Monday, April 23, 2018

The Fibbin' Nazi Sequence

Poking around the t00bz, I found this hilarious picture of Donald Trump's head conforming to a Fibonacci spiral:

It's similar to a golden spiral, which is appropriate for a gilded turd like The Donald. It's also appropriate that a fibbin' Nazi would have a Fibonacci head.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

2018 Earth Day Musings

Shortly after dawn on Earth Day, I walked the site, opening up the parking lot gates for the public. It was 36F (2.2C) at 6:30 in the morning, in late April. Paradoxically, the cold Spring weather can be chalked up to warming in the Arctic, which disrupts the jet stream.

Having written this blog since December 2009, I have a pretty good indication of the conditions in my environment for the past eight and a quarter years. I can look back and figure out when the animals were becoming active, when the plants were starting to bud. This cold Spring, I've heard the spring peepers singing their love songs, I've seen the Canada geese building nests, heard the red-winged blackbirds trill to announce their presence. The nettles are poking up through the frost-bedizened ground. It doesn't FEEL right, though- wearing a watch cap and a fleece under my sweatshirt at this time of year is foreign to me. We humans have broken our planet (but not THE planet- there are plenty of organisms which will thrive in the fucked up world we're producing).

The current maladministration, with an Environmental Protection Agency being run into the ground by a fossil fuel flack, a rollback of fuel efficiency and carbon emission standards (though higher gas prices will curtail some driving), and general hostility to regulation, is an environmental disaster. The Resistance to the GOP, the drive to flip Congress to the Democratic Party, takes on additional urgency. Electing GWB in 2000 was a disaster- a regime hostile to environmental concerns at exactly the wrong time, and electing Donald Trump represented a doubling down of this huge environmental failing.

I'm an outdoorsy fellow- much of my work takes place outdoors, as does much of my recreation. I'm a biology nerd as well. I value our fellow denizens of Earth, but it goes beyond that- environmentalism is about human health, human happiness, human quality of life. The environment we are altering is our environment, destroying it would be our collective suicide... and that is too high a price to pay for maximizing next quarter's profits, or 'owning the libs', or trying to make up for one's deficiencies as a tough guy.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

My Entire Job Experience, Encapsulated in One Day

I often joke that my job is cushy, except when it's not. It ranges from 'wow, I'm having fun' to 'oh, shit', with a baseline of decent job satisfaction. Yesterday, ran the gamut... We are having our family friendly Spring fundraiser this weekend- it's the kickoff of our open season, the first event which has the seasonal staff back in force, doing their thing. I arrived at work, and there was a fair degree of prep work going on. I helped one of the IT guys move some equipment- he's a good friend and has done me some favors in the past when I've had computer issues, plus I like to think that I am, in the grand scheme of things, one of the people who contributes to the success of others rather than undermining them. I also had to open up the facility for an employee of another not-for-profit which is helping us with our fundraiser so he could drop off some material that we would be borrowing for the event. Again, I like it when everybody benefits, and both of our organizations are healthier for the collaboration.

After locking things up, I returned to the main parking lot, and the building in which my usual office is located. I noticed three individuals standing in a picnic area next to the parking lot, and was surprised when they greeted me by name at a distance of fifty feet or so. I had met these friendly folks when they attended our big Fall fundraiser, and they remembered me. They had an errand in the locality, and were planning their return to New Jersey when they decided to stop by after grabbing dinner in the locality. I spent a half-hour chatting with them about the upcoming event season, local scuttlebutt, and even about affordable places in the Lower Hudson region (one of them is totally enamored of the area and would like to move here). After a lovely discussion, I suggested that they check out my neck of the woods, the Yonkers/Bronx border region- go to a couple of bars, see if they could find out anything about available apartments. All told, it was a fun time, and I was tickled pink that they would stop over to visit me. It doesn't happen very often, but a few times a year, somebody that I have met through our events will drop by for a friendly chat.

About two hours after the trio departed, I received a phone call from the company which monitors our alarm systems. A motion detector in the maintenance garage of another site had been activated. The standard procedure is to instruct the monitoring staff to hold off on dispatching the police so we can perform an in-house check of the premises and make the determination ourselves. Generally speaking, one motion detector going off is a mouse- if multiple motion detectors go off, it's a marauder. One one occasion, we had a repeating activation of one particular motion detector, and I ascertained that convection currents from a radiator were moving a drape, and setting the detector off- shutting the radiator valve stopped that. At any rate, alarm activations are rare, but they do happen.

I won't say that burglar alarm activations are routine- even though I have never personally encountered someone breaking-and-entering, the very act of going to the site of an alarm, even one set off by a mouse, isn't a picnic. Last night, I drove to the site and there was a car parked in the entrance driveway, with its headlights on. This is not usual, and my immediate thought was: "Sketchy car, suggestive timing." I drove to the exit gate driveway, killed the headlights of the car, and quietly opened the exit gate. I drove onto the site and locked the gate behind me, not wanting any surprises. I exited the car, and ducked behind a tree in order to call the local police non-emergency number. I explained who I was, and where I was, and gave a quick précis of the situation- I had received a motion detector alarm, and arrived onsite to investigate, whereupon I saw a car which didn't belong in that spot at that time. I gave a description of myself and what I was wearing, told the desk sergeant that my car was locked onsite, and that I would be checking out the alarm panel and the buildings. I'm not the sort of person who gets scared easily, and I generally trust my instincts, my knowledge of my home turf, and a certain physical competence when it comes to conflicts- I figured the police could check out the car while I checked out the site. That being said, I went slinking from shadow to shadow as I made my way to the maintenance garage, which happens to be the site of the main alarm panel. The doors were securely locked, there was no sign of intruders- everything was in good order.

When the desk sergeant called me back on the company phone, he informed me that the driver of the car had broken down and was awaiting a tow truck. I told him that everything on site was in good order, and that the whole incident appeared to be a bizarre coincidence. I waited onsite until a flatbed tow truck arrived and the car was removed from our driveway. My initial 'OH, SHIT!' moment turned out to be no big deal.

It was one of those nights which served as a perfect illustration of the job- an absolute joy one moment, a task fraught with tension another moment. I know which of these moments I prefer, but I like to think that I handled both with equal aplomb.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Shock that Still Resonates

It's been nineteen years since the Columbine school mass-shooting, and the pain is still palpable. For nineteen years, there's been a lot of talk, but no action, regarding mass-shootings, and one got the sense that people were feeling helpless in the face of pervasive gun culture and a powerful gun lobby. The pain, the shock, the loss still reverberate, but kids who weren't even born when the massacre took place have decided to push back with a series of school walkouts throughout the country. This walkout has received support from several VIPs.

The student movement against gun violence keeps gaining momentum, these teenagers who have never lived in a world in which mass school shootings were unknown are displaying a wisdom and a courage that previous cohorts of teenagers weren't able to muster on such a scale. Being organized, being righteous, being savvy, these kids are going to accomplish something transformative- I predict some amazing things from this generation and I am profoundly grateful.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Death of a Real News Titan

On Sunday, I wrote a piece about the death of a fake news man, so it's appropriate to write about the death of a real newsman- we lost NPR's Carl Kasell last Tuesday. I have long been a fan of Carl Kasell, the consummate news anchor... the serious, unflappable reporter with the deep, well-modulated voice and the perfect sense of gravitas. The man was also extremely funny, as his tenure on Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me proved- his chemistry with Peter Sagal was genuine.

Carl Kasell was one of the greats- he was level-headed and trustworthy, he never sensationalized the news, he was a steadying force in times of tragedy, who just happened to have comedic flair when it was appropriate. Here's a great interview with Mr Kasell:

It's been a while since I've spent a Saturday morning with Mr Kasell, but he was always good company.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dowager Dies

The death of Barbara Bush at the age of 92 has dominated the airwaves today, and the hagiography has been nauseating. The coverage of her death is glossing over just how horrible Babs was. Her comment on Good Morning America two days before her son's disastrous attack on the innocent people of Iraq is about as repulsive as a statement can be:

But why should we hear about body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or that or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that, and watch him suffer?

Yeah, why concern yourself with contemplating the hell that your idiot son is going to rain on some poor brown people half a world away? Hell, those benighted barbarians don't count as people, none of them has ever been Junior League material!

Almost as repulsive as that quote was her statement on Marketplace regarding the post Katrina evacuees hunkered down in the Houston Astrodome:

What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.

This statement was completely dehumanizing, characterizing people who had lost loved ones, who had lost family homes which represented their sole intergenerational wealth, who had been forced to flee from their vibrant city, their incredibly rich culture, as a bunch of lucky duckies. I suspect that Babs, in an unguarded moment, would have told anyone near enough to hear that black people don't feel pain like white people do.

I know that the cliche is to not speak ill of the dead, but this is a copout- awful people shouldn't be given a pass just because they croak. Barbara Bush wasn't the saintly matron being portrayed in the media, and being one of those liberals (cursed to remember things), I won't give her a pass. I'm just glad that she stuck around long enough to watch her favorite son get his ass whipped by a vulgar boob, and the political party that she was affiliated with degenerate from a patrician enterprise to a den of cretins and thugs. Of course, being a Bush, she wouldn't have been disturbed by the Nazis in the Republican Party.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Oh, the Lewd Hannity?

Perhaps the greatest source of schadenfreude is the revelation that a moral scold is guilty of behavior that doesn’t jibe with the code of conduct he claims to espouse. That being said, it was a real hoot to learn that Fox’s Sean Hannity is a client of Trump’s incompetent ‘fixer’, Michael Cohen:

Given Cohen’s portfolio as a conduit for hush money payments to porn stars, it would be irresponsible not to speculate why Hannity would need to avail himself of his services. The funniest take on it that I have read was the suggestion that Seannie had a tryst with Milo Yabbadabbadopolous.