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No Snow Day — Why Now?
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No Snow Day

The forecasted snow didn’t happen as the system moved East about a half hour before the upper air cooled off enough. We did get “ice pellets” last night, and I would have much preferred snow. The little suckers sting.

It didn’t snow in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, actually it was 10°F warmer than here, but it did rain. The outdoor events are not held in the city, but the other venues have also had warmer than normal temperatures for February and a lack of snow.

Unfortunately the games have been struck by a tragedy. While training for the luge, a member of the Georgian team had a horrific accident, and has died. He lost control of his tiny sled while traveling almost 90mph and struck a support column next to the track.

Because of the speeds involved in many of the events, the possibly of serious injury or death is always there.


1 Kryten42 { 02.13.10 at 12:36 am }

I just watched the PBS Newshour, and apart from a very interesting segment on Goldman Sachs & the rest of the Wall St thieves, they did a segment on the tragic Opening ceremony in Vancouver, and the fact that the IOC may have outsmarted themselves because there is little if any snow, and they showed convoys of trucks shipping snow to Vancouver! 😆 *shakin’ head*

The Commentators were fairly unanimous that the Fed is holding interest low to benefit the likes of Goldman Sachs now that they have been allowed to become a bank so they can borrow hundred’s of millions for peanuts (usually 0.5% or less) and loan it out for a 3-5% return, then pay back the loan and use the money they made to pay the exec bonuses. What a skam!! All the mafiosi types must be drooling like crazy! 😆

And A-mazingly (really!!) even Glen Beck is outraged over it! LMAO Jon Stewart of course covered it in his most sarcastic and satirical best! Too funny… 😆

America really is the land of opportunity, isn’t it? If you are a consummate opportunist of course. 🙂

2 Kryten42 { 02.13.10 at 12:53 am }

Just saw a new news item on that tragic luge accident. It seems several competitors warned or voiced concerns that the track was too fast before the death. Seems they were right. Of course, far be it for Administrators to actually listen to any experts, I mean experts as in the competitors who know a hell of a lot more about it than the *theoretical* engineering/science type experts. When you compete in a sport at that level, the limits of science have a way of being pushed until they break. They broke.

When I was in charge of R&D, I always went and spoke with the clients or potential clients because they know more than theoretical science can predict about how things work, or don’t in their factories. A curious consequence of that BTW was that many of them became loyal clients! No other manufacturer ever asked them anything except ‘how many’ and ‘when do we get paid?’ And not only did we ask, we listened! Very powerful sales technique that… but don’t tell the salesmen that! It upset’s them for some reason. 😆

3 Steve Bates { 02.13.10 at 2:04 am }

I can’t help remembering an unannounced contest for “youngest pilot to complete a solo transcontinental airplane flight.” Several experienced pilots remarked that this was a “race” that could only end in tragedy… and in fact it did.

Sports, even… perhaps especially… Olympic sports, is ultimately an entertainment issue. How many young athletes must we sacrifice by pushing the limits, not of human possibility, but of course design? Of course there is a risk of death in football (American or Canadian or European), but that is simply the underlying risk of any contact sport played at a high level. What possible justification can there be for designing a course that even an Olympic-level luge slider may not be able to navigate without major risk of dying in the process?

4 Kryten42 { 02.13.10 at 7:40 pm }

I just watched the first half dozen qualifying luge runs. They’ve shortened the track by 2 turns and slowed it a tad. Still speeds in the 140’s (KM/h). One Italian hit the top of thunderbird (the final big turn) but didn’t come off and made it through, though I’d bet he’d be a bit shaken. Shortening the track means that their terminal speed as they hit the big curve called thunderbird is about 15+ KM/h slower than during the training and trial runs. It’s still dangerous, of course, but hopefully now it’s controllable. Which is how the athletes like it. 🙂

Curiously, Luge is one of those few sports at this level where age can be an advantage. 🙂 Several of the luge athletes are in their late 30’s.

5 Bryan { 02.13.10 at 8:47 pm }

As the New York State trooper who taught accident investigation when I went to the Police Academy noted, there is a potential for a fatality at speeds as low as 30mph [50kph], and that’s inside a bloody steel box.

As anyone who has taken a sheet of plywood or a mattress home tied to the top of a car, you don’t need to be going very fast for aerodynamics to kick in and make things “interesting”.

