Friday, December 19, 2014

It's good to end keeping people in the dark



While not supporting the Cuban government, we can support the Cuban people. Sure, sanctions may prevent a government from getting weapons and getting rich, although, not really, most sanctions end up punishing the people. Increased contact means the spread of information and ideas. Increased trade, at least at the smaller business level, means an improvement in jobs. It is proven that the higher the general income, education, and opportunities, the higher the freedom.

Let's get the Cuban people out of the dark and we all benefit.

2 CMEs Coming, Disaster Report | S0 News December 19, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Join the Festive Party

 


No, really, the Festive Party where adherents are Festivists and believe in Festivism. Down with the Scrooges and to hell with political correctness. The world needs more reasons to celebrate and Festivists support them all. Have a reason to celebrate? Then join the Party and spread the word. Down with downers, sour faces, depressionists, sad sacks, and the uglies. Put on that smiley face and join the Festive Party!

Big Solar Flare, Snow Records | S0 News December 17, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Wreaths Across America









While this is a great idea and a wonderful memorial to our fallen soldiers, I can't help but wonder if those lost would prefer that all of this money be spent on wreaths, or on helping the some 50, 000 homeless vets? Which is the greater tribute?

Solar Eruptions, Planets, Anomaly | S0 News December 15, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

Don't see as many families doing this. I remember when the ponds froze they'd be packed with adults and kids. Now I pass many frozen ponds/lakes with no skaters in sight. Is this a thing of the past? Has it gone the way of the joy stick?


M Class Solar Flare, Arizona Quake | S0 News December 1, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Don't play with guns



Amazing how times have changed. I remember when kids, self included, used to roam the neighborhood with six shooters, cap guns, or army rifles, depending on what we were playing. Never a second look. Never any fear of the police thinking we were going to shoot someone. So sad what we have become as a society.

Earthquake Swarm, Spaceweather | S0 News November 24, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thank you Sen. Angus King



XL pipeline vote failed in Senate by one vote. " And on Tuesday afternoon, Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with the Democrats, announced that he was voting "no" on the measure." HP

While this vote will return in January, we appreciate Senator King saying no to Big Oil and shame on you Senator Collins and all you democrats who voted for this environmental disaster in the making. The pipeline will not create thousand of permanent jobs or lower oil prices. Get real people, end reliance on oil.


Calm Sets In, Records Update | S0 News November 19, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Return the Rabbit Ears

 

Okay, not the rabbit years, but a simpler method to watch and record shows. There was a simpler time when we all had antennas on our homes and the TV was hooked up to a recorder. All very simple. Well, last night our Direct TV receiver went belly up. And yay, we actually talked to an English speaking rep, two times! Basically, according to the rep, broadcasters put codes in shows that you record and over time it just overwhelms the receiver, or something like that.

But here's the rub, we lost all of our recorded shows, many that hadn't been watched, and of course all scheduled recordings are gone. They will send a new receiver that will supposedly come in 2/3 days. The I guess we have to call Direct TV to activate it. Hopefully, we'll still get an English speaking rep. But it just seemed simpler in times past. The airways were free and it was easy to "tape" shows to watch later. But alas, times change, not always for the better.


Mental Isolationism

 

Many of us remember the Pink Floyd line, "comfortably numb." Well, it seems to be a pandemic that deserves attention. If you look at most social media in the U.S., the most popular and commented upon posts are about cute animals, sports stars, the Kardashians,  funny videos, political bashings, etc.

All well and good to perhaps relieve anxiety, but when it comes to real issues, only the few seem to take any notice. Climate disasters, recessions, the poor, homeless, the hungry, education (or the lack thereof), beheadings, mass deaths (of people and and animals), and more are reserved to a minority.

If you recall history, which many don't, the U.S. has periods of isolationism, an overt attempt to stay out of the affairs of other nations. In most cases, this got us in trouble-"No man (nation) is an island. We all share the same planet, air, water, economies. And, while the U.S. has not been particularly isolationist of late, it's people are, at least mentally. There is a if we ignore it it will go away. Yes, what you focus on you attract, but what you ignore can bite you in the butt. Being informed and calling for actions to address major concerns does not mean dwell on the negative; it means to replace the negative with a positive.

In this day and age, can we really afford to be "comfortably numb?"

Big Earthquakes, Solar Flares, Record Cold | S0 News November 17, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

This serves no god

 

 

Bombing At Nigerian School Assembly Leaves Dozens Dead, Including Studentshttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/nigerian-school-bombing_n_6131256.html

There is no religion in the world that condones this type of blatant brutality. To do this to create a caliphate, to instill terror, to murder children, is fundamentally wrong and serves no god.

Earthquake, CME Impact | S0 News November 10, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

Big Earthquake, Solar Flares Keep Coming | S0 News November 7, 2014

100% Voter Turnout!




Data shows that only one-third of the eligible voters were responsible for the GOP mid-term election victories. I totally disagree. When a voter chooses not to cast a ballot, not to take the time to make their desires known, then, in fact, they have voted. They have voted to let others decide for them. Not making a choice is making a choice. So if the whining starts, few will listen. You made your choice. (I do not know who did this cartoon. It was on FB-but whoever did it deserves the credit. It was posted by Boing Boing)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Disastrous not just for Democrats



Yup, democrats got whipped big time on November 4th. But they will not be the only ones to suffer. With the republicans running the show, look for new trade deals in Europe and the Asia. Sounds good? Well, have free trade deals ever increased jobs at home? No. Just as the American economy is thinking about turning around, more jobs will be sent to foreign shores. Further, most of the "free" trade deals on the table allow corporations to override local business rules and environmental regulations. Look for Wall Street to make more money and for workers to lose more jobs.

Higher wages for American workers? Yeah, right. We know where the GOP stands on raising the minimum wage.

Better jobs and higher wages for women? Umm, no.

Protection and proper response to changing climate? Not a chance. Regardless of the causes of climate change, reliance on fossil fuels , strip mining, record CO2 emissions, poisoning water supplies with fracking chemicals, massive oil spills, deforestation, arctic drilling, over fishing, acid oceans from pollution, etc., are definitely not a good thing for us or the environment. The GOP and its big money supporters have, recently, done nothing to solve these problems and are often the cause of them.

Banking reform and regulations that help Main Street and small business? Well, we know what's happening there: nothing but rules that benefit big corporations.

Peaceful approaches in foreign affairs? Isn't it the GOP that asks for more definitive military action in the Middle East?

This is not a very good time for the nation to shift to the political right. Yup, you can smoke dope in several new places but in the total scheme of things, will that really matter?

Yes, the election of 2014 was indeed disastrous.

Sorry bears, shame on Maine

 

Very sorry and ashamed that Maine voted to continue to bait, trap, and use dogs to kill bears. This is not hunting, it's animal cruelty. In this day and age I'm sure that we could up with another alternative to limit bear population growth without resorting to such inhumane methods. Shame on you all who voted to preserve this practice.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Please save Maine

 

"...just three people have been reported injured by black bears in Maine over the past 30 years." http://bangordailynews.com/2010/09/15/outdoors/bear-attacks-unusual-but-not-unknown/

End the cruelty of bait, dogs, and traps. This is not hunting, not justified, and just plain wrong! Vote YES on November 4th on question 1.

And also, please save Maine from four more years of Paul LePage.

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Falling Gas Prices?



There are several theories about why gas prices are suddenly and dramatically falling.

One theory is that since the U.S. has recently surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world leader in oil production, due to fracking, the Saudi's are lowering prices in order to hurt the fracking industry, which is a very expensive process and only recently became economically feasible.

Another theory holds that the global economy is much worse than being reported. Recent setbacks in the EU's, Germany's, and China's economic growth is perhaps leading to another recession/depression and the hope is lower gas prices may be a good boost.

A third theory is that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are in collusion in the hopes of hurting Russia's oil economy.

I suspect we'll never really know, but would be interested in any new ideas.

Earth Pole Reversal, BIG Solar Eruption | S0 News October 15, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What do Ebola and Climate Change Have in Common?

 

No, climate change did not cause Ebola and probably has nothing to do with is dramatic spread. But what they do have in common is that few listened to the alarms. Ebola was first discovered in 1976. Silent Spring was published in 1962 and the environmental movement blossomed in the 60s and 70s. The problem is that very few listened to the warnings about Ebola or concerns for the environment or climate.

Both climate change and Ebola are devastating. Both had people who warned about their effects if ignored. And yet, the warning have been ignored and, even to this day, many still take neither seriously. Perhaps great change requires momentous events. People get so stuck in their ways, their routines, habits, comfort zones (no matter how uncomfortable they may be), that fear of change is greater than the fear of the unknown. And yet, these types of events, Ebola and climate change, are altering the course of human history. What is perhaps most feared, is what is happening the most-CHANGE. That horrible event that turns things upside down, alters the way people live, their work, social relationships, their future, is happening because people chose, consciously or unconsciously, to avoid the very notion that change was coming, caused, in fact, by the unwillingness to confront change.

