Saturday, January 31, 2009

Boil water advisory ended

The city robocalled about 5:30 to report that tests showed no contamination of the water supply had taken place and the boil water advisory was at an end. Very good!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Boil water advisory

Around noon, I got an automated call from the city government saying that a contractor had breached a city water main and there was a possibility of water contamination. The southern half of the city was under a "boil water" advisory; if you wished to use tap water for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, etc. you were advised to boil it first for at least one minute.

Subsequently, I've heard reports that the repairs to the line should be completed sometimes around 7:30 p.m. EST, but it would take 22 hours to complete the tests proving the water is safe. This will mean we will be without potable tap water until at least Saturday afternoon, and perhaps longer.

The advisory noted that their was no proof that the city's water had been contaminated, but it was possible that, as a result of the reduced pressure in the line after it had been damaged, that unpurified water had seeped into the line.

As a clerk in one store told me, "Welcome to the Third World!"

Redoubt Vocano in Alaska

The Alaska Volcano Observatory reports that Redoubt Volcano, across the Cook inlet from Anchorage is showing signs of volcanic activity. They have put it under an aviation watch and are monitoring it full time. They have a live webcam in place that observes it and streams images to the Internet, but at this time of the year, the days there are very short. Here is an image of the volcano and a map showing its location.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Adam Davidson speaks in New Bern, NC

Adam is the NPR editor for economic affairs, and he gave an excellent talk about the origins and implications of the current economic situation. He spoke at Craven Community College in New Bern, NC.

What most impressed me was his admission that not only did he not fully know how everything works, but that, in fact, no one knows--and even that the full situation is so snarled that no one can know it.

He is an excellent speaker. I would enjoy reading his thoughts on this situation, when he has to chance to write a book about them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rose Art Museum to close

Brandeis University will close its Rose Art Museum and sell the collection in order to strengthen its endowment. I wonder if it will sell its library next?

Both the economy and the Academy are in terrible shape when great and beautiful artifacts in a university are regarded as economic assets which can be sold, and not treasures to be guarded.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Last week it snowed

Here is one of the pictures I saved. It shows my house in the late afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More about rescuing my pictures

It seems I made a rather stupid error when I saved all my pictures to the same file. I am now, rather slowly, moving them one at a time to a series of different files, with no more than 20 pictures in each one. Because of the size of the files, this is slow. But it is working.

Here is one image I have saved. It shows the finish at the Camp Lejeune Run for the Warriors 2008, a run to raise funds and awareness about the Wounded Warrior Battalion there. A Marine is running with a wounded warrior, who made the run in his wheelchair. His buddy ran beside him the whole way, encouraging him and even helping him on the hills.

I participated as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders. We provided escort and road guards for the runners. It was truly a moving experience.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kay Yow is dead at age 66

She died of cancer while on leave from her post as women's basketball coach at N.C. State University. She had long battled breast cancer.

She had missed the last several games this year, but I know everyone who knew her was hoping that she would bounce back again, as she had in the past.

She was a courageous woman and a great role model for young people. My sympathy and prayers go out to all who knew and admired her.

This link connects you to her New York Times obituary.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Harley is having troubles

Harley-Davidson, the world's oldest continuing motorcycle manufacturer, has been forced to close one factory, laying off more than 1,000 workers. It's financing arm is seeking to be part of the government's financial bailout, like GMAC was.

Personally, I feel that if GMAC is going to be bailed out, Ford, Chrysler, and Harley's financial subsidiaries should be eligible as well. So should GE Capital and other loan makers for goods. If we want to pump up our industries by having people buy, then we must have places where they can get financing. Most of us can't simply walk out and buy a car or a washer and dryer for cash. And these dedicated credit arms offer far better terms than credit cards do.

I know, a Harley (or a Guzzi) is not a necessity. But some kind of reliable transportation is for almost everyone. And although fancy backyard grills are luxuries, most families really do need a washer and a dryer.

As a biker, I am very concerned about how the state of the economy is affecting the motorcycle industry. Harley probably has capital to weather the storm. Piaggio, which owns Moto Guzzi, is the major scooter maker in Europe, and scooter sales actually tend to go up with the economy goes down, as they offer cheaper transportation than a car. The Japanese marques are all affliated with major industrial concerns. But I think that a lot of smaller marques may go under, especially if they are stand-alone operations. I wonder about Triumph, Ducati, and Victory. Are they part of larger operations? How well can they weather a big turndown? And if the turndown is big enough, can even Harley and Piaggio weather it?

I do not have a Harley, partly because the models I like are out of my financial reach, but mostly because I like Guzzis so much. I just think they are cooler-looking bikes.

At the top is a picture of a red Moto Guzzi Breva 750ie, like mine.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recovering my pictures--slowly

It appears that I may be able to recover many or all of my pictures, but only very slowly. My camera is a 10 megapixel Olympus, and the picture files are huge. Apparently, I can recover them, but only very slowly. I'm glad I won't lose all of them. But it will take a long time to get them all.

The snow here is mostly melted, but there were a few places this morning, where the road was shadowed, that ice remained. Driving was treacherous. Temps today got up to the 50-degree range, so I hope that most of that is gone. Nevertheless, I passed several accidents today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Motorcycle break-in

I am going to restate something I just posted on, a discussion board for owners and fans of the greatest motorcycles in the world, Moto Guzzi.

It addresses an old problem: the fact that most bikes have break-in periods during which you are asked by the manufacturer to voluntarily limit how hard you ride the bike. Moto Guzzi has a particularly long break-in, with a series of gradually diminishing restrictions in RPM.

Some bikers (I am one) try to follow the restrictions as well as we can. Others advocate the "ride it like you stole it" philosophy: start riding the bike the way you intend to ride it all the time.

I look at it this way:

The manufacturer knows that bike buyers want to run their new bikes hard or at least without niggling restrictions, and they certainly don't want to deliberately do things that makes new buyers have a negative opinion of their product.

But they also know the cost of warranty work, especially as it directly affects their bottom line.

So when a manufacturer takes the risk of alienating their customers by putting in those break-in restrictions, they must be calculating that the cost of increased warranty work on bikes that have not been broken in correctly is greater than the cost of lost repeat business because of break-in restrictions.

If it is that important for the manufacturer, it must be important to the motorcycle. And as I pay a good bit of money for my motorcycle, I want it to last a loooooong time.
A commentator on NPR just observed that President Nixon when he resigned, had a higher approval rating that President George W. Bush had when he left office. I wonder if that is deserved.

Nixon was a crook, and did great damage to our political system, although he also had positive achievements, such as the opening to China and beginning the peace process in Vietnam.

George W. Bush, for all faults, is an honest man, but also did great damage to our political system. His positive achievements are fewer: working for better health in Africa, presiding over a very smooth and orderly and gracious transition.

So the question is: is it better for the nation to have a high-achieving crook or an honest but less able man as President?

On the whole, I am inclined to say that the nation benefits more from a highly-able man, crooked or not. Obviously, it is better to have an honest man (or woman) of high ability than a crook.

But in either case, we need for Congress to take more seriously its oversight function. I know how difficult it is to impeach the President, but the Congress can also impeach other officials. I was astonished that, when various Cabinet-level and below officials refused to obey the subpoena of various committees, they faced no real sanctions. If a person in the Executive Branch is told, "You will answer our questions, or you will not only lose your job, you will lose your pension, and never be able to work for any part of the United States government again," I think most would answer.

On another matter, it is increasingly clear that my pictures have been lost. A great shame.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lost pictures

I have a Western Digital Passport as a backup device and auxiliary hard drive, onto which I have downloaded several hundred pictures. Now I can't get them to open. I hope I have not lost all my pictures.

I have subscribed to webshots as an online repository, but I have not been having much luck uploading to them, even for pictures that were not on the Passport.

I think I will have to stick to Photobucket.

Getting started with a new President

It may seem strange that a retired teacher wants to start a blog so late in his career, but I feel a need to start something new and different as a new (and quite different) President comes in.

I have already noticed that two controversies have arisen about President Obama's inauguration:
  • Aretha Franklin's singing of America: I cannot hear her saying "shut up," as some others have heard. To me, she is riffing on "let it," as in "let it ring."
  • Rev. Joseph Lowery's prayer. I can't understand what the fuss is about. He prayed that the Lord will help white people embrace the right. As a white person, I thank him. I hope the Lord will let me embrace the right, also. He didn't say that no one else was ever wrong. He didn't even say that EVERY white person needed to embrace the right. Yet I have read that he is engaging in hate speech. How is praying that someone will embrace the right, hate speech?
In any case, good luck to President Obama. He will need it. Things are not very good right now, and promise to be not-so-good for a long time.


About Me

Jacksonville, N.C., United States
Retired teacher, motorcyclist, member of the Patriot Guard Riders, the Christian Motorcyclists Association, and the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club.