It will be a cold day in August before…

For those less familiar with English sayings, there’s one that goes “It will be a cold day in Hell before…” meaning a nearly impossible event before you will have some other thing happen… Thus the title.

Well, San Francisco has been reprising it’s reputation for a “cold day in August”…

Complete it how you like. Perhaps “… before they will admit it is cooling not warming.”?

Bolding of bits mine.

The most San Francisco summer — just one day in 70s in August

By Kimberly Veklerov and Erin Allday Updated 1:46 pm, Saturday, August 27, 2016

The cool mists of San Francisco have gotten a little carried away this summer, blanketing much of the city in a noirish gloom that has even those who profess to like fog hankering for a ray or two of sunshine.

This August, a month that means searing heat in most other places, has been decidedly cool in the city, according to the collectors of weather records.

San Francisco has seen only one 70-degree day in August, according to meteorologists. The last time the city had a month that wouldn’t budge above 70 at all was 1942, and there have been only two other Augusts on record — in 1917 and 1882 — with that distinct dishonor.

“We had the one day when we reached 70 degrees. That was on the eighth of August. And every other day has been in the 60s,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist for Golden Gate Weather Services who’s been tracking August records.

So just where has all that heat gone? According to the Global Warming theology, it can’t have left the planet. Maybe it went into the ocean to hide for a while. Or maybe “it’s just weather” (since it is cool, not warm…)

SFGate, and really anything to do with San Francisco, is at the extreme of the extreme for left / Socialist / Progressive / out there wing of things. Next, they try to paint cold like only 3 times ever recorded before as not so cold, really:

It hasn’t been a brutally cold month, he noted. Just persistently foggy and maddeningly temperate.

“We’re in an extreme of mildness,” he said.

As if to emphasize this point, the temperature in San Francisco reached a tantalizing 68 degrees early Friday afternoon, with blue skies and sun downtown, but cooled off steadily the rest of the day.

Yeah, an “extreme of mildness”… Have to remember that one when it is 68 in January and they are screaming deadly heat…

And, as usual, the infernal fog rolled in over the beleaguered Sunset District, where residents had gotten a short, teasing glimpse of that seldom seen fiery orb in the sky known as the sun.

“It’s the first sunny day we’ve seen in something like 45 days,” said Roger Cook, owner of Nomad Cyclery on 27th Avenue and Irving, before the fog rolled back in. “Oh, it’s been really foggy. Everybody is talking about it.”

Cook said the relentless pall of gray hasn’t really hurt business, but he constantly has to explain to shivering tourists renting bicycles about the San Francisco climate and why the fog rolls in off the Pacific Ocean. He said he is normally OK with fog, but not this much of it.

“It can be somewhat depressing,” he said. “If you are a normally depressed person, you would get really depressed. I’m not one of those guys, but it does get a bit discouraging.”

August — which some locals have taken to calling “Fogust” — hasn’t been the only cold month. The summer as a whole has been decidedly un-summery. San Francisco has hit the 80s four times this year. And none of those days arrived in the summer months.

“The warmest reading all year was April 6, and it hit 87. Then two more dates in April and one day in May,” said Charles Bell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey. “And that’s been it.”

Yeah, an ‘un-summery’ cold is not cold… then they try to say it’s just normal. Somehow missing the irony that just normal means not warming at all whatsoever…

The irony is that it actually hasn’t been a whole lot cooler, on average, in San Francisco. Historically, high temperatures in August average 66 degrees, and this month, the city has been averaging 64, making it about the 37th-coolest August on record, Bell said.

Last year, he said, the average high for the month was 72 — the ninth-hottest August. A drop like that in one year can feel pretty significant in a city that doesn’t get a lot of big shifts in temperature, he said.

So yeah, it’s normal. Normal as in not warming. Normal as is cold like it has only been 3 times before.

Not everybody wandering around in the biting wind on the Golden Gate Bridge or at other foggy attractions in the city was thrilled by the crisp coastal temperatures.

Crista Lucey, 57, a San Francisco accountant who was showing the Golden Gate Bridge to some visitors from France, said the local weather can catch people from hot places by surprise.

“Our weather is so fickle,” Lucey said. “I’m surprised by how much fog we’ve been seeing. Very wet. Very windy.”

Jamie Andrew, 30, from London, and his girlfriend, Ella Young, 28, weren’t quite ready for the cold.

“We’re wearing every piece of clothing we brought,” Andrew said. “It’s certainly colder than we thought it’d be.”

When folks from London are complaining about the cold and fog, it’s pretty darned cold and foggy…

So why does this happen? Well, the return of old weather patterns. Now don’t go expecting anyone to say maybe it had been warm for a few decades because of a cyclical PDO driven weather change… but that’s why it got cold again:

There won’t be much use for beach towels, sunscreen or bathing suits in or around San Francisco until after Labor Day, Bell said. The low-pressure front that’s causing the cooler temperatures — optimists call it the Bay Area’s “natural air conditioner” — has set up camp over the West Coast and doesn’t seem inclined to blow off any time soon.

“We have to have a pattern change, and there’s not an indication of that coming,” Bell said. “Even looking out two weeks.

“If it makes you feel better, and I don’t know why it would,” he said, “we’re having the same issues down here in Monterey, day after day after day. If people want the heat, they’re going to have to go well inland.”

It was 79 in Sonoma, and Stockton hit 87 Friday. There was no sign of fog in Redding, which was a decidedly summery 97 degrees.

I will note in passing that it’s been that way elsewhere on the coast, too, as they point out. Also note they selected Stockton and Redding for inland temperatures. Stockton is near the middle of the Central Valley and can get some bay winds bringing a bit of cool, so while it often reaches 90 to 100+ in August, it usually abates after 2 or 3 days when the SF fog flow reaches more inland (as it dries out and warms). 87 F is relatively cool, but essentially a normal August temperature. I grew up about 90 miles south of Redding. In between it and my old home town is Red Bluff. Redding was often cooler than Red Bluff, but not by a lot. It is on the start of the climb into the Cascade Mountains. Normal for August is a few 100+ F days, some up to 110F, and not much below 90 to 95 F. We rejoiced at a 90 F day… So again, 97 F is smack dab normal. No “global warming” there, either.

Do note that July was not all that warm either, so this isn’t a weather “fluke”, but rather a return to older prior trends, but they couldn’t help getting in a “Global Warming” dig using February weather:

Though they just MUST appeal to February weather as counterpoint. Perhaps we ought to remind them February was just “extreme moderation” ;-)

San Francisco chilled by coldest July in years, after hottest February temperatures in three decades

By Brandon Mercer Updated 9:34 am, Friday, August 5, 2016

The coldest winter I ever knew was July of 2016 in San Francisco. Literally, we had warmer evenings back in mid-winter. With the month’s climate data now in, the average high temperature for July only hit 65.2–the coldest July in six years–while February’s average daily high was 66.4 degrees as measured in downtown San Francisco.

While July felt downright chilly, August so far is on track to have colder afternoons than February too, averaging just 65.7 for the daily high temperatures so far.

Now, to be clear, we’re talking about the temperatures we notice — the daily high.

February’s lows still get colder than July’s lows, bringing the overall average temperatures down, but most people aren’t awake to feel the daily low temperature overnight. It’s those afternoon highs that feel so frigid. February enjoyed 77 degrees one sunny afternoon this year, while we had one July afternoon where it never got above 59.

As I walked upwind from the Chronicle toward BART on a “hot August night” this week, face pelted by a fog so heavy it could be more accurately called drizzle, and with hands in my pockets to avoid the chill, I wondered just how cold our summer will remain.

Today, I actually put my coat on. Indoors.

Then they launch into a full on Self Delusion episode:

The real story though is not the summer cold, but the winter heat. Downtown had the hottest average high temperatures in February in 28 years.

Just ignore that man behind the curtain… indulge your confirmation bias and self delusion… /sarc;

No, the real story is the PDO shift and the return of the pattern of 30 years ago (and of the time of Mark Twain who was the first to note that the coldest winter he knew was a summer in San Francisco… but the author above didn’t credit the original).

He does note that the ocean has changed state, but misses the point that this means the heat didn’t run off to hide in the ocean, as it is the source of the cold:

Blame the ocean. The sea surface temperature off the coast is like setting your home’s thermostat to either “Heat or Cool.”

The cooler the ocean, the cooler the city by the ocean. Even as the Central Valley broils under 105+ degree heat.

The ocean water has been around 52 degrees off our coast this summer.

Oh, and do note the “broils under 105+”. As noted above, that is called “absolutely normal”. Growing up in that central valley, I remember one day of 117 F near Marysville, and more August days of 110 and 110+ F than I can count. No A/C, just a ‘swamp cooler’, so we watched that thermometer / news reports closely. A 105 F day was “nice” and a 95 F day a treat.

Then there is this tasty bit. They note that the airport, where the official temps are now taken, is biased against the cool:

The difference in summer and winter temperatures is most noticeable in downtown San Francisco. If you explore the official climate records using the weather station at San Francisco International Airport, you won’t find the same phenomenon, because the cold blasts in July don’t impact the airport as much as they do downtown.

Now there was no SFO Airport in the 1800s, the early 1900s, the 1920s etc. It is located well south of S.F. and near the inland bay with warmer water nearby. So about those global warming homogenization of that “grid cell”…

They seem to have ‘gotten schooled’ by someone with weather knowledge over a La Niña claim, and an interesting meander follows:

The coldest July average high temperatures on record for Downtown San Francisco? 1962, when the average high temperature barely made it out of the fifties: 60.4. (Records have been kept for this station since 1921.)

September and October are coming, for all your heat seekers. Those are our warmest months of the year.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story referenced a correlation between El Niño and La Niña conditions influencing our coastal ocean temperatures. After studying conflicting analyses of the impacts of the equatorial ocean waters on our local micro climates, we have chosen to remove that discussion. Continue reading for why.

While forecasters draw many different conclusions about the cause of our incredibly complex ocean temperatures and their influence on our micro climates, one meteorologist says 40 years experience suggests caution.

Jan Null from Golden Gate Weather Services tells SFGATE, “When you have a long pervasive El Niño, you are warming up the entire Pacific, but we’re much more influenced than normal wind patterns than anything going on in the tropics.”

He cautions that all the stories about warm water fishes or other warm water irregularities spotted along the California coast are not necessarily because of El Niño, and our summer’s cold ocean temperatures this year and in other years are not necessarily directly correlated to La Niña’s colder ocean conditions either.

Null explains that the warmer water we had this past winter actually pre-dated El Niño occurring, and he says the biggest phenomenon influencing our warm winter was the “warm blob” — a strange mass of warmer water that lurked off the coast, up into the Gulf of Alaska, dramatically influencing local conditions.

As for La Niña right now?

The colder ocean temperatures have already formed along the equator indicating a La Niña is forming, but it must continue to be colder than normal for three months before a La Niña condition is officially called.

So, parsing the weather speak, you could say “a La Niña appears to be forming, and the ocean is at La Niña levels, but it’s not yet a La Niña, because it hasn’t lasted for three months.”

With that, we’ll just say, enjoy what Jan Null calls “Fogust” in San Francisco.

Ah, the joys of watching folks stuck in a meme trying to interpret realty through it.

This is just a return to the normal of pre-1977 Great Pacific Shift as it was then known, or the PDO flip as we now call it in a shorthand way. It’s a 60 ish year cycle, so anyone under about 40 has no clue what was normal then. I’d guess for most folks they had to be born in at least 1965 and in California and stayed here to “have clue”. Oh, and noticed / watched the weather and weather news a lot…

Well, with that, I now return you to your “extreme moderation” in climate and hope you enjoyed a pleasant August weekend.

Subscribe to feed

Posted in AGW and Weather News Events | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

1.1% “Growth” isn’t…

In the financial news we have this last quarter’s “growth” given as 1.1% for the quarter.

UPDATE: My Bad. Watching the news crawler, it states it is “1.1% annualized rate this quarter”, not just for the quarter. So all the below discussion that shows 1.1% / quarter is really nothing is really 4 times that bad… I’ll adjust the numbers to reflect the annual basis of the quarterly number.

The problem is that 1.1% “growth” is no such thing. For background, read:

First off, we have to de-rate it for actual inflation. Good luck figuring out that number, since the government numbers have been “cooked” since the Ronald Reagan years when it was redefined. The official Fed Target is about 2% / year, and last time I looked at it, the official number was about 1%, but the real number is significantly higher.

Shadow Stats tries to do that, and their chart for 2016 shows, by my read, about 4% or 8% depending on which of the prior official methods you choose to use. Split the difference and call it 6%/year consumer inflation. That’s 1.5% / quarter.

Simply using the less cooked inflation methods, the entire quarterly “growth” evaporates into an inflation artifact. Much more in line with my personal experience, and more reflective of reality, IMHO.

UPDATE: Using the annualized 1.1%, that 6% annualized actual inflation covers it 5 times over.

But then we have the added problem that GDP includes Government Spending. How much of that 1.1% was growth of GOVERNMENT?

From the Wiki on the U.S. Budget, we find these numbers:

In the fourth paragraph:

During fiscal year 2015, the Federal government received approximately $3.25 trillion in tax and fee revenue and had outlays (spending) of $3.7 trillion; the difference was a $440 billion deficit.

Under “Major Expenditure Categories” it refines this a bit to:

During FY2015, the federal government spent $3.68 trillion on a budget or cash basis, up $182 billion or 5% vs. FY2014 spending of $3.50 trillion.

Though we ought to note that the budget submissions are a tiny bit different. Down at the bottom:

2016 United States federal budget – $4.0 trillion (submitted 2015 by President Obama)
2015 United States federal budget – $3.9 trillion (submitted 2014 by President Obama)

So looks like asked for $3.9 T and actually spent about $3.7 T (to the extent any government numbers are “actual”…)

The 2016 Budget is $4 Trillion. So we have roughly $300 Billion of “growth” of GDP baked in the cake from just The Federal Budget. 4/3.7 = 1.08 or an 8% increase. That’s 2% Government Growth / quarter. Or about 1/2 % GDP “growth” just from government growth. ( really 1/5 of 2% or 0.4%, but then we would need to figure growth of State and Local budgets too to get real government growth. The point is it knocks off the fractional part of this quarter’s “growth” all by its lonesome.)

UPDATE: Using the 1.1% as annual, not quarterly, means Government Growth of just the Federal government at 8% times an 18% Fed take of GDP, gives 1.44 % of “annual GDP Growth” just from The Federal Budget alone. That means the “private sector” shrank a real 0.34% of GDP given the 1.1% annual rate number. Take out Government we’re in a recession.

Slop in these numbers? Oh hell yes. It ignores ‘ex-budget’ expenditures that are now quite large (most of our “wars” on the rest of the world and anything the party in power wants to demonize). The usual slop in anything from the Government (like, was that Iranian 1.9 Billion a budget item? I don’t think so Tim…) The fact is that the stats are cooked the other way much of the time (they are made by government employees under the “guidance” of politicians). And more.

But the key “takeaway” is that anything down in the 1% range is way deep in the error bands of reality. And those error bands are not symmetrical about the value, but strongly biased to making the Government and Politicians look good even when things are really bad.

Like employment numbers where many folks have started to catch on that they are just “plug numbers”:

And a recent month had folks crowing over the big job growth of something like 200,000 when in fact almost all of it was a ‘seasonal adjustment’. There had been no real jobs added, but a ‘seasonal adjustment’ made them appear… Yes, you do need to allow for the Christmas hiring binge and seasonal farm jobs, but just don’t be fooled into thinking that adjusting out those folks losing their job every year at the same time is the equivalent of creating jobs.

Job growth is swirling down the drain

By John Crudele

May 7, 2016 | 10:00am

Yikes! Splat! Plop! Oy vey!

Job growth fell hard in April as the government’s employment numbers confirmed the disappointing reality already self-evident on nearly every Main Street across the US.

The economy was a loser this spring, and the statistical proof of this is catching up with reality.

The Labor Department on Friday announced that only 160,000 jobs were created last month. Put another way, most economists think that is barely enough to absorb even the people looking to enter the job market for the first time, much less give work to the 7.9 million Americans looking for a job.

That bigger problem is this: included in the 160,000 figure are 233,000 phantom jobs that Labor added to the mix.

Yet $Billions of Quatloos of bets will be placed in the financial markets based on these bogus statistics. (Though it looks like someone is trying to make “real” virtual money out of Quatloos…)

In Conclusion

So IMHO that’s why the financial markets did a jump up on the first report of growth and The Fed talking up raising interest rates, then took a dive on the realization both were just bogus shadow plays. The “growth” is a statistical hand waving exercise and The Fed is busy saying everything is great we’re gonna raise rates Real Soon Now ™! while then saying “except maybe not as things are not all that great”…

To me, the reality looks a whole lot more like stealth inflation being passed off as economic “growth” and the increasing government bloat that is destroying the private economy being passed off as jobs.


I long for the days when folks just spoke the truth clearly and accepted the consequences.

I am not made younger by calling me “senior” instead of old. I am not made thin by calling me plus-size instead of fat. I am not made rich by making my dollar worth less nor am I given a job by seasonal adjustments.

And folks wonder why I sometimes rant about the pervasive lying in our society…

Subscribe to feed

Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

Life – K from a nice volcanic mud puddle…

I’ve complained a few times in a few places about one of the Nagging Bits about cellular function that just doesn’t fit with the idea we evolved in the ocean on earth.

That is the fact that cells contain a LOT of K Potassium, and less Na Sodium, while the ocean has a lot of Na and not so much K.

“If we evolved in the ocean, why do our cells have pumps to keep the sodium out?”

I’d speculated that this could be evidence for panspermia, that maybe life originally evolved in some other cosmic ocean and got carried here. I’ve speculated it could even indicate Divine Intervention was useful in the getting started phase.

Then a comment on a WUWT article pointed me toward a Very Interesting Paper that has a tidy way of tying up the loose ends.

Origin of first cells at terrestrial, anoxic geothermal fields

Armen Y. Mulkidjaniana,b,1, Andrew Yu. Bychkovc, Daria V. Dibrovaa,d, Michael Y. Galperine, and Eugene V. Koonine,1

Author Affiliations

Edited* by Norman H. Sleep, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, and approved January 17, 2012 (received for review October 28, 2011)


All cells contain much more potassium, phosphate, and transition metals than modern (or reconstructed primeval) oceans, lakes, or rivers. Cells maintain ion gradients by using sophisticated, energy-dependent membrane enzymes (membrane pumps) that are embedded in elaborate ion-tight membranes. The first cells could possess neither ion-tight membranes nor membrane pumps, so the concentrations of small inorganic molecules and ions within protocells and in their environment would equilibrate. Hence, the ion composition of modern cells might reflect the inorganic ion composition of the habitats of protocells. We attempted to reconstruct the “hatcheries” of the first cells by combining geochemical analysis with phylogenomic scrutiny of the inorganic ion requirements of universal components of modern cells. These ubiquitous, and by inference primordial, proteins and functional systems show affinity to and functional requirement for K+, Zn2+, Mn2+, and phosphate. Thus, protocells must have evolved in habitats with a high K+/Na+ ratio and relatively high concentrations of Zn, Mn, and phosphorous compounds. Geochemical reconstruction shows that the ionic composition conducive to the origin of cells could not have existed in marine settings but is compatible with emissions of vapor-dominated zones of inland geothermal systems. Under the anoxic, CO2-dominated primordial atmosphere, the chemistry of basins at geothermal fields would resemble the internal milieu of modern cells. The precellular stages of evolution might have transpired in shallow ponds of condensed and cooled geothermal vapor that were lined with porous silicate minerals mixed with metal sulfides and enriched in K+, Zn2+, and phosphorous compounds.

There are some papers that just reek of unjustified leaps, or “given these conclusions what assumptions can we draw?”, or some are just sort of muddied untidy things. This paper is not one of them.

