sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Monuments

It is said in the People's Republic of China you must do three things in your life in order to be successful: (1) Have a male heir; (2) Make lots of money; (3) Build a monument to yourself.

There are MANY monuments in China. They're the most interesting thing that I find about traveling in Big China.

Tibet HAD monuments before the Chinese blew them up...because there is only room for Chinese monuments.

China built a monument to islet-building in the Spratly Islands. 

On 23 April, Chinese authorities held an unveiling ceremony on Fiery Cross Reef for a monument to islet building in the Spratly Islands, according to a report in the People’s Liberation Army Daily.

During the daily press session on 24 April, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was asked about the new monument. 
“It is reported that yesterday the Chinese side held a monument unveiling ceremony to celebrate the building of islets and reefs in the South China Sea. Could you brief us on the relevant situation? What are the purposes of holding such an activity?” 
Lu said, “Xinhua News Agency released relevant information yesterday.” 
“The main purposes of the Chinese side's building islets and reefs of the Nansha Islands are to perfect relevant functions on the islets and reefs, improve the working and living conditions for personnel stationed there, fulfill the Chinese side's assumption of international responsibilities and obligations in an even better way, provide more public goods for the international community, which is helpful to ensure the safety of navigation passage in the South China Sea which is vitally important for the development of China and regional countries.”
Lu dodged the question, which was about the purpose of the monument. Lu explained the purpose of the islets. 

Lu’s remarks are curious. The seven reefs and shoals that are now man-made islets were under water before China started dredging. They had no functions and were uninhabitable. They are located so far from any shipping lanes that they posed no hazard to navigation except to unwary fishermen.

There was no functional or safety reasons for China to build islets, but there were resource and sovereignty issues. All the inhabitable islands were occupied by other claimants, so China made its own islets, which no other nation could claim. Then it asserted Chinese sovereignty of the South China Sea and to all its sea and seabed resources.

Satellite imagery shows the Chinese have done an impressive job of terraforming and building on all seven islets. Three have runways for commercial and military jets. All possess defenses and have military garrisons. Some have green spaces and a park that grows grass and trees. Everything had to be transported from mainland China. Next hotels will pop up and it will be a tourist destination. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Sheep

There are a lot of different animals on the White Wolf Mine property on Arizona's Mogollon Rim. Since they're wild, they come and go as if they own the place - which in a real sense they do. I received reports from some of the guys who are pounding nails and working on the hovel that a herd of big horn sheep are in the area and have been recent arrivals to take advantage of a salt lick. I put out a large block of rock salt for the elk, deer, and apparently for the sheep now.

Carnivores get salt from the animals they kill but herbivores find it more difficult to fill their salt needs. Thus the lick.

One of the guys (no doubt he was 'on the clock' - possibly on overtime) got close enough to snap a few photos, but this one is the best. 


The way the property lays, the shack is just down from the summit and there is a valley, that I own below that. There's an occasional stream in the bottom, and it empties into Clear Creek about a quarter mile away (the larger creek in the area). Clear Creek flows through a gorge cut through millions of years. 

In the lower property, meaning lower in the small valley, there is a lot of rimrock and  the sheep have been bedding down there.

Photos of Clear Creek:




Monday, April 23, 2018

Word on the Street


US Missile Strikes in Syria

There is a reason why the Russians reacted by threatening US ships and air bases when we told them that we were likely to strike Syrian chemical weapons facilities. Russian reactions to anything is to suspect a plot, if only because they are inveterate plotters and schemers.  

They are peddling their S-400 (surface to air) system far and wide around the world as the only integrated, multi-level, long/intermediate/short range system that can interdict US aircraft and missiles in flight. It's a major source of hard cash and both Turk/Iranian are taking delivery so that they too can shoot down the Americans. Having the US fire missiles at Syrians, armed with the S-300 system (a subset component of the S-400 system) and have them impact their targets invalidates the ineffectiveness of the system.

The Syrians also followed another 40 missiles into the air the following day even though there was no US launch.

The Russians tracked the US/UK/French strike packages but did not fire on them for good reason. (1) they didn't want a war and (2) how humiliating would it have been if they'd missed? International embarrassment and innate Russian paranoia of being laughed at as manure-speckled kulaks and relegated into second-world status drives Vladimir Putin into a rage, fueled by concern because that's how leaders in Russia are toppled. 



Russia isn't even close to keeping up with the Texas GDP... and there aren't many products that they make which can be sold for hard cash abroad. S-400 was (and may still be) a great financial hope.


Is the Waffle House Shooting an Outrage?

Our friend and fellow blogger John Coffey has been to his local Waffle House more than once. I think that there has to be something seriously wrong with somebody for them to desecrate a waffle house when there are so many delicious waffles to eat there. It's a place of happiness and love. What's more love than a piece of buttery waffle smothered in syrup on your fork and a slab of delicious bacon to chase it?

Clearly, condolences go to the dead and to their families. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Sermonette

Front of the place
The White Wolf Mine is pushing forward toward completion, and we're moving toward the time when the place will be completely 'weathered in'. Once that happens, the finishing work can begin in earnest. 

And when the hovel is complete, I'll burrow in like an Arizona tick on an elk's back and that will be that. 

It seems like I've been on this project forever and because I have never built a custom shack before, every detail is somewhat new to me. That's not a bad thing, but it's still a thing.

Rear garage door and side of the house.
People have asked me if I've downsized because I'm ancient and heading toward my dotage. The answer is that, fortunately or not, I've up-sized just a little, while reducing the number of bedrooms and doubling the size of the garage in the house-near-the-mosque, which I sold to a Mohammedan, when I moved.

