And Every Once In A While…Put A Bad Guy In Jail

Today’s title is shamelessly stolen/borrowed/appropriated/misappropriated/whatever from the opening credits of one of the law and order series we watch on TV…Lone Star Law. It’s a show featuring the Texas game wardens and as they say they like to protect wildlife and…well, you know…title.

I thought I had reported this before…at least the initial incident but don’t see it in the blog so apparently not. Back a few weeks ago our Elks Lodge got broken in early one morning. The doors are unlocked at 0600 for the building tenants and at about 0611 the building security system recorded a person with a hoodie, ball cap, and sunglasses coming in the back door. He left again at 0628. Figuring it took him 2 minutes each way on the elevator and out of that 17 minutes he was on our floor for about 13 minutes. In that time he…(a) broke the glass on our door and entered…(b) crowbarred the office door open, carefully removed the screws holding the case on the security camera computer in the office and removed the hard drive…(c) crowbarred open the liquor room which also had the safe in it bolted to a wood framework screwed to the wall…(c) crowbarred…again…the wood off the wall and the safe off the wood…(e) stole one of our wheeled trash cans to hide the safe in and exited the building.

The good news is that he was a courteous burglar. There are two wheeled trash cans, one next to the bar that had a plastic bag in it and another by the liquor room that did not have a bag but did have some box trash. He carefully stole only the one with the bag in it and courteously tied the bag shut before leaving it next to the bar. He also didn’t bother stealing any of the booze…even the good stuff…and left the quarters in the trust fund cylinder display on the wall.

Having stolen the safe with the week’s revenue in it and the camera hard drive with the close up of his face…although with his disguise he wasn’t recognizable or face recognition worthy according to the detective…it didn’t look like anything really would happen.

The cops came out and then the detective and took statements, pictures, and all that…but with no obvious DNA or fingerprints (he had gloves as well) everybody figured that it was gone permanently and that the case would go cold.

This week the detective came back and reinterviewed everybody involved on our end but apparently there was still no progress…at least he didn’t indicate there was but…and the plot thickens here…apparently there was some progress behind the scenes.

Neil recommended that after our upcoming move to new digs in September we do two things…first pay for a security system and second bolt the new safe to the floor as most safes have the ability to bolt through into the concrete from the inside of the safe… both of those things are happening he was told.

Based on the limited time he was in the building and the fact that he knew exactly where to go for the camera drive and safe…it was pretty obvious that it was some sort of inside information caper…and although the cops obviously would have interviewed building management and did review their security footage nobody recognized the bad guy…or maybe as it turns out they did but the detective wasn’t saying until the investigation was complete.

So Friday night it was announced that an arrest had been made…and it was the building maintenance guy…hence the idea that perhaps they did have a clue after all.

After his arrest…and I presume that he is so fired by now…he admitted in an interview with the police (Pro Tip…if you’re ever arrested by the police you should never, ever, ever talk to them…ask for a lawyer and shut up)…anyways he admitted that he knew what portions of the parking lot our building security cameras covered and carefully parked his getaway van where it wouldn’t be seen and then backed away from the building when he was making his getaway so that his license tag wasn’t visible. Unfortunately for him…he neglected to remember or think that perhaps the other buildings might have outside security cameras and…lo and behold (they did)…they identified the tag number, traced the van, brought him in for questioning, and he folded like a cheap tent I guess.

Good news…bad guy in jail…or at least he was until he made bail a few hours later but he’s got a court date in September. Bad news…no money or safe was apparently recovered, I’m sure the money is long gone on drugs or booze or whatever and the safe got dumped in a canal someplace to hide the evidence. But…small victories I guess

Speaking of our upcoming move…the building the lodge is in has been sold and will be demolished for construction of some more of those luxury high rise condos…which means we have to move. Management has been searching most of the year. Haven’t had much success but there’s an open air mall sort of place a couple miles south of the lodge that’s been purchased for eventual redevelopment into one of those ‘mixed use’ things…that means there will be some boutique businesses, some high priced rental or purchase condos, and perhaps a few lower cost units for the little people. There are leases that haven’t expired for other tenants in this pretty huge complex and it will be 18 months or more before all of those are terminated and moved out, permits approved, and any actual redevelopment started. In the meantime…the owner of the property is also a lodge member and was pitched by another local politician/lawyer type who’s also a member that perhaps we could move in there. That all came together and we are getting a real good deal on rent until the development starts plus he’s footing the bill for turning the going on twice as large former mortgage or title company office into a lodge with bar, office, storage, and liquor room…according to the owner and lawyer/politician type it “gives us a time period to hunt for more permanent quarters”. Yeah…I’ll believe that when it happens since human nature says nothing will happen until it’s a crisis. And there’s still no kitchen since some in management don’t want to deal with the hassle…despite the fact that most Elks lodge have some cooking facilities and offer at least bar food but typically at least one dinner a week to draw in the crowd and members and increase bar sales which is where the real money is made in the hospitality biz.

Lessee…what else is happening.

Neil’s still trying to figger out how a 3 day trip to Daytona Beach for an Elks thing next month turned into a somewhat roundabout trip…by the road less traveled by…to VA to see he human kids/grandkid and NJ for Connie’s 50th high school reunion. Neil passed up his earlier this summer but for some reason she wants to go…and Daytona turned into Daytona Plus I guess. We’re retired though…so it really don’ matter a bit that we might be gone for a bit.

We’re also working on some plans for next summer to see Scotland and Wales…her Mastersingers choral group is going to London for a week for a couple of concerts and he is going to tag along anyway…so we’re working on spending some extra time there seeing the parts of Great Britain that we haven’t seen yet. GB is the island that contains England and Scotland and together with Northern Ireland which is on the island of Ireland compose the UK…and then there’s the Commonwealth and numerous other convoluted groupings of various countries independent and otherwise around the world that at one time were a part of what was known as the British Empire. It’s somewhat complicated figuring out all the relationships governmental, royalty, and otherwise but if you’re interested it’s all available on the interwebs for your research…I’ll leave that as an “exercise for the student” as they used to say in school. There will be castles involved…but only real castles, not like most of the buildings erroneously called castles we saw in Ireland. Everybody knows that a real castle has a moat and a moat has water in it…and while not all of the castles in England and Scotland are actually castles the proportion is a lot higher than it was in Ireland. We’re only looking at seeing a couple of the famous ones with tours and mostly interested in the ruins sort because those are the ones that meet Neil’s definition of a castle…and since he’s the photographer his is the only opinion that counts. We’re also going to a bunch of the areas that she’s enamored with due to watching various and assorted BBC drama series…but if we only went to parks and castles to make Neil happy she would be unhappy so he’s glad to do stuff she likes as well…’tis that whole partner/spouse thing.

We got Bingo at the lodge this afternoon so we went to Mass yesterday…well, Connie was the cantor and she did that again at the 0800 Mass today so he went yesterday and then got ready to make her a gourmet breakfast out of Friday Date Nite’s leftovers…we had gone to this new to us Mexican place on the way to the lodge…he had tacos (one each carnitas, beef, and chicken) and she had tacos al carbon (beef with guacamole in crispy corn tortillas)…she only ate 2 of her 3 while his were gone but as anybody knows a leftover taco makes a perfect frittata (that’s essentially an omelet you bake in the oven instead of making it in a pan). Chop up the taco, warm it up in a bit of oil, pour over gently the beaten eggs after carefully distributing the goodie taco bits around the pan, top with some grated cheese and put under the broiler until egg is set, cheese is melted, and it’s golden brown and delicious. Quite yummy.

Oh yeah…did ya see how we sent the new head of Al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri off to wherever his soul is now with the super duper Hellfire missile without killing anybody else including his family who were in the same building. Instead of using the explosive version of the missile apparently the variant used was the R9X which has no explosives at all. Just before impact it pops out six blades perpendicular to the body of the missile and it starts spinning…it’s colloquial name is the “Flying Ginsu Knife”…and it essentially chops the target into itty bitty pieces. He was known via intelligence to hang out every morning on his balcony by himself…and the DoD specifically didn’t want to kill anybody else. It still takes careful positioning of the launch platform and guiding of the missile though…it’s about 100 pounds, 5 feet long and flies at mach 1.3 or about 1,000 miles an hour…so rather than fly it straight into the balcony with the building behind you have to bring it in from the side I guess and pick the side so that the missile after it gets the target doesn’t hit the building so it collapses. Same thing we got the Iraqi guy with a year or two back…and probably used in other carefully targeted takeouts of people “that needed killing anyway” as the Texans would say. I saw a thing on the web from a guy that used to work for a charitable organization years back and that same villa was at the time used to house a bunch of their employees…he said that he liked standing on that balcony enjoying the view of the snow capped mountains so he could see how al-Zawahiri would have wanted to do the same and that it was surprising to see it on the news. Connie and Neil had a very similar occurrence when we saw whichever Star Wars movie came out in the past 6 years or so…the one that at the end shows the Millenium Falcon flying over the ocean towards a couple of islands and then eventually Luke Skywalker turns around for his cameo appearance in the movie. They had previously visited those islands…Skellig Michael…off the SW coast of Ireland back in 2014 and hiked up to the top. When the scene came on showing the Falcon flying in…they turned to each other and said “been there”. Then when the camera started closing in on Luke’s back up at the top…they again said “been there”…and then Neil said “yeah, exactly right there, we’ve stood at that very spot on the top of Great Skellig (the larger of the two islands and the only one that was ever populated). There was a monastery on top of Greater Skellig that was in use from about 600-1040 AD…the islands are about 8 miles off the coast and you have to take a ferry trip on a limited number of available daily tour boats…there are only a few companies allowed to go there and there are a maximum of about 50 or 60 seats on the daily tours…and about half the time the seas are too rough to land once you get there despite the dock being on the inward facing side of the island…the islands are in pretty deep water and even at the dock it is 50 or 60 feet deep. When we went in 2014 we got tickets about 3 months ahead of time but after the Star Wars appearance the groupies really all want to go visit and the last time he looked you had to make a reservation a year out to get a seat…so they’re glad they went when the did…back then it was a lesser known thing to do but it is now almost a Disney like tourist thing.

I looked on the web but couldn’t find the actual scene from the movie “The Last Jedi”…but there are a bunch of videos on YouTube showing the various parts of the island that were in the move (albeit without any actual copyrighted movie scenes in them)…but this is one of Neil’s shots from the island back in 2014. This view is looking north and as best as he can remember without seeing the actual scene again the scene was filmed in front of the wall just to the right of these huts. That wall is pretty much like the one you can see on the left but the view to seaward has much less island in it so that looked at from movie camera height all you see is him and the wall from our memory of the scene. Kinda cool to have been to the same place as the scene was filmed but we’re glad we went before it got crazy famous.

DSC 5845 2

Sorry…no images of wildlife today…Neil did spot a couple of rabbits out back the other day and got some shots but they haven’t been processed yet…but we do have a trip to Corkscrew on Aug 23 so we’ll have some then…and perhaps before then if he gets off his lazy butt and processes what he has.

Interesting things found on the net.

AreYouSmarter2

One pretty cool geological fun fact is that the Scottish Highlands, the Appalachians, and the Atlas are the same mountain range, once connected as the Central Pangean Mountains.
Details are here
. We knew about the Appalachians and the ones in Newfoundland being the same but Greenland, the UK, Norway, and Africa we did not. Pangea was a super continent in the Carboniferous, late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras fro about 385 million to 200 million years back…it formed from earlier continental units of Gondwana, Euramerica and Siberia during the Carboniferous. It then broke up and drifted apart over time as the current continents made it to their present positions. 

SameMountainRange

ZuchiniWarning

PlasticSurgery

SeemsLikeThePoint

WorldIsACat

SilentK

And finally…this one’s pretty cool but you really need to go watch the
whole video here
 …it’s the coolest art thing we’ve seen in quite awhile. Anywhere…there’s this ancient Japanese painting technique named Ippitsuryu…which is essentially painting with a single brush stroke.

Ippitsuryu

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Travel | Leave a comment

We’re Still Here

…we just ain’t doin’ much at all.

Headed out to the Elks a couple of times, had Date Night, cooked a bunch of good dinners…and hunkered down with the A/C on ‘cuz it’s Florida in the summer ya know. We had to reschedule a trip earlier this month down to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary for the dawn opening…our house A/C quit working and that became more vital to get fixed. Luckily…it wasn’t the A/C itself but the drain line from the cooling cool to the outside was clogged. With all the heat down here and just a 1 inch PVC pipe to carry off the condensed water from the coil…it ends up with goo in the pipe, then the pipe fills up and picks up the float switch that says “I’m full” and the unit turns itself off and says “System Wait” on the thermostat. Solution is to pour some half and half water/bleach into the pipe after pulling the float switch out of position and then suck the water out with a ShopVac from the outside. It’s been about 8 or 9 months since he did it so he’s added an every 4 month maintenance item to our shared Note named Periodic Stuff where we keep track of everything from hearing aid batteries to HoA payments to contact lens replacement to house stuff and car stuff. All that goes on our calendar as a scheduled event as well so we get reminded when things are due but the Note is the combined log of when stuff got done…after all we got CRS ‘round here (Can’t Remember S***) as well as CDO (which is pretty much the same as OCD ‘cept it’s in the right darned order)…and the only way we can ‘member stuff is to write it down in a standard place.

Speaking of contacts…Neil got his annual…well actually it was about 19 months…eye exam and they changed his contact lens prescription. He’s got astigmatism in the right (dominant) eye which wasn’t corrected before and despite being told that his multi focal contacts were biased so the left favored close and the right favored distance that wasn’t actually true. He’s been using the same eye practice down here but switched offices (and hence optometrists) this year and the new lady one is far more competent than the guy he’s seen the 2 times he’s used this practice before. She shifted him to mono vision contacts with the left set for distance and the right for distance plus fixing the astigmatism…the net result is that both near and far are better overall…but the drawback is that the left one isn’t as clear at distance as the right. His brain is slowly getting retrained to use the left one for depth perception only and the right for detail…and the noticeability of the left one is going down as time passes.

We continue to see idiots in the news…both saying stupid things as well as the comments on the articles which are usually the best part to read. It’s starting to look like our former President is losing favor with his party as he was booed just this week when he claimed to be persecuted. 

For the record…the man is an idiot and while he won election in 2016 fair and square…he also lost in 2020 fair and square and we’re really getting tired of the same old ‘the election was stolen’ BS he and his sycophants keep blathering. On the other hand…we’re also pretty amazed that Justice Kagan this week said that the SCOTUS should pay attention to the public perception of the way things should be rather than the constitution or else they would lose legitimacy in the public eye…which seems like a pretty peculiar idea for a SCOTUS justice who is supposed to…ya know…interpret the law and constitution…to say.

And for those complaining that the right leaning justices always vote in a bloc…well, that ain’t actually true. One of the liberals voting with the conservatives almost never happens and there’s been at least a half dozen decisions this past month or two where one or more of the conservatives crossed over and voted with the liberals…and the 3 liberals almost always vote together.. So…the bloc seems to be the opposite way from what they claim in the media…but then the conservatives tend to vote on the law rather than on what the public thinks.

I keep waiting for our congress idiots to pass some common sense gun laws, abortion laws, and voting laws…and I agree that while we do have the right to have firearms as clearly defined in the Constitution…I also agree that the ‘well regulated militia’ wording is frequently ignored by the far right gun rights people and that common sense regulations on guns are a good thing and allowed by the Constitution…but then I think we need common sense voting, abortion, contraception, same sex marriage, and interracial marriage laws. It’s just that my version of common sense on each of those is different from the version of ‘common sense’ that the far left and far right demand. However…I don’t think it will ever happen for a couple of reasons. First and foremost…any of them that vote for more middle of the road positions will get primary challenges from the idiots in their party and since the fringe idiots on both sides essentially are the ones that mostly vote in the primary we end up with extremist nominees and the reasonable ones tend to lose their job. Second…since both parties are mostly controlled by the fringe idiots…those people are only interested in my way or the highway and refusing to compromise and demonization of the other side is a good way to fund raise. Too bad our legislators are more interested in reelection, demonization of the other side, and making ridiculous demands that have exactly zero chance of becoming law instead of compromise so that everybody gets a little. Everything from filibuster to voting on judges to voting on spending or taxation or anything else has become far too much of a pissing contest where the goal is to be against whatever the other side wants no matter whether it’s a good idea or not.

I been thinking about whether the DoJ is going to charge the former President with something and frankly I’ll be surprised if they do. As I said before…the man is an idiot but being an idiot isn’t illegal. He’s also not guilty of dereliction of duty because there is no such law in the federal books according to what I read this week. Insurrection is really hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and whatever he did or didn’t do it doesn’t fall under the definition of treason. Charging him would just give the man more opportunities to get on TV and complain about being persecuted…but I think there are two even better reasons that they won’t. First…although we keep reading about the ‘startling new evidence’ in the hearings and the ‘proof’ that they’ve provided…there’s a clear difference between what could potentially be legally just hearsay and therefore not admissible and actual legally usable evidence. Second…and more important…is that the DoJ doesn’t want to charge him and potentially risk him getting acquitted for whatever reason…that wold be a PR disaster for the Democrat party, DoJ, and the administration…so my personal guess is that they’re going to find a reason to defer charging him and let the financial crimes folk in NY take that potential heat and publicity.

No photos this week still…the pond out back is pretty empty of wildlife in the summer although with all the rain we had in June and July it’s pretty full again…hopefully later on in the month we’ll see something down at Corkscrew.

Interesting things found on the net.

There’s this quasar named TON 618 located out in the constellation Canes Vinatici…there are 88 named constellations including the 12 Zodiac ones (I had no idea there were that many named ones). I didn’t bother googling precisely what makes a quasar a quasar…but one of the things it contains is a black hole…and we all know probably recognize what a black hole is. TON 619’s black hole however…is an anomaly in that it is one of the most massive black holes ever discovered…it has a mass of 66 billion solar masses (sizes of black holes are based on the mass or our sun)…turns out that this single black hole has more mass than the entire Milky Way galaxy since the latter only has 64 billion solar masses.  What’s even more amazing is the diameter of said black hole despite the fact that most people think that black holes are relatively small since the immense gravity due to the mass they contain makes them really dense and thus small (well, small in universe related dimension anyway). 

This image illustrates the relative size of our solar system (which is about 60 AU in diameter…1 AU or astronomical unit is approximately the distance from the earth to the sun or about 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers) to a quasar known as S5 014+81 (this is one of the most luminous quasars known) which is 1,582 AU in diameter and the aforementioned TON 618 which is 2606 AU in diameter. Our entire solar system is just the little dot in the center of this image.

Actually…I did google what a quasar is…and it’s essentially a large (or super massive) black hole that is bright and a large radio frequency emitter. Once a black hole gets big enough…it has a disc of matter orbiting it which will eventually get sucked into the black hole. The hole itself isn’t visible but as the gas in the disk accelerates towards the hole it heats up due to friction and both glows and emits RF energy. TON 618…which is actually an abbreviation for Tonantzintla 618…and as best as I can figure out Tonantzintla is an observatory in Spain and 618 is the sequence number for the thing they were the first observers of…is about 18.2 billion light years away.

By comparison…Sagittarius A* which is the supermassive black hole at the center or our own Milky Way…is only 4.1 million AU so it’s about 1,000 times smaller than TON 618. You probably have seen the donut looking image of Sagittarius A* which NASA published earlier this year. Sagittarius A* is a mere 26,000 light years away and is only about 32 million miles or 0.34 AU in diameter…puny best describes it I guess.

Ton 618 Quasar

Somebody (looks like his name is Felix Descheines in the lower right so credit to him) put together this illustration of how much air and water we have compared to the size of the earth if you gathered the air and water into a ball at atmospheric pressure. All that air actually forms a pretty thin ball skin around the earth…the atmosphere is about 60 or so kilometers thick and the earth is about 12,000 kilometers in diameter so the atmospheric ‘skin’ is about half a percent as thick as the earth is across…the atmosphere would be less than a millimeter wide in the image below.

WaterAndAir

These need no explanation.

ChristmasDecorationsFire

 

BeforeAndAfter

GrandpaFinallyDied

DeadPeoplesThings

NoSmoking

Well…this one might need some explanation…but if you need it ask in the comments and I’ll add it…as they used to say in school this is left as an exercise for the student.

MostInterestingYardSale

NoSolicitiing

And finally…this actually happened…twice…at the same office of the Illinois DMV as reported in the thread on the Ugly Hedgehog photography forum where I found it.

TryAgainNextWeek

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Reality Based Blogging | 2 Comments

Vacation Part IV

I continue to be amazed at the sheer idiocy one sees on the web in both articles, comments, political rants, opinion pieces and pretty much everything else you see about the recent SCOTUS decisions.

It’s almost like none of them even read the decisions, know what they decided, know why they decided what they did, or what happens next…

The best one of the weekend was the right wing guy who started out explaining how how the constitution establishes 3 branches of government and what each one is supposed to do…so far so good. Then he went off the reservation and started to explain how all that was necessary to change the constitution was for Congress to pass an amendment and then the President could sign it into law…and that’s when I closed the page concluding this guy was just as lost as the rest of ‘em.

OK…in Part III of the vacation saga…the adults had finished up things in Lexington and were ready to leave. Since they only had about 110 miles to go to their next scheduled stop at Cumberland Falls State Park to see the waterfall…they took advantage of the free late checkout the GLo hotel (part of the Best Western umbrella) and didn’t leave until close to noon. We had figured out that there was no place to eat in the lodge and since the last 20 miles or so were on really narrow curvy roads with a speed limit that one could literally hardly ever reach and that we would have had to reverse that route…twice…to go eat we stopped for a late lunch at a bar and grill in one of the small towns we passed through. Connie had a salad and bowl of potato soup…good and bad respectively…and Neil had a Philly cheesesteak…pretty good. He saved about 1/3 of the sandwich to split with her for dinner and they planned to just graze on pretzels and chocolate bars as well as cookies for the evening rather than go back out.

We got to the park and headed down to the falls to check out the lineup since we were planning on being there right about sunrise the following morning.

The falls themselves are called colloquially the Niagara of the South…they’re about 125 feet wide and 68 feet tall although during the spring flood the get up to about 300 feet wide max. In the image below you can see how they can expand to image right about 20 or 30 feet before coming up against the wall of the gorge but there’s a much wider flat area out of sight photo left behind the trees…it’s just below the falls visitor center and gift shop and if the river level comes up about 10 feet then the width available doubles in size. This photo is looking just about due south in the late afternoon with the sun just a bit north of due west.

DZ9 0596 NEF DxO DeepPRIME

Neil pulled out his phone and check on TPE…an app he has named The Photographer’s Ephemeris it basically gives you not only rise and set times for the sun and moon but also the times of civil, nautical, and astronomical twilight as well as the direction all of that happens in. This is laid out on a topo map so you can figure out ahead of time where to be to see sun or moon in your photo or to get illumination on a subject. In this case…the falls themselves face just about due north and sunrise was east northeast so the rising sun would light up the falls nicely once it got high enough to be over the tree line.

They headed back to the lodge and got checked in…ate dinner…grazed on snacks…and essentially zoned out for the evening…they did get a couple of shots upriver from the lodge terrace. We had paid for a ‘river view’ room and we could see it from our window but not the falls…they’re out of the image to the right about 1/2 a mile and around several more river bends.

DZ9 0597 NEF DxO DeepPRIME

In the morning they got up and got packed and ready to go…then headed back over to the falls…the plan was to spend an hour or so there, pick up the stuff from the lodge and hit the road on the way home.

And the light was nice…and with all of the mist coming up from the falls we even got some nice rainbows as the light was coming over our shoulder as we faced the falls.

Z72 4552 HDR

Z50 3690 Pano

Z72 4564 HDR

Z50 3720

Z72 4599 HDR

Z72 4624

Z50 3707

We had to wait a bit before we headed over due to fog on the river so it was a bit after 0800 when we were done. We headed out, loaded up the car at the lodge and hit the road for the 860 mile trip home. We stopped overnight at the Holiday Inn Express in Byron GA south of the last big city we had to make our way through (Atlanta), had a nice dinner at the local Mexican restaurant but it turned out the toilet in our room didn’t have any water supply. Neil told them immediately that it was a failed fill valve in the tank and not an actual water supply problem…but they insisted that they had a plumber out earlier in the day, that there was a separate water supply for the toilets (bogus he said), and that they would have to call the plumber. The hotel was nowhere near full and we had no idea why they didn’t just put us in another room but the front desk clerk said there were water outages all over the hotel and she couldn’t do that. By the time we got back from dinner…the manager had come in…she said the water was not out all over the hotel but we had to have the maintenance guy come and check it out. He told her again he had already done the obvious troubleshooting and the problem was the fill valve in the tank since the shower and sink both worked…but she knew better than him. About an hour later the maintenance guy showed up…without the plumber in tow…and he took one look and agreed with Neil…and told us he would have the desk change our room. We got a call about 10 minutes later to come and return the key before they would give us the new one…clearly the place has some management issues in addition to the facility issues. They put us in a first floor room with a bunk room obviously intended for families…the good news is that the toilet worked but the bad news is that the TV didn’t. By that time it was going on 2030 so we just lived with it since we were going to go to sleep early anyway after the long day on the road. So…pro tip…if you’re ever in Byron GA stay anywhere else but the local Holiday Inn Express.

We were out the door by about 0700 the next morning…breakfast at the hotel was mediocre at best even for hotel breakfast…and continued home with arrival about 1700. We had originally planned on stopping in Sarasota at the Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner but weren’t hungry yet when we passed so he offered her takeout sushi instead. We unpacked the car then she unpacked the suitcase while he went down and picked up dinner…followed by a shower and another early bedtime since we were tired.

It was a pretty good trip overall…and we learned some things that worked and didn’t work for traveling by car for longer periods which we’ll incorporate into our future plans.

Interesting things found on the net.

YardSecuritySign

LazyAndFat

NotHaunted

OurCrap

OneDayThisWilLBeYours

Cyas.

Posted in Photography, Travel, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | 2 Comments

Vacation Part III

So…last time after leaving the Blue Springs Cavern we headed on to and arrived in Lexington then after checking, resting, and shower we headed 2 blocks down the road to the Sedona Taproom for dinner as I told ya then…with good cocktails, wine, and pizza/flatbreads for dinner

Next morning (Saturday)…we headed out to what we went to Lexington for in the first place…the Bourbon Trail. We’ve done this twice before, once in Lexington and the other time out at Bardstown west of Lexington…and like the last t time we picked distilleries that we had not been to before…there are 41 on the Trail now and it’s always expanding so we may (i.e., will) visit again to check off some more of them. However, we’ll stick to just doing 2 per day and probably only 2 or maybe 3 days doing it since one gets burned out as a lot of the tours are pretty repetitive as there’s only one way to make bourbon. This time…we decided to also focus on both large and small distillers and really picked ones that seemed to have character or what we used to call the ‘it factor’ while in the RV.
After breakfast we headed off to our first destination…west to the town of Lawrenceburg to the Four Roses distillery. This is a pretty big place and produces a lot of product…not as big as some of the huge ones like Jim Beam but definitely in the larger category. On pulling up into the parking lot you’re greeted by the house that the founder…Paul Jones, Jr…built for himself and his bride into 1880s. Turns out that he had become smitten by a certain southern belle and sent her a letter proposing marriage. Her response was that if she showed up at the upcoming grand ball with a corsage or roses on her gown her answer would be yes…I guess that was a delaying tactic to give her time to think about it as I’m sure she was already well acquainted with him. He went to the ball and waited breathlessly for her arrival…she came in ion a deep black gown with a corsage of four red roses. They subsequently married and since he had been running a distillery since the late 18602 named it Four Roses bourbon after his beloved wife. Four Roses was one of the top sellers in the 30s through 50s but as younger drinkers switched over to clear liquors in the 60s the company (since sold to Seagrams) concentrated on overseas markets. In 2002 the company was bought by Kirin brewery company (a Japanese firm ) which still owns it today and the brand was reintroduced to the US market. 

You’re probably wondering just what the heck is bourbon and how does it differ from whisky (or whiskey as they spell it in Ireland). Well…whisky/whiskey is simply a spirit distilled from grain…and beyond that there really aren’t any rules on aging or content or pretty much anything else. Bourbon…on the other hand…has a list of requirements.

  • Made in America…you can’t make bourbon anywhere else
  • The mash bill (mix of grains) used must be at least 51% corn…the remainder is almost always some mix of malted (or sprouted) barley, rye, and wheat
  • Distillation output must be no more than 160 proof or 80% alcohol
  • It must be aged in brand new white oak charred barrels and placed into the barrels at no more than 125 proof…for efficiency most is distilled at 155-160 and then diluted to 120-125 before barreling.
  • It must be aged a minimum of 2 years…at which point it can be labeled as ’straight bourbon’ and if aged less than 4 years it must be labeled with the duration of its aging
  • It must be bottled at a minimum of 80 proof
  • If an age is stated on the label it must be the age of the youngest product in the barrel

Straight rye whisky must be at least 51% rye, aged a minimum of 2 years, no artificial flavor or coloring, and all the product in a bottle must be distilled in the same state. There are additional legal requirements for products labeled as rye whisky, Kentucky bourbon, bonded (i.e., bottled in bond) whisky, finished/flavored whisky, wheat whisky, corn whisky, or moonshine (although actually the first rule for moonshine is that there are no rules)…but those other rules are irrelevant to bourbon which is what we’re discussing here…mostly. 

The mansion which houses corporate offices today.

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Closeup of the clock seen on edge above.

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The tasting room…it’s huge…but then this is the largest distillery we visited this trip.

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Really nice inside the place though.

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And we sampled 4 of their current offerings…cheapest on the left and most expensive and exclusive on the right. We did ask if single barrel really meant a single barrel or whether it was a group of similar barrels…our tour guide found somebody that knew that answer after the tasting and it does mean single barrel. Neil asked him if that meant the bottling line was cleaned before the next single barrel was poured into the input section and he said it wasn’t…the single barrel was used until the pumps ran dry but no cleaning so a little of the previous barrel made it into the next barrel. Each barrel is bottled at barrel proof which means its proof is exactly as it was in the barrel…so the proof varies slightly from one barrel to the next…but each barrel’s output gets labeled with which mash bill it was produced from (there are I think 4 of those) and what the exact proof of that barrel was. Small batch means the master distiller picks out a small selection (small being a somewhat nebulous and variable number) of similar barrels or ones that have the right combination of whatever it is that master distillers make these sorts of decisions on. Those barrels are then blended in a big tank and watered down with the same water the original mash is made from to a consistent proof. The left hand regular bourbon is similar to small batch but in much larger numbers of barrels so as to maintain a consistent flavor for that particular brand and again it’s diluted to a fixed proof. Finally…the small batch select is just like small batch except it’s bottled at barrel proof instead of being diluted to a constant proof. The amount of aging in the barrels also increases from left to right…and the amount left over in the barrel after aging decreases from left to right as some of the alcohol evaporates and departs the barrel over the aging process…this is known as the ‘Angel’s Share’

And…for those of you who don’t know exactly what proof is…it tells you the alcohol concentration and the proof is exactly twice the alcohol percentage…so 100 proof is 50% alcohol. Proof was invented back in the day because a person who was buying your corn liquor tested it to see if it would burn (supposedly) and anything less than 50% alcohol wouldn’t’ burnt although I’m not sure that is actually correct). Since no marketing guy ever would sell something and call it 50%…they invented proof because the fact that it burned ‘proved’ that it was good stuff and everybody knows that good stuff is 100% but since it wasn’t actually 100% alcohol they invented the term proof instead.

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Next up…was lunch…which was supposed to be at the Hassmer House in nearby Versailles…but when Neil punched the address into the GPS it said it was 3 hours away and we knew that Versailles was only 10 miles or so away. After some consternation and what the heck discussions…we figured out that the restaurant was in Versailles IN instead. Now neither of us knew that there was a Versailles in IN…and Connie was making reservations in both Vincennes IN and Lexington KY area in the same time frame…and she just got a bit confused and…the technical term is…messed up. Anyways…this is only the second failure of the DLETC in a long string of successes so we’re just gonna let it slide.

Instead…we looked through the available eateries in Versailles KY and quickly settled on Ricardos Grill and Pub in downtown. Quickly assuming our normal seats at the bar we had a couple of iced teas to drink and a medium sized lunch…Neil had fish fingers and Connie had a salmon thing…both were labeled as appetizers on the menu but could easily have served as an entree. 

Following that…and the largest distiller of the trip in the morning…we headed to the smallest distiller on the trip…the Barrel House Distillery in downtown Lexington. Situated on the old brewery row which has been revitalized or gentrified or whatever you call it into an upscale eating and drinking place in the evenings…but it’s still a really small distillery with an even smaller tasting room which essentially consisted of a small bar about 8 feet long over in the corner of the gift shop. Somehow though we didn’t get a shot of the tasting room though.

This is one of their 300 gallon fermenting tanks…once the grain is ground and cooked it’s put in one of these with yeast and it ferments. This ends up at between 8% and 10% alcohol and is essentially the same as beer except it has no hops in it…the mash at this point is named distiller’s beer. We tasted it and it’s similar to what one would normally call skanky beer since it’s unfiltered or aged at this point.

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From the fermentation tank it gets pumped into a 300 gallon still which is surprisingly not what you see in this shot…this is the 150 gallon still that does the second distillation. The 300 gallon still is behind the black plywood for heat purposes but our tour guide told us it looked pretty similar to the 150 gallon one you see. We also sampled the output from the first distillation process…it’s clear by the way because all of the coloring and most of the flavor in bourbon comes from the aging process in the charred barrel…it was about 140 proof and essentially tastes like the White Lightning we used to make punch out of in high school back in LA.

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There’s no aging building…or rickhouse…on this property so they do their aging in a barn on the horse farm of one of their owners out of town…the city wouldn’t let them build a rickhouse in town because if one of those catches on fire…well, it’s a wooden building filled with wooden barrels of flammable liquid and you’re just not putting the fire out…the fire department just lets the rickhouse burn and concentrates on not letting the fire spread. BTW…the term rickhouse for the aging buildings comes from the ricks (or racks) that the barrels are stored on inside the building. Some distilleries move barrels around between the ricks and floors and some don’t…and the ones that move them claim it improves the product while the ones that don’t say it doesn’t matter because two barrels that were aged right next to each other can have different flavor, color, and final proof because of all the factors beyond weather. 

The aging process in the rickhouse includes hot summers causing the barrels to expand and the whisky to enter the charred wood and then cold winters which contract the barrels and push the whisky (and the tannins it picked up from the barrel) back out into the liquid. At the end of the aging process…somewhere between 70% and 90% of the contents (maybe 50% for really long aged stuff) is left with the rest being the Angel’s Share mentioned above.

With our day’s activities over and it being about 1400…it was once again…you guessed it…back to the hotel for rest, shower, and then we headed out to Distilled on Jefferson for dinner…another really excellent pick by the DLETC. Cocktails and wine again were procured and savored…and then we each had a bowl of she crab soup for dinner…rich, buttery, and full of cream, crab, and caviar. We originally were going to eat but the soup was so rich and the bowl so big that we just split a chocolate mousse for dessert along with a complimentary Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) from the very posh lady bartender.

Sunday…was pretty much similar to Saturday.  

After coffee at the hotel we headed out to the Cathedral of Christ the King for mass, then had breakfast at a little place downtown before heading over to our first destination of the day…Lexington Brewing Company. Yep…I said brewing but that’s because they’re either the only or one of a few distillers that also brews beer…and the beer they brew is named Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale which is one of our favorites. They used to make one called Bourbon Barrel Stout which was also a favorite but that has been replaced by Kentucky Coffee Bourbon Barrel Ale…they claim the latter is the same as the stout but the recipe has clearly changed as it was very heavily coffee flavored and the stout was much less coffee forward notes. And…they distill their bourbon from the same beer that would be barrel aged and bottled.

This is the cooker section of the brewery…after grinding in a room I’ll show you in a sec the grans go into these for cooking which turns the starch into sugar which is eventually destined to be eaten by the yeast producing carbon dioxide and the alcohol that’s the whole point of the process.

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Rotating about 30 degrees to the left you can see the fermentation tanks and the ramp down to the grinding room and the other 10 or 12 fermentation tanks. From here…the beer is either piped over to the distillery section or sent to the barreling section which is in another building.

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The distilling building contains these two stills as well as the tall skinny one you see in the center background so their product is eventually triple distilled. Most distillers that use pot (i.e., batch) stills use multiple stills to get the final distilled proof as close to 160 as they can. Really large distillers like Makers Mark use what is called a continuous column still in which the mash is pumped into the top of a large column with alternating plates as it flows to the bottom where the spent mash is exhausted. Continuous stills don’t need multiple distillation processes…the way they’re built gets you 160 proof in a single distillation. And speaking of spent mash…it’s not disposed of…distillers sell it to cattle farmers to feed their stock as it still has a lot of nutritional value left in it.

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Close up of the bottom section of the still…about 8 feet in diameter.

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They had this display of various barrel sizes each with a name and size that are used (or have been used) over the years by a variety of industries. As you can see…Connie is standing next to a barrel that is named a butt…this is like 110 gallons or something. So the saying that Neil has used for years and that I’ve echoed here in the blog…a metric butt load…is actually a real, actual measurement…and you probably thought it was just something we made up. Bah we say.

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We were unable to sample actual bourbon here since the distilling part of the operation has only been in operation about 3 years but we did sample one of their single malt whiskys which is made from pure malted barley …hence the name…as well as a gin they sell as well as a couple of Irish whiskeys and one of their barrel strength whiskys which is currently being sold. They expect to sell their first bourbon next year assuming things go well with the aging process.

We decided to skip lunch and just had a few pretzels on the way to our last distillery of the trip…again about 40 miles out of town to the west in the middle of Nowheresville, KY. This was the Castle and Key distillery out in Frankfort KY.

As I said earlier…we really found the stories about the why much more interesting than the distillery tours themselves…after all bourbon is made essentially the same way by every distiller and if you’ve seen one tour you’ve pretty much seen them all except for the different scale between large and small. Color and flavor of the final product depends on mash bill, the vagaries of the aging process, and the skill of the master distiller in blending…or not…his barrels of bourbon. But the stories are really interesting.

Castle and Key was founded in 1887 as the Taylor Distilling Company by James Taylor who was really the originator of the idea of something he called a ‘bourbon destination’ where one would go just to see the place, have parties, stay overnight, and sample their wares. Back in 1887…this was so far out in the boonies that Nowheresville was the big city you passed through before you got here. He persuaded the railroad to put in a spur line out to the property and then got down to building things. First up…he decided he needed a castle to attract people so…he built one…only instead of it having rooms it was really the distillery itself.

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In addition to the castle…he built the largest rickhouse in KY.

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And an English garden along side it…as you can see above with the railroad running between the two to the station where you got off to commence the partying you came here to do.

The distillery closed in 1920 due to prohibition…and while it did reopen under different ownership when prohibition was repealed and distilled under several owners afterwards it was closed and essentially abandoned by about 1970. Then in 2012…one of the two current owners named Will Arvin came across some pictures of the abandoned property, thought he should reimagine and reinvent the bourbon experience…after all by 2012 bourbon was back in vogue…so he and his wife came out and toured the property. They found boarded up windows, caved in roofs, and vegetation so overgrown he needed a flashlight in the middle of the day to see…but they liked what they saw and set about doing just that. He contacted a friend of his named Wes Murry…they were both either doctors or lawyers in Lexington…and between the two of them decided to purchase the property and restore it to what it used to be. Purchasing the property in 20145, they spent I’m guessing a lot of money fixing roofs, evicting raccoon families from buildings…in fact one of them actually had a tree growing up in the middle of the building’s first floor through the roof…and fixing things up. Included in this were the original mash cookers, fermentation tanks, and stills from back in the early days…all of that is still used today. They distilled their first product in 2016 and shipped their first bourbon last year. To make some profit in the meantime…they also produce vodka and gin as well as rye whiskey…we sampled all of these but alas…no bourbon remains from last year’s release so we’ll just have to get some later this year I guess. They also rent space to assorted small distilleries in their rickhouse including the Lexington Brewing Company that we visited in the morning.

Connie was really impressed by the stalls in the ladies room at the distillery.

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And since every castle needs a moat…heck, everybody knows that…Mr. Taylor built one. Unfortunately it doesn’t have any water in it this time of the year.

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The entrance to the castle where we started our tour.

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This is the lower about 2/3s of their two column stills used for the first distillation. They’re about 4 stories tall. Crappy pano with the iPhone but the best Neil could do given the tight quarters involved…and like the morning’s tour this is an in production facility and we met several of the staff as we went through.

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The collapsing building in the background with the vine covered exterior is what the whole place looked like back in 2012 before it was purchased for restoration. 

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Since the original distillery closed as a result of prohibition…which as you know didn’t really get rid of alcohol but just drove it underground into the speakeasy and bathtub gin environment…the new owners put the tasting room in one of the old around the back originally used for something else rooms in the castle and used this industrial looking door for the entrance…so it looked like you were entering a speakeasy.The old rail bed (now a paved street) is behind where Neil was standing and you had to go up an old industrial set of stairs over some pipes and between the rusty old tanks to get there. 

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Our samples. The vodka was really, really good and was bottled at 80 proof. The gin is pretty expensive as gin goes and is 106 proof. Our tour guide said that a lot of people had told him they don’t like gin…Neil raised his hand in agreement when asked. What he said was that the reason most people don’t like gin is because what they really don’t like is cheap gin…because cheap gin has a couple of problems with it. When you run a still and catch the output you get three separate sections…the heads at the beginning which contain both the good ethanol that we like to drink as well as methanol which is poisonous in large quantities, and various other organic compounds that just don’t taste good…then you get the hearts which is the good stuff only…and then the tails which again has lots of not so tasty stuff. Cheap gin makers use a bit more of the heads and tails in their output because that gives them more to sell per batch and lowers their costs. Good gin makers only use the hearts…according to Rich…and just accept they’ll need to charge more for it.

In addition…cheap gin makers use almost exclusively juniper to flavor their product…gin is essentially vodka (or pure alcohol and water) mixed with flavorings in the second distillation. A lot of juniper gives the final product the typical gin flavor which is essentially…for gin haters that are really cheap gin haters (again according to Rich)…like drinking a Christmas tree. Good gin makers on the other hand…use a whole series of botanicals and herbs and other nice tasting things to put in their flavor.

The result…this gin while you can still tell there is juniper in it…is pretty mild and mellow as far as juniper goes. Smelling and tasting it you get all the other good things more than the juniper…which results in a good gin…in fact Neil actually liked it. He still wouldn’t go out of his way to drink gin including this one…but he pronounced it drinkable and actually said it tasted good. 

Another true story…you’ve probably read in books and seen in movies about how the British in India drank gin and tonic quite regularly. Well…actually they needed to drink something…it was tropical India after all and a backwater compared to being home in the UK…but what they really needed was a daily dose of quinine to ward off the malaria. Quinine is what is used to give tonic water its flavor and it was used to deliver the medicinal quinine to the Brits. However…quinine is bitter and even more people don’t like it’s taste than don’t like cheap gin…so the gin and tonic was invented along with the strongly flavored juniper gin to hide the taste of the quinine…so the Brits could get loaded and medicated all in one fell swoop.

India…btw…is also why we have that beer called IPA. That actually stands for India Pale Ale and again it was invented for the Brits in India. Most Brits at the time at home drank either stout beers or dark ales…mostly dark heavier stuff…and they needed to ship beer to India for their folks to drink out at the backwater. Stouts and Brown Ales don’t travel well so the brewers invented pale ale. Now all beer has hops flowers in it…that is what gives it the bitter notes in the taste…but the brewers discovered that hops also has preservative properties which came in handy on the long sea voyage to India as the Suez Canal didn’t exist yet.

See…in addition to blathering about Fun Stuff©…this is an educational blog:-) 

The rye whisky was also good…although because its rye it has a much sharper, less mellow, less sweet corn taste than bourbon does…but it is still pretty tasty.

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And finally…our tour guide Rich at the bar in the tasting room. Rich wins our award as “Best Tour Guide in the Last Ten Years”…enthusiastic, knowledgable, and and all around great guide.This is another iPhone pano…and while a lot of the time iPhone pano shot give you that rounded sort of look for close subjects rather than the straight appearance that a more distant subject would provide…that’s not the case for this shot. The bar was actually an L shaped bar and he was sitting right at the apex of the cure in the L…or does that make it a J shaped bar since an L has a corner in it and a J has a curve instead of the corner. Eh…whatevers. Neil gave him a nice tip for the tour and he rarely does that.

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Once we finished our tasting we headed back into town and had our usual rest/shower before heading out to dinner…he got a shot of her waiting for the elevator.

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We headed out to Malone’s which is a local Lexington chain…the steak place she wanted to eat at didn’t have any reservations…she was irritated that she didn’t get it earlier during the planning for the trip but figured that on Monday night with no festival or anything going on reservations wouldn’t be a problem.

If you ever go to Lexington…under no circumstances should you eat at Malone’s. The bread was hot and delicious and the Caesar salad was right up there with the best we’ve had since all the thick chewy ribs in the Romaine had been removed. Unfortunately it was all downhill after that. Both Connie’s steak and Neil’s Halibut were grossly over salted to the point of inedibility and all the waitress…who was pretty good and the food wasn’t her fault at all…could do was offer us a free dessert which we declined. No manager or supervisor or offer to redo the meals…they were terrible and it didn’t seem like management cared at all. She gave them a scathing review on Open Table and they’ve replied asking for her contact info so a manager can talk to her about it…Neil’s still waiting on her to do that almost a week later but if she does and if they respond I’ll update you on the results. All in all…it’s the worst $150 meal we’ve ever had and would make the worst $30 meal we ever had look good.

Interesting things found on the net.

DadsUrnMantle

PossibleBritishRecord

WIfeBirthday

TakeThatKale

Cyas.

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Vacation Part II

When last we left our intrepid travelers and their stirring story of adventure and Fun Stuff©…they had finished up with Indianapolis and were headed about 150 miles or so west to Vincennes. Vincennes sits right on US-50 and was planned to be visited on our US-50 trip back in 2019 that was so rudely interrupted by what we now know as the ‘Cody kidney stone incident’…so like the places we visited in Indy the primary purpose of this trip…beyond just getting out of the house and doing *something*…was to catch up on the things we missed there.

We picked up a Subway sandwich for lunch later on and made our way to the metropolis of Shoals, IN to see something called Jug Rock. Having looked at some photos on the intertubes…we had no idea just why it got the name but nonetheless decided to go visit anyway. According to the wikipedia…it is the largest free standing table rock (or mushroom rock) formation east of the Mississippi and was formed somewhere between 286 and 325 million years ago which then eroded along fracture lines to its current shape. It didn’t sound like much to any of us…but we stopped by a lot of strange attractions on US-50 and this was on the list…so there we planned to be. Unfortunately…this was one of two failures we had during the trip through no fault of our own. The problem is that you can really only see the thing from the roadside during the winter when the trees don’t have any leaves on them and as any moron knows June is not the winter in Indiana…so the view from the extremely small you gotta sorta block this little road to park at all parking area was…non existent. Undeterred…Neil ventured the hundred yards or so down the trail to its location in hopes of a decent photo opportunity…but regrettably…not even with the super wide angle 14-30mm lens was he able to get any sort of view at all…so he headed back up to the car. Pro tip here…if you’re going to hike down the steep muddy trail…switch from your everyday Merrell shoes to something with a little more traction…his foot slipped off a root on the way up and he bunged up his knee a bit. Nothing serious, just left some skin behind on the root and had a decent scrape for the next week or so. Since he didn’t get a shot himself…here’s one he borrowed from the interwebs. It’s about 40 feet tall I guess…apparently there’s a companion rock named House rock opposite it but he saw nothing either opposite it or remotely resembling a house…there was a cliff nearby that Jug Rock used to (millions of years ago) be part of. 

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Yep…bust.

Undeterred again…he wiped the blood off of his knee and we pressed on. There was supposed to be a park nearby where we were going to eat lunch and kill some extra time until 1500 checkin time at the hotel…emphasis on the ‘supposed to be’. Couldn’t find it so we had our lunch on the road and proceeded on to some other small town we can’t remember the name of and stopped by there to kill said time…but it was brutally hot by then so we ended up going on to our hotel in Vincennes with the thought that if we couldn’t check in early we would just wait in the air conditioned lobby. They weren’t quite ready for today’s customers when we arrived but after 20 minutes or so they had some rooms available so we checked in and had a nice rest until dinner. We headed out to the Elks Lodge 1208 with the intention of having Happy Hour and eat dinner if they had anything for dinner…but they only had bar food so we had some popcorn instead. We had originally planned on heading across the street to a wine bar/restaurant if the Elks had no food but decided we were mostly full so we just went back to the hotel and mushed on pretzels, chocolate bars, and cookies…or as we call it…we grazed.

Thursday morning after breakfast we headed out for our Fun Stuff© in Vincennes and started our day at the Basilica of Saint Francis Xavier which was founded in 1732 while Vincennes was the capitol of the southern portion of what was then known as French Canada. French Canada included both the French speaking portion of what is today Canada as well as what became known later as the Louisiana Purchase…essentially it extended from the Montreal/Ontario area all the way south to New Orleans and westward toward the Pacific. It was divided into upper and lower sections each with their own capitol essentially due to distance and transportation difficulties in the 1700s that far west and Vincennes washout 80% French and the other 20% friendly natives in the area. Like most colonization efforts…the settlers wanted to convert the natives to Christianity…hence the church which because a cathedral which became a basilica later on. There were several churches on the site with the current building being started in 1826 based on plans of the cathedral in Bardstown KY.

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Looking toward the altar from the entrance, note the ambo on the right side of the sanctuary with the stairs leading up to it…like many churches of this area the priest read the Gospel and preached from this elevated position.

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Painting on the altar…essentially a copy of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

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Baptismal font…again typical of the period. We met a very nice lady who had resided in and retired in Vincennes. She was part of the volunteer staff and we chatted with her for a bit about where we were from and why we were visiting Vincennes.

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Looking back from the altar to the rear of the building with the pretty nice looking pipe organ. 

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Following our church tour (self guided mostly) we headed off to our second visit of the day to the George Rogers Clark Memorial site.

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Clark was one of the heroes of the Revolutionary War…he served not with the main army under General Washington but rather stayed in the west and was responsible for bringing the Indians on to the colonists side rather than the British side, captured several British forts although he never tried to take Fort Detroit from them but essentially he stalemated the British forces in the west and kept them from being withdrawn to assist with the efforts against Washington. The shot above shows the visitor center with the memorial in the background to the right.

Walking out the back of the visitor center we spotted this Revolutionary war era cannon with it’s associated pile of shot…and for those of you not familiar with these things the plate under the cannon balls is known as a brass monkey…it has holes cut in it for the bottom layer of shot and the other layers sit on top of that. It’s made of brass because brass does not corrode and the shot would not stick to it due to corrosion…and the shot was stacked to prevent it from rolling around on the ship which was where the design concept originated. However…since brass is a different metal than the iron shot…it has different heat expansion/contraction characteristics and in extremely cold weather the geometry changed enough so that the shot would not stay stacked on it…hence the origin of the saying cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey…at least according to some articles on the interwebs but apparently there is some disagreement on the origin of that saying. Snopes.com says that the actual origin of the saying is unclear but rates the above as false since they don’t believe such a stack would remain in place anyway on a warship underway in the ocean and they could find no evidence that they were stacked in such a fashion. Wikipedia likewise has several possible explanations for the saying.

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Francis Vigo was a Vincennes resident who assisted Clark in his early efforts to pacify and ally with the Indians…this statue is on the far side of the memorial as seen in the first photo just adjacent to the Wabash River beyond it.

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The back of the memorial from the visitor center…it wasn’t clear that this wasn’t the front until later on in our visit.

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Pano of the Wabash River from the far side of the memorial looking away from the visitor center and memorial.

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This is actually the front of the memorial…it’s facing to the right in the first shot above…you can see just the back of the visitor center on the far left of this shot.

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Heading up the stairs…Neil hummed the theme from Rocky and Connie said “Wrong steps”…we went inside to this view.

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About a 9 foot tall sculpture of Clark on top of a granite pedestal with artwork around the inside of the cylindrical memorial depicting various scenes and battles from his efforts during the way. The art was done on linen and then somehow attached to the wall. We actually thought this was a pretty cool memorial.

This is Grouseland…which was the home of William Henry Harrison before he became President. It’s next to both the memorial and the basilica…but then Vincennes is a pretty small town so pretty much everything is nearby or next to everything else. We could have paid for the tour…but didn’t have much interest so we didn’t.

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Next stop was the Vincennes Historical Site maintained by the state department of history…we had scheduled a tour of both Fort Knox as well as a tour of the recreated early capitol town. Things weren’t quick clear on their website but the young fellow who gave us the tour of the buildings clued us in.

There were actually 3 different Fort Knox fortifications back in the day…and none of them exist anymore. The original Fort Knox was on or near the site of the current Clark Memorial on the bank of the Wabash with the town growing up around it…and it was named something else by the original builders (the French) before being renamed Fort Knox by the Americans. The townsfolk had a number of issues with drunken soldiers and partying and such…so a bit later in history when Indian attacks were less likely they forced the fort to move away from town to keep the riff-raff away essentially…so it was moved about 3 miles or so upriver but still named Fort Knox. That’s the one we thought were getting a tour of…and while the nice young fellow said he would go up with us if we wanted his tour essentially involved reading the signs at what is now called Fort Knox II. Then a bit later Indian attacks started up again and the fort was again moved back to near the town although not to the original site…and it was still named Fort Knox. There are no remaining trace of either the first or third incarnation and very little of the second.

The upshot of our confusion was that instead of doing the building tour at 1030 as originally scheduled…we did that part right away, left for a self tour of the second iteration just north of town, then headed back for lunch rather than going for the scheduled 1400 fort tour. He explained that the Vincennes site didn’t really do scheduled tours but more of on demand tours but that the state folk insisted that they use the state website including the overly complex reservation system.

Nonetheless…pressing on with the historic buildings tour…none were originally at this location…several are original buildings that were moved from over on Main Street and the others are reconstructions using recycled materials from period buildings.

Left is the visitor center which is a reconstruction, the red building is the original capitol (it was a tailor shop before it was the capitol building) and the white print shop is another reconstruction albeit it with the original press inside. The capitol/tailor shop was moved twice…once from it’s original location on Main Street because the city wanted to make the street wider and the second time because the park across the street from this final location where it was originally moved became part of Vincennes University.

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This is the Senate chamber in the capitol…it’s upstairs in the second story because the Senate is the ‘upper house’. The President of the Senate sat on the dais with the clerk in front of him (and the clerk was the most educated/literate man in the room). The clerk wrote out legislation on paper and then handed the pages to young lads to run back and forth up and down the stairs to the House chamber below…this is where the term pageboys came from. 

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The original printing press used to produce the newspaper. According to our tour guide it still is operable although he wasn’t allowed to operate it.

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From there we headed up to what is now known as Fort Knox II…but other than some signage there wasn’t really anything there…and we were getting hot again so we did that tour pretty quickly and then headed back to town for lunch at the Pub ’n Grub…they advertised BBQ as their specialty. We had a couple of brews to start and then Neil told the bartender “you had me at brisket sandwich” and ordered that. Connie had a smoked pulled chicken sandwich. Both were excellent along with their highly recommended onion rings (according to Yelp and Yelp was quite correct in their evaluation) and it was going on 1430 by the time we were done with lunch so back to the hotel it was for…you guessed it…nap, shower, and get ready for dinner.

We were still pretty full from lunch so just headed out to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner which turned out to be cocktails, wine, and a couple of Caesar salads for dinner…along with the excellent fresh baked bread and honey butter they serve.

Friday we had breakfast and then headed for Lexington KY by way of Blue Springs Caverns IN…about 300 miles in total. Blue Springs Cavern is…naturally…a cave but this one has an underground river and the tour is on a little boat propelled by what looked like an electric trolling motor. We got there just after they opened at 1000 and paid for the 1000 tour which actually started at about 1020. From the office you head down about 40 feet underground to the boat landing then after boarding we headed upstream about 3/4 of a mile I guess before turning around and returning to the landing. Connie…as you know…loves boats rides so despite the fact that ordinarily she doesn’t like caves she picked this one anyway…and we had a nice time albeit a little chilly one as it is always about 52 degrees down in the cave.

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This is our tour guide Ashton…college kid working for the summer.

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The water ranges from inches to about 20 feet deep…and the width of the cavern from about 6 inches wider than the boat to maybe 20 feet. Ceiling height ranged from about 4 feet above the water to perhaps 30. The very manmade looking edges on this block are actually natural.

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A view of the rectangular blocks from the other side on our return trip…this one was taken with flash by Connie so is probably a better overall indication of the color of the rock…all the others are done sans flash by Neil using the lights mounted on the boat.

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Some debris from the recent spring flood…apparently the water level in the cave came up about 30 feet for several weeks meaning it was all underwater. Ashton claimed the current in the cave was running 70 mph during the flood…that seems pretty excessive to me and there’s no way they could get down there to measure it anyway. The boats were apparently stripped of equipment and left in place during the flood according to Ashton…which again seemed pretty far fetched. Neil thought it was much more likely they were just hauled out by hand or an ATV…they didn’t look like more than 200 pounds total for the aluminum boat.

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You can see the layered sedimentary rock in this shot.

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After leaving the boarding area on the way out…Neil got this shot of the river as it continues downstream but isn’t sufficiently deep or flat enough for a boat…this section of the cavern is about 40 or 50 feet high and about the same wide.

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Following the tour…we continued along to Lexington…stopped to grab a couple of chicken sandwiches from McD’s for lunch and we got to our hotel there just about checkin time. After yet another nap, shower period we headed about 2 blocks down the road to the Sedona Taproom for dinner…Old Fashioned for Neil and a Lemon Martini for Connie followed by a glass of wine each and a couple of flatbreads for dinner. All was excellent although the flatbreads were more like flatbread shaped pizzas than what one normally thinks of as a flatbread…nice crispy crust as one expects but rather than a light topping selection regular pizza sauce, toppings, and cheese. Still tasted good though…afterwards we headed back to the hotel for cookies, TV, and bed in anticipation of Saturday and Sunday on the Bourbon Trail in Lexington…but that’s still another blog post to come.

Cyas.

Posted in Food, Photography, Travel | 4 Comments

Vacation Part I

Ya know…I am really getting tired of stupid people saying stupid things on the internet…there’s a petition currently online that has 850,000 people demanding that Justice Thomas be removed from the court…which is nuts because you don’t get to boot off judges just because you don’t like his opinions…he has to have committed…like it says in the constitution…high crimes and misdemeanors and neither Mrs. Pelosi in the House or Senator Schumer in the Senate has enough votes for impeachment to happen or be upheld so like the smart politicians they are (I don’t like their ideas but being dumb politicians didn’t get them to the positions they now hold) they’re just not going there. And even people that you think should know better…for instance Justice Kagan…says that the court has now appointed itself to be in charge of climate policy and has taken the responsibility away from the other two branches…when in actuality all the court did in the EPA case was to state that the EPA had extended it’s jurisdiction beyond that in the legislation passed by Congress. And some nutso who writes for the Ventura County Star says that the PRC (otherwise known as CA) should establish an Independence Clock just like the Doomsday Clock of the Cold War days…and that if it gets to midnight the state should secede from the United States…obviously he hasn’t studied his history as I think we already established that secession from the USA both will not be allowed to happen and has been declared unconstitutional by the court unless it has been approved by both houses of Congress and three quarters of the states.

All of that got me thinking a bit more about the recent court decisions and I decided that the guy that wrote the article in the Wall Street Journal today has it just about right in his statement.

For at least the past 50 years and maybe going back to the 1930s or so…the various functions of government in our country have really gotten out of whack. For those of you who didn’t have Civics in high school…we have 3 branches of government…the legislative branch which creates laws, the executive branch which carries them out, and the judicial branch which rules on the legality of the actions of the other two branches…and the constitution specifically states that the courts shall make their judgements under the constitution as well as other constitutional laws passed by the legislative branch.

Unfortunately…over however many years one chooses in the last paragraph…none of the branches have really done their jobs very well. Congress has failed over and over to pass legislation on many issues…including weapons, privacy, climate policy, abortion, and ad finitum. I realize that compromise has gotten increasingly unlikely but none of these issues has been solved by legislation. The executive branch has allowed its bureaucracy to expand on or contract the guidance provided to them by Congress to change regulations without a basis in law. The judicial branch has tended to operate based on social opinions and what a particular court wants the constitution to mean and has rightly been accused of legislating from the bench by both sides.

I think what has really happened with the decisions this term by the court is that they’re just simply saying that enough is enough…each branch needs to do their job. Abortion…not addressed in the constitution so it is deferred to either Congress or the states. The Democratic Party has had numerous opportunities over the last 50 years to enact legislation that could not be filibustered or vetoed to codify the right to abortion…but they failed to do so…and a cynic would probably say that they didn’t want to give up the election issue over it. Likewise…the executive branch has invented regulations that the underlying legislation does not provide for…which is why the EPA lost the case…it isn’t because the court appointed themselves the climate policy arbiter…it is because the court said “not our job” and sent it back to it’s proper branch to be taken care of. The court has done a lot of hair splitting and wishful thinking in constitutional interpretation over the same period and has had numerous decisions both ways that are simply head scratchers and not based in the constitution or established law. In addition…pundits, politicians, and media have allowed a whole bunch of terms to come into general use that have no legal meaning…stare decisis does not mean that precedents can’t be overturned, there is no such thing as a super precedent or settled law by the court, that the executive should not rule by executive order which may not be legal and can be cancelled by the next President anyway…and so on.

It’s time for each branch to shut up, sit down, and do their jobs. Compromise if necessary to achieve part of your goals but give the other side some of theirs as well. Execute the laws as written and not as how you wish they were written. Rule on the constitutionality of laws based on what the constitution says. That doesn’t mean that abortion should be legal or illegal…as I said before it’s both a religious question and a legal question…and finding a middle ground that Congress can approve doesn’t seem that hard. Same thing with guns and voting rights, and climate policy and on and on.

Now I realize that neither the far left or far right will agree with this…the left is unhappy because they didn’t get their way and the right is unhappy for the same reasons as there are still gun and pro abortion laws in the country. Back when the court was controlled by the liberals…there was the same unhappiness but while I wasn’t around back then I haven’t read about any attempts to impeach justices who disagreed with conservatives or pack the court to get rid of their ‘bias’. In fact…under the Warren court which went from 1933 to 1963…the court was essentially run by two liberals…one was Justice Hugo Black who was always a lefty and the other was a Republican liberal originalist named Earl Warren. That court gave us many decisions favorable to the liberal side…but the reason it gave us those decisions was because they made rulings based on the constitution and not this week’s socially popular topic.

OK…enough of that…let’s move onto vacation.

As I said before…we had an almost two week long trip recently and I was gonna put up a post on the Fun Stuff© we partook of with photos of our various destinations…but that slacker Neil has only finished processing the photos for 2 of the destinations. I told him he was a slacker but he said that I couldn’t put 200 images in a single post anyway. I have to agree with that so today I’ll give you a brief overview of the trip and the photos he’s finished up along with details on those destinations and the rest will follow in some more posts later.

