Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pirates, Produce, Politics, Planets, Protection, Propulsion. Pekingese, and Pickers.

Pirate Town

Toy pirates
Eyl has become a town tailor-made for pirates - and their hostages.
Special restaurants have even been set up to prepare food for the crews of the hijacked ships.
As the pirates want ransom payments, they try to look after their hostages.
The coastal region of Puntland is booming.
Fancy houses are being built, expensive cars are being bought - all of this in a country that has not had a functioning central government for nearly 20 years.
Observers say pirates made about $30m from ransom payments last year - far more than the annual budget of Puntland, which is about $20m.

Yo Ho Ho

Somali pirate

The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition said in an interview Tuesday that they had no idea the ship was carrying arms when they seized it on the high seas.

“We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”

Seed Storage Vault

With global warming looming, Mother Nature could sure use a backup plan—a secure place to store copies of her crops and other plants. Now, thanks to the government of Norway, she has one. Dug into a permafrost mountain, the massive Svalbard Global Seed Vault began collecting seeds in February. So far it has 268,000 unique samples, with a capacity for 4.3 million more.

The future of food deep inside Norwegian island
Although about 1,400 seed banks exist worldwide, this one, in Norway’s Svalbard islands, dwarfs them all and aims to safeguard duplicates of the seeds. Stored seeds are frequently lost because of natural disasters, war and warm temperatures, so Svalbard was built to withstand these challenges. The facility is remote, located 1,000 kilometers beyond mainland Norway’s northernmost tip.

Svalbard wasn’t built because the end is nigh but to enhance the earth’s sustainability. “We’re scientists,” says Fowler, an American. “We’ve really just had it up to here with losing crop diversity.”

The 700 Billion dollar flim flam

(This letter was sent to Congress on Wed Sept 24 2008 regarding the Treasury plan.)
To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers' expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.
The letter was signed by 100 credited economists.

Remember when the republicans laughed at Obama for suggesting we check our tire pressure to save on oil?

Proper pressure can save billions of gallons.
Studies show that the majority of drivers rarely if ever check to see if their tires are properly inflated and usually only add air when a tire is visibly low or beginning to go flat. A recent study by the European division of tire maker Bridgestone found that 93.5 percent of cars in Europe have under-inflated tires, wasting some 2.14 billion gallons of high-priced, polluting fuel every year. Analysts believe that a similar percentage of North Americans are driving around on under-inflated tires as well.

"Don't atheists need a God to not believe in?"
Happy Phil

Happy Phil in research and read it mode.

On September 19, 2008, the McCain campaign released an ad critical of Obama which attempted to link him to Fannie Mae. My research shows this to be untrue.

I would think that the McCain campaign wouldn't want people to be reminded that he, McCain, was one of the Keating 5. (Senators that were investigated as part of the Enron debacle.) But with this fraudulent attack on Obama, it is sure to surface.

Hunters Moon this Month

Oct. 14, 4:02 p.m. EDT — Full Hunters' Moon.

With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt.

The harvested fields are the perfect place to hunt up a main course for
a fall banquet. As the animals come out to glean, they are easy to see.

One of my favorite constellations is visible from now until next summer,
Orion, the hunter. Orion appears to travel across the night sky
from east to west. Things are looking up when you see Orion.

When Planets Collide

Dr. George Rieke says our moon is unique -- formed by a massive collision in space. "There was another planet about the size of Mars that was on a disastrous orbit across the Earth's orbit and so the Earth and this other planet ran into each other," he says.

It happened 30 to 50 million years after the formation of the sun. "It was a huge collision that threw dust and debris out into space and some of that material somehow reassembled and orbited around the Earth and eventually built up a moon," Dr. Rieke explained.

Windows Users Beware


Many of my friends have windows on their computer. It's bad enough having such a clunky, buggy operating system, but users are under constant attack from malware.

One of the latest is a pop up warning about a security problem. Do Not Click On It! Don't click on any close buttons you see in the window.

Even the red X to close could start the malware download! Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, most rootkits, spyware, dishonest adware, crimeware and other malicious and unwanted software.(Wikipedia)

The simple and safest thing to do is press control/alt/delete. This will give you a list of programs to close. Close the one you are in and move on.

Human Powered Car

Row-row-row your car, "Yabba Dabba Doo".

When powered by four people rowing, the car will go about as fast as the 'drivers' would on bicycles, on average.

For hillier locales or higher speeds, there's electric assist motors and regenerative brakes.

I can see the headlines now...

Carjackers Exhausted After Half Mile low Speed Chase.

Hitch hiker Sues Car Owner for Making Him Row.

The Adventures of Bat Girl

"Stopped into a church, I passed along the way."

Bat meets 4 pound Imperial Pekingese

"Stay tuned for my next exciting installment."

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
Chet Atkins, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Mark O'Connor, and Rob Wasserman
The Birth of The Blues

Smiling Is Contagious

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sometimes You Win

I am Ready For Some Football,
It's too bad the 49ers Aren't.

Bedding for those who get tired of the 49'ers losing.

Pirates Again!

Pirates in these little boats hijacked the MV Faina?

U.S. officials said the ship reported being surrounded by three small boats of pirates while sailing 250 miles off the coast of Somalia.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, said they are urging all commercial shippers to carry security personnel on their decks when sailing near Somalia.

Earlier this week, a U.S. Navy warship fired warning shots at a small boat that got too close to it, fearing a possible attack.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian ship seized by pirates has been released, and a Japanese ship was released after a $2 million ransom was paid.

In addition, a Greek ship was seized by pirates Friday.

The Adventures of Bat Girl

Bat Girl stops for a break in Ohio 9/28/08
Bat says, "It's chilly willy here."

"Stay tuned for my next exciting installment."

Here In Redding

Watching temperatures fall as we near October. 9/28/08

I have a lot of appreciation and respect for this wonderful life that God has given me.
I am in a life-form that doesn't have to worry about getting eaten or chopped down by predators. I can fill my senses with wonder and understanding. I can show respect for all of God's creations and know our relative positions in the universe. I can give and receive love, unconditionally. I am blessed.
I am happy.
I am able to express my joy through song.

I went to the monthly board meeting of the Alano club today. I am the Liaison Person on the board. I had the opportunity to pitch an idea that my friend, Mike, suggested. An event called, "Creative Expression Night", where members can read a poem, sing a song, tell a story, do a dance, or otherwise express themselves on stage with a microphone and audience.

I like the concept because a lot of people don't realize that they don't have to give up God given talents in sobriety. I believe it would actually be helpful to some peoples recovery to have a forum for their creative expression.

No one objected to my making up a few flyer's and a sign-up sheet to see if there would be enough interested parties to schedule "Creative Expression Night." I am thinking of a simple stage set to give the impression of an old coffee house. (I had completely forgotten that set design was one of my talents in college.)

First we'll see if there are enough people that would like to express themselves.

Pirates Uncover Illegal Arms Shipment

Investigator Phil
The Somalian pirate story is getting interesting.
Here is the latest...

NAIROBI, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Controversy is looming over seized Ukrainian vessel carrying military equipment with fresh reports indicating that the arsenal was destined for south Sudan and not the Kenyan military.

Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program said on Sunday the Somali pirates claim to be in possession of confidential documents showing that the arms were actually destined for southern Sudan and not Kenya.

Mwangura said that the hijacked ship-MV Faina was ferrying the fourth such consignment from Ukrainian to southern Sudan.

There seems to be more to this latest increase of pirate activity off the coast of Africa than meets the eye. The picture of the three little boats used to hijack that great big ship filled with tanks, mortars, rocket launchers, assault rifles, grenades and ammunition, was taken from the deck of a U.S. patrol boat, yet they did nothing to stop the hijacking. The hijacked ship had enough armament to blow a whole fleet of pirates out of the water.

Something smells fishy. I will keep gathering information and keep you posted.

Space Travel For The Rest Of Us

View from the SpaceX rocket

SpaceX has made history.

Their privately-developed rocket has made it into space!

After three failed launches, the company founded by Elon Musk worked all of the bugs out of their Falcon 1 launch vehicles.

Eight minutes after leaving the ground, Falcon 1 reached a speed of 5200 meters per second and passed above the International Space Station. In the coming years, his company will try to make space transportation ten times cheaper and more reliable.

Elon Musk is also developing a mainstream electric car company.

"Did someone say pirates?"
Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
Nothing Left To Lose-The Alan Parsons Project

Appreciation and Respect

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Like the Temperature, What Goes Up, Must Come Down

An Uncontested Beautiful Day

A beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 9/27/08

Great Place For Chinese Take Out

Chinese Astronauts Complete Flag-Pass Maneuver

Fellow astronaut Liu Boming emerged briefly from the capsule to hand Zhai the Chinese flag.

Zhigang cracked open a Fortune cookie and read the fortune as he floated out of the orbiter module's hatch.

It said, "You will take a long and eventful journey."
Zhai returned to the interior of his capsule and closed the hatch after less than 20 minutes outside.

An hour later, he was hungry.

Okay, maybe it didn't go exactly like that. They probably have a different sense of humor than mine.

Paul Newman Made it to 83

Paul Newman playing clown for charity.
"I'd like to be remembered as a guy who tried — tried to be part of his times, tried to help people communicate with one another, tried to find some decency in his own life, tried to extend himself as a human being. Someone who isn't complacent, who doesn't cop out."
Paul Newman

The $700 Billion Dollar Flim Flam

Statues of Founding Fathers nearly explode in indignation
while listening to sales pitch for $700B Bail Out.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hopes to have an agreement in principle by late Sunday.

This is how the crisis happened;

Although America’s housing collapse is often cited as having caused the crisis, the system was vulnerable because of intricate financial contracts known as credit derivatives, which insure debt holders against default.

They are fashioned privately and beyond the ken of regulators — sometimes even beyond the understanding of executives peddling them.

Originally intended to diminish risk and spread prosperity, these inventions instead magnified the impact of bad mortgages like the ones that felled Bear Stearns and Lehman and now threaten the entire economy.

Now these same greedy financiers want to grab more money, even though their failed schemes have already made them obscenely wealthy.

Don't people remember how they got screwed with the Savings and Loan Bailout?

The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around $160.1 billion, about $124.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.

One of the Keating Five crooks
The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989.

The Adventures of Bat Girl

Bat Girl at Pennsylvania Rest Stop 9/27/08

"Stay tuned for my next exciting installment."
News From Houston

I received e-mails from two of my nephews, who assure me that all is well, and they are helping to restore order at my sisters Houston home.

Bryan, the oldest, said they would be going down to check on the beach house damage, tomorrow, and that he would send pictures.

He writes that it is a "Look and Leave" kind of deal, and that they will be going early, (4:30 AM), in the morning to avoid the crowds.

Space Trash Headed for South Pacific

Space Dumpster to Fall on "Paradise" Monday

Scientists have earmarked a remote area of the South Pacific where bits of Europe's massive space freighter may crash when the orbiting craft is destroyed in a suicide plunge on Monday, an official said on Friday.
The ATV was filled up with the ISS's trash before detaching on Sept. 6.

Picture of a dump-site

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
From the movie South Pacific-Happy Talk

Heaven means to be one with God.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Space stuff and Cake in a Teacup

New Day

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.
- B. F. Skinner

Chinese rocket heads for space 9/25/08
JIUQUAN, China - China successfully launched a three-man crew into space Thursday to carry out the country's first spacewalk, beginning the nation's most challenging space mission since it first sent a person into space in 2003.
The astronauts will have a choice of nearly 80 foods, including spicy kung pao chicken cooked with a "new method," nutritionist Chen Bin told the Xinhua News Agency. (I guess that's what you call, "Take Out")

Outer Space Litters Earth

From molecules to Meteors, stuff falls on Earth from Space.
Tons, perhaps tens of tons, of carbon molecules in dust particles and meteorites fall on Earth daily.
These molecules, called quinones, received considerable attention by the astrobiology community because they are common to all life forms. They are potentially significant for the “origin of life” or the habitability of planets. How does a planet become habitable?
Molecules from space helped to make the Earth the pleasant place that it is today.
“We now understand why these life-like carbon compounds are raining down on the Earth and other planets. Knowing this will help us search for life on other worlds by distinguishing these molecules from biomarkers,” said astrobiologist Bernstein.
I guess Chicken Little was right!
The next article makes me feel so secure...

Bomb squad explode hotdogs

after terror threat

hot dog
Cops Use New Method To Plump Up

Hot Dogs

A pack of hotdogs posed such a threat at a stadium in Philadelphia that the whole building had to be evacuated.

Fans enjoying the match at the Citizens Bank Park had to be rushed out during the game when several suspicious packages wrapped tightly in duct tape were found outside of the buildings ticket office.

A bomb squad was called and discovered that the boxes were full of hotdogs.

However, officials didn't want to take any chances, and the hotdogs were detonated.

The Adventures of Bat Girl

(Somewhere in New England)

Bat Girl looks for "pup fish" in stream. 9/25/08

"Stay tuned for my next exciting installment."

Bamboo Bicycle Answers Need
For Green Products

Craig Calfee's Bamboo Bike Frame

According to Calfee, bamboo is an ideal material for bicycles: It's stronger and lighter than most metals, but absorbs road vibration much better.

"It's tougher than metal," he said. "It takes impact very well."

Calfee showed off one of his creations -- a gorgeous bicycle with a bamboo frame with carbon fiber and titanium components.

The bamboo frame tubes are held together with lugs made from a hemp epoxy composite.

Truly a green machine
Speaking of green,
I got a free bag of salad mix Wednesday.

Sandi shows big bag 'o salad mix 9/25/08

I guess I have enough lettuce for a couple of days.
Later, Sandi and her husband, Stuart, came to LuLu's to see me play at the Shasta Blues Society Thursday Night Jam.

That's me on the left and Stu and Sandi on the right.

Washington Mutual Inc was closed by the U.S. government in by far the largest failure of a U.S. bank, and its banking assets were sold to JPMorgan Chase & Co for $1.9 billion.

This is interesting. I don't have a bank account because I felt that WaMu tricked me when they charged fees of about $1,000 on $75 worth of purchases. I refused to pay. I found out that they did the same to thousands of their customers. Could it have been "excessive greed" that put them out of business?

The guy in the picture doesn't look very happy.

Somebody Please Try This
and Let Me Know if it Works.


1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons flour(that's plain flour, not self-raising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips(optional)
a small splash of vanilla essence

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well
Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the
chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla essence, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
Jambalaya-Hank Williams

Harmonious Outlook

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

News from Houston, Ship, Bridge, Art, Pirates,and more.

News From My Sister

I got a note from my sister today. She is fine, and in her Houston house, where she writes that water has been restored.

Picture of Sue's house from Google Maps street view.

She writes, "My Houston house is fine. Trees+ fences down + a tree fell on my storage house... I am still without power so am really limited as to what I can do or eat." She uses her car to keep her cell phone charged, but service is still spotty.

Her Houston neighbors houses suffered extensive damage, and she is helping them as much as she can.

No power means no A/C, and in Houston, that makes life a bit sticky. She says it has cooled down some, but she cant open her windows at night because of the looters.
Streetlights are out and there is a curfew.

Her children and grandchildren have been helping to clean up the yard, and her neighbors yards as well.

As for Crystal Beach, she writes;
"Poof! No more beach house! How many people do you know that has lost (TOTALLY) 2 houses in 4 years??" (Her Houston house burned down 4 years ago.) "Lady Luck I'm not!"

Crystal Beach, where Sue's beach house used to be.
I found this picture on the internet, taken September 16th.
According to my sister, the Bolivar peninsula is currently a no fly zone, as they are still finding dead bodies of people, who foolishly, "Stayed to ride it out." She wrote that one of her Crystal Beach neighbors found out, that, although Sue's house was blown away, her neighbors house was one of the few still standing. Unfortunately, the damage was so bad that the house is a "tear down".
Looters are not much of a problem there yet, the road into Crystal Beach is impassable.
Here in Redding

LMP Trio perform at Rosie the Riveter museum site
Marian, (piano player, above), called me Sunday to let me know our latest CD, (Ain't She Sweet), was going like hotcakes, and I should make a bunch more. This is the 14th CD that we have produced to help the Richmond Museum of History. The donations we receive for the CD's go toward the restoration of the Red Oak Victory.

Red Oak Victory at Terminal 1, Richmond, CA

Red Oak Victory, now at Rosie the Riveter Museum

Recently, Marian visited the ship. She said the hold had been transformed into a ballroom and meeting hall, and that it looked very nice. The last time we played on the ship, we were up on deck.

I started to burn some CD's on Sunday, and realized I was out of labels. On Tuesday, I received some money from Marian, and I set out to get the labels.

First stop, Gas.

Gas at the Arco on September 22, 2008
The price of gas has been going down, here in Redding. I am glad my predictions of huge increases were wrong, so far.
A trip to Office Depot, and I am ready to burn, print, and package CD's.

How I make my Blog posts.

Screen shot of what I see when I write, 'Phil's Place.'
I put it together in Google Docs first. It's a really powerful document program, sort of like "Word", but it exists in cyber space and is stored on Google.

Highlighting quote on an iGoogle page.
I may be looking through my iGoogle pages of news, technology, music, etc. and see something I would like in my blog. I highlight it, copy it with an apple keyboard command, and paste it here...
No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.
- Judge Gideon J. Tucker

Checking my Gmail I find a great recipe
Garie, forwarded an omelet recipe that I would like to try, or maybe you would like to try it and let me know how it works.

Ziploc Omelets:

1. Crack 2 eggs into a quart size Ziploc bag
(not more than 2) shake to combine them.

2. Put in a variety of ingredients such as:
Cheeses, Ham, Onions, Green Peppers, Tomatoes,
Salsa, Etc.

3. Add ingredients and shake the bag to mix.

4. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip
it up.

5. Place the bag into rolling, boiling water for
exactly 13 minutes.

6. Cut the bag and the omelet will roll out easily.

Is that really any easier than using a skillet?

Pretty Bird

Paradise Tanager from iGoogle pictures of the day

It's a beautiful morning.
70°and sunny.
The birds are singing, and all is as it should be.

Morning by the Sundial Bridge 9/24/08

Sundial Bridge in the Morning Sun 9/24/08
Sidewalk Art
Jo Anna sent me another e-mail with pavement drawings. They are really amazing. So much so, that I wanted to put a couple on this page for you to enjoy. Just for fun, I Google searched, Juilian Beever, and found his website with lots of pictures and some information about him. I put in a link for you, after the "Times Square" picture.

Julian Beever tests the water in his chalk drawing

How he did it. 2D to 3D on the sidewalk!

Times Square on Times Square
To see many more Julian Beever pictures, visit his website.
Pavement Art


Image of what the word, "Pirate", normally evokes.
The U.S. Navy said on Wednesday it appeared pirates had tried to attack one of its big military oil tankers.

Somali pirates have in the past mounted attacks on merchant shipping from skiffs launched from so-called "mother ships" in the waters in and beyond Somalia.

Pirates of today
Heavily armed Somali pirates have hijacked more than 30 merchant vessels this year, with attacks off its coast and the Gulf of Aden almost every day.
The first pirates probably appeared around the time of the first boats.

Speaking of Firsts

First leaf to change for fall 9/24/08
I was just sitting on the balcony, enjoying this beautiful 86 degree day, when I spotted the first leaf that changed on the Japanese pear tree. I am told that fall, here in Redding is spectacular. So far, so good.

The Adventures of Bat Girl

Bat Girl visit's with friend along the trail

"Stay tuned for my next exciting installment."

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
What a Wonderful World
Louis Armstrong
Unconditional Love