Heading out for the day

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Got onto the island late yesterday - unpacked at the condo and got a bite to eat in Bellingham before driving down.

Nothing much planned for today - putter around in the garage, retrieve some camera stuff from the storage locker and of course, starting it off with the usual coffee and post office routine.

I'll be paying some bills later today and then a meeting of the amateur radio group this evening. Think I'll make some more of the bacon and bean soup for dinner. That stuff is delish...

Forecast calls for rain and we still have that gale warning for later this afternoon.

That is it for me for today

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Done loading up the van. Also got the dumpster super full - it will be emptied tomorrow or Friday.

During the extended pre-Christmas power failure, my freezer thawed out so had to dump about 100 pounds of food. I was up a couple of times as I had a bunch of totes already packed but didn't stay the night. Five days without power.

Heading to Bellingham and then down to the island. Get a bite to eat on the way.

And here we go again - wind

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From the Washington Emergency Management Division twitter feed:

Going to be on the island then.

Crap - a third one

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There was another fatality on I-5. From The Bellingham Herald:

Pedestrian on I-5 struck and killed by semi driven by Deming man in Skagit County
A pedestrian on Interstate 5 was struck and killed by a semitruck driven by a 42-year-old Deming man in Skagit County north of Burlington Tuesday night.

According to the Washington State Patrol release on the incident, which occurred at approximately 7:16 p.m., the pedestrian was in the left lane of southbound I-5, just north of milepost 229.

There was one accident that I had to drive through on December 30th and another one about five days prior to that. I do hope that this was not suicide by truck - what a horrible thing for the driver to have to deal with for the rest of his life.

Just wonderful - cheap televisions

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One reason why they are so cheap - from Tech Dirt:

Vizio Admits Modern TV Sets Are Cheaper Because They're Spying On You
If you've shopped for a TV recently, you may have noticed that it's largely impossible to just buy a "dumb" TV set without all of the "smart" internals. More specifically, most TV vendors don't want to sell you a bare-bones set because they want you to use their streaming services. Even more specifically, they want you to buy their sets with their specific streaming functionality because they want to spy on you. Poorly.

That's always been fairly obvious to most folks, but it was nice to see Vizio CTO Bill Baxter acknowledge that the reason you pay a discount is because your viewing habits are being collected and sold to the highest bidder

Just wonderful - wonder if anyone has developed a Raspberry Pi utility that monitors and blocks this? Probably and probably very easy to set up.

Just looked: here, here, here and here for starters...

Heh - hoist with his own petard

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Fun times - from The Washington Examiner:

Pelosi only gives Trump a bigger audience by canceling State of the Union
It would be an excellent way to snub any other president, but by calling for President Trump to reschedule the State of the Union, Nancy Pelosi has only given him a bigger stage.

It is a remarkable unforced error.

Citing national security, and specifically the difficulties facing the Secret Service and Capitol Police amid the government shutdown, House Speaker Pelosi, D-Calif., is asking Trump either to select a later, post-shutdown date or to submit his comments on State of the Union in writing, which presidents used to do commonly before the television era. But no one should be fooled — the real concern here is that Trump is going to stand up in front of a gigantic audience and literally point the finger at congressional Democrats in the House chamber, blaming them for shutting down the government.

Pelosi has the power to stop Trump from walking into the House of Representatives and delivering a speech, but she can’t stop him from making his case for the border wall in prime time. Just consider the address he delivered from the Resolute Desk last week.

Trump talked for roughly eight minutes and 43.3 million tuned in to watch, according to the AP’s count. Compare that to Trump’s very first joint address to Congress, right after his election, which 48 million watched. No congressional podium last week, and arguably far less interest in the novelty of his presidency, yet Trump drew an audience nearly as large.

If Pelosi insists, then Trump can speak from the Oval Office again if he likes. He could even march down the National Mall and deliver the speech on Pelosi’s doorstep. There could be a band. There could be fireworks. No matter what venue he chooses, there will be an audience, and it will probably be bigger now, thanks to Pelosi.

Like I said, fun times. The State of the Union address is specified as such in our Constitution (Article II, Section 3, Clause 1) (Article II outlines the duties, powers and responsibilities of the President and the Executive Branch)

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient...

Nothing in there that says it has to be presented in the halls of Congress. Behind the Resolute Desk would be fine. He could hire out the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and invite 50,000 of his friends.

Infogalactic page for: "hoist with his own petard"

Fake News - the government shutdown

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Cliff Mass runs some numbers and looks at the government shutdown and weather forecasting:

Is the U.S. Government Shutdown Hurting Weather Model Accuracy?
My phone has been ringing from media asking whether the partial government shutdown is degrading the skill of the National Weather Service model, the GFS.

What is driving this interest? First, a number of media outlets, including the well-known Washington Post Capital Weather Gang, have made the claim of worsening U.S. forecasts (see examples below).

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These stories describe a situation in which important observations, the input data streams for numerical weather prediction, are not being used or are degraded because of changes in coding of data formats. As a result, the initialization (starting point) of U.S. global forecasts are degraded, lessening the skill of the predictions.

Our National Weather Service:

One of the first things I did was to check with some very well connected colleagues in NOAA and they confirmed these stories are nonsense. Yes, many NOAA/NWS employees are not working, but since the models are considering essential for national security some staff are working--monitoring the global forecast system doing whatever it takes to keep it working smoothly. Those NOAA/NWS staff are a dedicated lot!

And Cliff's conclusion:

I have looked at many other fields and the answer is the same: there is NO EVIDENCE that the initialization of the U.S. global model has been degraded as a result of the partial government shutdown.

In contrast, the predictions of the University of Washington regional prediction systems HAVE been hurt, because one of the important data streams we get from NOAA--the NOAA/NWS RAP model grids--has been cut off during the government closure. The shutdown is a disaster for weather prediction and weather research, but degradation of the U.S. global forecasts is really not an issue.

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Sure, some localized issues but the overall big picture? Just fine. That old FAKE NEWS again...

Back home now

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Quick surf while having lunch - great photo regarding Justice Ginsburg's health:

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Isn't that sweet - Senator McCain is saving her a seat.

Out for an hour or two

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Coffee, post office and then the store for a while. Spending tonight here and then back to the island for a Thursday meeting.

Progress is being made - Clinton

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Great news from Judicial Watch:

Federal Court Orders Discovery on Clinton Email, Benghazi Scandal: Top Obama-Clinton Officials, Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes to Respond to Judicial Watch Questions Under Oath
Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap — will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department’s objections to Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”)

Judicial Watch’s discovery will seek answers to:

    • Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;
    • whether the State Department’s efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and
    • whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

Discovery is scheduled to be completed within 120 days. The court will hold a post-discovery hearing to determine if Judicial Watch may also depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.

More at the site - this is wonderful news.To think that this harpy was once a legitimate candidate for the Office of The President of the United States. Makes me shudder to think about it.

About that cold weather

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Not seeing it here but it certainly hit the rest of the United States. Now, it is Europe's turn - from The London Daily Mail:

RED ALERT issued across Europe as heavy snow continues while a 16-year-old German-Australian boy is killed in an avalanche while skiing with his parents in Austria
Europe's snow chaos has deepened again with hundreds of people trapped after roads were buried by avalanches.

The highest red warnings are in place in Germany and Austria with up to six more feet of snow expected before the weekend.

At least 17 people have died amid the weather chaos including a 16-year-old German-Australian boy who was killed on a ski slope in Austria.

It is the jet stream - same as in the US:

Europe's cold weather is the result of the jet stream forcing cold air from the Arctic over the continent, but blocking it from the UK which has experienced mild conditions.

And, lest we forget, here is a headline from the UK Independent from Monday, March 20, 2000:

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Meanwhile, our sun is enjoying another day without sunspots:

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And that is it for the evening

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Early wakeup this morning and a long day tomorrow.

YouTube for a bit and then to bed.

A song for our times

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Tip of the hat to Vanderleun

YouTube channel for the performer: Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq

At the farm

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Stopped for a burger at Hal's Drive In in Sedro Wooley. Drive past there whenever I go from farm to island and finally stopped in tonight. Really good food. A pint of cider at the North Fork - would have stayed for two but there is a guy who comes in from time to time who talks in a really loud voice and just talks about himself. Would not be so bad if his life was not so crashingly boring. He comes into the store and has a very normal speaking voice - I guess he turns up the volume when he gets drunk.

Doing some packing from the equipment barn tomorrow - more totes of tools. Brought the camera up so will take photos of the big equipment if I get the time. Got a nice old South bend lathe, a higher end Grizzly mill (each with a lot of tooling) and a Delta contractors saw with the extended table. Downsizing on these three so selling the originals and buying smaller units.

On the road again - Maple Falls

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Got the van warming up - heading North for two days. Got a meeting down here on Thursday so just a short stay.

Yes, there really is a Maple Falls - a nice small waterfall but the trail to it is not maintained and is very steep and slippery. Usually, we send the curious to Nooksack Falls further up the road. Much more interesting to see.

Interesting times in England - Brexit

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Looks like PM Theresa May is having a spot of trouble. From The Beeb:

Brexit: Theresa May's deal is voted down in historic Commons defeat
Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal has been rejected by 230 votes - the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, which sets out the terms of Britain's exit from the EU on 29 March.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a vote of no confidence in the government, which could trigger a general election.

That is a wide margin. A bit more:

The defeat is a huge blow for Mrs May - who has spent more than two years hammering out a deal with the EU.

The plan was aimed at bringing about an orderly departure from the EU on 29 March, and setting up a 21-month transition period to negotiate a free trade deal.

In other words, she wanted to pass the bill before we knew what was in the bill. Shades of Obamacare. She wanted to placate the general public by saying: "Look - I support Brexit" while on the back-end, she wanted to cut deals with the elite bureaucrats in Brussels. BINO - Brexit In Name Only. Brexit Light.

First the fire, then the flood

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California is not having a good year. The lands denuded by the wildfires are now moving with no vegetation to hold the soil back. From the Los Angeles CBS affiliate:

Get Out: Deputies Go Door-To-Door To Evacuate Woolsey Fire Burn Area
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for several areas of Malibu and Ventura County hit hard by the Woolsey Fire that are now in danger of mudslides.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies went door-to-door Tuesday to tell residents they should get out before the next round of rain hits Southern California Tuesday. Heavy rainfall sent mud and debris into the lanes of Pacific Coast Highway, causing it to be closed for several hours.

Authorities are particularly concerned with areas near steep slopes or drainage areas.

If only they managed their infrastructure more carefully. But that would take away from all the billions being spent on welfare for illegals, the homeless, the bullet train, subsidizing alt.energy and electric cars. You know - the important stuff.

That Gillette video

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Boy did they get a reaction - just not what they were expecting. Gillette released a video that is 100% pure virtue signalling. You can watch it here if you want. As we can see, the overall reaction has not been kind:

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421K Thumbs Down as opposed to 129K Thumbs Up. More than three to one. That has got to hurt. The 115,670 Comments are a fun read - some weapons grade snark...

Supersize that - LHC

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The LHC is the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. It discovered the Higgs Boson and has pioneered basic particle physics for the last eighteen years. Now, they want to build a bigger one. From Motherboard:

CERN’s New Collider Design Is Four Times Larger Than the LHC
The 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson particle at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is widely considered to be one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in history. It validated a half-century of research about the basic building blocks of matter, and remains the crowning achievement of modern particle physics.

Now, CERN wants to follow up on the LHC’s smashing success with a super-sized structure called the Future Circular Collider (FCC). This next-generation particle accelerator would boast 10 times the observational power of the LHC and would stretch across 100 kilometers (62 miles), encircling the Swiss city of Geneva and much of the surrounding area.

CERN published its first conceptual design report for the FCC on Tuesday. The four-volume roadmap was developed over five years by 1,300 contributors based at 150 universities, according to a statement.

Very cool but we could have had it a long time ago - the history of the Superconducting Super Collider is a tragic one (here, here, here and here)

Got the cart finished - I love welding and working with metal in general.

Having a bowl of the soup and doing some paperwork and then heading to the farm.

Picked up some fresh dog bones yesterday so the pups are very happily crunching away downstairs.

Starting to cool off a bit but the air temp went from 28 to 54 in the span of three hours. Warm front moving in - rain forecast. The garage heater was wonderful - really took the morning's chill away. Was able to work in a sweatshirt and not get my jacket or sweater dirty.

An interesting post - plausible

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No confirmation that this is for real but it does sound plausible - from The Daily Caller:

I’M A SENIOR TRUMP OFFICIAL, AND I HOPE A LONG SHUTDOWN SMOKES OUT THE RESISTANCE
The Daily Caller is taking the rare step of publishing this anonymous op-ed at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose career would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here.

As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.

Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position — some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

Much more at the site - powerful stuff. Worth your time to read and I really hope that this is President Trump's plan.

C-c-c-c-c-c-cold

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Got down to 28 last night.

Got the new heater running in the garage - finish off a project there and then head up to Maple Falls for a few days.

An interesting book - Toxic Pearl

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Saw this on Cliff Mass' website:

An Important New Book Describes How the WA Shellfish Industry is Poisoning our Shoreline Environment
In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote a book, Silent Spring, that documented the profound harm of the pesticide DDT on the natural world. This book led to the of banning of DDT and energized the U.S. environment movement.

During the past week, an important new book has been published, one that may well join the ranks of Silent Spring. The book, Toxic Pearl, describes the poisoning of Washington State's shorelines by a politically connected and highly irresponsible shellfish industry. Toxic Pearl documents the spraying of herbicides and pesticides over State shorelines from Puget Sound to Willapa Bay, the careless spread of plastic pollution, and the physical destruction of shorelines areas by a shellfish industry more concerned with profit than the environment.

A lot more at the site - this will be big.

Crooked family - from The Washington Times:

Company co-founded by Nancy Pelosi's son charged with securities fraud
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged a company cofounded by Paul Pelosi Jr. with fraud on Wednesday after learning that two convicted criminals were running the business.

Paul Pelosi Jr., the son of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), was the president and chief operating officer of Natural Blue Resources Inc., an investment company he cofounded that focuses on “environmentally-friendly” ventures.

The SEC charged four individuals with fraud, including former New Mexico Gov. Toney Anaya, and suspended trading in the company’s stock. Pelosi owned over 10 million shares in the company in 2009.

The SEC said Wednesday the company was “secretly controlled” by James E. Cohen and Joseph Corazzi, both of whom had previous fraud convictions. Corazzi violated federal securities laws and was barred from acting as an officer or director of a public company. Cohen was previously incarcerated for financial fraud.

Cohen and Corazzi said they were “outside consultants,” but according to the SEC, they actually controlled Natural Blue’s business decisions “without disclosing their past brushes with the law to investors.” The pair made hundreds of thousands of dollars off the company.

Time to drain the swamp. I have zero problem with making money but it should be done legitimately - people should not be fleeced.

Pea Soup

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Woke up a few minutes ago and looked outside - thick fog. From the National Weather Service:

...DENSE FOG ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM PST TUESDAY...

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Dense Fog Advisory, which is in effect until 9 AM PST Tuesday.
* VISIBILITY...A quarter mile or less.
* TIMING...Through 9 AM Tuesday.
* IMPACTS...A reduction in visibility will make travel slower and potentially more difficult.

Heading out for coffee and breakfast in 20 minutes or so. Taking it very easy...

And it is off to YouTube

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Early day tomorrow.

Hard frost

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Lots of low-lying fog driving home tonight but very very clear skies so perfect conditions for black ice on the roads. Took the dogs out for a bit and the back deck is already covered with frost. Air temp is 34 - got up to 53 this afternoon. Do not know what the ground temp is (weather station down here is a cheap one - looking forward to moving the farm station down and getting it set up).

Going to be careful tomorrow when I go out for coffee...

The Great Undoing

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Really nice essay by Scott Johnson writing at PowerLine:

THE GREAT UNDOING CONTINUES
In his great undoing of the “accomplishments” of the Obama administration, President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the humiliating and destructive Iran nuclear deal. The deal funded a terrorist regime that remains at war with the United States and that continues to avow its dedication to our destruction. The Trump administration has also reimposed sanctions on the Iranian regime.

There was no bridge too far for Obama in seeking to align the United States with the mullahs of Iran. Michael Doran explained the “secret strategy” driving this policy. Whatever the explanation, Obama’s appeasement of Iran represented part of the “fundamental transformation” of the United States that he proclaimed in the days before the 2008 election. I am grateful for the intercession of President Trump and his national security team in its great undoing of Obama administration foreign policy.

Secretary Pompeo is in the Middle East. His trip has been obscured in the news by events at home. The great undoing continues.

Yesterday Pompeo gave a speech at the American University in Cairo. The speech was a sort of counterpart to Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo. Obama’s speech was a nauseating exercise in fake history, destructive diplomacy and strategic self-destruction. By contrast, Secretary Pompeo represents the voice of sanity. In substance he repudiated Obama’s speech and related strategic vision. Pompeo could not have been more blunt:

Remember: It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you.

He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology.

He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East.

He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, “a new beginning,” end of quote.

The results of these misjudgments have been dire.

In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid in asserting ourselves when the times – and our partners – demanded it.

We grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism, a debauched strain of the faith that seeks to upend every other form of worship or governance. ISIS drove to the outskirts of Baghdad as America hesitated. They raped and pillaged and murdered tens of thousands of innocents. They birthed a caliphate across Syria and Iraq and launched terror attacks that killed all across continents.

America’s reluctance, our reluctance, to wield our influence kept us silent as the people of Iran rose up against the mullahs in Tehran in the Green Revolution. The ayatollahs and their henchmen murdered, jailed, and intimidated freedom-loving Iranians, and they wrongly blamed America for this unrest when it was their own tyranny that had fueled it. Emboldened, the regime spread its cancerous influence to Yemen, to Iraq, to Syria, and still further into Lebanon.

Our penchant, America’s penchant, for wishful thinking led us to look the other way as Hizballah, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime, accumulated a massive arsenal of approximately 130,000 rockets and missiles. They stored and positioned these weapons in Lebanese towns and villages in flagrant violation of international law. That arsenal is aimed squarely at our ally Israel.

When Bashar Assad unleashed terror upon ordinary Syrians and barrel-bombed civilians with sarin gas, a true echo of Saddam Hussein’s gassing of the Kurdish people, we condemned his actions. But in our hesitation to wield power, we did nothing.

Much more at the site. President Obama's legacy is in tatters. What people will remember him for is just like Jimmy Carter gave us President Reagan, Obama gave us President Trump. Obama made enough people sick of his crap that the majority of Americans voted for the Orange Man. Pompeo is the right man for the job. Much better than J. F. Kerry and Hillary? Don't get me started...

And back home again

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Loaded up the van with some stuff (coolers, older lawnmower and tools) for the sale at the condo and drove to Bellingham. On the island tonight and heading up to Maple Falls tomorrow.

Coming back down, the light was gorgeous so I hit the back roads and took my time driving back. Got two out of three tonight - great light, the geese were in a perfect position but they were just feeding - they were not flying around looking for a place to settle even though it was the proper time of day. Shot some footage anyway and will be processing this through DaVinci Resolve in the next day or two. I am really really liking this software - I will go into more detail in a later post but it really speaks to my workflow and there are some things under the hood that make me smile big-time.

Got a bite to eat on the road, skipped the pints at the local as I want to get an early start tomorrow. Finish the stand for the oven and then get to MF while I still have light to pack.

Not surprising at all - from the Merced Sun-Star:

PG&E calls bankruptcy ‘only viable option’ in California wildfire crisis
Overwhelmed by billions of dollars in claims from the Camp Fire and the 2017 wildfires of Northern California, PG&E said Monday it plans to file for bankruptcy, but insisted it will not go out of business.

The embattled utility gave 15-day notice of its intent to file for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, as required by a state law enacted last fall to deal with utility fire liabilities. The company made the announcement less than 12 hours after announcing the resignation of its CEO, Geisha Williams.

“We believe a court-supervised process under Chapter 11 will best enable PG&E to resolve its potential liabilities in an orderly, fair and expeditious fashion,” said interim CEO John R. Simon in a prepared statement. He pledged to “continue providing our customers with safe service and investing in our systems and infrastructure.” Simon had been the utility’s general counsel.

Sounds like a well-run utility - not just the fires:

The first tangible financial impact of PG&E’s troubles will come Tuesday, when the company plans to skip a $21.6 million bond payment that’s due, according to the SEC filing. The bonds are unrelated to the wildfire crisis.

The company is facing other pressures, including a federal judge’s threat to order PG&E to inspect its entire electric grid.

I feel sorry for the poor bond holders - they are going to get screwed out of their savings.

And that is it for tonight

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YouTube and then bed. The project in the garage needs another five hours to finish (a stand for my heat-treat oven) plus doing some organization.

Rethinking Vitamin D

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Not surprised but very interesting. From Outside Magazine (which publishes solid science articles - I like them)

Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?
These are dark days for supplements. Although they are a $30-plus billion market in the United States alone, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotene, glucosamine, chondroitin, and fish oil have now flopped in study after study.

If there was one supplement that seemed sure to survive the rigorous tests, it was vitamin D. People with low levels of vitamin D in their blood have significantly higher rates of virtually every disease and disorder you can think of: cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, heart attack, stroke, depression, cognitive impairment, autoimmune conditions, and more. The vitamin is required for calcium absorption and is thus essential for bone health, but as evidence mounted that lower levels of vitamin D were associated with so many diseases, health experts began suspecting that it was involved in many other biological processes as well.

A bit more:

Yet vitamin D supplementation has failed spectacularly in clinical trials. Five years ago, researchers were already warning that it showed zero benefit, and the evidence has only grown stronger. In November, one of the largest and most rigorous trials of the vitamin ever conducted—in which 25,871 participants received high doses for five years—found no impact on cancer, heart disease, or stroke.

A bit more:

These rebels argue that what made the people with high vitamin D levels so healthy was not the vitamin itself. That was just a marker. Their vitamin D levels were high because they were getting plenty of exposure to the thing that was really responsible for their good health—that big orange ball shining down from above.

A bit more:

It was already well established that rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and overall mortality all rise the farther you get from the sunny equator, and they all rise in the darker months. Weller put two and two together and had what he calls his “eureka moment”: Could exposing skin to sunlight lower blood pressure?

Sure enough, when he exposed volunteers to the equivalent of 30 minutes of summer sunlight without sunscreen, their nitric oxide levels went up and their blood pressure went down. Because of its connection to heart disease and strokes, blood pressure is the leading cause of premature death and disease in the world, and the reduction was of a magnitude large enough to prevent millions of deaths on a global level.

And a really interesting study:

Still, Weller kept finding evidence that didn’t fit the official story. Some of the best came from Pelle Lindqvist, a senior research fellow in obstetrics and gynecology at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, home of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Lindqvist tracked the sunbathing habits of nearly 30,000 women in Sweden over 20 years. Originally, he was studying blood clots, which he found occurred less frequently in women who spent more time in the sun—and less frequently during the summer. Lindqvist looked at diabetes next. Sure enough, the sun worshippers had much lower rates. Melanoma? True, the sun worshippers had a higher incidence of it—but they were eight times less likely to die from it.

So Lindqvist decided to look at overall mortality rates, and the results were shocking. Over the 20 years of the study, sun avoiders were twice as likely to die as sun worshippers.

A bit more:

Meanwhile, that big picture just keeps getting more interesting. Vitamin D now looks like the tip of the solar iceberg. Sunlight triggers the release of a number of other important compounds in the body, not only nitric oxide but also serotonin and endorphins. It reduces the risk of prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. It improves circadian rhythms. It reduces inflammation and dampens autoimmune responses. It improves virtually every mental condition you can think of. And it’s free.

This is a fairly long article - I have been excerpting small chunks. It is well worth reading in full if you are concerned for your health and longevity. Fascinating stuff. Been taking modest Vitamin D supplements for years. Think I will stop now. Already spend a lot of time outdoors without wearing sunscreen so I am fine there.

And I am back

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The soup was fantastic - made enough for another 3-4 servings. Taking it up with me to Maple Falls Tuesday.

Went out to a different local for a couple pints - had a fun discussion with a guy in his early 30's about the environment and nuclear power specifically. He did not know about the newer liquid salt reactors - I may have a convert...

The Government Shutdown

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Heh - found this on the web:

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USA Today is reporting on some polling numbers:

Americans blame shutdown on Trump over Democrats by wide margin, poll finds
By a wide margin, Americans blame the longest government shutdown in U.S. history on President Donald Trump, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Sunday.

The partial shutdown affects about a quarter of the U.S. government and approximately 800,000 federal workers. Now in its fourth week, the shutdown is the result of an impasse between the president and congressional Democrats over funding for a border wall, which Trump promised during the 2016 campaign.

Sounds pretty bad but this is just rhetoric (or narrative). Let's look at the numbers cited in this news article:

When asked, "Who do you think is mainly responsible for this situation?" 53 percent of Americans told pollsters they blamed Trump and congressional Republicans.

Since when is three points a "wide margin"? Most people don't read beyond the headline and the first paragraph or two. If they did, they would get a completely different story. Buried at the very end of the article is this little gem:

The poll of 788 Americans was conducted Jan. 8-11 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. 

So the margin of error in the poll was larger than the 3% result. That is in the category of statistical noise. There is no clear answer when your error is larger than your result. USA Today is guilty of biased reporting. They are setting themselves up to be a source of accurate news and they are not doing their job.

Well that was a bust

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A fun wild goose chase but a bust. There were lots of them in one field but this field was not lined up with the sun the way I wanted. The light was coming in from the side and I want it to come in from the rear so I get the best contrast against the darkening sky.

Oh well - the video is out there, I just have not gotten it yet. A quest if you will.

And it was a gorgeous drive through some very pretty farmlands. The Skagit Valley is a delight.

Time for some dinner...

Heading out - wild goose chase

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Breakfast was good - nothing better than scrambled eggs, bacon and hash brown potatoes. Nice to have some ballast in your belly for a day's work.

Spent the afternoon doing two loads of laundry, working on some stuff in the garage and cleaning up the kitchen area a bit.

Swung by the store and picked up the ingredients for a mirepoix  for tonight's soup. Got that all sauteed and the meat browned and stock and barley in. Should be ready in 90 minutes.

The light is turning out gorgeous so heading out with the video camera hopefully to get some snow geese flying as they settle in for the night.

Out for a little while

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Cofee, post office, breakfast and then back home to do a project.

Nice weather today so will head out later for a wild goose chase if the light looks good.

Beef barley soup for dinner tonight.

Must be nice to live off the taxpayer's dime like this - from The Washington Examiner:

30 Democrats in Puerto Rico with 109 lobbyists for weekend despite shutdown
Some 30 Democratic lawmakers left the government shutdown behind Friday on a chartered flight to Puerto Rico for a winter retreat with 109 lobbyists and corporate executives during which they planned to see the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” and attend three parties including one with the show’s cast.

More:

Some 109 lobbyists and corporate executives are named in the memo, a rate of 3.6 lobbyists for every member. They include those from several big K Street firms, R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association. 

And of course, no mention of who made the trip. Must be nice...

North Korea - progress

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I had written on the 8th of this month that Kim Jong-Un was making a surprise visit to China at the same time that a US envoy was there to discuss trades and tariffs. Today, from The Korea Times:

Kim Jong-un committed to denuclearization, 2nd US summit: Chinese media
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reaffirmed his commitment to the denuclearization and vowed efforts to produce good results from his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese state media said Thursday.

Kim made the pledge during his summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Tuesday, according to Xinhua News Agency. Kim was in China for a four-day trip, his fourth visit to the neighboring ally in about 10 months.

"The DPRK will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation, and make efforts for the second summit between DPRK and U.S. leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community," Xinhua quoted Kim as saying during talks with Xi.

And the old carrot and stick:

Kim's trip to China, which was made at the invitation of Beijing, came amid speculation that a second summit between the North's leader and U.S. President Donald Trump is imminent.

Pyongyang and Washington have been locked in a stalemate over how to carry out the agreements they reached in their first-ever summit in June, at which Kim promised to work toward complete denuclearization in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.

Progress has been slow ever since as the North wants sanctions relief, while the U.S. remains firm that sanctions will remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons program.

Emphasis mine. Obama would have sent John Kerry over there to "negotiate" from a "strong position" and "send a strongly worded message" and things would be same as it ever was. The Norks would keep their nukes and we would roll back the sanctions "in good faith". President Trump understands the reality and is keeping the pressure up until they completely denuclearize. Kerry is this generation's Neville Chamberlain.

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