Friday, August 17, 2018

Thank you Vasili Arkhipov

I and my friends were draft age when this happened. We had just graduated from a school experience that included regular nuclear attack drills and the draft with a two-year service was an obligation of every man our age. We were the ones who would be called to fight. That was before internet or 24-hour news TV or even radio stations. We tuned the radio to a station that gave five-minute updates every hour as our best source of immediate news. When we weren’t listening we were talking, imaginations running wild about what was coming and most of us apprehensive about the prospect of fighting a nuclear war, wondering at times how you even did that. I think most of us saw ourselves as grunts, not the guys who would deliver the counter measures and the undercurrent was what good would we be if we even survived the initial blasts. When Khrushchev finally backed down, you could almost hear the whole country breathe a collective sigh of relief.
I guess we all owe this guy our unending gratitude. I had never heard of this before it showed up on facebook today. I hope all the credits come through all right.

Posted on facebook by: 
50 years ago today, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, second-in-command Vasili Arkhipov of the Soviet submarine B-59 refused to agree with his Captain's order to launch nuclear torpedos against US warships and setting off what might well have been a terminal superpower nuclear war.

The US had been dropping depth charges near the submarine in an attempt to force it to surface, unaware it was carrying nuclear arms. The Soviet officers, who had lost radio contact with Moscow, concluded that World War 3 had begun, and 2 of the officers agreed to 'blast the warships out of the water'. Arkhipov refused to agree - unanimous consent of 3 officers was required - and thanks to him, we are here to talk about it.

His story is finally being told - the BBC is airing a documentary on it.

Raise a glass to Vasili Arkhipov - the Man Who Saved the World.

PS - The PBS documentary, 'The Man who Saved the World', is online here:

The documentary claims the facts of the matter were only 'recently' revealed. This is not quite true; the Boston Globe reported on it 10 years ago in 2002:

The Wikipedia article was created in 2005, citing a 2004 book by Noam Chomsky:
 — with Sarah Pasquis and Daniel Alouidor.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Straws are now a 'gate' issue. Is that enough?

Here's an example of some of the stuff we pulled out of the ocean.
Several years ago I helped sail a tall ship out into the North Pacific in search of that evasive gyre that held a collection of trash the size of Texas. We found an awful lot of plastic but nothing like that envisioned. Much of it was in specks, less than an inch in diameter, the kind of thing filter feeders would inhale and not even know it until the amount overwhelmed their internal organs and they washed up dead on a beach somewhere.
To be sure we found large floating objects too, but not in the quantity we expected to encounter. Principal among them were what we called ghost nets, huge tangles of damaged synthetic netting that had been tossed overboard from commercial fishing boats and had continued doing their job collecting fish long after their economic life had ended. Each net came up with critters tangled in it.
Many of the crew members were idealistic young people including my son, intent on stopping pollution and cleaning up what damage already had been done. There were a few older people in their thirties and forties and then a couple of us old farts spooking 70.
Toward the end of the voyage the sponsors held a kind of roundtable meeting in a common area of the ship and invited each of us to talk about what we had seen, what we had learned and what we intended going forward. As one person after another spoke of making personal choices in what we buy, doing what they could to stem pollution and some ideas for cleaning it up, enthused to move foreword on a personal level to address the problem.
As each one spoke, I was listening and also turning over in my mind what I should say, what to me was the reality here? Here I am eight years later trying to recall exactly what I said then, because of that meme that showed up on facebook today, but it went something like this:
I started by saying I was impressed with the young people and their determination to make a difference. Then I said something like, but if each of us does all the recycling we can, try not to buy single-use plastics, clean up a stream or a beach when we can and live as clean a life as possible, if all of us on this boat do that it is not going to make one bit of difference and attacking the problem. Being on this ocean and sensing how large it is, and then thinking about the amount of trash in it, and, too thinking about the amount of trash that’s coming to it, our little contribution isn’t going to even show up. Instead of thinking in terms of your own little world, start looking into the bigger picture. How can you attack the mass rather than the individual piece of plastic.
Our ship
Study something like chemistry, come up with containers and other other typically plastic throw-away products , that are biodegradable, of have secondary and tertiary uses to replace things like plastic straws.  Then you are making a difference. Find ways to cut of the flow of disposables and replace them with reusable materials. Go into public service, government, lead the way to turning the nation around to the problem and guide public policy toward cleanup and change. Think and act on the grand scale. I don’t mean you are wrong to do what you are doing personally, but I do mean to encourage you to devote your working lives to change on a grand sale. That’s the only way this problem gets fixed.
I hated to tell them that, and discourage them but it needed to be said, and maybe even more now than then. When that meme came up today calling for systemic change it brought the whole problem to me again. Today with the current administration’s massive attacks on the environment it is more important than ever to stop that and to start moving toward systemic solutions.
It’s not going to be easy. Even when we know what the right thing to do is, there are reasonable people who are going to object. The issue of straws is a case in point. A friend of mine has a daughter who is largely confined to a wheelchair. Among other necessities she needs straws to drink. My friend has tried metal straws but they are clumsy and difficult to clean. I assume there are other substances that would work, but none of them are universally available. How complicated it gets is I saw another meme today that showed a paper straw, but it came encased in a plastic sanitary wrapping. What does that solve?
What it says is the solution is even more complex than what  I told those kids on the boat years ago. When we solve a problem we also need a solution for those folks who depend on the very item we are eliminating. 
Brain exploding.