I went by the old neighborhood the other day and there were a lot of aloha snackbar types hanging out in what once was a really nice neighborhood.

The only sermonette value that I can suggest here is that patience is a virtue (that I lack). It is a LONG GRIND to build a place from the ground up.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Back Roads

There is a lot to recommend about Death Valley. One of the great myths of the place is that there is no water. 

There is a LOT of water in Death Valley. Some of it is to be found in hidden oasis locations. Such a place is Darwin Falls. This isn't all that far from where I saw a couple of B-52's flying nap of the earth a week or so ago. If you're going to visit the Panamint Range in Death Valley, a stop at Darwin Falls is a must. 

36.32776, -117.51466

There is an established trail to the falls and it's not a difficult hike. If you arrive early in the morning you will likely see deer, and/or big horn sheep. 

If I'm in the area, I like to plan a picnic lunch in the area. Remember, if you pack it in, please pack it out. Bring a heavy blanket for ground cover, lay back after a leisurely lunch and take a nap with the falls splashing playfully in the background. Of the times that I've visited, I'm almost always the only person there. (or my party is the only people there)

On a hot day, there is the relief of shade and you can soak your feet in the water and cool off if you're of a mind.

There will be more blogging about my recent trip to Death Valley...until I need to head out again and have more adventures to share. Should Darwin Falls be on your bucket list? 

It all depends what you enjoy.

The hike in doesn't prepare you for the fall
Darwin Falls is actually a series of waterfalls. The runs pictured below and the pools empty into a third pool that just stays there as the water sinks into the sand.



Randomness




Starbucks...


Starbucks is a national and international success story. The recent 'scandal', if you can call it that, simply underscores the "progressive" mindset.

I don't go to Starbucks, primarily because they are the lode stones that lure progressives in. The coffee they sell in California causes cancer. Don't believe me, look at the signs.

Should negros boycott Starbucks? Sure, why not? Ok, unless they plan to rob the place. That would tend to clarify things for Starbucks employees, and other progressives who frequent the place.

Robo-Calls

I don't like to receive robot calls, or calls from people from India, peddling this or that. The calls from India are annoying and persistent. I receive at least five nuisance calls a day from India, and the originating numbers vary, so they can't be blocked. One thing I can assure you of is if the calls originated from a closer number, I'd travel there and open a serious can of whoop-ass.

However since it's India - not worth the trip and once there? Why bother.

I'd change my number, but I don't think that would help.

I also hate to receive calls from political organizations dragging the sack for cash. The same thing goes for "charities". How do I know they're charitable organizations and not just some self-serving jerk on the other end trying to rip me off.

This sort of thing is very high on my pet-peeve-o-meter.

Hate Speech

We can certainly be judgmental about what people do, or say, or think, and we as private citizens may respond to those sentiments we find abhorrant or with which we disagree. But we should always be mindful of the fact that one of the founding principles of this nation was the right to freedom of expression, which essentially is the right to voice contrary opinions and views. 

There is no exception for “hate speech” in our Constitution, nor should there be. To allow such a concept into our legal system would endanger the fundamental freedoms of this nation and would be used as a cudgel to suppress opposing views deemed offensive by whoever. We live in a “free society”, however you wish to define it. Embrace that ideal, champion the rights of all citizens, even the ones you despise, or find another place to call home. You don’t have to take my word for it. The United States Supreme Court agrees. 

There is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment: LINK


Friday, April 20, 2018

TESS


NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on the first-of-its-kind mission to find worlds beyond our solar system, including some that could support life. 

Researchers will use spectroscopy to determine a planet's mass, density and atmospheric composition. Water, and other key molecules, in its atmosphere can give us hints about a planets' capacity to harbor life.

The satellite successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 on April 18, 2018.



NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on the first-of-its-kind mission to find worlds beyond our solar system, including some that could support life.

TESS, which is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, lifted off at 6:51 p.m. EDT Wednesday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At 7:53 p.m., the twin solar arrays that will power the spacecraft successfully deployed.
"We are thrilled TESS is on its way to help us discover worlds we have yet to imagine, worlds that could possibly be habitable, or harbor life," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "With missions like the James Webb Space Telescope to help us study the details of these planets, we are ever the closer to discovering whether we are alone in the universe."
Over the course of several weeks, TESS will use six thruster burns to travel in a series of progressively elongated orbits to reach the Moon, which will provide a gravitational assist so that TESS can transfer into its 13.7-day final science orbit around Earth. After approximately 60 days of check-out and instrument testing, the spacecraft will begin its work.
"One critical piece for the science return of TESS is the high data rate associated with its orbit," said George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge. "Each time the spacecraft passes close to Earth, it will transmit full-frame images taken with the cameras. That's one of the unique things TESS brings that was not possible before."
For this two-year survey mission, scientists divided the sky into 26 sectors. TESS will use four unique wide-field cameras to map 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky during its first year of observations and 13 sectors of the northern sky during the second year, altogether covering 85 percent of the sky.

TESS will be watching for phenomena called transits. A transit occurs when a planet passes in front of its star from the observer's perspective, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star's brightness. More than 78 percent of the approximately 3,700 confirmed exoplanets have been found using transits.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft found more than 2,600 exoplanets, most orbiting faint stars between 300 and 3,000 light-years from Earth, using this same method of watching for transits. TESS will focus on stars between 30 and 300 light-years away and 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler's targets.

The brightness of these target stars will allow researchers to use spectroscopy, the study of the absorption and emission of light, to determine a planet's mass, density and atmospheric composition. Water, and other key molecules, in its atmosphere can give us hints about a planets' capacity to harbor life.

Or are we alone in this part of the galaxy? Ancient Astronaut theorists have weighted in on their TV show on the History Channel.