Archive for December, 2008

Talking about a revolution

December 31, 2008

Talking about a revolution.

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don’t you know they’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

Poor people are gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people are gonna rise up
And take what’s theirs

Don’t you know you better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run
Oh I said you better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run

Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution
Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

And finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution
Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no

T. Chapman (1988) [smart lady, graduated from Tufts University.]

Get outside every day.

Bushy tail track

Bushy tail track

Just some bushy tail tracks in the first snow.

p1010096

Water and ice.

My 9/11 call

December 30, 2008

By now everyone has heard the story of that murdering, dirty, mad animal that dressed as Santa and then went to his in-laws house to shoot a little girl in the face and  murdered nine people in cold blood.

In case your house is the underside of a rock, “The embittered divorcee who dressed up as Santa Claus and murdered nine in a Christmas Eve massacre killed his ex-wife, former in-laws and three of her siblings, depriving 15 children of at least one parent.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/4000560/Santa-Claus-gunman-lost-job-and-wife-before-murdering-inlaws.html

So the news ghouls are now broadcasting the 9/11 calls that came in from the house as Santa used his homemade flame thrower. ‘my daughter was just shot in the face.’

I’d like to write how my 9/11 call would have gone-

“I just shot Santa in the head can you please send some elves to clean it up. HaHaHa!”

If you don’t carry a firearm and have the stomach, time and patience to do so you are not doing everything that your fellow citizens, city and country require of you.  Our civil rights are like our bodies, if you don’t exercise them they atrophy.

Concealed carry is a huge responsibility.  One needs to practice enough to become proficient.  You need to learn the law so you know when deadly force is or is not defensible. You need to prepare yourself psychologically and understand that drawing a weapon instantly makes you an enormous target.

I wish someone at that Christmas party was armed and ready.  Maybe it wouldn’t have turned out differently or maybe it would have, but at least someone may have given them a fighting chance or enough time to make an escape.

There are sheep, shepherds and wolves.  What do you choose to be?

I was out skiing and saw some deer tracks so I followed them. Why not, right?  Wouldn’t you?

deer hole

deer hole

There may be an official name for this.  If there is please let me know.  This is a hole that a deer slept in the night before.  If you look closely (click on the pic) you can see that the deer was aligned vertically in the hole.  Its butt was at 12 and head at 6.  If you look real closely you can make out where its ear may have laid in the snow.

And one more-

p1010093You can see where its legs were under it too, the little hoof prints.

Headlamps

December 27, 2008

I own three headlamps.   I’ll review them and tell you what I do and don’t like about each of them so if you are ever in the market you may be able to make a better decision.

Headlamps are one of the best things ever invented.  It lets you light the way or the project and still have your hands free to do what needs to be done.  If you don’t own any you gotta add one or two to your gear.

The first one is a Princeton Tec Solo with a Xenon bulb.  You should be able to pick these up for between $15-20.

Princeton Tec

Princeton Tec

The Solo is a good entry model headlamp.  It runs a long time off of two AA batteries.  It turns on and off by turning the housing for the lamp, like adjusting the beam on a Maglight.  A very important feature of all headlamps is a ratchet mechanism on the lamp so it can be pointed downwards and upwards.  Make sure that any lamp you buy can be ratcheted up and down because when you’re doing something in the dark you want the lamp pointing down at the ground and not up at the trees (unless you’re hunting raccoons).  Before you buy a headlamp work the light part up and down.  Try that ratchet out.  Does it feel cheesy or well-made?  Does it feel like it might wear out quickly and leave your flaccid light forever pointing down at the ground?

p1010069This is the front of the lamp.  Another reason this lamp is good is because it has a strap that goes over the top of your head too.  All headlamps have a strap that goes around the outside of your head, but another nice feature is having a strap that runs over the top of you head from front to back.  This allows the lamp to hang on better to winter hats and helmets.

p1010070This is the battery compartment for the Princeton Solo.  It flips up and stays attached because of a little flexible plastic strip.  In other words you can’t lose the cover to the battery compartment.  This is a nice feature.  The downside is that it doesn’t seem very waterproof, but I have taken countless faceplants in deep powder and I’ve never had a problem.  It may not be submersible, but if you end up doing a yard sale it’ll keep working.  The Solo is bright enough, but not real bright.  It only has two settings, on and off.  Good enough to walk with at night or change a tire, but not bright enough to ski or ride a bike at night.  When you get moving faster you need something that can shine our further.  As the batteries lose juice the beam also starts getting perverted, yellowish and dim.   The Solo is the medium weighing lamp.

The next lamp is also a Princeton Tec.  This model is the EOS.  I don’t know where they come up with these names.  The EOS takes three AAA batteries.  You should be able to pick the EOS up for around $30.

p1010071That gray thing on top of the lamp is the on/off switch.  It’s easy to work even with mittens or gloves.  The EOS has an LED so batteries will last much longer than a filament type bulb, like the aforementioned Solo.  The EOS has four settings – full, medium, low and a flashing strobe.  Obviously the batteries will last longer at the lower settings.  This is a good bright lamp.  I can use this when I ski down hills at night.  This lamp also has a ratcheting mechanism to lock the beam of the light up or down.

p1010074This is the battery compartment for the EOS.  It has a little screw that can be worked with your fingers.  This seems more waterproof to me than the Solo.  The cover is hinged and screw attached so that you can’t lose them.

p1010075If you notice the back of the lamp has two little slots so it is easy to remove the head strap.  This is good so that if the strap gets smelly, dirty or sweaty you can take it off and wash it.  The slots also make it easy to lash the lamp onto something else if need be.  Also notice that the EOS doesn’t have that strap that runs over your head from front to back.  There is just the one strap.  This single strap isn’t as secure as the lamps with both straps – around and over your head.  I think the EOS weighs the least out of these three.

The last headlamp is the Black Diamond Icon.  This is a great lamp.  It takes two AA batteries.  I put lithium batteries in mine. I think this lamp will set you back a little under 50 bucks.  What I don’t like about this lamp is that the switch is on the bottom of the lamp so it’s tough to get too.  Plus it’s tough to work with gloves or mittens.  So when you buy a headlamp check to see where the switch is located and how easy it is to work.

p1010077The Icon has LEDs and a Xenon bulb.  Each (the LEDs and the Xenon) has four settings for a total of eight settings – high, medium, low and a flashing strobe.  Also notice the strap that goes over your head from front to back.  Unlike the other two headlamps the battery compartment for the Icon is at the back of your head.

p1010078This is the battery compartment.  Notice the thumb screw.  Both the screw and the cover are attached so that you can’t lose them.  This compartment seems waterproof to me and I’ve never had a problem with all of my face plants into the snow.

p1010079Notice the little slots on each side so that the strap can be pulled right out to clean or lash the lamp to something else.  It’s not real important, but still it’s a nice feature.

p1010080This is the front of the lamp.  The LEDs are on the side and the Xenon is in the middle.  The Xenon is really bright so it’s great for moving fast at night as it puts a good cone of light a pretty fair distance in front of you.  The LEDs are also bright, but not quite as bright as the bulb.  The good thing is that the LEDs will burn much longer than the Xenon.  Batteries last a really long time.  I’m talking probably 10+ hours for even the Xenon bulb.  The Icon is the heaviest of the three lamps reviewed here.

p1010082You probably can’t make it out here, but there is a little LED that burns flashing green or red depending on how much juice you have left.  This is another nice feature so that you aren’t caught by surprise.

In my experience these are all rugged lights.  Any one of them is a good purchase. I bought the Solo first and then a few years later got the EOS then a few years later got the Icon.  I didn’t consciously “upgrade” but you may find if you buy the cheaper one first that it may not be quite enough for you so you may want to jump right into something better than entry level.  The other thing is that with the Solo as the batteries fade so does your level of light.  The Solo’s lamp gets dimmer and dimmer.  I think the two newer lamps, the EOS and Icon, both have some sort of computer chip in them so that the level of light remains constant even as the batteries start to fade.  This is a real nice feature.  It keeps your light bright white instead of fading, sick, smoker’s teeth yellow.

In summary (just my opinion):

1. that extra strap that runs front to back is good.

2. get a lamp that has both filament and LED bulbs.  In case on goes out you got the other.

3. I like lamps that take regular batteries that can be bought at any 7/11.  Stick to AA & AAA,.

4. check the battery compartment to make sure that it stays attached and if there is a screw make sure that the screw stays attached too.  You don’t want to lose the cover or screw.

5. Check that ratchet mechanism.

6. Get the best light you can comfortably afford.  Otherwise, you’ll end up like me buying a better one a year or two later.

7. Check the waterproof factor.

8. Don’t get something so big that you won’t take with you.

9. All of my lamps are very easy to adjust, but check out how easy it is at adjust the straps of the headlamp you’re considering.

10.  I do like that chip or IC that allows the beam of the lamp to shine steady even as the batteries are dying so check to see if the lamp you’re looking at has a chip or IC.

p1010107Who coulda been wordworking outside in the snow?

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|p1010108Woodpecker.  Imagine making a living like this.  Seems like a lot of work for one or two little bugs.  I like how you can see the individual little spots where he chipped the bark away.  I can almost see him standing there pecking away at it.

Amortization

December 24, 2008

Not very exciting stuff, but you need to grasp the concept.  Stick with me.  Tough it out.

Forget about TEOTWAWKI and concentrate on your financial survival.  It’s good to pay attention to all the macroeconomic news out there, but if you don’t already know what I’m going to explain to you, what you are about to read could save you hundreds of thousands of $’s.

Don’t listen to the mortgage people.  You gotta run the numbers yourself.

Rates are falling to hysterical lows so many folks may be thinking of refinancing.  (If you still gots a job to go to that is.)

If you understand amortization then there is no need to read any further.  If you don’t then I’ve tried to put together a primer for you.

First some background.  I apologize if this is too elemental for you, but some people may not understand so we need to start at the beginning.  Let’s imagine that Billie Borrower borrows $10,000 from Libbie Lender.  Libbie is going to want to make some money on the deal so Libbie charges interest.  To keep things simple, if Libbie charges 5% interest then you’ll end up paying the original $10,000 back to Libbie, plus an additional $500 in interest.  All together you pay Libbie back $10,000 in principal and $500 in interest for a total of $10,500.  That $500 is an expense to you, a direct cost for borrowing money.

Principal is the amount you originally borrowed.  Borrowers want to pay this back as soon as possible.

Interest is the income that the lender demands for lending you funds.  Borrowers want to limit interest as much as possible.

Got that so far?  If not then Google principal and interest till you understand the difference then read on.

Imagine you get a loan from a lender and your monthly payment is $1,000.  Ever wonder what the bank does with that $1,000?  Ever wonder how much of the $1,000 is applied to interest and how much is applied to principal? Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

The method that banks/lenders use is something called amortization.

The monthly loan payment never changes.  it will remain $1,000 for the duration of your loan.  What fluctuates is how much of the $1,000 is applied to interest and how much is applied to principal.

Banks got it sewed up tight so what do they want?  Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

To illustrate, let’s say that you get a 30 year loan from a bank and your monthly payment is $1,000.  The very first payment may be $999 in interest and $1 in principal.  The last payment, number 360 (30 years times 12 months/payments a year = 360), may be $1 in interest and $999 in principal.  Why?  Because the lender/bank wants their money/interest as soon as possible. Wouldn’t you if you were lending?

I’ve pasted in a table so you can see what I mean.  Notice the monthly payment stays the same.  Notice that the amount allocated to principal increases and the amount allocated to interest decreases over the life of the loan.

#

Payment

Principal

Interest

Loan Balance

1

$2,649

$983

$1,667

$99,017

2

$2,649

$999

$1,650

$98,018

3

$2,649

$1,016

$1,634

$97,002

4

$2,649

$1,033

$1,617

$95,970

5

$2,649

$1,050

$1,599

$94,920

6

$2,649

$1,067

$1,582

$93,852

7

$2,649

$1,085

$1,564

$92,767

8

$2,649

$1,103

$1,546

$91,664

9

$2,649

$1,122

$1,528

$90,542

10

$2,649

$1,140

$1,509

$89,402

When you are considering refinancing or getting a new loan you can’t just look at the interest rate or your monthly payment.  You need to look at total interest paid going forwards.  The going forwards is key; that’s why I redded it.

Total interest paid going fowards. That’s what counts.

Now you understand that most of the interest that you pay to a lender you pay early in the life of the loan and as the loan matures you pay down more of your principal and less interest.Why? Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

How can we put this fact to work for us?

A quick explanation will help to understand.   At some point during the life of a loan you “flip” and each of your payments is applied more towards principal and less towards interest.  When this happens varies depending on the term(length of loan) and interest rate.

I just ran the numbers for a $100,000 30 year loan (360 payments) at 6%.  This loan doesn’t “flip” until payment #222.  So for the first 221 payments each payment goes more towards interest than principal.  That’s right you are 18 1/2 years into a 30 year mortgage before most of you monthly payments are applied towards principal and not to line the lender’s pocket.

Example – Billie Borrower is now 10 years into his 30 year loan with Libbie Lender.  Because so much interest is paid in the early stages of a loan, that although Billie is only 1/3 of the way into his loan, Libbie has already probably received 80% of all the interest she will receive over the entire 30 years.  Billie’s current monthly payment may now be going 60% interest and 40% to principal.  Remember at the beginning the payment is 99% interest and 1% principal and at the end of the loan it’s reversed to 1% interest and 99% principal.  Why? Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

The crux…….If Billie were to refinance now she would be right back to DAY ONE!!! Now Billie is back to paying 99% interest and 1% principal.  Why? The chorus please – Lenders want their interest as soon as possible.

As long as you keep refinancing you are stuck paying interest and never paying down the principal (amount you borrowed).

So how do we analyze whether it makes economic sense to refinance or get a loan?  We use something called an amortization schedule (“AS”).  A good AS will tell you how much of each payment goes to interest and how much goes to principal.

Rule #1 -as I elucidated above is don’t listen to the mortgage people.  Run the numbers yourself.

Rule #2 – you can’t pay attention to what happened in the past.  What you care about is how much interest you will be paying going forwards.

So if you have a loan at 6% it may seem like a good idea to refi and move your rate down to 5%, right?  Not so fast because if you are already 3, 5 or 10 years into your current loan you may be paying more principal than interest and do you really want to go back to payment #1 where you are paying 99% interest and 1% principal?  Of course not.

So the only way to figure it out is to run the numbers.  Here is one amortization tool that I found on the Internet, http://www.financialpowertools.com/amortization_calculator/index.html.  (There may be better ones, but this one gits r done.) After you click “Calculate” then click on “View Report.”  The report will tell you how much each of your payments is allocated to principal and how much to interest.

