.

Harman said it’s through the Car Guys’ efforts that she’s ready for this epic 10,000-mile adventure. It begins June 19 and runs 36 days. They are tough miles.

Harman and Ward are partnering with Rotary’s PolioPlus program to use this trip of a lifetime as a vehicle to raise funds to help eradicate polio around the world.

The duo will pay all trip expenses so that 100 percent of the donations go to PolioPlus. Every donation dollar is tripled by the Gates Foundation. So far, donations are pushing $50,000.

PolioPlus is making a final push to raise the $1.2 billion needed to end the threat of polio.

Good cause too. Talk about an epic journey. From the website for this rally:

The Greatest Motoring Adventure – Peking to Paris 2019
The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge is unique in the motoring world – a true endurance motor rally following in the wheel-tracks of the original pioneers of 1907. Driving an old car nearly half way around the world with a bunch of like-minded enthusiasts, against the clock, with the added spice of timed sections, makes Peking to Paris the longest and toughest driving challenge for Vintage and Classic cars.

Who can participate?
This Peking to Paris Motor Challenge is open to cars of a type produced before 1976 and is suitable to both novice crews, with training and support, as well as experienced rally entrants. Taking an exciting route via gravel, sand and stunning roads, luxurious hotels and desert camping, this is a life changing, never to be forgotten, adventur.

The route is challenging but the Organisers welcome both newcomers and experienced crews. You will need a sense of adventure and be prepared to spend nights under canvas in the deserts of Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The ability to carry out regular maintenance on your own car is essential. Average daily distances are around 400 kilometres but, on occasion, they can be as much as 650 kilometres – it is an endurance event after all.

Just wow... Talk about a grand adventure.

Whoops - Texas Judge

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Should have studied the State Constitution a bit more - from Reuters:

Texas civil court judge accidentally resigns
An April Fools’ Day resignation prank? One Texas civil court judge wishes it were so.

A newly elected judge in Houston accidentally resigned on Monday, according to local media and a county official, after he shared plans online to run for the state supreme court, apparently unaware that the Texas constitution considers such an announcement an automatic resignation.

The Harris County Civil Court judge, Bill McLeod, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Local TV station KHOU 11 News on Monday reported that McLeod declined to comment on the move.

Article 16, Section 65, of the state’s constitution says that a judge’s announcement of candidacy for another office “shall constitute an automatic resignation of the office then held.”

Heh...

Three hour cruise

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Yikes - always wondered about those huge cruise ships - a lot of wind area. From gCaptain:

Viking Sky Cruise Ship Arrives in Port After Near Disaster at Sea
A luxury cruise ship that had set sail with almost 1,400 passengers and crew aboard arrived at a port in Norway on Sunday after narrowly escaping disaster when its engines failed during a storm.

The Viking Sky sent out a mayday signal on Saturday as it drifted in rough waters in the Norwegian Sea to within 100 meters of land.

Rescue services airlifted 479 people, hoisting them one-by- one on to helicopters, before the weather subsided on Sunday and a tow could begin. Many of them were senior citizens.

A total of 1,373 people had started the voyage and about 900 people were still on board as the ship arrived at the port of Molde on Norway’s west coast.

“It was very nearly a disaster. The ship drifted to within 100 meters of running aground before they were able to restart one of the engines,” police chief Hans Vik, who heads the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre for southern Norway, told TV2.

Running aground would have been a disaster in a storm - open the hull like a tin can. Here is a photo of her - quite the list:

20190324-viking.jpg

Classical reference in title...

There's gold in them thar hills

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Interesting story about America's other gold rush - from Appalachian Magazine:

200+ Years Ago: The Carolina Gold Rush
When one thinks of an American goldrush, the thoughts of dusty prospectors racing west to the deserts of California or the icy mountains of Alaska typically aren’t far behind.

Though it is true that California’s 49ers took part in America’s most well known gold rush, the truth is a half-century earlier, the newly birthed nation was captivated by the prospect of gold being buried in the foothills of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains.

The story begins in 1799 when a 12-year-old boy, was shooting fish with a bow and arrow in a stream near what would become Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wonderful story - I had no idea this happened. We had quite the gold rush here in the Cascade mountains - the Appalachian's were just as mineral rich, just a lot older and more eroded. I live about 50 miles from an active gold mine.

Sunken treasure ship found?

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Now this will be interesting. From FOX News:

Anchor from 'most valuable shipwreck in history' found
An anchor from a treasure-laden 17th-century shipwreck has been found off the coast of the U.K.

SWNS reports that the anchor, believed to be from the Merchant Royal, was brought up in a fishing vessel’s net 20 miles off Land's End, Cornwall. The merchant ship sank in 1641 carrying an estimated $1.5 billion of treasure.

Dubbed “the El Dorado of the seas,” the Merchant Royal was carrying 100,000 pounds of gold and 400 bars of Mexican silver, as well as almost 500,000 pieces of eight (Spanish dollars) and other coins when she sank.

300 feet down so we are talking technical (saturation) diving - a very expensive operation. Still...

Ho. Li. Crap. - automobile accident

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Talk about a very lucky driver - from the California Highway Patrol in Modesto:

CHP - Modesto
SR-132 TEMPORARY CLOSED AT PARADISE:
The driver of this Honda was extremely lucky. They actually limboed between these 2 overturned trailers. Luckily, nobody was seriously injured. Please avoid the area. The Modesto Area CHP and Caltrans, District 10 are doing everything possible to open the roadway to the public.

20190316-chp.jpg

A very lucky driver... Tip of the hat to Peter Grant for the link.

Not having a good day - bank robber

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Talk about instant karma  - from Central Maine:

Fleeing Waterville bank robber slips, spills money, gun in front of special agent, police say
It was a scene right out of a bank heist movie.

A lone man brandishing a handgun walked into Bangor Savings Bank on Tuesday morning on upper Main Street, robbed the bank and fled; but no one could have predicted what happened next.

He ran across four lanes of traffic on Main Street and into the Ming Lee restaurant parking lot, slipped on the ice and found himself face-to-face with a special agent for the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Task Force who just happened to be parked in the right place at the right time.

“When he fell, the money and the gun he had stashed in his jacket pocket spilled onto the parking lot, and the money was swept across the parking lot by the wind,” police Chief Joseph Massey said later. “Members of the public tried to scoop it up.”

The state police special agent, Glenn Lang, had no idea a bank had just been robbed but was suspicious. He got out of his vehicle, tackled the man and took him into custody just about the time city police responded to the report of a bank robbery.

Whoops.

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