Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Insect Art

About the artists:
Adult leaf miners can be moths, beetles, or flies, and the tunnelling patterns of their larvae vary depending on the nature of the insect. For example, an aspen serpentine leaf miner creates winding or meandering tunnels whereas a birch leaf miner creates large blotches. Serpentine miners are also known to attack herbaceous perennials such as columbine. For most deciduous ornamentals, leaf mining has a negative effect on appearance rather than on plant health. However, leaf miners also attack an array of vegetable crops and can have a detrimental effect on yield due to defoliation. They are particularly damaging to vegetable crops in which the leaves are consumed such as beet, spinach and Swiss chard.
A little more about the artists - they work in British Columbia.  These pieces are from summer 2014.   (There's some photoshopping of the background, but not the miner's mazes.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Untangling The Oil Tax Wars - Wednesday July 23, 2013 7:30pm Loussac

One side would have you believe that the oil companies are great corporate citizens who love Alaska, generously provide lots of jobs and funding to local organizations and would reluctantly have to leave the state if the old tax regime were to continue.

The other side would have it that the oil companies are just to profit, could care less if it comes from Alaska or Nigeria, will grab the oil at the least possible cost, protect the environment only to the extent they're forced to,  and will do whatever it takes to buy politicians to pass legislation that helps their bottom line.

As I see it, the pro-oil company faction does its best to hide that discussion by focusing the debate on whether ACES or SB 21 will more likely produce oil and revenue for Alaska.

You can hear some of the most knowledgeable speakers from each side in a debate next Wednesday, July 21 at Loussac Libray.  It's an ISER (Institute for Social and Economic Research) event.  Here's from an email I got the other day.

Invite someone who disagree with you on Prop 1 for dinner first, then the debate.

Forum On the Oil-Tax Referendum: Hear Both Sides
Sponsored by Alaska Common Ground
Co-Sponsors: Institute of Social and Economic Research, UAA 
League of Women Voters of Anchorage • League of Women Voters of Alaska
Anchorage Public Library • Alaska Integrated Media
Last year the Alaska Legislature made a controversial change in the oil production tax, which is the >state’s largest source of revenue. In the primary election scheduled for August 19, Alaskans will vote  on whether to keep or repeal the new tax system—commonly known as Senate Bill (SB) 21. Alaska Common Ground and several co-sponsors (including ISER) are holding a forum on the oil-tax referendum on Wednesday, July 23, in the Wilda Marston Theatre of Anchorage’s Loussac Library, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The forum is free and open to the public. Speaking in favor of repealing the new tax—a “yes” vote to repeal—will be Bill Wielechowski, a state senator from Anchorage, and Gregg Erickson, a long-time Alaska economist. On the opposing side, supporting the new system—a “no” vote to keep the new tax—will be Brad Keithley, an oil and gas policy consultant, and Roger Marks, a veteran petroleum economist. Gunnar Knapp, the director of ISER, will moderate the forum.

This event will differ from a number of others that have been held on this issue, because it will focus on getting each side to answer the other side's questions. Please join us to hear what both sides have to say.

When: Wednesday, July 23, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Wilda Marston Theatre, Loussac Library
3600 Denali Street, Anchorage

Alaska Common Ground is a non-profit organization that works to engage Alaskans in conversations about major public policy issues facing the state.
For more information, go to or call (907) 952-3353.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Men Were Already "Becoming Less Masculine" In Britain 100 Years Ago

There's been a lot written in recent years about men becoming less masculine. Various reasons are cited (and most of these links below cite and discuss other studies).

For example:
So as I was reading Erik Larson's Thunderstruck, I found his brief discussion of this topic - in Britain just before World War I - an interesting perspective.  It begins with a mention of a best selling book in 1903 - Erskine Childers novel, The Riddle of the Sands, which looks ahead to a German invasion of Britain.  It ends:
 "'is it not becoming patent that the time has come for training all Englishmen systematically either for the sea or for the rifle?'

"But this question raised a corollary:  Were the men of England up to the challenge?  Ever since the turn of the century, concern had risen that forces at work in England had caused a decline in masculinity and the fitness of men for war.  this fear intensified when a general revealed the shocking fact that 60 percent of England's men could not meet the physical requirements of miliatry service.  As it happened, the genral was wrong, but the figure 60 per cent became branded onto the British psyche. [emphasis added]
Blame fell upon the usual suspects.  A royal commission found that from 1881 to 1901 the number of foreigners in Britain had risen from 135,000 to 286,000.  The influx had not merely diminished the population;  it had caused, according to Scotland Yard, an upsurge in crime.  Most blame was attributed to the fact that Britain's population had increasingly forsaken the countryside for the city.  The government investigated the crisis and found that the percentage of people living in citizens had indeed risen markedly from the mid-nineteenth century but had not caused the decay of British manhood, though this happy conclusion tended to be overlooked, for many people never got past the chilling name of the investigative body that produced it, the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration.  A month later the government launched another investigation with an equally disheartening name, the Royal Commission on Care and Control of the Feeble-Minded, and discovered that between 1891 and 1901 the number of mentally defective Britons had increased by 21.44 percent.  There was no escaping it:  Insane, weak and impoverished, the British Empire was in decline, and the Germans knew it, and any day now they would attempt to seize England for their own."

This is probably a perennial topic among human beings.  And a lot of it hinges on how a culture defines 'masculinity.'  Methinks the less that we measure masculinity against the roles played by John Wayne, the better off we'll all be. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship With Sitemeter

The Love Part

Sitemeter has a visit detail page that looks like this:

[This is an image so the links don't work]

Google Analytics gives me charts which aggregate information in different categories, so I can see, for example, a list of each place people came from and how often, or a list of pages people looked at and how often.  But I haven't been able to see, with those reports, the correlation between where people are, how they link to the site, and what page they look at.

But Sitemeter also gives me an individual, detailed report (above) about each individual visitor.  This can show me how an individual (and I almost never know who the individual is) behaves.  For instance, I have been able to see that someone from the Department of Justice or FBI was using google (or an email link) to look at what I'd written about a trial DOJ was involved in.  Or that the Congressional Information office was looking at my post on the number of black Congress Members.   I don't know how I could get that sort of information from google or other stat counters.  That doesn't mean they don't offer it, I just don't know how to see it.  

For instance, in the one above, I can tell that someone in San Bernadino, California linked from facebook to my post  "Tina Delgado is Alive, Alive." The time spent is misleading though.  If they only looked at one page, the time is always "0 seconds."  They calculate the time between links used by the visitor.  But if the visitor doesn't use a link, they don't catch the time.  So the time on last page viewed isn't captured.  

I think they should be able to capture that.  If I look at the "Who's On?" option, it shows me the current time and the time the visitor began.  I can't believe that some smart techie couldn't figure out how to use that information to figure out the real time for each visitor.  

The Hate Part

Sitemeter is so frustratingly slow at times.  Often, I can click on a link on Sitemeter and I get the next page immediately, but far too often it takes 20 seconds, even minutes.  Today was so frustrating that I checked Is It Down Right Now?  a site that lets you know if a website is down for everyone or just you.  Here are some of their charts:

 Actually, Sitemeter was available for me, but it was taking minutes to download a page, which I guess counts as unavailable.

This chart gives a sense of how long the wait times are.  

And this last chart shows me some other similar websites - in this case other stat counters - that I can check out to see if I can find an alternative that does what I like at Sitemeter, but doesn't do what I don't like. 

Sitemeter, when I first started using it, I got emails back from "" and they were signed by David Smith addressing my question quickly.

But he sold the company and the new owners don't care about it the way he did.

Now I get unresponsive emails from like this:

Your request has been received and a member of our support staff will
review it and reply as soon as possible. Listed below are details of this
request. Please make sure the Ticket ID remains in the subject at all

        Ticket ID: ZMU-187705
        Category: Technical Issue
        Priority: Normal
        Status: Open

Please let us know if we can assist you any further,

Site Meter Support
And I've stopped asking for help because there never is any follow up.   I found this comment on "Is It Down Right Now?" that says Sitemeter was bought by My Space.

Ellen Meister · 5 August 2013 - 05:46

United States · Optimum Online
Doesn't matter if you send a hundred report to Sitemeter. No one reads them. No one is minding the store. They don't even monitor the site to see if it's working. FYI, Sitemeter owned by MySpace, so if you want to reach an actual person, file a report there.That's the only way to even let them know the site is down. It's quite unbelievable.
I'd note that I eventually decided to pay the annual fee for Sitemeter which gives me a lot more data and apparently saves me from other problems that other people report - like horrible pop-up ads.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hush Lake Rest Stop Flowers

There was an abundance of wildflowers at the Hush Lake rest area not far south of Prince George.  Here are some we saw.  Probably the most showy was the Columbia or Tiger Lily. 

Hawkweed are those dandelion-like flowers that grow in small clusters on long stems, like the orange hawkweed below.

Linda Wilson  at the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range, Forest Practices Branch,  Invasive Alien Plant Program has written an extensive report with detailed pictures and drawings of various hawkweeds.  She writes:
The eight known invasive species in subgenus Pilosella include meadow hawkweed, orange hawkweed, mouse-ear hawkweed, whiplash hawkweed, kingdevil hawkweed, queendevil hawkweed, and tall hawkweed (Table 2)  [emphasis added]

The Pond (Indian) Lily from Steve Michael at Oregon - Like No Other
"This native aquatic plant gives off alcohol instead of carbon dioxide as it takes in oxygen. Native Americans ground the seeds for flower and also roasted them as popcorn. It was also used medically for numerous illnesses, including colds, tuberculosis, internal pains, ulcers, rheumatism, chest pains, asthma, heart conditions, and cancer."

From Intangible Northwest:
"The Paintbrush evoked the Native American legend of a young brave who tried to paint the sunset with his warpaints. Frustrated that he could not match the brilliance of nature, he ask for guidance from the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit gave him paintbrushes laden with the colors he so desired. With these, he painted his masterpiece and left the spent brushes in fields across the landscape. These brushes sprouted the flowers we now so wonderfully love!"

I'm not sure what these two clusters of little white flowers are.  (I thought I knew the lower one when I took the picture, but it escapes me now.)

A wild rose.

Wild blackberries I believe, but they could be some other type of berry.

I believe this is a type of wild grass.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lightning Fires In Oregon

5:15pm PDT July 17, 2013

I need a little help here identifying where this is.  I think it's Mt. Hood, but I'm not sure.  We were flying on Alaska Airlines from Seattle to LA.  The plane seemed to be flying a more western route than normal.  I'm putting the times on the photos and maybe Oregon readers can confirm the locations.

5:10 pm

5:11 pm

5:12 pm

5:18 pm

I'm guessing the picture above is the Three Sisters.

5:25 pm

And I have no idea about this peak.

Crater Lake (east side) 5:27pm

For more information on fires in Oregon, go to this link.

How Do Water Striders Stay On Top Of The Water?

On a hike the other day with little kids, we checked out the water striders in a pond. 

From the National Wildlife Foundation:
"Water acts different at the surface. Water molecules are attracted to each other, and like to stay together, especially on the surface where there is only air above. The attraction between water molecules creates tension and a very delicate membrane. Water striders walk on this membrane.
The secret of the water strider is its legs! The legs have tiny hairs that repel water and capture air. By repelling water, the tiny water striders stand on the water’s surface and the captured airs allows them to float and move easily." [There's a lot more at the link.]

 The Fairfax County Public Schools website adds this (and some great photos):
Common Water Striders eat living and dead insects on the surface of the water. Some are aquatic (water) insects, such as mosquito larvae coming up from the bottom, and others are terrestrial (land) insects, such as butterflies or beetles that accidentally land on the surface.
Injured dragonflies are a favorite food, as are worms that fall in the water. Water striders have a sharp mouthpart, called a rostrum, to suck up body juices from prey.

The FCPS site also explains why the striders very quickly moved to the far side of the pond when I moved just a slight bit.
"Common Water Striders have very good vision and move quickly on the water."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"But, Son, the thing is, Thula wants you to stay here. "

Joe gets home one evening from school to find the rest of the family packed up in the car.
"What's up, Pop? Where are we going?" Joe murmured.
Harry looked down at the boards planking the porch, then raised his eyes and gazed off into the dark, wet woods over Joe's shoulder.
"We can't make it here, Joe.  There's nothing else for it.  Thula won't stay, at any rate.  She's insisting."
"Where are we going to go?"
Harry turned to meet Joe's eyes.
"I'm not sure.  Seattle, for now, then California maybe.  But, Son, the thing is, Thula wants you to stay here.  I would stay with you, but I can't.  The little kids are going to need a father more than you are.  You're pretty much all grown up now anyway."
 Joe was ten at the time.  It was 1924 in timber country near Seattle.  Joe's life wasn't easy.

The Boys in the Boat slips back and forth between Joe's time on the University of
Washington crew team as they push themselves to the limit in hopes of making it to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and his challenging life growing up as a kid whose mother dies and whose step-mother really can't deal with him.  And then, from the passage above, how he scrambles to survive as best he can on his own.

Along the way we get a good deal of Northwest history - the 1920s and 30s.  We visit downtown Seattle's Hooverville.  Joe helps  build the Grand Coolie Dam, and we get intimate with the anatomy of spruce.  A second track, though much shorter,  carries us through the planning of the 1936 Olympics, particularly the role of film maker Leni Riefenstahl.  Along these two tracks are two stories headed for a collision at the end of the book.  We know, going in, what's going to happen.  It's the telling of the story that keeps the pages turning.

There's a good reason this book is selling well.  Even though author Daniel James Brown covers the seamier sides of things, this really is a fairy tale where Cinderella is going to marry the prince in the end.

Here's the clip of the final rowing event at the 1936 Olympics with Joe in the winning skull, from Riefenstahl's movie glorifying Nazi Germain and, the way Brown writes, the first really spectacular media event Olympics. It makes much more sense after you've read the book.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sign Wars - Who's Messing With Russ Millette's Signs?

Photo Taken Sunday July 13

I passed this sign Sunday, as I went by it, I noticed that the candidate information had been painted out.  So I took this picture. 

A week ago, I posted this picture of Russ Millette's campaign sign

Photo taken Sunday July6

I decided I should call Millette and ask what was going on. 

He suggested I call the Alaska Republican Party.  (He was elected to be chair of the party in 2012 by a large influx of Tea Party attendees, but Party regulars had more meetings and recaptured control of the Alaska Republican Party.)
He said he had another sign just like it on Knik - Goose Bay (he said KGB ] Road in the Valley and that sign is wasn't just defaced, it was stolen.  When I asked if he had any ideas about who did that, he told me to call Cathy Tilton, since she had a new sign up about 12 feet from where his sign had been.  Did he know anything about whether she did it, or just the link between her sign going up when his went down?  No he didn't.

I called the Republican Party and talked to Christy who said, after I explained who I was and what I was calling about:
"I don’t know why we would know.  Signs get destroyed and stolen all the time, it’s not uncommon.  We don’t know all the candidates' sign’s locations."

I also called Cathy Tilton (a Republican candidate for state house in Matsu District 12) who sounded much more concerned.  (From my notes, slightly paraphrased)
No one in my camp would even consider anything like that.  I know how much that costs.  A friend of mine owns that land - Mike Foster - and there were three other signs up when I ut up mine - Ron Arvin (her opponent in the Republican primary, Millette's, and Stoltz (candidate for state senate, who's redistricted House seat Arvin and Tilton are running for. 

Millette said that he'd put a banner up on the sign on Lake Otis Monday morning.  When I told him I was in Seattle at the moment, he said he'd email me a picture of the newest sign.  And here it is below.
Photo taken July 14 - supplied by Russ Millette

He also said these signs cost about $250 each.   

Millette is running for governor against the incumbent in the Republican primary.  He and the Tea Party group made a successful bid to take over the Republican Party a couple of years ago, only to have the Party establishment find ways to invalidate his election.  I don't think one can blame him for thinking the sign damage goes back to the Republican Party, but getting proof is another issue. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Seattle Sunset

I took this picture as we landed at SeaTac Sunday at 9 pm.

We normally take the train into town, but we were hoping we might catch the 9:45pm ferry to Bainbridge and took a cab who liked the challenge and got us to the ferry on time.  I think we got an assist from a huge crowd of happy Seattle Sounders fans were getting on the ferry too and departure was delayed a bit to accommodate all the soccer fans.

Good gramping today.  With good friends from Chicago who met us there.   She never got a nap but she was great the whole time.  Toward sunset Monday, we discovered the bike rack.  At first she was very hesitant to go under the loop, but after a few tentative tries, she started having fun  and we spent over 20 minutes walking through and over the metal loops.

The sunset picture is directly from the picture with no post photo manipulation, except cropping.