There are other papers that are somehow “just right”. Loose threads at the start, neatly tied off by the end. Things you’d not thought of, brought up and examined. A basic idea that expands what it explains with each paragraph, rather than creating more “issues” as you read. This is that kind of paper.

Not just K/Na ratio, but the excess phosphate, the large use of Zn in enzymes, and so much more. Neatly tied up in a self consistent and very reasonable package.

The full PDF is here:

Essentially, the authors looked at those same issues (like K/Na ratios and ion pumps), but also thought about why they would form, how life could evolve slowly bit by bit and only later add things like ion-tight membranes and ion pumps, how geology could make those conditions, and where. Then they connect all those dots into one nice picture.

Hit the link, read the PDF, bits quoted can’t do it justice.

But a couple of bits:

Origin of first cells at terrestrial, anoxic geothermal fields

Armen Y. Mulkidjanian a,b,1, Andrew Yu. Bychkov c, Daria V. Dibrova a,d, Michael Y. Galperin e, and Eugene V. Koonin e,1

a School of Physics, University of Osnabrück, D-49069 Osnabrück, Germany;
b A. N. Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology and Schools of
c Geology and
d Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Moscow State University, Moscow 119992, Russia; and
e National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894

Edited* by Norman H. Sleep, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, and approved January 17, 2012 (received for review October 28, 2011)

For example, ancient, ubiquitous proteins often use Zn and Mn, but not Fe, as transition metal cofactors; this preference is retained across the three domains of life (12). The abundance of Zn- and Mn-dependent enzymes during the earliest steps of evolution and the later recruitment of Fe has been inferred also from a global phylogenomic re-construction (13). The prevalence of Zn-dependent ancestral enzymes is particularly remarkable given the low estimated concentration of Zn in the anoxic ocean of 10^−12 to 10^−16 M (14,15) and indicates that the first organisms might have dwelled inspecific, Zn-enriched habitats (12, 16). Here we combine geochemical evidence with the data on the overall ionic composition of the modern cells, with a particular emphasis on their universal preference for K+ ions over Na+ ions. Geochemical analysis shows that, contrary to the common belief that associates the origin of life with marine environments, the first cells could have emerged at inland geothermal fields within ponds of condensed and cooled geothermal vapor.

It goes on from there. Showing why ocean origin can’t work (some enzymes that are essential can’t form or function with that much Na) and then on to look at geothermal fields, how they sort and stratify minerals, how with an atmosphere missing oxygen, they would make amines and even oils and RNA. Every thread that needs pulling gets pulled, and explained.

I was particularly fond of this bit, not for the origin of life angle, but for how nicely they cover formation of hydrocarbons. Life runs on oil. Cell membranes are lipid layers. So perhaps this also explains some of how abiotic oil can form? Bold mine.

The absence of any enzymes related to autotrophy in the ubiquitous protein set (SI Appendix, Table S1) suggests that the protocells were heterotrophs, i.e., their growth depended on the supply of abiotically produced organic compounds (32, 75–77). At least two continuous, abiotic sources of such compounds would exist in the described geothermal systems. First, even in modern vapor-dominated geothermal systems, exhalations carry organic molecules that are believed to be formed, at least partly, in the process of hydrothermal alteration of ultramafic rocks (78,79). Hydrothermal alteration occurs when iron-containing rocks interact with water at temperatures of approximately 300 °C, which is typical of terrestrial geothermal systems. Under these conditions, part of the Fe 2+ in the rock is oxidized to Fe3+, yielding magnetite (Fe3O4). The electrons released through this reaction are accepted by protons of water yielding H2; in the presence of water-dissolved CO2, diverse hydrocarbons are ultimately produced (78). It could be argued that the hydrothermal rock alteration might also account for the reduction of insoluble apatite to soluble phosphite (47), explaining the presence of phosphite in the geothermal fluids (56). Similar reactions couldlead to the ammonia formation (80), which might account for the high ammonia content in the exhalations of geothermal fields [as much as 130 mg/L in the mud pot solutions of Kamchatka (55)]. In addition, diverse organic molecules could be produced by abiotic photosynthesis catalyzed by ZnS and MnS particles (81–84). Such crystals are semiconductors, which can trap quanta with a λ of less than 320 nm and transiently store their energy in a form of charge-separated states, capable of reducing diverse compounds at the surface (81). Thereby, crystals of ZnS are the most powerful photocatalysts known in nature (10).‡ Particles of ZnS can catalyze photopolymerization reactions (85) and photo reduce carbonaceous compounds to diverse organic molecules, including intermediates of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (83, 84); the highest quantum yield of 80% was observed upon reduction of CO2 to formate (81).

So the paper is kind of a ‘two fer’. Pointers on abiotic oil and hydrocarbons, and an answer to why life is like it is. I’d only add that the general thought process most folks use, starts with our present cellular life and asks “How can this evolve all at once?”. Suddenly getting both RNA and DNA replication going and getting needed machinery like membrane ion pumps to evolve and install to let it all run. This paper solves some of the chemical issues.

My idea is that in such a puddle of chemicals, the whole puddle can be one living thing, only later dividing up into cells with control of ions at the membrane. Look at some of the slime molds. They can break up or not, and have many different nuclear areas inside one giant ‘cell’. I’d envision a large puddle of RNA, hydrocarbons (fats) and such. Slowly making RNA replicators and very leaky membranes (since the environment is essentially making cytoplasm, you don’t really want to keep it out). Only later breaking up into droplets with “cell walls” and adding ion pumps over a very long period of time. As those lumps with better internal control replicate more and die off less in the rain (or a seawater splash…)

This lets many bits of interior mechanism develop over a very long time ( RNA replication, fat metabolism, Citric Acid Cycle) only later working out how to make a nucleus and cell walls, and finally adding ion pumps to less leaky cell walls. At that point, cellular life as we know it can take over the world….

If the entire pond is the first life, then evolving bits slowly, and gradually approaching “final assembly” is much easier to have happen. The only hard bit is having that puddle make those bits. This article explains how that happens.

I’m pretty sure that those two things in conjunction explains how life can start.

For folks of a creationist bent: My standard way to resolve that with “Science” is simply to ask a question: Could this not be the method by which God created life? I see the study of chemistry, physics, biology, etc. as the study of the methods of the universe, and religion as the study of the meaning. Knowing the methods used does not change the meaning of creation… and personally I find the idea of creating a chemical system that self assembles into life a far more interesting act of creation. When I go looking for a file on my computer, I don’t open each file by hand; I write a bit of instructions to do the looking automatically. I’d expect a creator God to have at least that good a programming skill too… and I find the idea of me putting limits on how a God can work to be a bit cheeky.

Subscribe to feed

Posted in Science Bits | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

ALT-right, but not ALT-Right Click… or CTL-ALT… or what?

It would seem that I’ve fallen woefully behind on currency with Slander Terms Of Art as applied by The Loony Side Of Left.

I’d kept up on “racist” and “homophobe” and even managed to figure out what “misogynist” was (but it isn’t the same as miscegenation even though it sounds similar…), but I’d not been able to keep up with the onslaught, it seems.

So Madam Hillary seems to have used a new one. ALT-Right. Near as I can tell, it’s a basket term that basically is used to tie all prior “Democratically Defined As Evil” epithets to the Right, and thus to Trump.

Now I’m most likely going to vote for Trump. Not with great enthusiasm, but as a much better alternative to Madam Hillary (the thief, liar, and perjurer who likes graft). That, by extension, given what the news has said, labels me as being “Alt-Right” and therefore hideously evil.

Well, nice to know that. Now I can just give up on ever being PC enough to be accepted in Polite-Left circles and return to eating roasted babies and murdering puppies and kittens, but without the guilt that I might be found out… (For those who are from The Left, and therefor sarcasm and humor impaired, that’s sarcasm… ask a friend that goes to church or doesn’t do drugs to explain it to you… if you have any…)

Sidebar on Me: Should those on the left want to color me rabid right wing, please read this first: If wishing to call me a Fascist, please read: and realize I’m not that socialist… and finally, realize that the whole “right wing” and “left wing” thing is just garbage. and I’m not on that monolithic axis. I’m for individual liberty and responsibility, not Central Authority from Socialists nor Central Authority from Autocrats, Emperors (or Empress wanna-bees), Kings, Princes, Popes, Dictators or even Presidents. I’m not on your idea of a right-left axis, nor are most people. That is a choice between dictatorship of the Peoples Commissar or dictatorship of El Presidente. I reject both.

Besides, I am a Liberal, of the Classy sort.

So Hillary used it. I saw the clip on, I think, Fox news. (Oh Horrors! I must be the most Altered Of Alt-Right Wing Nuts!!! I watched Fox!!… again, those on the Left: this is more of that sarcasm stuff… I’m going to trust you to remember that all the way to the end of this piece… I know it’s hard, but do try.) So I saw Hillary say it on Fox and had no clue what an Alt-Right was, thinking it sounded like a chord I’d play on the keyboard to reboot or something… Over to CNN, then MSNBC to see if they elaborated.

Both dutifully and with great vigor used the term, right on queue. Seems they’d been emailed the same talking points in time for script writing. But still, no definition of what it was… though clearly it was very very evil and only dead souls of ax murderers, or anyone a Republican, was one. Oh, and anyone related to Breitbart News. See, Trump had hired a guy who had worked at Breitbart, so somehow that makes all of them Alt-Right and thus the evil first cousin of the Devil Himself… Which is good news for me, since I’ve worked at Apple Computer in the past, and they are quintessentially cool, so by their reasoning I’m essentially quintessentially cool forever!!! Oh Boy! (The spouse will be thrilled…)

Then, on the Rachel Maddow? show on pMSNBC they were kind enough to devote what seemed like hours to the topic of how to do character assassination by innuendo, labeling, smear, and application of neologisms that you’ve defined to turn good things into clearly evil things. Complete with a guest who makes a living out of identifying who is to be labeled, smeared, shunned, and have character assassination applied (until and unless Herr Clinton can apply the real thing…) That pointed me firmly at the definition being something of a ‘roll up’ of sexism, misogyny (that is somehow different from sexism), and racism and a few other isms. I also learned there was something called “white nationalism” that was also evil.

Being accidentally born white, I thought maybe I ought to find out what it was, and where this all white nation was located, as last I looked there were none such left on the planet…

So I started with the wiki on “Alt-Right”.

The alt-right is a segment of right-wing ideologies presented as an alternative to mainstream conservatism in the politics of the United States. The alt-right has been described as a movement unified by support for Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, as well as opposition to multiculturalism and immigration.

OK, right off the bat, we’ve got issues. First off, “right-wing” is already a broken concept. (See above link on isms). Then it is tied to the United States. Any useful concept is generic and NOT tied to a single nation unless directly derived from that nation (like Finish is a language derived from Finland.) Next they nail it to Trump. OK, a custom cut slur just for him. Got it. No content, just insult.

Then it gets glued onto opposition to “multiculturalism and immigration”. Well gee… IF I happen to think the country is being broken by a massive influx of folks who have no reasonable cultural connection to it, nor any interest in the success of it, nor the job skills to be a success in it, that is evil? OK… So I guess that makes Japan and China “Alt-Right” as they both are interested in cultural preservation and only letting in immigrants who can improve their country… And here I thought The Peoples Republic Of China was “left wing”… (starting to see the problem with those ‘wings’?) This would also mean that the USA, all of Europe, and pretty much everywhere else in the world was “Alt-Right” up until about 1980…

As per opposition to multiculturalism: I love Chinese food and restaurants, my date to the high school reunion was a Chinese girl from my class, and I’m just about as much fond of Japanese food and culture (though the language is a bit hard due to the writing system). I grew up taking about 1/2 my meals as my Mexican best friends home (and him about 1/2 at mine). Yet I’m in favor of having One American Culture as our base, to which the rest are personal overlays. I’m opposed to the idea that just any old group can move in here, set up shop separate from America and do well. So what does that make me? “Alt-Right”? Pro cultural diversity? Pragmatist who realizes that some things just don’t mix? (Like Sharia and Liberal Democracy – one is authoritarian and absolutist, the other is not and demands acceptance of others. That’s just a logic problem result, not a statement of personal preference, BTW. Liberal Democracies are not stable over time and that bothers me… I prefer a Representative Libertarian form.)

Bold bits mine:

Although the alt-right lacks an official ideology, various sources have described it as a loosely-defined conservative movement composed of elements of white nationalism, white supremacism and antisemitism. The alt-right has also been linked to right-wing populism, nativism and the neoreactionary movement.

The alt-right has been said to be a largely online movement with internet memes widely used to advance or express its beliefs, often on websites such as 4chan.

Man that’s a lot-o-isms! Lets start with the easy one “antisemitism”. OK, so they are saying Trump hates Jews… like his daughter, son-in-law, and their children? OK…. so how’s that work again?

Sidebar on Me: Please note, I’m terribly biased here. I have Jewish relatives (Uncle, Cousins) and a kid somewhere in Israel. I’ve dated a Jewish girl and liked it. I’ve been to the weddings of Jewish friends, and I’ve worked for a Jewish owned and managed company. I prefer Kosher meat (though Halal is OK in a pinch) and really like a good Jewish Deli (but who doesn’t?)

Now we get into the harder ones. “White Nationalism”? Where’s that mysterious white nation? The original has further Wiki links where we find it means:

White nationalism is an ideology that advocates a racial definition of national identity. These individuals identify and are attached to the perceived white nation. It ranges from a preference for one’s ethnic group, to feelings of superiority, including calls for national citizenship to be reserved for white people, as in Rhodesia.

White separatism and white supremacy are subgroups within white nationalism. White separatists seek a separate white state, while white supremacists add ideas from social Darwinism and Nazism to their ideology. Both generally avoid the term supremacy because it has negative connotations.

Critics have argued that ideas such as white pride and white nationalism exist to provide a sanitized public face for white supremacy, and that most white nationalist groups promote white separatism and racial violence.

OK, I get it, it means “Bash Whitey”… So a white who believes in “white pride” is a racist bigot while a black who believes in “black pride” isn’t. Got it…

So the slam here is to assert Trump and by extension anyone who votes for him, is wanting to reserve citizenship for whites and create an all white country… Not seeing how that fits Trump and his followers. Nor me. (The Sisters kids are various ‘mixes’ including some American Indian and Hispanic and my grandkid is a Hispanic mix with maybe a touch of Africa, but nobody knows for sure, or cares.)

Somehow I’m not seeing how this fits…

Then again, I’m not seeing how misogyny fits a guy like Trump (since it means hatred of women) when he clearly adores his wife, and put his daughter in charge of significant businesses, hired a woman campaign manager, and promoted many women inside his companies. Then again, facts never stood in the way of a good Democratic Smear Campaign…

Returning to the ALT-right discussion:

We have “right-wing populism”. What the heck is that? Appealing to conservative populace? It is bad for a conservative politician to appeal to conservative people? Huh? So we’ll hit that wiki-link to see what the biased “left wing” guardians of all things wiki thinks it means:

Right-wing populism is a political ideology that rejects existing political consensus and often combines laissez-faire liberalism and anti-elitism. It is considered populism because of its appeal to the “common man” as opposed to the elites.

OK, so belief in capitalism / liberalism(classical, not American-Social see above “I am a liberal” link) and The People instead of their Elite Overlords is somehow bad? And equally somehow “right wing”? I thought the Right Wing was supposed to be the Fat Cat Rich Elite? And “the peoples movement” left? (Again that wing-ding fails us…)

In Europe right-wing populism is also an expression used to describe groups and political parties generally known for their opposition to immigration, mostly from the Islamic world, and the European Union. Traditional right-wing views such as opposition to an increasing support for the welfare state and a “more lavish, but also more restrictive, domestic social spending” scheme is also described under right-wing populism and is sometimes called “welfare chauvinism”.

From the 1990s right-wing populist parties became established in the legislatures of various democracies including Canada, Norway, France, Israel, Poland, Russia, Romania and Chile, and entered coalition governments in Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Italy. Although extreme right-wing movements in the US have been studied separately, where they are normally called “radical right”, some writers consider them to be the same phenomenon. Right-wing populism is distinct from the historic right, which had been concerned with preserving the “status quo”, and mostly do not have roots in their political parties.

Ok, so “I like my country, language, and culture, and would like them to continue” is evil, eh? Well, guess we all ought to just march right out and commit cultural and ethnic suicide then…

I do have to ask, though: What makes the invading culture (from anywhere) superior? If they are not interested in becoming Germans or French, why invade Germany and France? And, pray tell, why ought the citizens of a country working hard for a living provide “welfare benefits” to random immigrants who have no interest in that country?

But at least we’ve now generalized to folks outside the USA. Though it does still seem to be a “Get Whitey!” theme… as it is pejorative to historically white Europeans and doesn’t seem to care that China and Japan and even Saudi Arabia are not very willing to let a large foreign national influx happen, and tend to think you ought to learn THEIR language if you would be a citizen…

I’m going to skip over ‘neo-reactionary’ as I’m pretty sure it’s the usual International Communism / Socialism definition of reactionary.

That leaves “Nativism”. That’s another new one for me.

Nativism is the political position of supporting a favored status for certain established inhabitants of a nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants. According to Fetzer, (2000) opposition to immigration is common in many countries because of issues of national, cultural, and religious identity. The phenomenon has been studied especially in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, as well as Europe in recent years, where immigration is seen as lowering the wages of the less well paid natives. Thus nativism has become a general term for ‘opposition to immigration’ based on fears that the immigrants will distort or spoil existing cultural values. In situations where immigrants greatly outnumber the original inhabitants, nativistic movements can allow cultural survival.

In scholarly studies nativism is a standard technical term. The term is typically not accepted by those who hold this political view, however. Dindar (2010) wrote “nativists…do not consider themselves as nativists. For them it is a negative term and they rather consider themselves as ‘Patriots.'” Anti-immigration is a more neutral term for opponents of immigration.

So the idea that a country ought to take care of the stock of Citizens first, before letting a few million other folks flood in and get on the dole or suck up the available jobs at lower wages, that’s somehow bad?

Isn’t the PURPOSE of a country to protect and provide for the citizens of that country?

I note in passing that the list of “studied” (i.e. offending) nations reads like a list of British derived capitalist built successful nations. How about asking the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Saudis, Iranians, heck, even the Egyptians and Indonesians how they feel about having a few millions of White Christians moving in, expecting welfare payments, refusing to learn the language, and generally rejecting the local culture….

Nations exist to serve the people of that nation, not the entire world.

But moving on…


Although the alt-right lacks an official ideology, various sources have described it as a loosely-defined conservative movement composed of elements of white nationalism, white supremacism and antisemitism. The alt-right has also been linked to right-wing populism, nativism and the neoreactionary movement.

OK, so mysterious “various sources” decided to “link” or label it as those things. Hardly very informative. Or reliable.

Then it gets personal with Trump again:

Discussing the origins of Donald Trump’s support, Jeet Heer of The New Republic identified the alt-right as having ideological origins among paleoconservatives, particularly with respect to restricting immigration and supporting a more openly nationalistic foreign policy. Newsday columnist Cathy Young also noted the alt-right’s strong opposition to both legal and illegal immigration and its hard-line stance on the European migrant crisis. Robert Tracinski of The Federalist stated that the alt-right opposes miscegenation and advocates “hard-core” collectivism as well as tribalism.

Commonalities shared across the otherwise loosely defined alt-right also include a disdain for mainstream politics and strong support for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Well, we’ve got another load of ‘isms’ larded on. Though I must point out that “‘hard core’ collectivism” is not usually associated with ‘right wing’, being a communist ideal…

OK, so Paleoconservative sounds a bit like Troglodyte or Neanderthal (and given my Neanderthal genes, I’d have to assume it’s a good thing ;-)

Paleoconservatism (sometimes shortened to paleocon) is a conservative political philosophy found primarily in the United States stressing tradition, limited government and civil society, along with religious, regional, national and Western identity.

Paleoconservatives in the 21st century often highlight their points of disagreement with neoconservatives, especially regarding issues such as military interventionism, illegal immigration and high rates of legal immigration, as well as multiculturalism, affirmative action, trade blocs, trade unions, and foreign aid. They also criticize social welfare and social democracy, which some refer to as the “therapeutic managerial state”, the “welfare-warfare state” or “polite totalitarianism”. They identify themselves as the legitimate heirs to the American conservative tradition.

Well, looks like I could be comfortable as a “paleoconservative” (but not a ‘paleocon’ that sounds like an old convict ;-)

But I wonder if they are OK with folks smoking MJ, having sex with anyone as long as by mutual concent, and would be OK with the idea that Marriage ought to be between 2 (or more) people and not involve the government in any form? Maybe I’m not a paleoconservative…
Where’s the “Get the government The Hell Out Of Our Lives!!!!”-ism?

In Conclusion

Well, it looks to me like The Loony Side Of Left just got tired of saying:
Sexist, racist, misogynist, nativist, right-wing populist, antisemite, white nationalist, white supremacist, tribalist, monoculturalist, homophobic, neo-reactionary, baby eating woman killer;
and needed a shorthand for it… so chose “ALT-right”.

Well, at least it is efficient…

Subscribe to feed

Posted in Political Current Events | Tagged , , , , , , | 41 Comments

2 Weeks On – My Trip Of Endurance

Well, it’s been 2 weeks since I packed up the car and headed out of Florida. I had not expected it to be quite the Endurance Test that it was.

This trip was supposed to be more leisurely than most of my mad dashes. I’ve done the cross country drive more times than I can count. A few as a kid. A couple while in college (one around the entire perimeter of the ‘lower 48’ in a ’67 VW Fastback, complete with one engine overhaul and several roadside repairs, and one in a brand new Honda Accord their first year of manufacture – returned to the dealer a month or two later with something like 5000 miles on it…), and many more since. The Banana Boat alone has done at least a half dozen.

So I’ve seen “fly over country” up close and personal A Lot.

I know Texas from edge to edge every route possible. I-10, I-20, I-40, Diagonal from I-40 to I-20, or vertical down to I-10.

I’ve done I-90 up north, I-70 through Colorado, I-80 a few times. I’ve done I-5 from San Diego to Canada (parts of it hundreds of times, some only a few) and I-95 from Florida to Maine (or Maine to Florida, some both ways…) and a whole lot of crisscrosses in between them. (After a while you start to take diagonals between the main I-x routes just to get some variety). FWIW, the time to take I-10 from Silicon Valley to Orlando is within an hour of the time to take I-40 or I-20, but it bumps up by 4 hours if you take I-80. Yes, I’ve done I-80 to Florida – usually due to weather issues on the other routes. It’s easy to lose 4 hours to a flood or hurricane…

So much of the time I just point the car “that-a-way” and wait for tomorrow. Texas is about 935 miles from El Paso to Louisiana, so it is 1/3 of the trip. West Texas feels more like 1/2 the trip on your 3rd or 4th time through it… THEN you get to tack on the New Mexico, Arizona, and California southern deserts… After a while sand and dirt are not so interesting. The result is that I’ve driven from Silicon Valley to near El Paso in “one day”, slept a bit, then crossed Texas the next. So I know what it takes to do 1/2 the continent in a mad dash. Typically 2 days, or at least 1 1/2 and a hotel / friend stop in the middle and at the end. I’ve also had occasion to make the mad dash the other way. From Orlando to Dallas in 24+ hours non-stop solo (family in Texas needed me to show up…) and from Orlando to Silicon Valley in 56 hours with only one hotel stop (New Mexico) after a phone call for a family medical event in California (though that trip we had 3 drivers in rotation and napping in the car). So yes, I’ve done long duration “butts in seats” too.

What I’d not done is a solo marathon without a stop for a nap as needed. And I had no intention of finding out what that was like, given the above list of experiences. I “had clue” enough.

The Trip Out

I headed out to Florida toward the end of July intending a “3 or 4 week” event of leisurely driving / stopping / sight seeing and visits. I needed to be back by about Aug 15 or so for a family special event. Plenty of time.

The first leg was out via I-5 to I-40 (Flagstaff Arizona, Albuquerque New Mexico, blip of Texas Panhandle… did I mention I’ve seen Texas edge to edge too many times already? ;-) I can usually do that run very fast. Something like 12 hours to Flagstaff or near it. This time, I’d left about mid day (to avoid rush hour) so got to I-40 about night / nap time. An hour nap in the car (smelling bits of forest fire wafting in from hopefully far far away) at a truck stop in the Mojave and I was ready to press on through the next day to east New Mexico. Arizona and New Mexico along I-40 are very pretty to look at most of the time. A bit desert and bland in other parts.

About 3? in the afternoon in the high desert of New Mexico, I had a tire blow out. It was a rear tire, so not much of an issue to control. Looking at it (shredded having barfed out a ‘tread-a-pillar’ and then the inner-liner let loose) it was clear “has issues”, and a check of the date code showed it to be about 12 years old. Note To Self: Check tire date codes on rarely driven car before long trips… As I usually used The Banana Boat for long trips, and the sedan for ‘around town’, it had not worn the tires much over the years. But the rubber does harden and eventually has a kind of brittle fracture. There is something about the hot high desert of New Mexico that is hard on old tires, especially at 80 MPH… I’d lost a front tire there on the same car about a decade prior. It too had aged out. You would think I’d have remembered… (Well, really, I did remember. I had taken the hubcaps off as that time I’d lost one… but maybe remembering is not the same as learning…) So by the side of the road I got to unload the trunk and put on the spare under a nice warm July sun at the hottest part of the day. An hour or so later I was back on the road and really appreciating air conditioning.

Looking at the tire on the other end of the axle showed it to be the same make and age…

Somewhere near the Texas border I got a hotel for the night. Ah, bed. A very nice and very expensive Best Western. (About $107 for one). But we had ‘gift cards’ for some reason, and I was supposed to use them up. That took one night instead of the expected two…

In Amarillo, I had a replacement spare put on at the first place I found. That was a mistake. (The old Mercedes uses a 14 inch rim and it is hard to find 14 inch tires now. The places I tried in New Mexico said that they could order it in a couple of days…) So at a Sears Auto Center, where I’d gotten good Cooper tires in 14 inch before, they had some brand I’d never heard of ( Radar? R-something) made in China. Cost me $90 all told installed for a crappy no-name Chinese “truck SUV” tire… then about 3 miles down the interstate saw a nice “Discount Tire Store” that has better choices in 14 inch… Ah, the joys of decisions made in fear of another blowout… As it was raining and the folks at Sears had no clue how to start my Diesel nor how to use a stick shift (the Mercedes you pull up for reverse, not push down like American) I asked them to stop trying and just replace the tire on the rim in the trunk and put it back there. Thus continued driving on the other expired tire on the other end of the axle… though the spare I’d put on was Very Nice. Why was it better than what was on the axle? Um, …. I like having a good spare? :-)

Then it was back on the road about 2 PM Central Time…

Somewhere around midnight near the far side of Alabama? it had been raining a fair amount and I was just dead tired. Not much to see in the rain, so I’d just driven. But at the end of, what, 14 or 15 hours?, I was at an end. Motel 6… that was a Motel 6 only in name. Banner hung over some other name, shining through it in the night… $50. For a Motel 6? Originally named for the $6 it cost. Built in inflation gauge, that. I unloaded the car. In the process, I found that the A/C, in the humid East, was extracting a LOT of water from the air. And putting it on the floor of the passenger side. A known issue with old Mercedes in the dry west. Just enough condensate forms to collect dust in the drain, then it dries. Repeat until plugged with adobe concrete… Then in the East, it overflows as it is plugged. A couple of gallons of water sopped up in towels and wrung out… The next day I stopped at WalMart and bought my own cheap towel and a plastic tub (all up about $4) to act as water catcher and sop.

I’d intended to turn north to North Carolina and visit the friend I’d helped move. Last trip out was driving a van of his stuff, then flying back from Florida. Having a car trying to be a swimming pool made that less likely. What happened next ended the idea…

I was somewhere in Georgia and headed down the interstate. Got off at a low usage exit due to a sign saying Diesel! and went about 2 miles down a narrow winding road to a 2 pump gas station… On the way out, pulled over in a wide spot to dump the tub and sop / wring the rest (carpets in trunk slowly drying, it’s easy to mop the metal / painted floor). All done, turn the key — Nothing. Nothing. Get out for a bit of a think… Here I am, middle of nowhere, in a 35 year old Mercedes in a land where “old car” is anything made in the 2000’s and ‘foreign car’ means a Ford Truck made in Canada with the odd metric bits on it…

Now I know this “issue”. This car had about 160,000 miles on it. At about that point, the Diesels tend to have the starter brushes worn down. The Good News? It first fails when hot. Upon cooling, the casing shrinks a bit faster than the rotor and you can start again. The bad news? You get “a few” such starts and the brushes wear a bit more then you don’t get to start again… So right off the bat I know I’m not going to North Carolina for a brief visit. I need to head to Florida so I can complete “my mission” (of dealing with the crap I left there last time) and maybe getting the Banana Boat to drive home. It having been left at a muffler repair place back in December when, returning from Chicago and the birth of the Grandson, it blew out the exhaust pipe near Memphis and it was a lot shorter to Florida than to Silicon Valley… and I’d flown home… but now it was fixed and waiting for me. Part of what I was supposed to ‘deal with’ in Florida.

Have I mentioned that living Bi-Coastal can be a bit complicated at times?

Getting back in the car after about 10 minutes, it started. Oh Boy!

Now I just can’t shut it off until I reach Orlando…

So the nice thing is you can put Diesel into a running Diesel vehicle in safety. No sparks! The bad thing is with only one key, you must leave it unlocked and running as you go into the shop to pay for gas… I used a card at the pump a lot…

About Midnight I got to park the car and turn it off.

I was thinking that 10 hours or so of not turning it off was a lot. Little did I know…

In Orlando

I got done what I’d intended to do. The SLC was “moved on”. (I’d hit a deer with it a couple of years back, and realized I was not going to get it fixed long distance). The Banana Boat was redeemed from the muffler shop. For the next weeks I drove it around Florida. Mulling over the question of: Take IT home without A/C to have a full tune up and AC fixed by the folks here who do work on old cars, or take the sedan home with AC (and a bucket) to have IT fixed? On a couple of occasions I had to move the sedan and it started Just Fine each time. I figured I likely had at least 3 or 4 more “starts” left in it, so decided to take it home. One start to leave, 2 or three at hotels. Try to find hotels with a slope to the parking lot so I can ‘roll start’ if needed…. (Part of why I prefer manual transmission cars. You can do that. And both these are 4 speed manuals).

At any rate, I got my “stuff” cleaned up. Partied a bit with friends I’d not seen in a year. Got the Banana Boat back, and running nicely. Had a Meet and Greet with folks at World Of Beers, and generally had a pretty good time.

Watching the weather reports, it was pretty clear that to be back in time, I’d not want to wait. A tropical depression had been sitting in the Gulf just off the Florida Panhandle dumping rain along the coast. It was likely to come ashore either in the panhandle or up the Gulf Coast. Then a long rain band was projected to run from Chicago to Louisiana dumping a load. No clean path through without weather issues.

The Banana Boat would benefit from a tune up (points and rotor about every cross of the continent – 2500 miles+) and I’d brought the parts, but now time would be tight. Also, driving in humid wet South a working A/C can be important to getting fog off the windows, not just comfort. Then add in that it, too, had a window leaking issue over the passenger foot well.. I wanted to get it back to California for repairs, but it didn’t seem the right time to do it. Fall would be better. The sedan would work better in the wet and rain, and a ‘couple of starts’ would be enough to get home. I decided to load up the sedan. But first I put the new crappy Sears S rated Chinese tire on in place of the aged out old crappy Chinese tire… ( I really strongly prefer the nice Japanese Sumitomo tires that were on the other 3 positions, but they stopped making 14 inch tires for my car. 50 PSI and H rated… yeah, way overklll for a car than can’t hit 90 downhill ;-).

Then do a rapid dash past the rain target before stopping for the night. I set my sights on “edge of Texas”. Then figured a second night somewhere like New Mexico at a hotel on a slope… just in case.

The Marathon Back

It has been two weeks now, since I packed up and headed out, and I’m finally feeling a bit more normal again. My hands and feet still complain at me a bit when put on vibrating surfaces (like a steering wheel or car gas pedal…) and I’m still prone to an afternoon nap. But most of the OMG stress consequences have faded.

I’d set out on what I expected would be a 3 day “mad dash” of 2800 or so miles. Rough, but not anything I hadn’t done before. 2 nights in hotels and plenty of meal / rest stops.

The first day, I left town at 7:35 AM. The car started fine first try. Filled up at the gas station and again, an easy start. OK, I could leave town. Maybe I was just being paranoid about a humidity driven electrical issue or ‘whatever’. It had shown zero issues in a few starts since then, and even this warm start was OK.

I shot up I-75 and over on I-10 (filling with the engine running, no need to press my luck once out of town and running west… away from base and friends). There was modest rain up Florida and a bit across the south near Gulfport, but I was clearly making a clean getaway before the rain came ashore in strength. At 3:30 PM local time I was in Gulfport Mississippi and by 4:12 PM Louisiana. I-12 has a long viaduct (bridge over the marsh / swamp / lots of water) for miles. That’s the main flood area and I wanted past it. At some gas stop near Baton Rouge, I made the mistake of instinctively turning off the engine. OK, call it a feature. I was on “enough” slope to roll start ( I hoped) and this was a chance to hit the bathroom inside, have lunch sitting inside, and add oil. Check air in the tires. Etc. After all that, it started fine, again. I’m beginning to think my worries are for naught…

At about 10:30 PM local time I was at the far side of Louisiana on I-20 (moved up one level) and hit another Motel 6. This one had rooms that smelled way too much of ‘freshener’. Note to Self: Motel 6 is no longer a standard product that is inoffensive. It is now a collection of random things under their brand label. Find a different ‘cheap stop’ choice…

Now usually I carry a spray bottle of vinegar and one of ammonia to ‘decontaminate’ rooms. The thesis is based on a U.S. Military decontamination routine using acid / alkali alternating washes, but I do it with mild acid / base that fully evaporates. Spray one, wait 20 minutes, spray the other, wait 20 minutes, air out the room. Works a champ on things like tobacco smells and such. As tobacco makes me wheeze sneeze and not sleep, this matters. But the need for it has dropped off with increasing availability of non-smoking rooms and better enforcement by hotels. Besides, I can usually “hit the local grocery” if needed. But NOT when trying to minimize starts of the car… and I didn’t have the bottles with me.

I improvised (after not falling asleep…) I had a large bottle of Listerine. It has ‘essential oils’ in it that are reactive. That’s how it kills bacteria. Those oils OUGHT to also react with other things… So I dribbled a few ounces on a towel and walked around the room waving it. Let it hang on a chair and left for a few minutes. On return, aired out the room (or massively raised the humidity ;-) and then turned on the A/C again. That worked ‘well enough’ to get rid of the stink of perfume / ‘freshener’… And an OK night sleep followed. Somewhere around 6 hours later I was back on the road. ( I often don’t sleep well, or much, in hotels). In retrospect, it would have been better to have slept longer…

The car was parked on what I hoped was “enough slope”. I tested it, it wasn’t. But the car did start fine on the starter. OK, clearly I’m overly worried. This is something like a half dozen reliable starts in a row… I head out.

From here, I’d planned to ‘angle up’ to I-40 crossing Texas in a slightly different way from the usual. While the Truck Stops were all about $2.30 to $2.45 for Diesel, I’d learned to spot the Murphy’s signs that indicated a Walmart gas stop. As they let me use my Walmart card at the pump, that was a significant feature. In Wichita Falls. I got Diesel at $1.90.9 / gallon at one of them…

Then I hit Childress Texas.

The car had been getting ‘sluggish’. Having sat for nearly 2 years prior to this trip, then having a load of ‘bio-diesel’ run through it early on (Love’s and some other Truck Stops are now selling a bio-Diesels blend and it is known to loosen crud in old fuel systems) I suspected “stuff” was dissolved loose from the tank and was clogging up the fuel filter, slowly. The usual symptom is that it is all fine at low fuel flow, but at full flow it isn’t full flow… so acceleration and top speed fall off. I was topping out about 75 MPH to 80 MPH. “On the flat” this car ought to get to 85 MPH (wind permitting) and it had done over 85 on occasion on the way out. Though now, being quite full, and with a different unknown efficiency tire on it, it might not be fuel filter. (Type of Diesel didn’t change the performance). I decided, since the starter was behaving, to stop at an auto parts store and change the secondary fuel filter. The primary is a ‘spin on’ like a regular oil filter, and the secondary is a small screen like thing in the line just before the injector pump. 2 screws and you are done. I figured I could do one, and if things improved, maybe do the other at the hotel stop planned for just up the road near Amarillo /New Mexico border (where I knew I could make it home in ‘one shot’ having just done it the other way).

This little farm town no-where didn’t have the filter, but we figured out one that would work. Couple of minutes with a screwdriver, hand pump the built in fuel primer to fill it, and time to start. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. {tap starter with tire iron to loosen brushes if stuck) Nothing. Nothing. Nothing….

It’s about 3 PM, hottest time of the day, and the car has just run non-stop from Louisiana some of it up hill, often full power, with a load. I decide to walk across the street to the Sonic Drive In and drown my sorrows in Ice Tea while enjoying their A/C.

I contemplated things for a while. My Indiana Jones hat on the table. Their Largest Ever Ice Tea slowly slurped… about a pint of ice saved in the cup. Looking out the window at the car, the parking lot, the slope. There just MIGHT be enough slope down the side of the building to roll start. I’d roll back from the door OK (having NOT ‘chosen wisely’ where to park for best roll…) and then have a small push to get it pointed across the front, then ‘enough’ slope to likely make the side and roll start. Maybe I could slip someone a $5 to help push… And I had my pint of ice to cool the starter… After about 45 minutes, I decided to ‘give it a go’ and find out what condition my condition was in.

TAP TAP on the starter again. Close the hood. It starts! Yeayyy!!!

But now I’ve been up and driving about 9 hours, it’s 1/2 a continent to home, and I just can’t chance another non-start. I’ve had 2 that recovered, and MAYBE it would work when cool again, but… to miss the date back home would not be acceptable. No hotel for Mikey tonight…

At about 5:50 Mountain Time I reach New Mexico. Now I’m into this about 12 hours already, and I have a “normal max limit” of drive still ahead of me. Oh, and I can’t shut the car off for a nap, so no vibration free time either. The fuel filter swap has bought a bit more speed, but the primary is likely crapping up a bit too. I need to get 3 or 4 more tanks of fuel through it, that’s all. In Amarillo I’d picked up the proper filters at an Advanced Auto Parts store, so at least I had them if it totally crapped up. So IFF I’m lucky, in about 24 hours I can be done. Let the games begin…

The short form is that crossing New Mexico was easy. About midnight I reached Arizona. There’s where things started getting hard. Some (a lot…) of caffeine and aspirin helped. (Aspirin also to prevent leg vein clots from so much sitting) A few times I’d try a ‘speed nap’. Take an hour and pull off at some no-where exit, often behind an 18 wheeler, and slump over the front seat trying to nap. It’s very hard trying to nap when the engine is still running, the car vibrating, and you can’t move as that risks hitting the shifter into the rotating transmission parts… Eventually, at about sunrise, on the far side of Arizona, I saw an exit with a hill behind it… It was a nearly instant dirt road off of the pavement stub, but it was a hill. I parked facing downhill and risked shutting off the motor. There was a long enough slope to try one start on dirt, then a good run to hard pavement for a real start.

I had, maybe, a 2? hour nap with both doors open. Top of the head out one side, feet out the other. Blissful quiet. No vibration. Only a modest lump under the pillow at the transmission… (The rear seat was full of stuff and I didn’t really want to unload it into the dirt…).

But it’s hard to sleep well with 400 mg of caffeine in you and the sun rising… So after a couple of hours I was ‘ready to go’ again.

An easy ‘roll start’ down the hill and back onto the highway. At Kingman Arizona I got gas at Smith’s grocery for $1.93.9 / gallon (when the Truck Stops were again at $2.35 ish) and continued on my way.

By this time, I was uncomfortable with the hand and feet vibrations. I’d used every possible surface on both feet and both hands on the steering wheel and peddle. Cruse Control had died decades back. Never was very good in that era Mercedes. So I was committed to holding the wheel and pushing something. It was a Very Long drive across Arizona and the Mojave of California. Then the turn north up I-5 to Silicon Valley.

The closer I got, the longer it took, or so it seemed. I even accepted buying way overpriced fuel at the fastest stops. $3 / gallon in Kettleman City ( that once was a nice priced stop, now overpriced).

At 6:25 PM, I pulled in to home. In about 10 minutes had “the important parts” unloaded from the car, then had a quick rinse off shower and collapsed into bed and had a ‘few hours nap’. That evening, had a bit of dinner, and returned to bed. The next day, unloaded the trunk of the car.


In two weeks, it hasn’t moved.

It may be another two weeks before I move it.

My palms and soles of the feet are still a bit sensitive to vibration and persistent pressure (the drive to The Presidio that normally would be nothing was a mild irritation) but getting better. I’m almost caught up on sleep (but an occasional afternoon nap makes its desire known).

I’ve actually had enough real meals to have caught up from ‘snacking across the continent’.

It was about 38? hours of almost non-stop driving from Louisiana to here. I didn’t know I could do that. I hope to never do it again.

I’ve discovered I can still, even at 60-something, do everything I ever could do (maybe more), it just hurts more the next day ;-)

I’d have chosen to have the starter changed in Amarillo, but for the risk of a several day loss of time as parts were ordered from far far away. Unloading a fully loaded car into a hotel room for an unknown length of time is not conducive to making a required engagement in “a few days at most”. Driving around / phoning for a few hours would have assured I could not make it home in one go. Prior attempts at ‘old Mercedes repair’ outside California have not been very successful, either. It takes a lot more time and money than I’d like.

So the upshot of all this is that I’m pretty sure I’m not going to plan any more cross continent trips in Very Old Mercedes. I might bring the Banana Boat back from Florida as a final trip to sunny dry climates where it can stay and not further rust away. (Being a 1979 it didn’t like the 2-ish years in Chicago and ‘a few’ in Florida all that well. It now has “skin cancer” in the drivers side fender and a few rust spots elsewhere; so needs dry…) They just aren’t suited to the wet, and the ability to do ‘surprise repairs quickly’ is very very low. Exactly one guy in Orlando can do / will do tuneups on the Banana Boat. “Dwell Meter” not being in the vocabulary of any shop staffed with folks under 50… and “points” being something you get on your iPhone when you play games…

I’m very very slowly in the market for “something else” better suited to a cross continent run and repair in Middle-Of-Nowhere Texas or South-Swamp Florida… Preferably good in rain, mud, sand, storms and desert; and comfortable to drive for 12 hours straight.

Or maybe I’ll just fly into Orlando / Chicago and call Uber ;-)

For now, moping around the house and sleeping whenever I feel like it is about the top of my ambition. Well, that and cooking dinner….

FWIW, made a very nice quick and easy burrito like thing yesterday. Warmed tortillas in a large cast iron skillet. Heated canned refried beans in a medium sized one (giving them that real refried crusty bits flavor ;-) and took a nice sausage (like a polish) and Julianned it. Fried for a couple of minutes in oil to brown a bit.

Now assemble. Tortilla on plate. Smear with beans. Sprinkle on sausage strips. Dot with Olives and top with packaged shredded Mexican mix cheese. Sprinkle hot sauce to taste, and top with butter lettuce from a packaged butter lettuce salad bag. Roll. All up, less than a minute.

Had two, wanted more but was out of room! Yummy. We used Jenny-O Turkey Sausage, but any favorite ought to be fine. (Beef makes the arthritis hurt, turkey doesn’t) Maybe I’ll have another one today… it is lunch time ;-)

Subscribe to feed

Posted in Human Interest | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Not Liking This SPY S&P 500 vs GLD Gold Chart

Not much to say about it, really, other than to me it looks ugly. It looks very much like intervention by {someone} to prop up a narrative and not at all like normal market actions. SPY is rising, but with nothing real behind it, and GLD has topped, while the news is pushing it.

This is a 2 year chart, so shows both context and to some extent recent detail. It is a daily chart, so more detail oriented than the weekly tick mark charts that emphasize long term trend, still, with 2 years on it, you can visualize the trends.

SPY vs GLT and TLT 2 year daily chart Aug 2016

SPY vs GLT and TLT 2 year daily chart Aug 2016

First off, price of the main ticker, SPY, is rising, and all the normal trend following indicators say it ought to continue to rise, yet the strength indicators say “there’s no there, there”. So what the heck does that mean? Usually, that means the trend is ending or over. But with The Fed at Zero (or close enough for all practical purposes) does “usually” apply?

So the SMA Simple Moving Average stack is “normal” for a rise. Price over slowest over longest. The MACD is going sideways in a sort of an almost weave as it does in long duration trends, and is above the zero line so positive trend. Yet it is “red on top” that means exit or get ready to exit (put in stop loss orders or buy puts). Downward sloping indicating a weakening trend too.

ADX / DMI has blue over red (above black) all of small size, showing a confusion in the trend. The “positive” blue headed to nothing (trend up ending / ended) and with black ADX line at 15 and dropping indicating “no trend”… After a run up, no trend precedes drop… and red headed upward to take over the trend (i.e. “down soon” implied). (Click to embiggen the chart. There’s a tiny upturn in red in August).

Then there is volume. Just look at how weak it is under the latest up days. Volume dries up on rises before drops. (Look back at last Christmas / New Years and the August / October before that. Volume dries up, then prices drop. The market is a volume seeking mechanism as that is where commissions are generated.) Very much not good.

Now, some months back (June 16) I said the trade was to be in gold. It has been rising nicely for a while, but the last two months has not gone through a new high. Lows are rising, but not highs. Someone is selling at a price and putting a lid on rises. Looks like Gold needs a new look in more detail. It does have long stretches of near flat wobble, then jumps up in a few days, so this could be ‘toppy’ or just another waiting sideways.

Now also this graph has TLT on it. Long term bonds in a fund. (Why anyone would buy near zero bonds in a flat market facing a Fed Rate Hike “soon” is an interesting question, but clearly someone has been. Until the last couple of months…) It now has the same “spike and dribble” shape as the recent gold prices. So what the heck is going on? To me, it looks like prices have hit a top and big money is selling at that point.

But what the heck are they buying?

Whatever it is, it doesn’t look to me like it is on this chart. So I need to do a broader brush look at global assets. Big Money is looking for a return, and it isn’t seeing it in bonds, nor is gold interesting at this price, and stocks are just way too much risk for the tepid return. So is it all just running for cash, or for something / somewhere else?

While I’d not immediately abandon the whole gold trade, I’d start scaling out of it. Same thing for bonds (the odds of any rate decrease that would raise the value of existing higher premium bonds is near zero). Stocks look like a possible short “soon”. That mostly leaves real estate and commodities as places to look for play. Commodities not likely in a flat global economy and real estate a maybe.

OK, I have my work to do. This is just a heads up at best. A first glance “What The?” that says to go spend time figuring it out.

But I’m really not seeing anything in the US market to be happy about. Maybe from a ROW Rest Of World perspective the strong dollar makes it worth the near zero coupon on the bonds, but even there I’d be surprised as a straight currency trade would be as good. Then again, a lot of folks, like me, rarely or never trade currencies.

With that, I need to go digging and see what else turns up.

Subscribe to feed

Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Disney Family Museum

Yesterday was spent going to the Disney Family Museum. This was set up at the San Francisco Presidio. A former US military base, now a national park. The Presidio is worth a day just on its own, but living ‘near’ it, I’ve been there several times.

FWIW, my favorite “approach” avoids most of San Francisco city and all of the traffic. I run up I-280 on the backside of the peninsula, then at the Hwy-1 / Hwy-35 exit, head over to Hwy-35. Also known as Skyline, it runs along the mountain top backbone of the peninsula from down near Saratoga / Silicon Valley all the way up to near San Francisco. A great ride the whole way, especially on a motorcycle in spring… But the shortcut for a fast run to S.F. is that cutover as you approach San Francisco. Then there is a left turn to something like The Great Highway or ‘whatever’ ( I know, I ought to look it up, but I’ve driven it so many times I just “do it”…) and that runs along the beach to The Cliff House (a very good and always packed restaurant hanging on a cliff overlooking the Pacific and dumps you out near Grant? Avenue. It is then a bit of a wander toward the left to find / enter the Presidio on the backside. Again, my apologies, but I like the wander part of it. Making it a formula would break some of the magic… You can always just go straight forward to 19th street / ave whatever-it-is that is the Park-Presidio highway (Golden Gate Park / Presidio) and enter the front way… or use GPS…)

At any rate, we ‘wander’ in the back “gate” via a certain random walk approach. It makes it a bit more mysterious and a lot less crowded. It also tends to have us drive past the cemetery / chapel… with the Golden Gate and Bay in sight… and that’s rather special and sobering at the same time…

Then the Presidio itself is not set up on a square grid for quick crossing. More a set of wandering cow trails that were designed for horse drawn wagons to have an acceptable slope, inside a base with lots of interbase movement but little entry exit via a few (historically) controlled points. So you can find yourself on a 2 way road wide enough for 1 behind what had been base housing (who lives there now? Donno….) but eventually you will see the red brick buildings of the Main Post and now the central square. It is much closer to the ‘front’ of the base and overlooking the Bay (and traffic and…). Frankly, I find the wander through the back worth a lot more than the time it takes…

The Museum

It is on “Montgomery Street” IIRC. 104? At any rate, the one with the big banner on the front saying Disney. Parking is on the opposite side of the ‘quad’. It costs $8 for the day (or something like $1.50 / hour) payable only by credit card into the meter / pass printing thing. No real money allowed. It eventually prints a little receipt that tries to blow off your dash if both doors are open… be advised chasing it isn’t all that fun… (Caught it in three steps and a leap…) You want the ‘all day’ as the museum takes longer than expected.

Their is a ramp at the south end of the building, but most folks go up the stairs in front. Built on a hill, the south end is near grade, the north off the ground a good ways. Entry is near the center. Signage is “ok”, but not great.

On entry, you are in the middle of the building in both side to side and up-and-down. It is actually about 5 stories tall, but some below ground and beyond your reach. This lobby level has the ticket sales to your right, snack bar and store to the left, and awards display to the far right past the ticket sales. Again, signage is a bit lacking but OK. There is an elevator to the rear left that takes you down one floor for the bathroom / movies / exit from the displays (or take the stairs to the immediate left) and past the ticket sales and awards room on the right; is the entry to the main museum display at the far right end / rear.

Prices? Oh, they are absolutely absurdly horrible. But, for a Disney fan, worth it. Snacks were: Coke (bottle 12 oz / 355 ml) was $3.25 while a ‘bowl’ (about 8 to 10 ounces) of “Walt’s Favorite Chili” was $8 and a tuna salad sandwich was $10.25 or some such. (The chili was actually pretty good… little minces of beef, not ground stuff, and spiced just enough, but not overly hot). Spouse ate her sandwich and liked it, so was likely good. Entry? That depends. They were having some kind of special exhibition on Pinocchio? for an added $10, but we didn’t get there until noon, so skipped it. Basic admission was $20 / person, so $40 for the two of us. It would have been $30 / $60 for two had we done the add on. This price includes tickets to two different movies shown on site, if you ask for them (they do offer…) so we saw Winnie The Pooh and Pinocchio movies “for free”. This also consumed about 2.5 hours that in retrospect might have been better spent in the museum proper as we didn’t realize how big it was.

The movies are best seen from the middle of the fairly small theater, but even from the rear the view was very good (and the print was clearly near / at pristine quality). You are given separate tickets for each movie that are scanned at entrance. You get to keep them as scrapbook material if desired. On the wall around the waiting area / bathrooms / downstairs studio (that isn’t on display) is a story of one of the major artists for Disney. Mel Shaw. Worth the time to read and look at the art work. Seems Disney had a thing for polo, and on one occasion his “team” was sent to Mexico as he was too busy to attend, they then played the Mexican National team. VERY interesting paintings of centaurs playing polo… Outside the movie theatre in the waiting area (that wasn’t used for waiting) is an art display of drawings and small statues. Seems Mel kept most of his works and they were not sold or displayed. Until now and here. You can see how his connection to living things (and especially horses) shaped many Disney characters.

But by this time were were nearing 4:30 pm and had not even started to look at the actual “Museum” (“galleries”). Two movies. Lunch. Art Gallery. Wall mural of Mel and polo and… The place closes at 6:00 PM. With 1 1/2 hours left, we headed straight past the room of trophies and awards and into the Gallery Entrance. (And another ticket scan).

The Gallery is a series of rooms. Many more than I’d thought as it wanders over a couple of floors and wraps around the other spaces. 3/4 of the way through you walk down a hallway with a glass wall facing the Gold Gate Bridge. The view is spectacular. Before that, you enter a time sequence presentation on Walt Disney, his companies, and related artists and projects. Many of the displays are interactive (with hand held earphones to hear descriptions in the voices of those involved, often Walt.) Often with many buttons to push for alternative views of things. In once case, an entire photo album with notes is on display in a sealed glass box, next to it is a high quality video display of it. Each page available with the touch of a spot / slide of the tab. THAT was the killer on time. It would take several hours to touch all the tabs, listen to all the recordings, view all the slides… So in many cases we got a ‘taster’ of a few pages / slides / voices; but then needed to “move on” to finish by 6 pm. We will be back… Starting with the galleries at opening and then doing movies / etc. “if time permits”. No flash photography, but low light images OK.

The time sequence presentation works well. From a 16 year old kid lying about his age to drive an ambulance in W.W.I (full size one on display) to doing copy work and line drawings to making art move to The Disney We Know… You can see the progression of a man driven by a passion. For me, that was THE key takeaway. If you would do great things, you must have a great passion about something. (Sadly, I only have minor passions, having been raised to be ‘in control of myself’…) At the end of that first block of “as a kid to W.W.I” you reach an elevator that takes you up to the second floor and the next time series.

A note on elevators: At the south end of the building is the elevator down to the movies and bathrooms. Take it to the 2nd floor, you will find yourself in the middle of the time series of galleries. (About W.W.II) The 3rd floor is not open to the public. Take it down, you are at the bathrooms / movies and a mysterious door marked “no entry”… It is the exit from the galleries as you find out when the trip is done, just after the end of Walt’s life. The 2nd basement is also closed to the public. So in all, there are 5 floors and you will be wandering around 3 of them. Just realize that nothing tells you to go to the back of the awards area to enter the galleries and that if you take the elevator to the 2nd floor you are starting in the middle. (I’d poked my nose in to see what was there while waiting for the spouse). Just start everything to do with the galleries at the back of the awards room.

The galleries have various treasures on display. From family photos to home movies to Walt’s “treasures” saved from his ambulance driving days to various cameras used in production. Many people just dashed past the ‘hardware’. I was fascinated by it. They had actual cameras (likely the actual ones used, but perhaps just ‘period correct’… I didn’t check) of the type (and perhaps the ones) used at each stage of the development of the Walt Disney Way. From simple ‘on a tripod and crank’ all the way up to a 2 story tall multi-plane camera that held acetates of 3 different depths movable in all three axes and a camera at the top similarly movable. A video about it is here:

The “circlerama” movies were a staple of Disneyland / Disneyworld for generations. To see the actual camera(s) used was special. A very large industrial strength metal plate with a plethora of Kodak movie cameras bolted in a ring. Then the optical mask machine they invented to take all the outline of masking from matt work, improving all sci-fi and fantasy films for generations ;-) I’d not realized it was a Disney Company creation. Now a staple of all things Star Wars and Trek… You can just see this driven by passion person moving from pen to camera to pushing into new cameras and new ways… and on into an immersive experience in the parks.

There is a long slow ramp down from the second floor to the first basement. You pass views inside the Mr. Lincoln anamtronic and get to pilot a speaking parrot with a joy-stick. There is a model of Disneyland that’s a dozen or more feet across, with things now long gone, but living in that first vision and in the memories of some looking at it…

The last gallery is about his passing. Projects still in the works (Disneyworld) and pushing to the end. How the world reacted to his passing. Then you exit the ‘no entry’ doors and find out it’s that elevator and stairs back up.

We had about 20 minutes left, so went back to the Awards Room. Just astounding the number and range of awards. One award from an Army Battalion. Another from the Coast Guard. Some in Italian. A Presidential award (signed by Johnson). Film awards. Awards for directing, acting, you name it. Then there was the whole case of Oscars. I’d guess a dozen? And that very very special Oscar. The one with the Seven Dwarf Oscars next to it… While some folks spend a lifetime hoping for just one, here was an entire case floor to ceiling of them… (well, maybe not all the way to the ceiling… but it seemed like it).

And then it was time to go.

We will be back. Taking more time in the galleries, less in the movies. Maybe making sure to catch the ‘special talks’ given about one an hour in the galleries. Maybe seeing on of the special exhibits on some other aspects for that extra $10. Our timing was set by traffic. We could not get there until after “rush hour” let us out of Silicon Valley. Next time, we’ll leave here at “0 dark thirty” to be there at the open, then spend a nice long time in the galleries pushing buttons and listening to voices from the past. Lunch basket in the park / quad. Back for movies in the afternoon.

I knew a lot about the history of the Walt Disney Company, having watched it grow my whole life, and having worked there on and off for over a decade (as contractor, not Cast Member, though the spouse was a Cast Member for a short while). What I’d not appreciated was how much new was invented early on by Walt and associates. Just how much was driven by his drive for more quality, for doing what others had just said was not worth it. That at least 2 and maybe 3 times he had ‘bet it all’ on a vision and a drive for more. Not just funding Disneyworld toward the end of things, but during W.W.II where they almost went out of business (instead filming 300,000 FEET of film a year, or about a one hour movie every 2 weeks of training films and more; along with designing some 100+ insignia for units – giving a specific feel to the whole era of history…) and earlier where they have telegrams on display saying things like “Need $3500 STOP. Find a way”… And that was the major “takeaway” for me. Passion first. Always put quality of product ahead of money. Find a way to make the “operational” aspects work. Then go grubbing for money if you must. Look at what everyone else is doing. Look at what you are doing. Then say “We can do better.” and ask “How?”. Then do it.

One minor sidebar on railroads.

Seems that the little railroad running around Disneyland was not made of custom built engines. At the time, dinky rail engines were used in various industrial operations. It was a ‘rescue’ of sorts from a (trees? wood or paper? operation) that was converting to something else. An open area to “dig here”… that little backwater of history of ‘small rail’. A time when small steam locomotives were not just toys in a park, but working tools of industry. Walt also had a couple of custom built rail lines in toy scale made for his own fun. On display was an engine at 1.5 inches to the foot ( 8:1 ) scale (IIRC). A real, live, steam engine and cars. Castings made to scale and all working. Anyone loving trains will need to spend extra time at the train display… Maybe on my next trip ;-)

Subscribe to feed

Posted in Human Interest | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments