From Pine View Farm

October, 2005 archive

Now I Feel More Secure 0

Whew! That’s a load off my mind! I’m sure that terrorists were targetting Bingo Games and Poker Nights big time as a way to raise funds.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky has been awarded a federal Homeland Security grant aimed at keeping terrorists from using charitable gaming to raise money.

The state Office of Charitable Gaming won the $36,300 grant and will use it to provide five investigators with laptop computers and access to a commercially operated law-enforcement data base, said John Holiday, enforcement director at the Office of Charitable Gaming.

(via the Huffington Post)

Guess who Kentucky voted for in 2004?


Too Stupid for Words Department 0

A country boy would have known better:

A 14-year-old St. Pius X High School student might lose her right arm after she was bitten by a copperhead snake taken to school by another student, Lower Pottsgrove police said yesterday.

The girl, whose name was not released, was bitten Friday afternoon inside the gymnasium during a meeting of the drama club.

A 17-year-old boy, whom police did not identify, had taken the snake to school after capturing it in Valley Forge National Historical Park on Oct. 15, police said.

He took the snake from a box, and it bit the girl’s right middle finger, police said.

Update, 10/25/2005

The girl who was bitten is home from the hospital and did not lose her arm, as was feared might happen.


Tonight’s Recipe 3


Six hot Italian sausages

One medium onion

One-half large bell pepper

Mushrooms (I used six medium mushrooms)

Celery (I didn’t have any, but it would have been good)

Olive oil

Garlic (I used garlic paste)

One dried Habanero pepper

One small can whole, peeled tomatoes (may certainly substitute fresh or can of diced tomatoes)

One small can tomato sauce

Other spices to taste


Slice onion, mushrooms, and pepper thinly.

Heat thin layer of olive oil in Dutch oven and saute vegetables until peppers are limp.

Add sausages and saute until brown on all sides (they won’t be a crisp brown because of the oil and vegetables).

Add peeled tomatoes and sauce.

Add other spices (pepper, basil, whatever you like) and bring to boil.

Simmer for an hour.

Serve over rice with cornbread on the side.


Two Sets of Fundamentalists? 3

John Timpane, editor of the Commentary Section of the local rag, has just returned from participating in the Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science and Religion, where evolution and Christian Fundamentalism were heavily discussed.

In reporting on his experiences, he says, in part

Despite the trial in Dover, the current American conflict is not between “science” and “religion.” It is, to quote Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God and other books, a conflict between tightly defined subsets: “those who adhere to the scientific theory of evolution and those who believe that the biblical story of the six-day creation is literally true.” As she points out, this boils down to “a struggle between two religions.” The culprit on both sides in this American standoff is the mental habit of fundamentalism itself. And it could well hobble both sides.


The current uprising may be a harbinger of the death of religion for many people. We’ll continue to be a believing people, but more and more of us will do our believing out of doors.

Religious fundamentalism got beat up good at the Templetons, especially by religious people. Fraser Watts, who teaches theology and science at Cambridge and is co-director of the fellowship program, said: “I am a follower of Christ, not the Bible, and if I’m forced to make a choice, which I hope I am not, I will choose Christ.”

But religion is not the only fundamentalism in the room. Let us now turn to the other bad boys: the fundamentalist materialists.

I believe the article is well worth reading for anyone who wishes greater understanding of this issue as a philosophical, rather than a scientific, issue.


My Little Gas Price Survey, 10/21 & 23/2005 0

Observations on Friday and Sunday (still dropping):

Penny Hill, Del., BP and Exxon, $2.49 on Friday.

Penny Hill, Del., Exxon, $2.57 on Friday.

Claymont, Del., Exxon and Sunoco, $2.49 on Friday, $2.46 on Sunday.

Claymont, Del., Getty, $2.45 on Friday, $2.41 on Sunday.

Claymont, Del, BP, $2.47 on Friday, $2.41 on Sunday.

Claymont, Del, Cumberland Farms, $2.47 on Friday, $2.43 on Sunday.

Claymont, Del., Wawa, $2.43 on Friday, $2.39 on Sunday.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.57 on Friday, $2.55 on Sunday.

Holly Oak, Del, Mobil, $2.47 on Friday, $2.39 on Sunday.


A Sign? 0

It’s raining here.

I just went out to pick up the local rag. When it rains, the paper deliverer double-bags the paper from each end.

Nevertheless, water had gotten through the overlapping bags.

In the map on the front page, right on top of the Yucatan Peninsula, centered right on Hurricane Wilma, was a big, circular wet spot.

Wilma over the Gulf

The rest of the paper was dry.



Antidote to Avian Panic 0

News has been full of Avian Flu lately, as if we are all going to die tomorrow.

Wendy Orendt, in the Sunday Washington Post, says

For two years, a deadly strain of chicken flu known as H5N1 has been killing birds in Asia. While slightly more than 100 people are known to have contracted the disease, and 60 of them have died, there is still no sign that the flu has begun to spread from person to person.

That hasn’t prevented a recent outbreak of apocalyptic warnings from health officials and experts about the specter of a worldwide pandemic. In Hurricane Katrina’s wake, health officials in the United States are talking more and more about pandemic preparation. Some of these ideas — such as stockpiling vaccines — are sensible, whether or not bird flu turns into a human disease and begins to spread rapidly.

But other ideas aren’t. A few scientists have suggested “priming” people with a dose of the new vaccine against H5N1 before we even know whether a pandemic is coming. Vaccinating large numbers of people against a disease that may never appear carries its own risks. Remember the swine flu debacle of 1976? At least 25 people died from vaccine complications and no epidemic ever erupted. That should be warning enough.

This story was followed by an online chat with Ms. Orendt on Monday. I recommend both of these articles as an antidote to panic.


More Evidence of Incompetence during Katrina 0

In today’s Washington Post. Follow the link to read the full article:

For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, including former director Michael D. Brown, dismissed urgent eyewitness accounts by FEMA’s only staffer in New Orleans that Hurricane Katrina had broken the city’s levee system the morning of Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding, the staffer told the Senate yesterday.

Marty Bahamonde, sent to New Orleans by Brown, said he alerted Brown’s assistant shortly after 11 a.m. that Monday with the “worst possible news” for the city: The Category 4 hurricane had carved a 20-foot breach in the 17th Avenue Canal levee.

16 hours wasted.

More and more the current Federal Administration’s attempts to blame local authorities for the slow response are being shown up as lies.


Old Times, Good Times 3

Before I got my current job, I worked for the railroad.

Now, make no mistake, I love my job. I get paid to muck about with computers all day, and I get to work with some of the nicest people in the world, not only my co-workers, but also the persons who attend the training classes I conduct (I R the trainer for my division).

But it’s not the same. I loved the railroad. There is no other industry like railroading. Sometimes I liked my job there; sometimes I hated it; but I always loved the railroad.

No experience I have ever had beats standing next to an Engineer watching the world go by at 125 miles per hour between New York and Washington; or standing on the rear vestibule, in the open air, watching the New Mexico desert recede behind the train at 79 miles per hour; or being in the downstairs kitchen of a double-decker dining car as the crew prepared meals to be sent upstairs to the dining room for the passengers; or waiting for the train, not in the waiting room with the civilians, but in the crew room with the train and engine crew, waiting for the train to pull into San Antonio from New Orleans to board it for Los Angeles; or pounding through a grassfire in the Humboldt Sink at track speed; or creaking at 30 miles an hour over the Donner Pass, under miles of snow sheds, remembering what happened to the Donner Party when they were stranded there in the blizzards.

During my years with the railroad, I traveled all over the country by train (being a trainer is and always has been a traveling job–you go to them far more often than they come to you). I have seen Independence Day parades in Chicago; waded through snow in Boston; held a safey investigation in a classroom in Lancaster, Pa., when a trainee uttered those words of import, “I’m hurt” (Rule A: Safety is of the first importance in the discharge of duty); watched the sun rise over Dr. Kildare’s hospital in Los Angeles.

It reached the point that I could wake up in the sleeping car, look out the window, and tell you within 20 miles where the train was.

And, when you boarded a train wearing 20-years-of-service pin, you got respect. The crew knew you were an Old Head; they didn’t play any games and they took you in. The word spread down the line and every replacement crew knew an Old Head was on-board.

This weekend, I will be reliving those times. We were a tight-knit group, the Amtrak training department, and some of our members have organized a reunion.

Most of us are no longer with Amcrap Amtrak. Those of us who are still there are no longer in the training department. Management changes came and went, and, ultimately, the incompetents triumphed, and the competents were scattered the winds. I took the money (severance) and ran–to another company where I could continue practicing my craft of designing, developing, and delivering training courses. Some of my colleagues fled to other departments within Amtrak, but most of them are in other places now.

It will be interesting to see who shows up and fun to catch up on where we are now.

Managements come and go.

But on the railroad, a clear board will always mean proceed at track speed. “Pulling the pin” will always mean retiring. “Highball lunch” will always mean “skip lunch, finish the job, and go home early.”

And “two to go” will always mean it’s time to pull and see what lies on down the road.


My Little Gas Price Survey, 10/20/2005 0

During the past couple of days, when I’ve been preoccupied with my now-deceased tooth, I haven’t paid much attention to gas prices. Today I did a check, and they have continued their downward trend:

In the morning:

Penny Hill, Del., BP, $2.55.

Penny Hill, Del., Exxon, $2.57.

In the evening:

Claymont, Del., Exxon, $2.49.

Claymond, Del., Sunoco, $2.52.

Claymont, Del., Getty, BP, Cumberland Farms, and Wawa, $2.49.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.59.

Holly Oak, Del, Mobil, $2.49.


Fun Facts 2

Courtesy of Sarcasmo:

My blog is worth $1,129.08.
How much is your blog worth?


P2P File Sharing 0

Anyone who has someone in the house who is using Limewire, Kazaa, or similar programs should know they may be sharing other stuff:

Brian Krebs, of the Washington Post, was nosing around Limewire and found

dozens of entries for tax and payroll records, medical records, bank statements, and what appeared to be company books.


Ouch 0

There’s nothing like an abscessed tooth to take the joy out of one’s day.


Analogy 0



I Awoke to a Horrible Sound 1

The temperature dropped low enough for the furnace to come on. Time to start looking for a second job.

Then my coffee pot suffered the dreaded filter collapse; my coffee is full of grounds.

What next?


Has Mr. Bush Read the Constition? 7

Mr. Bush said:

“People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers,” Bush told reporters at the White House. “Part of Harriet Miers’ life is her religion.”

Ann Woolner on opines

On the other hand, Bush and his friends have made sure everyone knows which church Miers attends, her religion, even the depth of her faith.

To quell a revolt from the religious right, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove assured at least one religious leader “that Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life,” James Dobson recounted on his radio show this week.

NPR reports that

White House spokesman Scott McClellan confirms that presidential strategist Karl Rove called evangelical broadcaster James Dobson to seek his support for Harriet Miers’ nomination to the Supreme Court before it was announced. In that call, Rove assured Dobson that Miers is an evangelical Christian.

The Constitution of the United States of America says, in Article IV:

Clause 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

The current Federal Administration does not seem to know what the Fundamental Law of the United States of America mandates.

No. That’s not quite right.

Let me rephrase that. I will attempt to speak circumspectly.

The current Federal Administration has consistently and cynically violated the trust of the citizens of the United States of America, of the Founders who risked lives and fortunes to bring forth this country, and of those who have fought on the field of battle, on the field of law, on the field of politics, on all the fields where such battles are fought, to protect, preserve, and nurture this nation.

The current Federal Administration dishonors this country.


The Inquirer Looks Back 0

The local rag endorsed John Kerry for the 2004 Presidential Election. It was a lukewarm endorsement, so the paper chose to explain its reasons over a 21-day series of editorials. Each day, space on the Op-Ed page was given to supporters of Mr. Bush to counter the Inquirer’s position.

Today the Editorial Page Editor revisited that series of editorials. He started of his comments saying that

Saying “I told you so” yields a certain satisfaction, but this time it’s mighty thin.

Being right isn’t a good feeling when it means your country has become weaker, more divided and less secure.

A year ago today, the Editorial Board that I lead launched a series of issues essays on the 2004 election called “21 Reasons to Elect John F. Kerry.” For each of 21 days, we offered an analysis on a key issue, from Iraq to deficits to stem-cell research, critiquing President Bush’s performance and plans.

Follow the link to read the rest of the column. I commend it to your attention.


My Little Gas Price Survey, 10/14-15/2005 2

I went to Pine View Farm this weekend (I’ll add a few more pictures to the Pine View Farm page later this week); gas prices seem to be continuing a downward trend.

For the most part, prices were down 10 t0 15 cents from what they were three weeks ago, the last time I made the trip.


Holly Oak, Del, Mobil; Claymont, Del., Wawa, Cumberland Farms, Getty, $2.65.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.69.

Claymont, Del., Sunoco and Exxon, $2.71.

Claymont, Del., BP, $2.66.

Paulsboro, N. J., Exxon $2.57.

Paulsboro, N. J., BP, $2.59.

Woodbury and Gibbstown, N. J., Lukoils, $2.59.

Smyrna, Del., BP, $2.69.

South Dover, Del., two Valeros, $2.65.

Woodside, Del., BP and Exxon, $2.69.

Woodside and Canterbury, Del., Valeros, $2.71.

Felton, Del., Shell and Mobile, $2.69.

Harrington, Del., BP, $2.73; Valero and Citgo, $2.69; Sunoco, $2.71.

Greenwood, Del., Valero, $2.65.

Bridgeville, Del., BP, $2.67; Valero, $2.65,

Seaford, Del., Exxon, $2.69; Tru Blu, Royal Farms and BP, $2.69; and Royal Farms, $2.65.

Laurel, Del., Exxon and Citgo, $2.69; Royal Farms, $2.65; Shell (new station), $2.69; Sunoco, $2.75.

Delmar, Md., Shell, $2.70.

North Salisbury, Md., Wawa, $2.63; Exxon, $2.66; Shell, $2.65.

Fruitland, Md., Valero and Shell, $2.65.

Princess Anne, Md., Shell, $2.69; Exxon, $2.69;

On the Eastern Shore of Virginia, all but a handfull of stations were charging $2.59. The exceptions were:

Oak Hall, Va., Oceanic, $2.57.

Stuckey’s in Mappsville, $2.61.

Tasley, Va., BP, $2.69.

Onley, Va., Mobil and Exxon, $2.69.

Exmore, Va., no-name, $2.68.

Along US 113 in Maryland and Delaware, 10/15/2005:

Berlin, Md., Shell, $2.79.

Shelbyville, Del., Exxon and BP, $2.69; Shell, $2.78.

Frankford, Del., Mystik, $2.90; Amoco and Royal Farms, $2.65; Mobil, $2.69.

Millsboro, Del., BP, $2.71 at one, $2.69 at the other; $2.99 at the other; Wawa, $2.65.

Georgetown, Del., Exxon, $2.74; Shell, $2.69.

Ellendale, Del., Exxon and Citgo, $2.74.

Milford, Del., Royal Farms, $2.79; Shell, $2.68; Valero, $2.67 and $2.77; Shell, $2.79.

Frederica, Del., Valero, $2.69.


Mr. Bush’s Conversations with America 0

Aren’t. Conversations, that is.

My younger son loves to act. He has been acting since he was eight years old and he is very good. I have attended many plays.

One of the joys of live theatre is that actors do not stick to the script. They may stick to the ideas of the script, but they will vary their words and actions from performance to performance. Every show is slightly different.

Not so the Head of State of the United States of America.

But it takes talent to improvise and still make one’s points.

Listen to the scripting and prompting of Mr. Bush’s recent teleconference with American troops in Iraq here, with actual audio of the live feed. Hear the soldiers rehearsing their answers before the “conversation” starts, then hear them giving those answers when they were on the air.

And I know it’s a website with a point of view, but the transcript is still the transcript. See it here.

And, remember, my older son is in Iraq right now.

And this is what he is fighting for? The right for his fellow soldiers to be Lamb Chop to Mr. Bush’s Shari Lewis?

I’m sorry. These soldiers are no sock puppets, and Mr. Bush is no Shari Lewis. What an insult to their dedication and bravery. And to Shari Lewis. And to sock puppets.

It’s a damned shame we have a Federal Administration that fears allowing citizens to speak openly and honestly with the President of the United States.

And it’s even more of a shame that we have a President who allows his representatives to script his “conversations” with American citizens.

Or, even even more more distressing, who needs his representatives to script his “conversations.”


My Little Gas Price Survey, 10/13/05 5

Still dropping slowly. I’m filling up in Jersey tomorrow for my trip to Pine View Farm.

Penny Hill, Del., Exxon and Getty, $2.75.

Penny Hill, Del., BP, $2.74.

Claymont, Del., Sunoco and Exxon, $2.73 in the morning, $2.71 in the evening.

Claymont, Del., Getty, $2.77 in the morning, $2.66 in the evening.

Claymont, Del., BP, $2.69 in the morning, $2.66 in the evening.

Claymont, Del., Gulf (Cumberland Farms), $2.69 in the morning, $2.65 in the evening.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.72.

Claymont, Del, Wawa, $2.65.

Holly Oak, Del, Mobil, $2.65.