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From the Los Angeles Times:

Ventura County wildfire rages over 50,000 acres, destroys more than 150 structures; 27,000 flee
A fast-moving, wind-fueled wildfire swept into the city of Ventura early Tuesday, burning 50,000 acres, destroying homes and forcing more than 27,000 people to evacuate.

About 3,000 homes were evacuated, a firefighter was injured and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Ventura County on Tuesday morning, as some 1,000 personnel continued to battle the Thomas fire.

Gusts up pver 60 MPH

Especially considering that Bill and Melinda have dropped over three Billion dollars on this travesty:

From Next Big Future:

Common core education has been a bigger failure than Microsoft Office Clippy

Usually, I am a day or two late on these but this time I am early.
National Situational Awareness Day is tomorrow, September 26th. From Pretty Loaded:

The First Ever National Situational Awareness Day!
We are excited to announce the first ever National Situational Awareness Day will be September 26th! This day was approved by the registrar of the National Day Calendar and was submitted for acceptance by Pretty Loaded. Situational Awareness is a skill that everyone can use immediately to improve their personal safety.

And a bit more:

What is Situational Awareness?
Situational awareness is really just another way of being mindful of your surroundings. Developing this skill will make you more present in daily activities, which in turn helps you make better decisions in all aspects of life.

The concept of situational awareness was identified during World War I by Oswald Boelke who realized ‘the importance of gaining an awareness of the enemy before the enemy gained a similar awareness, and devised methods for accomplishing this.’

In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even a few seconds early may keep someone safe by giving them time to act instead of react. The lack of or inadequate situational awareness has been identified as one of the primary factors in accidents attributed to human error.

Although situational awareness skills seem to be lacking in modern society, our ancestors used these skills to survive. It has been extensively taught for decades to law enforcement and the military, but it is not exclusive to them.

Most safety experts agree that situational awareness is the number one skill to learn for the safety of everyone.

Situational Awareness Day highlights the importance of using situational awareness skills in every day life to stay out of harm’s way. Harm may come in the form of walking in front of a moving car or that of an assailant, both of which can happen from any myriad of distractions which cause one to not be aware of the surroundings and situation.

Good stuff to practice - saves lives and you can use these skills to help others. Is that guy sitting down because they are tired or are they having a medical incident? When turning into a lane of traffic, do you look both ways - what if a bicycle rider was heading in the wrong way down the street? The need for situational awareness is - literally - all around you.

Our prayers go out to Mexico

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7.1 Magnitude earthquake close to Mexico City. The quake was deep so some of its strength is mitigated but still, first reports have about 200 dead and about 50 buildings collapsed.

Yikes - wildfires to our South

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From Reuters:

Largest wildfire in Los Angeles history forces hundreds to evacuate
A wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles rapidly grew on Saturday into what the mayor called the largest blaze in the city’s history, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of people and the closure of a major highway.

The 5,000-acre (2,023-hectare) La Tuna Fire, named after the canyon area where it erupted on Friday, has led authorities to evacuate more than 700 homes in a north Los Angeles neighborhood and in nearby Burbank and Glendale, officials said.

Authorities warned of erratic winds that could force them to widen the evacuation zone, after the fire destroyed one house in Los Angeles on Saturday.

That close to houses - could be a real probelm if the wind shifts. Dry as a bone down there.

Memo to self - avoid the shrimp

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Abbotsford is a large Canadian city to my northwest - about 15 miles. From the Vancouver Inquirer:

Tainted Buffet At Abbotsford Strip Club Blamed After Severe Diarrhea Incident On Stage
A popular strip club in Abbotsford, BC has been closed until further notice after several dancers contracted diarrhea last Friday night. The cause of the incident, which remains under investigation, has been initially linked to a contaminated buffet at the venue. While the investigation continues, the venue has not been named.

A bit more:

Patrons at the venue who were sitting near the stage were the most directly affected by the incident, which occurred close to 11pm. According to a witness at the venue, three dancers were performing on separate poles when the first sign of trouble emerged.

The article's author was having some fun writing - when the first sign of trouble emerged...

Newsweek - just the facts

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Hard hitting reporting there - from Newsweek:

Donald Trump’s presidency was written in the stars—at least that’s what astrologers are saying. He was born during a lunar eclipse, they point out, which makes him more susceptible to the power of eclipses. And if eclipses are monumental celestial events with real-world consequences, as astrologers believe, then the rare total solar eclipse happening in August could have major implications for Trump, especially given the growing drama around his administration.

“There’s been a lot of conversation about this eclipse in terms of what’s going on with Donald Trump,” says Wade Caves, an astrological consultant who earlier in July published a 29-page analysis of the coming eclipse. “The astrological world has been completely buzzing with this for quite some time, even more so since Donald Trump was inaugurated.”

In other words - oink, flap, oink, flap, oink, flap...


From the Smithsonian:

A Newly Discovered Diary Tells the Harrowing Story of the Deadly Halifax Explosion
We turn out of our hammocks at 6.30am and lash up and stow in the usual way,” a Royal Navy sailor named Frank Baker wrote in his diary on December 6, 1917. “We fall in on the upper deck at 7am and disperse to cleaning stations, busying ourselves scrubbing decks etc. until 8am when we ‘cease fire’ for breakfast.” Baker was pulling wartime duty as a ship inspector in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the lookout for spies, contraband and saboteurs.

But there were no ships to be inspected that day, so after breakfast he and his crewmates aboard HMCS Acadia went back to their cleaning stations. “We...had just drawn soap and powder and the necessary utensils for cleaning paint work,” he wrote, “when the most awful explosion I ever heard or want to hear again occurred.”

What Frank Baker heard was the biggest explosion of the pre-atomic age, a catastrophe of almost biblical proportions. The 918 words he wrote for December 6 make up the only eyewitness account known to be written on the day of what is now called the Halifax Explosion. After World War I, his diary sat unread for decades. Now, it has been included in an exhibit on the explosion’s centennial at the Dartmouth Heritage Museum, across the harbor from Halifax. It is published here for the first time.

“The first thud shook the ship from stem to stern and the second one seemed to spin us all around, landing some [crew members] under the gun carriage and others flying in all directions all over the deck,” Baker wrote. Sailors 150 miles out to sea heard the blast. On land, people felt the jolt 300 miles away. The shock wave demolished almost everything within a half-mile. “Our first impression was that we were being attacked by submarines, and we all rushed for the upper deck, where we saw a veritable mountain of smoke of a yellowish hue and huge pieces of iron were flying all around us.”

Unseen by Baker, two ships had collided in the Narrows, a strait linking a wide basin with the harbor proper, which opens into the Atlantic to the southeast. An outbound Belgian relief ship, the Imo, had strayed off course. An inbound French freighter, the Mont-Blanc, couldn’t get out of its way. The Imo speared the Mont-Blanc at an angle near its bow. The freighter carried 2,925 tons of high explosives, including 246 tons of benzol, a highly flammable motor fuel, in drums lashed to its deck. Some of the drums toppled and ruptured. Spilled benzol caught fire. The Mont-Blanc’s crew, unable to contain the flames, abandoned ship.

The ghost vessel burned and drifted for about 15 minutes, coming to rest against a pier along the Halifax shore. Thousands of people on their way to work, already working at harborside jobs, or at home in Halifax and Dartmouth, stopped in their tracks to watch.

Then the Mont-Blanc blew.

Quite the story - more at the site. Another big explosion in Canada was the 1958 intentional demolition of Ripple Rock in British Columbia.

That moke will not be flying for a long long time - from San Jose, CA's The Mercury News:

Exclusive: SFO near miss might have triggered ‘greatest aviation disaster in history’
In what one aviation expert called a near-miss of what could have been the largest aviation disaster ever, an Air Canada pilot on Friday narrowly avoided a tragic mistake: landing on the San Francisco International Airport taxiway instead of the runway.

Sitting on Taxiway C shortly before midnight were four airplanes full of passengers and fuel awaiting permission to take off, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the “rare” incident. An air traffic controller sent the descending Air Canada Airbus 320 on a “go-around” — an unusual event where pilots must pull up and circle around to try again — before the safe landing, according to the federal agency.

FAA investigators are still trying to determine how close the Air Canada aircraft came to landing and potentially crashing into the four aircraft below, but the apparent pilot error already has the aviation industry buzzing.

“If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history,” said retired United Airlines Capt. Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts. He said he’s been contacted by pilots from across the country about the incident.

“If you could imagine an Airbus colliding with four passenger aircraft wide bodies, full of fuel and passengers, then you can imagine how horrific this could have been,” he said.

Ho. Li. Crap. The Air Canada pilot was coming in for a landing and lined up on the taxiway instead of the runway - completely different markings and lighting. The pilot remarked on seeing some airplane lights on the ground and the controllers sent him on a go-around. Thank God!

Yup - you are screwed

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From the internet:


He did it - El Capitan ascent

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From National Geographic:

Exclusive: Climber Completes the Most Dangerous Rope-Free Ascent Ever
Renowned rock climber Alex Honnold on Saturday became the first person to scale the iconic nearly 3,000-foot granite wall known as El Capitan without using ropes or other safety gear, completing what may be the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport.

He ascended the peak in 3 hours, 56 minutes, taking the final moderate pitch at a near run. At 9:28 a.m. PDT, under a blue sky and few wisps of cloud, he pulled his body over the rocky lip of summit and stood on a sandy ledge the size of a child’s bedroom.

Talk about having a pair of big brass ones... There is a video coming out.

Francesco Schettino? From Reuters:

Top Italian court upholds conviction of Costa Concordia captain
The former captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Friday by Italy's highest court for his role in the 2012 shipwreck, which killed 32 people off the Tuscan holiday island of Giglio.

Francesco Schettino was originally found guilty in 2015 of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his passengers. Friday's ruling marked the end of the appeals process, with the court upholding the initial verdict.

A bit more:

The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew, when it hit rocks off Giglio on a chill January night, tearing a hole in its side and eventually keeling over.

Schettino was lambasted by the Italian media and branded "Captain Coward" for leaving the stricken ship while a chaotic night-time rescue operation was in full flow. Critics accused him of bringing shame to the whole country through his actions.

He departed from the course and sailed close to the island because one of his crewmembers was born there. Ran into some rocks and the rest is history. Here is a great 90 second time-lapse of the parbuckling and refloating of the ship:

Tip of the watch cap to gCaptain for both links

A skier fell into a 60' crevasse recording all the while:

Emory University was the home of Professor Michael A. Bellesiles whose anti-2nd amendment book Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture published in 2000 was found to be based on completely fabricated scholorship. Mr. Bellesiles is no longer teaching at Emory University but the cultural bias is still strong at that institution. From The Daily Caller:

University Will Pay ‘100 Percent’ Of Illegal Students’ Financial Needs
Emory University is keen to pay “100 percent of demonstrated financial need for undocumented students (with or without DACA) who are admitted as first-year, first-degree-seeking students,” according to an online description of coming fall program.

As The College Fix reports, the private Atlanta university has given the take care of illegals program the unwieldy name of “Need-Based Financial Aid Program for Undocumented Students, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) Students” and the information is all available on their website.

There’s money galore for illegals. “All Undocumented Students (with or without DACA) who are admitted as first-year, first-degree-seeking undergraduate students, who have graduated from a U.S. high school, and who are determined by Emory to have financial need, will be awarded Emory financial aid funds to assist them in meeting their demonstrated need,” the website promo declares.

If I were an alumnus, I would withhold any further endowments and send them a serious and heartfelt WTF Guys? This is just plain unreal...

Quote of the day - truth

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"The criterion of truth is that it works even if nobody is prepared to acknowledge it."
--Ludwig von Mises

From the "You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means" department - Cynthia Than writing at Inc:

United Airlines Did Not Have the Legal Right to Refuse Service to the Doctor Dragged Off Its Plane
On Sunday night, a video surfaced of a man being forcibly removed by airport security while he was on a United Airlines regional flight at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois. The elderly passenger in the video, who appeared to be unconscious as he was dragged from his seat, was later identified as 69-year-old David Dao, a doctor who refused to voluntarily give up his seat because he said that he had patients to see the next day.

widely circulated tweet and many major news outlets, including the New York Times and CNN, incorrectly reported that United Flight 3411 was overbooked. The practice of overbooking allows airlines to keep prices low for consumers since overselling seats means that a flight has a greater chance of being full. However, other passengers on the flight, and the CEO of United Airlines, explained that the flight was not, in fact, overbooked but that four passengers had been requested to give up their seats for crew members who had to commute to Louisville, Kentucky, to work on flights the following day.

And the law in question:

Since the flight was not actually overbooked, but instead only fully booked, with the exact number of passengers as seats available, United Airlines had no legal right to force any passengers to give up their seats to prioritize others. What United did was give preference to their employees over people who had reserved confirmed seats,  which would have been a violation of 14 CFR 250.2a (if the flight  were overbooked, as United had originally claimed). Since Dr. Dao was already seated, it was clear that his seat had already been "reserved" and "confirmed" to accommodate him specifically.

