Dispatches from Furlough, a continuing series

Today is officially Day Four of my two-week furlough from work, due to the economic effects of the Wuhan Coronavirus.  Last Friday just before noon, we were told that our aerospace manufacturing factory was shutting down for two weeks, due to a falloff in business, including customers pushing out and cancelling orders.  For the purposes of this continuing series, I will only be counting weekdays as part of the furlough.  I have ample vacation time saved up, so this will mostly be a forced vacation.

I have opted into the company’s text-messaging service, so I have heard via text that two employees in our factory have contracted the COVID-19 illness, and they both work in the same area of the factory.  It is interesting that this particular area is almost completely enclosed to separate it from the rest of the factory (due to machine noise and fumes).  My work area is on the opposite side of the building.  Even before the factory shutdown, many office employees, including the majority of our department, were working from home.  But I was going in to work every day, because my particular job involves carrying things to the shipping and receiving departments, and I really didn’t want to be working from home while my husband was already working from home.  I did like the relative quiet, which made it easier for me to do my job.  Our entire state of Washington is under a “shelter in place” order from our stupid governor, so my furlough promised to be uncomfortable confinement.

Being the incendiary person I am, I defied that shelter-in-place order on Sunday.  It was a nice day, so I got in my car and drove up to the Skagit Valley to check out the tulips.  Every year in the month of April, they have the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which normally draws thousands of flower-viewers, who clog up all the 2-lane roads in the valley, stopping by the side of the road to take pictures of the flowers in the fields.  Not so this year, since the Festival has been cancelled, due to the “social-distancing” edict from the all-powerful State.  The group who runs the Festival has added insult to injury, by turning off the Tulip Cams, so we shut-ins can’t even view the flowers on the Web! Please note that the header on my blog is a picture of those Skagit Valley Tulips from a previous year.  I enjoyed my drive, and when I got there, the traffic was pretty light, but NOT totally gone.  There is a roadside farm stand, Snow Goose Produce, and they were mercifully open!  I didn’t stop there, but there were some shoppers.  In my drive among the fields, it became apparent that it was still a bit early for the tulips to be in full bloom, and I didn’t get any tulip pictures.  But, I did get one picture.

SkagitBlueberries

I do believe these are blueberries, and they are not ready yet.  I did not get out of the car, but just turned around and drove back home.  On the way, I noticed a few things.  The Walmart and Home Depot were open.  And the big Outlet Mall at Tulalip was closed. I wish I had taken a picture of their empty parking lot, which on any weekend is crammed with cars, many from British Columbia.

Monday was the start of the real furlough.  I had decided that I was not going to waste my time off, and made my plan to get some exercise every day.  In my bedroom resides my Concept 2 indoor rowing machine, and I vowed to use it every day.  I started with 20 minutes, and I am increasing my time by one minute every day.  Today, I did 24 minutes; when I reach 30 minutes, I’ll do 30 per day each day.  Most of my time has been spent reading, my very favorite activity.  I am always behind on my Wall Street Journals, so I am catching up this week.  I’m also spending some time on Ricochet.com, both posting and reading.  Ricochet members are very smart, and very diverse, so I always learn something.  Since many of us have to stay home, our Ricochet Birders group is getting lots of action, with members describing which birds they see from their windows.

Hubby and I have gotten out to do some allowed activities, like grocery shopping.  I have always liked going to the grocery store, and I appreciate those trips even more now.  I also made a Costco run on Tuesday, to pick up a prescription, and get gas in the car.  Wow, the price of gas is sure down!  My car uses premium gas, and this week’s price was over $0.35 lower than last time.  And the Costco parking lot was half empty.

Owing to the rapidly-sinking stock market, I was able to call Vanguard, who manages my investments, and cancel this year’s Required Minimum Distribution from my Regular IRA account.  I am glad that the Feds allowed me to cancel this year’s distribution, since the amount is based on my balance on December 31, which was a great deal higher than it is today.  I really don’t need the money, since I am still working (I hope I will have a job to go back to).

Both Hubby and I are in the over-60 high-risk group, and so far both of us are well.  We’d better be!

It’s The Culture, Stupid! How we got the Wuhan Coronavirus

It’s The Culture, Stupid! How we got the Wuhan Coronavirus

With Novel Coronavirus spreading like wildfire everywhere in the world now, perhaps you are wondering how it all started, where this virus came from in the first place.  You might wish to know how it was that, last fall in China, someone in the medical establishment there noticed some cases of a particularly nasty pneumonia cropping up around Hubei Province in central China; the capital city of Wuhan in particular.

Let’s start, then, at the beginning.  Chinese culture is very old, going back many centuries, and many of the culinary characteristics of today’s China are throwbacks to a much more primitive time.  In the long past, like in most countries, the Chinese people lived closer to the forests.  In those forests lived many species of animals, and the people killed and ate those animals.  When the Chinese people became more civilized, and moved into villages and then into cities, they brought many of their culinary tastes with them.  Chinese people today still have a taste for unusual foods like pangolin, bats, and sharks-fins.  It is well-known that Chinese will pay good money for some very unusual foods, and that has led to their encouraging of poaching of some endangered species.

Cultures in Africa also have a taste for some exotic wildlife, and many tribes today still live in or near jungles and forests, where they hunt and eat wild animals, sometimes including primates.  Here is a picture of a market stall in Africa, where they are selling exotic wildlife for food.

bushmeat-Africa

In Africa, this is called “bushmeat”, and you can see the face of a primate among the specimens in this market.  It is well-known that some diseases can be spread by the consumption of exotic animals, and that eating the flesh of primates may carry what is known in humans as Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.  This is a particularly gruesome, incurable condition that causes the brain to deteriorate.

Getting back to the beginning, scientists for decades have known that many exotic species of forest and jungle wildlife carry their own kinds of viruses and bacteria.  In these species, the pathogens often do not cause any kind of adverse effects or illnesses.  In fact, we humans also carry many harmless, and sometimes beneficial, viruses and bacteria (bacteria are what actually allows us to digest our food).  It is only when humans consume, or live among, these exotic species that their viruses and bacteria can “jump” to humans, and then they can cause very harmful diseases.  This process is called “zoonosis”.

In the early 20th Century, it has been determined, the virus that causes AIDS first jumped from African primates to humans.  It remained localized for a long time, but eventually made its way into civilization, and they was spread very rapidly by homosexual humans and their multiple sex partners (the original “spreader” was a flight attendant who boasted of over 2,500 partners).  The Ebola virus, whose name is a river in Africa, was spread by Africans and their penchant for eating bushmeat, and it remains a stubborn low-level epidemic in multiple parts of Africa.  Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a virus found in horses that can spread to humans, and African Swine Fever has recently decimated the pigs of China (it is similar to Ebola in humans).  Scientists and wildlife experts have been trying for decades to get Africans to stop eating bushmeat, but their efforts have been in vain.  Culture is just too powerful.

Well, the same kind of situation holds in modern China.  The Wuhan Wet Market is an institution in the large capital city of Hubei Province, where citizens can buy all manner of wild animals for food.  Investigators have determined that the virus that is now propagating everywhere in the world originated in bats sold in the market.  And the Chinese people have proven similarly resistant to giving up their cultural taste for exotic food.  The Communist Party has closed the market for now, but the culture does not change that quickly.  Here’s a new interesting article.

China has been a Communist country since 1949, and the Party has added another layer of culture over the original Chinese culture.  Their culture of secrecy and arrogance contributed in large part to the spread of this new disease.  However, their very-Chinese concentration on “saving face” also helped in a big way to keep this world-wide pandemic going.  The Communist Party’s prime directive is tranquillity-they will do anything to avoid unrest in the population.  So they did things like suppress news of the disease outbreak, and put the doctor who originally told his medical colleagues about it under isolation, making him sign a confession to “spreading rumors”, and condemning him to death from the virus.

Communism is Evil, and it can lead to situations like we are seeing now.  People all over the world are succumbing to this previously-unknown virus, and their deaths can be attributed in part to Chinese and Communist Culture.

Jeff Bezos is a Fool

Mr. Bezos has decided to throw away Ten Billion Dollars.  Yes, the world’s wealthiest man has “Committed 10 Billion Dollars to Fight Climate Change”.

So, he is spending his own fortune, giving money to “scientists, activists, and non-profits” who are intent on saving the planet from climate change.  Activists??  Non-Profits??

Well, he’s welcome to spend his money any way he wishes.  It’s too bad that not one of those ten billion dollars will have one iota of effect on the climate.

What a Fool.

Rush the Irreplaceable: Upbeat, in his Own Words

Rush the Irreplaceable: Upbeat, in his Own Words

I just realized one thing about Rush that I had never thought of before.  I wonder if it has also occurred to the rest of Rush Limbaugh’s loyal audience, that he is human, and he might not be around forever.  I think most of us just took it for granted that, from noon to 3:00PM ET, or whenever his program is on where you live, when you turn on your radio, he’s there.  Every day, for three whole hours, he has been there, pretty reliably, for over 30 years.  It simply never occurred to me that someday he might be gone.  So the announcement that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, just hit me like a ton of bricks. Now that I’ve had a chance for it to sink in, and have heard last Friday’s show (I listened to the first hour live through his Web site, before people started interrupting me at work), I am again reminded of his likeness to a Bobo doll-you can knock him over, but he keeps getting back up every time.  And one of the reasons for that is his irrepressible optimism, about himself, about life in general, and about America.

Here, from his two books, are some of what I consider Rush’s best, most pithy, pronouncements.

~~~

So, take some advice.  Lighten up.  We should all laugh more at ourselves. I don’t need to improve much in this area, but admit it, many of you people do. Many of you take things far too seriously in most cases.  Come on, laugh at yourselves, folks.

~~~

We need to encourage people to contribute to the economy, not to sit around basking in self-pity. We need to help them get out of the situation, rather than glorifying and perpetuating it. Encourage them to become economically equal members of this society, rather than a collection of sycophants sidling up to the pig and looking for the biggest nipple they can find.

~~~

Don’t fall prey to the seductive emotional appeals of the Democrats as they attempt to pit one group of society against another with their politics of class envy. Let the facts speak for themselves. If a liberal president gets elected, he, like Jimmy Carter, will make sure “fairness” applies to all economic levels.  He will see to it that we all get poor again.

~~~

The way to save endangered species is to give someone a stake in preserving them. By allowing legitimate ranches to privatize them, we can make sure others don’t pulverize them.

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People are going to have to learn to depend less on the government. We are going to have to separate them from the federal budget sow.  But we can also make their lives better by giving them more choice in how the tax money they do pay is spent.

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I refuse to believe that people, who are themselves the result of Creation, can destroy the most magnificent creation of the entire universe.

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Environmentalists always appeal to the memories of a simpler, more natural time.  They are regressing, wanting to go backward in time.

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I want this to be a great country, and a great country needs as many great individuals as there can be.

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For the black leadership to continue to encourage their people to absorb themselves in the past, instead of helping them to get beyond the bitterness, is doing them a great disservice.

~~~

…man is a spiritual being. If his faith in God is destroyed, the void will be filled with something else. Throughout history that substitute for faith has been a belief in a man-made god called the state. Untold crimes have been committed in its name, Hitler and Stalin being the most bloody recent examples.

~~~

I am convinced that the most important thing conservatives have to do to win is to just keep saying no to the left.  No to their special-interest giveaways. No to their pork-barrel spending projects. No to their privileged congressional empire….Be confident and patient, and never forget History.

~~~

Yes, I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to do what I love.  But nobody handed it to me on a silver platter.  I had to work at it and prove myself every step of the way.  My story is nothing more than an example of the Original American Ethic: hard work, overcoming obstacles, triumphing over enormous odds, the pioneer spirit. These things, my friends–not such vacuous symbolic gestures as wearing ribbons on lapels or government intrusion into every aspect of our lives–are what built this country.

~~~

A man from Alabama recently wrote me a computer letter accusing me of being too upbeat and optimistic. He said that by listening to me, one would get the idea that there is no hurting or suffering going on in the world and that everything is working out for the best. Wrong. I realize that there are failures and suffering.  I just happen to believe that there would be a great deal more of them if everyone had that writer’s pessimistic, defeatist attitude. …What “the Suffering” need is steady doses of confidence-building optimism.

~~~

I have not written a doctoral theses about free enterprise.   Humbly speaking, as the Doctor of Democracy, I am free enterprise. And I operate in the real world, not in the insulated atmosphere of the ivory-tower academy.

~~~

Don’t believe the doomsayers. Don’t believe the negativity-mongers. Don’t believe the America-bashers–even if one of them is the president of the United States. Don’t buy into the lie that punishing high achievers will bring you happiness. Your own success–born of your own ingenuity and industry–is what will make you happy.

 

 

This is Perfect. WA Senator proposes bill in Legislature to give Seattle what it asks for.

This is Perfect. WA Senator proposes bill in Legislature to give Seattle what it asks for.

If you follow the Northwest news at all, you will be familiar with the story of the environmentalists behind the drive to remove dams on the Snake River, to improve habitat for endangered salmon.  Never mind that removal of those dams would also result in the loss of many megawatts of clean, carbon-free energy production for Eastern Washington, and add thousands of trucks and rail cars to carry all the cargo that was previously carried on the river.  Local agricultural and utility interests in Eastern Washington have spoken with alarm about this proposal.  Some economists have also come out against the proposal, demonstrating that dam removal would have negative consequences for the entire region, even absent the enormous costs for removing the dams.

So, now, a State Senator has proposed a bill in the Washington Legislature in Olympia, to essentially give the citizens of Seattle (who are so numerous, and so Leftist, that they essentially run the State) the kind of project that they are asking for the citizens of the other half of the state to accept.  Senate Bill 6380 would launch a study of breaching the Ballard Locks and  removing the Seattle City Light Dams, to restore Seattle waterways to their pristine condition.  It would also restore Lake Washington to its original condition, and remove Ravenna Creek from its sewer pipe back to the surface.

This is the Gorge Dam, one of those Seattle City Light-run dams that brings electricity to the Social Justice Warriors of Seattle.

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The story above describes how the proposal would let the Skagit River run free as it did in the early twentieth century.  This story just made me smile, and I am interested in hearing how the Seattle contingent in the State Legislature responds to it.  Tit-for-tat; you want to take Eastern Washington back to the 19th Century, maybe you should contemplate Western Washington being returned to the 19th Century.

Oh, and the Senator who proposed this bill is a Republican from Ferndale, a town in Western Washington just south of the Canadian border.  Thanks, Senator Ericksen!

Winter Wonderland. It’s Snow-homish County! Updated Tuesday 1-14

Winter Wonderland. It’s Snow-homish County! Updated Tuesday 1-14

The news media and local government have been talking about nothing else for the past few days, than the huge winter storm that was bearing down on us.  We saw weather maps with swirls of clouds, and were admonished to “prepare for the storm” by laying in supplies of blankets, candles, flashlights, and food that can be eaten right out of the bag or can without being heated.  Stevens Pass over the Cascade Mountains is closed indefinitely, due to downed trees and power lines.

The snow started last night, and Hubby had to sweep the snow off his car so we could go out for dinner.

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I got in the trusty all-wheel-drive SUV at 5:40AM today, and drove to work.  Here are a couple of pictures I took on the drive home this afternoon.

SnowTrees1-13-20

These trees are in a park right next to the building where I work.

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This is along the road by the local airport, just down the way from work.

Winter wonderland, indeed.

And here are more snow pictures, around our house on Tuesday afternoon.

99thSnow

This is the “green space” right next to our house.  Last year, one of those trees fell right across the street.  There are big Western Red Cedars and some alders (which grow really fast, and fall often, since their roots are very shallow).

CedarYardSnow

These cedars are in the neighbor’s yard just to the south of our house.  That’s our fence in the lower left corner.  These trees drop scales all autumn, making our yard look reddish-brown.

And there are multiple new stories in the news today, warning us of more snow and high wind coming.

New Winter Storm Brewing

Trees Were Coming Down All Around Us

Eastbound Snoqualmie Pass re-opens after Spinouts

And, a view of a snow-dusted Snoqualmie Falls

I love Winter, and just hope none of those trees falls on our house!

2020 Year of the Rat (and the optometrist?)

2020 Year of the Rat (and the optometrist?)

In the Chinese Zodiac, 2020 is a Rat year.  Now, most people don’t have very nice associations with the Rat, since they bring to mind ideas like Bubonic Plague, Lab Rat, filth, vermin, rat traps, and “dirty rat”.  Rats are normally viewed as pests, and most of us would scream and run away if we saw a rat in our house.

However, in the Chinese zodiac, if you were born in a Rat year, you might show an aggressive attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit.  Rats might make a lot of money in their lives, and triumph over obstacles set in their way.

This is also a year divisible by ten, and most of us humans have a tendency to attribute special qualities to any year divisible by 10.  Perfect vision is denoted by 20/20, so there have been numerous references in various places this year to Vision.  I just came up with  this slogan:

2020, the Year of the Optometrist.

 Citizens, make that appointment with your local optometrist, and make sure your Vision is 20/20 this year!  I wonder if the eye-care community is milking this year for all it’s worth?

On a side note, in college I was a Psychology major, and I was required to take a class in Research Participation, which involved using rats. They looked very much like this:

Lab rat

My lab partner (who later became my husband) was actually afraid of the rats!  I wasn’t, and had no trouble handling them, so I handled the rats while he did the recording when they ran the maze.

Oh, yeah..Be sure to check out Ratburger.org.  It’s their year, too!

So rats aren’t always bad, and if you were born in a Year of the Rat, you might become the next Elon Musk or Bill Gates!  What Chinese Zodiac sign were you born under?