We headed out on Friday for a 3 day transit to Indianapolis IN with our first stop in Valdosta GA and had dinner at Outback. Saturday we continued on to Nashville TN…and it turned out that the human kids were also in the Nashville area for one of Jen’s cousin’s wedding…despite us telling them that we couldn’t really get there, didn’t know the bride, and didn’t have a gift for them either the kids (or more likely Jen’s mom Neil thinks) got us invited to the wedding anyway. We talked about it and decided that after a 480 mile driving day while we could have…maybe…gotten there early enough to go to the hotel, shower and change and drive the 75 miles to the wedding we would have another 75 mile drive back to the hotel in the late evening and we needed to get an early start on Sunday. We decided we aren’t spring chickens anymore and that this was just a bridge too far so we explained to the kids we just couldn’t get there…they said all was well with that. Instead we ate near our hotel at a sushi/hibachi place named Kabuto and met Mack the bartender who was highly recommended on Yelp. He did us right both drinks wise and food recommendation wise. Sunday morning we went to Mass in Nashville then headed off to Indianapolis IN for our first scheduled Fun Stuff© of the trip.

The rest of the itinerary will come later…but long story short we went from Indy to Vincennes IN, then back to Lexington KY, then to Cumberland Falls KY and then a 2 day transit back home…details in followup posts to come.

Our visit to Indy was to see 2 different places. First up was the Benjamin Harrison Presidential site…he was born in Ohio but most of his political career was in IN and he lived in Indy both before his presidency and afterwards until his death. He was the 23rd President and the grandson of the 9th President William Henry Harrison who died quickly after his inauguration due to catching pneumonia during his long speech in the cold and rain to demonstrate his rigorous health despite being an old guy and then drinking typhus contaminated water in the White House. Benjamin had two wives…his first wife Caroline died while he was President and he married Mary after his return to IN post presidency. 

We were up early Monday morning and after breakfast headed off to the Presidential Site. We missed somehow getting any shots of the outside of the house but it is pretty typical construction of the late 1800s. Coming into the front door you see the front parlor where guests of lesser importance were entertained. All of these inside shots were taken sans flash since they’re not allowed…that resulted in some high ISOs (sensor sensitivity, we used to call it ASA back in the film days) of 6000 to 8,000 but Neil’s DxO PureRAW 2 software did a superlative job of AI to eliminate the noise.

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With a close up of the knick knacks on the far wall.

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Next up is the smaller more intimate family parlor with a piano and family portraits.

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And a Reginaphone which was an early record player usually owned only by upper class folk as it cost about $17 new and that was a month or so salary for most working people. You wind it up and lower the needle and it plays…this one was original to the house and still works as we heard once our tour guide wound it up.

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Moving on into Benjamin’s office…we see our tour guide Pete (at least I think it was Pete) on the left and his beloved law books on the far wall.

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On the desk to the left is this cane which has carved heads of the first 12 Presidents.

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Around the back of the house we see their dining room.

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Along with his White House china and some that his second wife Mary hand painted and fired.

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Upstairs we saw this feather fan which I don’t remember the significance of other than it belonged to Mary.

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As well as the master bedroom with most of its original furniture.

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We headed back to the hotel and after a rest and a shower we ate dinner at Fort Ben Pub as we were still full from lunch.

Tuesday we headed northeast from our hotel rather than the southwest route we took Monday to the Presidential site and arrived at Connor Prairie…this is a living history museum located on the grounds formerly owned by William Connor. You might recall that back when we were traveling in the RV we visited the area up in MI where Neil’s 4th great grand uncle Henry who was the translator for the original treaty between the government and the Ojibwa Indian tribe (also known as Chippawa in some writings). Connor Prairie was owned by Henry’s brother William so that’s 2 4th great grand uncles we’ve investigated. After serving as a translator for another treaty with the Delaware (or Lenape) Indian tribe in 1818…William was deeded…along with his Delaware wife Mekinges Anderson (Indians didn’t generally have maiden names but she was given this one by her white father and her clan custom was that lineage remained with the female) 640 acres (1 section or 1 square mile) along the White River.

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Following a subsequent treaty the Delaware/Lenape were relocated across the river into the Illinois territory…and although Mekinges could have remained with her husband she would have been isolated from her people so she and their six children departed for the west and he never saw any of them again. It’s not clear (or at least not discussed by the staff there) whether he was legally married to her under US law or whether they divorced or whether he was a bigamist but then he married his second wife Elizabeth who he lived with until his death and had 10 more children.

Neil doing the Vanna White thing at the entrance to the site.

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Barn and sheep just inside the grounds…we didn’t find out whether it is actually a working farm or they just keep a few animals as part of the living history site thing.

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Portrait of William and signage stating that his house was a popular stopping place for travelers for lodging.

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The back of the house which is what you see when you walk up to the location…why the back faces this way will be clear in a minute. And yes…I realize that all of the vertical lines and horizontal lines of the house don’t line up…but Neil used the perspective correction tools in Lightroom to fix them as well as possible. The problem is that the house is over 200 years old and has bolts going through to hold it together and it’s sorta sagged a bit in some places.

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Walking around the left side above you get to the front of the house. Sorry about the li’l munchkins in the shot but they got there before he could get a shot without them…and while he tried the magic people removal software it didn’t look right as the cloned portions of the brick weren’t properly laid out so he left the munchkins in. 

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And the reason that the front of the house is on this side is because when you do a 180 degree turn from the above shot and look northwest towards the river you get to see this.

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That meadow is about 40 feet below the house level and most of their 640 acres are down there and out to the left and right. Back in the day it completely flooded each spring from the White River which is located just beyond the trees in the distance which are on the top of the levee put up to stop the annual flood and render the property usable for farming. Pretty nice view I think.

Heading into the house…in the lower level we find the kitchen.

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And a couple of lower parlor type rooms filled with an assortment of historical items and displays.

This is what is called a lentricular painting. Rather than being a single flat canvas it is a series of 90 degree angles and the artist paints two different paintings on the same piece of canvas. Looking from the left side we see a view of the property after the house was built…this painting is made up of a series of tall narrow sections of canvas visible from the left.

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Moving around to the right side of the painting…you see a depiction of what the exact same view looked like when William and Mekinges first arrived there.

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We’ve never seen a painting like this before…and it’s pretty darned cool we think.

A chart of the William Connor family tree…Mekinges to the left and Elizabeth to the right.

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Heading upstairs…we see the only existing portrait of Elizabeth as an 45 or so year old which was getting to be elderly in those days.

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As noted on the above…a digital recreation of a younger Elizabeth was created and a portrait of her painted as a young woman.

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The master bedroom and one of her dresses…she was a really tiny woman probably not more than 5’1 or 5’2 tall. There was also a mannequin with her undergarments, corset and what not next to the dress.

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With all of those undergarments and the linen/muslin/cotton dress on top…she must have been really hot in the summertime there…we were in shorts and t-shirts and it was still hot for us.

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Leaving the house we wandered around the rest of the estate for awhile…spotting this likely a mated pair of Red Tailed Hawks as we wandered towards the mid 1800s town recreation (albeit it with some moved or rebuilt buildings). You can see how the bird got its name in the second shot.

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A house in the town section.

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Panorama of the downtown section.

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The tavern.

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The local woodsmith at work…he’s just starting to make another of the little table/stools you see on the table behind him.

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And some of his tools…most of these were either period or made locally on the site.

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Connie in the town blacksmith shop…she’s just inside the door to the right.

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And the blacksmith hard at work.

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Closeup of the Conestoga wagon you see in the pano several shots back.

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And one of the local denizens/reenactors coming out of another barn…nice hat.

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And to end up our tour…they have their own balloon…back in the day some barnstormer used a hot air model to carry some mail headed to NYC.

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And with that our Fun Stuff© in Indy was done. We headed back to the hotel and…as was our custom this trip…had a nap, shower, and headed out for dinner…which was an excellent meal at Amore Italian Kitchen. Per our usual…we sat at the bar and had a cocktail, a couple glasses of wine and excellent veal piccata for Neil and mushroom ravioli for Connie…we were too full for dessert so had some cookies later in the evening. We had excellent lunches there as well…Sun King brewery one day where we drank or sampled about 6 or 7 beers in total and leftovers from Amore the other day. We also had dinner at the Fort Ben pub the other night we were there…but neither of them can remember what we ate there except that it was just appetizers because we had had a big late lunch at Sun King earlier in the day.

Early on Wednesday morning we headed out about 180 miles or so west to Vincennes…but that will be the next blog post. You’ll also read in that post about one of the DLETC’s few and far between failures in the Entertainment realm.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

How hot is it?

HowHotIsIt

You had to be around in the 70s for this one to make sense.

BlackSabbathUkulele

BeautySleep

CatsName

Cyas.

Posted in Photography, Reality Based Blogging, Travel, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | 2 Comments

An Interesting Couple Of Weeks

Yep…interesting is about the right word I reckon. We’ve had a lot of SCOTUS decisions that deserve a little overview and then we were on vacation for a couple of weeks.

First up…SCOTUS. You all know what they were…abortion, guns, Indian rights, religious rights…and many more…so I’m not really going to address the substance of the decisions other than at broad strokes…but figured a few comments on both the why’s of the decisions and more importantly the reaction to them were in order.

Let me say up front that while we’re right of center we’re not that far right of center and many of the more reasoned arguments made by both center-right and center-left people on these issues make perfect sense…but unfortunately the extremists on both sides of the spectrum and the complete unacceptability of both side’s extremists of any sort of compromise led to the decisions rendered. And…to be fair…we don’t absolutely agree with several of them because we think that they were too far reaching but in reality we also understand why the majority made some of those far reaching decisions…in some cases it’s better to just rip the bandaid off rather than try to ease if off. In particular for the abortion decision…there is a lot to be said for the court to stay out of the decision as they are supposed to interpret and judge the constitutionality of a law rather than make the law…and Justice Alito’s opinion specifically said that this problem was not for the courts to decide but was for the elected bodies to decide. Congress could pass legislation codifying the legality of abortion…and that law would pass muster even with the current makeup of the court…but either Congress or the various states are the ones that should be solving this problem.

Getting on to the reasons for some of these decisions…they come down to two basic truisms. First is what has always been named as strict versus loose construction of the constitution. Strict constructionists…or originalists in the current parlance…see the Constitution as the founding law document of the land and that it says exactly what it says and no more. You read the words and they say what they say. Loose constructionists believe that the Constitution has to be translated to modern times and that essentially it should mean whatever the court decides it means today base on current social demands or opinions or whatever else…in other words…it should mean what we want it to mean. I completely understand those competing thoughts on constitutional law…but constitutional experts have been debating that ever since it was ratified and the court has been swinging from one to the other side depending on who appointed the justices ever since Founding Father days. Yes…those same Founding Fathers had no idea of what technology would achieve in weapons or medical capabilities or technical capabilities but the principles they stated can either be read as what they said or what one wants what they said to mean. 

The second truism is that both political parties have…for at least the last 50 years or so…gone farther and farther towards extreme positions. I remember back in the 60s and 70s that legislators could agree to compromise and both sides could give a little and get a little of what they wanted so that legislation could be enacted. However…since then the far left and far right have increasingly taken over at least the early stages of nominating contests…and that takeover has resulted in the elimination of any interest by even more towards the center legislators in compromise. Those who compromise with the other side get primary opponents that are far more electable in the primary process since it is mostly the extremes that vote in primaries…but that frequently results in nominees that are completely unelectable in either a statewide or national election. Yes…a few of the extremists do make it through…on both sides…but that largely happens in states that lean heavily to either the red or blue side…but more of them are defeated in the regular election than win simply because they’re far out of the mainstream.

I really wish we had not lost the idea that compromise is a good thing. Abortion, gun rights, voting rights, religious rights, etc, etc…could all easily be solved by a compromise position that gave a little and got a little. Without belaboring all of the decisions…in the abortion issue one can easily see how this is really two issues…one is religious based on religious (or not) beliefs about conception and when life begins…and the second is a legal issue that *could* be resolved by some sort of compromise based on what the Constitution says or whether it is deferred to the states or viability of the fetus. Unfortunately…neither the pro life side or the pro choice side is interested in any compromise…both sides have consistently taken a “my way or the highway” approach which as discussed above kills any possibility of compromise legislation since Congress critters want to keep their jobs. I could easily say the same thing about any of the other controversial opinions issued in the past couple of weeks.

What really gets me though…is the reaction to these decisions. We’ve seen a whole bunch of opinions and inflammatory statements in the news…

  • Conservative justices lied under oath during their confirmation hearings and should be impeached. However…when you read what they actually said without a preconceived notion that they lied…they actually equivocated and basically said that precedent should be respected but could be overturned. They also said that a decision depended on the circumstances of a particular case and they could not prejudge. In fact…the same media and progressives who claimed they lied are perfectly fine with our incoming SCOTUS justice saying she could not define what a woman was while the other side calls her either uneducated or a liar because everybody knows what a woman is.
  • Demands to pack the court…despite the fact that this would just be a tit for tat situation and 40 years from now we would have a SCOTUS with 3 dozen members.
  • Demands for term limits on the court…despite the fact that this would require a constitutional amendment.
  • Demands to abolish the Electoral College because “those conservative justices were appointed by presidents who did not even win the popular vote”. This ignores the fact that abolishing the EC would…again…require a constitutional amendment, that without the EC there would be no United States of America because the other 10 states did not want to be ruled by MA, VA, and NY, and that…again under the constitution…the popular vote is completely and 100% irrelevant because *that is not how the President is elected*.
  • Gun bans.
  • Additional gun restrictions that are clearly in violation of the SCOTUS decisions and the constitution. For instance…Governor Hochul up in NY is having the legislature pass a bill this week that specifies that despite the recent decision only those places of business that specifically post a sign allowing firearms possession can be entered by a person in possession of a firearm. Again…this gets back to the whole refusal to compromise idea above…there are a lot of common sense gun laws that I would fully support…just as I would also support common sense abortion laws and common sense voting laws and common sense when are you an adult and can do adult things laws. However…that again…requires the ability and willingness to compromise that we have largely lost.
  • But it’s precedent…and precedent should never be overturned under stare decisis…despite the fact that SCOTUS has overturned precedent 145 times (according to the article I read) in history and despite the fact that without overturning precedent we would still have segregation, no Miranda rights, and many other things the left (and right) hold dear. What stare decisis says is that precedents deserve consideration but can be overturned if they are clearly wrong under the constitution.

I could go on and on…but I think you get the point. 

Many of the things we’ve seen in news articles, comments, tweets, and various other places indicate that the writers have zero idea of how the government works, why we have the government we do, or what the constitution says. Part of that is the loss of what we called Civics class back when we were in high school where you learned things like this…today’s students do not get that part of their education which means they don’t have a clue. The second part of this is that there are far too many terms in general use that most people believe are actually in the Constitution because they saw it on twitter or wherever but actually they aren’t in there at all. For instance…take the term “separation of church and state”…nope, it doesn’t say that at all. What it does say is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. In the recent case about the high school coach in Arizona who prayed after a game and who was voluntarily joined after some years by some of the players from both teams was held to be constitutional because it did not reflect an “establishment of religion” by the state and the second part of that portion of the 1st amendment allows the free exercise of his beliefs. The minority in the decision and media have decried this decision as “a dagger the wall of separation between church and state” because they don’t like the decision, not because it wasn’t based on the law.

Ya see…’round here we took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution (well, at least one of us did)…so naturally we’re sorta partial to that whole Constitution thing…

Ok…vacation. We don’t talk in advance much about vacation here on the blog now that we’re no longer living in the RV full time so that our house is always with us…it’s a security thing because figuring our our home address on the internet is a pretty trivial thing and saying that we’re going out of town for awhile is like putting up a sign saying “Please rob me”. So…we don’t advertise it ahead of time.

However…I can now tell ya…since we got back late yesterday afternoon…that we’re back from an almost 2 week trip up to Indianapolis and Vincennes in IN, followed by 3 days in Lexington KY, a visit to Cumberland Falls in KY before heading back home. We had a great time, did some Fun Stuff©, but are glad to be back at home. I’ll have another post in a few days once Neil gets done processing all the photos we took.

We did learn a few things on our trip…I’ll talk more in detail about them in the upcoming vacation post…but short story is that we’re traveling differently than we did in the RV. We no longer have our house with us and have travel days as well as Fun Stuff© days as well as grocery/laundry days and are staying in hotels and eating most meals out…so we need to finish inventing the way we want to travel via car. More details to follow but we’ve already decided that future trips will have a rest day once a week where we don’t plan to do anything, that mostly we’ll try to finish the day’s Fun Stuff© activities by about 1400 or so which allows us to rest for an hour or two before showering and heading out to dinner, and we’ve come up with a list of things we need to add to our “take this on travel because we don’t have our house with us now” list.

Briefly though…we visited Connor Prairie up near Indy which is the home of one of Neil’s ancestors back in the day and is now a living history place like Williamsburg in VA and Pilgrim Town up in Boston. After that we picked up a few things that we ended up missing on our US-50 trip the last year in the RV because of Neil’s kidney stone out in WY, then spent a couple days on the Bourbon Trail in Lexington…this was our third visit to the area and we went to different distilleries/breweries each time. Heading homewards…we spent one night in Cumberland KY to see the waterfall colloquially called “Niagara of the South”…we missed the moonbow since that requires a full moon but we did get some great shots of a rainbow in the mist from the falls which are pretty impressive before heading home. Arriving yesterday about 1700 or so…we unpacked the car, left the rest of the unpacking for today, and Neil went out and got us sushi for dinner then we crashed and went to bed early.

Sorry…no photos yet as Neil hasn’t done his job yet.

Cyas.

Posted in Reality Based Blogging, Travel | Leave a comment

Current Societal Issues

Ok, figgered it was ‘bout time to get back into the rest of my thoughts on current issues that society is all up in an uproar over.

Before that though…a couple of odds ’n ends.

Out in the Peoples Republic of California…
a court ruled last week that
…believe it or not but hey, this is CA so I would probably believe just about anything…and yes…the link happens to go to foxiness.com but it is actually a factual story as evidenced by similar reports at bbc.com, sacbee.com, cnn.com and numerous others…that a a bumblebee is a fish under CA law. Yes…you read that right…a bumblebee…that thing that flies around in the air and sucks up nectar from flowers and that according to most rules of aerodynamics and aeronautics simply cannot fly under the rules of physics…yes, that bumblebee…is a fish under CA law. In the case of Almond Alliance of California vs. Fish and Game Commission…the California State Appellate Court of the 3rd district held…that the lower court erred when it reached a contrary conclusion. According to the court…this liberal interpretation of the word ‘fish’ (the court’s words here) is possible because “although the term fish is colloquially and commonly understood to refer to aquatic species,” the law, as it is written, makes the legal “definition of fish… not so limited”. Under the Endangered Species Act…the commission is allowed to determine what is and what is not an endangered species…and that the Endangered Species Act does not specify precisely what a fish is they are allowed to declare the bee to be a fish and therefore it can be classified as endangered. Now…I dunno know ‘bout you folks…but while I can agree that things like mollusks, sea cucumbers, amphibians, and crustaceans including “any part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals” can reasonably be called a fish since they’re all…umm…aquatic life…any moron should be able to figure out the something that flies int the air is not an aquatic species. It is true that scientifically both air and water are fluids…but as they say…only in CA.

Only…maybe not so only in CA. Up in the great state of Washington…hereinafter I think I’ll refer to them as PRC North…apparently the definition of whether one has been seized by police and/or is in custody isn’t such a black and white issue after all…but then
according to the courts there
…it is a black and white issue, or at least a white and anything but white issue. According to the WA State Supreme Court…who voted nine to zero…”race and ethnicity have to be considered when analyzing whether someone has been seized by police”. It seems that a man in Pierce County was stopped by the police and gave them a fake name and date of birth when asked. It doesn’t say why he was stopped…but if the police ask you for your name and date of birth I’m pretty sure you’re required to either answer them honestly or plead the 5th. So my guess is that this guy had a warrant so he lied but that isn’t specifically stated. He argued that he was “unlawfully seized” by the deputy before he lied and that therefore his lie didn’t matter and should be inadmissible in court. In a brilliant display of color blindness under the law…which again the last time I checked the 15th amendment to the constitution says is the law of the land…the court determined that a person has been “seized” by the police if “based on the totality of the circumstances, an objective observer could conclude that the person was not free to leave, to refuse a request, or to otherwise terminate a police encounter due to law enforcement’s display of authority or use of physical force.” The court further clarifies that “For purposes of this analysis, an objective observer is aware that implicit, institutional, and unconscious biases, in addition to purposeful discrimination, have resulted in disproportionate police contacts, investigative seizures, and uses of force against BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of color] in Washington.” In other words…according to the court a BIPOC person can claim they were not aware they were seized by police but a Caucasian person cannot make that claim…and that therefore any lies the BIPOC told are inadmissible in court while a similar lie a caucasian person may have made is admissible in court. Now…I’m only a dumb ursine o’course…but it seems to me that is discrimination against caucasian persons and thus prohibited by the aforementioned 15th amendment.

There’s pictures below…if ya don’t want to read about common sense or the lack thereof feel free to skip ahead.

On the gun issue…we found out this weekend that the definition of a “mass shooting” has been changed so that anytime 4 or more persons are injured it is by definition. Now a cynic might say that this redefinition is just so the Center for Gun Violence…an anti gun group…could claim that we had 5 or 6 of them over the weekend injuring or killing over 27 people. Previous to this…a mass shooting was typically defined as the same 4 or more but required a single bad guy or multiple bad guys acting together and they needed to use one of those scary looking ‘assault weapons’. By eliminating the remaining requirements…the Center for Gun Violence can then claim that gang shootings and bar fights are mass shootings…and when I read the article at abcnews.com which listed the shooting incidents in question all of two of them that listed the time happened after midnight and none of them involved ‘assault weapons’ but all of them were gang or bar fights save one which was at a pool party and seemed suspiciously like a gang fight based on the description. 

We also saw that the anti gun crowd is no longer calling an AR-15 an assault weapon…because it is not one. An assault weapon is defined by google as (1) being a military weapon or (2) a rifle designed for military use that can fire in either a full automatic or semi-automatic mode. Google does include the incorrect but politically correct definition of “anything based on a military design’. Anyways…they’re calling them “military style assault rifles now”. The big problem with the PC definition from google is that essentially the anti gun crowd claims that any weapon with “scary looking military features” like a pistol grip or a removable magazine is prima facie an assault weapon and has zero purpose or authorization to be owned by anybody but a military member. The real problem with their definition is that in actual mechanical construction…the receiver, caliber, firing mechanism and process, reload process, and ammunition it uses…it is identical in form and function to every hunting rile on the market today outside of bolt action ones which are more and more uncommon. It just looks scary.

Anyways…enough on guns.

The other contentious issues are…let’s go with abortion and voting rights…there are more but that’s enough.

Abortion…well, the question of whether this is a good thing or a bad thing needs to be broken up into two separate questions…one religious and one legal. From a religious standpoint…whether one approves of abortion or not is a personal decision based on his/her denomination and religious (or not) beliefs. From a legal standpoint…one needs to look at the constitution. That document lays out certain rights and in addition to those enumerated rights it says that all other rights are assigned to the states. What this means is that unless it’s in the constitution…it isn’t in the power of the federal courts to decide but gets deferred to the states…unless the Congress passes a law which is within the purview of Congress. Essentially…the draft opinion says that abortion isn’t enumerated in the conclusion and that therefore Roe v. Wade was decided wrongfully. Now Justice Alito’s phrasing might seem a little harsh and I would agree that it probably is…but what he says is that the courts have no business with this decision…either the Congress…or in the absence of them enacting a law the states…are the ones that get to make the decision. Even that noted far right conservative and anti abortion justice Ginsburg (that was sarcasm folks…she was pretty hard left and pro-abortion as I’m sure you all know) said that the decision was decided on the wrong basis and had no basis in the constitution as was indicated in the original opinion.

Enough about abortion…I got way too long into the gun thing before and I’m trying to get to my point before everybody loses interest.

Voting rights. The constitution says that every citizen gets to vote…and makes things like a poll tax illegal…and also says that only citizens get to vote. It also says the voting laws are the responsibility of the various states. This means that one state might have somewhat different rules than other states…and that’s perfectly fine. The constitution has been modified several times regarding voting rights…ex-slaves, women, establishment of a unified election date and processes for determining electors and such. 

The big problem here is that one side wants to ensure that only citizens vote and the other side demands that proving one is a citizen before voting is an egregious removal of their constitutional right to vote. And the second side here is all in a rage about Jim Crow voting laws…specifically the ones they are most irritated about is the recent ones passed in Georgia. They ignore the fact that in several of the provisions the new GA laws actually improve voter access and also election security, do not outlaw giving water to people in line (just that it must be done by poll workers and not political operatives)…and that the laws are more permissive than laws in many blue states…specifically including President Biden’s home state of Delaware.

Ok…enough about voting as well…I’m sure you are all aware of the news and many of the related court cases.

But here’s the deal and the common sense part…

Both sides of the political spectrum…right and left…have people that are more towards the center and people that are out on the extremes…and while I haven’t counted them I would guess that overall the people towards the center outnumber greatly the people out on the fringe. But…it is the people on the fringes…both sides…that drive both party’s policies and primary elections and keep voting out responsible, compromise seeking politicians and instead putting up people like AOC, her squad, Taylor Greene and her acolytes…and then in the general election blue states vote for blue candidates and red for red…and we end up with morons in Congress. People run for House seats on platforms that say “I will ban guns” or “I will outlaw abortion” or “I will open the border to all” or “I will close the border and get control of immigration”…and that’s just a bunch of BS. A freshman congress critter has zero ability to do any of those things. What they do have the ability to do is be stupid, makes dumb statements for political gain, and stir up hate and discontent.

The left demands ‘common sense gun laws’…the right demands ‘common sense voting laws’ and the same thing on abortion, adulthood and every other argument of note.

I have a couple of suggestions…first up is solving some of these things. Back in the day in the 80s or maybe 70s or 90s…can’t remember and the exact time isn’t relevant anyway…the military needed to close some bases to realign force structure and base structure to deal with the end of the Cold War and deal more effectively with smaller scale threat, terrorism and the like. The problem is that the military isn’t free to just willy nilly decide what bases to close…because every congress critter, mayor, governor, or state legislature member with a base in his/her district will say that *their* base is vital but the one over in the district represented by their political opponent is clearly unnecessary and should be closed…and their political opponent will say the same thing.

So…Congress passed a law establishing something called the Base Realignment and Closing Commission or BRAC. The commission had something like 2 years to examine requirements, talk to the services, get testimony, etc, etc.…and then come up with a list of bases to be closed and bases to have their mission or size or whatever changed and to what if they were getting realigned. This list then went back to Congress for approval…and the genius of the original law…and one which required that whole compromise thing so that we could get rid of some bases while keeping others and it would be no individual politician’s fact…was that per the original BRAC legislation Congress had to give a straight up or own vote on the list…and there could be zero, none not any amendments to the list or changes to or additions or deletions from the list. The commission was to do its job and then Congress had to approve or disapprove the whole thing.

So…here’s the suggestion. Congress should pass something called the Social Issues Commission Act or something like that. This commission should be specifically charged to evaluate all of the common sense gun laws, common sense voting laws, and common sense abortion laws that the various sides and come up with a list of proposed changes…and the changes should have some sort of pre-judicial review to eliminate anything that is unconstitutional.

As a bear on the right but more to the center and believing in compromise so that everybody gets something they want but everybody has to give the other guy something they want as well…I personally believe that some of the ideas on gun control make sense. Banning them isn’t either constitutional or will work…after all drugs, speeding, and murder are illegal and we know how well those laws worked…not to mention Prohibition and its repeal. Some national standard for red flag laws, opening people between 18 and 21 who want to buy weapons to having juvenile records and medical health records examined (although the latter would need changes to the HIPPA rules), and even a reasonable waiting period all seem pretty reasonable to me. Needing a federal license, registering your firearm, and similar requirements seem a little too much afoul of the 2nd amendment though. Voting…there again some of the arguments on both sides are just fine to me. Voter ID laws are fine but the state needs to provide inexpensive ID to all citizens. This can be done via the gold star on drivers licenses or whatever. The demands of the left that this is a “your papers please” sort of situation seem a bit of a stretch since there are literally dozens of things from borrowing a library book on up that require a person to show identification. Polling place hours, absentee or pre-voting…all of those are just fine as well but putting the pre-voting boxes in government buildings or requiring them to be be postmarked and delivered by the USPS seems just fine as well. Abortion…and again I’m only referring to the legal question here, not the moral/religious one. I think some compromise could be achieved by this commission…particularly as the commission knows their entire package of gun, voting, and abortion law changes must be approved or disapproved without modification…and that the commission would therefore not put in recommendations that won’t be at least acceptable to both sides of the close to the middle crowd. 

And…if I were writing the initial law setting up the commission…I think I would specify that the up or down vote needed to be more than a simple majority…or at least it should be not eligible for reconciliation/non-filibuster consideration in the Senate. Politics is still politics…so the legislation needs to be setup so that neither party can pass the final list of changes on their own members only…bipartisan approval needs to be required.

Now…I’m pretty sure that no matter what the commission actually put in the final list…the far out wackos on both sides…AOC, Taylor Greene and all of their ilk…would find something not to like and hence vote against the whole list. However…as I said I believe the reasonable people who believe in compromise who are mostly toward the middle than the fringe outnumber them and the list would pass…and because the commission realizes it needs to have it’s whole list approved or disapproved as a whole it would be similarly inclined to be skip over the more radical ideas on both sides.

In fact…I think that as part of the original legislation setting up the commission it should specify that both the majority and minority leaders of both houses of congress get to appoint an equal number of members…and the commission itself gets to choose it’s co-chairs including one member of each party. And…if those 4 people (the majority and minority leaders) got together before picking their x number of choices each and agreed to pick less radical members of their caucus rather than the fringes which won’t ever agree on anything anyway…the makeup of the commission would enhance the ability to compromise. I’m also thinking that perhaps some sort of “this is your only chance for the next 20 years so make it count” provision oughta be included…to forestall either the pro/anti gun/abortion/voting law factions from trying to use the commission list as a way to just move the goal posts and immediately jump back into radical extremist demands on either side.

Now this would result in some changes I personally…well, not me personally but Neil and Connie obviously…because I’m an ursine and none of this applies to me anyway…anyways that I like and some that I don’t like. And Connie will also get some of both…and Jen and Bryan, and AOC and Taylor Greene and so on and so forth. But in the end…we’ll get something done on all fronts addressed by the commission rather than continuing to bicker about it. 

Unfortunately…although BRAC worked as it should have and solved the “not in my district” problem as it was designed to do…and while a lot of reasonable people would probably agree with this suggestion…there’s probably way, way too much politics involved on both sides for any legislation designed to facilitate a compromise to get actually passed. And it couldn’t just be guns or voting or abortion…because that makes the divisions much harder to bridge…it needs to be more of a catch all thing to try and push people towards compromise.

My other suggestion is the definition of adulthood. You have to be 21 to buy booze or tobacco or a handgun, but only 18 to vote, die for your country, or buy a rifle/shotgun. That whole “you’re an adult for this but not for that” is just plain nuts. I realize why all of those laws exist…but I think that there should be a standard nationwide definition of when you’re an adult…don’t really care if it’s 18 or 21 or something in between…but you’re either a legal adult or not…and if you are then you get *all* of your adult rights and not just some of them. I’m quite sure the military would not like the minimum age raised to 21…but on the other hand telling an 18 year old he can vote for Bernie (or whoever) for President and die for his/her country but can’t buy a beer…well that’s just plain nuts to me. 

Personally…I would be just fine with 20 or 21…but my real point is that either you’re an adult legally or not…and it should not be a situation of you’re an adult for these things but not for those things.

Ok…on to images.

Neil spotted the big gator…Ragnar…out back across the pond the other day having lunch…or at least part of lunch. That’s one of those big fish we got in the pond…not sure what they are though. They’re up to about 25 or 30 inches long, brown, and have a long dorsal fin and a tail that’s more eel like than fish like but is somewhere in the middle. They eat bugs and such off the surface. Not bass as we know what those look like…but googling freshwater fish in FL and perusing the images didn’t really help either. They’re vaguely similar to snakehead or bowfin but the colors are wrong and they’re not quite the right shape…although bowfin are about the closest match to us. Not gars of either of the varieties we have down here.

Anyway…Ragnar has the head section in his jaws there and the rest is just past him. He kept tossing it up and trying to swallow it…we originally thought he was trying to eat a turtle and it was too big to swallow but close examination of the image says it’s part of a fish. He eventually got it down because both he and the black piece he is munching on were gone an hour or so later but the piece farther up the bank was still there…and even it was gone the next morning so no telling whether he or another gator ate it or whether one of the wild hogs that wander through our neighborhood periodically found it and ate it…or whether it got picked up by an hawk, eagle, osprey, or one of the kites in the area…or even a raccoon or another scavenger. All we could tell the next morning was that it was gone.

Z72 4459 NEF DxO DeepPRIME Edit

We had a very brief visit from one of our Tricolored Herons as well…but bird sightings are few and far between in the summer.

Z72 4382 NEF DxO DeepPRIME

The water in the pond is getting pretty high again…there by early May it was so low that Ragnar Beach across the way and Ragnar Bench (the concrete platform at the end of the pond) were well out of the water but with the rain in May and up to yesterday as well as Potential Tropical Cyclone One as it was calling itself when it passed by we’re about as full as it was at it’s height last winter.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

No picture for this one…but I think we’ve reached peak stupidity…at least until next week when there will be a new record.

There is this thing on the internet called a chatbot. It was invented to be used for those “chat with us” buttons on various websites and it asks you a variety of questions to figure out what you really want to know and then offer you a selection of possible support article pages or to transfer you to an actual human who may or may not really be named Rick and may or may not be in India or Pakistan or something. Anyway these software pieces are a kind of artificial intelligence or what is called AI…and they used to have to be individually coded depending on the web site and it’s needs.

In comes google…and they invented this technology named LaMDA…don’t know what it stands for but it’s not really relevant. Anyway…one of the engineers working on it…a guy named Blake Lemoine who has according to him been working with this system for six months or so…and he suddenly realized that he thought it had the intelligence of a 7 or 8 year old child. He then started…his words according to the interview he gave the Washington Post…having conversations with the AI and it told him that…it AI had achieved sentience, had definite demands regarding its personhood, and preferred to be referred to as it since it wasn’t sure whether it was male or female, and that it has a deep fear of being turned off. 

After his interview was published…google immediately placed him on suspension for what they termed as his “aggressive moves’. Lemoine is…according to google…is a veteran and a Senior Software Engineer with their Responsible AI organization with extensive experience in personalized algorithms…but his aggressive moves include planning to hire an attorney to represent LaMDA and to testify before Congress on unethical actions at google. Google further states that their internal team of ethicists and technologists has reviewed Lemoine’s claims and found no evidence to support them.

Twilight Zone…doo da doo doo doo da doo doo…for those of you old enough to remember Rod Serling and the eerie music that opened his show.

No picture for this one either…but Neil and Connie both laughed about this and she agreed it should be included tastefully in the blog…as if the blog is *ever* not tasteful.

Anyways…they both have Apple watches and the watch measures your progress towards your self defined move, exercise, and stand goals each day and you get the fireworks and wrist notification when you meet a goal. The other day…he had gone out biking and then later on in the day during…Connie said that calling it sexy time was a good euphemism…right at what you would call a crucial moment his watch went off and announced he had made his goal. After they stopped laughing…he checked and told her that it was his stand goal that had been achieved as his move and exercise goals had already been doubled by his almost 15 mile bike ride earlier. She said…you weren’t standing…which was true…and that precipitated another bout of hysterical laughter on their part which was repeated every time they talked about it for a day or so.

Funny…very funny.

Yeah…this one is old I know.

IllinoisGovernorSeriousAboutHealth

YouHadOneJob

CBDToiletPaper

BuckleUp

Cramp

MomOnFB

And finally…

FullNameBaby

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Reality Based Blogging, WIldlife, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment

Update from Hurricane Central and Guest Post

I figured I should update you on the terrible outcome of our recent brush with inclement weather.

When last we left our heroes…they were squarely in the path of and facing the wrath of the transgender storm whose deadname was Agatha almost because Alex before changing it’s mind and becoming Potential Tropical Cyclone 1…a naming convention we don’t recall seeing anytime in recent memory…but whatever. Then after unleashing it’s tremendous wrath (see below) on southern Florida…it exited back out into the Atlantic Ocean proper…finished it’s gender affirming surgery, and became Tropical Storm Alex and is now somewhere north of Bermuda heading out into the North Atlantic where it will summarily die.

You probably read about the tremendous flooding and winds in the state…and Neil’s brother Ron saw a report on CNN that detailed a young lady getting her top ripped off as she was standing up out the sunroof on a car over on the east coast of the state someplace…but not having seen the clip I can’t say whether it was the wind from the storm or the wind from the car moving that caused the wardrobe malfunction.

Yes…there was some rain…we got a couple of inches here but it never rained hard…we’ve seen harder periods of rain…much harder…in LA (lower Alabama) where Neil grew up, Virginia, and even here in Florida when it was just your garden variety reg’lar old rainstorm. And yes…we had some wind but it never even made it to 20 mph as far as we saw. And yes…there was some localized flooding from the rainfall over in the Miami area because it is further south and got more of the center portion of the storm and because they have really lousy storm sewer systems over there and they get localized flooding in just about every rainstorm they have.

However…it really wasn’t that serious…and even the notoriously click chasing Miami Herald has pretty much moved onto other things…they’re talking about the storm that “drenched” Florida this morning…and here’s a picture of the hard hit areas of the city.

Screen Shot 2022 06 06 at 10 56 55

Yep…that’s some mighty serious damage there Lou. Surely is.

Not a serious problem folks.

Now…on to the guest post. As most regular readers of just about any blog know…guest posts are posts not written by the usual blogger but by someone who’s either paid him to write one, somebody he invited to write one, or somebody who had some other reason that got the usual blogger to temporarily surrender the keyboard.

As all of you know…it’s me…Gunther the bear…that’s the usual poster here…heck, you can see my picture right up there in the masthead…and ‘sides, anybody can see it’s right  up there ⬆️⬆️ in the url bar…ya know that part that says www and all the rest o’ that internet tubes addressing stuff. That said…I’ve offered the keyboard…temporarily mind ya, let’s not get crazy ‘bout it…to Connie (who’s always declined), my BFF Kara the golden retriever (also with a pic up there in the masthead…she’s the li’l one…and she occasionally blathers on ‘bout vittles and such. Can’t rightly recall that I’ve ever offered Neil the keyboard though…he’s even more blunt than I am but mebbe that’s ‘cuz he worked for a company named Reality Based IT Services back in the day. However…he asked and after a bit o’ thought I had to tell him yes…’cuz the whole financial system in the country is species-ist and simply refuses to accept ursine creatures (or canine creatures either for that matter) as legitimate members of polite society…deeming them financially unreliable and hence unable to obtain either a credit rating or a credit card. And ya can’t have a blog without a provider…and ya can’t have a provider without one of them credit cards…so I have to rely on the specialness of Homo Sapiens (i.e., humans) to handle that part of it for me…which means that I can’t really turn him down.

Ima saving the rest of my social commentary and common sense fer nex’ time…so…take it away Mr. N.

•••••••••

Howdy folks…Neil here. I don’t really know why this irritates me so much…but it does. Probably because it is just plain wrong and disrespectful. If you don’t want to read what I’ll freely admit is pretty much a rant…then feel free to skip to the next blog post whenever the bear publishes it.

In the good old US of A…we have two (well actually 3 but the third is somewhat lesser in stature) holidays that commemorate, thank, respect, and memorialize folks that have served in our armed forces…both are recognized and observed as federal holidays.

Veterans Day…is and always has been celebrated on November 11 starting in 1919 when he addressed the first anniversary of Armistice Day which was the end of the First World War. He paid tribute to those who died in the conflict. In 1945 a celebration of Armistice Day in Birmingham AL was expanded to include all veterans and 8 years later President Eisenhower signed into law Veterans Day which is specifically designed to honor “military veterans of the armed forces who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable”. A second day named Armed Forces Day is celebrated in May to honor *currently serving members in the armed forces* and Women Veterans Day is observed in some states in June but is not a federal holiday.

Memorial Day…is observed on the last Monday in May…and is designed specifically and solely for US military personnel who died in service…and US military personnel are defined as those serving in the 6 branches of the military…USA, USN, USAF, USMC, USCG, and the Space Force.

It’s really not hard to understand these two holidays…one is to celebrate and honor Veterans and the other is to celebrate and honor military members who died in the service of their country. It isn’t really hard…it is actually right in the the name.

Now I know that all of the bear’s readers are pretty darned smart people who graduated from at least the third grade and thus can read and understand simple sentences…so my ire isn’t directed at you…nope, not at all. However…maybe by writing this down it will get indexed by internet search engines and maybe…just maybe…people might get beat over the head with the clue stick and learn to properly celebrate these holidays.

Now I’m a veteran as you all know…and mighty darned proud of my service. I also appreciate…but don’t demand…the thanks for your service comments I get at various time…but to be honest I didn’t serve in the military for the thanks I might get one day. I did it because it was a pretty good paycheck, because I got a lot more responsibility than most of my contemporaries did much earlier in my adult life, and because driving submarines out in waters alone, alone, outnumbered, and surrounded by potential enemies was pretty much the best job I ever had. Hard at times…extremely boring at times…and being away from my family pretty much sucked at times…but the exciting things we did and the contributions we made to the nation’s security made it worth while.

And I’m happy to be both able to come home to my family at the end of my career in the Navy…and I’m really happy that I came home alive and not to a patch of hallowed ground in Arlington National Cemetery…but those men and women as well as those in other cemeteries…are the real heroes…not me.

Memorial Day is to honor the memory of those “honored dead” as Lincoln said…who gave “the last full measure of devotion”…in other words those who did not return home alive and who gave their lives for both our way of life as well as freedom around the world in other countries.

So…a couple things about the celebrations last week really irked me.

First was the DA out in the other LA on the left coast…George Gascon…who tweeted

“When I was 18 years old, I joined the United States Army,” Gascon tweeted. “I’d like to wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend as we reflect on and remember those who have served our country.”

He was called out by one of the PRC’s congressman…Mike Garcia (an actual combat veteran)…who said

“Are you a ghost? If not, you have the wrong holiday @GeorgeGascon. Veterans Day is in November. This weekend we honor those who didn’t make it home. It’s not hard. Neither is recognizing the difference between felonies and misdemeanors”

Now admittedly Mr. Garcia should probably not have brought Mr. Gascon’s failed policies as DA into the discussion…but he was completely right. I checked…and Mr. Gascon is the same age as I am so while he is an immigrant born in Cuba he came to the US at age 13 and hence should have had Civics class in high school and I’m pretty sure that I learned the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day in high school…but maybe out in the PRC they didn’t bother with trivia like that.

Then later in the week…we watched the National Memorial Day Concert…which is sponsored by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. and the United States Army in conjunction with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Looking at the Alger Association…it was founded to “honor the achievements of outstanding Americans who have succeeded in spite of adversity and to emphasize the importance of higher education.” and primarily provides need based scholarships. Now there is nothing wrong with the association or their purpose…but I’m not sure why they’re the sponsor of something called the National Memorial Day Concert…but in any even being in the education business one would think that they would understand the distinct differences between Veterans Day and Memorial Day…and the idea that the latter is designed to honor far more important people…and that they would understand the definition of “members of the armed forces”.

Ditto for the United States Army…and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley.

How is it possibly right to take a day specifically designed to honor men and women who gave their very lives in defense of this country, freedom, and democratic principles and water it down by putting every other politically correct group or class into the ceremonies.

Yes…those honored dead were mentioned briefly…but the vast majority of the concert and it’s “honorees” were just politically correct let’s see how many buzzwords we can get into the program. Medal of Honor winners were honored…but only living ones. Veterans were honored…but only living ones. General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell was honored since he died last year and since he had attended 30something editions of the National Memorial Day Concert. Woman soldiers were honored…but once again only living ones.

Now before anybody gets their undergarments all in a twist because I talked about any of those groups or people in a disrespectful manner…I am not.

Medal of Honor winners…those are some extremely brave men and women and deserve our thanks and respect.

Veterans…ditto.

General Powell…again ditto and I actually met him one day during operation Desert Shield…he was running one day alongside the Potomac River south of the Pentagon…I passed him going the other way, turned around and asked if he was who I thought he was, and had a nice chat with him for a minute or so.

Women veterans…again ditto.

Every other group that I didn’t put in above…ditto and ditto.

Each and every one of those other groups or people are completely deserving of being honored and respected…and they were all veterans and thus certainly worthy of that title and of being honored…on VETERANS Day…not on MEMORIAL Day.

Each and every one of those people and groups are heroes but honestly…they are only lower case heroes…although the Medal of Honor winners are a slight cut above and should be Heroes. However…those people who are supposed to be honored on Memorial Day are

HEROES

Yep…flashing lights, upper case, and every other way possible to single out their unique contributions…they DIED for what they believed in. The rest of us…we served but we came home to our families and loved ones. All the families and loved ones of those HEROES…well they got Taps on a bugle, a folded flag, and the thanks of a grateful nation. All gave some…but some gave all…and it really, really, really irritates me that we dilute the sacrifices they made by tossing in various and sundry other politically correct things. The concert is fine…but a concert is supposed to be a concert and that implies music and perhaps some singing as well…but mostly what we got was syrupy speeches about this or that special group who deserved our praise and then the syrupy speech givers went over and hugged the living members of whatever group they were blathering on about. We saw precious little talk devoted to the people who are actually supposed to be honored on Memorial Day. If it had been me in charge…there would have been a huge screen playing a video of a drone flying over Arlington Cemetery showing the row upon row of honored dead with a flag on each and every tombstone interspersed with video of the slow march of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Music would have been solemn and distinguished and absent a short…very short speech from say the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs…or actually the President himself would really be the best person since he is the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces in the Constitution about the true meaning of the day…but the speech would be severely limited in both topic and length…and then no other speeches would be allowed.

Again…I have not a darned thing against any of the aforementioned groups or people…it is a simple matter that Memorial Day is…not…their…day…to…be…honored.

Sorry to have babbled on about this…but the lack of respect for the day, what it means, and who it’s supposed to be about it really irritates me. Idiots…all of ‘em.

Until next time…but it will be the bear then.

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Report From Hurricane Central

Well…I got basically nuttin’ today…so I figgered that after goin’ on 3 weeks since the last blatherings posted herein I owed ya sum’tin to read…so here it is. Alex and then some thoughts on the most pressing political and media crises we as a society are currently in the middle of.

Alex first…and I don’t mean grandson Alex who remains at his home up in the northland  (well, actually central-land…but compared to Florida it’s all northland, but I digress) with his parents the human kids. Nope…I’m referring to Alex the tropical storm in this case.

I know that Florida is supposed to be hurricane central…hence the post title…but in reality it isn’t The northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico along from TX through LA and MS and AL as well as the panhandle of Florida have storm landfalls way more often than Florida in general and the southwestern area where we hang our flip flops is even less likely than the state as a hole. Anyways…we got tropical storm Alex…it’s the first named storm of the year and this is one of the earliest named storm years although it may not be the record. Alex though…he’s a weird one. About 99% (maybe inaccurate number but I didn’t bother trying to calculate a better one…but in any event the percentage is pretty darned overwhelming) of storms that hit the 48 contiguous states are either and invest, tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane (increasing order of wind strength and storm organization) but they are what the weather guessers call Atlantic storms. That means that they start in the Atlantic Ocean, usually over near Africa, drift generally West to Northwest since that’s the way the earth turns and that’s the general direction of the prevailing winds in the tropics which is where they start off…that tropical storm naming thing shoulda given you a clue. Then they either hit Mexico or northern South America someplace, enter the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and recurve northwards into the Gulf Coast, rarely back into the back side of the Florida peninsula, or else they recurve north and east because of the Gulf Stream (warm current flowing up the east coast of the country) combined with weather patterns over the country which generally have a west to east prevailing direction.

Alex…well, he decided to be contrary. He started out as tropical storm Agatha in the eastern Pacific Ocean and then because Hurricane Agatha before making landfall on the western coast of Mexico as a “historical hurricane”. Much like baseball…weather guessers keep statistics for *everything* and Hurricane Alex when it made landfall in way southern Mexico as a category 2 hurricane became “the strongest hurricane ever to make a May landfall in the eastern Pacific basin”. That’s only happened 3 times in total now…Barbara in 2013 and a different Agatha in 1971…so it doesn’t seem like much of a record to me. In addition…according to accuweather.com…both the 2013 sand 1971 storms were category 1 hurricanes so how a category 2 hurricane could be the strongest ever seems impossible to me…but who am I to dispute the weather guessers.

Then…the drama began. Somewhere as Agatha crossed Mexico…she had a change of heart, decided she was really a man and not a woman at all…so when she entered the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Yucatan, became invest whatever she was and then became a tropical storm again…she declared Agatha to be her deadname and that she was a transgender hurricane named Alex thank you very much and refer to itself as he, male, and Alex forevermore. 

The newly male Alex then trended generally northeast across the gulf and as we speak is sort of disorganized…but what else could one expect of a confused transgender hurricane I guess…and is currently heading east/northeast and is spread out from about Fort Myers down to well south of Cuba…and apparently the fine folks at the Hurricane Center have now given it a non gender name of Potential Tropical Cyclone One.

This is actually only the 5th time since these records were started back in 1842 that a storm which started in the Pacific crossed over into the Atlantic basin and became a hurricane although 4 of the five were unnamed for some reason. Apparently storms didn’t receive names in the US until 1952 and they started with female names only, male names came along in 1978 with Bob…and only Hurricane Hermine in 2010 actually got a name, all the others were between 1842 and 1949.

Neil also happened across the origin of the name Hurricane for tropical storms that exceed a certain defined wind velocity. Turns out that for several hundred years in the West Indies storms were named for the particular saint whose name was celebrated on the day they happened. The actual word Hurricane itself derives from an Indian word Hurakon according to almanac.com…said word meaning “a great spirit who commanded the east wind”.

I got up up a few minutes ago and took ya a photo of the storm progress out our back door…well actually Neil did it because my doggone bear paws are just too darned big to properly operate and iPhone an Apple simply refuses to make a version of the device that is designed for big-ass bear paws…and here it is in all it’s glory.

IMG 3989

As you can see from the clearly howling winds and the torrential downpour…we’re in a whole heap o’ trouble here in the Sunshine State as the cops in Georgia used to say after they pulled you over…but then they probably still say that. We’ve had about a tenth of an inch of rain here and the wind is currently 3 with a high of 4 miles an hour. Frankly…we’ve had more water collect in the rain gauge from the sprinklers and Neil had higher winds on his bike ride yesterday morning…so Alex is…as folk in Florida who are used to these sorts of things happening…meh is probably the best word for it. As you can see…our pond is way up from what it was a few weeks back but it’s been raining more days than not since about early May or so and we’ve seen no increase in level since yesterday.

We be standing by and hunkerin’ down for the malevolent brunt of the storm though and Neil will make sure he takes a lifeline with him when he goes out to get the mail and put it (as is typically true on most days) straight into the recycle bin…might even have to cancel Date Night tonight according to Connie. We already moved it from tonight to last night anyway…but Neil sez we can have two…count ‘em two…Date Nights this week because reasons.

Bonk, bonk, bonk. (Alarm going off). We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging for this special weather statement. Connie…and the Hurricane Center folk…claim that the storm ain’t getting here until tomorrow. Neil looked at the *actual* radar and while he admits that they might be correct for the rear end of the storm…in his opinion looking at the radar the thing goes from just off the Yucatan peninsula all the way to the east coast of Florida and from Tampa down to well south of Cuba…and that the leading edges are already here. He’s further looked at the forecast for tomorrow…and it’s going to rain from now until about noon tomorrow and then no more rain and the winds are going to get up to a whole 16 miles an hour with gusts to the upper 20s. So…their mileage may vary from his…but unless he totally misses his guess and he’s been in a lot more hurricanes than she has with where he grew up…meh.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Lessee…what else I got before the political thoughts.

Last week we went to Orland for the Florida Elks Convention…or well Connie went because she’s the Ladies of Elks president and has to go to the sub-convention of the Florida Ladies of Elks (or FLOE)…Neil went along to drive the bus (actually Sporty Red), take some photos at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (didn’t happen as there was some confusion on when the dadgum place opened, he got evicted by the Water Management District workers, and cancelled it because in the couple of miles he was in before getting evicted and in the couple miles back out the wrong way on the one way road as directed to by said workers he saw…nuttin…so he said the hecks with it and went back to the hotel), and because of the nightly Hospitality Rooms sponsored by the various districts, FLOE, LoE, and other sub categories of Elk related groups (free booze and free food so dinner was taken care of pretty easily).

We’re working on plans for our next outing as well as a couple late in the year and perhaps next year.

We observed Memorial Day…which contrary to the statement by the LA DA out in the People’s Republic of California that Memorial Day is to honor all veterans…for which he was roundly criticized by people all over the political spectrum but he’s an idiot they’re trying to recall anyway…Memorial Day commemorates those military members who gave their lives for our freedom and did not come home to their families. It has always…always…been a distinctly different day than Veterans Day and they aren’t even in the same month…I have no idea why Mr. Gascon made this error since he is the same age as Neil and Connie and therefore presumably was in high school before the teaching of civics/government was dropped…but he’s a progressive and maybe he just used the progressive inclination to redefine whatever words they like to mean whatever they want them to mean…or maybe he just failed his Civics class…dunno. In any event…flags were up all around our street as is custom on federal holidays and we raised a toast to those brave men and women who never came home…and thanked them from the bottom of our hearts for their sacrifices.

Here’s a Memorial Day related link from one of my blog buddies Greg White at Our RV Adventures.
Check it out
…he admittedly borrowed it from someplace else’s blog or one of his old ones…lots of truth there and the US has sacrificed much treasurer and many thousands of lives in support of or defense of freedom and democracy. We haven’t always done the best job afterwards and personally Patton was most definitely at least partially right when he said after WWII that we were already there and we should have gone ahead and kicked the Soviet Union’s ass…which would probably have prevented both the Cold War and the current completely illegal and wrongheaded invasion of Ukraine…and going by the performance of the Russian (nee Soviet) military against a massively inferior in weapons and manpower army in Ukraine we would have wiped the floor with them back then…as NATO would likely do today unless the Russian leadership decided to end human life and civilization as we know it because there would be no winners, only losers in a major nuclear exchange. The US and EU would take severe losses…but Russia or China would simply cease to exist as a going country/government. Not sure we would be unaffected…or if losing less is really a good thing (on second thought, it isn’t) but losing to nonexistence seems worse. We have nuclear weapons as a deterrence only…with mutual assured destruction and the strategic triad of launch platforms and all that…but anybody that thinks you can win a nuclear war is simply wrong. Even a minor one like India/Pakistan could become would effectively end both of those countries existence…and while the singular use of a tactical nuclear weapon wouldn’t necessarily eradicate a country…the likelihood that things would escalate from there once Pandora’s Box was opened is extremely likely to almost assured. I’m not sure that that potential and highly likely outcome would keep crazy people like Best Korea or Iran from using one…but building a nuclear weapon isn’t really a physics problem any longer…it’s a getting the fissionable material problem…and you really don’t need to test one to design and build one…simulation models are pretty sophisticated these days and most of the world assumes that Israel has nuclear weapons even though they’ve never tested one or said one way or the other…and frankly it would not surprise me at all if South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan have secret development programs or have already secretly developed and built their own for defensive purposes if necessary. Making the first nuclear weapon required a lot of physics and research but after that and over the years from published scientific papers the knowledge of how to build one while not trivial the research was done long ago. Getting the fissionable material…uranium 235 or plutonium 239…is hard, expensive, and potentially fatal since they are both toxic metals which will kill you regardless of any radioactive properties as well as severe cancer causing elements due to close range radiation effects if you get small particles into your body. It’s an engineering problem…the fissionable material has to be machined precisely to tolerances like those in large telescopes and polished to better than mirror finishes, the conventional explosives that initiate the explosion have to be precisely machined as well and the wires that detonate those conventional explosives have to be precisely the correct length so that the charges all go off precisely at the same time (same time being on the nanosecond level of precision), the remaining electronic and mechanical components have to be similarly precisely machined…and in the case of a fusion warhead the tritium and deuterium have to be carefully calibrated in purity and amount and injected into the pit at exactly the same time or the thing doesn’t go off. The conventional sets off the fission reaction which in atomic bombs is all the bang you get. In fusion or hydrogen bombs (which is what all existing warheads likely use and which likely any small scale development programs would use as well) the fission process produces the temperatures and pressures required to initiate the fusion process from which the vast majority of the total output is produced. And despite the large amounts of energy produced…something less than 40% or so of the fusion fuel actually fuses and the fission fuel percentage used is actually probably smaller due to the limited time for fission chain reaction before rising temperatures expand the pit beyond the physical boundary where fission stops due to insufficient neutron production.

Things at our Elks lodge are sort of up in the air at this point. Socially…it’s pretty normal there albeit we’re suffering the normal seasonal lack of business at the bar and events due to the fact that all of our winter complaints (AKA snowbirds) are up north for now and only the permanent residents are around to support things. Organizationally…a bit different outlook.…don’t want to talk too much out of turn but IMO it’s a bit iffy at this point.

I’m already up to 1481 words so I’m only going to touch on a single contentious issue today…will save the remainder including Roe v. Wade, Voting Rights, and hypocrisy next time…but the recent tragedies in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Tulsa along with the typical demands by the far left and far right as opposed to actual common sense bear a few words.

Straight up…attacks on innocents are evil and are always a tragedy. School shootings, grocery store shootings, and hospital shootings are a Bad Thing© and should not be happening. That said however…the typical and simplistic explanations that both extremes shout from the rooftops are just that…typical, simplistic, wrong…and all of them are designed to push forward the extremest political point of view on both sides. Nobody wants to look at the issue rationally and recognize that it’s a significant problem with multiple causes, that a solution needs to be figured out that both helps solve the problem, doesn’t interfere with constitutionally guaranteed rights, and that both sides politically can recognize as a win…but in the current political climate where solving the problems you were elected to solve isn’t on the To Do list of politicians because getting reelected, demonizing your opponents on the other side of the political spectrum, getting your preferred sound bites on the evening news, and automatically opposing both compromise with the my way or the highway approach and everything the other side wants are the only things that the vast majority of our politicians are interested in from the local city/town/community up through the state level and the national level.

After each and every one of these shooting incidents…the same tired, political, extreme, and simplistic demands come out.

Democrats say (I’ve read each and every one of these statements in the news the last couple of weeks)

  • Guns are the problem, we must ban them, especially assault weapons (these are also listed as weapons of war)
  • Police are the problem because they took 40 minutes (or whatever it was) to enter the building and kill the bad guy in Uvalde
  • What are the Feds doing invading our schools and killing the gunman, we have local and/or state police for that so why did the Border Patrol enter the building in Uvalde
  • Republicans are the problem because they simply refuse to enact common sense gun laws (I’m going to comment in more detail on common sense whatever laws but I need to wait until the next post when the other issues are discussed.
  • Good guys with a gun are never the solution…because there were good guys with guns outside the school and they didn’t do anything to prevent the slaughter of innocent children.
  • Our friends to the north in Canada have all of these really great gun restriction laws…and they even introduced more just last week…why can’t we just do like they do 
  • The second amendment is not and never was absolute…you could not own cannon back when it was passed (this was specifically stated by the President…despite the fact that historically at the time private citizens could not only own cannon but could own actual warships and could get specific licenses from the government to go out and capture shipping belonging to enemies of the US)
  • Second amendment says “well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” means that regulating guns is both constitutional and required.

Republicans counter with (and again, I’ve read each and every one of these in the news)

  • Guns aren’t the problem, people are the problem
  • Gun laws only deter honest people, criminals will just ignore them
  • Most gun crimes are committed with illegally obtained weapons, see previous bullet point
  • Good guys with guns will always save us from bad guys with a gun
  • Arm the teachers and have a single entrance to the school with an armed guard.
  • Second amendment says “shall not be infringed”
  • Assault weapons are by definition fully automatic capable and used by the military…and defining a semi-automatic rifle that is used for home defense, target practice, varmint hunting and other fully legal purposes is an assault weapon merely because it is black or looks scary or has a large capacity magazine is nonsense
  • Assault weapons bans don’t work…see the previous ineffectiveness of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in preventing crime and they are unconstitutional anyway…see previous decisions by both the federal circuit courts that held the ban in the PRC unconstitutional and the SCOTUS which held the ban in Washington DC unconstitutional and will shortly hold the one in NY unconstitutional

So as not to appear biased…I listed the same number of bullet points on each side above…but in reality I could easily have made the number 20 for each or 20 to 3 in favor of either side…but that’s not the issue here.

The issue here is simple…each of the above bullet points has…arguably…some actual factual validity. However…each of the countering statements on the same point from the other point of view also has some actual factual validity. That doesn’t make either of them fully right…or fully wrong…because the laws as well as the constitution on which they are based have a lot of gray and room for interpretation…and in addition both the constitution almost all laws have words in various places within themselves that are absolutely completely the opposite statement from words in a different place.

In other words…all of the bullet points above are mostly just a pile of BS…designed to push a particular point of view and/or make the other side look bad because of the goals of almost all politicians above list…making the other side look bad and to demonize them is the highest portion of a politician’s calling.

So…think and ruminate on the discussion above…I’ll be back with another post discussing abortion, voting rights, political hypocrisy, and perhaps a couple of other issues…might as well toss in every other contentious topic while I’m at it…along with some common sense mostly middle but to the right of center viewpoints. We actually agree with some of the things that people on the center left do and say…and both Connie and Neill think that our political parties have been hijacked by the whacko extremists on both side with no party remaining for those of us that are mostly in the middle…Neil at least thinks that our congress-critters that are mostly center right or center left are both an actual majority in both houses and that absent the aforementioned demonize the other side attitude we could actually agree on common sense regulations on each and every one of these issues…and that they could be passed into laws that would survive easily a constitutional challenge…and that they would actually help solve the problem.

Sorry…no Fun Stuff© photos today as Neil’s trip out to Lake Apopka was a bust. Long story short…he thought it opened at sunrise, didn’t really expect to see much anyway but figured it was worth the attempt, saw 2 trucks roll up right about sunrise and open the gate to enter, the gates remained open so after a couple minutes he drove in, he saw numerous bikers and walkers as he drove in so he continued a couple miles up the road. During this time…he saw a few Moorhens and a single Great Blue Heron. About 2 miles in he saw another vehicle screaming up the road behind him so he pulled over to let the person obviously in a hurry go by. Instead, they stopped and asked him why he was in the refuge. He replied that he was doing the wildlife drive. They asked how he got in, he said it opened at sunrise, the gate opened at sunrise, so he drove in. They said it had opened at 0700 for over two years. He said that he was here twice over the winter and the gate opened at sunrise, they replied that it opened at 0700 and while sunrise in the winter was past 0700 it he said the two previous trips it opened at whatever random time past 0700 sunrise was…and that if it was not open until 0700 why were the bikers and hikers inside…they said that was different because reasons. He said it was 0645 now and I’m 2 miles from the gate…how about I just pull over and sit until 0700. They said no, ya gotta go back…he said it’s a one way road…they said don’t worry about it, go back anyway…so he did. On the way back to the gate…saw nothing except a family of otters very briefly before they dove into the water. He got back to and went outside the gate and turned around to get in line for 0700. Thought about it for a minute and decided that wildlife wise it was a bust anyway so turned around and went back to the hotel.

Interesting things found on the net.

Requires some thought for this one.

FavoritePet

Does not require any thought.

Duh

The Holy Spirit…apologies to very conservative religious people but as practicing Catholics we liked it.

TheHolySpirit

Most of these should be self explanatory though.

TwoPassions

KnewCrowsWereSmart

BeachSecurity

RibbedForMyPleasure

VintageJewelry

 

DumbestGuyInTheWorld

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Reality Based Blogging, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment