Recently in Other... Category

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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

Autonomous sensory meridian response

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I love inducing ASMR in myself - better than meditation. Here is a video of things that fit together:

They could do without the cheesy music though. Wonder what evolutionary pathway allowed ASMR to be a thing.

From Agence France Presse:

Frenchman sets sail across Atlantic - in a barrel
A 71-year-old Frenchman set sail across the Atlantic on Wednesday in a barrel-shaped orange capsule, hoping to reach the Caribbean within three months thanks to ocean currents alone.

"The weather is great -- I've got a swell of one metre and I'm moving at two or three kilometres an hour," Jean-Jacques Savin told AFP by telephone after setting off from El Hierro in Spain's Canary Islands.

"For the time being my capsule is behaving very, very well and I've got favourable winds forecast until Sunday."

Savin had worked on his vessel for months in the small shipyard of Ares on France's southwest coast.

Measuring three metres (10 feet) long and 2.10 metres across, it is made from resin-coated plywood, heavily reinforced to resist waves and potential attacks by orca whales.

Inside the capsule, which weighs 450 kilograms (990 pounds) when empty, is a six-square-metre living space which includes a kitchen, sleeping bunk and storage.

A porthole in the floor allows Savin to look at passing fish.

A former military parachutist who served in Africa, Savin has also worked as a pilot and a national park ranger.

He has stowed away a block of foie gras and a bottle of Sauternes white wine for New Year's Eve, along with a bottle of red Saint-Emilion for his 72nd birthday on January 14.

Savin hopes currents will carry him naturally to the Caribbean without the need for a sail or oars -- "maybe Barbados, although I'd really like it to be a French island like Martinique or Guadaloupe," he quipped.

"That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back."

Cannot find a website for Mr. Savin's trip - the photo in the AFP article looks like a really solid if tippy craft so he should be just fine. Nice to take a couple of months off from the day to day humdrum...

From Sara Carter:

FBI Violated Policy in Flynn’s Case, Judge Demands All Exculpatory Evidence
A federal judge overseeing the case of Former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is demanding to see the FBI’s first interviews with the retired three-star general after explosive information contained in a sentencing memo released Tuesday night revealed that senior FBI leadership suggested he not have a lawyer present, nor warn him that his interview was subject to penalties if he failed to provide all the answers, according to the 178 page Defendants memorandum submitted to the court.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office Wednesday night to turn over all the government’s documents by mid-day Friday. The exculpatory documents requested by Sullivan include any memorandums regarding Flynn’s case because of the extraordinary circumstances of the information, according to Sullivan’s request. Further, Sullivan is also requesting any documentation regarding the first interviews conducted by former anti-Trump agent Peter Strzok and FBI Agent Joe Pientka -known by the FBI as 302s- which were found to be dated more than seven months after the interviews were conducted on Jan. 24, 2017, a violation of FBI policy, say current and former FBI officials familiar with the process. According to information contained in Flynn’s memorandum, the interviews were dated Aug. 22, 2017.

A bit more about the time of filing:

“The bureau policy – the absolute FBI policy – is that the notes must be placed in the system in a 1-A file within five days of the interview,” said Danik, who added that handwritten notes get placed into the FBI Sentinel System, which is the FBI’s main record keeping system. “Anything beyond five business days is a problem, eight months is a disaster.”

And Judge Sullivan - from The Guardian of April 7th, 2009

US judge dismisses former Alaska senator's corruption conviction
A federal judge today exonerated former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, dismissing the corruption conviction that cost the veteran senator his seat and launching an investigation into prosecutorial missteps that plagued one of the most high-profile public corruption trial in recent history.

The ruling comes six days after the US justice department admitted its attorneys had withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from Stevens' attorneys and asked Judge Emmet Sullivan to throw out the conviction.

"In nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case," Sullivan said.

A very similar case where the evidence was withheld. It will be interesting to see the outcome.