A United Airlines spokesperson said that since Dr. Dao refused to give up his seat and leave the plane voluntarily, airline employees "had to" call upon airport security to force him to comply. However, since the flight was not overbooked, United Airlines had no legal right to give his seat to another passenger. In United Airline's Contract of Service, they list the reasons that a passenger may be refused service, many of which are reasonable, such as "failure to pay" or lacking "proof of identity." Nowhere in the terms of service does United Airlines claim to have unilateral authority to refuse service to anyone, for any reason (which would be illegal anyway).

This is going to be an interesting lawsuit -- it will set a precident and Dr. Dao will get a very nice and very fat check.

I knew that Federal Research grants were a significant source of income to universities but I didn't realize just how much. From FOX News:

Critics to Ivy Leagues: 'Taxpayer gravy train needs to end'
Over a six-year period, Ivy League schools have received tens of billions in tax dollars, bringing in more money from taxpayers than from undergraduate student tuition. In fact, they received more federal cash than 16 state governments.

The stunning numbers are all part of a new report, first seen by Fox News, released Wednesday by Open the Books -- a non-profit group whose stated mission is to capture and post online all disclosed spending at every level of government.

The 43-page report shows the massive amount of money flowing into not-for-profit Ivy League schools, including payments and entitlements, costing taxpayers more than $41 billion from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2015.

A bit more:

The study says another federal perk -- the schools pay no tax on investment gains on their endowment -- a tax break is estimated at $9.6 billion over the six years of the study.

And some of the studies that were funded:

One grant was given to Cornell for nearly $1 million to study whale presence in the Virginia offshore wind energy area. Other grants to Ivy League schools were to study college binge drinking, ethics in Tanzania and sex chromosomes in turtles.

They provide a link to download a PDF of the report - sobering!

Landslides of a different nature

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Horrible tragic landslide in Ethiopia - from the American Geophysical Union's Landslide Blog:

Koshe, Ethiopia: the worst garbage dump landslide in recent years
The death toll from the terrible garbage dump landslide at Koshe in Ethiopia on Saturday is now known to have reached 115, with fears that more bodies may remain buried.  The landslide occurred on Saturday when a section of the dump collapsed onto a slum built at the toe of the slope.  The majority of fatalities are reported to be women and children.  The most-informative set of images can be found in this CBS News article from a few days ago, including the image below of the crown of the landslide, which suggests that the crown of the landslide has a rotational component:


More at Africa Review:

Ethiopia rubbish dump landslide death toll soars to 115
The death toll from a landslide at Ethiopia's largest rubbish dump in the capital Addis Ababa climbed to 115 on Thursday, among them many women and children.

Tragedy struck on Saturday when part of the largest hillside at the Koshe rubbish dump collapsed, burying a slum that had been built on the landfill.

And this:

Koshe is the country's largest rubbish dump, and was home to a community of perhaps hundreds of people who collect and resell rubbish trucked in from around the capital city.

And this:

Although one of Africa's top economic performers, with GDP growing by about 10 percent in 2015 and Addis Ababa filled with high-rise buildings and newly paved roads, Ethiopia is still one of the world's poorest countries.

The people of Koshe lived in squalor of a degree that is uncommon in the city of four million people.

And of course, all of the money that we have pumped into foreign aid has gone into the pockets of the kleptocrats and has done absolutely nothing for these people. The United Nations is especially egregious in this respect which is why I am very glad that President Trump is cutting funding to them. Private organizations like Team Rubicon are the best people to operate in situations like this.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time:

I was right - Gold

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From February 19th, 2017:

If I was into panning for gold, I bet that now would be an excellent time to visit some streams - a lot of the streambeds have been washed over and new gold exposed.

From California's Chico Enterprise-Record:

Floods bring fresh prospects, adventures in gold mining
Now is not the time to quit your day job in hopes of striking it rich. However, people with a new or renewed interest in gold mining may be spending more of their summer weekends near rivers and streams.

Joey Wilson owns Adventures in Prospecting in Oroville, where he says there’s been more excitement among his gold mining customers.

“There’s always been gold in the Feather River,” he said. What’s new is that the recent floods have moved things around.

A fun and sometimes profitable hobby. One of the people interviewed in the article said that prospecting had better odds than playing the lottery.

