Cooper's Hawk, Torrey Pines

Sunday, October 25, 2020

By Hook Or By Crook

I was searching my memory banks for enjoyable concerts in my life and I found this one somewhere near my medulla oblongata. It was December 21, 1971 at the San Diego Sports Arena. Almost 49 years ago, can you believe that? How old am I anyway? No poster exists or I don't remember one if it did.
An obscure band from San Francisco that was on the Airplane's label, Grootna, opened, then Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, in their laconic prime. Chambers Brothers came out next, very loud and psychedelic, the Time has come today took me to places I had never been.  It's a Beautiful Day closed it down with a wonderful set and David La Flamme's incredibly brilliant violin. Probably paid four bucks a ticket, tops. It was quite a night. I really miss Dan Hicks, there will never be anyone quite like him. Started as the Charlatan's drummer. They don't make shows like this anymore. I left the arena with a giant smile on my face.

Sunday mush

My friend Debbie was in the south recently, on vacation. I called her to check in and asked her if she had filled up on grits. "Well, yes, actually, I love grits,"she said. She grew up in the Imperial Valley but her family was from Oklahoma originally and grits were a staple.

I am not a big grits guy, they are made from hominy, but I have my own secret. I love mush.

When I lived in Texas between 1964 and 1968 we were pretty poor. At least for a two year stretch. We had a huge family; Liz, Barbara, Donna, David, Robert, Rusty, Gail, Buzzy, John Matthew, Adelle and Don. That makes eleven. Lot of mouths to feed.

We never went hungry that I can remember but we definitely ate very simply and cheap. Lots of beanie weenie out of a can. Minute steaks. Fish sticks. Endless casseroles. And corn meal mush. Lots of mush. Guess they call it polenta now. We bought it by the big sackful.

Resourceful kids that we were, you found ways to doctor up what you ate if it was an everyday staple. Create a little diversity, relieve the gustatory tedium. Started with butter, then honey but in the end we settled on melting cottage cheese in the mush at just the right time to get a nice cheesy counterpoint.

Now Leslie and I eat polenta on fairly frequent occasion. Polenta is your fancy, five dollar Italian word for corn meal. She melts smoked gouda in it which is similar to what we did but a little stronger and not quite as pleasing to me.

I think rich or poor, one finds some degree of comfort in the food of their youth. I know I do. 

Leslie brought home cottage cheese the other day and made me mush this morning. The cottage cheese pooled and melted as I remembered. Dotted the center with a little tupelo honey. it was wonderful, not exactly what I remember, the grit of the corn meal was different and I think we used large curd cottage cheese back then which reacted slightly differently. Maybe I have to put it in the gruel earlier?

Lena says that the best polenta can be purchased from Asanti Brothers in Little Italy. I guess that I will have to check it out. But I would honestly settle for the plain old El Paso, Texas corn meal from my childhood.

It was wonderful. Thank you Leslie! Good to go.

How Can I Tell You?

Male Northern Harrier


Saturday, October 24, 2020

hello in there

Polled data

 I was on some website yesterday and I was asked to do a brief survey which was anything but.

They ask you questions and then make calculated inferences about your habits. Strangely enough, they were quite accurate in my case. The highlighted answer is mine in each of these cases. I am obviously an SUV driving guy who likes dramatic movies, check, reads technology websites and blogs, check, only watches streaming services, check, reads political websites and is an early adopter, check. Only thing is I don't watch MSNBC because I don't watch the news but I listen to them on the radio on occasion.

I found it interesting that they could infer that I watched MSNBC because I thought that my investment portfolio would be relatively static in six months. Where does that come from exactly?

Thanks to Crooks and Liars for picking me up unsolicited today! Always appreciated, lots of new eyes...👀👀

Pissin' In The Wind

Another Jewish cowboy bites the dust

Well fuck, now Jerry Jeff Walker is gone too. 2020, keeps mowing the great ones down. Prine, Little Richard, Kobe, RBG, this has been one miserable year. Not to mention the 1,152,489 other poor souls who have lost their lives to the microbe globally.

I last saw Jerry Jeff I think at the Belly Up tavern. If memory serves correctly, he shared a bill with Emmy Lou Harris and Steve Goodman. Maybe Bromberg too. It was a long time ago.

I sat next to a woman at the show who grew up next to Jerry Jeff when he was known as Ronnie back in Oneanta, New York. He could sure pour on the shitkicker schtick like he was raised in Ozona.

I took a walk yesterday down at Los Jigueros Preserve with my friend Paul. 

Paul is a professional bass player, used to play with a lot of big national acts, including the Association and Gary Puckett. Retired from his technical job at Legoland last year.

Paul and I have two kidneys between us, having both undergone a similar scalpel treatment at some point in time, his very recently. 

His fared a little better than mine did, his guts aren't falling out.  Anyway we have both had our tsoris of late, needed a good walk.

He told me that he had a friend that refuses to set his clocks back for the upcoming daylight savings time, doesn't want to spend one extra hour in this awful covid ridden annum that he doesn't have to. I concur.

He is getting into photography again and I told him to meet me there with a camera. I brought my small lens so I didn't get any birds to speak of, although the hawks were plentiful overhead. We grabbed a couple of obligatory shots of flora and rusty metal instead.

The walk was much needed, you mask shamers should know that we started out that way, have both been recently tested and mind your own business.

We were out in nature and there was not a soul nearby. Thank you for your concern.

Once again, turn off your television and go take a walk somewhere. You're too riled up and it's not good for your lumbago.

I hope that I can get back out there with my buddy soon.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Letter from Dan

Sorry about your friend Melissa. She put up a good fight.   Love the new fount on the blog.  Interesting hawk story. I had a dream that a dog i had when we lived in Fallbrook was barking his play bark at the door. I went to see what he wanted and my brothers dog was there so I let him out to play. They ran around the tree in the yard then they both turned into birds and flew away. I did know my brothers dog was sick. But  it was getting better. When I got up I had a text from him that his dog died that night.


How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?

Covid watch

San Diego had 430 new Covid 19 cases today and one death. This brings the county's total case number to 53,928 with 867 fatalities.

In addition five new community outbreaks were announced today, bringing the number in the last week to 21, I believe.  A community outbreak is defined as three new cases in a specific setting and in people of different households over a 14 day period.

What pisses me off is that they announce the outbreaks continually but never tell us where the hell they are. A lot of damn good that does us.

By the way, Fallbrookians, our case numbers in our little burg now stand at 610 or at about 1.2% of our total population.  Be careful and vigilant, this thing ain't over.

Frank Zappa - Lost Interview

I find this interesting, especially his references to the man he calls the godfather of the Los Angeles freak scene, Vito. I had never heard of him until a very short while ago.
Not material but I once worked for Kim Fowley. For a night. He had a band named the puppies he was promoting at the La Paloma. Dave, Jeff and I were hired as security. We were in college and it was the punk heydey. 

Anyway the place was pretty empty but the show was ticketed. A guy walks in, goes to the bathroom and sticks a safety pin through his forehead. He came out and there was a lot of blood. He wants to go down to the front near the stage. I made him sit in the back, quite offended really and gave him a little lecture about not being an idiot and me sending a picture of his punim to his mother.

Rudy pitches a tent

So you were just adjusting your shirt? Right, Rudy...



I believe that one of the worst results of the Trump era is how we have managed to weaponize stupidity in our country in such an incredible and effective way. I honestly never thought it possible, first Democrats are drinking the blood of babies in pizza parlors and the Q nonsense, then you have the people that are sure that Biden is going to take all your guns away and institute totalitarian Marxism to America if elected.

I guess that if you have willing traditional and social media allies, it is not such a difficult job to convince anyone of anything, no matter how outlandish. That is especially true if the standard bearer of the message has a lot of power and a penchant for dishonesty, like a President of the United States for instance. Works hard at sowing discord and sounding dog whistles.

It usually takes me a while to find the worst example of this condition in the morning but today this jumped right out at me. It was so easy. Check out this article: Parts Of Idaho Repeal Mask Mandates Even Though Hospitals Full Of COVID-19 Patients.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Moments after hearing an Idaho hospital was overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and looking at sending people as far away as Seattle for care, members of a regional health department board voted Thursday to repeal a local mask mandate.

“Most of our medical surgical beds at Kootenai Health are full,” Panhandle Health District epidemiologist Jeff Lee told board members in the state’s third most populated county.

The hospital in Coeur d’Alene reached 99% capacity a day earlier, even after doubling up patients in rooms and buying more hospital beds. Idaho is one of several states where a surge of COVID-19 infections is overwhelming hospitals, likely in part because cooler weather is sending people indoors, U.S. health officials said.

But the board voted 4-3 to end the mask mandate. Board members overseeing the operations of Idaho’s public health districts are appointed by county commissioners and not required to have any medical experience.

Board member Walt Kirby said he was giving up on the idea of controlling the spread of coronavirus.

“I personally do not care whether anybody wears a mask or not. If they want to be dumb enough to walk around and expose themselves and others, that’s fine with me,” Kirby said. “Nobody’s wearing the damned mask anyway. ... I’m sitting back and watching them catch it and die. Hopefully I’ll live through it.”

Another member, Allen Banks, denied COVID-19 exists.

“Something’s making these people sick, and I’m pretty sure that it’s not coronavirus, so the question that you should be asking is, ‘What’s making them sick?’” he told the medical professionals who testified.

Amazing really. A state once better known for fly fishing and white supremacy has now gone full flat earth and is now actively going against their own medical professionals, people who are working feverishly to keep them alive.

Is there something in the water up there? Or has the notoriously conservative state merely been taking cues from Trump and pretending that masks are unnecessary and that the problem is about to "poof," disappear?

I looked Allen Banks up. The guy is a PHD chemist and no dummy. But he has sure swallowed the kool-aid on this one.

Walt Kirby is just a total idiot. Fine with him if people walk around and infect others... By the way, things are not going so well up there on the covid front, you would think that rational people would take reasonable and basic precautions.

Idaho reported 987 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, bringing the total to more than 56,600 since the pandemic began. Infections are thought to be higher because a lack of testing and other factors. At least 553 people have died of the virus, including seven reported Thursday.

But no, it seems like a significant number of people in America are content to thin the herd and let people die, let the chips fall where they may. Compassionate bunch. Too freedom loving to give a shit about their neighbors or even their own loved ones.

Another Einstein on the board, Glenn Bailey, put it this way:

Health board member Glen Bailey, acknowledging that masks and distancing can help slow transmission of the virus, nevertheless introduced a motion to rescind the mandate. “I agree we have a problem with this virus, but at the same time I object to the mandate the board passed because it restricts people’s right of choice and ability to comply or not comply under penalty of law.”

I feel for the innocent people in Idaho who don't deserve to be served by these troglodyte knuckleheads and I feel for their tired and overworked medical community as well.


South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem can't quite stop congratulating herself on the state's Covid response. Hard to figure out why after you read this article; This Republican governor thinks she's nailed her state's Covid-19 response. She hasn't.

Noem's South Dakota is second -- only to North Dakota -- in the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. On Friday, the state reported more than 1,100 new cases, breaking a single-day record set the day before when 973 cases were reported. Cases have increased by 51% over the last two weeks, according to The New York Times. Of the 10 hottest spots for the virus, as tabulated by the Times, six are cities in South Dakota.

If there is an epicenter for the resurgent coronavirus in America, then, South Dakota may well be it.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Amazing Spider Man faces mutant angst


I bought this page out of an estate sale recently, pretty cheaply actually. It is the work of Sal Buscema and Joe Rubinstein from 1985. I used to sell comic art in the 1970's, haven't had any overground stuff for a long time. I sent it to Heritage Auction, with two Snow White cells from 1937 that are scheduled to sell in December, depicting Happy and Sneezy.

They were not sure how this would do, Sal's work can go high or it can tank. This one is up to $450 $600 $1025 $1250 $1800 already with ten twelve thirteen fourteen bidders, with four one days until the actual live auction. One of the hottest pages in the pre-auction. I am very pleased. Hoping it takes off. Honestly I think the particular page is pretty cool. Spidey's friend is a bit too needy. I especially like the frog shadow in the third panel.

If nominated I will serve...


Let's make America okay again. Smoke pot with every chicken.

Mike Watt - Big Train

Scientists discover new organ behind nose


438 pipe Wicks organ found behind man's nose. 

Man's wife shocked.

"Well that explains all the silly noises," said Harriett Nerfderfer, Dublin, Ohio. "It sounded like a bloody full orchestra when he sneezed. And the dogs would make an awful racket."

Funny angle


You know, I may not be the funniest guy in the world but I have my moments. 

Like when I am sleeping.

I kid you not, I have had occasional dreams where I do whole stand-up routines with fresh jokes. Now maybe they're not so funny when they see the light of day but seriously, some of them are not half bad when you are asleep.

I wonder about the capacity of the human brain and subconscious to engage in humor on the fly like that. Or is it just my weird mind?

The other night I had a dream where I was entertaining a crew of people at a cabana on the beach. I killed them (in the comic sense.) Laughs galore. Unfortunately you will have to take my word for it right now, they are sort of indisposed at the moment. 

I can only remember one joke that I told my somnolent crowd.

"How do you kill a mathematician?"

It's easiest to swing them from a hypot-e-noose.

Now I admit that this is not exactly a thigh slapper but my god, this is my brain working in the middle of the night, cut me some slack alright?

I told Friedman my joke, my sometime daytime stand up partner, a guy who had a long career writing jokes professionally for people like Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller. He was non-plussed, stifled a yawn, told me not to quit my day job. Nary a snicker, more like a snore. Probably just jealous. Like he could get those kind of crowds in la la land. Charitably, he told me that I would probably knock them dead at M.I.T. with that one. Obviously experts hate it when somebody cuts into their turf.

I get it, it's not my best work but jeezus, I was sleeping. And if you are interested, I will be playing all week, at Tony's Champagne Room. The Holiday Inn in Sleepsville, right off the interstate, land of nod, book your tickets now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Spencer Davis Group

That Zany White House

 Great Headline. 

Trump's tweet on 'total' declassification of Russia docs isn't an order, White House tells judge.

The White House chief of staff told the judge to ignore Trump's tweet saying he had authorized the declassification of "any & all documents" related to the Russia probe.

When President Donald Trump tweeted that he had authorized the full declassification of all documents having to do with the Russia investigation, he didn't mean it literally and didn't intend to make information from the Mueller investigation public, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said in a court filing Tuesday.

"The president indicated to me that his statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders and do not require the declassification or release of any particular documents," Meadows said in a sworn court statement.The White House chief of staff told the judge to ignore Trump's tweet saying he had authorized the declassification of "any & all documents" related to the Russia probe.

As in, don't believe a word we say. Because if our lips are moving, we are lying. Anyway he was probably just kidding.


Funny that Mitch McConnell doesn't have the time or inclination to pass a Covid relief bill that the public desperately needs before the upcoming election but they can find the time to vote for a new justice on Monday. The GOP and administration have broken all sorts of spending records the last four years and can now pretend that they are suddenly worried about the national debt and sit on their hands while America is on the  hot seat. They lack the courage to do the right thing for the American people in their time of need and pandemic. I guess I could say that their hypocrisy is startling but at this point it is not, it is merely business as usual.

I'm An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande)

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I have been having some very strange dreams lately. Last week I was swimming with my late brother. Dreamt about my mother, something I rarely do. And my father too.

Last night I was driving on the Bay Bridge towards Oakland when suddenly while everybody else went straight ahead, I was given the option to drive up an incline to the very top of the bridge and sail across the girders on a very narrow and unlit pathway. 

Exhilarating, I was the only person granted the privilege, but still a little roller coaster scary. 

Not sure what it all means. I used to be afraid of driving on bridges before my eyes were operated on, lousy depth perception and life has been a bit of a roller coaster of late. No idea of the actual portent.

Leslie and I got up at five minutes to four on Sunday and drove to the swap meet in Long Beach. We had to drop off a tile table I had sold to a customer. I didn't buy a lot but managed to shop all the rows. 

Afterwards I decided to take a few pictures. Long Beach is one of my favorite places to take people shots as they tend to be pretty far out there.

Portrait of a man © Shlomo Ben Yaacov 2020
I had a shipper from New York come by and pick up a dresser to send to New York the other day. He saw my camera and mentioned that he was a photographer as well. 

His name is Shlomo. I really like his work, made me feel slightly inferior. I like his club stuff, really good. I have not been shooting enough people lately. Seeing his nice photographs drove the point home.

Shlomo is an Israeli, used to drive a tank, now he lives in New York. Great careful shipper, Artisan Shipping. Spends a large chunk of his life on the road.

We had a good time at the market, held on the third Sunday of every month. Saw lots of friends. 

Many people wanted to talk about the new Vintage Swap Meet I am proposing. 

Frank ran a story about it in Collector magazine but I have not seen it as yet.

I talk to the county tomorrow for my first serious meeting. There are some glitches but nothing that can't be resolved, I reckon.

I didn't shoot a lot of pictures but grabbed a couple.

Saw some neat stuff, as I said, didn't buy much. I liked these gas pump bird houses, only forty five bucks.

And positively loved this cereal display, just priced a little bit out of my league. Each brand, with date of manufacture and title properly denoted.

Big shot art dealers

People I knew. Weird stuff. Weird people I knew with stuff.

You just never know what you will find at the swap meet.

Just focussing on the slightly bizarre. 

Saw a cream poster that I think is very rare.

Didn't buy it, kind of kicked myself but they wanted a lot of gelt.

Besides, I stopped selling the rock and roll stuff about thirty years ago.

The visual oddities that one sees at the swap meet are just beyond compare. Masks make it all the stranger.

Last year I missed one of the shots of my life. Bill was selling a wooden Civil War era prosthetic leg. 

I was turned in another direction without camera in hand when a one legged man stopped to ponder it. Sort of like King Lear.


What did they say in the 1960's? Let your freak flag fly?

Still doing it at the swap meet. Those that blanche at eccentricity, DO NOT ENTER!

After we left we had a wonderful birthday feast with my newfound cousins in Los Angeles. Great time.

I got a catscan with and without contrast on my abdomen last Wednesday. Wanted to track the large cyst on my remaining kidney.

Was worried, apprehensive and sweating bullets frankly.

The doctor called yesterday. All is good for now. No change.


Monday, October 19, 2020

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Egret and pipefish


Freedom to kill yourself

A Yale professor, John Witt, wrote an interesting opinion worth reading at the New York Times the other day, Republican Judges Are Quietly Upending Public Health Laws. If you can get through the paywall, read it.

All across the country, conservative justices are overturning sensible mask and capacity regulations in the guise of protecting various so called "freedoms," religious or otherwise. Wisconsin is one of the states with a disastrous Covid spike and there are now three lawsuits in the pipeline thereto overturn mask rules promoted by the Democrat Governor Evers. See Wisconsin breaks record for COVID cases for a third time in a week and hospitalizations hit a new high.

A judge there blocked capacity limits set by the governor this week. See Judge Blocks Wisconsin Governor's Indoor Capacity Limits Amid Spike In COVID-19 Cases

A Wisconsin judge has put a temporary hold on an order by Gov. Tony Evers' administration that limits the capacity of bars, restaurants and indoor spaces amid record numbers of coronavirus cases in the state.

The state health department's emergency order capped indoor public gatherings to no more than 25% of the total occupancy limits for the room or building, with exceptions for schools, child care, health care and long-term care facilities.

The order from Sawyer County Circuit Judge John Yackel blocks the new rules, which went into effect Thursday.

The case was brought by the Tavern League of Wisconsin, the Sawyer County Tavern League and the Flambeau Forest Inn.

Of course, it is not just Wisconsin. Similar actions are taking place in Michigan, Texas, California and throughout our nation. All the while Covid 19 is spiking throughout our land, in this feared autumn season.

I have no problem with the new Supreme Court justice-to-be's faith. I am squeamish about her father's long time position as a Shell Oil lawyer and her past and current opinions on the reality of climate change.

Her father, Michael E. Coney, worked as a prominent attorney at Shell Oil in New Orleans and Houston for 29 years, from 1978 to 2007, focusing on deep sea exploration and drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. As part of his work, he represented the oil and gas giant before the federal government, frequently dealing with the Department of Interior on royalties, regulations and compliance issues.

Mr. Coney was also an active member of the powerful oil and gas trade organization, the American Petroleum Institute, twice serving as chairman of its Subcommittee on Exploration and Production Law. On top of being the industry’s main lobby group, A.P.I. has played a critical role in casting doubt on climate science and opposing policies to address climate change.

Judge Barrett has previously recused herself from cases involving four Shell entities related to her father’s work. She has not recused herself from matters involving the A.P.I.

I would imagine it will be a little bit difficult to go against the industry that put food on your family's table throughout your life. As wonderful a person as she is said to and seems to be. And I fully expect her to be what I most fear, just another punitive company lawyer, unconcerned and dispassionate about the law's effect on real people. She can be great buddies with Gorsuch and the frozen truck driver. 


Hypocrisy on the High Court - Textualists and the 10th Amendment.

She Belongs To Me

EPA does it again

 EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will allow utilities to store toxic waste from coal in open, unlined pits — a move that may defy a court order requiring the agency to close certain types of so-called coal ash ponds that may be leaking contaminants into water.

Research has found even plastic-lined coal ash ponds are likely to leak, but those risks are even higher when a clay barrier is the only layer used to hold the arsenic-laced sludge.

An Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice review of monitoring data from coal ash ponds found 91 percent were leaking toxins in excess of what EPA allows, contaminating groundwater and drinking wells in nearby communities.

And when they aren’t leaching into groundwater, the contaminants risk spilling over the sides of the pond any time there is a heavy rain.

From Earth Justice: Leaking and Looming, Legacy Coal Ash Ponds Spew Poisons. Is There One Near You? 

A shuffle to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) independent board of science advisers will add a longtime consultant who has worked for the tobacco and chemicals industries while promoting a member listed as someone “not to pick” by the Union of Concerned Scientists to be the panel's chair.

The EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) is meant to serve as an outside sounding board on the agency’s actions, with 40 or so of the nation’s top scientists weighing in on the scientific backing behind a number of policy proposals. 

But the board has shifted under the Trump administration, adding more members with ties to industry and fewer members with an academic background, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. That follows a move by prior EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt barring academics from serving on the board if they received agency grants for their research.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Frank Zappa

Thanks Exide Technologies!

 Nora sent this along.

I can't get through the L.A. Times paywall but I think we can all get the message from the screenshot. The capitalist credo, privatize the profits and subsidize the debt and toxic waste cleanup.

According to KTLA the residents are mighty pissed and rightfully so. From the federal government, crickets, of course.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency have agreed not to oppose the company’s plan, which is scheduled to be considered for approval at a bankruptcy court hearing Thursday.

“Accepting this terrible proposal would be letting Exide off the hook for poisoning our families with lead and other heavy metals,” said Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar of Cudahy. “The federal government should not be acting on the side of corporate polluters, and instead should be defending our residents.”

Sorry Elizabeth, not the way it works. We now love polluters who run away from their responsibilities in this country. They underwrite our political campaigns.

More here.

Since 2014, the DTSC has ordered testing of some 8,555 homes for lead contamination within a 1.7-mile radius of the shuttered Exide facility. The agency had given itself until June 2021 to clean 3,200 of the worst contaminated homes—those with lead in their soil above 330 parts per million (ppm). But that timeline was set up before the coronavirus pandemic erupted — the residential cleanup was recently suspended completely. What's more, the DTSC currently has no funding and no concrete plan to remediate the 4,753 homes that have a soil lead concentration of between 80 ppm—a state screening threshold—and 330 ppm.

That 80 ppm number is proving contentious. Back in 2017, the DTSC stated how it "maintains a target cleanup goal of properties with lead sampling results that exceed the representative soil lead concentration of 80 ppm." But in a recent email to Capital & Main, an agency spokesperson stressed that 80 ppm is not a "cleanup level," and that the agency has used a federal standard of 400 ppm to prioritize which homes were cleaned first.

Turn off your television.

17 days to go and the country is wound up tighter than a drum. As I have repeated ad nauseam before, no one's mind is changing so all the screaming and ranting is not penetrating the enemy bunker at this point. Might as well save your energy, from whatever side of the street you hail from.

I saw this sign at the local church and largely concur.

First Christian has the best signs in town, the Baptists are a close second. I concur with the sentiments here. Don't work yourselves into a tizzy needlessly. 

JB sent this over the other day. Don't agree entirely, I think some issues need to be brought to light and settled but  still something to ponder...

Daddy, why do the roads glow?

One of the Trump economic talking points is that he has rid the American public of all that troubling regulation that has been strangling the economy. And he has certainly disposed of a heap of it, largely concerning our country's earth, air and water. 

I wonder if the American public ever stops and thinks of the fact that some of that needless regulation is there for a good reason. It might even be protecting their health.

News yesterday that there are new allowances for Phosphogypsum. At the behest of the fertilizer industry, the government is now allowing radioactive material to be used in road construction. 

See EPA allows use of radioactive material in some road construction

The substance exceeds a radioactive level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has deemed safe for humans and has been found to increase cancer risk.

Phosphogypsum has a high radium content. The lifetime cancer risk for adults resulting from exposure to this waste is one excess fatal cancer per 10,000 people. The risk for children is significantly higher. Radium can leach from gypsum stacks into subsurface aquifers, it can be absorbed by plants, consumed by livestock and wildlife and work its way through the food chain to humans. Radium's 1630-year half-life from phosphogypsum stacks will likely remain a public health risk for generations to come. The long term economic, environmental, and health impacts of this have not been fully realized. Phosphogypsum has been banned in all uses since 1992 because it causes cancer. 

The material is now kept in thirteen large stacks, primarily in the southeast. Scientists say that using the product poses health risks to humans and additional risks to the water supply.

“You now have the potential exposure to something that we, in all other scenarios, treat as radioactive hazardous waste,” said Jacki Lopez, The Center for Biological Diversity’s Florida director and senior attorney.  

In 1992, the EPA banned the use of phosphogypsum in road construction, raising concerns about people potentially living in a house on land where phosphogypsum roads once existed. 

The agency now said that the approval came at the request of The Fertilizer Institute, which advocates for the fertilizer industry. 

You can read about the problems and characteristics of this substance here.

Phosphogypsum is a waste by-product from the processing of phosphate rock in plants producing phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilizers, such as superphosphate. The wet chemical phosphoric acid treatment process, or ‘wet process’, in which phosphate ore is digested with sulfuric acid, is widely used to produce phosphoric acid and calcium sulfate, mainly in dihydrate form (CaSO4 · 2H2O):


Annual world production of phosphogypsum is estimated to be ~300 Mt (Yang et al., 2009). This by-product is contaminated by various impurities, both chemical and radioactive, and is usually stockpiled within special areas. The problem of contaminated phosphogypsum has already become an international ecological problem. For example, a huge amount of phospho-gypsum has accumulated in Florida (more than 1 billion (!) tons), in Europe (where the contaminated phosphogypsum is discharged into the River Rhine close to the North Sea), in Canada, Morocco, Togo, India, China, Korea, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Russia, and other parts of the world.

The building materials industry seems to be the largest among all the industries which is able to reprocess the greatest amount of this industrial by-product and benefit man. However, because of the contamination, only 15% of world phosphogypsum production is recycled as building products and asset retarder in the manufacture of Portland cement (a small amount is recycled as agricultural fertilizer or for soil stabilization amendment), while the remaining 85% is disposed of without any treatment (Tayibi et al., 2009). Disposed phosphogypsum is usually dumped in large stockpiles, occupying considerable land areas and causing serious environmental damage due to both chemical and radioactive contamination.

Typical concentrations of radium (226Ra) in phosphogypsum are 2003000 Bq kg− 1(US Environmental Protection Agency, 1990). They are similar to those in phosphate ores.

I was looking into phosphogypsum last night and came across numerous studies and reports about it leaching into aquifers. It has been long deemed unsafe to put in roads. Read this study about water infiltration of phosphogypsum in Tunisia. The EPA's own guidelines warn people of its dangers. Watch how fast they disappear off the web.

Once again, Trump's EPA is putting the American public at risk. Regulations really suck, that is until you find out that they are possibly keeping you from dying.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Speed of the sound of loneliness

Melissa Ross

Leslie went out to feed the birds yesterday morning. "That was so strange," she said as she walked back into the living room. "On the way to the bird feeder a hawk swooped down right over my shoulder. That has never happened before."

A moment later she sat down at our kitchen table and looked at her phone. The message came in, almost instantly. Melissa Ross had passed.

"She has left us," Leslie said. And then she said something about the message and sign from the hawk which I can not remember perfectly and will not paraphrase at this time. I didn't catch it at first, it was cryptic. 

Our friend Melissa Ross has died, after a valiant two and a half year battle with pancreatic cancer. Who lasts that long against the most dreaded of cancers? Nobody I have ever heard of. Six months maybe... Shows you what a fighter she was.

Melissa had a store in Fallbrook called Lavender Dreams for many years. She was a talented cook and artist, a great mother, a colorful person and a good friend to my wife and to many others. She was part of Leslie's regular Mah Jong group and a familiar face at Leslie's Friday night champagne gatherings with the girls as well.

A host of friends have cared for Melissa over the last two years, including my wife. People had developed a care routine and rotation, including trips to chemo. Leslie had been on extra duty of late and knew that the time was very near. Her eldest son flew in from Japan to be with his mother during her last moments. 

My condolences to all of her friends and family.

I know that she will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Long John Baldry

Woke hairsplitting

I need to say at the outset that I have friends of all persuasions, red, blue, gay, straight and in between. Always have. And I think that the current kerfuffle over the term "sexual preference" is ridiculous. 

Talk about oversensitivity and moving the goalposts.

In the Barrett hearings, Hawaiian Sen. Maze Hirono derided the prospective justice's use of the term, saying that it implied that sexual orientation is a choice. Sorry, but haven't gay and bi people said for years that human sexuality was indeed a fluid choice and that humans were capable of all sorts of sexual relationships.

Is that out the window now? 

Sounds like people are looking for an excuse to feel aggrieved to me.  I fail to see the inherent negativity in the term and what the big deal is. Sounds clinical and innocuous. In my opinion, Judge Barrett had nothing to apologize for, at least on that front.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Bert's Apple Crumble


 I have been loosely following the SCOTUS confirmation hearing minutes and this caught my eye:

In response to questions from Graham, Barrett described her judicial philosophy and sought to dispel claims that judges who believe in originalism and textualism rule in lockstep.

"If I'm confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia, you would be getting Justice Barrett," Barrett said. "And that's so because originalists don't always agree and neither do textualists."

Barrett noted that the late Justice Antonin Scalia and current Justice Clarence Thomas, who shared the same judicial philosophy, did not find themselves on the same sides of cases at times.

Great. Something to look forward to. A new justice somewhere in between Thomas and Scalia. Batten down the hatches, America. It will be a very interesting ride.



“People don’t die of this disease anymore, young people don’t die at all and middle age people die very little. And even elderly people have only 1 percent chance of dying.” Rudolph Giuliani

The biggest radioactive spill in US history

Sunday, October 11, 2020