Workplace hazard - bear spray

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Much stronger than standard tear gas - didn't know that Amazon sold it. From CNN:

Amazon workers taken to hospitals after canister of bear repellent discharges fumes
Two dozen workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in New Jersey were taken to hospitals Wednesday after a machine punctured an aerosol canister of bear repellent, causing it to discharge toxic fumes inside the building, a spokesperson for Robbinsville Township told CNN.

Employees reported experiencing difficulty breathing and burning sensations in their eyes and throat, said John Nalbone, spokesperson for Robbinsville Township, where the fulfillment center is located.

Emergency personnel responded to a morning 911 call that 54 workers at the fulfillment center were experiencing symptoms, Nalbone said. Twenty-four workers were taken to local hospitals, including one in critical condition, he said.

Amazon actually carries a number of brands of Bear Spray - here is a link to a good one.

Get 'em hooked early

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This is disgusting:

The parents are using the phone as a cheap pacifier for their baby and are setting the kid up for significant problems later in life.  Not good at all.

Nice work if you can get it

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From the Federal Government job website: FedBizOpps.gov:

Preparation and Distribution of Research Drug Products
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), seeks capability statements from qualified Small Business organizations (NAICS code 541715, small business size standard is 1000 employees. For details of Small Business Size Standards, see http://www.sba.gov).

This is a SMALL BUSINESS SOURCES SOUGHT NOTICE to determine the availability of ALL small businesses (e.g., 8(a), Veteran-owned small businesses, service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses, Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small businesses, Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB), women-owned small businesses, and other small businesses) to fulfill the needs of NIH and NIDA for this future requirement.

Under the upcoming solicitation, NIDA seeks qualified organizations having capability to analyze and characterize various drugs of abuse including cannabinoids and other research chemicals. Organizations will be able to produce drug dosage forms, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), methadone, morphine, and naltrexone pellets. Furthermore, they will acquire, develop, and produce marijuana and nicotine research cigarettes of varying strengths and specifications and maintain an inventory and supply of various DEA scheduled and unscheduled chemicals and drugs.

Listed in the specifications:

Manufacture standardized marijuana cigarettes within a range of varying concentrations of delta-9-THC and analyze strength and stability of them at various intervals while having the capability to maintain a secure shipping facility and to ship marijuana cigarettes to research investigators.

Heh - get paid by Uncle Sam for rolling joints... No mention of salary or compensation.

FEMA National Preparedness Report

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Looks like some good reading - from the FEMA website:

National Preparedness Report
The National Preparedness Report evaluates progress and challenges that individuals and communities, private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and all levels of government have faced in preparedness. The 2018 National Preparedness Report takes a revised approach that includes an in-depth analysis of five core capabilities that have been identified in past National Preparedness Reports as facing persistent challenges: Operational Coordination, Infrastructure Systems, Housing, Economic Recovery, and Cybersecurity. Refining the report’s scope to focus on these recurring challenges concentrates the discussion on what the whole community needs to accomplish to have the most impact on increasing the Nation’s preparedness.

The 2018 edition also provides an overview of key developments in national preparedness, incorporating findings and lessons learned from past incidents from the 9/11 attacks to the 2017 Hurricane season. Although the response operations in 2017 were among the largest and most complex in history, lessons from these disasters show there is much more to do to help people prepare for disasters. Future incidents will yield additional lessons learned, underscoring the fact that national preparedness is an ongoing effort and requires continuous improvement, innovation, and action to build the capabilities needed to address the Nation’s evolving risks.

Ten meg, 62 page PDF download here: National Preparedness Report

People sometimes ask why I am a prepper - there is so much uncertainty out there that it just makes sense. A small disaster can be dealt with by Police and Fire crews. Eventually though, you reach a point where they are overwhelmed. I feel a lot better knowing that I have a month of food and water plus the ability to communicate through amateur radio. The best definition that I have heard for the word DISASTER is "An event which outstrips your ability to cope"

Remembering our Veterans this day

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From Michael Ramirez:

20181111-ramirez.jpg

From Terry Kelly

On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a drug store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the stores PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.

Terry was impressed with the stores leadership role in adopting the Legions two minutes of silence initiative. He felt that the stores contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.