It is said what is feared the most is what is most attracted. Fear is a powerful magnet. It is only by addressing issues that they are replaced by non-issues ... or new ones. Humanity's failure to address climate change and pandemic only serve to increase their threat. While there are often too many chicken little's, too many cries of "Wolf," it is necessary to pay some heed to those with credentials who warn of impending change, who have no monetary interest in the status quo.

Put away the fears, approach issues intelligently, learn the facts, and understand that nothing stays the same.

M7.3 Earthquake, Spaceweather | S0 News October 14, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pay no attention to the man (virus) behind the curtain.

It's all under control. Can't happen here. Nothing to worry about. Go about your business. We are prepared for any contingency. We know what we're doing.

Source: U.S. Ebola patient didn't give travel history, hospital didn't ask 

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/01/health/ebola-us/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

We have procedures in effect. Hospitals are prepared. Funeral homes are prepared. Troops are prepared. Pay no attention to the virus behind the curtain. It's all under control.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Climate Monster Under The Bed


While the monster under the bed has been exposed with the help of the Climate Change Marches, will anything really change? The rhetoric is wonderful. As the President said, "No nation -- including ours -- is immune to climate change." But despite all of the speeches and talk of the need for action, it appears that very little will be accomplished.

Sure, executive orders can accomplish a few thins and enforcing rules and regulations could also help, but given that U.S. emissions actually rose this past year and global CO2 emissions set another record, the efficacy of these tools are clearly questionable.

Yes, in recent surveys Americans were found to be more aware of and concerned with climate change, but will people vote for the environment in the upcoming mid-term election? Polls would indicate no. And any real talk of new rules and laws are still putting action years out. Nations aren't even meeting on the topic until December in Lima and then do nothing until Paris in 2015. And even then, given past experience, any real action may not occur for many years after.

The monster in no longer under the bed. It is running rampant throughout the world. With so much money being spent on the effects of climate change, war, and the control of disease, what will be left to spend on ameliorating climate change impact. We cannot stop climate change. What we can do is prepare people and the world for a pollution free and energy sustainable future.

Follow the money to know why little will be done.

Deadly Quake, Storm Alerts, Spaceweather | S0 News Sept 29, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is the West Responsible for ISIS?

 

Much blame has been placed on the West, the U.S. in particular, for creating ISIS. The failure to actually accomplish the mission in Iraq, blunders in Afghanistan, leniency toward Assad in Syria, and overall hatred of the U.S. are cited as a rationale for the rise of militants.

Of course, it begs the question: Is the U.S. government or western corporations responsible the problems? Is it the drive for oil and the thirst for profits that engender the hatred? Fast food, fast cars, mass consumption, cheaper clothes, loud music, lack of respect for cultures, religious differences fueled by greed, and a host of other issues that rise from economic colonialism and globalization are, perhaps, the real culprits in the rise militancy.

If we fight for liberty, the right to choose, the right to life, to practice beliefs freely, to live without fear, the rights of all (definitely for women), and rights regardless of religious beliefs, then we can rightly be blamed. If this issue arises because of economics, then we can rightly be blamed. So I guess in a big way, the West is responsible, but this is amended by the fact that there are those who seek power just to have power and who will kill because they can. This is also true of ISIS. 

 

New Ice Record, Proton Spikes | S0 News Sept 15, 2014

Flood Warning - US Southwest [Sept 15-19, 2014]

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Time for an End Game



Appeasement has never been a good policy. And while fools go where wise men fear to tread, there comes a time when necessity requires action.

The Islamic State, ISIS, is an abomination. They have no religion, no morals, and no respect for human life. They are a cancer in the Middle East and need to be treated as such.

It is always nice to hope that reason, negotiation, and comprise can solve all problems. Generally, this is true. But when a shark smells blood, you can't ask it to sit and talk about its actions. One can understand not just rushing in to a negative situation. But, when waiting greatly adds to the nature of the problem and the ability to deal with it, perhaps even at the cost of a significant number of lives, men, women, and children, then caution must be cast to the winds of fate and and action must be taken.

The IS will not just fade away. They grow in power, strength, and the ability to create death and destruction beyond their confines.

It is time for them to go away, not a slap on a wrist, but an End Game that removes them to the abyss of a bad memory.

With respect to Putin, please remember Neville Chamberlain. While no one wants a direct confrontation with Russia, we know that if you give a bully an inch, they take a mile. Please, leaders of the West, don't let Putin get more out of hand, it would be a very bad decision.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Palestine Will Never be an Independent State




Well, never is a long time, but, the likelihood is 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Why?
Will Native Americans ever have an independent nation in the U.S.?
Will the Inuits have an independent nation in Canada?
How about the Natives of Mexico, Brazil, or any place in the Western Hemisphere?
How about Tibet?
You see, despite all of the platitudes, the rhetoric, the indignation, and the outrage, people don't really care enough about this issue.
Add to the mix a vow to destroy Israel, do you really think Israel will allow independent nation status?
If the militants, who were elected into power in Gaza by the people, were to really go away, you might see some autonomy, some economic freedom, and a lifting of many restrictions that would greatly improve the lives of the Palestinian people, but nationhood? Just don't see it and the world just doesn't really care.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Barn Swallows Matter





Overview

As part of an on-line course called Animal Behaviour from the The University of Melbourne (via Coursera), there is a requirement to conduct an animal field study. I chose the Barn Swallow, a wonderful bird that heralds the arrival of spring and the beginning of fall. Their air acrobatics are a marvel to watch and their chitter every day when I tend the horses is comforting. Something I miss when they leave.Wildlife  are a measure of the environment. When they are abundant and healthy, at least the immediate environment is the same. This is why it bothers me that the numbers of swallows that have returned in the past few years seems to be on a decline. The bottom line-they matter!

I have been around these swallows for quite some time. They have always had a place in my barn and when they return in the spring, they usher in the end of winter. Depending on the weather, they arrive at my barn at the end of April or early May. The nests have been in my barn since we’ve owned it so the swallows do very little nest building, some repair, but basically they move right in to the available 20 + nests.
The number of returning, at least I think they return, varies each season. Keeping in mind our barn is for horses, five stalls, and not too large, we have had six to twelve mating pairs each season. A count can be difficult as they move around so fast it’s difficult to determine an accurate number. This year, 2014, there are 5 females and 3 males that I can verify. They are nesting in a few places not easily observable so there may be more.
What do they eat? From observation, their favorite food is other flying insects, predominantly: mosquitoes (yay), some black flies, knats, and other unnamed bugs. I have almost never seen them forage on the ground. They are said to eat seeds, but I have not observed that. While they do hunt solo, it is more often the case that they soar as a group, flying like fighter jets on the attack. They will dive close to the ground in formation, pulling up at insane angles, and grapping food on the way, only to swoop down again. The tendency is to skim about 2/3 feet above the ground for maybe 20-40 feet and then shoot back up higher, as if to get a better view of food sources. On hot, humid and even rainy days, most hunting is done this way. On clear, cooler days, time is spent at higher ranges, maybe 30-50 feet up, perhaps in search of insects other than mosquitoes that do not generally spend time at those heights. Feeding is generally done early mornings and evenings, times when most other insects are out and about. For the most part, the swallows stay in the immediate 4-5 acres of the barn for food, although it is said they will range for several miles-but we have enough bugs for them to neat and plenty of open fields. They are not hunters in the woods as, I suppose, their flying ability would be for naught among the trees.
Clearly, there is very little danger in the barn and aggressive behavior is minimal. Swallows often rest on stall doors, overhead wires, and low walls to watch the activity. On a rare occasion males may flutter at each other, females also, but there is no outward signs of attack. Efforts appear to be geared to drawing attention away from nests, but little direct assault.
Aggressive and non-aggressive interactions with other animals of its own or another species: “The barn swallow's close association with humans in Europe goes back more than two thousand years. It has been speculated that one reason swallows choose to nest on door stoops, light fixtures, and porch fronts is because the closeness to humans keeps away crows and other predators. The birds will even risk cat predation and human vandalism, and place nests close to the ground if the location is frequented by humans.” Most of the nests in my barn are about 8 feet from the floor, many even in the horse stall and alley way that is the place of much activity. When I do chores morning and evening, I’m accompanied by two dogs, a terrier and a border collie (who thinks the horses always need to be someplace other than where they are). The collie, in the a.m., enters with a non-stop bark, jumping on the doors of each stall. The swallows just watch this morning ritual with no sense of agitation. Several nests are located where I store some hay and when I enter that location, we are within 4 feet of each other and many times the swallows just watch me. On occasion, a male may flutter around me, as if to draw my attention from a nest just a few feet above my head. As the season progresses, they become even more comfortable with my presence and will let me within 2-3 feet, as opposed to the early season 4-6 feet proximity.
Other birds around the farm, of which there are many, pretty much leave them alone and vice versa-none can match their flying skill so peace prevails among the species.
Mating and courtship behavior:These birds are generally monogamous, males mating with a single female. Although rare, males sometimes will pair with 2 females. My guess is that given that I have more females than males, that the males are servicing more than one female.
Paired swallows will aggressively defend the small area around the nest and guard his mate from other males that might attempt to copulate with her.” (http://www.wild-bird-watching.com/Barn-Swallow.html) I have not, in all the years of my exposure to swallows, seen a mating ritual. My suspicion is that swallows pair-up in what would be my winter, but their summer. Keep in mind that swallows, “…migrate south to tropical Central and South America. . These swallows, called "neotropical migrants," spend 6+ months in southern locations before returning north in spring ….” It is said that they may mate here, but when I see them in my barn, mid-April or early May, they are already paired and settling into the nests they have chosen for the year. “The male barn swallow returns to the breeding grounds before the females and selects a nest site, which is then advertised to females with a circling flight and song.” It always seemed to me that both sexes arrived at the same time. But I will have to admit to seeing males circling nests and chittering, clucking, and basically ‘talking up a storm,’ so this may have been the ritual that has been mentioned, but it also seemed to be very brief in duration. Also, I have noticed that when I do get close to a nest, the males start squawking and flutter about.
Breeding patterns: Nests contain between 3-5 chicks. Generally, survival is quite high. There have been a few instances when a baby feel from the nest; on one occasion I was able to return a chick safely to the nest. Every now and then I have found a dead chick in the nest, usually in extremely hot weather. Incubation is about two weeks, at the low end when hot, a little longer if cool spring. Both parents bring food to the hatchlings. Once they learn to fly (about 3 weeks), the babies roost in, on, or beside the nest for at least another week. Past experience indicates that the babies and parents hang around the barn and area for the duration of the summer.
Differences in coloration between individuals and/or the sexes: (Hirundo rustica) Swallows have a long, slender, forked tail. It has blue-black upper parts, a reddish throat and breast, and a rust or buff colored belly. Females are lighter  in the belly and shorter-tailed than males.
Energy Budget: From my observations, time spent on tasks appear to change based on the basic needs at hand. When the swallows first arrived most of their time, 60-80% was devoted to getting food. Perhaps this was the result of needing to re-fuel from their migration? The rest of the time seemed to be devoted to picking nests and resting. That accomplished, more time, 40%, is spent in the nests, 20% hanging around and 40% on food. Food is plentiful so it’s not essential to spend lots of energy trying to find some. I’m sure this will change when chicks hatch. As of June 25th increased time is spent nesting and I thought I heard some peeps from a secluded section of the barn. Babies? False alarm, no babies yet. But will post pics when hatched. (NOTE: Sorry about the low quality of the pics in the barn. It's dark up in the rafters and they just do not come out well.)

Anecdotal note: Several years back there was a banner summer for swallows. At one point I counted sixty. At the end of the summer, they all just seemed to disappear. Then one September morning after feeding the horses, I saw that the 60+ swallows had returned and were sitting on the power line between the house and the barn. Then, in unison, they all rose like a wave in the ocean, did a big arcing circle around the barn, and then they headed south. I like to think that they came back for that last visit to say goodbye. Who knows?

Cause for Concern: I must add that things are not quite normal this year. As of July 1st, there have been several hatchlings, but I have also spotted some broken egg shells under several of the nests. There are no predators in the barn. Also, the normal baby chatter is not present. In years past, when the eggs hatched, every morning and evening during chores, the babies would respond to my voice and cry for food, their little orange mouths wide open, forcing parents to respond. This year, this has not happened. Suddenly there were a few babies hanging out without all of the fanfare. Overall, the adults are more quiet than normal and the pace seems subdued. yes, we have had some very hot weather these past few days, but this has not normally been an issue. It was also not uncommon to see the adults on the power line from the house to the barn. So far, this has not really happened. Just all seems a bit off! 

July 10th update. There are 3 new babies! However, while there are several females around, most of the males have gone somewhere else-perhaps they're off with other females? It appears that the first hatch birds have not stayed around. Plus, I only see a couple of swallows hanging out on the power line between house and barn-more accustomed to seeing scores by this time of year. Females appear to be doing a good job feeding the babies. 

July 14th. Lots of new activity. More females around but few males. One female did a happy dance for a female and then flew out of the barn, the female hot in his tail. Suspect there may be more mating in the wind. Babies are out of their nest but still staying close. So, not sure where they all went for a few weeks, but this morning the barn was filled with swallow chatter. 

July 21. There are now 16 sparrows that are hanging around and can be seen on the  power lines mornings and evenings. It's a bit more normal. Can't help but wonder if there's a shift in their season due to climate changes here or south of the border and that behavior I observed in the past is sliding later into summer. Nonetheless, good to see them each morning and that so far the hatchlings appear to be thriving.

 Man, that Border Collie is noisy!

 BIRD ON A WIRE IN THE BARN

 MALE (LEFT) AND FEMALE WATCHING MORNING CHORES