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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Flying Blimps

   Goodyear's newest airship, Wingfoot One, was redesigned. Other than being bigger, it looks the same, but flying the old model was done by operating a wheel and rudder system; the new model is controlled by a joystick to control flight control surfaces and vectored engines can swivel in any direction allowing the ship to take off and land like a helicopter and hover in place.
     Wingfoot has a maximum speed of 73 miles per hour, compared to the old ship’s 50. Despite those slow speeds, blimps are difficult to fly. With less than 40 blimp pilots in the world, it's one of the rarest jobs on the planet. There is no set altitudes, airs peeds or power settings. The ship is so impacted by air, wind and weather that a pilot needs to adapt moment-by-moment, operating by intuition.
     Most of a blimp's crew are on the ground. The point of contact between the pilot and the ground crew during flight is the Crew Chief who must have at least five years of relevant airship ground handling experience.
     The Crew Chief directs the ground crew during takeoffs, landings, ground handling and masting operations. He is also in charge of chedules for ground operations and personnel such as work activities, pressure watches, refueling and general maintenance.
     The Pilot-in-Charge is responsible for all aspects of the airship's operation. The Assistant Pilot-in-Charge supervises and directs the training and development of all other pilots, department chiefs and crew members. Based on weather conditions and other circumstances, the decision to fly at any time belongs to the Pilot-in-Charge.
     One of the PIC is to monitor and confirm that blimp pilot candidates are prepared to safely operate the blimp. The PIC must hold a commercial Lighter-than-Air rating and an instrument rating, and each Goodyear Blimp pilot candidate must successfully undergo and complete a comprehensive Goodyear Lighter-than-Air flight training program and successfully pass the Federal Aviation Administration requirements to obtain an LTA airship rating.
     The Chief Mechanic makes sure conditions are for safe for operation and must hold Inspection Authorization and Airframe and Power Plant Certifications. He supervises a department of airship mechanics and performs maintenance and repairs of the airship as needed and as required by law. This includes the airframe and power plant, envelope and cabling. He supervises the other mechanics in their duties including testing fabric integrity at routine intervals, re-cabling flight controls when needed and engine maintenance, etc. He ius also charged with maintaining records of all maintenance logs for as required by company policy and FAA regulations.
     T he Goodyear blimps travel thousands of miles every year and they are followed on the ground by a fleet of support vehicles that include a bus, a tractor-trailer unit and two vans. For the new Goodyear blimp, there is also a Mack-built mast truck for mooring the airship.
     The Chief Ground Service Equipment Mechanic’s sees that these vehicles are maintained in compliance with DOT and company regulations and standards. This equipment includes gasoline and diesel engines, air conditioning units, mast stake-driving power tools, power haulers for moving heavy parts and pieces, and auxiliary power units. He has one or more Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications and supervises other mechanics and maintain a proper automotive shop.
     A utility van with fully equipped with two-way communications is used for crew transportation to and from overnight accommodations while on travel assignments. A bus is used for ground crew transportation and two-way communication with the blimp during travel operations. The bus contains a complete office where administrative duties are conducted.
     The 18-wheeler truck's trailer contains a powerful generator to provide electricity in remote locations, but also houses maintenance shops where electronic technicians and mechanics maintain the blimp's systems when traveling across the country. It stores spare parts and all the necessary equipment for remote setup and operation.
     The Chief Electronic Technician supervises electronic technicians who work with communications and navigation equipment, radar, power generation, electrical systems and all wiring systems in the airship. Duties include installing, repairing and maintaining the high definition microwave television equipment used during network telecasts. In addition, the CET supervises or performs maintenance to the electronic sign system, which incorporates message programming and LED board maintenance, as well as maintaining the wiring and electrical systems for the ground support equipment.
     The on-air camera work is done by technicians. The Chief Electronic Technician is responsible for the training and scheduling of each airship camera operator.
     The Public Relations Specialist is the communications representative and planning agent with a primary focus on generating public relations opportunities at the local and national level. The PR Specialist helps to deploy the airship to televised events, customer-related initiatives and community-based events. The Public Relations team also manages the Goodyear blimp’s social media content.
     To get a blimp pilot's rating one must train on the job since there are no schools that teach how to pilot a blimp. Potential pilots should have a commercial rating, whether it’s on airplanes, helicopters, gliders, or hot air balloons. To transition to airships is a minimum of 50 hours, but it usually takes a little longer.
     If an applicant does not have a commercial rating, he will need 250 hours in airships before getting that commercial airship rating. Pilots with 1,200 hours and a CFI certificate are preferred. The length of time it takes to become airship certified depends on the pilot, but it can take as long as nine months because training has to be done during the normal scheduled workload.
     The length of time pilots spend on the road is a big consideration. They are on the road in hotels 338 nights a year and normally fly about 750 hours a year.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

How Nasty is a Fifty Foot Wave?