At the speeds the luge is traveling, moving your foot the wrong way can cost you control as that is the leading edge of the airfoil your body becomes.

I admit to doing some really stupid things on sleds, skis, motorcycles, cars, etc. but I have never been insane enough to get on a luge.

It’s a good thing that they slowed things down. The competition is among the athletes, not the venues.

6 Kryten42 { 02.13.10 at 9:07 pm }

Yeah, really! 😀 We were trained to do some things most mere mortals would consider insane in my Military career, especially in some of the *Advanced* courses we had to take! 😆 I guess that the difference is that you join the military knowing there’s a good chance you’re gonna die, though you’d hope it wasn’t in training usually! 😉 I used to consider doing HALO jumps insane (well, I still do), and people did get hurt or killed doing them.

The suburban speed limit here was 35MPH before metric, which became 60KM/h. Now in busy built up areas, especially where there are schools (kid’s NEVER look where they are going!) it’s now 40KM/h.

Yeah, you’d have to be borderline insane at least to compete in luge. Hopefully now though, it’s not suicidally insane! 🙂 When the Italian went high on thunderbird, I think everyone stopped breathing! He got a big cheer as he got to the end of the run. 🙂 They do try not to go high, as it costs them speed and time. It’s one of the few events measured in thousands of a second, and often the margin between gold and silver is less than a hair.

7 Bryan { 02.13.10 at 10:49 pm }

Apparently the Georgian was running high and was trying to correct when he separated from the sled. Without the sled to dig into the ice and change direction in a controlled fashion, he had no chance. They would need one of those inflated “pillows” that the stunt men and some fire departments use to catch people falling from heights. They deflate when the person lands to absorb the force without any bounce, making them safer than foam or netting on springs.

Oh, yes, I remember a lot of references to dying during training, and there were definitely things that would kill you if you didn’t do them properly and in the proper order. “Green, Red, D-ring” is forever burned into my brain [the sequence of handles on a US military parachute for a high altitude jump – oxygen, auto, back-up if auto fails.] The chute was supposed to open 10 seconds after you reached 10K, and the oxygen was to insure you made it down to than altitude.

When I needed them, it was all D-ring, because it was on missions that didn’t get to 10K, and you would splash if you waited 10 seconds for a canopy.

OTOH, we didn’t spend our own money to do this crazy stuff, we actually got paid extra because it was insane.

8 Kryten42 { 02.13.10 at 11:52 pm }

OTOH, we didn’t spend our own money to do this crazy stuff, we actually got paid extra because it was insane.

LOL We used to call the pay scale we had ‘IRPS’ (Idiot Ranking Pay System). 😉 The theory being that the dumber you were, the more you could get paid! From memory… the scale went from ‘Chicken’ to ‘Suicidal’. Chicken was for grunts on the normal pay scale without any bonuses. Suicidal was where they made sure your will and papers were all in order before deployment and the bonuses were usually significantly more than your regular duty pay, not that you’d usually get to enjoy it. 😆 Military types are as mean as playground school kids! 😉

I had to do 2 HALO’s in training, and got pretty banged up on the first (and it wasn’t my fault either). I was so pissed off that it was for nothing as I never had to do one on duty. Almost got myself killed or paralyzed for nothing. Typical! In fact, I only had to make one standard jump in 3 years (out of a Herc. We had a theory that Herc’s were designed to make it easy for grunts to jump out, because after a few hours riding in one, you’d be more than happy to jump out, maybe even without a ‘chute!) :lol:. Most of the time, it was rappelling out of choppers, (head first if it was a hot zone) which was pretty rare for my team as we generally worked at distance, though sometimes that was in enemy territory and were supposed to stay *invisible*. 🙂

But yeah, it is sad about the Georgian athlete. Luck wasn’t with him unfortunately. RIP man!

9 Bryan { 02.14.10 at 12:16 am }

In the US aircrew got $125 extra a month, but jump pay was $55. We felt that anyone dumb enough to jump out of a perfectly good airplane probably thought that $55 was more than $125. 😉

If it wasn’t burning, I wasn’t leaving.

The C-47s and C-130s were great if you had to jump. I don’t know of a case of anyone successfully getting out of a C-135 [Boeing 707] except a boom operator on the KC-135 who went out the rear window. They put a shield to deploy on our aircraft that was supposed to disrupt the airflow that bounced people off the tail, but it would certainly make the aircraft hard to control. You were supposed to pull you feet up as soon as your knees cleared the skin of the aircraft, because if your boots were caught in the airstream you might get decapitated. Don’t you love how the contractors think of the troops. 😈

My helicopter rides were after being picked up, not being dropped off. Fortunately the powers that be didn’t want us left where we could get picked up by the “bad guys”. I was happy to see them as it meant the guys who would have preferred just to napalm us lost the argument again. [Like we wouldn’t find out the suggestion was made and who made it.]

10 Kryten42 { 02.14.10 at 1:14 am }

Oh yeah! I know how that goes. 😉 And probably know more than most actually. 🙂

Reminds me actually… One type of mission we pulled a few times was long security for *diplomatic* conferences in the field. 🙂 They were usually when some diplomat went to have a pow-wow with some local warlord’s or higher, and they’d always setup the meet in what was supposedly *Neutral territory* (though we’d be f’d if we ever new of any such place in that hell hole! Was pointless drawing boundary maps, they’d be wrong before the ink dried.) Anyway, our role *officially* was to take out anyone of the bad guys who decided to try to get nasty, like pull a weapon (even though they were supposed to be *clean*). But we were also there to give *incentive* to bargain if necessary, and other things. Anyway, once we had one of these missions, and the diplomat was a Yank. They get briefed beforehand and are told that *no matter what* not to move if things get hot, or at the most, hit the dirt (takes a few seconds for a round to travel a klick or so, and if a friendly is in the line of fire and stands up, too bad. We generally try to get high-ground to minimize that, and generally try to setup the meet so the friendlies are out of the LOF, still… things don’t always go to plan. 🙂 Anyway… on this particular meet, things went wrong fast. Some hothead warlord tried to pull a concealed weapon, and my #2 who was shooter at that time took the shot. I was one of two *spotters* on a scope to make sure we knew what everyone else was doing, the other spotter was on the target. And I looked at the diplomat and he stayed calm and didn’t move, and then I saw a look of something like sadness and I’m pretty sure I saw him sigh and shake his head slightly just as the round hit and the bad dude went down and the guards came in with weapons drawn and yelled at everyone to stay calm (I love how that works!) I’d heard later that that diplomat gave us a good report, and we gave him a recommendation in our mission report. We’d work with him any time! We love *customers* like him, makes all our lives much simpler compared to the dumb-asses we usually had to deal with. 🙂 I have to say BTW, some of those US diplomat’s (that I knew of) must have had balls of steel! 🙂 And the Brit’s & Germans too… The French are just crazy, and don’t even get me started on Italian diplomat’s! *shaking head* 😆

Diplomacy, Cambodia style! 😉

11 Bryan { 02.14.10 at 5:00 pm }

We have a few good people, but they are wasted in our dysfunctional system.

Of course, the professionals tend to get the nasty postings, which is where they can do the most good, until a post becomes nice enough for a political appointee to want it. We send some of our wealthiest and dumbest to be ambassadors to our allies. I don’t know why people like Canada even accept US ambassadors anymore. I hate to think what they have shipped to Australia and New Zealand, because the English-speaking countries really seem to get the extremely wealthy dregs of US political society.

12 Kryten42 { 02.15.10 at 8:34 am }

Yeah… I know all about how that works. 🙂 After I finished my tour and took a desk in Canberra, my office was a *stones throw* from most of the Embassies. I got to meet many Ambassadors… Unfortunately, I can’t comment until my 30 year gag order expires. Which isn’t that far away now! 😉

One of my early jobs was working on a team to check all aspects of security before the new Parliament House on Capitol hill in Canberra was officially opened in ’88 (and one of the reasons for the 30 year gag). You know… It never ceases to amaze me how few people winder why it cost well over AU$1bln (which in today’s currency would be almost doubled) to build it, even though it does have about 4,500 rooms. 🙂 One word… ‘iceberg’. The *Hill* it’s on is actually artificial (man made). Anyway…

