Friday, November 16, 2012

Some random thoughts over the course of an Alaska winter day

Not sure here whether to start or end with the lighter part of the day,  So, maybe start in the middle if that's all right with everyone.

 For some reason today seemed to be a day where the idea of alternative energy showed up in several places,  First there was the picture the other day of a high speed rail line in Europe. Built over the tracks was what looked like a miles-long cover creating something of a tunnel for the trains.  The cover consisted of solar panels and the railroad was generating much of its electricity from solar power.  Inventive, don't you think? 

Then this morning somebody posted that other picture.  That is a bridge in Italy where wind generation units had been built right into the structure.  In addition to making use of otherwise unused space, the designers created a bridge that is architecturally pleasing as well as functional. What else should we expect from the people who brought us the Sistine Chapel and the Ferrari?

Those solar panels along the roadside are actually stand
over a high-speed rail line in Europe.
Later in the day,  a story in the Huffington Post told of out-of-work miners hired to install solar panels for a a facility in West Virginia, right in the heart of coal country.  That is something so often left out of the discussions on alternative energy.  Sure those guys were installing the solar panels, but somebody had to build them, and somebody is going to have to maintain them.  Somebody drove the trucks that delivered the raw materials to the factory and somebody has to drive the trucks that deliver the panels to the installation,  There are people who have to design the installations and people who clear the sites for the panels.  Electricians have to connect it all into the national grid.  In other words, that ubiquitous campaign word JOBS.  Yes, isn't it wonderful, the alternative energy industry actually creates jobs. Who knew?

What's bothersome is supposedly the United States is the technological leader of the world.  Oh yeah?  What about the bridge with the wind turbines in Italy, or the European high speed trains in a tunnel of solar panels and that parking lot in Germany mentioned in a previous post  covered by solar panels.  Is there any example  of those in the U.S?  We see fields of wind generators or solar panels but where are we integrating them into infrastructure.  When do we start taking this seriously?   Oh, I remember now, We have a fourth branch of government called the fossil fuels industry.

It seems at least most candidates think you can't get elected in this country unless you say the magic word "jobs."  Well, here are a bunch of jobs just waiting to be created.  But then there are more traditional jobs also, building a pipeline to transport the dirtiest oil possible all the way across the United States from somewhere in Canada almost to the Mexican border.

And, speaking of jobs, did anyone catch all the humor floating around today on the news of Hostess going bankrupt?  Twinkies and their shelf life?  American icons?  Hoarding? My favorite was this one tweeted by that old friend, the Bronx Zoo Cobra: 

You shouldn't be eating Twinkies anyway. They have only 2% of your recommended daily amount of rodent."

And a few people blamed it on unions.  The union movement could be a long discussion to be avoided here, but there is plenty of evidence that paying people a living wage does not necessarily mean a company has to go bankrupt.  Want to see what really did Hostess in?  Who killed Hostess Brands and Twinkies?  Sounds a little bit like Bain, doesn't it?

By accident I happened to see the  other side of the closing today.  I had to go to the Teamsters Building in Anchorage to pick up a credential I need for a job I am trying to obtain.  As I was leaving  a guy stood up to take his turn at this employment counter.  He said he had been laid off by Hostess this morning. All of a sudden the jokes didn't seem so funny anymore. Somewhere I had read 14,000 people were going to lose their jobs. I bet some of them are electricians.  Welcome to the 47 percent.
Two male pine grosbeaks came to the feeders today, the first
of the winter that I have seen.

So, now for the lighter fare.  There seem to be more birds every day, including more chickadees than I have seen before, also juncos and nuthatches and a few female Pine grosbeaks.  This morning two males showed up.

Then, later in the day a hairy woodpecker started pecking around the dead tree out front but he got away before I could grab the camera.  Glad to see him back.  So, that has all the regulars back except the grouse.  I did see another bird that I couldn't identify.  It was probably just smaller  than a robin and all gray that I could see, but the light was coming from the other side of it.  Maybe it will show up again when the sun is shining a little brighter.  Meanwhile they are eating through the sunflower seed as fast as I can get out to the feeders.

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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