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31 October 2011

"In time the Rockies may crumble / Gibraltar may tumble / they're only made of clay / but our love is here to stay" -- Ira Gershwin

Click image to enlarge.

Hiya Hiya M & J*****!

Yeah, we got wholloped but good. I guess there were two components to the whollop -- first, the authentic snow whollop and its attendant damage, tree limbs down, electric power out all over the place, cars can't get out; but then the psychological whollop of a Halloween Blizzard. 
I mean, in your whole life, do you ever recall Trick-or-Treating through a foot of snow? I haven't heard any native New Englanders remembering a big snow whollop this early either, it was freaky. I'll bet a lot of migratory birds were having a leisurely autumn picnic when the whollop reminded them to get the hell out of here and head for Central America.

We had a couple of days of warning, so we were as prepared as we could be for the worst, which started Saturday midday. S.W.M.B.O.'s a weather obsessive and is linked to every emergency weather gizmo manufactured on Earth, including a radio that's perfectly silent for months at a time, until ye Apocalypse Is Nigh, and then wakes us up with a screaming banshee alarm at 03:17 and makes us poop ourselves. 

The town also has this automated phone notification service, they call it Reverse 911. This time the phone call warned all potential sickos to drive to Northampton and rent a motel room now, because after the snow hit the fan, ambulance response time was going to be very iffy. So we were well warned that this was going to be Large & Nasty.

And it was. The big problem was that the beautiful autumn leaves were still on the trees, and the snow was wet and heavy, so inevitably big limbs and branches were going to bend and break, and take the electric power lines down with them. 

By Saturday evening we lost power -- but Bob's Amazing Emergency Propane-Fueled Generator instantly kicked in, and all our critical needs worked. Everything goes black, the generator makes a scream, the engine starts purring, and 10 seconds later you're back in business and can microwave oatmeal.

Truth to tell, the biggest annoyance we face in a power blackout is boredom -- no TV, no computer. But we can cook and read, and the phones -- landline and cel -- worked.

Astonishingly, they restored our power 11 hours later. The snowplow guy doesn't go into action until the streetlights work, but by Sunday morning if we could dig the cars out, we could drive away. But trying to drive anywhere, even with the Hilltowner's Best Friend, 4-Wheel-Drive, is just not a very wise or safe idea.

So much of the area lost power that if you run low on gasoline, no gas station pumps work, so you're skrood and stranded far from home. 

So we've stayed comfy and cozy -- we cranked up the wood stove, a real charming delight -- thru the big mess.

The cats -- the 3 seniors, and our 2 new kittens, William and Spike -- are all horrified at this Winter Horrorland outside the door. As always, they look up at us piteously and demand to know why we have manufactured this Outrage. The seniors had dim memories of nasty white stuff, but this was the first time the kittens had ever seen snow, and reacted with confusion and terror.

The Short Version: We survived very comfortably and nicely, and just for safety and caution ain't driving nowhere until tomorrow (Tuesday).

I will totally plotz tonight if the doorbell rings and there are Trick or Treaters on the porch. Even in good autumn weather there haven't been any yet -- would you let your kids dodge coyotes and bears and porcupines for a bag of unhealthy crap? -- and I think the town throws a very supervised well-lit Halloween at the main intersection, which is largely free of child-mauling predatory beasts. I don't think Chesterfield has lost a Trick-or-Treater since the late 1980s.

Where the hell have I let her talk me into moving to? The only wilderness experience we haven't had yet has been an attack from hostile First Peoples, and if/when that happens, I won't be entirely surprised. I think some of the neighbors still keep a loaded rifle above the fireplace or front door. (Chesterfield was settled as farmland awards for veterans -- mostly Germans, whose last names still grace lots of mailboxes -- of the French & Indian War.)

Civilization: If it doesn't work, go down to the basement and flick a switch, or phone somebody. In less than a day, it works again. If you want pastry or ice cream or Marlboros at 3 a.m., there's a joint a mile away that sells pastry or ice cream or milk or diet soda or coffee at 3 a.m.

Cynthia's most outraged crisis in Northampton was that a few times a year, the water turned brown, and you can't do the laundry when the water's brown (unless brown undies are okay with you). The Water Department phones melt off the hook when the water turns brown.

When we bought this joint, I talked to our insurance lady (in Northampton) on the phone, and she asked how far the nearest fire hydrant was, and I laughed heartily, and explained that the FD pumper truck dumps one end of a long hose into the Beaver Pond, and puts out the fire with the other end of the hose. Hydrants? We don' need no steenkin' hydrants!

She was also heartily amused to learn our new house had no locks on the doors. Amused, but not at all sympathetic. We had to have locks installed or she wouldn't cover the place.

M**** I am sorry youse got Respiratory Cooties again, and I hope the new Wonderful Drugs (I think that's what Mammy Yoakum or Snuffy Smith called them) make short work of the Cooties. You sounded great and hale and hearty.

I had this Plan for Sunday 
"Nothing is so doomed as a scheme for mirth." 
-- Samuel Johnson
in the works for weeks -- we were going to meet W**** and J******* and their two girls at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and ride to the summit on the famous Cog Railway.

Mount Washington has the worst recorded weather on Earth and has killed 37 hikers -- frozen corpses in short pants and t-shirts and tank tops. At the foot of the mountain it's all springtimey and butterflies and birdies singing and sunscreen, and then halfway up you get whomped with a blizzard like the one that caused the unhappy Donner Party so much distress, the Surprise Changeover takes about 10 minutes.

I went there about two years ago all eager to get cinders in my eye from the wonderful coal steam engine, but to my amazement they'd just replaced it with a spankin' new John Deere engine that burns recycled French Fry vegetable oil. Oh brave new world, that has such gizmos in it!

Love to you both, and smooth sailing through all Weather and Earthquake Surprises that come your way. I went to school in DC and like all geometry and physics students I know that the Washington Monument is 555 feet 5 and 1/8 inches tall. (Or used to be until recently.) Ya need that in metric?


PS. Oh here's [see top] another Wonder of the White Mountains. For millennia, it was New Hampshire's natural symbol for Permanence, Reliability, Dependability, Eternity. 

Then one night in 2003 ...

24 October 2011

Swiss voters abandon anti-immigrant party, dive for the center

The Associated Press  (USA newswire)

Sunday 23 October 2011

Nationalists Lose Ground 

in Swiss Vote

BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Swiss voters backed moderate parties in their general election on Sunday, and the nationalist Swiss People’s Party lost ground after mounting a campaign heavy on anti-immigrant sentiment.
The nationalists were projected to take 25.9 percent of the vote for the lower house, a drop from four years ago, according to projections from the public television station SF early Monday.

On the left, the Green Party also suffered a surprising setback, taking 7.9 percent of the vote. Both the People’s Party and the Greens were projected to lose seats in Switzerland’s lower chamber, the 200-member National Council.

The results halted 20 years of steady growth by the People’s Party in parliamentary elections, which are held every four years. The party, which drew just 11 percent of the vote in 1987, rose to capture 28.9 percent in 2007, while support eroded for two of the major center-right parties, the Free Democrats and the Christian Democrats.

Two other centrist parties — the Conservative Democrats, who split from the People’s Party in 2007, and the Green Liberal Party — were the beneficiaries of the nationalists’ decline. The Green Liberals in particular rode a wave of antinuclear sentiment stoked by the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan in March.
The number of political parties in Switzerland makes for intense haggling after every election, as each group demands fair representation in the country’s seven-member cabinet, which governs by consensus despite the sometimes widely differing views of its members.

Despite its setback, the People’s Party won the most votes, and it immediately laid claim to two seats in the cabinet, whose ministers run federal agencies and take turns serving as president for a year.

The party’s campaign warned that immigrants were spoiling a nation that has been an oasis of stability. Almost one in five residents of Switzerland was born elsewhere, one of the highest proportions in Europe. 

- 30 -

22 October 2011

Herman Cain gets a shitload of Free Speech from the creepy gazillionaire Koch Brothers and their stooge front, Americans For Prosperity

Among the close-to-a-dozen candidates for the Republican party nomination to run against President Obama in 2012, Herman Cain, an African-American pizza chain entrepreneur, has generated a surprising amount of attention and enthusiasm. 
Oddsmakers give his campaign possibilities -- but at very high odds.

But screwier things have happened in recent USA national politics.

Well, anyway, he seems to be Bought and Paid For as the public political window-dressing of the gazillionaire right-wing Koch Brothers. And if pure cash alone can purchase the US presidency, well, as Judy Tenuda said of her sexual liaisson with the Pope: "It could happen!"
So we would end up with a president who pushes the agenda of two of the creepiest most dangerous people on Earth.
Incidentally, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that money is a form of constitutionally protected Free Speech, and the government is henceforth forbidden from putting any limits or caps on the amount of Free Speech you can donate to any politician.

Herman Cain seems to be the first big-time recipient of all this Free Speech.


The Associated Press (USA Newswire)
Monday 17 October 2011

Long ties to Koch brothers 
key to Cain's campaign
by RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has cast himself as the outsider, the pizza magnate with real-world experience who will bring fresh ideas to the nation's capital. But Cain's economic ideas, support and organization have close ties to two billionaire brothers who bankroll right-leaning causes through their group Americans for Prosperity.

Cain's campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which lobbies for lower taxes and less government regulation and spending.

Cain credits a businessman who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his "9-9-9" plan to rewrite the nation's tax code. And his years of speaking at AFP events have given the businessman and radio host a network of loyal grassroots fans.

The once little-known businessman's political activities are getting fresh scrutiny these days since he soared to the top of some national polls.

His links to the Koch brothers could undercut his outsider, non-political image among people who detest politics as usual and candidates connected with the party machine.

AFP tapped Cain as the public face of its "Prosperity Expansion Project," and he traveled the country in 2005 and 2006 speaking to activists who were starting state-based AFP chapters from Wisconsin to Virginia. Through his AFP work he met Mark Block, a longtime Wisconsin Republican operative hired to lead that state's AFP chapter in 2005 as he rebounded from an earlier campaign scandal that derailed his career.

Block and Cain sometimes traveled together as they built up AFP: Cain was the charismatic speaker preaching the ills of big government; Block was the operative helping with nuts and bolts.

When President Barack Obama's election helped spawn the tea party, Cain was positioned to take advantage. He became a draw at growing AFP-backed rallies, impressing activists with a mix of humor and hard-hitting rhetoric against Obama's stimulus, health care and budget policies.

Block is now Cain's campaign manager. Other aides who had done AFP work were also brought on board.

Cain's spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael, who recently left the campaign, was an AFP coordinator in Louisiana. His campaign's outside law firm is representing AFP in a case challenging Wisconsin campaign finance regulations. At least six other current and former paid employees and consultants for Cain's campaign have worked for AFP in various capacities.
And Cain has credited Rich Lowrie, a Cleveland businessman who served on AFP's board of advisors from 2005 to 2008, with being a key economic adviser and with helping to develop his plan to cut the corporate tax rate to 9 percent, impose a national sales tax of 9 percent and set a flat income tax rate of 9 percent
"He's got a national network now that perhaps he wouldn't have had 15 or 20 years ago because of his work with AFP," said Republican Party of Wisconsin Vice Chair Brian Schimming, who has introduced Cain at events in Wisconsin. "For a presidential candidate, that's obviously helpful to have."
He said Cain was smart to hire Block.
Cain's recent victories in straw polls in Florida and Minnesota highlight the importance of organizing supporters and Block, who has a deep network in the tea party, "gets that side of it," Schimming said.
But Block has had his problems as well. He settled a suit in 2001 accusing him of illegally coordinating a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice's re-election with an outside group. Block agreed to pay $15,000 and sit out of politics for three years.
While Cain is quick to promote his career at the helm of the Godfather's Pizza chain, his ties to AFP aren't something the candidate appears eager to highlight. Cain does not include his AFP work on his biography on his website, but spokesman J.D. Gordon said Sunday that Cain was "proud of his business record" and his association with the group.
"He has made a lot of important connections through AFP," Gordon said, pointing to Block and Lowrie, among others.
And Cain continues to work with the group.
While several other candidates will be at an Iowa Republican Party dinner on Nov. 4, Cain is scheduled to be in Washington mingling with activists at AFP's annual "Defending the American Dream" summit. He is the only confirmed presidential candidate for the event.
AFP spokesman Levi Russell said Cain has spoken at dozens of AFP rallies and events over the years to support a number of the group's activities. AFP has often covered his travel expenses or paid a "pretty modest honorarium" but he has not been paid since becoming a presidential candidate, he said.
"He's a dynamic, pro-business speaker that connects well with our activists," Russell said. "AFP is a very large organization, and there is a natural overlap between Cain's message of fiscal responsibility and the basic principles that AFP advocates for."
A spokeswoman for the Koch brothers did not respond to The Associated Press's request for comment on Cain.
To some liberals, Cain's rise with the help of AFP shows the incredible influence that outside groups controlled by super-wealthy individuals with specific agendas can have on the political process.
"Herman Cain is the first presidential corporate spokes-candidate," said Scot Ross, a liberal activist who leads One Wisconsin Now, which has often mocked AFP as a front group for corporate interests. "The best way to have your issues talked about in the issue debate is to have a candidate in your pocket with snappy comebacks and easily branded policy papers which mask how destructive they would be."
AFP's agenda also includes weakening private and public sector unions, opposing environmental regulations and undoing Obama's health care reform law, among other policies. But before the tea party and Obama, Cain worked with AFP on more local issues.
In 2006, he campaigned all over Wisconsin in support of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have limited state government spending. A slew of officials and analysts said the plan would have ultimately devastated government services, and the Republican-controlled Legislature eventually backed off it.

In a statement announcing Cain's tour, AFP sent out a press release touting his "in-depth understanding of the battle to control out-of-control government taxes and spending." Block promised that Cain was a speaker that activists would not want to miss.

16 October 2011

theoretical deep underground connection between Katla and Eyjafjallajökull

Vleeptron warned you months ago -- here comes KATLA, the REALLY BIG Iceland volcano! Flee for your lives! Kiss your ass goodbye!


Restless Katla Volcano Heightens Fears Of Possible Eruption

By Mark Dunphy - Sun Oct 16, 1:17 am
Mýrdalsjökull glacier in Iceland. Image Chris 73 - Wikimedia Commons
Mýrdalsjökull glacier in Iceland. Image Chris 73 - Wikimedia Commons
An increase overnight of seismic actvity in the vicinity of the Katla volcano in southern Iceland has heightened fears of a possible eruption.
Katla is located on the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which is the southernmost glacier in Iceland and is almost 600 km2. It is situated to the north of Vík í Mýrdal and to the east of the smaller glacier Eyjafjallajökull, where an eruption in 2010 caused major disruptions to air traffic throughout western and northern Europe in April and May 2010.  The caldera is 10 km (6 mi) diameter and is covered with 200–700 metres (660-2,300 ft) of ice.
Sixteen eruptions have been documented at Katla between 930 and 1918 at intervals of 40–80 years. It has not significantly erupted for 93 years, although there may have been small eruptions that did not break the ice cover in 1955 and 1999.  The 1918 eruption resulted in extending the southern coast by 5 km due to laharic flood deposits.
In the early hours of today, 05 October, an intense swarm of earthquakes was registered in the Katla caldera; the largest of these earthquakes had a local magnitude of ~3.7. Most of the ongoing seismicity is sourced at shallow (< 5 km) depths.
Commenting before the latest (14-15 Oct., 2011) earthquake swarm, the IMO said there were no measurable signs that an eruption of Katla was imminent.
“However, given the heightened levels of seismicity”, the IMO added, “the situation might change abruptly. Monitoring teams at IMO are following the ongoing activity closely, and sensor-based networks around the volcano ensure that all seismological, geodetic, and hydrological changes are detected.”
“It is definitely showing signs of restlessness,” commented Pall Einarsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland.
According to Jón Frímann, the author of the popular Icelandic volcano and earthquake website: “Earthquake activity continues in Katla volcano as before. Most of the earthquakes are as before just small ones. Currently the earthquakes do not appear to be from dike intrusion as happened last week (5 October, 2011… After this large earthquake swarm, activity dropped considerably but it has been picking up again slowly during the week. But earthquake observation has been difficult due to frequent storms during the past two weeks that have been passing over Iceland.”
Earthquakes during the last 48 hours.  Image IMO. Click image for IMO website
Earthquakes during the last 48 hours. Image IMO. Click image for IMO website
A glacial flood or jokulhlaup from the Katla volcano badly damaged a bridge leading to the closure of a busy road on Saturday, 09 July last. Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency (CPA) said flooding took place near the volcano, most likely caused by the melting of its ice cap.  An aerial observation of the Mýrdalsjökull at the time reported cracks in two calderas in the southernmost part of the glacier.
In recent weeks residents of Vik (population 300 approx.), located at the foot of Katla, have participated in emergency evacuation drills in the event of a volcanic eruption and subsequent glacial floods  affecting the small coastal town.
Vik, Iceland. Image Progresschrome
Vik, Iceland. Image Progresschrome
Locations of caldera rim and previous eruptions. Image RicHard-59
Locations of caldera rim and previous eruptions. Image RicHard-59
The eruption of Katla in 1918
The eruption of Katla in 1918
Meanwhile, an earthquake swarm has also been detected at the Askja volcano, which is situated in a remote part of the central highlands of Iceland.
Experts say an eruption is not imminent but that pressure is continuing to build beneath the volcano.  Askja was virtually unknown until the tremendous eruption which started on March 29, 1875. It last erupted in 1961.
The most significant, recent earthquake (3.9 magnitude) to hit Iceland occurred at 01:16 AM on Sunday 16 October. The epicentre was located 37 km S Grindavík; 67 km SW Hafnarfjörður; and 75 km SW Reykjavík.
Meanwhile, a 3.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded at 10:46AM GMT on Saturday (15 Oct), according to the EMSC. It struck 12 km NW Hveragerði; 25 km E Reykjavík; and 25 km E Kópavogur.

 Earthquake Swarms

Earthquake swarms are events where a local area experiences sequences of many earthquakes striking in a relatively short period of time. The length of time used to define the swarm itself varies, but the United States Geological Survey (USGS) points out that an event may last for days, weeks, or months.

Harmonic Tremors

Harmonic tremor describes a long-duration release of seismic energy, with distinct spectral (harmonic) lines, that often precedes or accompanies a volcanic eruption. More generally, a volcanic tremor is a sustained signal that may or may not possess these harmonic spectral features.


Tremor activity – Icelandic Meteorological Office
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Comments 1 - 9 of 9First« PrevNext »Last
  1. 0
    Nice :))
  2. +1
    Thanks for the update!
    From Jón Frímann today also
    For the moment it is hard to know what happens next in Katla volcano or in Askja volcano. But it is clear that Askja volcano is preparing for a eruption (along with Kverkfjöll volcano). It is clear that Katla volcano is continuing to prepare for a eruption. But it is impossible to know when and how big that eruption might be. Until a eruption takes place, more dike intrusions with following earthquake swarms should be expected in Katla volcano.
  3. -1
    Not quite! I’ve read those reports too – in multiple sources over past weeks and MONTHS!
    There are other sites in addition to IWO that report on Katla and the Icelandic Met Office provide excellent information on seismic activity. This report was based on Earthquake swarms from Oct 5th which, if not already reported here, were reported on other sites where I have read the reports. IWO is a great source of information on various topics collated from various sources – very useful.
  4. +1
    Hello Joe. Yes of course. But you remember that information is only old to those who have access to other sources. For many people this information is new. Like information about today’s swarm and earthquake in west. Also Jon’s commentary
  5. +1
    Iceland has always been extremely seismically active. Eruptions in 2010 and 2011 just made us all a little more conscious of the potential negative effects for those outside the country. Hope this one doesn’t go though. Seems to be a lot of pressure building up.
  6. 0
    Wow, All be careful Sharing
  7. 0
    I felt the earthquake from Saturday. They are quite common along this region. The activity at Katla is interesting and worrying but we do not fear an eruption will take place soon. An eruption is long overdue suffice to say
  8. +2
    I must say Joe that while people of this country in Iceland know that an eruption might not taking place today or tomorrow we are aware of the volcano and it might erupt soon. All news on the volcano is important. Thank you for this website and the information. Also Jón Frímann has excellent knowledge of the siuation and his website is read by people around Iceland and the world
  9. 0
    October 5th news re-posted 15th? Was hoping for something more “current” from IWO! Sometimes I suspect these re-posts are to generate site attractions rather than deliver up-to-date news!!! C’mon Mark! ;-)
    A few tremors and while threat remains nothing recent to suggest an imminent eruption it seems. Icelandic officials seem to be at some odds with other scientists quoted on the web in that, while not dismissing risk of eruption, it doesn’t appear to be so imminent as non-local scientists quoted by journos would have you believe in their reporting.
    Whenever it happens…it’s not to be welcomed given the disruption from last volcano.
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