How Is This For Government Efficiency


Posted on : 4/09/2010 06:13:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

A parking ticket.  Forty seconds after pulling into your parking spot.

A parking ticket.  You get out, close your door, retrieve your briefcase from the trunk, grab the $8 to pay for your parking, and you already have a parking ticket.

A parking ticket.

Lewis B. Puller


Posted on : 4/07/2010 08:06:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

"After watching a Marine raise the flag over the American Consulate in Oct 1950, as fighting still raged in Seoul, Korea, an Army officer growled something about Marines would rather carry a flag into battle than a rifle. Then -  Col Lewis B. "CHESTY" Puller replied, "A man with a flag in his pack and the desire to put it on an enemy strongpoint isn't likely to bug out."

Courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine and via Sgt. Grit News

SR-71 Blackbird - Speed Unbound


Posted on : 4/07/2010 07:53:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

Gizmodo has excerpts from Air Force Major Brian Shul's out of print book about flying the mighty Blackbird.

One day, high above Arizona , we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. 'Ninety knots,' ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. 'One-twenty on the ground,' was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was 'Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,' ATC responded. The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter's mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ' Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.' We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.
Not that the trip to the coast from Arizona takes all that long when flying at 1,982 knots.

There are other, more serious, tales to read as well.

Another Photographic Journey


Posted on : 4/07/2010 07:22:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

I love photographs.  I even have some modest experience with photography.  Years ago I owned a Fujica 100% manual 35mm camera.  I played around with it quite a bit.  I even managed to take a few memorable photos.

I use a digital camera these days.  Nothing ostentatious.  Also nothing with the ability to change lenses, use filters, or otherwise manipulate the image.

I came across the work of George Zimbel courtesy of a rarely read blog.  His collection of photos from Bourbon Street in New Orleans from 1955 are tremendous.  His collection of Marilyn Monroe shot at that scene from "The Seven Year Itch"....if you don't know the one I'm talking about, then you probably shouldn't also great.  Photos of Carol Channing, Jacqueline Kennedy,  and Helen Keller can be seen in his Les Femmes collection.

Take the time to look around.  You won't be disappointed.

There are times when I feel like I have missed my calling.  Viewing Mr. Zimbel's work is one of those times.

Rationing And Death Panels


Posted on : 4/07/2010 12:44:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

David Leonhardt has an article in the NYTimes about the coming changes in health care.  He focuses on the purported savings to be realized by both the Medicare innovation center and a Medicare oversight board.  The former now has the legal teeth to determine which treatments are available for which patients/conditions.  The latter is supposed to have the authority to tell doctors how much they can charge for a given procedure.

Mr. Leonhardt advocates rationing health care and using the force of government to prevent patients from obtaining treatment.

From an economic perspective, health reform will fail if we can't sometimes push back against the try-anything instinct. The new agencies will be hounded by accusations of rationing, and Medicare’s long-term budget deficit will grow.

So figuring out how we can say no may be the single toughest and most important task facing the people who will be in charge of carrying out reform. "Being able to say no," Dr. Alan Garber of Stanford says, "is the heart of the issue."

Rationing.....although Mr. Leonhardt only uses that word once and then only to suggest that it is an inaccurate description.

Rationing.  A common and dominant feature where ever national health care is practiced.

For those that scoffed at the idea of "death panels", now you know their true name; Medicare innovation center.

But I suspect that these arguments won't be persuasive. They have the faint ring of an insurer’s rationale for denying a claim.

No, Mr. Leonhardt.  The insurer's rationale for denying a claim has the faint ring of one's government declaring by edict that you are not eligible to receive life saving treatment.  At least when an insurer says "no", patients can appeal, speak to regulatory agencies, or even hold a community fund raiser.  What do patients do when the government declares it illegal for them to receive treatment?

The most significant step may be when an insurer refuses to cover a procedure.  But it is not necessarily the last one.  People in a free country always have options.

At least, we used to.

What Regime?


Posted on : 4/05/2010 11:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

I am more than a little disappointed that Mr. Limbaugh has decided to use the 'r' word in association with the Obama Administration.  Disappointed, but probably not very surprised.

What is surprising is the number of people taking time out of their day to vilify Mr. Limbaugh for using a term that was routinely used in reference to Mr. Obama's predecessor; including Chris Matthews.

Perhaps if everyone just throttled back just a bit on the rhetoric, we all might have a chance to resolve something meaningful.

Just In Case......


Posted on : 4/05/2010 09:56:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , thought the Tea Party folks were all right-wing racists.

Bloggers Or The NY Times.....Gullibility and Humourlessness On Parade


Posted on : 4/05/2010 09:54:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

It seems that a bunch of lawyers decided to see if they punk the political blogging world.  Their bias is laid bare by this little opening bon mot:

Fact checking hasn't always been the strong suit of this community.
Except that isn't true.  It is true that you can find almost anyone saying almost anything via blogs.  But you will usually find fact checking and correction following closely behind if something is amiss.  Very closely...

That isn't always the case with the legacy media.

So can you guess who bit and who didn't?

Jim Carrey And The Social Security "Lock Box"


Posted on : 4/05/2010 09:19:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

An interpretive presentation.  Hat tip to the blogfather.

Trip Report - 4/2/2010 - VCL to ESP....Again


Posted on : 4/04/2010 10:48:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

After a very busy weekend, I finally have a few moments to report on my latest aquatic adventure.  An early morning outing with my newest kayak buddy, Kat. 

The total time of the trip was 2 hours.  We finally got started at about 8:30 AM.  The temperature was 60 degrees and warming as the day progressed.  The total time for the run was 2 hours.  I am estimating the distance at 5 miles; which makes our speed about 2.5 mph.  Much quicker than the run I made with Denis and Jamie last August.

The most significant contributor to our speed was water.  Although the gauge downstream had the depth at a little over 9 1/2 feet, it was not the same 9 1/2 feet that we paddled through last August.  If you are interested in making this run, then the best time to make it is now.  It will be much harder once the marshes have emptied.

The second factor was lily pads.   There weren't any.  Which made a couple of the marshy areas much easier to manage.

We began with a brief lesson for me.  Don't launch a kayak from a public beach area.  Use the boat launch areas.  Apparently trouble with law enforcement can ensue.  I mention that as I was unloading my yak in the park area when I saw a car with a yak in the back drive by the park and eventually end up over at the boat dock which I correctly assumed was Kat.  Rather than pack everything back up, I just paddled over to get things started.

We decided to shuttle cars to ease a graceful conclusion to our adventure.  By the time we were really ready, our 8 AM start time had slid to 8:30.

Vandercook Lake was almost perfectly still.  The biggest waves being made were the result of our kayaks cutting through the almost glasslike surface. 

One reason why I really like this run is that you have to paddle across two lakes before you get to any real flowing water.  That means you get quite a nice workout followed by an easy run with the river.

The first noticeably easier spot was under the bridge for Browns Lake Road.  Where our yaks had ground through the sand at the entrance to Browns Lake last summer, this time we slid through with nary a sound from the lake bottom.

Towards the end of Browns Lake and on through Williams Lake and beyond I discovered the additional delight of paddling with Kat.  She is a birder.  Where I saw feathers, a bill, and webbed feet and said "duck", she saw Mergansers.

Mergansers on Williams Lake by Kat Kulchinski

It was a treat to travel with someone that could identify so many different types of birds.

I am certain that we will be discussed at the next United Brotherhood of Waterfowl meeting.  We followed several pairs of geese and ducks at various times along the way.  The Canadian geese were the most timid, most vocal, and most irritated with our presence.  We got quite close to a couple of mergansers and one wood duck along the way.

We also had several encounters with deer.  Most of the time we saw them just in time to see their fluffy white tails bobbing away through the woods.  One pair launched away from us only to stop at the top of a nearby road.  A safe distance from the obvious threat of a pair of kayakers, but not necessarily safe from vehicular traffic.

The most striking encounter with deer occurred in a marshy area.  There two deer stood still as statues, except for their heads which slowly turned to follow our course past where they were standing perhaps 30 feet away.  Their fur blended in with the woods and the reeds so that they might have been ghosts rather than deer.  A little more splashing or talking and I supposed they would have gone running.

Most of the serious dead falls remained pretty much the same as our encounter from last August.  They were mostly easier to deal with due to the extra water that was flowing along.  Most of the time we just cruised right over the trees.

There is one new dead fall that comes right after the river bends towards and then sharply away from Wyckoff Lake.  Kat managed to get a picture of your devoted correspondent as he slid his graceful, if somewhat pudgy, frame under this particular bit of blockage.

The portly gentleman lifting a tree.  By Kat Kulchinski

That bend is also noticeable as that is were the river runs through someone's back yard.  Whoever designed the home appears to have been inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Stone steps lead down not just to the water's edge, but right down into it.  Had we known the owners, we might have disembarked on their submerged steps and joined them for brunch.  As it was no one was there to greet us as we passed.

There is a concrete footbridge that passes over the stream.  A bit of stonework also graces the opposite shore lending the appearance of a calm pool rather than a way point along a rushing river.

Two of the more significant obstacles on this stretch of river are a pair of dams.  One is a metal sea wall structure that totally blocks the river.  The other is more like half of a dam.  It seems as if they only wanted to take out enough of the dam to lower the water level a bit, but did not want to invest enough time and/or money to totally remove it.

We had to bump and scrape across both last summer.  This time we sailed over both with hardly any effort.  About the only thing we really needed to do was to paddle fast enough to keep the current from turning us sideways to the current.

The sea wall dam was no big deal, even though it had the larger drop.  The half a dam was another thing.  I started off too far to the right when I should have just shot the center gap.  As a result, I ended up running next to a brush pile in a rather ungraceful manner.

Or at least I think so.  You be the judge.

Is this a category IV run?  By Kat Kulchinski

Ah yes.  Grace under pressure.

Our last run-in with the locals came close to the end of our trip.  There the river widens to incorporate a small pond.  The outflow from there is narrow as the river runs around a very small bit of land that juts out.  A Canadian goose had elected to build her nest at the end of this miniature promontory.  Had we wanted to, it would have been no problem at all to have touched her nest with our paddles as we passed by.  Kat attempted a photograph but could not get a good shot before the current pulled her past.

I just keep looking out for one really pissed off goose.

We stopped for a brief chat with a couple that were crossing the bridge at Probert Road.  Shortly thereafter we made our way to the end of our run.

My thanks to Kat for having me along.  If I had but one word to describe our adventure, I would use 'delightful'.

The map from last summer.

View Trip 6 - Vandercook Lake to Ella Sharp Park in a larger map