Note: to watch the video click on the watch on Youtube link!

     I experienced 30-footers on an LST crossing the North Atlantic and we marveled at the beating a couple of nearby smaller destroyers were taking. When our ship's screws came out of the water the whole ship banged and shuddered and shook and the rolls were nasty, but watching what those destroyers were going through was down right scary. It looked like they were going to tip over and we watched as the hull was practically submerged when they plowed into a wave. That was nothing compared to the really bad boys!
     The biggest, baddest waves don't begin that way. Winds at sea generate waves that average ten feet high and during storms, 30-footers are common. But what creates waves the size of buildings, including the ones big-wave surfers covet and coastal dwellers fear?
     In a word, land. A wave approaching a shoreline meets shallower and shallower water, slowing the wave’s leading edge. Now much of the energy that had been propelling the wave forward has nowhere to go but up, so the wave grows taller and taller. Unlike the waves seen at the beach, tsunami waves don’t break because they don’t get steep enough. Energy distributed throughout the water column and wavelengths extending a hundred miles give them frightening stability. They arrive as towering, surging masses.

25 feet Teahupo’o, Tahiti’s waves are modest in height but surfers call the thick lips the world’s “heaviest.”
29 feet As the tide comes in on Hangzhou, China, a wave called the Silver Dragon travels up the Qiantang River, opposite the direction of the river’s flow. This tidal bore is largest in September.
30 feet The Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, Hawaii, is the most dangerous surf wave. It tosses boarders directly into a shallow reef. At least ten people are believed to have died there.
50 feet The Indian Ocean tsunami ten years ago traveled at speeds reaching 500 miles per hour and barged up to a mile inland. It killed some 200,000 people, making it the deadliest wave known.
78 feet Garrett McNamara holds the record for the largest wave ever surfed, set in 2011 in Nazare, Portugal. He claimed to have surfed a 100-footer also at Nazare, but the height wasn't ever confirmed.
84 feet Until 1995, most scientists dismissed sudden, unexpected swells known as rogue waves as maritime myth. But on New Year’s Day of that year, a monitoring platform off Norway’s coast recorded a single 84-foot wave surrounded by 20-footers.  The simplest explanation for these monsters is that two or more waves meet and align in such a way that their crests combine into one much larger crest.
100 feet An earthquake followed by a landslide in 1958 in Alaska’s Lituya Bay generated a wave 100 feet high, the tallest tsunami ever documented. When the wave ran ashore, it snapped trees 1,700 feet upslope. Five deaths were recorded, but property damage was minimal because there were few cities or towns nearby.

     Rogue Waves: When a ship encounters high waves high amplitude pitching and heaving combined, produces an effect that sends the bow out of the water. As the wave passes aftward, the bow falls onto the surface (make that slams the surface), with high acceleration resulting in tremendous forces in the forward structure of the ship. Due to high forces in the forward structure, the hull at the bow section is often prone to cracks that can develop over the entire depth of the bow section. The result can be buckling of these plates. When forward structures have been subjected to large number of cycles of freak waves or slamming forces over a long period of time, the structure undergoes fatigue which could lead to complete rupture of bow section.
     So, how do ships survive a harrowing storm that can batter even a large, sturdy vessel? Most modern cargo ships are designed to tough out all but the heaviest weather, but hurricanes are the largest and among the most dangerous storms on the ocean, and no crew wants to find itself in the midst of one.
     Ovously, avoiding them is best and that requires good weather information. A century ago, weather updates at sea were limited to Morse code messages, but since the 1980s, weather updates are available right on the ship's bridge. 
     US cargo ships are required to carry a Navigational Telex machine, a radio receiver that picks up radio signals and converts them into a text printout. Another system called Weatherfax uses higher frequency radio waves to send black-and-white images to shipboard fax machines. Today, captains can also receive weather maps, satellite images, and other information. Some vessels have more high-tech tools aboard, like onboard computer systems that help plan routes based on weather forecasts.
     The most dangerous ship in a hurricane is an empty one because the weight of cargo helps stabilize the ship against the waves. Ballast provides a little stabilizing weight when ships are empty, but it may not be enough. When a ship's ballast water is way down in the bottom of the ship, the ship has a very wicked roll to it. One sea captain report seeing ships go from a thirty degree roll to a thirty degree roll in the other direction in 3-4 seconds. Not only are such rolls tough on the crew, they are bad for a ship.  Modern cargo ships are constructed of thick steel, but if the waves are large enough and their battering lasts long enough, the pounding of those impacts can still break a ship apart.
     At a modern ship speed of 14 knots, they should be able to outrun a hurricane, but they do get caught in one they try to steer for what is called the "low side" or "clean side" of the storm...usually the side counterclockwise from its leading edge.
     In the teeth of the storm, a ship's survival depends on sea room and steering-way. Sea room means that the ship is a safe distance from anything it might crash into which why cargo ships try to stay well offshore.
     Steering-way means that the ship is moving forward with enough power to steer rather than just getting pushed around by waves and wind. The ship must keep its bow pointing into the waves to plow through them since a massive wave striking the ship's side could roll the ship over. It requires forward momentum to counter wind and waves trying to turn the ship.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Stress Sweat

    There's a commercial on television for Secret deororant that shows a woman kneeling on the floor drying her armpit with the hand dryer and the commercial goes on to point out that stress sweat smells worse than normal sweat. Is that true? Is stress sweat even real?
     It happens that it's real and it does smell worse than normal sweat. In fact there are three types of sweat.
     Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and sweat helps to regulate this internal temperature. But not all sweat is the same; the body experiences three types of sweat as a result of different bodily reactions:

1) Exercise sweat results from physical activity that raises your heart rate. As your body heats up, your hypothalamus (the body's internal thermostat) triggers the central nervous system to release neurotransmitters, which tell the eccrine glands to produce sweat. As you sweat it helps keep the body cool.
2) Heat sweat is, well, when you sweat because you're in a hot environment even though your body isn’t physically active.
3) Stress sweat results from being in a stressful situation and you nervous system triggers the fight or flight center. When you experience stress, the brain releases adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream and the nervous system then signals your apocrine sweat glands, not the eccrine glands mentioned above, to start pumping out sweat.

     Your skin has two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands occur over most of your body and open directly onto the surface of your skin. Apocrine glands open into the hair follicle, leading to the surface of the skin. They are located in areas abundant in hair follicles, such as on the scalp, armpits and groin. Because stress sweat is not tied to external temperature it's hard to control. 
     Evolutionists say it stinks because putting off a strong, repulsive scent would deter predators who were out to eat you. They also claim that sweating palms helped our ancestors get a better grip on their weapons.
     The body actually has two types of stress sweat glands that release different substances and smells:

Eccrine - the body contains more than 3 million eccrine glands. Located between hair follicles on the skin’s surface, eccrine glands release an odorless combination of water, salt and electrolytes. The eccrine glands are responsible for exercise and heat sweat. If you suffer from excessive sweating these are the glands to blame.
Apocrine - they are found beneath hair follicles. When stressed, your body secretes an odorless white, milky fluid consisting of water, proteins and fats. Once the fluid mixes with natural bacteria on your skin, the bacteria eat sweat and produce a foul-smelling body odor. These glands produce stress-induced sweat which is why stress sweat smells extra bad. It can get worse! Smelling stress sweat can trigger you to sweat more.

     There's also a psychological downside to stress sweat. Stress sweat can affect a person's confidence and affect job performance. One study found that participants who reported having more confidence earned higher wages and were promoted faster than those with lower confidence. A confident person just looks more capable.
     Some companies advertise underwear that claim to reduce the sweat problem. It's made from material that has anti-microbial properties and is breathable. The special fabric keeps the body much drier which can help avert bacterial buildup and odor. From customer reviews that I have read it actually does work.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Why I Will Not Watch Professional Football

  The full page ad from AMVETS would have featured a military honor guard holding an American flag and the text Please Stand at the top of the page. After many NFL players chose to kneel in protest during the singing of the National Anthem before football games, the ad called on players to stand. It also solicited donations. The NFL said it rejected the ad because it made a "political statement." How hypocritical is that? Isn't that what the NFL players are doing by refusing to honor the US flag? But what can you expect from an organization that hires thugs?  See Sports Illustrated NFL arrest records.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Rare Lunar Event This Month

A Blue Moon, a total lunar eclipse and a Super moon all in the same month!

    A Blue Moon is when two full moons happen in the same calendar month; lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes into Earth's shadow; and Supermoons happen when the moon's perigee — its closest approach to Earth in a single orbit — coincides with a full moon.
     In this case, the supermoon also happens to be the day of the lunar eclipse. The lunar eclipse will occur on the night of Jan. 31 or the morning of Feb. 1. And the Supermoon will take place on the night of Jan. 30, which is technically one day before the moon reaches peak fullness, but even NASA is willing to call the event a Supermoon nonetheless. Full details are available at Spacedotcom. Be sure to check it out.

      Note: Back in August, 2015, a self-appointed “prophet” predicted the alignment of the Blue Moon with the upcoming Blood Moon was a message from God that the world as we know it would end in September. 
    Pastor Paul Begley took to YouTube to warn of the significance of the rare Blue Moon. He and his fellow “prophets” Mark Blitz and John Hagee had been warning for months that the date of the last of four blood moons over the previous 18 months that was due to occur on September 28, and following a papal visit to the US, would signal the second coming of Jesus Christ, before Armageddon. They predicted the world as we know it will be destroyed by major earthquakes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East and the possibility of a Third World War.
     The event generated a best selling book by Hagee and was the topic of endless articles in Charisma Magazine, televangelists and heretics like Jim Bakker who sold tons of his survival slop and solar powered electrical generators so people could survive.
     After the Four Blood Moons prophecy didn’t come to pass, these guys turned their prophetic attention to the upcoming super moon. Charisma Magazine claimed that the December 3 super moon had prophetic significance, blah, blah, blah. 
     Begley and the others' prophecies didn't come true in 2015, but no matter, Begley is back at it on Youtube warning people again.
     Astrology and other occult practices aren't Biblical and, in fact, they are explicitly forbidden in Deuteronomy 18:10-14. Predictable astronomical events like lunar and solar eclipses likely don’t mean anything. These preachers and their followers can't tell the difference between what's occult and what's not.
     The Bible is full of condemnation of false prophets. Read, as just one example, Ezekiel Chapter 13. In fact, false prophets were to be put to death (Deuteronomy 18:20). While I am not living under the Law of Moses and don't believe that men like Begley, Hagee and others of their ilk should be put to death, I believe the Biblical admonition that if a prophet's prophecies doesn't come true then he should be ignored.
     So, if you read anything from the likes of these guys, I think it's best to just ignore it because they have proven themselves to be false prophets.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Tea or Coffee?

     Coffee and soft drinks are a source of good, old caffeine, but it also found in tea. Tea, however, has other substances that also provide a stimulant effect. There are two substances related to caffeine, theobromine and theophylline then there is a rather unique amino acid called L-Theanine, which has some very interesting effects on the brain. 
     Both tea and coffee contain caffeine and therefore have a stimulant-like effect on the brain, but the nature of these effects is quite different. The effect provided by tea is gentle while the effect of coffee is like being kicked. Tea has less caffeine than coffee, but the other three stimulant substances that may provide some sort of synergistic effect.
     Caffeine is the world's most widely used psychoactive substance and coffee, the biggest source of caffeine, also happens to be the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet, and consuming it has been associated with various health benefits. The second largest source of caffeine worldwide is tea, which tends to provide a moderate amount of caffeine. A strong cup of coffee can provide 100 mg, 200 or even 300 mg of caffeine, a cup of tea may provide 20-60 mg. 
     Caffeine causes stimulation of the central nervous system, increases vigilance and reduces drowsiness. It is also believed to block an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine at certain synapses in the brain, leading to the stimulant effect. Adenosine is believed to increase in the brain throughout the day, building up a kind of a "sleep pressure" and the more adenosine, the greater the tendency to fall asleep. Caffeine partly reverses this effect.
     Theophylline and theobromine are both related to caffeine and belong to a class of organic compounds called xanthines. Both have several physiological effects on the body. Theophylline relaxes smooth muscles in the airway, making breathing easier while also stimulating both the rate and force of contraction of the heart. Theobromine can also stimulate the heart, but it has a mild diuretic effect and improves blood flow around the body, leading to a net reduction in blood pressure. The amounts of these substances in a cup of tea are very small though, so their net effect on the body is probably negligible. Some of the caffeine we ingest is metabolized into theophylline and theobromine, so every time you consume caffeine you increase your levels of these two caffeine metabolites. 
     The last substance, a unique type of amino acid called L-theanine, is by far the most interesting. It is mainly found in the tea plant and is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. L-theanine increases brain waves called Alpha waves, which are associated with alert relaxation. Some studies have suggested that L-Theanine, especially when combined with caffeine, can improve attention and brain function. Due to the L-theanine and its effect on alpha waves in the brain, tea may also be a better choice for those who need to concentrate for long periods of time such as studying or working on the computer.  Coffee is better suited for physical endeavors.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Explosion Over Michigan

     There was a rumble that shook the ground and a bright burst of light illuminated the sky as a meteoroid about 6 feet wide entered Earth’s atmosphere about 8:08 pm and exploded with power of 10 tons of TNT over Southeastern Michigan on Tuesday. 
     Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is often used to quantify the energy released by an explosion and the blast wave impact on a human body depends on how close to the epicenter it is when the explosion occurs.

Blast Hazard Definitions 
Primary Fragments – are the most obvious hazard which consists of flying glass pieces and shards that can travel at speeds of 68 mph to excess of 136 mph. Blast Pressure – It only takes 15 PSI to rupture eardrums and cause lung damage. Depending on the blast load and distance from target, the pressures created during an explosion can be extreme. Secondary Fragments – such as shrapnel, rocks, and dirt can be propelled at very high speeds and travel large distances. Structural Collapse/Damage – Structural collapse occurs when a pressure load is stronger than the actual building components themselves, causing building structure failure. 

     The meteor registered as a 2.0 earthquake. A reading of between 2.0–2.9 will cause minor and be felt slightly by some people and cause no damage to buildings. There are over one million earthquakes per year in this range. 
     It was moving at 28,000 mph when it entered the atmosphere and when it heated up and began to melt away it produced the bright light that people. At least once a month or so objects this size make their way into the atmosphere, but most people don’t see meteors this bright. 
     The USGS said the meteoroid entered about five miles from New Haven, Mich. Shooting stars, or meteors, are bits of interplanetary material falling through Earth’s atmosphere and heated to incandescence by friction. These objects are called meteoroids as they are hurtling through space, becoming meteors for the few seconds they streak across the sky and create glowing trails. Meteorites are the pieces that land on the ground, according to NASA. In the case of the Michigan meteoroid, there are probably meteorites on the ground in southeast Michigan. 
     The circumstances suggest the object penetrated deep into the atmosphere before it broke apart which was what produced the sounds heard by many observers. It is likely that there are meteorites on the ground near the region.  The Michigan meteor was no where near the size of a killer space rock; a meteor would have to be 100 feet in diameter or larger to wipe out a city.  A five to six mile wide meteor would produce a planetary impact, meaning it would affect all of Earth. 

Visit NASAs Meteor Watch Facebook page

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ming Tsai, My Favorite Chef

     One of my favorite Saturday morning activities is watching cooking shows on public television. No, I don't cook, I just like to watch. 
     One of my favorites is Ming Tsai. Ming (born March 29, 1964) is an American restaurateur, television personality, and celebrity chef. Tsai's restaurants have focused on East-West fusion cuisine. Tsai currently hosts "Simply Ming", a cooking show on American Public Television, now in its fifteenth season. Past shows Tsai hosted include Ming's Quest and "East Meets West". Tsai appeared in the Food Network cooking competition The Next Iron Chef back in 2010. 
     Ming Hao Tsai was born in Newport Beach, California and was raised in Dayton, Ohio where he attended The Miami Valley School. He assisted with the cooking as he was growing up in the restaurant owned by his mother, Mandarin Kitchen. Tsai later attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and then proceeded to study engineering and play varsity squash at Yale University. There, he was a member of the Phi chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986.
     Tsai was named as an All-Ivy League squash player in 1986. While attending culinary school in France, Tsai played professionally on the European circuit. He received a master's degree in hotel administration and hospitality marketing from Cornell University in 1989. Either the summer after his sophomore or junior year at Yale, he attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Tsai speaks four languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish. 
     Tsai began his television career on chef Sara Moulton's cooking show Cooking Live while she had him fill in for one week for her in 1997. He hosted East Meets West on the Food Network from 1998 to 2003 and currently he hosts Simply Ming. In 2005, he was a judge on the PBS show Cooking Under Fire. Tsai was a contestant in The Next Iron Chef in 2010, where he was eliminated in the seventh week. Tsai appeared on an episode of Top Chef in 2014. His other television appearances include participation in a Zoom Out on Zoom in 2005 and on the PBS children's television show Arthur episode in 2005 about food allergies.
     In 1998, Tsai and his wife opened his first restaurant, Blue Ginger, an Asian Fusion restaurant, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The restaurant has won many awards. Tsai was named "Chef of the Year" by Esquire Magazine.  In March 30, 2010 Tsai opened Blue Ginger Noodle Bar, a mini-restaurant, inside Blue Ginger. In June 2017, Tsai closed Blue Ginger after 19 years of business. The reason was due to the end of a lease and Tsai's focus on a new fast-casual stir-fry concept restaurant, ChowStirs, scheduled to open in Boston during the early part of 2018. Tsai opened Blue Dragon in 2013 in the Fort Point Channel area of Boston, an East-West tapas-style gastropub which was named an Esquire Magazine "Best New Restaurant" in its opening year. He has authored several cookbooks. 
     Tsai won the Daytime Emmy award in 1999, in the category Outstanding Service Show Host.  His Blue Ginger Restaurant was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012 and in 2000, Ming was on the 50 Most Beautiful People list published by People magazine. 
     Tsai and Polly Talbott were married April 1996 and have two sons, David and Henry. David Talbott, Tsai's squash coach at Yale, and Mark Talbott, a former World No. 1 hardball squash player, are Tsai's brothers-in-law. 
     One of Tsai's sons has food allergies, and Tsai has become a food allergy advocate who promotes awareness of food allergens. He has been a national spokesman for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network and in 2012 was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his advocacy work from the organization, including his work on the state of Massachusetts food safety bill. Tsai is currently the President of the National Advisory Board for Family Reach, an organization that provides a financial lifeline to families fighting cancer.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


   I have two blogs, this one and one on chess, and I do not care to discuss personal views on politics or religion in either one of them, but sometimes I see something that is really annoying.
    Generally, my position is that of chess Grandmaster and strict Orthodox Jew, Samuel Reshevsky when his Rabbi asked him to talk to Bobby Fischer. Since Fischer was technically Jewish (although Fischer denied it), Reshevsky's Rabbi asked him, through personal efforts or in some other way, to try to help Fischer. Reshevsky was happy to do it, but when Fischer, who expressed strong anti-Jewish beliefs, was not interested Reshevsky simply commented, “He has his beliefs. I have mine.”
     Today I saw a headline on Yahoo reading, “Maryland pastor attacks Trump with Vice President Pence sitting in front pew.” VP Pence and his wife were attending the pastor's church Sunday when the pastor attacked President Trump (though he did not mention his name) by calling his comments on Haiti and Africa "hurtful," "dehumanizing" and "vulgar."
    The pastor commented, “I stand here today as your pastor to vehemently denounce and reject such characterizations. Whoever said it is wrong, and they oughta be held accountable.” The congregation loudly applauded.     
     What President Trump may or may not have said is not the point. The pastor commented, "As a pastor, I have to speak up for my people. And the vice president just happened to have been there." He could not be more wrong.
     I am reminded that when I was in the military we saluted officers, but only if they were in uniform. The reason was because the salute was not to honor the man, but the uniform and what it stands for. Likewise, officers were required to return the salute for the same reason.  We were taught to respect the position if not the man.
     While we should not shrug our shoulders at cultural and moral decay and social injustice, it is not a pastor's calling to speak on those matters. Their duty is to preach and teach the Bible, pray and guide their people in religious, not political or social, matters.
     If a pastor claims to be Christian his guide should be the Bible. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul gave instructions to a young pastor named Timothy. He advised him to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, guard it and continue in it.
     Paul also wrote to the Christians in Rome, who most certainly lived under an oppressive government, to obey those who ruled over them. Paul warned them to watch out if they didn't because rulers don’t carry a sword for no reason. 
     People were also told to pay their taxes and to give to everyone what was owed them. He wasn't talking about just money. Paul also asked, “Do you owe respect? Then give it. Do you owe honor? Then show it. Pay everything you owe.” 
     When Paul wrote to Timothy he also gave qualifications for a Bishop (pastor). He must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children respectful for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? Paul also added that a pastor must be well thought of by outsiders so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.
     Paul also instructed Timothy that in addition to preaching the word of God, he should also make petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness because it is good and pleases God. And that is what the pastor should have been doing Sunday.  Just my opinion.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Alberta Clippers, Panhandle Hooks and Lake Effect Snow

    Alberta is a Canadian province that shares a border with a portion of Montana and an Alberta Clipper is a storm system during the winter months that originates from the Canadian province of Alberta although sometimes the system can originate from Saskatchewan, Manitoba or even Montana.
     The term "clipper" originates from the clipper sailing ships because of their quick speeds. They were ships built in the 1840s and 1850s with three masts that were created to transport small loads of cargo. The clipper ships could travel up to 400 miles a day which was a great distance at the time. 
     An Alberta Clipper is a quick-moving storm, or low-pressure system, that develops on the lee side of the Canadian Rockies, gets caught up in the jet stream and travels southeastward into the northern Plains, through the Great Lakes and eventually off the mid-Atlantic coast into the Atlantic Ocean. 
     A clipper will usually bring smaller amounts of snow (generally 1-3 inches) because of its speed and lack of deep moisture, but higher amounts are possible. Along with the quick burst of snow, a clipper generally brings colder temperatures and, often times, gusty winds. However, when lake effect snow is factored in, snow accumulation can double with a clipper swinging through the Great Lakes regions. 
     Most clippers occur between December and February, but can also occur occasionally in November and is the most common winter system for the upper Midwest. 
     A Panhandle Hook is a low pressure systems that originates in the panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma which initially move east and then "hooks" or curves more northeast toward the upper Midwest or Great Lakes region. 
     In winter, these systems usually deposit heavy snows north of their surface track. Thunderstorms may be found south of the track. 
     They are ugly. For example, on February 13-14, 2007 snow began falling in Cleveland, Ohio on the morning of the 13th and finally let up during the morning of the 14th. Wind gusts of 30-35 mph were blowing the newly fallen snow around. Then a Panhandle Hook developed, moved into the Mississippi River valley and into the central Appalachians which affected all of Ohio. Snow totals ranged from a foot near Toledo in the northwest of the state to a swath of 17 inches and greater from Mansfield, Medina and the southern Cleveland suburbs. Temperatures were in the 20s while the snow was falling, but in the nights following the snow, temperatures dipped into the single digits. On the 15th, Cleveland Hopkins Airport dipped to -4 degrees F. 
     Old Man Winter wasn't done. In Cleveland on Lake Erie temperatures had warmed into the 70s at the end of March and on April 3rd the high was 80 degrees! That was a distant memory two days later when the high temperature dropped to 29 degrees. 
     A strong cold front had swept across the area and lake effect snows started. A reinforcing trough of low pressure moved over the area during the 7th and 8th. This trough, combined with a steady northerly flow over Lake Erie, allowed for lake effect snow to continue and one band formed across downtown Cleveland dumping two feet of snow in the heart of the city. Amounts to the east in the snowbelt topped 30 inches from April 5 through April 8th. Lake-effect snow recently dumped 65 inches on Erie, Pennsylvania. 
     People who live outside the Great Lakes may well have never experienced this weather condition because the Great Lakes is the only place where it happens in the United States, except occasionally at the Great Salt Lake in Utah. 
     It happens when very cold, windy conditions form over a not-so-cold lake. For example, the lake might be 40 degrees and the air zero degrees. That temperature differential creates some instability and the water provides a moisture source and when it gets over land, it deposits water vapor as snow. Lake-effect snow generally doesn't fall over the water because it needs the friction and topography of the land to squeeze out the snow. 
     Winds usually blow west to east in the Northern Hemisphere, so the lake-enhanced snow is pushed to the eastern side of the Great Lakes. Lake-effect snow can be extremely localized, especially when hills and mountains cause these little weather systems to stall out and deposit a lot of precipitation in one spot. They can dump 20 to 30 inches of snow in one spot and five miles away only a couple of inches and the sun may be shining just a mile or two away in either direction. 

     Upstate New York and the cities of Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse are notorious for lake-enhanced snow in the United States. That area is located east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which have a more east-west orientation than the other Great Lakes. That means there's more time and distance for the lake-enhanced snow to build up and the snow can pile up with amazing speed. Recently in Erie, Pennsylvania 34 inches fell in one day and 26.5 inches the next.

Friday, January 12, 2018

How Much Does A Circus Performer Get Paid?

     Circus performers are professional entertainers and there is a lot of different talents in the circus ranging from acrobats who perform on a tightrope high above the ground to the clown mingling with the audience. 
     Circus life is demanding because a touring circus often gives over 300 performances in a year. Performers rarely stay in the same city for more than a few days and might not get back to their homes for months or even a year. 
     Salaries for circus performers depend on many factors, including experience, the act and the reputation of the circus company. The average circus performer in the U.S. makes between $21,000 and $55,000 with the average being $38,595. 
     In the past, elephants, lions and tigers were the stars of the circus, but in recent years some circus companies have begun shifting their focus away from animal acts and developing other acts. Bello Nock, a circus clown with foot-high red hair, became very popular performing for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was paid a salary of $600,000 per year. His job benefits included a personal assistant and a driver for his 78-foot custom RV. For most circus performers that kind of pay is out of reach; entry-level performers make about $300 per week plus they also get room and board. 
     Circus pay also varies according to the performer’s act. Because it's physically more difficult an acrobat will be paid more than a juggler. Trapeze artists generally earn between $40,000 and $70,000 per year. 
     It's tough to make a living as a clown. Some people are afraid of them. Refer to the Guardian article HERE.   A Connecticut school district is banning clown costumes and other “symbols of terror.” 

     So the demand for clowns is shrinking and clown salary is not going provide you a luxurious lifestyle. The World Clown Association membership has plummeted by about one-third, to 2,500 members, down from 3,500 a decade ago. 
     Anyone insisting on being a clown would probably do best to be a rodeo clown. They have the dangerous job of distracting bulls sway from so fallen riders and so they make about $51,000 per year. 
     How do you get into the circus business? Acrobats, clowns, jugglers and other artists can prepare for a career in the circus by attending a circus school. Circus Center in San Francisco offers an aerial arts program and a clown conservatory. Students at the Center receive help in creating an act or repertoire. Circus companies hold auditions where aspiring performers demonstrate their acts. Circus performers generally enter into employment contracts for one or two years. Some performers work with an agent to find a job with the circus and the agent can help them negotiate salary terms.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Montford Point Marines

    When I was at Montford Point at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in 1964 it consisted of Marine Corps schools and were we completely unaware of its history.
     At the beginning of World War II African Americans got their chance to be members of the previously all-white Marine Corps. The first recruits reported to Montford Point, a small section of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on August 26, 1942. By October only 600 recruits had begun training although the call was for 1,000 for combat in the 51st and 52nd Composite Defense Battalions. 
    Between 1942 and 1949, approximately 20,000 African-Americans completed recruit training and became known as the Montford Point Marines. Despite the challenges presented to them, their valor and performance at Peleliu, Iwo Jima paved the way for those that were to follow. The men of the 51st soon distinguished themselves as the finest artillery gunners in the Marine Corps, breaking almost every accuracy record in training.

     Unfortunately, discrimination towards African Americans still existed and when shipped to the Pacific, the 51st and 52nd were posted to outlying islands, not where the primary action was. The only Montfort Marines to see action, and record casualties, were the Ammunition and Depot Companies in Saipan, Guam, and Peleliu. Private Kenneth Tibbs was the first black Marine to lose his life on June 15, 1944.
     In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 to establish the Fair Employment Practice Commission, banning discrimination "because of race, creed, color, or national origin" in all government agencies. Recruiting for the Montford Marines began on June 1, 1942. Thousands of African-American men, eager to serve, flocked to recruiting offices. The quota of 1,200 men were housed in prefabricated huts near segregated Jacksonville, N.C., where railroad tracks divided white residents from black. The troops at Montford experienced. For example, unless accompanied by a white Marine, these men were not allowed to enter Camp Lejeune.          
     In the beginning recruits were trained by white officers and NCOs, but citing a desire to have blacks train blacks, the Marines singled out several exceptional black recruits to serve as NCO drill instructors. 
     In January 1943, Edgar R. Huff became the first black NCO and in February Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson, a 19-year veteran of the Army and Navy, became the first Drill Sergeant. 
    By May 1943 all training at Montford Point was done by black sergeants and drill instructors with Johnson as chief DI. Both Johnson and Huff would be renowned throughout the entire Marine Corps for their demanding training and exceptional leadership abilities. By 1945, all drill instructors and many NCOs at Montford Point were black.
     The Montford Marines performed well in their duties at home and abroad, despite the strictures placed on them. In practice, these men surpassed all anti-aircraft gunnery records previously set by Marines, and named their weapon "Lena" after their favorite singer, Lena Horne. The Montford Point Marines made it impossible for the Marine Corps to return to its prewar policy. President Harry S. Truman eliminated segregated units in 1949. But the Montford Point Marines have not been forgotten.
     In 1998, Parris Island drum major Staff Sgt. Vernon Harris composed the music to a song, "I'll Take the Marines," commemorating the group. The words had been written by a Montford Marine, LaSalle Vaughn. "If African Americans at that time could go through the rigorous training of Marines when it was segregated and they were looked down on and still be proud Marines … it encourages all Marines to look forward and recognize our progress," Harris said.
Gilmon D. Books, U.S. Marine
     On June 19, 2017, Montford Point Marine Gilmon D. Brooks died at the age of 91. Brooks witnessed history when the American flag was raised on Feb. 23, 1945, on Iwo Jima during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. He was a Montford Point Marine. A Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient and retired chief warrant officer, he served in three wars.
     While attending UCLA as an ROTC student, Brooks was recruited to enlist in the Marines and in October, 1943 he went through basic training at Montford Point where black recruits lived under miserable conditions with no toilets and no running water.
     Brooks became an expert rifleman and was promoted to Private First Class. A part-time musician in college, he was assigned to be a bugler and later to the Eighth Marine Ammunition Company. After undergoing training in Honolulu, his unit was sent to the Pacific where he served as an ammunition platoon sergeant.
     At Iwo Jima his unit went ashore February 23, 1945, just four days after the initial landing, to provide ammunition to a tanker outfit. Brooks was struck with shrapnel and evacuated to a hospital ship in Hawaii and later received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
     Black Marines returning home after the war faced the same discrimination they encountered previously and in 1949 Brooks enlisted in the Army and was later was promoted to chief warrant officer and saw combat duty in the Korean War. He retired from the military in 1962 but returned for an assignment in Vietnam in 1973 with the Department of the Navy.
     In 1985 he retired from the federal government as a civilian personnel manager at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. He was a Boy Scout leader and served on the local school board and the Monmouth County Drug Board. He also served the St. Augustine Episcopal Church where he served on the vestry and clergy search committee.