GeologicalScienceBlog - subjects include Geology, Climatology, Environmental Science, NASCAR, Beer, Property Rights, Random Thoughts, & Politics from a Christian Conservative/Libertarian/pragmatist viewpoint. As a Dad & Grandad, I am concerned about the overgrowth of government at the expense of freedom. Background - two degrees in Geology (BS '77, MS '90), started studying Geology beginning Senior Year of high school (1971 - 1972) <68>

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions - 7 Months In...

I am sure that most folks don't even think about their New Year's Resolutions after 7 months. Usually, for most people, these well-intended resolutions now represent "burning wreckage" or at least flotsam and jetsam of their lives. We mean well, but we get side-tracked by life.

To revisit my attempts...Compare, if you wish with this post.

1) To blog more, posting political stuff here, so my Liberal cousins' ears won't bleed on Facebook. Or maybe not. [A mixed bag. Most of my "political stuff" on Facebook is sharing or replying to the posts of others or posting links with just short, succinct comments, as long as no one posts any really stupid lib stuff. We are what we are.]

2) To have McDonald's sweet tea only twice a week, unless I have to drive long distances. At home I always have unsweetened tea, as I don't want to know how much sugar is in sweet tea. [Sorry, McDonald's sweet tea is one of my "comfort foods". So it goes. No change. Yeah, a "fail". There are worse habits.]

3) To get back into doing stained glass, which I haven't done in 25 or so years. [A half-measure of success. I finished the right clearlite and have done some preliminary work on the left one. Picked up some more free "scrap glass" from a local glass shop and a new pair of specialty pliers.]

4) To lose weight...Honestly. [Somehow, last time I checked - a few weeks ago - I was down about 20 lbs. for the year. Haven't checked lately. It is what it is.]

5) To host more social events at my home, beer tastings, parties, etc.. [Slow progress, but progress on indoor projects.]

6) To photograph more wildflowers. [Got a few, including a "wild" purple Coneflower. Got one in my yard, but wanted a photo of one in nature. Haven't had time/taken time to go to anywhere to get more photos.]

7) To pray more, for myself and for those Liberal cousins that haven't changed their views in 40 years. [Got to do this one more...]

8) To have Mexican food or hot wings only once a week. This will be tough. [OK, once a week for each. Some progress on this one, if only because my income is way down.]

9) To get my life more organized. Being disorganized costs $$$$$. [Working on it.]

10) To have the confidence to dive into those needed home projects and the persistence to get them finished. I have the skills, but sometimes lack the confidence. Well, not for anything electrical, but for glasswork, light plumbing, woodwork,... [Tasks - to rebuild the center sink drain and maybe add a new disposal later. Old backporch fan is down and awaiting the purchase of a new one. Got to replace screens on the back porch. Works in progress. Waiting for cooler weather for the outdoor stuff.]

11) To have zero french fries or Krispy Kreme doughnuts for January and only once per month afterward. [Success, I done it. I backslid and had home fries during a beer tasting event in March. Some other sporadic backslides, maybe I have had 8 Krispy Kremes for the year.]

12) Get my basement cleaned out, move the air hockey table either to the basement or to the extra bedroom. [Some progress, but not ready to move the air hockey table.]

13) Find a home for one of our 3 cats. I like cats, but we don't need 3 of them. [No change, yet.]

14) To cook at home more. As I am not teaching this next semester, I won't be using several hours a week to drive to and from the campus. [No change, other than the occasional batch of chili.]

15) To take some free training courses offered by the college. [Not yet.]

16) To do something with the 1978 Ford F-100 truck sitting in my driveway. Sell it, fix it, whatever... [Not yet.]

17) To have a yard sale, or at least put some stuff out at the street labeled "Free" for folks to haul away. And to call the Kidney Fund to come pick up the unsold yard sale stuff, so I don't have to cart it back to the garage/basement. Not selling much stuff is not the worst part of a slow yard sale. It is having to haul the junk back inside afterward. [Tried a yard sale in May or June. Sold some old marble table tops to a friend and gave away some stuff. Otherwise nothing. And the Kidney Fund folks need some advance notice to work out a pick-up schedule. Have given away 4 garbage bags of older, usable clothing and plan to donate more.]

18) Blog more on my other blogs, too. [Yes.]

19) Donate more to our church. [A mixed bag.]

20) Fix the leaky shower valves in our back bathroom and reconnect the pipes (the disconnection was an emergency move). [Plan to get back to this soon, see college schedule remarks. Got to go back to Home Depot, again.]

21) Paint the main bathroom. Get rid of the larger mirror, replace with a smaller mirror. [Got the smaller mirror. Need to put the hooks and wire on the frame.]

22) Improve my Beer Karma on Beer Advocate, currently initinally it was 165.6. Will explain that another time. [Up to 190.65 though down from 192.92 - due to less activity lately. Have been to a couple of beer tastings at Brick Store pub in Decatur and a fellow BA's home.]

23) Get the wireless router working, however necessary. [Not yet. I did extend ethernet cable through the crawlspace, so we now have a computer hook-up in the dining room for one of the laptops. Got to find the instructional CD to re-begin this project.]

24) Participate in at least one Tea Party event. [Haven't heard of any yet, but as Herman Cain is considering running for President. Not yet. My bad.]

25) Read "Atlas Shrugged". I got a head start by reading the Cliff Notes version. Yeah, it is cheating of a sort, but I will understand the characters, etc., when I dive into this daunting book. [Finished it in about 3 1/2 weeks. Saw the movie, not perfect, but important message.]

26) Try to read two books per month, at least. [Did that, early on. No time, lately.]

27) Check out the local pawn shop for a used chainsaw. [No chainsaw when I have been there.]

28) Clear front yard of all fallen oak leaves by the end of January. [Done.]

29) Repaint shutters when the weather warms. [My bad. Now have to wait for weather to cool a bit.]

[I would probably give myself a D+/C- for my efforts, taking the weather into account for the outside stuff. So it goes.]

30) Expand xeriscaping in front yard. Repair rock walls. [Partial progress. I need a source of flat stones. I don't like to pay for rocks.]

31) Do some backyard landscaping. Clean up wildflower garden to prepare for spring. [Waiting for weather to cool. Deer ate most of wildflowers.]

New ones:

32) Collect more heavy mineral samples (including gold) by panning local creeks. [Some progress as I have been out with the "Allatoona Gold Panners" a couple of times.]

33) Start a job-search for more part time work (or full-time in the local school system, if I can find a satisfactory position for teaching science.) [Same old, same old.]

34) Reorganize my beer can collection, in order to have one more "blowout party" to show it off (haven't done so since it peaked in early 1994, for my 40th birthday). After that, I will recycle, sell it off when the spirit moves me. [Some progress a few months ago.]

35) Resume work on "CD project". [A couple of friends have been kind enough to give me hundreds of digital images from their early-summer vacation to UT/CO. Have been labeling them.]

So it goes.

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"When Barack Obama Fixes Things"

Geez. I just keep going back to this quote from an unrepentant Liberal cousin, who hasn't changed in 40+ years. It was uttered during a family vacation at a beach house in mid-2009. Ah, the price we pay for enduring family reunions and maintaining some sense of decorum.

How can otherwise intelligent people be so ignorant? As his equally-Liberal older sister was the host (paying the rent), it would have been the height of bad manners to even reply in any meaningful way. As a retired university professor of English, it is rational to assume that she has probably never entertained a Conservative concept in a critical way, during her tenure.

In a family situation, I am perfectly willing to avoid religion and politics, even if I sense that most in the room might agree with me. I might exchange side comments with a known Conservative/Libertarian or two, but would not be interested in trying to "set anyone straight" in that situation. People do not like to back down in public, it is better to engage them in a one-on-one discussion and give them something to take home.

When I was a Classical Liberal, I considered it to be my duty to listen and consider the arguments of "the other side". And when those opposing arguments began to make sense, my exodus began. Most do not have the courage to do that. I am not bragging, just sayin'...

But some people can't. In their ignorance/arrogance, they think that no one could do anything but agree with them. Howard Zinn, Sault Alinsky, Noam Chomsky,...are their apostles, even if they have never personally read them, the ideas were passed around in college and never challenged, even 40+ years later. Though I love them, the two sisters and the brother reinforce each other's Liberalism. Even if you were able to sit down with any one of them and force them to closely examine "why they believe what they believe", it wouldn't "take". Even if you made some progress towards logic, they would run back to the other two to "refill" and re-affirm their viewpoints.

As God is my witness, if I am ever in a position to rent any beach house, mountain getaway, etc., for a family gathering...I will forbid any discussion of religion or politics in "open spaces".

I just wonder how bad it has to get before they start to question what they believe? Or will they just take the easy way and blame "the other side", instead of saying "maybe Conservatives might be right"?

Though I can wish, I won't be holding my breath.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Altered States...Yeah, I'd Say So

Whenever I read something of leftist pundit Jonathan Alter, I can't help but think of the condition of "Altered States" [been there, done that...but the statutes of limitation have passed]. This idea may have been suggested by someone on Newsbusters in the past, i.e., I don't think it is my original thought.

From the above-linked Newsbusters post:

"On Wednesday’s The Ed Show, MSNBC analyst and Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter claimed that the "massive tax cuts" of the Bush administration did not create jobs, and went on to credit former President Clinton for the low unemployment rate existed for a time during the Bush years."...


..."He ended up lecturing fellow panel member Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation that Tea Party activists would support President Obama’s budget plan if polled and that they are "not as obsessed with tax cuts as you are."...

Jonathan Alter seems unable to connect the concepts of decreased taxes leading to increased economic activity (and more jobs). Unfortunately, there are too many that take MSNBC as gospel and there is no changing their minds. It seems so simple that - when you let people keep more of their own money, they spend it, employing other folks.

There is a reason why I avoid MSNBC, so as not to run up my blood pressure, as there seems to be ALMOST NEVER a logic thought uttered thereon.

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A Few Photos of My Stained Glass - Thusfar

The entire panel is 53" x 7", the longest panel I have ever done and the first in close to 25 years.  It turned out as I wanted it.  Random splashes of color, with interspersed sections of clear antique and glue chip.

The next one (to the left of the door) will be similar.  I thought of doing random splashes of color with slightly curved lines, but I decided that it might be "too different", i.e., too much contrast.

If I like the second one more, I thought about swapping this one to the left side, but handling such a long panel is risky and the copper foil joints are not as strong as the lead ones, so maybe I will just leave well enough alone.

Here is a close-up of the top.

Here is a close-up of the bottom.  I chose to make the lower 1 foot opaque, so the dog wouldn't be tempted to lean on it, if she saw something through the window (she has other windows for that purpose, to bark at squirrels, pedestrians walking their dogs, etc.).  She has actually broken through two smaller window panes to go chase squirrels.  I hope she has forgotten that "skill".

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Resuming a Useful Hobby...

Being too busy/lazy to look back, I may have made a prior reference to doing stained glass as a hobby.

It is one of those endeavors that we leave behind once we become parents. Partially because I didn't have a place to work on the glass that was away from "little ones". And glass work tends to produce lots of little slivers and flakes that can be tracked into "living areas" from an "extra room" workshop.

I was taught how to do the "copper foil" stained glass work in 1980 and early 1981, by a couple of friends - Michael and Malcolm, who were roommates (along with a couple of other friends) in an old clapboard house a few miles from here. As I wasn't active in grad school at the time (during my "burned-out" time), I extended my Christmas visit a bit.

When I returned to El Paso, with a supply of scrap glass, soldering iron, and other tools/supplies, I dedicated the "dining room" area of my 1 bedroom apartment to work on the glass. I actually made and sold 2 or 3 panels. I guess that makes me a "professional artist".

Fast-forward a bit when I moved to another nicer apartment later in 1981, closer to downtown El Paso, when I packed up my stuff, the glass went to a storage area. There is largely stayed, through the time when I met my wife in 1983 and got married in 1984. After marriage, returning to and finishing grad school was a priority, so the glass stayed in the storage area. With the adoption of our daughter in late 1986, that sort of sealed the deal.

So when we moved from El Paso back to the Atlanta area, partially because of not having time to properly pack my glass nor room on the truck, I gave away/sold almost all of my glass and tools.

Fast forward to the present. There had been a broken clearlite to the right of our front door for several years (someone got locked out of the house a few years earlier). I had been too busy to fix it myself and too cheap to hire someone else to do it. Finally, this spring I got tired of looking at the broken, taped glass and decided to fix it. First I had to scour the area looking for new supplies and tools.

Fortunately, I had been thinking about getting back into it for several years (time does fly) and bought a plastic tub of tools and supplies at a yard sale. I had somehow kept a half-sheet of clear "glue chip" and some scraps of other colors, thus that was something that I didn't have to buy. I found a local glass shop that gives away boxes of scrap glass - other places sell scrap, by the pound or by the square foot. Sweet!

As all of my past and present projects (and planned projects) are small-scale, I don't need large pieces of glass, so scraps of a wide range of colors and textures is just fine.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I completed the first clearlite and installed it (I have a few finishing touches to complete). And I have begun on the second one.

[As photos and long dialogue don't fit well in this blog, selected photos will be in the next post.]

There are a few small, scattered panels (90% completed) packed away around here - somewhere in the basement, garage, attic,... - that can be rejuvenated and finished. As I organize stuff, I hope to find and finish these.

When I posted photos on Facebook, it was gratifying to hear from my daughter (in NJ) - "Wow, I didn't know you could do this!" (or something like that). Kids just don't know what their parents did before they "came along". Sometimes we resurrect this stuff later, sometimes we don't.

I will probably never get that black & white darkroom constructed, though I have been dragging around an Omega B-600 enlarger for 30 some-odd years. The nature of photography has changed so much. It is important that someone keep-alive the practice of black & white photography, development, and printing, but it will probably have to be a younger person.

The resurrection of stained glass is a realistic step one, for me.

Getting the radial arm saw and table saw working again would help towards getting back into carpentry. One step at a time.

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On Paying Their Fair Share

Inspired by a fairly-new blog - The Rural Rant

This subject has been covered so many different ways by those outside the MSM (aka the alphabet networks).

From IRS figures:

Richest 1% of Americans pay 38% of all personal income tax.
Richest 5% pay 59% of all taxes.
Richest 10% pay 70%.
Richest 25% pay 86% of all income taxes.
Richest 50% of all Americans pay 97% of all income taxes paid.

To sum it all up, the bottom 50% of Americans paying income tax every year pay only 3%. (McCormally, Kevin, 2010-12-18, “Where Do You Rank as a Taxpayer?” Kiplinger)

I wish my otherwise-intelligent, liberal cousins would soak in this info. They seem to be of this "zero-sum game" idea about wealth. If someone has more, others have less. They seem to think that the wealthy stash their cash in baskets in their attic (or wherever), so no one else has access. If they ever had high school economics, they should remember that the money deposited in banks (or invested) re-enters "the system" and then is available to others.

It is just beyond me how someone can remain of the same political mindset for 30 - 40 years, when there has been a cascade of information re-inforcing the conservative viewpoint and discounting liberalism. Do they ever question what they "know"? Is it emotion over logic? Do they fear admitting they were wrong? Have Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky corrupted them that much? How bad do things have to get before they start to question their own philosophy? Or will they take the easy way out and just blame it on Bush?

The three first cousins I am thinking of (whom I do love dearly) are two sisters and a brother. The older sister is a retired university professor (not much exposure to conservative concepts in that environment), the brother is a Vietnam-era draft dodger living in Canada (not too much exposure to conservative concepts in that personal history), and the younger sister is a career RN - now an administrator in a county hospital. No doubt they reinforce each other in their diehard liberal viewpoints.

Though I love them (it is said that your first cousins are your first friends - though the younger sister is 4 years older than me, the older sister about 10 years older), hanging out with them is a tedious chore. I am perfectly willing to avoid discussing politics. With my varied interests, I can talk about food, beer, nature, history,...thus staying away from "religion and politics", but they seem unable to comprehend that not everyone agrees with them. I can remain quiet, except when one or more of them verbally "wander into my yard" (science, energy, 2nd Amendment, taxes, Tea Parties,...), then I try to politely pose a question to make them think or at least a polite rebuttal. I know some of my Facebook posts make their ears bleed.

Though I still have a talent for screwing things up, at least I got over being a liberal. Now to work on the other. It is an ongoing task.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Just a Reminder,...

if you are here looking for science, please visit my newer, science-only (well almost) blog - geosciblog - science.

When the spirit moves me and I can focus, I will cross-post science posts.

Why Modern Liberal Ain't - Wanting to Ban Books in Chicago

I wonder about any outtakes from this video. Did any of the people say "none of these should be banned"? When I was a liberal, I hated tyranny, which would include censorship. I would hope that I would have had the courage to raise a fuss at this very question.

It seemed that Michael Savage and Andrew Breitbart flew beneath the radar.

No, after years of dealing with the unrepentant, unwilling-to-learn, this is not unexpected. Saddening, yes but unexpected - no.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Denial Depot

Will blog on this more, when the spirit moves me and when tasks permit.

I am not 100% sure that this blog is not an exercise in satire. The author proclaims his being a "denier".

Personally, I don't. We AGW skeptics do not deny that humans MIGHT have an effect on the climate, but our scientific opinion is that it is probably NOT a major effect. Aside from the minor amount of CO2 (as compared to what nature contributes), deforestation (especially in the tropics) and the growth of Urban Heat Islands could play a role in affecting climate, but as the Earth's climate is a wide open system, with numerous cyclical and random inputs, it is folly to think that we can PROVE any 1:1 relationship between human activities and climate trends.

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