Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Airports Need More Bomb Sniffing Dogs

The preferred explosive of the failed ideology that calls itself "ISIS" is TATP, triacetate triperoxide.  They've leveraged the extensive Palestinian bomber experience use in the explosive, and re-purposed it for attacking soft civilian targets in Europe by returning EU citizens who failed on the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields to have any impact, and now want to attack unsuspecting Europeans.  The dead Paris attackers used it in their suicide vests, and the dead Belgian attackers used it in Brussels.  The civilized Western World will continue to see this relatively easy-to-make explosive used by the cowardly disaffected radicalized Muslims who feel they have no future in a civilized world.

Many "experts" have said that there's no way to "harden" airports and other public places to such attacks, but I disagree.  Bomb sniffing dogs are IDEAL for this task, and would be able to easily detect plastique, TATP, TNT, or any of a dozen other explosives.  They could (and should) be applied curb-side, as people disembark from their cars, taxis, buses, and shuttles, at airports and train stations.  They could also be applied at turn styles for subway stations.

Working dogs, like bomb sniffers, love to be worked hard by their handlers.  They see the hunt for what they've been trained to sniff as "a game" and they live to make their handlers delighted.  The more bags they can sniff, the happier the dog can be.  Let them work.  Re-purpose ALL the dogs used in Iraq previously looking for IEDs to now look for suicidal, cowardly, stone faced radical fundamentalists.   30 lbs to 100 lbs suit case bombs would be easily found by a well trained work dog.

Drug sniffing dogs - which are far too plentiful and for-the-most-part completely un-necessary in Western society - should be deployed less, and bomb sniffing dogs applied ubiquitously at every airport near a city with more than 1 /2 a million people, with includes just 35 cities in the United States.  Thirty Five cities.  So 350 bomb sniffing dogs...  and a bomber in a vest or pushing a luggage trolley of suit cases full of explosives would have no chance of being successful.

But it's much easier to monger fear... and stir up rhetoric, than to apply a meaningful and straightforward solution.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dominant Rufous

Cornell’s AllAboutBirds website lists the male Rufous hummingbird as the “most pugnacious” of all hummingbirds.  They chase away all other hummingbirds, including the larger Anna’s species who normally dominate any feeder they visit.  Dr Desert Flower and I have seen the rust colored Rufous males come in and disrupt other-wise calm feeders as they fan out their tail feathers, buzz, and attack-dive any other bird at the feeder.  They can be real assholes.

When I saw an adolescent Rufous male on the little hummingbird perch outside my office window, it amused me to see a mature male, with full crimson ascot, menacing him.  The adolescent stood his ground, unmoved by the bigger, brighter, more boisterous older male hovering around him.  The ignored older male sat on a branch about a foot above the stationary younger male, and then he got an idea that I’d never seen before.  He flew down, hovered just above and behind the younger male, and then mounted him, for a few seconds before the younger male had “enough” and shrugged off the older male, and flew away.  

I’ve watched male hummingbirds in Arizona swoop up in the air 200 feet above my pool, and then SWOOP Down amazingly fast, as they advertise to available females their strength, maneuverability, and prowess.  This same vertical flight path, supposedly, is how the hummingbirds copulate before they hit the ground.  But seeing the mature male mount the juvenile to shoo him away from the coveted nectar feeders, was the first time I’ve ever seen one hummingbird sexually assault another male.  I’ve seen dogs, and horses, and rabbits do this… but this was the first time I’ve seen a bird do it.

Cornell’s site says that Rufous are only migratory through California, and that they Winter in Mexico, and that they Summer in Canada… but we see them all year around here in North San Diego County.  
6 Hummingbirds, all females and immature males, sharing the feeder in the back yard.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Not the warm smell of colitas, better...

Last Friday, I decided I didn't want to look at a bare, tan wall outside of my office, and changes needed to be made.  I drove to Lowes, and found potted jasmine, mandevilla, and organic potting soil.  I loaded them up into the XC70 and made planting plans for Saturday morning.

Saturday morning, after sleeping late (no kids, no dogs, no grand kids... why not sleep late?) I got up and began digging holes.  In-between the tomato racks that are in the eastern, narrow side yard, I dug two holes, each more than a foot deep and more than two feet wide, right next to the wall.  Hand digging, with a small pick, so as not to shatter or rupture any sprinkler lines, or other buried, unseen hazards, it was a sweaty endeavor to dig the holes.  Mixing the potting soil and the loosened soil, I transformed the space outside my office from this:

To this:
The scent of jasmine and citrus-trees-in-bloom now fill my side yard.  The weather was warm enough today for me to open the large window of my office as I worked to not only hear the hummingbirds sparring and vying for the nectar feeders, but I could also smell the delicious floral aromas wafting through the window.

It's not the "warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air" - which Urban Dictionary has clarified that is slang for pot smoke (foxtails... with the Spanish word for "tail", cola, in the diminutive form for "little tail", "colitas"... but it is wonderful nevertheless.  My own personal Hotel California is a pleasant place.  If you've not come visited us, you should.  If you've already come & visited us, come again.  We don't have any kids, or dogs, or grand kids... and our guest bed room is kept clean and ready for your visit.  = )

(What we Thought was a lime tree [from the scent of the leaves and their oils] appears to be a lemon tree, with blossoms, scent, and lemon tree thorns, right outside my window.  Either way...  they'll be organic citrus for our eating and drinking pleasure!)

Natural Coconut Simplicity

Many of my close friends and family know that for the last year+ I have been grappling with extremely dry skin that was flaking off in ridiculous amounts, leaving a "trail of Joe" in rooms, in cars, on chairs, on couches, just about everywhere I'd go.  While my loved ones would tell me not to worry about it, and that it "wasn't that bad", leaving a cloud of (what I thought was) dead skin anywhere that I stayed for any length of time, it was hard to not get very grossed out by the flaking and "snow" my arms and back and face were shedding, constantly.  A close look in the mirror, and all I could see was hundreds of "hang nails" all over my fore-head, cheeks, ears, earlobes, chin, neck and arms.  "How can any human shed so much skin?" - I'd ask myself, frequently.

Turns out, it wasn't skin, for the most part at least.  It was dried moisturizer that had gone from liquid to solid and then was being shed by my skin as it tried to breathe beneath the rapidly drying hypoallergenic coating.  My dermatologist had recommended I use Vanicream lotion, so I did, by the tub - $16 a tub, about once a week - a white paste that was rather oily and sticky.  Vanicream makes a "Lite" lotion, in a pump bottle, that is less thick, less oily, and leaves less residue.  Only thing is... the flaking persisted.  And the flaking was still gross.

Concentrated Epsom Salt baths (3 lbs in about10 inches of water), every 3 or 4 days, soaking for 30 minutes in the luke-warm water (not warm, just tepid, so as not to aggrevate my skin further) helped to ex-foliate and "slough off" the flakes.  And the 30 minute soaks were / are a nice form of meditation to slow heart rate, breathing, and lower blood pressure.  So it had secondary health benefits as well...  but there had to be a better way.

Turns out, my mother-in-law had a better solution all along.  Coconut Oil.  She'd been trying it for some time and kept telling Dr Desert Flower I should use it for my flaking.  On Monday, I switched over from slathering myself in Vanicream, to dipping my fingers into the Trader Joe's virgin, organic, $5 a jar coconut oil, pulling out the hard white paste which instantly begins to melt with body temperature, and put it on my face and arms.  Fantastic!  It feels soothing.  It smells awesome.  It is completely natural.  It calms urticaria (welted up, hives).  It doesn't stain clothing.  And it doesn't generate even 1/10th as much flaking.  Yes, some skin still sloughs off, in a very small amount.  The Vanicream cream was horribly flake causing.  The Vanicream lite, about 1/2 or 1/3rd as much "white snow" generating.  The coconut oil...  less than 10% as much as the Vanicream lite.

Look at the ingredients...  and then work backwards as to what is causing the white flaking.  It's not dead skin.  It's dried lotion... as I was going through crazy amounts of moisturizer every day.  And the Vanicream required re-application several times an hour.  That's several times an hour in my office.  Several times an hour while driving for 3 days to South Carolina.  Several times an hour while flying back from South Carolina to California.  Now, I am applying a very small amount of pure coconut oil to my face and arms about once every 3 or 4 hours.  I have the pleasant fragrance of coconut instead of the medicinal scent of moisturizer (even though it is all hypoallergenic) wafting up to my nostrils.  The coconut oil doesn't seem to block my pores so my face doesn't over-heat and dry out as it did with the moisturizer.  The coconut oil also has antibacterial properties that have helped my irritated, red, dry, cracked eye lids to heal up and stop being so unpleasant.  The coconut oil leaves no paste or dried residue on the skin, that would (inevitably) cause more itching, which would then (in turn) cause more redness, more scratching, more release of histamines and a continuation of the vicious & destructive cycle.

Additionally, the Saturated Fatty Acids (SFAs) that make up 85% of the coconut oil are far better for humans than the poly-unsaturated-fatty-acids that are in some nuts and margarine and most cooking oils.  Not only will I continue applying it to my skin, but I will be cooking with it, and ingesting it as well.

Natural remedies, when proven over centuries, and when not allergic, are typically far better than industrialized, artificial, expensive, patented and mass-marketed commercial solutions.  Stevia is FAR BETTER for humans than Nutrasweet, Sweet-n-low, Equal, or the laboratory created "Truvia" which is really just a pointless recreation of what already grows naturally, stevia rebaudiana.  Coconut oil, I now see the same way.  Far better than aisles and aisles of moisturizers and creams that Target and the local pharmacies all carry.  And much cheaper, much more pleasant, less annoying.

One of my favorite Coconut References...  from Zombieland...   "It's not the taste, it's the consistency!"

Monday, March 7, 2016

Trumping Hypocrisy

Jesse Drucker has an excellent piece in Bloomberg News this week, (link here) about how Donald Trump is using his son in law's company (Jared Kushner) to get cheap Chinese financing for buildings with Trump's name licensed on them, in exchange for getting not only quick and effective investor 2 year visas for the richest Chinese, who don't have to wait in line or earn it the hard way, as 98% of most immigrants, but also permanent residency for the investor and his family.  All it takes is $500,000 of investment in an American company, and if that investment creates jobs, then after 2 years, the rich Chinese investor gets to come and go into The United States as they please (can't come and go into and out of China as you please, as visas are required) and have permanent residency in the US.

While the program has been around for 25 years, in the last 5 to 6 years it has really taken off with Chinese investors who don't care about a return on investment, they just want the green card. 10,000 EV-5 visas given out last year by the US, with 85% of them to China.

"They’ve taken our jobs, they’ve taken our money, they’ve taken everything,"  Trump has said, calling it the "Greatest single theft".  Trump is raising money through a government program that many regulators see as "very troubled", and could be enabling dirty money from criminal ventures to enter the US economy.  Congress is worried that Chinese money laundering is happening with these rich investors, who have virtually no vetting... money talks.

Yeah, Donald Trump knows the Chinese.  He's been taking their money.  "Good at buziness."  Sure.