Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Horse of the Apocalypse.

'When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" ' - Revelation 6:5-6

Given my previous adventures, none of you should be too surprised at what happened to me today.




















There she was, surveying Silicon Valley which lay sleeping and unsuspecting far below. Is it any wonder that she has chosen here to prepare?











"Looney, I will accompany you for awhile and we will talk of things to come."













And so we jogged together for a few miles. I was initially surprised to find that she knew all my secret paths on the mountain, but Psalm 23 says, "He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake". My paths were known to God already and shared with His servants.









She shared many things with me, but I am not permitted to pass them on. Only to note that we may rejoice in evil today, but there is a judgment to come.











Finally as we neared the summit of Rose Peak, she told me that she was not permitted to go any further and we said our good byes. I gave her a hug and thanked her for all she told me. Later I came back the same way to see if she was still there, but she was gone. Off on another mission.
Isn't she beautiful?

"Obama to lift HIV entry ban soon."

Yikes. I should note that I am all for charity. Jesus freed people from demon possession, and we really don't want to know how people even became demon possessed, so the fact is that Christians are called to care for people regardless of how they got into their mess(es). On the other hand, we are called to care in a comprehensive way, which is something government can never do and largely precludes with the social welfare safety net.

What I have a problem with here is that the ban on entry is a ban related to communicable diseases, of which HIV is one. No, HIV is not like cancer. Certainly getting rid of the ban will allow a lot of good to be done, but it will also eliminate a barrier to all of those monogamous gays who are in loving, committed relationships and have no idea how they got HIV in the first place. Certainly it was an act of God!

The biggest issue, however, is things like the Ryan White Act where those who are infected by HIV get special treatment courtesy of the US tax payer compared to other diseases. By eliminating the ban, we can bring HIV infected people who are chronically ill into the US and give them the same treatment as they would have gotten in their home country, but with a cost multiplier of 10 to 100. Why spend $1,000 when you can spend $100,000?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Crises Crisis.

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you. I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write. The grace off our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." - 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18.

Yes, the number of crises in the world is multiplying. An under-reported one that concerns me is the banana crisis and there were my earlier worries regarding Dogwood Anthracnose. But what should we do when there are so many crises that there aren't enough pundits to pontificate about them, nor is there enough room on the internet to store all the news? The real crisis now seems to be that there are too many crises to keep track of. Someone who is Pragmaticly Hysterical might try to restrict herself to only panicking about the most important few crises, but how do we know which crises are the most critical and stay focused on them exclusively as our friends and neighbors all panic over secondary crises?

The above verse and many like it are good to go back to periodically.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Third World Driving Patterns In San Francisco ...

The first bit of excitement is the collapse of a temporary structure on the Bay Bridge resulting in a shutdown of the busiest bridge in the Bay Area. You can get the news here. This is all part of the most expensive bridge retrofit in world history. For those of you interested in bridge construction costs, the current expected final cost for this retrofit is $6.2 billion.

The second is a rule change to allow unlicensed drivers a free pass in San Francisco. Under the old rules, those who were caught driving without a license had their car impounded for 30 days. This was deemed mean and discriminatory towards illegal immigrants, thus, the rule was scrapped. Be sure and look twice when crossing the road when you visit San Francisco. Not everyone knows what the word STOP means, nor do they get the meaning of red colored lights hanging above intersections.

UPDATE: Looks like there is a monster commute problem this morning due to the Bay Bridge closure. Hopefully Caltrans can get things back in operation.
Yum.

The line right below "Whopper" says that it is a limited time offering of a new product. The line below that informs the reader that this is an "American size". I wonder why we can't get them here in the US.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More evidence for presidential deity?

It is a popular sport these days to make observations and claims regarding this subject. Far be it from me to make any accusations! My job is merely to present the evidence and document sources for the benefit of others.

First, let us consider the Biblical text:

'"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I AM!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds."' - John 8:58-59

"I am" is actually the name God used for Himself, so the Jews understood Jesus to be saying that he is God and has always existed. The original reference is from the story in the Exodus (~1,400BC) where Moses is spoken to by God out of the burning bush and wants to know what name he should use to refer to God when he returns to Egypt:

'God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "' - Exodus 3:14.

Now let us consider the ending of this Boston Globe article:

'"A couple months later," Biden said, Obama repeated the offer in a hotel room in Minneapolis. The senator looked at Obama and said, "Are you really committed to changing the course of this country?"

"He reached out, shook my hand and said, ‘I AM.’ "'

Just the facts. Looney reports, you decide.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rrrrriiiiinnnnggggg!

"Hello."
"Hello? Is Mr. Looney there?"
"Yes, this is he or she."
"My name is Helpful. The City of Fremont told me to call you about the project you are doing for Make A Difference Day. Do you need more help? My child needs service learning hours."
"We would be delighted to have you, but I am a rogue volunteer for Compassion Network, not the City of Fremont ..."
"No problem as long as we can get involved ..."

And so things proceeded as I passively assembled a team starting about a day before the project, because that was when I first learned for sure that the dumpster would be delivered. Much of the credit goes to the school policy of requiring children to get service learning hours to graduate. Thankfully, the ACLU hasn't stepped in to stop the morally corrosive effects of Christians teaching and directing children in the process of caring for the elderly. Another aspect is the perpetual preaching that Christians need to be actively seeking out people to help, rather than simply dealing with those we come across in daily life like the Good Samaritan did. The pattern should be more like Jesus forcing his disciples to row across the Sea of Galilee just so he could heal one demon possessed madman in the tombs, followed by rowing all the way back. Fitness and charity certainly go together.

The curious result is that we seem to have a shortage of needy elderly compared to the people who actually are willing to help. At least this is the way things appear on the surface. Once a whiff of the project got out, people were looking to get involved. On another level, the vast majority of work still isn't being done. We hear stories of lonely and fearful elderly people shut in their houses with spouses and relatives long gone. How to reach out to them?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Charity job complete ...

It has been a long day, so I will post something and neglect the rest of blogdom. We destroyed and removed an old rotting shed along with many other chores. This resulted in a lot of newly homeless lizards. The heart of one young man melted as we came across this adorable little one, so he decided to adopt it.

Most of the time you simply can't get in and out of a project and go back to your old life without any changes. New relationships are established which simply must be furthered, either in the case of the widow whose yard we have decided to clean up, or the poor homeless lizard. Each volunteer sees or knows something that the others don't, so we endlessly learn from one another. The projects are invariably as much of a benefit to the volunteers who give their time and resources as for the recipients.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Charity and Liability.

' "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.' - Matthew 6:1-4

I am coordinating a charity project and an announcement is mandatory which lists me as the person to contact. That means I don't get a heavenly reward, but at least I can rejoice that others who help out will have an opportunity to get their reward. What is really on my mind in these events isn't so much the heavenly reward as the potential earthly punishment if something goes wrong. Yes, we have liability waivers, but that is no restraint to a lawyer. What if someone gets hurt? Then there are those time delay things. Someone might get leukemia a year later, than go back and find out that we had used weed killer or paint or ... for the project. If I were poor and homeless, none of that would matter. The truth is that I am wealthy and like my lifestyle, which is the reason that I would be a tempting target for a lawyer anyway. Should fear of lawyers be affecting our decisions regarding helping others?
"Don't even think about it."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"You need to look at this from MY point of view!!!"

The following two photos give the exact same point of view, but different focus.





























Update: Marf merged the two using Photoshop. I need to learn how to do this.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Carino's restaurant in Fremont is closed.

This is just one more in a long, sad list of restaurants closing in Fremont. The Chinese Muslim restaurant closed. The really good dim sum place closed. The Black Angus and Hungry Hunter both closed. Chico's Tacos closed. The Singapore cuisine place closed. Then China Dragon closed, although I admittedly never went there. Happi House closed, but this news actually did make me happi. Lyon's closed, then opened as something else, then closed, then opened, then ... I lost track. Over the last year, a hundred frozen yogurt shops have popped up and I expect to see them closing after a year is passed and the lease is up for renewal.

Maybe it would be easier to list what hasn't closed? McDonalds, Subway and the other fast food restaurants are still doing well. Vietnamese noodle shops are doing well, although I don't understand how this is possible since they all seem so much alike. Pizza joints also seem quite stable, but high calorie, oily food always did well. Then there are the Indian restaurants. I have yet to see an Indian restaurant close, even though there seems to be an Indian restaurant on every corner now. Will this trend continue?
Making friends is always a good thing to do ...

... along with keeping an appropriate distance.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yesterday I had a walk with Mrs. Looney and noticed this guy flittering next to us. One of my favorite activities is walking with my wife and sharing everything that comes to mind.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The rainbow this morning is a good reminder of God's blessings. There is so much to be thankful for.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Good Newes from New England, by Edward Winslow, 1624.

The spelling is correct, in that it is an accurate transcription. Here is a lengthy passage, but on a subject of current interest. The discussion is due to the arrival of another group from England at the desperate colony of Plymouth. This group, however, was different from the religious Pilgrims, so ...

"There the Charity, being the bigger ship, left them, having many passengers which she was to land in Virginia. In the mean time the body of them refreshed themselves at Plymouth, whilst some more fit sought out a place for them. That little store of corn we had was exceedingly wasted by the unjust and dishonest walking of these strangers; who, though they would sometimes seem to help us in our labor about our corn, yet spared not day and night to steal the same, it being then eatable and pleasant to taste, though green and unprofitable; and though they received much kindness, set light both by it and us, not sparing to requite the love we showed them, with secret backbitings, revilings, &c., the chief of them being forestalled and made against us before then came, as after appeared. Nevertheless, for their master's sake, who formerly had deserved well from us, we continued to do them whatsoever good or furtherance we could, attributing these things to the want of conscience and discretion, expecting each day when God in his providence would disburden us of them, sorrowing that their overseers were not of more ability and fitness for their places, and much fearing what would be the issue of such raw and unconscionable beginnings." - Chapter 3.

So apparently the religious Pilgrims were having some trouble getting along with these secular English. But the text continues:

"At length their coasters returned, having found in their judgment a place fit for plantation, within the bay of the Massachusets at a place called by the Indians Wichaguscusset. To which place the body of them went with all convenient speed, leaving still with us such as were sick and lame, by the Governor's permission, though on their parts undeserved; whom our surgeon, by the help of God, recovered gratis for them, and they fetched home, as occasion served.

They had not been long from us, ere the Indians filled our ears with clamors against them, for stealing their corn, and other abuses conceived by them."

The relationships with the Indians is the most important part of this story along with how the Pilgrims as a people tried to be true to Christian values while being pragmatic and wise. For various reasons, such as deceitful translators, this proved to be a challenge. This other group doesn't seem particularly religious at all, however, and all chaos breaks loose.

Two things jump out at me, the first being the modernist tendency to itemize all the crimes done against the native Americans and then lay them at the feet of Christians. The other is the modernist argument that because there are some who profess atheism, but whose morals are quite commendable, and others who profess Christianity but act in the most vile manner, that therefore there is no moral benefit to religion. Bringing in the alleged crimes, a modernist metanarrative is then developed which is the exact opposite of the one above: Christians are the source of crimes against humanity, but secularists provide a moral compass to keep things from getting out of hand. Have I misrepresented the views of the secularist? And if the secularist viewpoint is true, how is it that Winslow could have conceived of a polar opposite story?

Anyway, this story is a good reminder to us rich Christians who gripe at being taken advantage of. Haven't we taken advantage of God too?
Henry Coe Park: Mount Sizer Loop.

This loop is about 15 miles with a lot of up and down, but the scenery is worth it.



























Single track in the manzanita tubes on the way to Manzanita Point.













There are some bits of Fall color.













A remnant of fog for the valley.













A burnt out chaparral forest gives an eerie feeling heading up the ridge towards Mount Sizer. There were mountain lion tracks and a large, carnivore's scat which may have contributed to the feeling.












Manzanita has a wonderful looking reddish bark.













Looking towards Gilroy, the Monterey Bay, and the Monterey peninsula makes its way across the top of the photo. This is from the top of Mount Sizer, or at least my altimiter says I am at the top. There isn't anything to mark the summit, which is more a stretch of ridge than a point.









This being the end of the dry season, some hikers were asking at headquarters if there was any water in the park.













"What happened to your ears?" Animals aren't as tactful as people.












Back to the headquarters at noon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tomorrow some more pictures will go up. It was a perfect dawn start this morning.

Caturday?

Maybe Marf knows what to do with this picture I took this morning. There was a park ranger out cutting away blockages from last Tuesday's storm, so I asked him to look at this paw print. He was fairly certain it was a cat. Back at the Henry Coe Headquarters, a lady in park uniform also looked at the picture and agreed. The uniform makes it official. From the size, I would guess a mountain lion, but not a really large one.

If congress passes the bill for a $3,500 tax deduction for pets, I am going to chase one of these little kitties down and bring him home to be a pet. Cats need love too.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Job interviews and clear glasses.

This morning my daughter was wearing glasses. If it was outside and sunny, this wouldn't be too unusual, but then she would be wearing sunglasses. These glasses were clear of the sort that a school teacher would wear and took away her little girl look. Her eyes, however, are perfect so that she has no need for corrective lenses. What was up?

I interviewed her a bit initially suggesting that they were some sort of safety glasses, given where she has worked before. Nope. They do have some UV filtering, which might help out in some laboratories around Silicon Valley, but the main purpose turned out to be cosmetic: She wanted to look more plausible as a candidate while applying for chemical engineering jobs at companies like Applied Materials. There probably is a Bible verse that says something about that, but I need to get some work done and will ponder this later.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mourt's Relation, originally published in 1622.

I got bogged down reading Anselm, but the Thanksgiving Holiday is coming up so I decided to pick up something easy and enjoyable to read. Mourt's Relation is one of the original accounts of the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving, giving the first copy of the text of the Mayflower Compact. Perhaps the story for me is too familiar with all the death, struggling to build houses mid-winter, and the first interactions with the Indians. Mourt's Relation doesn't require a translator, but it is helpful to have someone go through and make an edition with consistent and modernized spelling along with a few other grammar updates reflecting the changes to the English language with the passage of time. Some notes were also included, and one of these regarding the signatures on the Mayflower Compact proved to be more entertaining than the main story:

"As evidenced in the signatures, the distinctions between masters and servants remained, and women had no legal voice but were still chattel." - Dwight Heath, Brown University

I should note that Brown University in Rhode Island is a typical name conservatives use as a proxy for institutions of higher ignorance, which were formally and inaccurately known as institutions of higher learning. Studies have been done which show that the more time students spend at these top schools, the less they know!

First, the desperately poor folk of the separatist congregation didn't exactly have a large number of "masters". In fact, none. There is more to the code word "servants", but we will leave that. Just keep in mind that there was a corporation and those who signed the corporate documents would become the servants of investors in England. The real entertainment is the assertion that "women ... were still chattel", which more represents the modern mindset in which women truly are degraded, but technology and welfare masks the situation. During the first winter months, the men went out into the harsh elements to collect food, cut trees, build shelters, and dodge arrows. What would this have looked like if our post-chattel values were in effect? I suppose we would have needed twice as many houses at the start, since men would only be allowed to stay with women when they were in a favorable mood. Thus, the women would have needed to be out there hunting, chopping, hauling logs, gathering thatch and all else that was needed for food and shelter while it was raining and snowing. Our modern women could, of course, offer some sex in exchange for services from the Indians. Oh, the wonders of the post-chattel society!

Update: Here is one of the articles regarding history and top academic institutions.

Correction: I am reading William Bradford's account of the Pilgrims and there were indeed servants brought along. The missing bit is that the terms for the corporate voting were set by the Adventurers who funded the venture in London, and they provided for one share per family, with the servants being part of the family. Thus, the voting was in accordance with the corporate governance.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

At what wind velocity do humans turn into tumble weeds?

This post probably could use an appropriate sound track, so you can find one here. When I was young, winter time in Tennessee meant long bicycle training rides in cold, rainy conditions. For some reason, I still am attracted to the rains, and today a powerful storm came through the Bay Area dumping rain, blowing down all kinds of stuff, and dominating the news. In the spirit of Colonel John Stapp, I had to go out and test the limits, although it would have been nice to have some instrumentation to get the actual wind velocity.

First, it was raining fairly steadily turning things into mud. On the way up, this meant a half step backwards for everyone step forward. The added weight of the mud made for quite a workout. The slides are with the strides on the way down, but ... when the hurricane force wind is also with your stride ... The picture is from the start before things got messy.






Climbing this ridge was my first taste of the wind acceleration that Mission Peak causes. The rain was moving like thousands of little bullets giving a sensation of being sand blasted. Thankfully this view is down wind as looking into the wind was unpleasant.








There is a tiny valley near the top giving a bit of shelter from the wind and a momentary break before the final climb.












Now for the final push up into the hurricane. Near the top it was impossible to stand up, so I had to make my way along in a crouch.











Just past the summit and I found a sheltered spot to rest. So far no falls, but I did fall two and a half times on the way down in an exposed area. Thankfully it was very muddy and soft. One hour, 55 minutes to complete the workout. It is a rare treat to be the only human on the mountain.
Viewing Silicon Valley from a different angle ...

A late season wildflower.

Speaking of flowers, there is a lovely article about a SWAT team attack on a family with jail time over flowers.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More low light photography from the dawn start on Saturday.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

AMBUSH!!!

The bad guys were dressed in black as they came cantering around the corner. Quickdraw Looney was wearing his usual white cap, sure proof that he is a good guy. In an instant his hand was moving in a blur towards his front holster, grabbing his large caliber weapon and raising it upwards for sighting. Three fingers controlled the motion, one finger clicked the arming button while the fifth moved firmly to the trigger. A split second later and the trigger was pulled setting off a double shot that got both of them.




"You got us this time Quickdraw Looney, but next time you won't be so lucky."

Setting aside the silliness, this event occurred a mile west of Rose Peak today in the Ohlone Wilderness. If someone owns these horses, they are going to have quite a time finding them. This is the first time I have seen horses roaming about free here.
First Prize for Consistency of Moral Message:

Nice of them to mark the trail.

The patch of broken granite made me a bit nervous.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Forest Gump wins Nobel Peace Prize.

Admittedly Gump is my hero. He runs to many scenic spots, takes life easy, and never lets things get too complicated. The audacity of hope is personified in Gump. Forest Gump led America off to the theaters to escape from stress, conflict and reality to enjoy moments of peace. More importantly, Gump was able to enjoy peace even as world conflict, social disarray, family dysfunction, health problems and economic catastrophe raged all around him. In this instance, we are again seeing conflicts all around the world with a complete lack of hope for resolution. Forest Gump was the right man to turn to in offering the prize.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Some naturally occurring snow sculpture.

The lake is called Tamarack Lake.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Making Tracks ...

The meeting ended early afternoon, so at 2:50PM I was departing from Camp Sacramento off of Highway 50 headed for Mount Ralston. An hour 40 minutes took me from the 6,500 foot starting elevation to the summit at 9,235 feet. Another hour 10 minutes and I was back to the car. Not bad for a late afternoon workout. The total distance looks to be about 8 miles, but I am not quite sure.








This is in the wonderfully named Desolation Wilderness.













Judge for yourself if the name matches the terrain.













Looking at Lake Tahoe. The late afternoon lighting isn't the best for picture taking.













It is almost straight down. One slip and it is all over.