Government artwork

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Very cool article from Atlas Obscura:

The American Government Is Searching For Its Own Lost Art
They are not America’s art police. There are no midnight raids, covert surveillance or undercover operations. Most everything is done through cordial emails, polite phone calls and, if necessary, civil court. While glamour is not top priority, make no mistake: The United States government wants its art back.

Special Agent Eric Radwick, who works in the Office of Investigations for the General Service Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, is working to do just that—to locate and recover government-owned long-lost artwork of the New Deal-era federal arts programs. It could be hidden in plain sight. It could be in grandma’s attic. It could be in the possession of art collectors. No matter if it was found in the trash or cost a few grand, the art is federal property and the government is looking for it. That means regularly monitoring auction house listings, Craigslist and eBay. It means coordinating with the art community about tips. It also means waiting for calls to the GSA hotline.

A bit more - how the WPA Program began:

On May 9th, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt received a rather curious letter from an old classmate and professional artist George Biddle. Since his March inauguration, President Roosevelt had implemented the most aggressive 100 days agenda in the country’s history in hopes of solving the Great Depression. While absurdly busy—he had just delivered his second Fireside Chat and was about to sign both the Farm Relief and Unemployment Relief bills—this note gave him pause. In it, Biddle wrote that he had long admired the Mexican government for paying artists “plumbers’ wages” to paint murals on government buildings expressing Mexican ideals. Perhaps the President should consider something similar in the United States?

If you find yourself anywhere near Portland, Oregon, a trip to the Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood is very much in order. This is a wonderfully preserved gem of WPA art and architecture.

Good news from France - avalanche

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From England's The Telegraph:

Ski disaster narrowly averted after avalanche on popular blue run in Tignes
Disaster was narrowly averted on Tuesday morning after an avalanche struck a blue run popular with family skiers in Tignes in the French Alps.

Gendarmes had earlier expressed fears that "many skiers" had been caught up in the avalanche on the Carline run that was open at the time of the avalanche around 10am.

However, police and rescue services later announced that nobody had been trapped under the snow.

An avalanche on a blue run would pose a major risk as skiers are not required to wear transceivers to locate them under the snow, unlike skiers who take more dangerous off-piste routes.

We are very attuned to avalanches here. We have lost too many good people.

Shin Lim is my favorite card magician - he was studying classical piano and developed carpal tunnel. He started working with cards as therapy and discovered that he liked doing magic more than playing music. Here he is with a routine and a message. The City of Lights is being torn apart by islamic immigrants who refuse to assimilate into the Parisian culture. Watch full-screen:

So true

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From a facebook post:


An idea - being prepared

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When a disaster happens, it would be really good to have records of important documents - drivers licenses, leases or bills of sale, certificates of birth, marriage, etc..., bank account numbers, etc...

Take a photo of them and save them in the cloud or on a thumb drive - you can buy encrypted drives for about $20.

From the FEMA YouTube channel

Ho. Li. Crap - meet Eli Bouchard

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The guy is nine years old:

From National Public Radio:

Iconic Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree' Brought Down By California Storm
A powerful winter storm in California has brought down an ancient tree, carved into a living tunnel more than a century ago.

The "Pioneer Cabin Tree," a sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, saw horses and cars pass through it over the years. More recently, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree.

Over the weekend, a powerful winter storm slammed into California and Nevada, prompting flooding and mudslides in some regions. The Associated Press reports it might be the biggest storm to hit the region in more than a decade.

On Sunday, a volunteer at the state park reported that Pioneer Cabin had not survived.

"The storm was just too much for it," the Calaveras Big Tree Association wrote on Facebook.

There are still some privatly owned tunnel trees but this was the grandaddy of them all. Nothing lasts forever...

What a maroon

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Talk about stupid criminal - from the San Diego, CA Union Tribune:

San Diego bank robber reveals identity by using ATM card during heist
If only all crimes were so easy to solve.

Alvin Lee Neal robbed a downtown San Diego bank, but before he did he inserted his ATM debit card at the teller window — revealing his name and other personal information.

Neal, 56, was sentenced in San Diego federal court Tuesday to three years and 10 months in prison for the robbery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Title? From Bugs Bunny

2016 the movie

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Here is the trailer - don't want to see the full movie. Once is enough.

Earthquake education

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Great set of cartoons for earthquake preparation from Amrai Pari and animated by Ross Bollinger - from The BEEB:

Using cartoons to help save lives
Bangladesh is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. In addition to frequent cyclones and drought, large areas of the country are at risk of earthquakes. With densely populated cities, even a relatively small earthquake could have catastrophic consequences. Amrai Pari (Together We Can Do It) is harnessing the power of media to help people be better prepared.

To help, Amrai Pari enlisted Ross Bollinger, an animation artist famous for his tongue-in-cheek Pencilmation cartoons. I caught up with him to tell us a little more about his hopes for the project.

Brilliant idea - here is the first of the series. More at the BBC website

And how was your thanksgiving?

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From Seattle station KING:

Woman breaks fingers, delivers a baby, and puts Thanksgiving dinner on the table
A Tacoma woman has quite a story to tell after her unexpectedly hectic Thanksgiving. It started with a triathlon, took her to a hospital, and ended at the dinner table with baby pictures.

Rhonda DiCostanzo was up before sunrise on Thanksgiving morning. She kneaded some dough for the dinner rolls and headed out to participate in a YMCA triathlon.

As she was crossing the finish line, she tripped, fell, and broke two of her fingers. DiCostanzo works as a midwife at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. She hurried over to the ER, where she knows some nurses, to get her hand fixed up.

“And I heard this lady come in, and she was obviously in very active labor and was obviously going to deliver very quickly. You could just hear it,” DiCostanzo said.

Jessica Morales could not wait a minute longer. The hospital delivery staff were still on their way. So DiCostanzo rushed over, with her hand still injured, and single-handedly delivered Morales's baby boy.

“Afterward I showed her my hospital band and said, ‘you know I'm a patient here, too,’ and she said, ‘WHAT?’” DiConstanzo recalled.

DiCostanzo wasn't finished. She returned home and still managed to serve Thanksgiving dinner to 16 guests.

“What a great day, what a wonderful life I lead. Triathlon, deliver baby, cook dinner, have time with family and friends, life is good,” she said while relaxing at home, Friday.

That will be in the family story-line for a long long time...

Our prayers go out to New Zealand

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Woke up to find multiple earthquake notices in my email. South Island of New Zealand has been hit with some big ones and there is a tsunami watch out.

Radio New Zealand has some photos: Earthquake: In pictures

as well as streaming updates: LIVE: 7.5 quake near Hanmer rocks whole country

From the US Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Kidde Recalls Combination Smoke/CO Alarms Due to Alarm Failure
Name of product:
Kidde NightHawk combination smoke/carbon monoxide (CO) alarms
The alarm can fail to continue to chirp when it reaches its seven year end of life if the batteries are replaced, leading consumers to believe it is still working. This poses a risk of consumers not being alerted to a fire or CO incident in their home.

There is a link to the Kidde website to get a free replacement. Also, for those living in my area, Fire District 14 will install a free smoke alarm in your house - contact them for more information.

Hurricane Matthew - post mortem

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FEMA has put up a website with lots of data and pictures/video on the responses to Hurricane Matthew.

A lot of this will serve well for materials for future drills and training.  Events like this are a constant OODA loop of training, learning and advancement - Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.

There is still a lot of work to be done but here are some numbers so far from the FEMA daily digest:

FEMA has provided so far:

    • Florida: More than 71,000 meals; 341,000 liters of water;
    • Georgia: More than 535,000 meals, 617,000 liters of water; 17,000 blankets;
    • North Carolina: More than 570,000 meals; 26,000 blankets; and,
    • South Carolina: More than 250,000 meals; 4,500 blankets.

And a couple of interesting programs out there:

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) is operating its SafeStor program on the M/V Cape Decision in Charleston, South Carolina, as shelter for local emergency vehicles in the region. A total of seven agencies, including the Charleston Sheriff's Department, have a total of 53 emergency service vehicles loaded on the Cape Decision’s massive cargo hold to weather out the passage of Hurricane Mathew. MARAD’s SafeStor program provides safe shelter for emergency equipment and personnel and allows affected areas to be up and running as soon as possible in order.

The American Red Cross is supporting a massive shelter operation in the affected areas. More than 18,000 people stayed the night in 183 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The Red Cross has more than 2,200 trained disaster workers on the ground in addition to 95 pre-positioned response vehicles and 94 trailer loads filled water, ready-to-eat meals, shelter and kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more.

They need blood and platelets too - go to to find out where to donate - literally the gift of life.

The U.S. Department of Interior’s United States Geological Survey (USGS) is preparing to collect the 393 surge sensors and gages deployed in advance of Hurricane Matthew along the East Coast to provide data that will assist water managers in determining the peak and duration of storm surge. This includes Storm Surge Sensors (190), Wave Sensors (79), Barometric Pressure Sensors (92), and Rapid Deployment Gage's (32). The information supports disaster recovery efforts and critical weather forecasts for the National Weather Service and FEMA. The information collected will be distributed live on the USGS website to help federal and state officials gauge the extent and the storm's damage as it passes through each area. This is the largest deployment of surge sensors by the USGS and surpasses the total deployments for Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.

And this caught my eye - from

Florida emergency concealed carry law may see first use in Hurricane Matthew
As extremely dangerous Hurricane Matthew barrels down on the Florida coast, some in the state may be able to temporarily carry concealed handguns without a permit under a new law.

The National Hurricane Center as of Thursday morning places the eye of the tropical cyclone about 180 miles Southeast of West Palm Beach Florida moving at 14 mph to the Northwest. Packing Category 4 hurricane strength winds of 140 mph, the storm is expected to move close to or over the east coast of the Florida peninsula through Friday night.

With more than 1.5 million Floridians in evacuation zones, attention by some gun owners concerned with safety is falling on a law signed last year by Gov. Rick Scott to allow law-abiding citizens without concealed carry licenses to bear arms during declared mandatory evacuations.

The measure, which passed as HB209/SB296, creates an exception to Florida’s prohibition against concealed carry of a weapon without a permit by allowing adults not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm to temporally do so while evacuating. The law allows for a 48-hour window that this would be allowed after the evacuation has been ordered. However, the governor can authorize an extension as needed.

Further, existing state law does not authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed in an emergency, unless a person is engaged in a criminal act.

Wonderful idea - Lulu, her son and I have talked about getting Concealed Carry permits but the application is a long process and only open two times/week for a short time. I tried a couple times but was always too late or the line was too long. Where I live is very safe but if I was still living in some areas of Seattle and had to evacuate, I would feel a lot better if I had a bit of backup in my pocket.

Quote of the month

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What with Hurricane Matthew and our own earthquake preparedness drill this is apropos:

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
--Benjamin Franklin

Our tax dollars at work

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Surprisingly, some branches of our Federal Government are run pretty well. Just got this update email from FEMA:

FEMA is staffing Incident Support Bases in Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to pre-position resources closer to potentially affected areas, should affected states request them. Today there are more than 444,000 liters of water and more than 513,000 meals, as well as thousands of cots and blankets on site. Additionally, FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center has been activated to support response and recovery efforts on the ground.

According to the National Weather Service, hurricane conditions (winds 74 MPH or greater) are expected to first reach the east coast of Florida from Golden Beach to Fernandina Beach by Thursday evening, and will spread northward along the Florida coast overnight into Friday. Hurricane force winds are expected to develop this evening along the east coast of Florida and will continue to spread northward into Friday.

“This is a serious storm that is not to be underestimated,” said FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate. “There is very real potential for deadly storm surge, high winds and extended power outages. Listen to your state, local and tribal officials, and heed their directions. If you have been asked to evacuate, do it now. Do not wait for the next forecast.”

Well supplied, poised and ready. Good to know. There is even an app you can download to your phone of tablet:

Download the FEMA mobile app for shelter information, disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips, in English and in Spanish. The app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.

Running as it should

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With Hurricane Matthew making USA landfall sometime today, all of the disaster services are performing perfectly. In my morning email, I received notices from FEMA, the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League - our craft guild over 100 years old) and the Federal AlertSense site.

FEMA advised basic preparedness and evacuation information as well as the fact that the governors for Florida, Georgia and both Carolina's declared an Emergency so FEMA is lining up support to go in when the hurricane passes.

The ARRL established specific frequencies for emergency communications and asked all other hams to stay off those frequencies until the emergency has passed - this way, emergency traffic is not hindered.

There is always room for improvement but our emergency services are working pretty damn well and coordinating with each other. This is what all the practice and drills are for.

So true

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Found on facebook:


An expensive load of pipe

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From somewhere in Russia:

December 2017

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Environment and Climate
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
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the Air Vent
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democrats give conservatives indigestion
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shining full plate and a good broadsword
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