We suggested a few changes, but generally all the security was pretty good. About a month after it was opened, our security alarms for EMSEC (or what US propagandists called ‘TEMPEST’ for a variety of reasons, and a whole ‘nother story!) went crazy for Parliament House, which meant there was some kind of electronic leakage, which since most of the places is fully shielded, shouldn’t happen. Within 10 min’s, a white van left the Soviet Embassy for the House. we knew this was a *snoop* van (lot’s of high-tech* gear, but *diplomatic immunity* of course). Our boss was yelling at everyone, and told us to go find out what was happening (but not so politely). So, long story short… turn’s out that one of the Dep’t managers had had enough of delays through the new internal phone system and switchboard to the outside World, and had requested a private line be installed and was told that it would have to go through channels etc and they’d let him know in a few months. So, he did what any dumb-ass would do, called his sister who worked at Telecom (Telstra now) and she organised to have a new line installed within a week. because they bypassed channels, the tech had no idea about the security etc, and punched a hole through the perimeter wall to pass a conduit for the new phone line comprising of 50 pairs of unshielded wires with made a wonderful antenna. 😆

My Russian friend and I were laughing for weeks (over vodka of course) over that! Oh, I asked him why it took them more than 10 min’s to get their snoop rolling (usually only takes a couple min’s), and he said that there was disagreement about it because several senior people could believe a gift like that could be genuine and suspected a trap of some kind. They eventually just decided… ‘what the hell!” 😆

The US Ambassador at that time was Bill Lane (from memory… might be Jr.) He was raised in Polk County, Iowa; served in the US Navy in WW2 (Lieutenant, Pacific duty mainly) , and was a publisher after, or owned a publishing company… I think it was sold to Time-Warner after he left Aus. He was a Republican, and on the Board of the Hoover Institution (War, Revolution, and Peace) during the ’80s and the Board of the East-West Center. He also took a position on the ANZ Banking Group Board (very unusual at the time). Had a BA, Stanford. He was awarded ‘Honorary Officer in the Order of Australia’ (Our equivalent of a UK Knighthood), for what… you’ll have to wait a while. 😉 Was my job to know everything about *everyone*. 😆

For the most part, he was surprisingly *sane* for a Republican. 😉 I think he ended up in a senior position (board level maybe) at NOAA, and believes (somewhat anyway) in Global Warming (mostly because he has a big *thing* for National Parks in the USA, and doesn’t like what’s happening to them. 🙂

Wait for the book! 😉

13 Bryan { 02.16.10 at 12:18 am }

Our work area at one base was on the lower level of the main administrative building, and despite the fact that there were essentially vault doors to enter the area where identity was verified and a second set to get to the actually work area, and that neither set would open unless the other set was closed, people would wander in thinking they were going to use a phone. They just seemed oblivious to all of the signs about authorized personnel only, and the fact that the guy telling them to leave was wearing a gun.

There was no phone, only an intercom to another armed guard inside the second door, but people just didn’t get it.

In your case it was also a security violation, but in general, the installation people working for utilities have no regard for people’s houses or buildings. They drill through wires, water lines, gas lines, wall studs, etc. wherever it is convenient for them, with no regard for what it looks like, or what it interferes with.

You would think that they would have contacted a building maintenance guy before drilling through the side of a government building, but they’re from the phone company and do whatever they want.

There was a time when we had a few sane Republicans in this country, but not in the last couple of decades. They left when the Reagan “Revolution” and Fundies took over the party. Actually Richard Nixon had a pretty good record on the environment, and a number of other issues. Too bad he was a loon in other ways.

14 Badtux { 02.16.10 at 1:13 pm }

I think George H.W. Bush was the last sane Republican we had, and the Fundies ran him out of office. That was the end of the Republican Party as a sane and reasonable party in the United States. Reagan… ah, Reagan. He was an ideologue, of course, but he wasn’t totally insane, unlike current Republicans. When a bunch of Marines got blown up in Lebanon, he got the rest out of there after a short delay for some face-saving shelling and bombing of likely suspects. GWB, of course… completely batshit insane. Invading one of the holy places of Shia Islam, and expecting anything other than Iran West to happen? Then keeping soldiers there for years afterwards to serve as targets for jihadis and radicalize the population? Madness! Of course, Preznit Hopey Changey doesn’t seem to have done a whole lot about that either…
.-= last blog ..Of building codes and safety =-.

15 Bryan { 02.16.10 at 4:17 pm }

Reagan still had advisors who were from the “old school” and there were Democrats who knew how to lead Congress.

It isn’t just a Republican failure, the Democrats have become useless – a minority mindset no matter what the numbers say.