Milestones, logs and blogs

A friend has found a solution to part of the problem:  Carrie Ann Nash Not to muddy the waters, but we DID find a good alternative finally: Glugglug silicone straws. In case this helps anyone else:

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The mom and pop corner store evolves

At the corner of the Old Glenn Highway and Plumley Road.
The glass case on top of the counter holds samples of the

various products. What we used to call paraphernalia 
fills the displays below.
Here's one the big box stores probably aren't going to put out of business anytime soon. These folks just opened today. I noticed it earlier when I went to town and came back with my camera after I returned.
     It's a nice clean operation and they even have their own grow. Certainly not like our dealings in dark alleys years ago. I talked with the owner for a bit and he seems quite knowledgable. He asked me how long since I had any and I said quite a while. He pulled out a cannister and opened it. He said I'd probably recognize the odor as it was from a strain that has been growing in this valley since the 80s. It did have a pungent earthly smell that seemed vaguely familiar. He seemed a little disappointed with my response until I told him the last time I'd had any was in the 60s. Then we both had a laugh.
The grow, with our favorite blogger on the bars.
Complexities between state and federal laws have made
banks shy away from this industry, so it always has to 
be a cash transaction. It's handy to have an ATM around.
     He got busy with customers  but said when I told him I had taken a picture of the outside of the building that I was welcome to shoot some inside as well. He had customers whom I thought might be nervous about my taking pictures so I waited until they were gone.
    Meanwhile I looked over the wares. Prices seemed to be in line with what I've read about what stores in Anchorage charged, much more than what we used to pay in those dark alleys however.
     Then when the place cleared out I pulled up my camera. The owner even took a shot of me next to a window that looked out into his grow building, yup, that's it growing in the background. About those bars, I told him he must have quite a scam going, sell somebody some pot and then bust them and toss them behind bars for possession.
    Oh, wait, it's legal now, everything's done in daylight and the state is collecting more than a million dollars a month in taxes from the industry.
     Far out, man.
Managing marijuana in Alaska

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thoughts and prayers? Fill in the blanks

One day the #fakepresident says the press is the enemy of the people. The next day some asshat
shoots up a newsroom killing five people. To which the #fakepresident tweets:
@reealDonaldTrump: Prior to departing Wisconsin, I was briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.
You can only imagine what he said aside to his cohorts who encourage his constant assaults on the #fakenews, #failingnewyorktimes, #criminalCNN and every other shot he has taken at the news media. Perhaps we will hear it from him in a tweet overnight.

Here's what I think of that:
@reealDonaldTrump: Prior to departing xxxx, I was briefed on the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.

@reealDonaldTrump: Prior to departing xxxx, I was briefed on the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.

@reealDonaldTrump: Prior to departing xxxxx, I was briefed on the shooting at the Pulse in Orlando Florida. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.

@reealDonaldTrump: Prior to departing xxxx, I was briefed on the 154 mass shootings in the United States this year. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.

Do you get the picture? Fill in the blanks for tomorrow's headline:
@reealDonaldTrump: Prior to departing ___________, I was briefed on the shooting at _____________ in _____________. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.

Last Friday the #fakepresident was at some sort of ceremony for the families of 11 people supposedly killed by immigrants illegally in this country. Eleven. He signed large pictures of the victims and used the occasion to continue his assault on folks crossing border so he can separate their families and hide their children as if the perpetrators of these crimes constituted the majority of the people seeking refuge. I don't remember and thoughts and prayers for these 11 people, at least until it is politically advantageous (he thinks) to parade their families in front of the whole country in order to convince us his immigration policies are just.

With sincere sympathy for those 11 families, I wonder how big a stadium he would need to bring out the families of people killed by mass shooters just since he took office. Yet there is no concern from the administration for those people .

No, instead of that a Stoneman Douglas student sees his home surrounded by police in a SWAT prank. An articulate student is vilified with every insult you can imagine hateful people coming up with for a high school girl who shaves her head. No thoughts and prayers there. And no action. But of course the overwhelming majority of those shooters are white American males, the same group whose families are based among the immigrant people and include the #fakepresident himself.

Gawd I am sick of thinking about this stuff, let alone writing about it. In the late of the evening as the fascism shroud pulled over the land he reached for the whiskey.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

You can see me, but I'm not here

     All my life on many occasions, my mind has slipped away into some thought dream or reverie. At times it has gotten me into trouble; just yesterday I almost slammed into a slow-moving vehicle on a 55-mph road, I mean stand-on-the brakes almost. At other times it has been a great source of creativity. There was a time I spent throwing heads onto 396 and 427 cubic inch Chevy engines while a partner on the other side of the line did the same. One night he leaned over and asked "Where are you, Tim."
     With no thought at all I responded, "I'm in Montana herding sheep." And, in my head I was. He just said "cool" as if it were as normal as standing in a factory lifting 86-pound cylinder heads twice at a rate of around 100 an hour. He was probably off somewhere himself in this mindless job we had.
     Well, yesterday it happened during physical therapy. Yes, I am still recovering from last winter at the East Pole. (I just noticed, even after three glasses of wine I can type and spell better than the #fakepresident.) Anyway, I have developed a rapport with my main therapist. Several times early on while he was massaging my damaged shoulder he asked me why I was smiling. I finally explained sometimes I drift off into my mind and go places. That was OK with him, he actually kind of joked about it in a friendly way while I took some refuge in the excuse that it's about writing. One day I heard him tell another therapist,"he smiles and I have no idea where he is any more."
     So, yesterday I went in at noon instead of my regular time which meant I had to deal with three therapists instead of one because I was the only patient in the place.
     All friendly and cool, by the way, but the one woman was the primary for a while. I had only worked with her once before. I was doing some stretches with an elastic band, pulling it across my body at about stomach level. Over time I had learned you need perfect posture to do these things, body straight up, arms bent at the elbow at 90 degrees, shoulders relaxed. For this exercise to be effective, you need to maintain that but it's so easy to hunch your shoulders to pull that damned elastic stuff. I have graduated from light blue to pink and now orange, each of which takes a little more effort to pull.
     Anyway all three of them are watching me and my mind is taking off. Often I caught myself and fixed my shoulders which was always the biggest deviance I made from what they wanted.
Almost exasperated, the woman said once more to straighten my shoulders. I looked her straight in the eyes and then the other guy, and I said, "You have to understand, I am not always here."
     The usual therapist, who was doing some computer work behind the other two, laughed out loud. "That's true," he said, "I see him smile and I have no idea what's going on there, where he is."
     I looked at the woman who had been watching me and shrugged my shoulders to which she said, "that's it, now keep it up."

Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve