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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Location: United States

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fall has...fallen

So have most of the leaves from the (deciduous) trees at "La Casa de Camo".
(My rambling estate)

The critters are getting ready for Winter.

As seen in the picture (taken from my bedroom window) above, Mr. Groundhog/Woodchuck (Marmota monax) on the left is pretty fat by now to get him through hibernation season, or at least until February 2nd at any rate.

Mr. Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis, the freakin' tree rat!) on the right is gathering acorns which have fallen from the mighty red oak that drops a prodigious amount of leaves each Autumn.

This was the "on" year for that tree; oak trees only bear their nutty fruit on alternate years, but generally not until they are about 20 years old.

Soon, too soon, it will be Winter...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flight of fancy?

Or folly?! The Airbus Consortium has spent a lot of money developing the A380, which has had some problems, most recently with the wiring...of which there are hundreds of miles worth per airframe.

Airbus A380 in test flight to North and South Poles
TOULOUSE, France - The Airbus A380 starts a global journey which will take in the North and South Poles on the last of a series of test flights before it applies for its air safety certificate.

The plane, which is being tested under commercial conditions, is seeking to gain its airworthiness certificate by mid-December from European and United States aviation safety authorities.

It will fly from Toulouse, France, where it is assembled, over the two poles and is set to stop in Johannesburg, Sydney and Vancouver in Canada before returning to France on November 30.

On Friday, the giant plane returned from 18 days of testing which took it to Asia, with stop-offs at major airports including Singapore, home of Singapore Airlines. This airline which should take delivery of the first A380 next October - deliveries are around two years behind schedule because of electrical cabling problems.

Airbus has claimed that the wiring problems besetting its A380 superjumbo have now been overcome and the firm is confident it can meet its new revised target dates, reported Gulf News. Airbus is hoping to receive air worthiness certification before the end of 2006. So far, 26 A380s have been built but these will need to be rewired following the earlier technical snags; firm orders presently stand at 166.

From the Airbus website:
"The A380 will carry more passengers over longer distances, allowing for projected passenger growth worldwide and helping to ease an increasingly congested environment. It will achieve this without increasing the number of air traffic movements and without negatively impacting the environment, thanks to significantly reduced noise and emissions levels."

This aircraft is supposed to be able to carry a maximum of 900 passengers or so in its most heavily-populated configuration, although a number of options are being touted of a more comfortable nature.

We'll have to wait and see how much interest there is in the concept, as it will require special accommodations to service it wherever it might go.

It weighs over a million pounds...

Friday, November 17, 2006

South of the border...

...is where I'll be for Thanksgiving.
(Maybe they'll have turkey there?)

I'm going to the Yucatan Peninsula to be precise, in order to indulge in the pursuit of a number of scientific disciplines: anthropology, archaeology, speleology, etc.
(And to hang out on the beach in Cancun)

I plan to visit the ancient Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza (pictured below) and Tulum...which covers the archaeology and the anthropology. Of course, anywhere there are people one can study anthropology "on the hoof".

As for the speleology, that is more my area of expertise; I've been underground all over the U.S., and in other countries as well. I'm rather looking forward to doing some cave snorkeling, as in the cenote pictured here:

There are a number of those in the immediate vicinity of Chichen Itza, as well. In fact, the Yucatan Peninsula has a significant amount of caverniferous geology all over the place.

I'm also hoping to assist in surveying some dry caves in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, which are South of Cancun, near Tulum.

¡Adios, amigos!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You say you want a revolution...

...well, maybe you don't, but I do. In Iran.
(It would save US a lot of trouble)

I wonder if anyone else noticed the resemblance:

The guy to the left is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current President of Iran.

The one to the right is Ringo Starr, former Beatle.
(Originally Richard Starkey)

I think the physical similarity is the only one between them.
(Profuse apologies in advance to Ringo)

Ringo seems like a personable fellow, whereas that other guy seems like a puppet for the mullahs in the theocracy that is Iran.

How much of his bluster is a carefully contrived act, I have no way of knowing, but I suspect it's a lot.

I do know that quite a few of the people living over there are quite unhappy with the whole situation, and it is my hope that they rise up someday and take control.

Now the IAEA has found weapons grade fissionable materials in Iran, which is a great cause for concern based on that country's "track record".

A revolution would be right on time...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rolling Thunder*...

For the 2007 model year, Harley-Davidson has introduced the Patriot Special Edition line of their motorcycles.

From their website:
"Customized to one of five branches of the military, these motorcycles are distinctive and unique with a U.S. flag consistent with those found on all military uniforms proudly displayed on the rear fender, and a jeweled gas tank badge allowing for customization with a military branch-specific medallion.

Patriot Special Edition motorcycles are only available for a limited time – orders can be placed from August 14, 2006 to January 15, 2007. Patriot Special Edition motorcycles are offered to those actively serving in the U.S. military, members of the reserves or veterans, and their immediate family members only. A limit of one Patriot Special Edition motorcycle may be sold to a qualifying customer (or set of customer credentials) during the model year. One of the following documents must be attached to the Patriot Special Edition order request form as proof of military service: DD Form 214, Official Military Orders, or Official Military ID Card."

I'd venture to say that a lot of my fellow Patriot Guard Riders will be interested; a lot of them are veterans, like myself.

I don't think I'll be in the market for a new motorcycle for awhile, though. The one I have now is a 2005...

*The major function of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is to publicize POW-MIA issues: To educate the public that many American prisoners of war were left behind after all previous wars and to help correct the past and to protect future veterans from being left behind should they become prisoners of war-missing in action.

We are also committed to helping American veterans from all wars.

Rolling Thunder®, Inc. is a non-profit organization. Members donate their time because they believe in the issues we are working on.

Friday, November 10, 2006

November 11th...Veterans Day

Even though I am a veteran, I usually don't get the day off...except for years like this, when it falls on the weekend.

In any case, my time in service is as nothing compared to those who gave all.

From the Wikipedia article on Veterans Day:

Veterans Day is the American name for the international day called Armistice Day. It falls on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War One. It is both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states. The same day is observed elsewhere as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day. All major hostilities of World War 1 were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. Armistice Day was first commemorated in the United States by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, and many states made it a legal holiday. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 inviting all Americans to observe the day, and made it a legal holiday nationwide in 1938. The holiday has been observed annually on November 11 since that date - first as Armistice Day, later as Veterans Day - except for a brief period when it was celebrated on the fourth Monday of October.

The day has since evolved as a time for honoring living veterans who have served in the military during wartime or peacetime, partially to complement Memorial Day, which primarily honors the dead. There has been some discussion of whether a person's veteran status depends upon his/her retirement or discharge from any of the armed forces. However, the term applies to any that have honorably served their country or that have served in a war zone as directed by their superior officers or as directed by lawful orders given by their country.

"It is the Veteran, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Veteran, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Veteran, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Veteran, not the campus
organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the Veteran, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Veteran, not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Veteran,
who salutes the Flag,

Eternal rest grant them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."

That's all I have to say about that...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cosmic, dude!!!*

*That was a comment I made in response to a recent post at the blog of my "cyberbud" Libby Gone™.

On Wednesday, November 8th, (today) the planet Mercury will cross in front of the Sun for about five hours beginning around 2:15 p.m. ET. It won't happen again until 2016.

(Silhouette of Mercury against Sun)

Of course on the East Coast the Sun will set before the show is over, but on the West Coast it can be seen in its entirety...without commercial interruption.
(Unless it's obscured by clouds, that is)

The transit means that for those who are prepared, Mercury can be seen in broad daylight, appearing like a tiny spot moving across the sun.

The viewing of this celestial event cannot be accomplished with the naked eye; it would require a specially filtered telescope.

They have such a one locally, at the Franklin Institute in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA.
(Which is named in honor of Ben Franklin, naturally)

This is even more rare than "once in a blue moon"...

Monday, November 06, 2006

What a load of crap!

Here's the windup...and here's the pitch!!!

Is it just me, or have the political attack ads been getting worse?

I don't generally watch a lot of television, but during the commercial breaks that occasionally interrupted the movies I was watching this weekend, it seemed as though fully half of the advertisements were political.
(I guess it must be almost election day)

Anyway, in reference to the picture above, someone posted a comment recently at the site that introduced me to "Da Blogosphere": ScrappleFace.
(Also linked on sidebar)

I don't remember who said it, but they said that the monkeys in the zoo fling less crap than the ads nowadays.

I can't help but agree...

Friday, November 03, 2006

When the wind blows...not.

Although the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't technically end until November 30, I'm going to go "out on a limb" here, and declare the doomsayers wrong.

This year's hurricane season was a major bust.
(But that's a good thing!)

After last year's record hurricane season, the global warming - oh wait, that's "climate change", so you can blame anything and everything on it - proponents were predicting ever worsening things to come.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration monitors these things, and has a lot of information about it, among other things.

When something is brewing, they have their own Storm Tracker

They also have an impressive collection of resources devoted to the climate.

I think some folks are just full of hot air...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Bray King" (like that?) nooz...

Special update from the troops:

(Tip o' the 'do rag to Road Rider)

I think the picture speaks for itself.

For a bumper sticker with this banner, click HERE...

The WHAT is in the mail?!

In addition to other more useful bits of information, I also waste space in my cortex with a lot of trivia.

The following is a small example:
(Pun intended, of course)

Parcel Post Service became available to Americans on January 1, 1913. During the first six months of operation approximately 300 million parcels were handled and the introduction of collect-on-delivery service on July 1, 1913 only added to the popularity. The popularity of parcel post was also evident as postal officials increased the allowable weight of parcels. In 1913, the maximum weight was increased from 11 to 20 pounds for the first and second zones. Soon thereafter, the maximum rose again, from 20 to 50 pounds.
(That was when the "fun" began)

One of the oddest parcel post packages ever sent was "mailed" from Grangeville to Lewiston, Idaho on February 19, 1914. The 48½ pound package was just short of the 50 pound limit. The name of the "package" was May Pierstorff, four years old.
(Pictured above)

May's parents decided to send their daughter for a visit with her grandparents, but were reluctant to pay the train fare. Noticing that there were no provisions in the parcel post regulations specifically concerning sending a person through the mails, they decided to "mail" their daughter. The postage, 53¢ in parcel post stamps, was attached to May's coat. This little girl traveled the entire distance to Lewiston in the train's mail compartment and was delivered to her grandmother's home by the mail clerk on duty, Leonard Mochel.

Also in 1914 a 2-year-old boy was sent via Parcel Post from Oklahoma to Kansas (postage paid: 18¢) and the service delivered at least two other children before it officially banned the mailing of human beings later that year.

I wonder if those "packages" were insured...

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