When eleven oclock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the two minutes of silence to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.

Terrys anger towards the father for trying to engage the stores clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, A Pittance of Time. Terry later recorded A Pittance of Time and included it on his full-length music CD, The Power of the Dream.

Deferred maintenance in California

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California has serious cash-flow problems. Many of the wealthy taxpayers are leaving the state all the while that CA is providing more and more "social services" to its indigent population. I-5 is a joke.

Looks like the electric utility is showing signs of deferred maintenance too - from Utility Dive:

In a first, PG&E cuts power to 60,000 to prevent wildfires during wind storm

    • Pacific Gas & Electric cut off electricity service to nearly 60,000 people on Sunday in a new attempt to prevent wildfires across Northern California service area during high winds and dry conditions.
    • The National Weather Service on Saturday issued a Red Flag Warning for the region, cautioning of extreme risk of wildfires due to low humidity and winds reaching above 50 miles per hour. High winds can cause power lines to come into contact with vegetation, igniting fires.
    • PG&E lines were found responsible for 16 fires last year and California lawmakers passed wildfire liability protections for utilities this summer after PG&E warned that fire costs could force it into bankruptcy or reorganization.

Geee Mr. Wizard - if PG&E had bothered to maintain these lines - clearing vegetation - they would not have had to do that. Sounds like classic California planning to me. A big problem is that the management has no accountability. If they are caught in flagrante delicto, they are just moved to another position - frequently with a promotion.

Yikes - big oil fire in Canada

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From Yahoo/Agence France Presse:

Explosion and fire at Canada's largest oil refinery
An explosion and fire ripped through Canada's largest refinery Monday, injuring several workers in what its owner called a "major incident."

The blast was believed to be the result of a malfunction in the diesel refining section of the Irving Oil refinery in St John's, New Brunswick, said company executive Kevin Scott.

Officials said all the plant's workers were accounted for after the fire, and four people received hospital treatment for minor injuries.

Images posted on social media networks showed intermittent flames and a column of black smoke rising from the refinery, the country's largest with a production capacity of 300,00 barrels of refined products a day.

Thank God that everyone is accounted for - that could have turned out horrible.

Quite the ride - skiing

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Can't wait for the GoPro footage... From NBC News:

Americans ski down world's 4th-highest mountain
Two American climbers have successfully skied down from the summit of the world's fourth-highest mountain, organizers said Monday.

James Morrison of Tahoe, California, and Hilaree Nelson of Telluride, Colorado, scaled Mount Lhotse's 27,940-foot summit on Sunday with two other climbers and three Nepalese Sherpa guides, said Pemba Sherpa of Xtreme Climbers Treks and Expeditions.

Morrison and Nelson then descended down the mountain on their skis.

Outside Magazine had a nice article on their plans two weeks ago:

Hilaree Nelson's Bold Attempt to Ski the Lhotse Couloir
In August, American ski mountaineers Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison flew to Nepal from their homes in Telluride, Colorado, and Tahoe City, California, respectively, to attempt the first ski descent of 27,940-foot Lhotse. Part of the Everest massif, Lhotse is the fourth-highest mountain in the world. From a skier’s perspective, though, Lhotse is first choice. The summit offers a sustained and direct 7,000-vertical-foot ski line that combines a 2,500-foot couloir and an open face. The average pitch is 45 to 50 degrees. For comparison, the steepest in-bounds black diamond runs in the U.S. top out at about 30 degrees.

“It is this iconic, splinter couloir and it just screams ski line to me,” Morrison told me earlier this summer. “It’s this plum line right off the summit, right down the middle onto this huge face that goes way down. And it’s never been done.”

Until this summer, of the five tallest mountains in the world, Mount Everest was the only one to have been skied successfully from the summit. Then, in July, a Polish alpinist named Andrezj Bargiel skied off the summit of K2, the second-highest mountain in the world.

Ho Li Crap - talk about nerves of steel. Again, the video footage will be amazing. Looking forward to seeing it. Congratulations to the whole team!

October 2019

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Environment and Climate
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