The Great Ice Storm of 2009

You may have heard or read about the ice storm that hit northern Arkansas – my geographic location – on Tuesday, January 27. Here’s a personal account – mine – of that storm.

We lost our power a little before noon on Tuesday. We were without electricity until late afternoon on Thursday. That meant no running water, no heat ,and no computers. Our heat source was our fireplace. We also used it for some limited cooking. we melted ice that the kids gathered outside for water to flush the toilets once or twice a day. Until the power came back Thursday, we had no real hot food for two days. only hot beverages and fire-roasted hot dogs and polish sausages.

We lost our land-line telephone service late Tuesday. We finally got that back Saturday evening around seven. No land line phones means no Internet access since I use a DSL connection to access the web. That’s why I have not been able to post or do any administrative stuff on my blogs. we were unable to use our cell phones until Thursday, so for nearly 48 hours we were cut off from the world except for an old, but very reliable battery-powered transistor radio.

Our house was, until this storm, surrounded by lots of mature oak trees. As a result of this storm, a lot of those oaks as well as some beautiful evergreens are now gone and we will probably not replace them. Why?

The tree in my living room
The tree in my living room

Continue reading The Great Ice Storm of 2009

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The Promised Land

I wrote this Tuesday [January 20], but was not able to proof or publish it until today. I decided to leave the verb tenses in the present rather than potentially destroy the feel of this post. Hope you enjoy it!

Today is a very historic day in American history. Today we inaugurate the first African=-American President in our history. The fact that yesterday was the national holiday honoring Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. adds special significance to today. if that is even possible.

Dr.King often drew parallels between himself and his tole in the civil rights movement to that of Moses leading his people out of bondage. He said in one speech that he has been to the mountaintop and seen the promised land. He also said that he may not get there with us – a most prophetic statement.

Moses never got to the promised land either. The person who led the Israelites into the promised land was a younger man, Joshua. And just as Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land, perhaps Barack Obama will be our Joshua and lead us, all Americans irregardless of race, creed, or color, into the promised land, whereAmerica finally lives up to the promise of the principles set forth in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Continue reading The Promised Land

The Worthlessness of Political Opinion polls: A Case In Point

One of the most common tools for political research, and I use the word research very generously, is the opinion poll. Political candidates use polls to see how the voters feel about them, especially during or leading up to an election campaign. Political pundits, especially those in the media, use them to, in their eyes, substantiate their opinions, usually formed prior to the polls.

The problem with polls is that they are often misleading and generally worthless. Here’s why. Polls tend to use what they call samples from the population group, say all US voters, whose opinions the poll is supposed to represent. But these statistical samples are quite often fallacious and ridiculously too low to really represent the population they claim they represent. A classic example of this is a poll about who the voters of New York State feel should be appointed to replace Hillary  Clinton when she officially resigns her US Senate seat to become Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, a private polling service that focuses on the Northeast, conducted this poll at least twice and compares the results of those two surveys. My first issue with their statistical sample is whether the two surveys, about three weeks apart, surveyed the exact same individuals or whether each survey asked the questions of two different, probably randomly generated, lists of sample New York State voters. I do not care how accurate they claim their statistical samples are, unless they surveyed the same individuals in both surveys, their claim of a statistical error factor of +/- 2.4% is pure fiction. Only by measuring the same sample in a study over time can you really claim to have an accurate picture of changes in that sample. Anything else is scientifically invalid. Continue reading The Worthlessness of Political Opinion polls: A Case In Point

Back To Politics: The Bailout Revisited

Sometimes I absolutely hate computers! I had the rough draft of thus post all written and was trying to save it when I guess I hit the wrong key and accidentally shut the computer off, losing everything I had written. So, now I am trying to rewrite the same post, What you are reading is the result of that rewrite. Hopefully, it will be better than the original was, which, if I say so myself, was not too shabby!
 
 What also makes this rewrite interesting is that I am writing sitting at the dining room table, the first time I have ever done a post not sitting at my desk. I have to use my external flexible keyboard because I cannot read the gray letters on the built-in keyboard, but I am using the built-in mouse, which is quite different from my external optical mouse. Those o you Iwo are familiar with laptops will know what I am talking about.
 
 I know I said I was not going to return to discussing politics until after the Inauguration, but when somebody starts doing their job before they are even getting paid for it, that’s worth talking about. And when that person is the President-elect, then it’s really worth talking about.
  Continue reading Back To Politics: The Bailout Revisited

The Great Experiment Is Over

 

As you may or may not know, I am not a fan of Microsoft or its products. Because o that, I have been using a Linux distribution – Ubuntu – since late May on my computer as part of a double-boot system with Windows. The main reason for having the Windows OS – Bista – was to run my games, which cannot run in Linux.

Prior to a few months ago when we ended up having to buy me a new computer, I had been using Ubuntu plus Windows XP/ I hated XP and Ubuntu 8.04 was a definite improvement. All the good things I had to say here about Ubuntu was base on that comparison.

My new monster HP came with Vista [re-installed and I added Ubuntu 8.04. Then, in November, Ubuntu released 8.10, a major upgrade and which was supposed to be far superior to Vista. Well, I was disappointed. For  the two months I used it, it has been one problem after another. After it crashed about a month ago and needed to be re-installed, I decided to hold off and try Vista for awhile.
Continue reading The Great Experiment Is Over

“Hail! Hail, rock’n’roll!”

Since the political situation in this country is entering a period of transition with the change in administration, I am going to hold off commenting on politics for awhile, and, instead, I am going to sort of reminisce a bit as a way of making social commentary. Besides, with all the ugly crap in politics these last few months, I’ve gotten a bad taste in my mouth just talking about it. So, consider my reminiscing a sort of intellectual mouthwash for us all.

I was going through my music collection the other day playing some of my favorites – Led Zeppelin, Jackson Browne, Neil Young and Van Morrison.  These are some of the people whose music has shaped who I am. I’ve been listening to them for about forty years or more. What’s really amazing to me is that, with the exception of Lennon who has been dead for years, they are all still performing! Robert Plant and Jackson Browne were born the same year I was (1948)’; Young and Morrison are three years older than that. Us old geezers can still rock!

The reason that I find the fact that these guys, as well as many others of that generation, and myself are still rockin’ – in more ways than just musically, is that forty years ago, when we were in our twenties, we used to say, “Never trust anyone over 30.” And now we are all twice that! Totally blows me away!
Continue reading “Hail! Hail, rock’n’roll!”

Who Is Number One?

Those of you who follow my rants and raves here know that I am a big football fan, especially college football, and you are probably guessing that this post is about the National Championship game tomorrow evening between the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma. You’re right. It is about that game but not in the sense you might think.

I could care less about who wins and ends up ranked number one. Personally,  think the whole ranking system is tainted and we need a football playoff system like the one we have for college basketball, but that discussion i for another post. What I want to talk about today is the request by am Republican member of the House of Representatives, a branch of the US Congress,to delay legislative votes set for tomorrow and Friday, so that he and his fellow Congressmen from Florida and Oklanoma can attend the game. Continue reading Who Is Number One?