Eye in the Sky

I just listened to an interesting podcast “Eye in the Sky” from Radiolab.


It talks about technology used in Iraq where a small plane flying above a city would take pictures every second.  Then when a bomb exploded they could go backward in time from the photos and track who placed the bomb, and then forward to follow where they went.  A special forces team could then go to that location to arrest the culprits.

Another example was related where the technology was used in Juarez, Mexico, where a police officer was ambushed and killed, the killers were tracked down, and a drug cartel was tracked and eventually busted.  This cartel had been responsible for over 1500 murders.

The technology was then offered to cities in the USA to help combat crime.  In Dayton, Ohio, it was considered but at a public hearing a vocal small minority opposed the plan and the city dropped the idea.  The major concern was potential government intrusion into privacy of the citizens.  Even the commentators for the podcast did not sound like they favored the idea.

I have to say I’m amazed by the objections.  Perhaps I’m too naive and trusting of government, but what’s not to like about this wonderful technology that, for a very low cost, could make dramatic progress in fighting crime?

Concerns were raised about violating rights of the people as per the Fourth Amendment:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

I think it would take a broad interpretation to say deploying this technology in our cities would violate this amendment.  But I suppose it could ultimately come down to a Supreme Court review to decide.  In the meantime, I bet cities would be very gun shy about civil suits as they consider it.  Such a shame.


Election day

I have hesitated writing a political post, as there is already too much of this out there in cyberspace.  But I, along with many others, will be glad to see the end of so much divisive, ugly campaigning.  Still, we live in a marvelous country where we are free to vote according to our conscience.

I’ve read numerous opinions in blogs, on Facebook, in newspapers/magazines, and in email.  I do see merit in the various arguments on both sides of the presidential race.  Though, I confess, I don’t care much for the too frequent dogmatic attitudes of “I’m right, you’re wrong”, or “I know/understand, you don’t”.  I have family and friends I think highly of on both sides, and I respect all their opinions.

I have long been politically conservative and a faithful Republican.  But I am dismayed at where the Republican party has steered recently, and especially with the man who heads the ticket this election.  I cannot vote for him.  I have strong objections to the person and the ideals of the Democratic nominee, and can’t vote for her.  In my state of Oregon my vote won’t matter, as it will go Democratic in any case, so I will write in a candidate.  Of the many articles I have read, perhaps this one (from an old college friend) best sums up my feelings (though I won’t be voting for McMullin):

Why I intend to vote for Evan McMullin tomorrow

As for the Republican Party, I listened to a thought provoking This American Life (episode 600) podcast about how feelings on immigration have shaped this election, and the party.  This is perhaps a major reason Trump became the Republican nominee.

I think it is a basic human instinct to distrust and fear those who aren’t like ourselves–who look different, are a different color, dress differently, speak a different language, worship differently, etc.   Perhaps this trait is buried in our genes, from tribal warfare and survival instincts.  And there is still much of this in the world today.  We, in this melting pot of the USA, have both benefited from and struggled with immigration through our history.  Each immigrant group has encountered obstacles, and many continue to face them, though most assimilate and contribute to society over time (think Irish, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.).

While I have high respect for Islam as a religion, and Muslim people and communities I have come to know, I can understand reservations many have about increasing Muslim populations in their communities (and the nation).  We see terrorism, ISIS, 9/11, bombings in Europe, and much more due to radical Islam.  And it is natural to be alarmed when minority groups grow in size and begin “taking over” our schools and communities.  My Mormon ancestors were chased out of Missouri and Illinois, and became refugees for similar perceptions.

Still, I think we must rise above these baser instincts.  We in the USA must be better than that.  Here is a link to a short video in that regard:


Last best day?

It was just a couple of days ago I blogged about turning the corner to more winter-like fall weather.  But then came today!

I awoke to a foggy morning (and 63 degrees on our indoor thermometer), but later the sun emerged and a glorious day ensued.  I went out for a bike ride in my shorts and shirtsleeves.  Many trees were shedding their leaves, and many colors abounded everywhere.  And check out the 66 degrees!


nov4b nov4a


We’ll get some rain tomorrow, but still, not a bad 7-day outlook for November.  Today was for bike riding and mowing the lawn, and just soaking in the fine weather.  I have to think we won’t see another day this nice until at least February, perhaps March.  At which point I will be exclaiming this is the nicest day of the year so far as we ramp back up the seasonal slope.

Morning routine

We humans are creatures of habit.  Our family has sat in the same church pew for a decade or two.  I will sit in the same classroom chair day after day.  We watch Masterpiece Theater every Sunday evening.  Etc., etc.  We have our routines that we like to stick to, and can feel a curve has been thrown at us when they are disrupted.  I suppose this is not a bad thing, so long as we aren’t stuck in a rut.

Take my typical weekday morning.  After rising from bed (not a predictable time, as my work start time is somewhat flexible, so it can depend on how I sleep that night) I will shower, dress, eat my breakfast cereal of Wheat Chex and granola (with in season fruit, such as strawberries or peaches), make my sack lunch (P&B on whole wheat, three slices, cherry yogurt, apple, carrots), and gather the newspaper daily puzzles (crossword, word jumble, and sudoku).


I usually don’t have time to finish the puzzles before I leave for work, unless I can race through the word jumble.  And sometimes Suzanne will leave a few blanks in the crossword for us to finish over dinner.  I jokingly refer to us having solved the world’s problems when we complete the puzzles.

Now that our daily newspaper is only delivered W-F-Sa-Su I have to go online and print the puzzles on M-T-Th.  So that has become part of my routine now.

Changing seasons

It seems Halloween is a pivot point when summery fall transitions to wintery fall.  While the increasing darkness and deterioration of the weather are distinct negatives, I love many things about this season of the year, especially the colors.  Here is the view outside my work place today:


This coming weekend we lose daylight savings time, so it will be quite dark for my bicycle commute home from work.  I’ve already had to use my bike lights riding home a few times with the sun setting just before 6PM.

Christmas is another turning point for mid-winter and increasing daylight.  In February we can still get snow sometimes, but also some days with a strong hint of spring, and some trees start to bloom.

Spring remains quite unsettled until July 4, which brings in summer.  The Hood to Coast Relay in late August, and especially the start of school signal signal the waning of summer.

It is nice enjoying the variety of seasons.

November heat

Each year we have a goal to avoid turning on our heater until November 1, and I think we have done very well achieving the goal over the years.  October is often very nice, so it doesn’t get too cold in the house until late in the month.  So here is the upstairs temperature this evening:


It was down to 64 on Sunday, so a bit of a heatwave today.  Downstairs it gets significantly colder:


So I really feel it when I work at my desk downstairs for any length of time.

I wear a fleece jacket around the house, as well as wool socks and slippers.  And as it gets colder I will run a small portable heater at my desk for increased comfort.

I’ll hold out a few more days then we’ll splurge and turn on the heat pump.

Happy November everyone!

Annual Christmas Tree Outing

Today we went to the Furrow Farm to find and cut our Christmas tree.

IMG_2602 IMG_2617 IMG_2619

It was quite balmy, if wet and muddy.  I’m trying to recall if we have ever had snow when getting our tree.  If so, it is rare.

We got the tree perhaps a week earlier than usual because Kristi is in town and we took advantage of her decoration skills and willingness.

DSC06595 DSC06596 DSC06597 DSC06598

Such a nice tree.  Thanks everyone!

Portland Choir and Orchestra

Again this year I’m singing in the Portland Choir and Orchestra.  Our Christmas concerts will be December 19 and I’m confident it will be a great program.  It is a lot of work and time commitment with a weekly two hour practice, plus personal practice throughout the week to learn and memorize the music.  But it pays off with joy and satisfaction singing such marvelous music.

Here is a promo video for the concert:

And here is one of several numbers on youtube from last year’s concert:


Eagle Scout Project

When my son Daniel was approaching his 18th birthday he had to scramble to complete his BSA Eagle Scout project.  He got a lot of help from his mother and others, but it was quite a bit of work.  It involved gathering clothing, utensils, toys, and other usable items to donate to a migrant farming camp outside nearby Hillsboro.  These migrant workers would come up from Mexico (or further south), often with their families, to work the fields here in the summer.  Since they didn’t have permanent housing there were camps set up with living quarters for them to use.

Needless to say, the families were fairly indigent and would greatly appreciate the donations.  First, numerous items were collected from donors and stored in our garage.  Then multiple vehicles were arranged to transport the items to the camp.


96Eagle_109 96Eagle_110 96Eagle_103Daniel and his mom had worked with county authorities to arrange to deliver the goods to the camp.  What an exciting time it was to see the joy and excitement at the camp.

96Eagle_094 96Eagle_096 96Eagle_097

We were particularly pleased to see our rocking horse, which had gone through all five of our kids, find a new home with a happy child.

We were very proud of our son.







Black Friday Project

Over the years we have sometimes used the Thanksgiving long weekend to tackle various projects around the house.  For example, more than once we spent many hours wallpapering rooms during the holiday, often staying up late on consecutive days to get it done.

On Thanksgiving day we had a lightning bolt inspiration to sand and refinish our kitchen table and bench on Black Friday. So we did.

First, some background on the kitchen table, benches, and chairs.  We purchased it in the early 1980’s while we lived in Meridian, ID.  It is made of solid oak, and includes two extender leaves.  Suzanne actually bargained with the factory in Utah during a trip there and we bought it for about $1000, which was a discount of several hundred dollars.  And we have gotten great use from it over the years.  Every few years we sand and refinish it, just using a Danish oil rather than a glossy varnish finish.  On Thursday when we were putting the leaves in to prepare for our dinner guests we really noticed the fading and the various marker writings and stains in various places.

The job was made much easier this time since we made use of a power finishing sander that I bought when we were working on our rental property two years ago.  It is such a dream to use proper tools for a job, and this task is a beast to perform when sanding by hand.



After thorough sanding with medium, then fine sandpaper, and carefully wiping away all the dust, Suzanne tackled the staining job.

DSC06592 DSC06593

We’ll let it dry overnight and add a clear coat of oil in the morning, then enjoy our “like new” kitchen table.