Friday, April 30, 2010

Mom's on the Roof

Although BP originally stated that the spill amounted to 42,000 gallons of oil a day, the company later agreed with the U.S. Coast Guard's figure of 210,000 gallons a day. The nonprofit SkyTruth, which specializes in analyzing satellite and aerial data, also warns that the spill may be releasing as much as 850,000 gallons a day 

It is with a deep repugnance toward the forces at work in America today that I will watch the spectacle unfold on the coast of Louisiana. I suspect it will be worse than we have been led to believe, if my experience with TVA's Coal Waste disaster is any precedent.

In a repeat of the tactics that played out immediately after the December 22, 2008 collapse of the TVA ash storage mountain, when the disaster turned out to be at least three times as large as originally reported with far greater economic impact, the oil platform explosion turns out to be five times greater than we were told and will have devastating environmental and economic impact on the coastal communities of at least four states.

Up until now all environmental disasters have been compared to the Exxon Valdez. Exxon is still battling in court to prevent having to pay for all of the damage caused as a result of its short sighted cost avoidance and lack of supervision of a toxic cargo in an area where that cargo could cause terrible consequences if released into the environment. The names have changed but the situation is the same. BP Oil, in an all too corporate typical move, decided to save big money by not installing a proper remote cutoff valve on a wellhead the lies nearly a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Hey...What could go wrong? When future environmental disasters are compared to the BP platform explosion of 2010, everyone will know what could go wrong.

So let's complete the Bill Maher quote:

"Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill Baby Drill' should have to report to the Gulf Coast today for cleanup duty."

And now this:

A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster in the Gulf makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf.

"The following is not public," reads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Response document dated April 28. "Two additional release points were found today in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."

An order of magnitude means 10 times as great. That would equal one Valdez disaster every 5 days. Get ready.

More on the story and some really scary pictures


A wild turkey mom has decided to nest just off our new trail.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Morning After the Storm

I suppose it's on to Blackberry Winter after this...

The Sunday Reader

From the book within Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World":

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies -- all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of doublethink that the Party has been able -- and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years -- to arrest the course of history.
And from the chapter on war...
The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.

Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931. It is frighteningly analogous to today's events in the context where a Bush administration official stated that torture works because they saw it on the TV show, 24.

If you haven't read the book I have a present for you. Take it in pieces.

Friday, April 23, 2010

View from the Top

We've been working on the trails in Whites Creek Gorge and now have a rough in all the way to the rock overlook. The hill on the right is in Rhea County and is the backside of Walden Ridge as seen from Roane County. 

I guess this could also count as a bird blogging shot since it's looking down at a turkey vulture. Several of them flew right up to me as I sat on the rock. They were close enough that I could see their eyes but my little hiking camera couldn't make the shot work. More shots along the trail later. 

This bud's for you...a creekside azalea is about to bloom. There's still time for you to come out and take a walk with us.

This rock lies under the pedestal. We think it looks like a fossil of a dinosaur skull. 

This crossvine has climbed 50 feet up the rock wall of the cliff just to reach the sunlight so it could bloom. I have to admire its spirit. This picture is an act of danger by the photog, just so's you know.

We'll be hiking this trail often with friends.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Why I am an environmentalist...

I see two futures and I don't want the one that comes to pass to be this one...

So to rewrite Saint Marley just a bit...

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for alternative energy,
'Cause all of them can save our time.

How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfil de book.

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;

Go outside and enjoy what there is of our natural earth. I really do believe that we could live well on this planet without destroying it and ourselves. So as we are assailed this 40th Earth Day with the paid for words of the deniers who serve those who profit from destruction, let us take heart in a few more words from saint Bob.... 

Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One Love)
There is one question I'd really like to ask (One Heart)
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?

Let's get together to fight this Holy Armageddon (One Love)
So when the Man comes there will be no no doom (One Song)



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Red Shouldered Hawks

The nesting pair cross the gorge from our house are back at it. I don't have a lens long enough to get a decent picture so you'll have to go here to see what they look like and read up on them. The male was sitting at the very top of  pine tree all fluffed out this morning. He looked like a big ball of rufous feathers until I got out the larger binoculars. The fun part will be when the young fledge in a few weeks. I hope we can be here when the fun starts.

Check out the best pictures of a Red Shouldered Hawk ever!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring on the Creek

Last year's babies are this year's acrobats in the air above Whites Creek. We have two sets of eagle twins still hanging around while Mom and Dad care for the current crop of nestling(s?). The leaves have come out and we can't see into the nest any more. We'll have to wait until they fledge or I get the rim trail completed to the west overlook. At the rate I'm going right now this year's crop of eaglets will be making their own nests before I get it done. I have roughed in the Pedestal Rock trail to link up to the rock house and then around to the big overlook. I promise pictures later this week.

For now here are some more warning signs of Spring...
This red salamander got dug up Saturday morning when we were planting tulips. His chin color only has a hint of black so I assume he's fairly young and his stomach spots were the Whites Creek red color instead of the black ones typical of the species.

This Tiger Swallowtail appreciates this flame azalea just as much as I do. These are spectacular native plants. 
Ah Spring!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hard Work

Gardening is hard. Hard work, I tell you. Plants have been in the ground since yesterday and I still don't have any tomatoes.

We decided to guarantee that we have another frost by putting about half our seedlings out three weeks early.  We'll see if we get homegrown tomatoes any sooner this way. Everything was late last year, but we're counting on global warming to be good to the garden this time.


I guess it's no secret that I love water. This little cascade was just the right flow to keep me staring into it and getting lost.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Turkey

A beautiful 20+  pound gobbler goes into the freezer. Wild turkeys might be the most beautiful ugly thing I know of. They certainly taste better than those store bought things.