Archive for June, 2012
I think this is darling and hey, what better a pic that this one on the Saturday of a 4th of July weekend?
A group of students in Sao Paulo, Brazil, recently constructed a giant monkey out of thousands of flip-flops! Designed for the Pixelshow 2010this fun sculpture currently lies innocently in a local park ready to amuse and entertain passersby on their daily strolls. And if you’re concerned about the final destination of all this colorful footwear, don’t worry – it’s almost summertime in São Paolo, and plenty of people are ready to trade in their boots for something more breathable.
Stay cool if you can (a big if).
I just watched a report about the Waldo Canyon Fire on my local
about how firefighters detect “hot spots.”
Want to know how they do it? I did. Given the Flagstaff fire, I was listening.
Is it via infrared cameras? No. Eyeglasses or sensors that detect embers embedded in the ash? No. A wand they move over the ground like a Geiger counter? No.
They put their freakin’ hand on the ground to see if it’s hot.
And 9News was so impressed.
USA! USA! USA!
This would be my Tweet of the Day:
Needless to say, when I read this in the paper this morning it kind of got me off to a bad start:
The [Flagstaff fire], about 300 acres in size, is 40 percent contained, officials said Thursday night.
A California-based federal team of “hot shot” firefighters took over the efforts early Thursday and established a goal of 100 percent containment by Saturday.
“All we’ve done really is come in and helped (local fire crews) back off this one fire and continue to support the emergency needs of the city and the county,” said Sean Collins, liaison for the federal team, at a briefing Thursday night. “It’s looking very good at this time, but we’ll stay here until we’re deployed elsewhere.”
So, if another fire crops up they’ll drop everything and leave?
Collins said 330 firefighters are part of the team assigned the fire, and 50 of those were on call overnight in case the fire flared.
After shoring up containment lines on the fire’s western edge Thursday — which allowed officials to lift all evacuation orders — the crews will focus Friday on containing the fire on its challenging eastern edge, which is in steep, rugged terrain, Collins said. They’ll be assisted by helicopter drops of food, water and fuel.
But even if full containment is reached by Saturday, area residents may see smoke rising from the burn zone until the fall.
“It’s quite possible that we are going to be seeing smoke in the area for pretty much the rest of the summer,” Collins said. “Residents need to be mindful that we are not going to be able to put it out completely. The goal is to secure the perimeter, and it will continue burning deep inside the middle.”
Collins said the federal team will ensure the perimeter of the fire is secure and will dig trenches to keep material from rolling downhill and sparking another blaze…
I trust the local firefighters a lot more than I do the fed team just because I think they inherently do a more thorough job because they’re protecting their own community. For the feds, it’s just “a job.” So ugh. We get so much wind around here. I. Do. Not. Like. This. At. All.
And since when do we let fires burn for months on end? Seems to me that’s a new “theory,” a new norm in fighting fires that we’re supposed to accept because the truth is, we don’t have the resources to actually put them out.
It’s break time as well as time for a dash of hope and inspiration:
Ugandan artist and teacher Ruganzu “Bruno” Tusingwire has created an amazing recycled amusement park for Ugandan children that is made from thousands of repurposed plastic bottles. The amusement park was designed for kids growing up in the slums who have limited access to safe areas for play and education. Tusingwire’s design gives the children a physiological and emotional lift through recreation, and the curious use of materials and inventive structures have sparked new ways for the children to learn from and engage with their environment. The project was just awarded the first 2012 TED Prize at the TEDxSummitin Doha, Qatar.
More info and images here.
This is what climate change looks like:
Feeling hot? It’s not a mirage. Across the United States, hundreds of heat records have fallen in the past week.
From the wildfire-consumed Rocky Mountains to the bacon-fried sidewalks of Oklahoma, the temperatures are creating consequences ranging from catastrophic to comical.
In the past week, 1,011 records have been broken around the country, including 251 new daily high temperature records on Tuesday.
“Any time you’re breaking all-time records in mid- to late-June, that’s a healthy heat wave,” Arndt said.
If forecasts hold, more records could fall in the coming days in the central and western parts of the country, places accustomed to sweating out the summer.
The current U.S. heat wave “is bad now by our current definition of bad,” said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver, but “our definition of bad changes. What we see now will be far more common in the years ahead.”
In other words, we may look back longingly at this scorcher of a summer as our definition of “bad” gets badder and badder.
Pity the children.
Way to win hearts and minds Obama:
Today [June 13, 2012], the Pew Research Center released its latest Pew Global Attitudes Project public opinion survey, conducted in twenty-one countries in March and April of this year through phone or in-person interviews.
“Do you approve or disapprove of the United States conducting missile strikes from pilotless aircraft called drones to target extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia?”
The only country in which a majority of respondents (62 percent) approved of U.S. drone strikes was the United States. Interestingly, this marks a significant decline from a February Washington Post poll that found 83 percent of Americans supported the use of drones “against terrorist suspects overseas.”
Love how the Washington Post loaded its question: “…against terrorist suspects overseas.”
Outside of the United States, however, the overwhelming majority of respondents oppose drone strikes in seventeen of the twenty countries, including among U.S. allies or partners: Greece (90 percent), Egypt (89 percent), Jordan (85 percent), Turkey (81 percent), Spain (76 percent), Brazil (76 percent), Japan (75 percent), and Mexico (73 percent). The only two outliers were Great Britain, where only 47 percent oppose drone strikes, and India, where 47 percent did not answer the question at all.
I am sure we’re making more enemies through our use of drones than we are killing “terrorists.”
Rush Limbaugh is another one of those idiots who wants to flee the country because of rampant socialism — flee that is, to a country with ah, rampant socialism:
Just watch this.
The Flagstaff Fire is 40% contained but it’s windy tonight and I smell smoke. But hey, I’m still vertical and on the right side of the grass so there’s this: an eerily beautiful photo from a CBSDenvert slide show of the Flagstaff fire.
This is my favorite:
This is another of the decision handed down by the Supreme Court today.
In United States v. Alvarez, a highly anticipated First Amendment case with a quirky fact pattern, the Court held in a vote of six to three that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. Justice Kennedy announced the opinion for a plurality of the Court (he was joined by the Chief Justice as well as Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor). Justices Breyer and Kagan concurred, suggesting that if Congress re-enacted the law with additional limitations, it might be constitutional.
The Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. § 704, makes it a federal crime to lie about having received a military decoration or medal, punishable by up to a year in prison if the offense involved the military’s highest honors. In this case Xavier Alvarez, recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Three Valley Water District in southern California, announced to his colleagues – for no apparent reason – that he had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and that he had been wounded during active duty as a United States Marine. In reality, Alvarez had never even served in the military. He was prosecuted and pled guilty to one count of violating the Stolen Valor Act, but reserved his right to challenge the constitutionality of the statute.
The key issue is whether the First Amendment protects false statements of fact – made without any apparent intent to defraud or gain anything – and if so, what level of protection they deserve. … Six Justices agreed that some protection was warranted, but disagreed as to the amount, and three Justices believe that the First Amendment does not protect such lies at all.
But again, six justices agree that the First Amendment protects “false statements of fact.” Excuse me but I think that’s more commonly known as lying.
What did I tell you? That the neocons would start railing against “activist judges” because they don’t like SCOTUS’s decision on health care?
Well, thank you very much Michele Bachmann:
These guys are so boringly predictable.
Oh, and look at the time on that screenshot (see larger version at the link above). It says 8:37 PT. That means she was doing the “activist judges” thing at 10:37 ET, roughly 90 minutes after the decision was announced. She obviously turned to the GOP talking points manual and looked under disagree-with-court-decision and found: Scream: Activist judges!
I had never heard of “Crack Broccoli” until three minutes ago when a friend sent me a link to the foodie website, Ben&birdy. According to Ben&birdy, Crack Broccoli is phenomenally delicious:
Only my friend Maddie could make a vegetable that would get nicknamed “Crack Broccoli”—and that would be the first thing to disappear at a party where it was placed among such delights as chips and dip, oozing triple-cream cheese, and ginger-prosecco cocktails. Children literally shoved aside bowls of candy to grab at the vanishing broccoli, and you know I don’t use the word “literally” figuratively. So I asked for the recipe.
So heck, I thought I’d share. I’m going to try it. I’ve made cauliflower this way and it’s great.
Oven-Roasted BroccoliServes 4Active time: 10 minutes; total time: 20 minutes1 large head broccoli3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)1/2 teaspoon sugarLemon wedges, for serving (I keep forgetting this, but I’m sure it would be good)Peel the broccoli with a sharp paring knife as best as you’re able. The thick peel will keep the broccoli from going fully tender, so you really do want to remove it.Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Cut the stem off of the broccoli, and cut it into long, ½-inch thick pieces. Cut the rest of the broccoli into long, fairly narrow florets, then put it in a bowl, drizzle it with the oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with the salt and sugar, and toss to combine. (The sugar helps it brown, so please don’t omit it.)Working quickly, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the broccoli to the baking sheet and spread it in an even layer, placing it flat sides down wherever possible.Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the stalks are well browned and tender and the florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately with lemon wedges (if you remember).
This is what happens when a Republican surrounds himself with Fox and Rush: He thinks a majority of voters belong to the Tea Party and that a majority of voters will think what he has to say is perfectly reasonable:
The former spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party sent out an email that questioned whether armed rebellion was justified over the Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare.
Matthew Davis, an attorney in Lansing, sent the email moments after the Supreme Court ruling to numerous new media outlets and limited government activists with the headline: “Is Armed Rebellion Now Justified?”
Davis added his own personal note saying, “… here’s my response. And yes, I mean it.”
“There are times government has to do things to get what it wants and holds a gun to your head,” Davis said. “I’m saying at some point, we have to ask the question when do we turn that gun around and say no and resist.
“Was the American Revolution justified?”
This is wacko. And Davis is a lawyer? Where did he get his JD? Liberty University? And don’t you just love how Republicans are so fond of evoking images of people waving guns around?
Checkout the tweets Buzzfeed assembled sent by people who are fed-up with the United States and all the “socialism” going on around here thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare this morning.
Here’s a taste:
Now, welcome to the Canadian Health Care’s website:
Canada’s health care system is a group of socialized health insurance plans that provides coverage to all Canadian citizens. It is publicly funded and administered on a provincial or territorial basis, within guidelines set by the federal government.
Under the health care system, individual citizens are provided preventative care and medical treatments from primary care physicians as well as access to hospitals, dental surgery and additional medical services. With a few exceptions, all citizens qualify for health coverage regardless of medical history, personal income, or standard of living.
OMG. The other day I read somewhere that CNN’s prime time ratings are down 40% over this time last year, and is it any wonder? First they got the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare exactly wrong (this is a screenshot from Politico):
and then this happened:
Aye yie yie.
On March 26, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly said he’d “apologize for being an idiot” if Obamacare was upheld. So, let’s all watch “The Factor” today. Woohoo!!
Watch the video here.
(P.S. He’ll find a way to weasel out of it.)
This has got to be my Tweet of the Day:
Well, it appears the Supreme Court has essentially upheld “Obamacare.” Listening to early analysis it sounds like a complicated decision so the thinking on that could change but that’s where it stands as of now.
I’m taking bets on how long it will be before the right starts yelling about those “activist judges.” I’m thinking an hour or two. Notice they only dust that off and bring it out when SCOTUS makes a ruling they don’t like.
Ah, breathing a little easier here in Boulder as the pre-evacuation order for my neighborhood has been lifted and the Flagstaff Fire is 30 percent contained Yippee!
We got a good little downpour yesterday afternoon and the humidity increased so I guess the fire bosses figured they had the fire under control enough to lift the ban. Phew. Such good news.
Now I can unpack the car.
The corporate media held its breath today, punditizing about the Supreme Court releasing its decision about “ObamaCare” tomorrow. Radical neocons are set to praise the “Roberts court” and liberals are set to demonize it (maybe…if they have the guts).
That said, most Americans will slap their foreheads and say whut
because they have no earthly idea who John Roberts is.
Gotta love No Child Left Behind.
This is shocking:
Uninsured and fighting blazes: Welcome to the Life of a Federal Firefighter
Right now, wildfires of “epic proportions” are tearing through the Colorado forests.
Thousands of federal firefighters charged with taming the blazes do not have health insurance.
That includes 27-year-old John Lauer. He’s a member of a Colorado-based “hotshot” crew, one of the teams of the most skilled federal fighters that gets deployed where fires are the worst. In six years, he has fought fires in Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota – “Pretty much every state west of the Mississippi,” Lauer says. “Alaska too, once.”
Of all the jobs where you might want health insurance, firefighting near certainly ranks near the top of the list. Firefighters spend two-week shifts working 18 hour days in dangerous conditions. Some develop breathing problems due to smoke inhalation.
But many federal firefighters are temporary employees, who only work six months out of the year (although as Lauer describes it, they can often work a full year’s worth of hours with the long shifts). Under federal regulations, temporary employees of the Forest Service do not receive benefits. That means no health care and no retirement pension.
“A lot of them are not making a lot,” says Bill Dougan, president of the National Federal of Federal Employees. “The only way they can afford insurance is if they have a spouse that might be able to get coverage under an employer. In some places that’s not an option.”
So the next time you think you might lose your home to a wildfire and you see guys and gals crawling through the flames,
remember: They’re lugging gear around that adds to their being hot as hell; they’ve been working for 18-hours straight; they don’t have health insurance (think about breathing smoke for 18 hours for two weeks multiplied by years and years) and they’re away from their families for weeks on end.
Making a batch of chocolate chip cookies doesn’t come close to thanking them.
My husband and I just drove around to the east, south and west of our house to see what’s going on in those areas.
To the east is Fairview High School. As you can see from this image
they have a great view of the fire area which is immediately behind the two mountains to the left.
The barking lot there is roped off with police tape and inside is a Boulder police van, an ambulance and an ancient-looking brown tanker truck (presumably filled with water).
From there we turned south onto Greenbriar which follows the southern edge of town.
On the north side of the road (in the distance here)
are condos. On the south side are acres and acres of tinder dry grassland which is in the foreground above. In that area, police cars are stationed roughly every 200 yards.
As we made our way around to the south west corner of town, we turned immediately west so we were at the base of the mountains and under the ridge behind which the fire is burning (below). Actually, there have been little spits of spot fires on the east-facing side of the mountain as you can see here. From what I can tell, firefighters are terrified that the main body of the fire will crest the top of the mountain and burn down the eastern side. If that happens, thousands of homes are at the base.
The picture below shows the dense forest leading into the residential area at the base of the mountain.
The fire trucks you see in the picture above are parked in the most extreme south-west corner of town, below where the fire is. Look at that dry, yellow grass. That stuff is everywhere there.
Anyway, people were standing out on their sidewalks (everywhere we went) looking worriedly up at the smoke and the helicopters while firefighters trudge off into the forest.
The people in that area must be sweating bullets because the pine trees that are visible at the base of the mountains grow right up to the back of their homes (see picture immediately above). An ember from could easily land in that area and start a spot fire which would be a terrifying nightmare, especially if the wind was blowing from the west.
We then headed back home (our house is just off to the right of the picture above, and six blocks to the west) staying as close to the edge of town as possible and saw more police cars stationed in that area.
All in all, I better insofar as we are at least a little farther away than the folks who live immediately at the base of the mountain.
Other tidbits I’ve gathered from watching the news are that if the fire does come down the mountain toward town, firefighters are planning on lighting a back-fire and crossing their fingers. That might work, and it might not. Also, because of all the wildfires in the state, we’ve had to borrow some air tankers from Canada to help because the USA, USA, USA only has freakin’ nine of them.
My Tweet of the Day from my local newspaper:
You gotta do what you gotta do.
I should say morning cute dog and macho crab video:
Just got this from the Boulder Office of Emergency Management:
June 27 – 7 a.m. – Flagstaff Fire morning update
The Flagstaff Fire has no containment, but remains at 200-300 acres in size. There are 250 personnel working the fire from 50 agencies.
Aerial fire fighting operations will begin at 8 a.m. and will include two heavy tankers, two large Type 1 helicopters (heli-tankers) and two smaller Type 3 helicopters.
Two hand crews will also be working the fire from the ground on the southwest flank. Due to weather and terrain, operations will be mostly from the air today.
Weather today calls for 15-20 mph winds with gusts of 25. Humidity is 15-20 percent and scattered thunderstorms are possible this afternoon.
The wind will be key today.
People are getting angry. Colorado Springs is burning up and Boulder is holding its breath. Where. Are. The. Resources? The Springs fire has been burning for a week. The High Park fire west of Ft. Collins has been burning for two weeks.
We can occupy a country with hundreds of thousands of troops practically overnight but we can’t put wildfires out?
Follow my updates about the Flagstafffire in Boulder on my Facebook page, here.
R.I.P. Nora. I’ll remember you for this. Thank you. One of the best reads ever. Cracked me up and made me cry.