You’re going to have to run the numbers twice.  Run them once with your current loan and then add up how much interest you still will be paying from this day forwards.  For example, if you are five years into a 15 year mortgage all you want to add up is how much interest still needs to be paid, i.e. add up the total interest for all payments for the final ten years of the loan.  This is the toughest part because it’s tedious.  Once again, if there are total of 60 payments on a loan and you are 23 payments into it, all you would want to add the interest for are payments 24 through 60.  What already took place Mr. Fancy Pants would call, “sunk costs.”  They don’t matter so much when you analyze things going forwards because it’s cash taht already flowed under the bridge.

So you got that?  You have to figure out the total interest that you still will be paying over the remaining life of your current loan.  We can call this “Total Interest Remaining.” Write the number down.

Now run the numbers using the AS that I linked to using the new loan that you are considering.   After you click “Calculate” you can just look at the open window where it says, “Total Interest.”

Finally compare Total Interest Remaining (interest still left to be paid on your current loan) to Total Interest (total interest to be paid on your new loan).

If the Total Interest on your new loan is more than the Total Interest Remaining on your current loan you may want to think twice about getting the new loan.

Of course there are all kinds of other reasons to get a new loan, but at least now you are equipped to make an intelligent decision because you can compare the Total Interest Remaining to be paid on your current loan with the Total Interest that you would pay under the new loan you are considering.

I know this is confusing.  If you have questions, post a comment or email me.

Old chimney

Old chimney

Just an old chimeny of a cabin since disappeared.  About 10-15 years ago we were skiing during a real bad storm and we had to seek shelter in the cabin that stood here at that time.  It was good to get out of the elements for a little while, warm up, have a nibble of cheese, meat, fruit or chocolate and take a shot or two of the schnapps that we had.

p1010085Nice trail.  It’s steeper than it looks.

Remington 870 barrels

December 23, 2008

I know that everyone loves to look at pictures of firearms so here’s a blog entry on changing a barrel for the venerable Remington 870.  Anyone can do it.  The 870 has been in production for a very long time.  It is a pump operated five shot 12 gauge shotgun.  The thing is as nearly trouble-free as a firearm can be.  There are all sorts of aftermarket accessories available for the 870 too from different barrels, chokes, magazine extensions, lights, lasers and different stocks.  It can be adapted for just about any use.  There is also a huge array of ammo available for it.

The 870 with a 26″ barrel.  I’d call this a sporting barrel.  You can screw different choke tubes onto it –

sg1Notice the relatively long length of the barrel.

First you need to make sure that the gun is safe.

sgSafety on.  Then work the slide and you can see that nothing is in the chute.  Although it looks like nothing is in the chamber I always stick my finger in there just to be sure that my eyes aren’t fooling me.  Check twice, save a life.  You have to do this every time you pick up a firearm, put a firearm down,  pass it to someone else or get handed one from someone else.  I don’t give a crap if you just watched the guy at the range that is handing you a weapon  make it safe himself.  You have to make it safe yourselfEvery time.  Every time you pick a weapon up or put it down make it safe.  Make it habit.

sg2Next, you work the fore-end slide back halfway, or more, towards the receiver.

sg3Then you unscrew the magazine cap.  You can see the cap attached to the shoulder strap.

p1010064Here I’m getting ready to slide the new barrel in.

p1010065Here the new barrel is being slid into the receiver and over the magazine tube.  You have to make sure that the ring on the barrel goes over the magazine.  It really slides right in.  If it doesn’t you’re doing something wrong and just start over again.

Screw the magazine cap back on and you are almost done.

p1010067Notice the shorter 18″ defense barrel.  This is a cylinder bore barrel with a bead sight.  It’s much better for defensive purposes than the longer sporting barrel.  It’s easier to swing around and get on target, particularly in the small confines of a house.  Being short (me) the shotgun feels better balanced with a shorter barrel.

Before you store the firearm, check again to make sure it is still unloaded and the safety is still on.  Trigger lock it and place it in your safe.

Getting out pics-

xc1Beautiful snow covered field on a beautiful day.

xc5Heaven.  This is the ceiling of my cathedral.  Beautiful old white pines.  They’re probably 100’+.

xcSki buddy.  SMACK that branch with yo’ pole.

Mexican meltdown

December 22, 2008

What’s going down in Mexico?  No one likes to live next to noisy or nosy neighbors. They keep you up.  They litter and make a mess.

Things are going to Hell in a hand basket down there and quickly.  I recently read an excellent article in Forbes that explained how Mexico is basically under the control of four different drug lords.  Killers go into hospitals and kidnap or threaten doctors and murder people right in the operating rooms.  “Hit men pursuing rivals into intensive care units and emergency rooms. Shootouts in lobbies and corridors. Doctors kidnapped and held for ransom, or threatened with death if a wounded gunman dies under their care. With alarming speed, Mexico’s violent drug war is finding its way into the seeming sanctuary of the nation’s hospitals, shaking the health care system and leaving workers fearing for their lives while trying to save the lives of others.”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/world/americas/05mexico.html?_r=1

There are shootouts almost every day between the Mexican Army and drug lords.  “ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Ten suspected traffickers and a soldier were killed in gunbattles Sunday in a southern Mexican state plagued by drug violence.” http://www.fox59.com/pages/landing/?10-gunmen-soldier-killed-in-shootout-in-=1&blockID=155220&feedID=24 and a few days later “ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) – Three gunmen are dead following a shootout with Mexican army troops in the southern state of Guerrero.State authorities say that police found two assault rifles, two pistols, a grenade and a bag of what appeared to be cocaine in the suspects’ vehicle. Mexico has been hit by a rising wave of drug-fueled violence, and officials estimate that more than 5,300 people have died so far in 2008.”  http://www.kold.com/Global/story.asp?S=9559825.

5,300 people, wow.  The killers, “Gunmen had pulled alongside the forest-green Chevy Tahoe on a gritty downtown street and, in broad daylight, pumped 52 shots into where the bodies now lean.” Ten people are day are being killed in Juarez. http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-fg-juarezkillings20-2008dec20,0,634780.story

Mexican consumers are buying less goods made north of the border http://www.forbes.com/afxnewslimited/feeds/afx/2008/11/21/afx5729229.html and the automakers are shuttering some factories in Mexico too. The economic outlook for trade between the US and Mexico is not bright.

As you can imagine tourism is crashing and the US Department of State is now warning Americans about travel to Mexico. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_3028.html And of course Americans are being kidnapped for ransom.  “Batista, a U.S. citizen who works for ASI Global, a Houston-based security company, is a prominent expert on how to avert kidnapping. Ironically, he was nabbed in the industrial city of Saltillo after giving antiabduction seminars to businessmen…” Ironic. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1867138,00.html?imw=Y

So we have drug lords increasing their power and hold over Mexico.  The oil fields in Mexico are producing less and less oil.  Mexican production peaked in 2004 and since that time has fallen by 15%+.  http://setenergy.org/2008/11/24/oil-decline-could-devastate-mexico/.  In addition, with the decline in commodity prices,  and oil in particular, revenues of the Mexican government are falling.  They expect Mexican GDP to shrink.

How often do we see unrest in one country spread to its neighbors?  It’s never good to have 100 Million hungry, poor, desperate people right next door.

I see radical change in Mexico, civil unrest or a return to Mexican totalitarianism as distinct possibilities.  The last “election” really pushed the envelope.  I don’t think that the Mexisheeple will take it on the other cheek.

Why should this concern US in general or you if you live near the southern border?  Where do you think a million or ten million Mexicans will flee to if the SHTF in Mexico?  Yup, right over the border into the southern US.  Those of you in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and southern Cali who think you safely removed yourself from civilization may be in for a big surprise if a flood of poor, hungry refugees crosses the rivers and deserts.

If things get much worse in Mexico beware that it could spread north.  And we have no way to stop a mass migration anymore than we can prevent the thousands that now cross illegally every day.

Got enough beans to share with your Mexican neighbors?

Get outside every day-

p1010033

Junipers in snow

Zen

Zen

Serenity

Serenity

One of the best days of the year!!

December 20, 2008

We got our first significant snowfall.  I went out skiing before the snow stopped falling.  One of my ski buddies, Running Bear, called me last night around 6 and said, “pick you up at 8?”

If you live in an area that gets snow and you haven’t tried cross country skiing (Nordic skiing) then something must be wrong with you.  What’s your malfunction, boy!?! You can get a full set up, boots, poles skis and bindings for probably around 150 bucks.  I beat the hell out of mine and they still last ten years.  For the type of snows we get around here skis beat the heck out of snowshoes.  The big advantage of skis is the glide, plus you get to ski down hills.  I can’t think of a more efficient human powered mode of travel in the snow then Nordic skis.  On a good year I can ski over 100 days.  That’s pretty good.  So this year, although I’m not working as much as I’d like, now that we have snow I’ll be skiing a ton and getting in fighting shape.

Mmmm snow.  Beautiful, delicious, delectable snow.  There’s that list running around, 100 skills every man person should know.  Nordic skiing should be on that list.  If you live in the North and don’t know how, make it your New Year’s resolution. It’s easy on the knees too.

Ski at night!

Ski at night!

Tough to see, but here are some beautiful white pine trees covered in snowy vanilla frosting.  This was the height of the storm.  We were getting an inch or more an hour, 23 degrees and the winds were 20mph+.  It was fun.The first ski is one of my favorite days of the entire year. Nordic skiing is the best exercise I can think of.  You swing your arms and skate your legs.  I used to winter camp and ski.  That’s tough carrying a 50 pound pack on skis.  Once you start leaning a little to one side the pack will pull you right over.  Who cares, when you fall you land in THE SNOW!!  Haha.  It’s fun!

Ski at night!!

Ski at night!

My ski buddy Running Bear with Green Eyed Dog in the background. You can see Green Eyed Dog’s eyes glowing and his white vest to the side of Running Bear’s left leg.  If you ski a lot the position Running Bear is in is a common position.  You stick your poles into your armpits and lean on your poles to catch a break.

We’re powder poachers and I’m proud of it.  Where we went last night there is new “management” and the new “management” implemented new rules and regulations.  What is it with some people?  You give them a little power (flashlight, keys and radio) and all of a sudden they think that they are Master of the Universe.  One of the new rules is that they don’t like us there at night.  SCREW THEM!!

Those are MY WOODSMINE! I don’t care what the name on the deed says.  I’ve been there thousands of times, literally thousands, through all the seasons and all kinds of weather over a period of 30+ years.  Think about that, thousands of times means once, twice or three times a week for 20 years.  Then some new folks come in and try to tell me when I can and can’t go there and what I can and can’t do.  It’s plain rude.  Those woods are my temple.  Really,  that’s the way I look at it.  And the “management” thinks they can keep me from my woody church because they have some official labeling on their trucks and patches on their shoulders.  SCREW THEM!! I’m pretty confident saying that no one in this area currently alive knows these woods better than me.  Sure, maybe 300 years ago the settlers and local Indian tribes may have, but not now.

snow6

Ski at night!

So how do we get around the new “management’s” lack of hospitality? We park across the street from the woods, run across the street and bushwhack through the woods to the trails.  This is not advised for others to do at night in heavy wind driven snows unless you are intimately knowledgeable of the terrain.   Then we ski till we get near the top of the mountain.  At that point it’s too rocky and steep so we remove our skis and hike the rest of the way using one ski in each hand as a walking stick.  Once we get to the top we put our skis back on and then the fun begins, ski to the bottom.  Why snowshoe when you don’t get the benefit of the skate and glide?  Don’t fight gravity.  Use it.

Ski at night!

Ski at night!

If you engage in aerobic activities in the winter you know that you need to dress appropriately.  You have to dress for how hot you may get when your heart is doing 150 beats a minute.  I was overdressed.  Although it was 23 degrees out I had my jacket totally unzipped and I was still sweating.  You have to be careful not to sweat too much.  You also want to wear underwear that wicks your sweat away from your body.  No cotton, because “Cotton is death.” Got polypro and Goretex?

Abraham’s rule of the day: You can’t complain about the snow or cold if you stay inside.   Keep your sitting inside on the couch watching TV mouth shut.  Just get outside.

Bailouts

December 20, 2008

Why is it-

The banks get a bailout 100 times what the autos wanted?

The banks get to pay dividends to their shareholders with taxpayer funds, but the autos are prohibited from doing so?

The banks get to give bonuses with taxpayer funds, but the autos are prohibited from doing so?

The banks get no strings attached, but the autos needed detailed plans?

The banks get the money for years, but the autos have to pay it back in 90 days?

The banks don’t have to make any changes, but the auto workers need to make huge concessions?

Why the current administration loves the banking, lending class, but hates the working, manufacturing class?

“In announcing the plan, Bush said the companies’ workers should agree to wage and work rules that are competitive with foreign automakers by the end of next year.  Under the White House plan, the government will …in effect partially nationaliz[e] the industry.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28311743/

$’s and sense

December 18, 2008

Have you been watching the US$ the past few weeks?  Wow.  The issue as I see it and I may be wrong, I’m not a currency trader, is that at some point the rest of the world will may lose its confidence in the “full faith and credit of the United States government.”  If that point is reached then we become like Iceland at best.

Riots in Iceland

Euro to $

Euro to $

So in the past 30 days one US$ went from being worth .78 Euros to .68 Euros.  Hmmm, run some numbers in my head .10/.78 = 10%+.  Think about that.  The US$ now buys 10% less in Europe than it did just a week or two ago.  Courtesy of http://www.x-rates.com/d/EUR/USD/graph30.html

US$ to Yen

Yen to US$

And the US$ is also obviously losing ground to the Japanese Yen.  In the past month the purchasing power of the US$ in Japan has also gone down by more than 10%.  http://www.x-rates.com/d/JPY/USD/graph30.html

US$ to Swiss Franc

Swiss Franc to US$

http://www.x-rates.com/d/CHF/USD/graph30.html

All are pretty precipitous drops.  What this means now is that anything that we buy overseas just went up in price by 10%+.  The good thing is that our exports became cheaper to the world markets.

usdi

USDI

This is the US$ index 90 day chart.  The interesting thing here is the red line.  The red line represents a 20 day moving average.  Notice the movement downwards. http://quotes.ino.com/chart/?s=NYBOT_DX&v=d3&w=1&t=l&a=20

It’s currently at 78 or so.  There seems to be support (magic hands) at around 70.  If it drops below 70 for a week or two I’d get real concerned.

Still our whole economy is a confidence game.  If the point comes that folks who purchase or hold US$ denominated assets lose confidence in the US government’s ability to back up the Trillions of US$’s being created by the outgoing Bush administration (not by PE Obama who hasn’t even been sworn in yet) then we are done.  The US government won’t be able to sell debt to keep our ship of state afloat.

Look at the rate of the drop and consider whether the point of loss of confidence has happened or is approaching.

Think about it.  Every $ created, and Trillions have been created by the current administration in the past three months, reduces the value of all $ already in existence.  It’s dilution pure and simple.

How would you react if you had huge investments, maybe your life savings like a 401k, in the US$ and the US government kept diluting the value of what you held?  Would you keep buying US$’s or would you be looking to cash out?

Our lenders are in a tough position though because if they dump too rapidly, others follow suit and it becomes a race to the bottom.  The trick is how to divest cautiously so that it doesn’t force down the value of what they remain holding.  Our lenders have a vested stake in propping up the US$.

As I wrote above though, expect everything that you buy that is imported to go up in price.  It’s not a bad time to stock up on imported items that you like.  Just about all of our clothing and footware are imported.  I like olive oil and coffee.  What do you like?

Still the critical issue is whether or not we reach a tipping point when the rest of the world loses confidence in the US$.  If that point comes then the flow of goods (including oil) into the US comes to a grinding halt.  We won’t be able to afford the fuel to run sorties over the 50 states.

Walkn about pics-

These boots are made for walking

These boots are made for walking

Please don’t be afraid of getting muddy.  Dirt is one of the cleanest things I can think of.

Glacial erratic

Glacial erratic

It may be tough to see in this picture, but there are a bunch of boulders.  They are glacial erratic.  Glacial erratic are giant rocks left behind by the last ice age. About 10,000 years ago Glaciers creeped down from the Great White North into my neck of the woods.   As the glaciers retreated or melted they left behind stones that were dragged far away from their origin.

p10100321

Sassafras in winter

This is sassafras in the winter (no leaves).   Sassafras is easy to spot when it has its leaves because the leaves look like mittens or hands.  The leaves got a thumb.  In the winter it can be spotted because notice how the bark is kind of smooth with spots of green?  Boiled sassafras roots make a great tea.  Mmmm, iced sassafras tea.  Just thinking of it reminds me of warm summer days.  The dried leaves are crushed to thicken soups, and if you live in mosquito land, gumbo.  I think down in swamp land they call the crushed leaves file’ powder as in gumbo file’.   The twigs make tasty toothpicks too.

Ice storm

December 16, 2008

We got a rainstorm the other night, 3+ inches of rain.  Folks a few miles away got an inch or more of ice.  My house was drying out today.  Folks a few miles away were chilling out.  Literally, no power, no heat.  Are you prepared to stay warm?  Are you prepared to vanquish the darkness?

One of the places that I go walking is a little hill.  The summit is maybe 700 feet or so.  The base is around 300 feet, so the gain is 400.

At the base of this hill it was drying out from last night’s rainstorm.  At the top it was covered in ice.

ice

ice

It’s amazing what a small change in elevation can do.  You have to keep that in mind when you are getting dressed or packing.

p1010061What you see on the ground isn’t snow.  It’s ice that’s falling from the trees as the day warms.  If you look closely at the ground you can see all the branches that have snapped off the trees from the weight of the ice.  Ice weighs a lot.

p1010058

Some tree covered in ice.  It’s like a winter wonderland.  As if each branch was dipped into glass.

p1010057

I like the way the sun is shining through the ice on the tree.

p10100441This is a good picture that really shows the weight of the ice and how it bends trees and branches to the point of snapping.  You should take a look around your property and make sure there aren’t any branches or trees that may come down during a storm and knock out your wires.  If you haven’t laid awake listening to trees and branches snapping during an ice storm it is something else.

p1010055You can see next year’s buds being kept on ice for the spring solstice and Greenman to arrive.

p1010054I call this construction, “White Pine Amidst Ice.”  Just kidding, but it is pretty.

p1010047Nice trail.

So what was I reminded of today?

You gotta get outadoors everyday.

I have to check around my house to make sure nothing will come down on wires, roof or sheds if there’s a storm.

Weather can change dramatically and rapidly.

If your power goes out do you have another way to stay warm?  And another one after that? If my electric goes out I can’t use my furnace, but I have a woodstove.  If that doesn’t work I have a propane heater.  If that doesn’t work I have a little camping heater.   Can you cook without electricity?  Do you have a backup plan to that one?  Do you have the cast iron to cook over a fire if need be?  Do you even have a spare propane tank or extra bag of charcoal for your grill?

Generators, batteries, solar chargers, Coleman fuel, propane, blankets, sleeping bags, flashlights, lanterns, candles, propane heater, charcoal, firewood, saws, mauls, light sticks, fleece, long underwear, head lamps, cast iron cookware, handwarmers, hats, gloves, Dutch oven, grills, axes, matches and lighters, portable TVs, wind up lights and radios.

Lastly, you need to know how to shut off the utilities to your house.  Learn how to shut off the water main and drain the heating system, shut off your natural gas, turn off the furnace and pull the main breaker to your house.  The time to figure out how to do it isn’t when you need to.

BTW our power went out today.  It didn’t take me long to pull out a couple of battery lanterns, the b attery TV set and a radio.  We weren’t affected in the least.  I did find out that the batteries died in the radio.  No problem, we have lots of extra batteries.  It feels good to be prepared.  Are you?

Our government

December 13, 2008

For the people, of the people and from the people.  Interesting concept in dreamland.  Application of our supposed democratic republic in reality though, well that’s something different.

From the movie Independence Day:

“PRESIDENT: I don’t understand. Where did all this come from? How did this get funded?

MOISHE You didn’t think they actually spent ten thousand dollars for a hammer and thirty thousand for a toilet seat, did you?”

Do you?

Article I, § 8 of the Constitution is pretty clear, Congress gets to spend the money.  It’s part of the separation of powers.  That’s why the line item veto is unconstitutional.  Allowing the president the authority to veto specific items in an appropriations bill is akin to empowering the executive to controlling the purse strings. Clinton v. City of New York, 524 US 417 (1998) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_v._City_of_New_York

The Constitution requires bicameralism (both houses of congress have to approve a bill) then the bill needs to be presented to the chief executive for him to sign, veto or do nothing(pocket veto).  There aren’t that many options.

If you prefer to keep your head buried in the sand then stop reading now and go read the comics.  I call them the way I see them.

So what happens when things get fakakta (that’s yiddish for pooh, not Winnie.)?  That was the problem with Iran/Contra.  Congress didn’t approve the action or the financing so there were no checks and balances in place.  No oversight.  The president at that time did it all.

This is where it’s going to get crazy, and quite frankly unbelievable.  I don’t want to believe it.

What am I trying to get at?  What if I told you that elements within our government may be running illegal drugs in order to fund black operations?  Do you get that, that rogue elements within our government could be running illegal drugs in order to fund operations without congressional approval or oversight?  It’s illegal.

Now the president’s “extraordinary rendition” program is well known.  You know the program where we take suspects and fly them out to countries like Eqypt and Syria in order to be tortured.  Yup, that’s right we even outsource torture now.  You might ask yourself why if Syria is on the list of those who get a lump of coal do we send prisoners there.  Interesting, huh?

“Outsourcing Torture – The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program.” http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/02/14/050214fa_fact6

So you got that so far?

So what would you think if some of the CIA planes that were used to transport suspects to be tortured in Syria or to Gitmo were later found crashed with tons of cocaine on them?  Well I hope you’d find that interesting to say the least.

Let me put it together for you again, elements within our government may be smuggling illegal drugs in order to fund black operations without congressional oversight.

I’m sorry to maybe open your eyes to what your own government is doing.  It’s terribly disheartening when we have spent so much $ and ceded so many of our civil liberties to the War on Drugs to only discover that our government could be at the center of it, or at least directly involved.

Do you doubt it, then let me know.

“MEXICO CITY (AFP) — A private jet that crash-landed almost one year ago in eastern Mexico carrying 3.3 tons of cocaine had previously been used for CIA “rendition” flights, a newspaper report said here Thursday, citing documents from the United States and the European Parliament.  The daily said it had obtained documents from the United States and the European Parliament which “show that that plane flew several times to Guantanamo, Cuba, presumably to transfer terrorism suspects.”

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5j6QonBKKMo2gw1e3ql-xUcQEZbVg

This is some crazy Shiite, huh?

CIA Torture Jet wrecks with 4 Tons of COCAINE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oszATUJ4IRE

The last rays of sunlight glint off its wings of the plane, which looks for all the world as if it were carry potentates from the US Department of Homeland Security to a conference on drug interdiction at a posh Cancun hotel.

Except this plane isn’t carrying diplomats or FBI agents…

Instead, it is loaded with 128 identical black leather suitcases, each tightly packed with cocaine, an incredible quantity of cocaine, 5.5 tons in all. Stenciled on the side of each suitcase was a single word: Privado.

Inside the suitcases, the packages of cocaine were stamped with different symbols: a scorpion, a star, a horse, among others, as though they were going to different drug gangs for onward smuggling up through Mexico to the U.S.”

http://www.madcowprod.com/08232006.html

“A Beechcraft Super King Air 350 (N675BC), registered to a suspected CIA front, Aviation Enterprises, Inc. of Wilmington, Delaware, was recently spotted alongside a Russian-made AN-124, suspected of being a major drug transport cargo plane, in Colombia.

The “specially configured” King Air flew from Tampa to Guantanamo Bay on October 22, 2007. From 2002 to 2006, the King Air was registered to Prewitt Leasing Inc. of Bedford, Texas.”

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_wayne_ma_080401_is_cia_using_renditi.htm

The Real Drug Lords
A brief history of CIA involvement in the Drug Trade
by William Blum

http://www.serendipity.li/cia/blum1.html

The proletariat

December 12, 2008

Republicans opposed pay limits for CEOs of the banks that got TRILLIONS, but demand paycuts from the workers that make products.  BTW the auto companies want less than 1/100 of what MerrillAICitiMorgOfAmerica got.

“It should be up to the board of directors of a private corporation to set the compensation of an executive; it shouldn’t be Congress’s role,” Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.) proclaimed on CBS News.”

“’If we design it so it’s punitive and so institutions aren’t going to participate, this won’t work the way we need it to work,’ Mr. Paulson said…”

The range

December 10, 2008

Got bullets?  Do you shoot?

Went to the range today.  Perfect day for me.  It was nice and rainy so there wasn’t anyone else there interfering with what I want to do.  When there are a bunch of people it’s a drag, so rainy cold days are great because it keeps the weaklings inside.

25 yard range

25 yard range

This is the berm for the 25 yard range.  I sighted in my red dot on the Saiga and then went through of box of 38s and also went kapow kapow with the 12 gauge.    I like using the 38.  It just feels right.  I’ll shoot at different angles and ranges.  Do you practice?  I’m no expert.  I don’t even pretend to know what I’m doing.  If I had the dough I’d love to take a class or two.  I’ve also been meaning to sign up for the IDPA stuff.

After getting warmed up and sighted in a bit I moved over to the 50 yard range.

50 yard range

50 yard range

This is the 5o yard range.  You see the little black thing?  That’s the target.  50 yards isn’t really far, but it’s still tough for me to shoot accurately.  I mean if my eyes can’t make out the target other than the red bullseye it’s tough to be more accurate than my eyes allow.  I hit the paper every time which is smaller than a torso so I figure I’m doing ok.    When I use the iron sights the target becomes the same size as the iron sights so forget about making out the different scoring circles on the target.

I ended up hitting the target stand.

target stand

target stand

This is the stand that I hit.  I wasn’t that far off.  There was a target in the upper corner where I was aiming.  I was an inch or two off.  The reason I show this is because, being new to centerfire rifles, I thought it interesting to see the damage that one can do.  The bullet went right through the 1/4″ (?) steel rod holding the target.  It just sheared it right off.  I also took one shot at a small (8″ diameter) pine tree.  It went right through, small entry hole and a rather large exit hole.  Shoulda taken a pic of that too.  Now I know that the bullet would go right through the sheetmetal of a vehicle without a problem.  It might even exit the other side, in one door and out the other.

With my stand now damaged I shot at a one gallon plastic milk jug.  That’s always fun, to see the jug dance around.  Movement is good.

If you haven’t tried shooting, it’s harder than it looks.  Forget about shooting the gun out of someone’s hand or shooting somone in the leg.  That’s TV and movie stuff.  And that’s before you even add in stress and adrenaline.

Ssssssssssssssaiga

Ssssssssssssssaiga

This is the evahl black rifle.  Boo!!  Are you scared?  It’s a Saiga 7.62 x 39.  It’s build on the AK platform and comes from the Izhmash facotry in Russia. I’m guessing I’ve fired over 500 rounds through it, but less than 1,000.  It has never failed me.  I have never had a miss feed.    That’s a cheap red dot on top of it, not that cheap really.  It has kind of a crazy side mount for the scope.  I wish I got a red dot with the various reticles.  Oh well, live and learn.

Anyways, as we’ve all heard practice makes perfect.  Do you practice?  Do you have more than 1/2 a box of shells at h0me?

Edit: Since my schpiel on retail some more news has popped:

“Seven metro Detroit La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries start liquidation sales on Friday, another casualty of Michigan’s rugged economy.”

http://www.freep.com/article/20081209/BUSINESS06/812090345

“Office Depot will close 112 stores”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hZ-lRS9alf0tsju3ZDd65EEF3DiQD94VT5H80

Retail

December 9, 2008

It doesn’t look good.  Funny how the analysts were roosters crowing about Black Friday sales being up 3% over last year.  They’re like PT Barnum.

“The American consumer is a train wreck,” said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a New York-based retail consultancy. “We don’t know when it is going to get good but I think the worst is yet to come. The results are terrible and will continue to be terrible.”  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/dec/04/useconomy-walmart

The article goes on to say that during November Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch and GAP reported sales declines of more than 10%.   Just for sh and giggles I ran some numbers.  Last year Macy’s sales declined from the previous year (2006) by 2.4%.  Macy’s net income declined by 10.3%.    If Macy’s sales over the next 12 months fall by 10% its net income could fall by 40%.

What’s bad for retail is bad for America.  “Consumer spending is the primary engine of the economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product. If those pistons start to slow, the system is likely to sputter to a halt.” http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/02/business/02econ.php

If you work at one of these places you may want to start looking for a new job. “At Target, sales at stores open at least a year, a critical measure of retail health, tumbled 10.4 percent, in contrast to a 10.8 percent increase a year ago. Sales at Kohl’s sank 17.5 percent compared with a 10.2 percent increase last year. Children’s Place, which had a 4 percent sales increase in October, was down 7 percent.”  http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_11138933?nclick_check=1

“Speaking before the Joint Economic Committee Friday, Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Keith Hall gave testimony on Friday’s jobs number.The text of his prepared remarks also showed that retail trade employment fell by 91,000 in November…” http://www.rttnews.com/Content/AllEconomicNews.aspx?Id=794968

How many more retail jobs will be lost after the New Year?

“Macy’s, Gap, Target, Nordstroms and Kohl’s all reported feeling the pinch, and one source expects almost 6,000 store closings this year.  Consumer expert Jay Seaton said some of your favorite stores may not be around this time next month.” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27795751/

And the closings will increase next year.  ““The economic meltdown that’s affecting the overall economy is certainly going to challenge retail,” said Steve Lieberman, CEO of the retail real estate firm the Retail Connection. “It’s likely that we will see a greater number of store closings. Supply is exceeding demand, and vacancy will clearly increase.” http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2008/12/08/story9.html

And as the stores and malls close leaving vacant, empty shells behind both sales and property tax revenues fall.  “Activities in west Mesa offer some cases in point. The shell of a former Walmart sits 2 miles from a Kmart that will close in January. A Mervyn’s and Circuit City will soon depart the area.  Such losses this year contributed to Mesa’s $62 million budget shortfall. The city announced 315 layoffs last month.” http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2008/12/02/20081202retailloss1129.html

“We’re probably in the first inning of the commercial mortgage problem,” said Scott Tross, a real estate lawyer with Herrick Feinstein in New Jersey. That’s bad news for more than just property owners. When businesses go dark, employees lose jobs. Towns lose tax revenue. School budgets and social services feel the pinch.”http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/28/business/main4637008.shtml

Teachers, cops, firefighters, clerks and managers get laid off.  Think you hate going to the DMV now?  Maybe they don’t plow and sand as well or pick up the trash as often.  Maybe they cancel school sports or the glee club.

Try to work this information into your view of the evolving world.

rubbing

rubbing

Check out the beautiful stand of gray birch (?) in the background.

4th Amendment

December 6, 2008

This is how it’s done.  They don’t come to your house and ask for your guns.  It’s the slow drip, drip, drip against the constitutional bedrock foundation of our country that slowly, but surely wears away our rights and erodes our freedom.  They listen to your calls. They search your emails.  They check what you buy and from who.  They track your Internet searches and what books you take out from the library. They know if you’ve been a good, compliant, orderly citizen or someone who dares to think, to challenge, to speak out.

That’s how it begins.

fort_gordonNow, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. [my emphasis]” President Bush 4/20/2004http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040420-2.html

“Washington, D.C. – The Bush administration is trying to convince a federal judge to allow a law that grants retroactive legal immunity to U.S. telecommunications companies, while the Electronic Frontier Foundation aims to proceed with a case that claims they violated constitutional rights by transferring private communications of Americans to the National Security Agency without warrants.” [my emphasis] 12/02/2008http://www.tgdaily.com/html_tmp/content-view-40403-118.html

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” [my emphasis]Fourth Amendment, U.S. Const.

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

If you haven’t read the entire US Constitution then click the above link and read it.  It’s not that long.

Does it bother you, or are you willing to trade Liberty for security and deserving of neither?

Over 350 of our elected representatives voted in favor of allowing ATT, Bellsouth and Verizon, among others, to throw open their switches for the government agents’ prying eyes, ears and hands.

Are you willing to trade Liberty for security?

Does it bother you?  Does it?

It’s also Congress that passed immunity for telecomms in the second place, the first place being of course the government putting splitters in all the switches of all of the telecomms except for Qwest.  Qwest had the good sense to know that it was wrong.

Granting immunity is a good enough reason to not have voted for PE Obama who voted in favor of immunity after originally speaking out against immunity.

This isn’t politics.  This is serious business. The government is snoopy, snooping in all of our businesses, all of the time, 24/7.

They track your phone calls, your banking transactions, your Internet searches, your emails, the books you take out from the library and who knows what else or how they might be sorting and analyzing the data.    Beware or you may get a lump of coal.

Please study the names following my pics carefully.  Any of them who voted in favor of immunity and against our Constitution should be voted out of office next chance we got.  Did your senator or congressman vote against your protecting your privacy?

But first a pic-

Muskrat den

Muskrat den

Would you have spotted this or just thought it was a big pile of leaves?

And a muskrat-

muskrat

muskrat

Senators voting in favor of immunity YEAs —69

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Inouye (D-HI)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Senators agaisnt immunity NAYs —28
Akaka (D-HI)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Wyden (D-OR)
Not Voting – 3
Kennedy (D-MA) McCain (R-AZ) Sessions (R-AL)

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00168

And the house

Reps in favor of immunity YEAS    290 —

Ackerman
Aderholt
Akin
Alexander
Altmire
Arcuri
Baca
Bachmann
Bachus
Baird
Barrett (SC)
Barrow
Bartlett (MD)
Barton (TX)
Bean
Berkley
Berman
Berry
Biggert
Bilbray
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Blunt
Boehner
Bonner
Bono Mack
Boozman
Boren
Boswell
Boucher
Boustany
Boyd (FL)
Boyda (KS)
Brady (TX)
Broun (GA)
Brown (SC)
Brown, Corrine
Buchanan
Burgess
Burton (IN)
Butterfield
Buyer
Calvert
Camp (MI)
Campbell (CA)
Cantor
Capito
Cardoza
Carney
Carter
Castle
Castor
Cazayoux
Chabot
Chandler
Childers
Cleaver
Clyburn
Coble
Cole (OK)
Conaway
Cooper
Costa
Cramer
Crenshaw
Crowley
Cubin
Cuellar
Culberson
Davis (AL)
Davis (KY)
Davis, David
Davis, Lincoln
Davis, Tom
Deal (GA)
Dent
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Dicks
Donnelly
Doolittle
Drake
Dreier
Duncan
Edwards (TX)
Ellsworth
Emanuel
Emerson
Engel
English (PA)
Etheridge
Everett
Fallin
Feeney
Ferguson
Flake
Forbes
Fortenberry
Fossella
Foxx
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Gallegly
Garrett (NJ)
Gerlach
Giffords
Gillibrand
Gingrey
Goode
Goodlatte
Gordon
Granger
Graves
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Gutierrez
Hall (TX)
Harman
Hastings (FL)
Hastings (WA)
Hayes
Heller
Hensarling
Herger
Herseth Sandlin
Higgins
Hinojosa
Hobson
Hoekstra
Holden
Hulshof
Hunter
Inglis (SC)
Issa
Johnson, Sam
Jordan
Kanjorski
Keller
Kildee
Kind
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kingston
Kirk
Klein (FL)
Kline (MN)
Knollenberg
Kuhl (NY)
LaHood
Lamborn
Lampson
Langevin
Latham
LaTourette
Latta
Lewis (CA)
Lewis (KY)
Linder
Lipinski
LoBiondo
Lowey
Lucas
Lungren, Daniel E.
Mack
Mahoney (FL)
Manzullo
Marchant
Marshall
Matheson
McCarthy (CA)
McCarthy (NY)
McCaul (TX)
McCotter
McCrery
McHenry
McHugh
McIntyre
McKeon
McMorris Rodgers
McNerney
Meeks (NY)
Melancon
Mica
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Miller, Gary
Mitchell
Moore (KS)
Moran (KS)
Murphy, Patrick
Murphy, Tim
Murtha
Musgrave
Myrick
Neugebauer
Nunes
Ortiz
Pearce
Pelosi
Pence
Perlmutter
Peterson (MN)
Petri
Pickering
Pitts
Platts
Poe
Pomeroy
Porter
Price (GA)
Pryce (OH)
Putnam
Radanovich
Rahall
Ramstad
Regula
Rehberg
Reichert
Renzi
Reyes
Richardson
Rodriguez
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rohrabacher
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Ross
Royce
Ruppersberger
Ryan (WI)
Salazar
Sali
Saxton
Scalise
Schiff
Schmidt
Scott (GA)
Sensenbrenner
Sessions
Sestak
Shadegg
Shays
Sherman
Shimkus
Shuler
Shuster
Simpson
Sires
Skelton
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Snyder
Souder
Space
Spratt
Stearns
Stupak
Sullivan
Tancredo
Tanner
Tauscher
Taylor
Terry
Thompson (MS)
Tiberi
Turner
Udall (CO)
Upton
Walberg
Walden (OR)
Walsh (NY)
Wamp
Weldon (FL)
Westmoreland
Whitfield (KY)
Wilson (NM)
Wilson (OH)
Wilson (SC)
Wittman (VA)
Wolf
Yarmuth
Young (AK)
Young (FL)

Reps against immunity NAYS    129 —

Abercrombie
Allen
Andrews
Baldwin
Becerra
Blumenauer
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Capps
Capuano
Carnahan
Carson
Clarke
Clay
Cohen
Conyers
Costello
Courtney
Cummings
Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
DeFazio
DeGette
Delahunt
DeLauro
Dingell
Doggett
Doyle
Edwards (MD)
Ellison
Eshoo
Farr
Fattah
Filner
Foster
Frank (MA)
Gonzalez
Grijalva
Hall (NY)
Hare
Hill
Hinchey
Hirono
Hodes
Holt
Honda
Hooley
Inslee
Israel
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Jefferson
Johnson (GA)
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, E. B.
Jones (OH)
Kagen
Kaptur
Kennedy
Kilpatrick
Kucinich
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee
Levin
Lewis (GA)
Loebsack
Lofgren, Zoe
Lynch
Maloney (NY)
Markey
Matsui
McCollum (MN)
McDermott
McGovern
McNulty
Meek (FL)
Michaud
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Mollohan
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Nadler
Napolitano
Neal (MA)
Oberstar
Obey
Olver
Pallone
Pascrell
Pastor
Payne
Price (NC)
Rangel
Rothman
Roybal-Allard
Ryan (OH)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sarbanes
Schakowsky
Schwartz
Scott (VA)
Serrano
Shea-Porter
Slaughter
Solis
Speier
Sutton
Thompson (CA)
Tierney
Towns
Tsongas
Udall (NM)
Van Hollen
Velázquez
Walz (MN)
Wasserman Schultz
Waters
Watson
Watt
Waxman
Weiner
Welch (VT)
Wexler
Woolsey
Wu

—- NOT VOTING    13 —

Brown-Waite, Ginny
Cannon
Gilchrest
Gohmert
Jones (NC)
Paul
Peterson (PA)
Reynolds
Rush
Stark
Tiahrt
Visclosky
Weller

The Holidays

December 4, 2008

No one wants the stupid crap that you feel you need to buy for them and no one wants to buy stupid crap for you.  Stop it. No one wants another tie. When you give something to someone else you’re basically telling them to buy something for you.  Stop it.

grinch_santaPlease don’t buy into it.  At this point no one should be buying anything that isn’t a necessity.  If it doesn’t make life easier for you or help you to prepare for the future than you don’t need it.  No more electronics.  No more exercise equipment that you don’t use.  No more video games.  Even rethink toys for the kids.  No more crap that sits in the basement, draws, attic or trunk of your car unused.

Don’t get caught up in thinking that there needs to be a ton-o-pile of gifts under the tree.  Don’t make yourself crazy.  The world is changing.

Give to your heart’s content, but be practical.  Give stuff that people can use, that makes them safer or will help them to be prepared if our banks close or supply lines go down.

The best things to give are those things you make yourself.  Can some pickles.  Make candles.  Make jars of dried pea soup mix or bread mix.  Give a neighbor a coupon for a free driveway shoveling or an oil change.  Don’t give your elderly mother something that will sit in her basement collecting dust.  Clean her gutters,  Wash her car.  Sharpen someone’s knives for them. Clean their gutters.

Clothing is good.  Tools are good.   Cookware is good.  Kitchen knives.  Camping gear.  Make a meal for those you love.  Freeze a lasagna or a casserole for someone that may be short on funds for food.  Give canned goods.  Give someone a book or two of postage stamps and some envelopes.  Mow a lawn.

If you’re worried that friends and family are ignoring the future rushing towards them then give them something that will make them more secure like flashlights, wind up radios, a book on Peak Oil or preparing, a first aid kit, a sewing kit, a home tool kit,  a bug out bag or survival kit or work gloves.  Reference books are always great.  How about a field guide of birds or animal tracks and a pair of binoculars?  A cookbook for a friend that eats out a lot.

Don’t waste your money.  Don’t get caught up in the commercials and commercialization of the holidays.  It’s not what you give that counts.  It’s what you think and feel.

People are hurting.  Even people you may not suspect are having financial troubles may be.  The last thing they want is something that they can’t use.  They may want paint to paint their house or get their brakes done.  Think what people need and may not be able to buy for themselves.

Spend time with family.  Instead of hitting the mall spend some time with your friends and family, speak to your kids or better yet play a game with them.  Instead of giving your group of friends a bunch of junk agree to forego it and have a pot luck dinner.

Please rethink what giving means in the new world that is evolving right before our eyes.

Blue heron standing on a stick you may have to click on the pic

Blue heron standing on a stick you may have to click on the pic

carnage

carnage

Big ol’ pile of fur in the woods.  Just my guess, but I’d venture to say that it appears a hawk or osprey done ate a squirrel.  Anyone have another guess?

Martial Law

December 3, 2008
Police state

Police state

Everyone is blogging about it.  It’s troubling that so many of us feel the same way in an ostensibly “free” country.  What do you think is going to happen when the banks and the stock market are locked down so you can’t trade or make withdrawals?

Our congresspeople were threatened with martial law if they didn’t pass the Troubled Assets Relief Program (“TARP”).

Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) discussing Bush Inc.’s threatened martial law

Rep. Sherman (D-CA) discussing Bush Inc.’s threatened martial law

And there are 20,000 more troops on the way to keep the lid on things come…

“Pentagon to deploy 20,000 troops for domestic emergencies”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gJd63da5mM0wM8hDw0VkfJjebZbg

Are you ready to be stay in your home for a few days or a few months?  Best way to survive is to employ the three L’s – lay low or leave.

How to Survive Martial Law-

http://www.geocities.com/northstarzone/LAW.html

Survive Martial Law-

http://www.scribd.com/doc/3545879/Survive-Martial-Law

Bunch of PDF’s to download-

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2008/02/372126.shtml

First ice

First ice

The first ice of the season on a little pond.

First ice

First ice

Just some frost crystal poking up.  I like the geometric way these things look all angular.